[GUIS & H-S] Kakuranger 1-7 DVD versions have been released! January 18, 2013Posted by sgtkira in Kakuranger.
Kaku DVD 1-7
This might look a bit strange to you, a lot of you are probably very, very confused, but hear me out here. The original tranlstor for Kaku, Fantasyleader is still working with H-S. But, as it tends to, life has gotten in the way. He’s actually been a fan of this show ever since he was a kid, but neither of us wanted the show to be delayed any longer. I always post on how I believe groups should work together, and how, if a group has a similar style and mindset, we really should try out hardest to work together. Now, who messages me out of the blue? Lynxara. She tells me that Kou wanted to do another show done by Noburo Sugimura, who wrote Zyuranger. He wrote Dairanger as well, but some group ended up taking care of that. Hikari something.
Fantasy and I are both fans of Kou’s work, so we talked it over, and we knew that she would be able to do a good job with it, and it frees up fantasy to do other things. We have released Kou’s work before. Some great shows like Da Garn, Zubat, and Gaia but these were scripts that were posted on her site. This time, she’ll be doing a script every week. Remember Zyu’s pace? Well, we’ll be trying our hardest to keep that pace up with Kaku. Sadly, though, MegaAnon won’t be working beside us with this project, but he’s done some amazing work with Lynxara and Kou on Goseiger.
Why GUIS? Well, they were looking to throw their staff and resouces behind whatever Kou wanted to do next. So they’re helping us with distributing episodes and someother behind-the-scenes things. So, Kou has gone over the first 4 episodes again (to make sure everything is consistent), but 5-7 are brand new releases! This worked out really well. We were going to go over 1-4 again because of the new RAWs, so changing translators and gaining more staff was beneficial to everyone.
Anywho, I have ranted long enough, time to post Lynxara’s thoughts of these episodes. I truly insist that you read the release posts that we’ll be posting. They will definitely answer any of your questions So please, please read them after you have watched each episode. Thank you for watching, and I hope you like the show, guys!
Notes (Made by Lynxara):
Kakuranger First Batch notes:
The production team of 1994’s Ninja Sentai Kakuranger is predominantly the same group of writers, directors, producers, and other folks responsible for the prior entry in the Super Sentai series, 1993’s Gosei Sentai Dairanger. As the story goes, when that team wrapped up the Dairanger, somebody said, “Wait. Why did we make a Sentai about China, when we’ve never made one about Japan?”
This creation myth is probably over-simplified, but Kakuranger is still undoubtedly the first of what are sometimes called the “patriotic” Sentai, shows that go out of their way emphasize Japanese culture in their design, story, and gimmicks. Other shows generally considered “patriotic” are Hurricaneger and Shinkenger, if you’re curious, but Kakuranger is actually more grounded in Japanese culture than either.
This makes Kakuranger a genuinely difficult prospect, when it comes to creating an English translation. While all Sentai is Japanese, very little of it is actually about Japan. Most things in the average Sentai show can be directly translated quite easily Kakuranger, though, is a show that ends up being about a lot of concepts that just don’t exist outside of Japan. As such, there aren’t always English terms that really fit whatever an episode of Kakuranger is talking about. Sometimes, even when terms are available, you still need some content from what was going on in Japanese society in the 1990s.
So this translation is going to be a bit more… let’s say, Japanese than you may be used to from Hikari Senshi. We will try to translate things that can be easily and simply translated, but in other cases, we will retain Japanese terms. To help make the subtitles more readable for English speakers who are unfamiliar with Japanese, we’re going to italicize all of the Japanese terms used in the text. This is a literary device traditionally used when writing about Japan in English, particularly in scholarly work. The idea is that by italicizing the unfamiliar words, you make them stand out, and make them easier to read quickly and understand in context.
All Japanese terms used in the subs will be explained in episode notes that go along with each release, in case you’re still confused about something after you finish an episode. We will try to explain every italicized term to the best of our ability. We’ll also be footnoting cultural references, things that aren’t matters of language so much as matters of what Japan was like when Kakuranger was originally produced. While Kakuranger is a patriotic show, it’s not a jingoistic one. A lot of episodes are topical, and focus on criticizing various social changes that were occurring at the time. We’ll try to point out when an episode is engaging in social commentary in a way that might not be entirely obvious, and kind of confusing if you’re not sure what the show is going on about.
We will endeavor to make sure that translations of episodes can be understood and enjoyed without reading any of the release notes, of course. The notes are simply there for viewers who may want to know more about a topic, or who felt like there was something going on in an episode that was a bit inexplicable. Kakuranger is an extremely well-written series and a landmark entry in the Super Sentai franchise, but it’s also a show that can be difficult for Western fans to watch as easily as they might watch something like, well, Dairanger. We want to provide every possible resource for fans who want to really get into it while we do this release.
As for the names of gadgets and robots… that is, the toy-related names. There’s much debate in the Sentai fan community about whether or not the names of toy items, particularly robots and gadgets, should be translated in subtitles. Generally, toy collectors prefer that toy items have their names transliterated, so they don’t have to memorize two sets of names for everything. More story-oriented fans want translations of the toy items names to appear in the subtitles, so they can understand how the names were supposed to “feel” to its original audience. Both camps hold very valid viewpoints, and it’s literally impossible to please them both. Ultimately, what we do as release staff will just be a matter of what feels right for the show.
If you watched the Zyuranger release we did with MegaAnon, you saw that most of the toy-related names written in Japanese were left that way. This is because there’s really only a handful of Japanese terms that occur in the show, and their meanings were not essential to deciphering anything about the story. Kakuranger, however, throws gobs and gobs of Japanese at the audience, both in the toy names and in basic dialogue. As discussed above, a lot of the Japanese terminology the show uses can’t easily be replaced in English. As a result, we’ve decided to be a bit more liberal about translating toy names for this release, when simple and direct translations are possible. Leaving everything untranslated seemed like it could help push the subs into being overwhelming.
