Today I attended the Enjoy Manga and Anime in Japanese workshop at the Japan Foundation. It went from 1-5 pm, but those 4 hours just whizzed by. The whole session was informative and enjoyable.
We started by looking at the different types of characters you often find in anime: 男の子(boy)、女の子 (girl)、野郎 (scrapper)、侍 (samurai)、おじいさん (old man)、執事 (butler)、お嬢様 (lady)、and 大阪人 (Osakan). If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you may remember I spoke of Japan Foundation’s Japanese in Anime and Manga website. It’s a fun interactive website that shows you the different characters’ Japanese and typical manga situations. It’s definitely worth having a look 😉
The workshop’s focus was on Bleach, and more precisely, the characters of Ichigo and Rukia, who we determined as yarou (scrapper) and samurai. First we watched the first episode of Bleach, which I hadn’t seen in a very long time, and definitely enjoyed watching again (^^) After watching the episode we moved on to the type of grammar that is used in anime and manga: imperative, prohibitive and volitional form. For example:
|ます Form||Imperative Form||Prohibitive Form||Volitional Form|
|言います iimasu||言え ie||言うな iu na||言おう iou|
|見ます mimasu||見ろ miro||見るな miru na||見よう miyou|
|します shimasu||しろ shiro||するな suru na||しよう shiyou|
You’ll often learn in Japanese class not to use this grammar (imperative and prohibitive) too much, as it can come across as rude, but yarou characters use this type of grammar quite extensively. Although it may sound cool, Fukushima-san, the workshop presenter, had to remind us never to use these expressions in a normal conversation…unless we wanted to pick a fight! And on that note, we learnt many new expressions that could get us in trouble, such as:
「なめんなよ、このクソがき」 (namen na yo, kono kuso gaki: Don’t underestimate me kid!)
「サシでしょうぶしろ」 (sashi de shoubushiro: Let’s settle this right now, man to man!)
Although in the first sentence, the translation has been softened a bit. I’ll leave you to figure out for yourselves what kuso gaki means 😉
yarou also like to address others with words such as てめえ/テメー (teme) or おまえ/オメー (ome). Again, not your usual polite Japanese.
Samurai expressions used by Rukia included この、たわけ！(kono tawake: you fool!), and she used words such as きさま(kisama) and おぬし(onushi) to refer to other people. Grammatically, she uses できん instead of できない and 分かっておる instead of 分かっている.
The differences in speech just between Ichigo and Rukia really demonstrate how significant grammar can be in Japanese, and how authors use it for characterization.
We also looked at some Bleach specific vocabulary. What was interesting to see was how the author, Kubo, uses kanji for his made up words. For example Soul Society is written like this: 尸魂界. This literally reads out as “death spirit world”. Or “hollow” (the monsters in Bleach) is written using the kanji 虚 (utsuro), which means empty or cavity. おもしろいでしょう。There’s no way you can change the reading of a word in English! Yet, it still makes sense in Japanese, and I find this play with words absolutely fascinating.
Everything we learned today is one of the reasons I always watch anime in its original format (and because I HATE the dubbing voices). You lose so much of the original distinctiveness in translation. Of course that goes for almost anything that is translated. But I find that in Japanese there is such a grammar distinction depending on who is talking, who they’re talking to, where they’re from, what situation they’re in etc. which really adds to a character in manga. In English you can only refer to yourself as “I”, not, 俺 (ore)、僕 (boku)、あたし (atashi)、せっしゃ (sessha)、or わたくし (watakushi). “I” doesn’t give us any idea of who the speaker is. Japanese is complicated in this sense, but that’s what makes it so interesting!
All in all the workshop was great and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who was learning Japanese, not just manga and anime fans like me 😉 I’ll leave you with some more of Ichigo’s wonderful Japanese, enjoy!