Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon S2E11


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This is ラジオ体操 radio taisou, lit. radio exercise(s). Basically it’s a short series of light stretches intended for general health. It used to be broadcast over the radio (and I guess still is), but is also on TV and internet these days too.

It’s generally popular as a morning thing to kind of get the blood flowing—some companies (apparently around 1/3rd) even have a few minutes in the morning set aside to have everyone do it. Some neighborhoods will hold outdoor public gatherings during summer break, as a morning routine thing for children while school is out. It’s also a kinda stereotypical old-person thing to do.

There are two “sets,” known as radio taisou dai ichi, and radio taisou dai ni (basically “the first” and “the second”), and each has a standing version and sit-down version for improved accessibility.

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“Pound (shoulders)” here is 肩たたき kata-tataki, a type of shoulder massage that involves lightly bopping the recipient’s shoulders with the bottom of your fists. It’s a stereotypical thing for kids to do for parents/grandparents (remember the shoulder massage tickets Kanna gave Kobayashi for Father’s Day in ep 8? same thing).

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I honestly have no idea how effective it is.

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小林さんは安く済ませようとして、色々物を買ってしまうタイプなんでしょうか?

For clarity here, the idea is less that Kobayashi tries to buy lots of stuff for cheap, but that she wants to solve whatever problem on the cheap, and ends up wasting a bunch of money on several cheapo purchases that don’t really help.

Another angle on it might be like:

“Could she be the type who tries fixing a problem cheaply, but ends up paying more for less?”

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Just a bit of trivia, but in the manga Elma answers this question about computer chairs by saying “Yes, a good one costs as much as 1,000 cream buns.” 

That’s our Elma.

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Takiya’s word for “logic” here is 理屈 rikutsu. Rikutsu does mean “logic,” but it has another use too: referring to something that relies excessively on “theory” vs. practical application/real experience, or a kind of “forced” logic. 

Basically here he’s saying this out of modesty, not like “the solution was only logical.” 

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This “concerning” is 危うい ayaui, an adjective describing something that’s in a perilous situation, kind of like something you’d say “balanced on a razor’s edge” of. It’s typically for less immediately physical types of danger (which would use 危ない abunai instead).

In this case, while it’s true such situations are typically “concerning,” he’s not saying this because he’s concerned per se; he’s saying that situations like Tohru’s, where emotions run high (e.g. romantic relationships), are often fragile because of that strength of emotion.

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For “a little hard,” Tohru says グサッと gusa-tto. (“Sharp” was 鋭い surudoi, which is basically one-for-one.)

Gusa-tto is one of those sound effect words mentioned in previous notes, used to describe a heavy stab or pierce (literally or figuratively). (If you’ve seen that anime/manga visual gag where someone says something and the words/speech bubble “stab” the other person, that’s a more light-hearted use of this.)

I mostly bring it up here because the “he’s sharp”→”what he said cut deep” was a good pairing of evocative phrasing that we didn’t really get in the English.

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この程度でいいですか? kono teido de ii desu ka?
この程度でいいよ。   kono teido de ii yo.

Kobayashi’s answer here is repetition of the question, but changing the “question” marker for a declarative one. Like “Is this enough?” “This is enough.”

I bring it up here for two reasons. One is just because I mentioned the whole repetition thing in a previous episode’s notes, so as an example to help drive that home.

The other is that I have a bit of an issue with the choice of the word “perfect.” Kobayashi is generally a lowkey person (with some exceptions), prone more to understatement than overstatement, so a relatively strong word like perfect is a little out of character for this scene, I would say—especially given the Japanese.

The use of the particle で de in these two lines is also worth noting. In this context (where you’re talking about whether something is what you want), de ii and ga ii have two distinct meanings. With de, it’s “good enough.” With ga, it’s not just enough, it’s actively what you want. If you’ve seen romance shows where one person has low self-esteem, you’ve likely heard a question like “boku de ii?” answered with ”kimi ga ii.”

If there’d been some sort of twist to the phrasing like that, “perfect” might have been a good choice, but as it is I’d have probably stuck with something like “Yeah, this is plenty.” (if maintaining that sentence structure anyway)

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そういうもんですか?
そういうもんだよ。
分かりました。そうします。

Just one quick note for clarity on this exchange; the “that/this” they’re talking about is the “what Kobayashi wants” topic, not specifically this tail-chair thing or how fast the tail-vibrations are etc. You likely got that anyway, but I figured I’d mention just in case, since the Japanese wording felt more obvious about it.

