Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei – Memorial Disc OVA
Chances are this Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei BD special episode took the longest to translate ever since I started fansubbing (more than 6 hours). Sometimes the puns were hilarious, sometimes the puns where on the level of the notorious Hankyuu pun, but all in all it was fun to work on. However most of the puns would make close to no sense (and would be even less funny) if I literally translated them, so the translation of the jokes is quite liberal, and I tried to localize the references as well whenever possible, so that you’d get an idea of why it’s funny at all. But of course I know certain people in the anime fandom tend to be extremely butthurt about every little piece of localization, so here you have some translation notes and explanations.
Scene one: the story so far – aka. Meru lost in the forest. It’s the “story so far” text from the sleeve of the 22nd volume of the manga. (Not that knowing that would help making any sense of it.) I have no idea whatsoever why is she reading certain words like a retard. If you do, tell me. Meru’s line is written on screen (as usual), and only dubbed “meru-meru”.
The “Three Antenna Brothers” are the three lines indicating signal strength. The bald rabbit’s lines are spoken in a way that reminds me of Bugs Bunny.
After the opening starts the first part of the episode, which is an original detective story based on the setting from Zoku episode 11. But first, a bit of fanserv—
Oh, my. He’s dead. In a deadpan voice. It’s a famous line from the Japanese TV series Kaseifu wa mita! (家政婦はみた！).
In the coming few scenes the writers use up about half of the most typical lines from detective novels. “The culprit is among us!”
Matoi has “looked into” the background of the victim (I wonder how she did that), and it turns out that he wasn’t exactly the most innocent man ever. There was one phrase here that would come up later and I had to localize it, and that’s terekura (テレクラ). It’s short for telephone club, which is a telephone-based (compensated) dating service. I just replaced it with “call girls”, since it’s pretty much the same anyway.
Ai goes apologizing for the murder she did not commit, but that aside, there is one more thing of note. There is that yellow doll on the shelf, right? Apparently it’s the doll called Sanosuke, that Nami’s voice actress got as a birthday present in the radio show.
The victim has left a dying note! Or wait, did he really? The message is as long-winded, roundabout and pompous as the Japanese language allows. The lack of clues makes Nozomu despair. Oh my, what a pun. Ha-ha-ha.
It’s funny that he says desu totally the same way as one of my real life acquaintances. Anyway, finally there is some space for translation notes. Nozomu says he’s not cut out to be a detective, and supports it with a few points. First, he says he doesn’t have a famous detective grandfather. This is a reference to the Kindaichi Case Files, where the teenage main character is supposedly the grandson of a famous detective. Next he says he’s not a kid with an adult’s brain, referring to poor detective Conan, who got stuck in a child’s body. Third he paraphrases Philip Marlowe, saying he’s not gentle, so he has no right to stay alive. Marlowe’s original line was “If I couldn’t ever be gentle, I wouldn’t deserve to be alive.” Fourth he says that he doesn’t have a wife (かみさん) to help him with ideas, which is a reference to Columbo. Lastly he points out he doesn’t have a team of detective-wannabe youth following him around, a reference to Akechi Kogoro, who often relies on a team of enthusiastic boys for help, much like Sherlock Holmes does.
Maria is a tightrope dancer. It turns out that she doesn’t like wearing… panties, I guess. (Now look at the picture above once more.)
I really liked the total mindfuck scene. It reminded me of Shutter Island.
Between the two parts we get a few lines of Japanese text on screen. SHAFT are making fun of themselves. The first line is a pun on the homophones “time of death” (死期 shiki) and “fourth season” (四期 shiki). The second is a pun on the homophones “paper” (紙 kami) and “god” (神 kami). The third tries to be funny by using the kanji read kai in “destruction” (崩壊 houkai) and “best episode” (神回 kami-kai). The third does a similar thing with the chou in “nervousness” (緊張 kinchou) and “all right” (順調 junchou). The same again in the fourth, with the chou in the same “nervousness” and “satisfactory” (好調 kouchou). I’m not even entirely sure that the last one makes sense as it is, but anyway, it’s playing a pun on “just before” (直前 chokuzen) and “imminence” (目前 mokuzen). These aren’t even worth the trouble of taking screenshots.