That said, you may be surprised to see how many toy names are left untranslated. In part, this is because there are some terms the show uses purely because they sound particularly old-fashioned and super-Japanese, and replacing them with English terms was awkward at best. We also have to account for the presence in the show of Jiraiya, a particularly demented and memorable character who… well, just watch the show. You’ll see what sort of translation problems he single-handedly creates.
Ultimately, we want the item names to be kept short and easy to remember, so it’s not too annoying for either toy collectors or more story-oriented fans. For purists who may dislike having any translated names for toy items in the subs, we will provide alternates that you can use to replace the translated names in the scripts. You can’t make everyone happy all of the time, so hopefully this is a compromise that isn’t too awkward.
Episode 1 Notes
Please be sure to watch the episode before you read the release notes. The release notes address things that could be confusing in the order in which they occur in the episode, and they’ll probably be overwhelming and confusing if you attempt to read them first. They may also contain spoilers.
The first episode of Kakuranger can be rough going for a foreign audience, since the show dives right in to showing off how outrageously Japanese it is. As a result, and the release notes for this episode are frankly enormous. Generally, later episodes will require fewer notes, although it’ll vary depending on what an episode’s plot is about.
Kakuranger was written with the assumption that its audience would already know most of the things we address in these notes. Most of what is listed here would be things even a small Japanese child would already understand, just due to cultural immersion, but that even a long-time fan of tokusatsu might not have picked up yet.
– [01.22.82] The Storyteller
Kakuranger’s infamous “narrator,” called the Storyteller in credit translations, is famous rakugo performer Sanyuutei Enjou. Rakugo is a form of Japanese comic storytelling where the performer sits on a stage, wielding a fan, and tells a funny anecdote to his gathered audience. The storyteller uses a fan as a prop, and changes his voice while playing different roles. The comedy of rakugo is usually quite broad, and many of the tales would be considered quite corny by Western standards (they’re often compared to sitcom plots). It remains popular in Japan to this day as a form of folk art.
The first arc of Kakuranger puts a big emphasis on comedy, and often pokes fun at both the heroes and villains. The Storyteller is there to help remind the show’s original audience that this is supposed to be a comedy, and you should be laughing at the antics of these misfit heroes and villains. Remember that prior to Kakuranger, Sentai had at most comedic scenes or episodes. The idea of a strictly comedic story arc in Sentai was something the audience at the time probably wouldn’t have expected. It was probably reasonable to worry that viewers wouldn’t quite understand what the show was doing without (literally) a character present to point it out.
There are certain formulaic elements of rakugo storytelling that the Storyteller emphasizes in this episode. For instance, stories always end with what is called a “fall,” an abrupt interruption or sudden stop. Since Kakuranger is tokusatsu, the Storyteller’s performance ends with him telling a lousy joke, then abruptly exploding. (Tokusatsu is awesome.)
If you want to get a taste of what Rakugo is like, here’s the performer Shijaku Katsura performing the rakugo tale “Toki-Udon” in both Japanese and English: Part 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTZelRe4Ffo), Part 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fwADVoZTSE&feature=relmfu)
– [01:43.14] The Five Famous Ninjas
In Kakuranger, our heroes are descendants of Sarutobi Sasuke, Kirigakure Saizou, Miyoshi Seikai Nyudo, Jiraiya, and Tsuruhime. These five names would be known to the original Japanese audience as figures from folklore. That’s really all you need to know about them to understand the story, just that they were five famous ninja characters from ancient Japan’s Warring States.
If you want to know a little bit more, though: Sarutobi Sasuke is a folk hero, possibly based on real-life ninjas. He became a major figure in Japanese pop culture in the early 20th century, thanks to a series of children’s books that gathered up folktales about him. Sarutobi was a character often associated with the idea of agility and monkey-like climbing skill; his family name literally means “monkey jump.” Usually, Sarutobi is remembered as the leader of the “Sanada Ten Braves”, a fictional supergroup of mythic ninjas who aided the warlord Sanada Yukimura. Kirigakure Saizou is usually counted among the Sanada Ten Braves, and is often portrayed as Sarutobi’s best friend and greatest rival. This is probably why their descendants debut in the first episode together, as bickering pals.
Tsuruhime is based on an actual historical figure, though one that’s obscure in English (in fact, try Googling the name and you’ll mostly get Kakuranger hits). The historical Tsuruhime was not a ninja, but instead was the daughter of Oohouri Yasumochi, high priest of the Oyamazumi Shrine in Iyo. When their lord Ouchi Yoshitaka embarked on his conquest of the surrounding lands, the Oohouri family sent their oldest son Yasufusa to command their family’s portion of Ouchi’s army. Yasufusa was killed in battle, and so his 16-year-old sister Tsuruhime went to replace him. She lead the Oohouri armies to victory, and became especially famous for her custom-made breastplate. Called the Konito Susosu Kageodoshi Doumaru, Tsuruhime’s breastplate is the only known piece of its type ever constructed for a woman. It has survived intact to this day, and is now considered a cultural artifact.
Since Seikai and Jiraiya’s descendants won’t appear until future episodes, we’ll wait until then to cover their mythology.
– [02:41.64] Nurarihyon
Nurarihyon is a Japanese legendary creature who’s often thought to be the leader of all yokai in folklore, since he is believed to lead the “hyakki yagyo,” in English called the “Parade of One Hundred Monsters.” This is a folk belief that on summer nights, the Nurarihyon will gather one hundred yokai together and parade them, reveling, through city streets while the humans sleep. Anyone who encountered the parade would surely die.
In folklore, the Nurarihyon is fairly different from the one we see in Kakuranger. Nurarihyon was thought to be a yokai who looked like an old man. He would break into people’s houses while they were gone, drink their tea, and generally act like he owned the place. The idea that you could seal away the power of the yokai by sealing away Nurarihyon seems to be an invention of Kakuranger’s writers.
