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Honorific use in anime.


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Key
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:57 pm Reply with quote
I consider myself very up-to-speed on how Japanese honorifics work, but I've been asked in an off-site discussion to provide examples of cases in anime where a change in the use of honorifics is so significant that it needs to be reflected in a proper English dub or subtitled translation or important meaning will be lost. Off the top of my head, I'm drawing a blank on this, so I'm hoping my fellow forumites can help out.

What I need are cases from series or movies where the source title would be at least relatively well-known in the U.S. (and preferably available in dubbed form) which depict a change of great importance in a relationship which is indicated by a change in the use of honorifics (or the dropping thereof). Please use spoiler tags if it's a major plot point.
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bonbonsrus



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:14 pm Reply with quote
I could be wrong in this, but wasn't there a scene in Fruits Basket where Kyo tells Tohru to call Yuki by his name and she does and he steams up blushing at the difference? I believe she reverts back after for the most part, but I think this carried over into the dub as well.

If I am mistaken, I appologize.
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Ggultra2764
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 10:06 pm Reply with quote
bonbonsrus wrote:
I could be wrong in this, but wasn't there a scene in Fruits Basket where Kyo tells Tohru to call Yuki by his name and she does and he steams up blushing at the difference? I believe she reverts back after for the most part, but I think this carried over into the dub as well.

If I am mistaken, I appologize.


Actually, that was Hatsuharu who told Tohru to address Yuki by his first name. Before that episode, Tohru would address Yuki as "Sohma-kun." She starts calling him "Yuki-kun" after that episode.

The dub has Tohru addressing Yuki by his first name throughout the entire series. As a result, the dialogue in the scene you mentioned was changed where Tohru called him "Prince Yuki" instead.
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TheTheory



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 11:27 pm Reply with quote
I'm thinking there was an episode or two in Naruto Shippuden where Sai kept on getting tripped up on the proper honorific to use in specific situations. I remember watching it and wondering how the heck the english dub was going to translate that. I don't have the episode anymore to reference, so I can't get any more specific than that....
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Ohoni



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 12:04 am Reply with quote
I know there was some series in which the male lead started calling the female lead by flat name rather than X-san and that got her steamed up. Card Captor Sakura maybe?

A lot of the time the distinction is less that the use of honorifics changes, but more than a certain character will use them in a way that makes other characters unfomfortable, either always being too formal, or more oftne too informal.
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Top Gun



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 12:33 am Reply with quote
I know the FLCL dub left all of the honorifics in, but I don't know that it was for any reason other than keeping with the overall crazy feel of the series. I feel like there may have been at least one instance where Naota took issue with how Mamimi addressed him that involved an honorific.
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Showsni



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:49 am Reply with quote
Ohoni wrote:
I know there was some series in which the male lead started calling the female lead by flat name rather than X-san and that got her steamed up. Card Captor Sakura maybe?

A lot of the time the distinction is less that the use of honorifics changes, but more than a certain character will use them in a way that makes other characters unfomfortable, either always being too formal, or more oftne too informal.


In Card Captor Sakura, Syaoran and Sakura agree to use first names in the "float" episode, right? When she's falling down the lift he calls her, then she phones up afterwards to ask if she can call him Syaoran... How do they treat the scene in Cardcaptors?
*Checks youtube*
They replace the phonecall with one from his mother and avoid the whole topic. Oh. Well, forget that, then.
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Xagor



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 5:58 am Reply with quote
I know this came up in the manga, but I'm not sure if it's been covered in the anime, so someone is going to have to check up for me. In Tsubasa we have another case of Syaoran and Sakura (not the same ones of course) changing how they address each other.

In one of the flashbacks we got a scene where a younger Sakura and Syaoran agreed to call each other Syaoran and Sakura with no honorifics. I'm not sure if this has been covered in the anime that's been released so far though.
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abunai
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:13 am Reply with quote
Well, obviously yobisute (the omission of honorifics) is a significant marker of intimacy or disrespect (as the case may be). For more on that, and a reference to a very significant instance of yobisute in anime (from GitS-SAC), see this post.

But this isn't really what you were getting at, was it, Key? I get the feeling that you wanted specific examples of situations in anime where a change in honorific usage (e.g. from -san to -sama) is so laden with significance that the translation (or translation notes) has to reflect it, or the viewers will miss an important point. Am I right?

Of course, moving from an honorific to yobisute would definitely count as such a difference -- and it is probably the most common instance of honorific change in anime, apart from -san to -sama. In fact, I can probably think of dozens of situations where yobisute is significant. But moving from one honorific to another? Hmm.

Well... there's a scene in the original Ojamajo Doremi series, when Doremi's two classmates (and closest friends) become trainee witches, too. On that occasion, they briefly address her as -senpai, and Doremi just eats it up (having previously been "Doremi-chan"). The humour of the situation hangs on the fact that Doremi is actually pretty incompetent as a trainee witch (hence the whole ojama + majō = ojamajo thing, "botherwitch"), and both the other girls rapidly surpass her... and the viewer is very much aware of this, in advance.