Then the second part starts with a lovely wall of text. As the notes on screen indicate, this part is the anime adaptation of chapter 231 of the manga (written by Kumeta Kouji, published July 28, 2010). The title is The Christ of Nyanjing, which is a pun on The Christ of Nanjing, and old drama novel by Akutagawa Ryunosuke that was later adapted into a movie. I considered changing it to something like Life of Brian, but I couldn’t really think of anything that would work well. Also, The Christ of Nanjing isn’t a comedy as far as I know. The lyrics in shown under the musical score are the lyrics for the Schumann’s Träumerei, used in Zoku episode one.
Obviously that’s a traditional Indian nan bread there. The whole scene revolves around changing the nan‘s to nyan in words, making them funny in a way. The problem is that most of them wouldn’t be funny in English. Not to mention that as far as I know, “nyan” has no meaning in English either. So I decided to instead twist it a little, and change “rice” to “nice”. It worked out somewhat better.
This scene has a bunch of on-screen puns where “nan” was changed to “nyan”. First, the three dancing cats with hockey sticks. Written above them is “Southern Ice Hockey Club” (南国アイスホッケー部 nangoku aisuhokkee bu), with the “nan” from 南 changed into a “nyan”. It’s not really funny, just a reference to another manga by Kumeta Kouji, but luckily the title has “ice” in it, even if not “rice”, so I made use of that. Next, the thief cat with “avanice” (盗難 tounan, literally theft). The “nan” of 難 is changed into a “nyan”, and it took me a while to think of “avarice” as a suitable replacement here. Next, the jar with the cat on it. It’s a reference to the Oronine H ointment, facial cream. Since the name of the particular brand doesn’t matter at all, I replaced it with another cosmetics brand that has “rice” in it: Catrice. Next the praying cat… That was a hard one. The words written there are namu amidabutsu (nyan-ized, of course), a Japanese Buddhist phrase. At first I was thinking of “praise the Lord” for it, but I couldn’t change “praise” into “pnice”… In the end I put another religious phrase in its place, “thou shalt deny me thrice” (Jesus says this in the Bible, Matthew 26:34 etc). The baseball one wasn’t easy either. The Japanese original is softball (軟式野球 nanshiki yakyuu), nyan-ized. I considered using the American university team Rice Owls for this, but in the end I rather went with the quite popular training with a bucket of rice. The last is the bedbug (ナンキン虫 nankin-mushi), which I just replaced with another bug. Rice lice. It sounds funny too.
The next scene worthy of note is the Columbo Contest. This is a pun lost, and I feel bad about that. Decades ago it was still a tradition in Japan that they held so-called “tan contests” (黒ん坊大会 kuronbou taikai) at the start of the summer holidays. The person with the best tan would win. (Of course Maria won the contest, she’s (suspected to be) Filipino.)
Matoi apparently doesn’t like the red of communist flags. Honestly, such blasphemous scene of painting a glorious red flag pink should be censored from a Commie release. (I want to make clear to
the Fox News table : that was a joke.)
Matoi not only has a problem with red flags, she also brings a few quite bad puns with her. First, the line with the snake. The original is a pun on habu (ハブ, an Okinawan viper) and rabu (ラブ, love), which again don’t rhyme in English like they do in Japanese (though that certain snake is called habu in English as well), so I changed it to a cobra-bra rhyme. The next line is a pun on toorima (通り魔, slasher, a person who attacks people randomly on the street) and torima (トリマー “trimmer”, a pet groomer). The manga translation gave me the idea to use the word “cutlery”, then “butler-y” just popped up. Too bad that butlery means something different (wine cellarinstead of “butler-ish”), so I couldn’t get rid of the hyphen. The NEET-teat pun is actually as literal as a translation can be (only changed “nipple” to “teat” for the sake of the rhyme).
