Explaining the Mankanshoku Mako Puns in Kill la Kill 23

Mako in Episode 23 of Kill la Kill gives a speech where she exclaims, “But I can’t be beaten here! I have to protect this ship!” The visual accompaniment actually consists of a rapid-fire sequence of puns, which I thought I’d break down here.

1) “But I can’t be beaten here!”

Koko de taoreru wake niwa ikanai mon!

killlakill-makopun-taoreru

Taoreru can mean ‘”to be defeated” but it’s also used when saying someone has fallen ill or worse. Mako is posed as if she were a corpse.

killlakill-makopun-wa

killlakill-makopun-ke

Wake is broken up into its syllables: wa (輪) means ring, hence the loop made with her fingers, ke (毛) means hair.

killlakill-makopun-niwa

Niwa is represented by Mako dressed as two birds because niwa (二羽) is how you count two birds.

killlakill-makopun-ika

Ika means squid (烏賊), a familiar pun for all you Squid Girl fans.

killlakill-makopun-nai

Nai is used as a negative conjugation in Japanese verbs, so we get the familiar image of Mako shaking her head. Ikanai means cannot, but more in the sense of “I musn’t.”

killlakill-makopun-mon

Mon is a way to emphasize one’s emotional investment. Mako is posing in the shape of the kanji 門, pronounced mon, which means gate.

2) “I have to protect this ship!”

Kono fune mamorenai to

killlakill-makopun-kono

Kono means “this,” Mako is pointing down at “this.”

killlakill-makopun-fune

Fune means boat, Mako is in a sushi boat, simple enough.

killlakill-makopun-mamore

killlakill-makopun-naito

Mamorenai to means “have to protect,” which is split up into mamore, “protect,” and nai to, which is also how you pronounce “knight” in Japanese.

Hope you learned something!

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Doing this Brooklyn Translation Makes it Difficult to Concentrate: Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series (in Japanese)

Little Kuriboh’s Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series, where one man acts out the roles of (almost) every character with surprising skill and summarizes the absurdity of the English version of Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters,  has become quite an internet phenomenon. You are probably aware of this, but one thing that you may not be aware of is that it has reached back to its original source, as one Japanese fan has subtitled Little Kuriboh’s work and put it online. You can also see it on Nico Nico Douga under the names 遊戯王要約シリーズ or 4分でわかる遊戯王アニメ.

What is fascinating about this first of all is that we get to observe the other side of the fansub mirror. Normally, even the Japanese subtitles for English shows that we see are professionally done.

What’s even more interesting is observing how the translator makes various attempts to localize the translation just enough for the Japanese speakers. Characters’ names are in Japanese, but the subtitles point out that “Jonouchi” is speaking with a “Brooklyn Accent.” Characters’ unique speech is kept intact, as Pegasus, according to the subtitles, still speaks in random Engrish and says “de~~~su” a whole lot. “Super Special Awesome” is just “Super Special.”

And of course, one of the big challenes is puns and wordplay, and the guy does surprisingly well. One of my favorite examples is his translation of the famous line from the “evil” Kaiba, “You don’t stand a GHOST of a chance,” said by characters who are ghosts or at least resemble them. Translated literally it doesn’t make much sense.

The translation the subtitler went for is “勝利のチャンスは「霊」だ” (Shouri no chansu wa rei da). It literally means “The chance of you winning is “a ghost.”

Here’s the fun part: the word used for ghost is pronounced “rei.” There’s another kanji with a pronunciation of rei, 零, which means “zero.”

In other words, “The chance of you winning is zero.”

So bravo, Japanese Yugioh Abridged subtitler. Your wordplay kung fu is mighty indeed, and I bow to you.