– [03:43.42] Yokai and Yoki
Yokai is a term used to describe a bewildering array of supernatural creatures that figure prominently in Japanese folklore, combining the kanji for “supernatural” and “weird.” Yokai are often presented as dangerous to humans in folklore, but they’re not necessarily evil there. Various sorts of magical animal monsters are yokai, as are certain types of demon, goblin, ghosts, and even transformed humans. Kakuranger uses monsters based on all of these different types of yokai, so it seemed best to not translate the term in any particular way. In Kakuranger, most yokai are assumed to also be ninjas, which is really just because the show is about ninjas.
Yoki seems to be something else Kakuranger’s writers just made up. The term combines the supernatural yo from youkai with ki, or “life force.” It’s pretty logical, from a Japanese point of view, that sealing away the supernatural energy (yoki) of the world would weaken all of the yokai. Kakuranger doesn’t talk a whole lot about yoki after its early episodes, but it’s something to keep in mind.
– [03:53.52] Street food
When we first see Sasuke and Saizou, they’re arguing about whether to go for burgers or ramen. These are the two stereotypical types of fast food that were associated with young people in the early 90s. When the Storyteller yells at them to get omurice instead, he’s referring to a dish sometimes called “omelet rice,” a form of fusion cuisine that’s really popular in Japan. It’s essentially an omelet filled with fried rice and topped with ketchup. It’s associated with home cooking and often served on children’s menus or in diners that specialize in comfort food. So the Storyteller is basically telling Sasuke and Saizou to quit eating crap and go get some real food.
– [04:47.56] Kappa Inari Shrine
There’s no such thing as a “Kappa Inari Shrine,” so Sasuke and Saizou should’ve known to be suspicious of the old man’s offer. There are “Inari Shrines,” though, where you propitiate the deity Inari Okami by giving an offering of food, particularly inari-zushi (sushi rice stuffed into a fried tofu pocket), other fried tofu dishes, and sake. Generally the paths to inari shrines are lined with shops that sell food and sake that can be left as an offering. These offerings are usually inexpensive. It’s likely that Sasuke and Saizou were thinking they could spend a little bit of the money on a shrine offering for the old man, then keep the rest of the money in the bag for themselves.
– [05:02.44] “Ninja De Gozaru!”
Ending sentences with “de gozaru” is part of an old-fashioned speech pattern, a bit comparable to how people would think of speaking with thees and thous in English. You hear it sometimes from a character who’s supposed to sound a bit courtly and old-fashioned (say, Himura Kenshin in Rurouni Kenshin). It’s also a speech pattern that is sometimes associated, in a weirdly specific way, with ninjas. For instance, if you watch the anime Tiger & Bunny, the hero Origami Cyclone speaks with the “de gozaru” speech pattern specifically when he is “in character” as a ninja. When he reverts to his secret identity, he speaks normally.
This can be a very difficult speech pattern to deal with in translation, depending on context. It’s one thing if you’re dealing with a guy like Kenshin, where its significance is obvious. It’s often dropped if, say, only one character in the cast is using it, and he’s using it specifically because he’s a ninja. In this episode, we decided to go with the “old-fashioned” interpretation, since it’s specifically the Kakuranger’s ninja ancestors who speak this way. It’s one of the things that sets them apart from their modern descendants.
– [05:34.34] “Pass through, oh, pass through”
This is a Japanese folk song called Touryanse that’s so old, its origins are largely unclear. It seems to tell the story of a parent (probably a mother) and child traveling through a checkpoint on the way to a shrine, and was probably originally sung by children. There’s a children’s game that goes along with it, where two children link arms for form a “castle arch,” and other children walk or run beneath them. In modern-day Japan, it’s played at crosswalks to indicate when it’s safe to cross the street. In Kakuranger, the yokai sing it to mislead Sasuke and Saizou into following the singing girl, who seems to be promising them safe passage.
– [06:52.98] Hana Ichi Monme
Another super-traditional Japanese children’s song, sung as part of a children’s game that’s similar to “Red Rover.” The “hana ichi monme” part of the lyrics borders on being complete nonsense, sung largely to keep time in the song. The monme is an ancient Japanese unit of measurement, equivalent to 3.75 grams. The phrase “hana ichi monme” literally means “a flower weighs one monme,” and has no relevance to the other lyrics of the song. Since it’s a nonsense-phrase anyway, we opted to leave it in Japanese so viewers wouldn’t think too much about that part of the lyrics. The part we translated is the part that’s relevant to how the yokai are treating Sasuke and Saizou.
– [09:03.02] Cucumbers
In Japanese folklore, cucumbers are said to be a kappa’s favorite food. Their second-favorite is human children. So when Japanese families went to bathe or swim in a river or pond, they might toss cucumbers in first to distract any kappa dwelling nearby. In Kakuranger, Kappa’s ability to transform the money into cucumbers plays on the association from folklore, but doesn’t directly reference anything from it.
– [09:13.54] Sandayuu
There’s two things to note with Sandayuu. You may notice that Sandayuu is written a little differently than the other characters. That’s because he’s speaking in an unusual dialect, Sanuki-ben,that originates in the Kagawa Prefecture (once called Sanuki Province) of the island of Shikoku. The dialect is characterized primarily by changes of diction. Shikoku is a small southern island, and so its people use slightly different terms to refer to things than a person from Tokyo would. The accent seems to be associated, culturally, with people who are from far away and have curious but not unpleasant customs. For Kakuranger, we’ve decided to interpret it as a mild Irish brogue. Generally we try to keep accent translations mild, so the text remains easy to read.