Kiri is watching her TV, of course wrapped in her blanket. (So much for Erio’s originality.) Channels 1 and 3, that she wants removed are NHK-General and NHK-Education (although only in the Kanto region – in other regions they have different numbers). Everyone who has a TV needs to pay a fixed fee for these channels, even if they never watch a single second of their broadcast. (Which explains the debt collector guy peeking through the door.) On the TV screen, in the few flashes between the whitenoise, I think that’s Domo-kun. Not entirely sure about it.
Hello there, fujoshi of the world! Here we have one of the most popular yaoi couplings ever, Shizuo×Izaya from Drrr. The two ladies in the scene seem to have a disagreement about whether it should be Shizu×Iza or Iza×Shizu. As for me, just thinking about this concept makes me shiver. Don’t make me do it again.
Your first (not) funny wall of text! Full of terrible puns of course. From top to bottom:
- The difference between the kanji for “hardship” (辛い tsurai) and “happiness” (幸せ shiawase) is just one stroke. The same goes for “good luck” and “good fuck” by the way.
- If stolen bikes (盗んだバイク nusunda baiku) were tied tights (結んだタイツ musunda taitsu). The credit for the English goes to Csiko.
- If Jiang Zemin (江沢民 kou takumin) was Koda Kumi (小田來未 koda kumi). The former is a Chinese politician who’s famous for hating Japanese. The latter is an idol. However as a fansubber, it was compulsory to honor gg‘s leader with a mention.
- If the mafia (マフィア mafia) was kefir (クフィア kufia). However much I may like kefir, it just doesn’t work in English, but luckily we have “raffia”.
- If being dragged around town (市中引き回し shichuu hikimawashi) was stirring a stew (シチューかき回し shichuu kakimawashi). I just combined “city”, “stir up”, and added “pity” in the mix for the rhyme.
- If painful hemorrhoids (いたいいほぢ itai ihoji) were Itou Noizi (いとうのいぢ itou noiji). Ito Noizi is the illustrator of famous light novels, such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time or Shakugan no Shana. Her name refers to the (ex-)bassist of Sex Machineguns and other bands, Noisy. I dropped the hemorrhoids and just used the obvious “noisy”.
- If multiple debts (多重債務 tajuu saimu) were lime juice (果汁ライム kajuu raimu). Not so funny in Japanese either. I’m afraid neither is the English.
- If the Lehman Shock (リーマンショック riiman shokku) was a ramen shop (ラーメンショップ raamen shoppu). This works in English. Actually the word “Lehman Shock” isn’t used in English (might be a Japanese-made English phrase), but I hope you aren’t all economists who would care about such a detail.
- If the game backup devices (マジコン majikon) were water fleas (ミジコン mijikon). The phrase “jailbreak” was the first that popped into mind when I saw majikon, and in the end it stuck.
This is why we can’t have nice things. She has to point out that it works the other way around. There was just one “nyan-nan” pun this time, and that proved untranslatable. Nyanmage is the mascot figure of a theme park. Nanmage is that very unlovely character who appears instead. He’s got his own manga since then, if my sources don’t lie. There is definitely a one-minute, quite retarded micro-anime starring him on the BD as well. The English pun works out quite well (credit goes to Xythar). She also suggest what would be if the borrower fairy Arrietty wouldn’t return what she takes.
Another quite bad pun. It plays on the words internet (ネット netto) and helmet (メット metto). She suggests that if net cafes (ネットカフェ netto kafe) were helmet cafes (メットカフェ metto kafe), they would be full of stalkers wearing helmets. Again, this wouldn’t work in English, so I just kept the basic ideas of internet and sexuality, and by their powers combined,
I am Captain Planet .
If you’re not from Tokyo, you probably wouldn’t get the next one even if you were Japanese. As the signs show, he stands on the border of the second and third districts. In Shinjuku, Tokyo, the third district is a shopping area with huge stores and lots of people, while the second district (just a few hundred meters away) is the gay- and red light district of Tokyo. (I accidentally walked across that area once at night, I wouldn’t dare to do it again. No, I wasn’t raped, but it surely doesn’t feel so safe.) The second joke is even worse. It plays a pun on the words yahoo (ヤッホー yahhoo) and Renho (蓮舫 renhou). She got famous when she pointed quite direct questions at bureaucrats during fiscal screenings. The joke is that the mountain would need to be closed because of her stance on accounting. I think our UFO one is funnier.