- abunai
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lesterf1020
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:16 am Reply with quote
I am not sure if this is relevant but in the 2nd episode of Moonphase, Kouhei and Hatzuki are at loggerheads partly over the use of honorifics and their implication. Hatzuki sees herself as vampire royalty and Kouhei, the human she bit, as her slave thus he should refer to her using the honorific –sama. Kouhei sees Hatzuki as a bratty 14 year old girl and thus uses the honorific –chan. The dub handles it by having Hatzuki demand that she be addressed as Mistress or Goddess and Kouhei being insistent on calling her Hazuki, brat or shorty.

I am curious as to how a situation involving honorifics was handled in the dub for Higurashi (When They Cry). The first time Akasaka meets Rika he thinks of her as a normal little girl but when the tour guide arrives he uses the honorific –chama when addressing Rika and she uses no honorifics at all when addressing him. He consciously makes note of this.
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Furudanuki



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:44 am Reply with quote
An example from Shuffle!, where there is a change in honorific use and an entire scene is devoted to discussing the change. The only female characters, aside from the adults, that Rin (the male lead) addresses using honorifics are the two seniors - Asa-senpai and Kareha-senpai. spoiler[After Rin and Asa start dating seriously, Rin continues to call her "Asa-senpai" until Asa finally confronts him about it. She tells him that since they are lovers now he shouldn't continue to address her so formally, especially since she has been calling him "Rin-chan" for some time. Rin agrees that she is right but confesses that it will be hard because he has called her -senpai for years, plus he thinks it is too embarrassing to begin calling her "Asa-chan" so suddenly. He finally settles on "Asa-san" which she considers less than ideal but is willing to accept for the time being as a first step. There are also a few occasions afterward where Asa chides Rin because he forgets and reverts to calling her "Asa-senpai" out of habit.]

There is another incident from the same series involving honorifics. The male lead's name is Rin but there is a female character, Nerine, whose nickname also happens to be Rin. Nerine's nickname cannot simply be changed or ignored because it is not a coincidence that she was given that particular nickname: it's a story element that is tied to the final revelations at the end of Nerine's arc. But this can be very confusing, especially so if the honorifics are omitted. The characters who refer to Nerine using her nickname always call her "Rin-chan", while the male Rin is referred to as "Rin-kun" or "Rin-dono". There are characters (Asa & Ama Shigure) who do refer to the male Rin as "Rin-chan", but they in turn never call Nerine by her nickname. Having two characters named Rin resulted in a misconception among some fansub viewers that the male Rin was near the top of his class academically. This was due to a scene where one character - Mayumi=Thyme if I recall correctly - says that the top 3 students in her class were Kaede, Itsuki, and "Rin-chan". Since Mayumi never calls the male Rin "Rin-chan", the honorific makes it clear she is referring to Nerine.
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Kimiko_0



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:30 am Reply with quote
lesterf1020 wrote:
I am curious as to how a situation involving honorifics was handled in the dub for Higurashi (When They Cry). The first time Akasaka meets Rika he thinks of her as a normal little girl but when the tour guide arrives he uses the honorific –chama when addressing Rika and she uses no honorifics at all when addressing him. He consciously makes note of this.

Also in Higurashi (I think it was in Kai), there's a situation where Ooishi asks Rika about a witness's testimony. He quotes the witness verbatim as saying 'Rika-chama', then apologizes to Rika for the (I assume) overly formal honorific.
Rika always addressing people without any honorific, despite being only a child is remarkable anyway.

Another subtle thing, that is usually not translated or noted in subs either, is the use of different forms of 'I' and 'you' in Japanese. Okay, the differences are subtle, and wouldn't be mentioned in English anyway, but it's often telling whether a male character uses 'ore' or 'boku' or 'watashi' to refer to himself, sometimes changing upon the situation.
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Dorcas_Aurelia



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 1:57 pm Reply with quote
I don't know if this is quite what you're looking for, but towards the end of episode 2 of Ah! My Goddess (just after they've been kicked out of the dorm), Keiichi asks Belldandy to call him something besides "Morisato Keiichi-sama", so she calls him "Keiichi-san" instead. The subtitles just leave off the honorific, while the dub has Belldandy go from saying "Mr. Keiichi Morisato" to "Mr. Keiichi".

Last edited by Dorcas_Aurelia on Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Zalis116
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:16 pm Reply with quote
There's Angelic Layer, where Tamayo refers to Kotarou as "Kotarou-chan" and gets Misaki to do the same, despite his protests at being addressed with a title meant for girls and little kids. Both tracks on ADV's release leave this in, and I remember Tiffany Grant saying that she decided to leave it in the English dub rather than find some awkward workaround.
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Ggultra2764
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:14 pm Reply with quote
In Azumanga Daioh, Chiyo is addressed regularly by her friends as "Chiyo-chan." While this addressing is intact in ADV's dub of the series, all other honorifics with the characters were either changed or removed from the dub. The subs for ADV's release for Japanese audio leave in more of the honorifics like "-san" and "-chan." However, the use of "sempai" is changed to "senior" in the subtitles.
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