Also, Sandayuu is also based loosely on a famous ninja from folklore. Sandayuu’s inspiration is Momochi Sandayuu, who trained the famous ninja Ishikawa Goemon. This relationship ended with Sandayuu being made to look the fool, as Goemon ends up stealing one of Sandayuu’s swords and one of his mistresses.
– [09:57.60] Kappa
The Storyteller says a little about kappa in this episode, but there’s plenty he leaves out. Kappa are a sort of turtle-like goblin believed to live in any sizable lake, pool, or stream. Although kappa make mischief for humans, drowning or even eating them, they’re not considered intrinsically evil. Kappa are counted among the suijin or “water deities,” and there are kappa shrines throughout Japan where they can be given prayers and offerings (pickled octopus, cucumber, and sake are traditional). You could say that Kappa only make trouble for humans who are especially foolish or reckless. This episode’s plot reflects that belief, as the Kappa chides Sasuke and Saizou for being greedy and easily fooled.
– [11:10.84] Street Fashion Yokai
In addition to Kappa, this episode also introduces us to the yokai Azukiarai, Nurikabe, and Mokumokuren. It’s worth pointing out here that while Kakuranger’s monster designs are based somewhat on traditional representations of monsters, they’re not meant to be entirely faithful. The idea behind Kakuranger’s monster suits is traditional yokai mixed with then-contemporary street fashions and other symbols of urban living. So you have the brightly-colored Kappa in swim goggles, an Azukiarai that lives in a trash can, Nurikabe’s wall is covered in graffiti, and a Mokumokuren that acts like a flasher. We’ll get more into the specific mythologies of these yokai when we see them again, later in the show. For now, just bear in mind that the show is displaying these designs to get its idea of city-dwelling yokai across to an audience that would’ve quickly recognized the pattern in the unusual designs.
– [12:47.82] “What’s with the getup?”
This is a fairly loose translation of Sasuke’s line. A more literal translation would be “What are you, a kogal?” Kogal is Japanese slang that describes an extremely fashionable, pretty, but often vapid teenage girl. In the 90s, a kogal fashion trend was wearing a scarf over your hair. Sasuke’s essentially making fun at Tsuruhime’s weird ninja getup, by comparing her ninja costume’s headgear to a kogal hair scarf. The line’s meant to come off a bit rude, and cast Sasuke in an unflattering light. For this particular line, we just opted to translate around the reference, since it was easy to make the line’s meaning clear without a direct kogal reference.
– [14:06.04] Mighty Shogun
His Japanese name is “Muteki Shogun.”
– [14.33.24] Doron Changer
Doron is a Japanese sound effect specifically associated with ninjas vanishing in a burst of smoke, say after a smoke bomb has gone off. It doesn’t really have a direct English equivalent. We played with a few ways of translating this, but ultimately they sounded very labored, so we’ve decided to let the device name stand as-is. There’s a pop culture theme running through Kakuranger that’s expressed by use of comic book sound effects for various things, and the use of Doron in the transformation device’s item is part of that.
(There’s also, to be honest, something that comes up in episode 03 that influenced our decision. If you’ve already seen Kakuranger, you probably know who I’m talking about.)
– [15:24.06] Kappamaki
Kappamaki are better known on sushi menus as “cucumber rolls.” This type of sushi, which is sliced cucumber wrapped in rice and seaweed, takes its Japanese name from the kappa’s famous fondness for cucumber. Usually we would translate the name of a food like this, since it has a common English alternative, but then you’d lose the play on words.
– [15:30.88] Don’t blow your top!
What Kappa’s saying here in Japanese is “otsumu-tenten”, which is a ‘baby talk’ way of telling someone to pat their head. Some parents play this game with crying babies or toddlers, to get them to calm down and focus on something less stressful. Colloquially, the expression can also be used in a snide, condescending sort of way to tell someone to calm down. That’s how Kappa is using the expression here, so we translated it with a roughly equivalent American expression that refers to the head, “Don’t blow your top!”
There’s also a joke about kappas here. One of the beliefs about them in folklore is that there’s an indentation on the tops of their heads that must remain full of water at all times. If the water splashes out, the kappa will immediately become paralyzed or die. So sometimes if a kappa plans to spend a lot of time on land, he wears a metal cap to cover up the indentation and keep the water safely in his head. When Kappa smacks his head while saying this line, you can hear the sound of water splashing– the water implied to be beneath his yellow swim cap.
– [15:33.82] Super Henge
Henge means “change,” but it’s an extremely Japanese way of saying “change,” bordering on old-fashioned. Sometimes transforming monsters from Japanese myths are called hengeyokai, with the henge indicating their ability to change shape (from, say, a human to an animal). We decided to preserve Henge in this case, since it’s obvious from context what it means, but maybe not so obvious that something extremely Japanese is supposed to be happening.
(Also… again, there’s stuff in episode 3 that influences our stance on this pretty fundamentally.)
– [16:50.84] Shu Shu Shu
During the fight, the words “Shu! Shu! Shu!,” written in Roman letters, appear on the screen. Much like the “Zbaaaakk!” you see earlier, this is a sound effect. It’s just a peculiarly Japanese one, for all that it’s written with the Roman alphabet. “Shushu” is the sound of something whooshing. When used with ninjas, shushu usually refers to the sound of them running quickly, or to the sound of them rapidly throwing shuriken. Kakuranger uses it almost exclusively for shuriken throws.
– [16:53.70] Kakure Ninpo
The basic translation for “ninpo” is ninja arts, but in Kakuranger, ninpo is basically just magic. If you are a sufficiently good ninja, you can make just about anything happen. The “Kaku” in Kakuranger comes from “kakure,” which means “hidden.” Certain attacks or items the Kakurangers use frequently incorporate the word kakure into their names.
– [17:09.86] The Blade, Kakuremaru
Kakuremaru is the name of the swords the Kakurangers use, so we’ve treated their names as proper nouns (as is customary for swords in English). The -maru part of the name is used frequently for weapons and ships. Literally it means “circle,” but when used as part of a name, it means “noble” or “exalted.”