Here we got another wall of text. From top to bottom…
- If antique goods (アンティーク雑貨 antiiku zakka) were questionnaire results (アンケート結果 ankeeto kekka). It doesn’t rhyme in English, so I just kept the questionnaires. It ended up funnier than the original.
- If low fuel rate Heidi (低燃費ハイジ teinenpi haiji) was low interest rate Kaiji (低金利カイジ teikinri kaiji). This was beyond help. The former is Nissan’s mascot, a parody of Heidi. The latter is the main character of the Kaiji manga, with “low interest rate” added for the rhyme. This is as literal as it gets. I kinda feel bad about it.
- If breakfasts in bed (おめざ omeza) were kneeling down (土下座 dogeza). It doesn’t rhyme in English, so I just kept the breakfast part and the hopelessness of a kneeling apology.
- If a drying machine (乾燥機 kansouki) was Prime Minister Kan (菅総理 kan-souri). This is simply hilarious in Japanese, I seriously laughed for like five minutes when I read it. At first I was thinking of using some shrubs and the name of a certain former president of the United States, but this worked out better.
- If pre-sales (フラゲ furage, from “flying get”) were jellyfish (クラゲ kurage), that would hurt. To be exact, furage means to buy or get something before it would actually go on sale.
- If the KGB was the AKB. I think AKB48 is well known enough that this works in English.
- The Yankee Doodle (アルプス一万尺 arupusu ichiman-shaku) is keeping quiet about your herpes (ヘルペス一文無し herupesu ichimon nashi). Again, this is hilarious in Japanese, but it just doesn’t work in English. I just went with a random rhyme for Yankee Doodle.
- If the school stairs (学校の階段 gakkou no kaidan) were indecent talk about anal prolapse (脱肛のワイ談 dakkou no waidan). I fell off my chair laughing. The rhyme is perfect in Japanese, and it’s hilarious. If you want to know what sickness in the latter half is, use Google image search (not safe for work – or any other environment, for that matter). Although I couldn’t keep the school stairs, goatse had to stay.
- If LED (eru-ii-dii) were erotic-ED (ero-ii-dii). It’s been suggested that the “ED” might mean erectile dysfunction, but let’s not delve into that now. I tried to keep at least part of the meaning, thus halogen lights.
- If light emitting diodes (発光ダイオード hakkou-daioodo) were peaceful death (薄幸大往生 hakkou daioujou). I guess the writers got some inspiration from the previous line’s LED. Since I already used the light analogy there, it was time for the happiness and death.
- If you take a stroke out of child (幼 ito), you get phantom (幻 maboroshi). The word “phantom” inspired me.
After the ending they first start by declaring that Konata and Kagami (presumably from Lucky Star) are their
wives . Then they go on reciting lines from the famous movie The Third Man, quoting it almost word for word.
The end card is drawn by Yasu. Yasu illustrates Kumeda Koji’s gag manga Joshiraku (じょしらく) . The manga on screen is titled Danshiraku (だんしらく). Although kanji are not used, joshi is obviously the joshi for girl (女子), and danshi is boy (男子). Let’s not consider what the contents are. To sum it up, this was a really tough anime episode to translate. Google and the Kumetan wiki saved me from a nervous breakdown and allowed me to have some fun instead.
There was a Nanmage mini-OVA as well. It’s about Nanmage who appeared in the OVA for a few seconds as well. It’s about how Nanmage hates to be called a weak/lame mascot character (ゆるキャラ yuru-kyara), because he’s not weak/lame. Definitely not weak. The video has lots of manga-like sound effects actually “spoken”. Nanmage has been changed to “Mr Rice Guy” to match the gag in the main OVA.