The “hiken” part is tricky. The kanji are “secret” and “sword,” but together they refer to exotic or advanced forms of swordplay. So we think the “hiken” is supposed to indicate that the Kakuremaru is a particularly high-quality sword, that can be used to execute advanced techniques. We’ve handled this by translating hiken as “blade,” and treating it as a sort of epithet or title for the sword (“The Blade, Kakuremaru”).
– [17:38.12] Ninpo Basketball
I’m sure you’re wondering “Why is Kappa calling it a basketball when he’s clearly kicking it like a soccer ball?” We’ve checked and checked this, but that does appear to be what Kappa is saying. Maybe one of the writers got a bit confused?
– [18:34.47] Dororon
Dororon is a more forceful version of the doron sound effect that the Doron Changer is named after. The repetition is basically just for singing along with the song.
– [18:45.22] Makibishi
Makibishi is the Japanese term for what are called caltrops or spikes in English. They’re small bits of sharpened metal you scatter on the ground to frustrate pursuers. This is usually something we’d translate, but the way it’s used in the song made us think that what the word meant was far less important than how it sounded when you were singing along.
Episode 2 notes
– [02:49.85] Miyoshi Seiki Nyudo
Seikai’s ninja ancestor was one of the Sanada Ten Braves. The “nyudo” signifies that he was a Buddhist monk. In the original novel that established the story, Miyoshi had a brother named Isa who was also a monk. Later on in the episode, when his ancestor notes that Seikai’s probably a ladies’ man, the show is playing off of the Japanese stereotype of Buddhist monks as lecherous.
– [08:52.56] Rokurokubi
In mythology, Rokurokubi is a yokai that appears as a beautiful woman by day, but transforms into a horrible monster at night. Some legends depict rokurokubi as living stealthily in human society, spying upon humans, while others depict them as more simple-minded monsters. In some stories, a woman can be a rokurokubi without realizing it. A few legends depict rokurokubi as humans transformed into yokai for breaking Buddhist religious laws. In these stories, the rokurokubi is a demonic creature that devours other humans. Kakuranger combines aspects of all of these stories into its depiction, and adds in an additional squid motif (perhaps to better harmonize her design with the aquatic Kappa).
– [15:32.56] Juushou Simiadar
Juushou combines the character for “beast” with the “sho” from “shogun”. Literally, it would mean “beast commander,” but that doesn’t convey quite the right idea. The juushou don’t issue orders to animals. The concept of the Juushou is more that they’re divine creatures who are exalted above ordinary beasts, as a commander is exalted above a soldier, and so are giants that walk on two legs. The Juushou essentially grant the Kakurangers the divine powers of a animal spirit.
In Japanese, Sasuke’s Juushou is named Sarudar. This name is meant to evoke monkeys (saru), as the Red Ranger’s power animal (since he’s Sarutobi Sasuke). Since he has the big “S” on his chest, we thought we could translate “saru” in this case with “simian,” an adjective used in English to describe monkey. So: Simiadar. If you hate it, feel free to change it!
Kakuranger Episode 3 Notes
– [01:27.28] Makimono
Typically makimono is translated as “scroll,” but we’re making an exception in Kakuranger, and mainly because of the events of this episode. The term makimono in Japanese specifically refers to scrolls that open horizontally rather than vertically. This distinction is important in scholarly discourse, so the term is sometimes preserved in English writing about Japanese things. In fansubs, you usually wouldn’t need to do that.
But, this episode of Kakuranger introduces Jiraiya, the Kakuranger who’s famous for speaking mostly in English at this point in the show. As a result of this, there’s some exchanges later in the episode (especially around [14:58.51]) that play upon the idea that Ninja Yellow and Ninja Blue understand the Japanese word “makimono,” but not the English word “scroll.” Using both words in the subs seemed to be the best way to make this episode’s central communication problem clear. To avoid confusion in future episodes, we’ll keep using makimono in the subs, too.
– [03.43.50] Oboroguruma
The Storyteller glosses over him a bit, but Oboroguruma is a chariot yokai. He’s one of the major yokai with a specific origin, rather than just generally hailing from older folklore. Oboroguruma first appears in the Konjaku Hyakki Shuui (typically translated as “Supplement to the Hundred Demons from the Present and Past”), which is the third book of Japanese artist Sekien Toriyama’s Gazu Hyakki Yagyou. The Gazu Hyakki Yagyou was essentially a bestiary, presenting short descriptions of various monsters along with a representational drawing. Oboroguruma’s depiction in this episode (and the other yokai art you see in the series), is drawn in a loose reproduction of Toriyama’s style. The oboroguruma of the Gazu Hyakki Yagyou was an ox-drawn cart that contained only an enormous human head, which would appear to terrify travelers on hazy moonlit nights around Kyoto.
– [05:25.16] American Ninja
Not so much a translation note, but: as mentioned above, this episode introduces Kakuranger’s primarily English-speaking member from Los Angeles. If you’re wondering how a character concept this crazy made it into the show, it all goes back to Kakuranger being intended at least in part as social commentary. Jiraiya is a representation of the nikkeijin phenomena– that is, people of Japanese descent who were raised outside Japan. Brazil currently plays host to the world’s largest population of nikkeijin, but the United States is a close second. Nikkeijin are still considered Japanese and qualify for Japanese citizenship through the third generation (called sansei nikkei).
Jiraiya is a nisei (second generation) nikkeijin, so he’s still Japanese… but as you can see, he also comes across as quite strange to his teammates who were raised in Japan. His conflict with his team is essentially a sillier version of a conflict that persists in Japanese society to this day, namely trying to figure out exactly how nikkeijin fit into Japanese society (if at all). It was a particularly hot topic in the 1990s, when the Japanese government was offering monetary rewards to South American nikkeijin who would return to Japan and take up jobs there.
The job opportunities open to these nikkeijin were sometimes limited to what native Japanese called the “three Ks”, jobs that were dirty [kitanai], dangerous [kiken], or difficult [kitsui]– that is, jobs that native Japanese increasingly refused to perform. These repatriated nikkeijin might be again asked to leave (sometimes with monetary incentives attached) during times of high unemployment, a policy the Japanese government has enacted as recently as 2009. The nikkeijin issue has grown more pressing in the face of Japan’s declining birth rate, and there is no clear or easy resolution to it in sight.
– [05:48.33] Jiraiya
The mythology behind Jiraiya’s name is probably more well-known outside Japan than that of the other characters, owing to popular ninja-themed manga and anime like Naruto. The Jiraiya of folklore originates from a novel, Jiraiya Gouketsu Monogatari (usually translated as “The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya”). The Jiraiya of the novels had the magical ability to shapeshift into a giant toad, which lead to toads and frogs having a longstanding association with ninjas in Japanese pop culture. The novel is one of the first real pop culture sensations in Japanese history, published in a series of 43 installments between 1839 to 1868, and written by many different authors. The Jiraiya Gouketsu Monogatari was sort of a 19th century equivalent to modern American superhero comics.
– [07:09.32] Oden
Oden is a Japanese dish most commonly associated with winter, and most often served as street food or cheap convenience store food. It consists of a hodge-podge of ingredients that are boiled together in broth flavored with soy sauce. Foods that show up in oden include boiled eggs, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, potatoes, octopus, and various types of tofu. It’s meant to be a simple, homey sort of meal that warms you up on a chilly day.
– [07:15.00] Azukiarai
Not the monster this week, but still a fairly important character. In folklore, azukiarai is thought to be a demon that appears as a short, grotesque man. He makes a mysterious noise, written as shoki shoki, that is supposed to sound like red azuki beans being ground into paste. The azukiarai of folklore is an evil yokai that delights in terrifying humans and sometimes devours them when he wants a respite from grinding beans. Azukiarai appeared by rivers in folklore, where women might go to wash or grind azuki beans. Kakuranger updates him by making him a monster that dwells in a trash can, with shoki shoki perhaps representing the rustling of trash cans on the street.
– [10:02.22] Shoki
As mentioned above, this sound that Azukiarai makes is associated with the rustle of azuki beans being washed or ground. Since it’s such a specific noise, one with no real English counterpart, we’ve opted to transliterate it. It also tends to be transliterated in descriptions of the monster you find online or in books, in our experience.
– [12:26.89] I told you to work with your team
The Japanese stereotype Americans as brash, impulsive, and individualistic, and stereotype themselves as reserved, methodical, and group-oriented. That’s why Jiraiya, who is essentially half-American, gets a lecture on the folly of trying to do everything himself. In the 1990s, older people in Japan expressed fears that even native-born Japanese were becoming “too American” by adopting more individualistic values, which is why Jiraiya gets lectured by the ninja ancestors for essentially not behaving Japanese enough.
Stereotyping is also why Jiraiya is a roller-skating cowboy in this episode. That depiction is, of course, inaccurate. Most Americans in the 1990s did not wear roller skates.
– [13:03.45] Super Henge!
In prior episode notes, we alluded to keeping some terms in Japanese because a character who otherwise spoke only English used the Japanese terms very consistently. Welp, here it is! While there are some other benefits to leaving the transformation item and call in Japanese, we mainly do it because translating dialogue that is otherwise mostly in English gets into a weird area we’d rather avoid. And really, if the show’s writers had wanted Jiraiya to say an English version of the item and transformation calls, they would’ve had him do that.
– [15:17.80] I am bad at the heat
While Jiraiya speaks predominantly in English in this portion of the show, he can speak Japanese. His Japanese just has a heavy, awkward accent in this part of the show. It’s essentially a streotype of how Japanese think foreigners speaking Japanese sound. To reflect this, we’re going to make a point of translating Jiraiya’s “bad” Japanese as stiffly and literally as possible. His Japanese does improve over the course of the show, and we’ll reflect this by gradually making his lines sound more natural. Just keep this in mind if you’re watching an episode, Jiraiya starts talking, and the translation suddenly goes to crazytown.
– [15:24.48] Bow!
Webpages in both Japanese and English typically refer to this attack as “Black Bow.” As you can plainly hear, though, Jiraiya just says “Bow” in this episode. We have no idea why.
– [16:18.27] White Craan
Ah, a run of new robot names. These all work similarly to Sarudar vs Simiadar: the Japanese is a slightly distorted reference to the ranger’s totem animal, and is replaced with an English-derived name wherever possible. The Japanese name, White Kaaku, is based on the Chinese reading of the crane kanji (kaku). We opted to call her White Craan in English, since that lets us distort the animal reference in a similar way.
– [16:28.36] Yellow Ursado
The Japanese for this robot is Yellow Kumado, based on “kuma” or bear. The -do doesn’t appear to mean anything in particular, and is probably just inserted to make the robot’s name sound more robotty.
– [16:37.90] Blue Lugan
The Japanese for this robot’s name is Blue Rougan. The name derives from rou, which is the Chinese reading of the ‘wolf’ kanji. The translated name, Lugan, is meant to play on the English word “lupine.” The -gan means nothing in particular, and again, just makes the name sound more robotty.
– [16:48.96] Black Ranna
The Japanese for this robot’s name is Black Ganma, derived from “gama” or toad. This was a tricky one to bring into English, as neither “frog” nor “toad” worked into the robot’s name gracefully. We opted to use a name derived from “rana,” the genus all frogs belong to in scientific classification. It’s a bit of a stretch, we admit, but “rana” seems to be reasonably well-known as a term associated with frogs. Feel free to change it if you hate it.
– [17:47.84] “Help me” means “Help me” in Japanese, right?
You may have noticed that we’ve subbed all of Jiraiya’s lines spoken in English, even though the actor’s English is quite fluent. We played around with leaving Jiraiya’s lines unsubbed, but didn’t really like the end result. Also, in test runs of the episode, it became clear that Jiraiya’s sudden perfect English was so jarring that viewers sometimes missed what he was saying, even though it wasn’t really difficult to hear.
As a compromise, and to help handle lines like this one, we decided to sub Jiraiya’s lines in a special font. It’s just the unbolded version of the default font, but it’s helpful for handling situations where other characters are mixing English and Japanese together freely. While many episodes don’t use this device, there’s a few upcoming that would be pretty difficult to make legible without a special font for dialogue spoken in English.
Episode 4 notes
– [02:37.97] JAYwalking
The Japanese phrase being cited here is a little saying used to teach kids about pedestrian traffic safety. (How very Carranger.) The green-walking and yellow-walking parts of the saying actually reference insects with the Japanese terms for that color in their names. The JAYwalking part references the ‘shingo-mushi,’ which plays on the fact that ‘mushi’ can mean ‘insect’ or ‘ignore,’ depending on how it’s written. So the Kakurangers are ignoring the signal, or jaywalking, as we say in English.
– [07:40.81] Dorodoro
The Kakuranger mooks, the Dorodoro, are named after “hyu-dorodoro,” a sound effect used in kabuki performances of ghost stories. This name isn’t actually related to the doron from Doron Changer, or the dororon from the ending theme. (Also, the doro-doro in the ending theme probably isn’t referencing this term, either.)
– [08:18.38] Should I grind azuki beans, or should I eat a human?
This is a catchphrase associated with the azukiarai in folklore. If you stumbled upon an azukiarai washing beans at night, he might mutter it as a warning to get away, unless you want to be devoured.
– [11:18.94] My place of birth is Hawaii!
Why on Earth would Sasuke claim to be from Hawaii? Well, Hawaii is a very popular tourist destination for the Japanese, and a very large community of Japanese expatriates (and nikkeijin) live there. It makes a certain amount of sense to try and pass himself off as a nikkeijin yokai. The idea of a yokai named Sarutonbo is entirely made-up, but probably plays off of the “saru” in Sarutobi Sasuke’s name.
– [12:39.89] People gotta be able to love their local police force!
This is not a weird exaggeration on Sasuke’s part. There is an expectation in traditional Japanese culture that your local police should be seen as completely friendly, helpful, and trustworthy. Of course, reality has a way of falling short of ideals, especially in Japan’s large cities. In the 1990s, accusations of corruption among Japanese police forces were on the rise, especially in Tokyo and Osaka.
– [17:03.34] Rest in peace!
What the Kakurangers actually say here is “namusan,” which is an abbreviated version of “namusanbou,” a Buddhist chant that means “Hail the Three Treasures of Buddhism.” In its original form, the chant was a way for people to express their faith in Buddha, the Buddha’s teachings, and Buddhist salvation.
In modern usage, it’s become something more along the lines of a mild swear or exclamation, similar to “For the love of God!” and similar statements. So often when it shows up in a TV show like Kakuranger, or other contemporary media like video games, its use is ironic. It’s a bit like something a douchebag kid or a greasy punk might say.
It’s particularly common for characters to say it over the figure of a defeated foe, so we went with the “Rest in peace!” interpretation. Translating it literally would result in something way too confusing. We considered transliterating it, but since it’s used as an exclamation by itself, there would be no way for a viewer to intuit any information about its meaning from context.
If you watched H-S’s original release of this, you might remember that it was handled as “Have mercy on your soul!” This wasn’t wrong, but we decided to move away from it to make sure we didn’t add too many Christian overtones to the dialogue of the Kakurangers. They’re clearly supposed to be characters who follow the same mixture of Buddhism and Shinto that most Japanese people do, and we want to emphasize that this go-round. You’ll see why in future episodes.
Episode 5 notes
Nurikabe is the a yokai that’s more of a mischief-maker than a real bane of mankind, at least in folklore. Nurikabe was thought to be wall monster, possibly invisible, that would appear to block a traveler’s path. Going around Nurikabe was impossible, as he could extend his body forever. If you simply knock on the lower part of the wall, though, Nurikabe disappears. This is probably a tale someone dreamed up to “explain” how travelers get lost on long journeys.
The other yokai Nurikabe gambles with, Mokumokuren, is the focus of the next episode. We’ll cover his mythology then. It’s worth pointing out here, though, that there’s no connection between Nurikabe and Mokumokuren in folklore. That idea is something Kakuranger dreamed up for its own purposes.
[13:38.12] Ninpo Battle Tile!
This attack begs the question, “why is it called “Battle Tile” when it clearly involves bricks?” It’s especially weird because another brick-related manuever uses the term for “brick” explicitly, even if in Japanese. We’ve looked into this and as far as we can tell, there’s no particular logic behind the attack name. It seems to be a case like the first episode’s Ninpo Basketball, where the monster is clearly saying a certain thing even though it doesn’t really make any sense in context. Perhaps the writers got a bit confused again.
Episode 6 Notes
[03:05.06] Tsuruhime’s Prince
It’s kind of hard to miss that Tsuruhime’s “prince” is being played by a woman. Chances are this is a reference to the Rose of Versailles, a best-selling 1972 shoujo manga set in Revolutionary France. The manga’s protagonists are Marie Antoinette and her cross-dressing bodyguard Lady Oscar Francois de Jarjayes, who is depicted as a masculine ideal that happens to occupy a feminine body. Women in the manga typically adore Lady Oscar as a sort of “perfect prince.” Rose of Versailles’s huge popularity with young Japanese women through the years might explain why Kakuranger’s creators decided to depict Tsuruhime’s fantasy in this particular way.
Mokumokuren is a yokai tied to certain features of classic Japanese architecture. Most Japanese houses used shouji, or “sliding paper walls,” to divide space. Shouji are the distinctive walls you see in costume dramas or samurai flicks, made of a wooden lattice holding sheets of white translucent paper. As you might expect, it’s pretty easy for the paper parts of a shouji to get torn, or have holes poked in them.
If the holes aren’t repaired, then a mokumokuren moves into it. You know a mokumokuren is living in a torn shouji if you peer into the hole, and see an eyeball peering back out at you. If you stare into a mokumokuren’s eye for too long, you’ll go blind. This is the worst mokumokuren can do to someone, making him more of a pest than anything else. If someone repairs the holes in a shoji, then the mokumokuren dwelling there will flee.
Mokumokuren’s ability to use illusions and shapeshift is something Kakuranger made up, as far as we can tell. You have to admit, the original form of mokumokuren probably wouldn’t make for a very good Sentai monster.
[09:16.32] They tricked them with potato to buy jewelrys.
Remember what we said about Jiraiya’s Japanese being bad? In this case, we thought it’d be funny to reflect that by having his dialogue match up with the Engrishy newspaper headline. It’s really easy to end up accidentally saying stuff that sounds like this if you’re someone in Jiraiya’s position.
[10:54.84] Marriage Registration
This docuemnt is a parody of what a Japanese marriage license actually looks like. You may have seen similar parodies before if you’re the sort of person who keeps up with Japanese memes. For the marriage to be official, the bride, groom, and at least one witness have to stamp the document with their inkan, a personal kanji stamp that is used like a signature in Japanese documents. Note that Mokumokuren’s inkan is an eyeball, while Nurikabe’s (as the witness) is a wall.
[13:03.44] I sure do love fried eyes!
The ‘fried eye’ thing is not part of Mokumokuren’s original mythology, but instead it’s a reference that plays on the fact that Mokumokuren is an eyeball monster. What Westerners might call a fried egg over easy (or “sunny side up”) is called an “eyeball egg” in Japanese. So, obviously a real eyeball monster would take things a step farther and just eat fried human eyeballs.
Episode 7 Notes
We went back and forth on whether or not to italicize this term, but ultimately decided to err on the side of caution and italicize it and write a footnote. Ninjutsu is the Japanese term that refers to the martial arts techniques practiced by ninjas. Since it’s the name of a martial arts style, it does have some use in the English-speaking martial arts community. It’s just not quite common enough that it’s safe to assume that most people have probably heard it before.
There’s different styles of ninjutsu, ranging from classical to modern to a whole host of completely made-up ones in fiction. If you want to learn more about it, there’s no shortage of books and articles about ninjutsu out there in English. Ninjutsu is sometimes used interchangeably with ninpo in fiction, but in Kakuranger this is never the case. In Kakuranger, ninpo is always the name of the “magical” ninja techniques, while ninjutsu always refers to the overall ninja fighting style.
(In case you’re wondering, there was some debate about whether or not to keep origami in italics. That said, most American schools have taught origami as a general arts and crafts subject for years now. In this case, it seemed pretty likely that most people had probably heard of it before, and someone who hadn’t would have no difficulty looking it up in an standard dictionary.)
This is one of the more obscure legends Kakuranger has based a monster on, at least from a Western perspective. A gakitsuki is related to the gaki, the “hungry ghosts” of Japanese folklore that are pretty well-known. Gaki are ghosts driven mad when their descendants neglect family shrines and stop venerating them properly. The neglected ghosts go berserk and make trouble for humans, such as eating all of their food.
A gakitsuki is a creature of mountain legends, a gaki that has possessed a human in its desperate search for food. In certain regions of Japan, it’s thought that you should leave a little food uneaten in your box lunch, just in case you meet a gakitsuki. A gakitsuki can grow so hungry that it will eat humans, though putting even a single grain of rice in the gakitsuki’s mouth will help you escape.
It’s worth mentioning that gakitsuki in its original folklore isn’t a yokai at all, but instead a tsukimono or ‘transformed human’. Certain yokai are also transformed humans, though, and gaki is often counted among the creatures that appear in the ‘Parade of 100 Demons,’ so Kakuranger’s creators probably decided gakitsuki was close enough.
[04:26.92] The only thing yokai should be eatin’ is crow!
What Seikai is actually saying, translated more literally, is “If you’re a yokai, you should just eat some mist!” This is a reference to a belief, common to a lot of Asian folklore, that supernatural creatures can survive by just absorbing mist from the air. It’s also a reference to a sarcastic Japanese saying based on that belief, “I can’t just eat mist, you know,” used when someone feels like they’re not getting enough material compensation for their time and trouble.
Obviously, the average viewer of these Kakuranger subs probably wouldn’t know about the saying, even if they were familiar with the idea of supernatural beings consuming mist. Since Seikai is saying the line as a quip, we just changed it to a quip related to an English saying, so someone just watching the episodes casually gets a back-and-forth dialogue exchange that makes sense. We wanted to footnote the original version of the line, though, since we figured people really into Kakuranger’s monsters and mythology would be interested in it.
[04:38.61] Ninpo! Cha Siu Roll!
“Cha Siu” isn’t italicized in this line because it’s not a reference to a Japanese dish, but to a Chinese one. The name is romanized accordingly. Japan loves Chinese food, which is about as common there as Italian dishes are in English-speaking countries. While cha siu (or Chinese BBQ) pork is a dish that’s not hard to get in a lot of English-speaking countries, cha siu rolls are a little less common. A cha siu roll is hunks of cha siu pork, wrapped up tightly in a cooked rice noodle roll. In Chinese, the dish is called cha siu choeng. The attack name here is just referring to how it incapacitates Ninja Yellow by tying him up tightly.