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Notably here Daddy Tohru says 知り合い shiriai, which is very explicitly a level or two removed from “friend.” (it’s often translated as “acquaintance”)

They might actually be friends and he just phrases it that way because tsundere, but either way I don’t know if I’d use “friends” here.

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If you’ll recall from the Elma episode, “clairvoyance” there was 千里眼 senrigan. This is actually not that, but instead 未来視 mirai-shi, which is more or less literally “future sight.” It probably won’t really come up again(?), but just as a world-building thing I guess, know that this guy and Elma don’t actually have exactly the same power (at least in this instance).

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The word for “lost control” here is 暴走した bousou shita, which does basically mean that.

I would, however, like to point out that he’s not necessarily saying Tohru lost control of herselfBousou means that [whatever] is running wild, but that ranges from a runaway train, to someone going berserk, to someone acting rashly without consulting others.

My point in bringing it up is that “lost control” sounds like Tohru had little/no agency in the decision to storm the enemy’s home ground, which is not really the case and not necessarily implied in the Japanese.

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When Kobayashi responds here, she says she, Kobayashi, will be the one getting looked after by Tohru, not the other way around. She flips it 180 degrees from how Dad here says it.

(Since, y’know, Tohru’s the maid and everything.)

Example alt text:

“Make sure you take good care of Tohru until your lifespan runs out.”

“Yessir, I’ll have her take good care of me.”

It’s supposed to give this very heavy and serious scene a bit of levity to end on.

(For the Japanese students: she says [面倒を]見てもらいます, meaning that Kobayashi is having Tohru do the “looking [after].” If she was the one doing the looking after, it would be something like 見させてもらいます instead.

When you stick もらう or いただく after a verb, it’s you having someone else do that verb, not you doing it, so to make it work for “you” being the verb-doer, you have to flip the verb to a passive form. It’s kind of like the difference between “please [verb]” and “please allow me to [verb]”.)

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どうしてトールがうちに来てくれる気になったのか

Two small things about this line. First: the “came here” is うちにきてくれる uchi ni kite kureru. The two words I want to mention are uchi, which is like “my/our place” (like “wanna come to my place?”), and kureru, which is used as a helping verb to denote that a verb was done for someone else.

So basically the Japanese adds two extra layers of… emotion(?) to the “came here.” That is, “here” is specified as Kobayashi’s home (vs “here” being more vague and could just mean “this world”), and the “came” is conjugated in a way that expresses Kobayashi sees Tohru’s .

The second, more minor, is that it seems like the English took the 気になった ki ni natta and changed it from talking about Tohru to talking about Kobayashi.

Ki ni naru can mean to take an interest in something (“I’m curious”), or when attached to a verb, can mean “got the will/motivation to do [verb].” In this sentence, it’s attached to the verb phrase uchi ni kite kureru, so meaning more like “why you chose to come here.”

(That said you could easily leave the “curious to hear” part there in the English too though, since that still makes sense for her asking a question like this.)

(Basically the English reads like a translation of どうしてトールがここに来たのか気になった instead of the line in question.)

So like as an example alt:

“I’m curious what moved you to come live with me.”

Which still doesn’t fully grasp that kureru, since that’s a hard thing to just “slip in” in English, but does hit a few other relevant notes and should still be okay length-wise (cursed subtitle restrictions!).

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The phrase for “[move] to the big city” here is 上京 joukyou. It combines the characters for “up” and “capital” (of a state/country) and is used as a verb for moving to the capital—these days, specifically Tokyo.

(It used to mean moving to Kyoto, and I’m told it annoys some old-school Kyoto-ites if you use it to say moving from Kyoto to Tokyo, lol.)

Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon S2E10

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I’m extremely not an expert in birds, but I tried to look these up to see if they were a species native to New York (since they’re similar to the sparrows we usually see around Kobayashi’s place). Apparently there are few similar-looking species in New York? My totally uninformed guess is that they may be house sparrows.

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The sun sets in Japan relatively early (probably around 6:30pm when this episode takes place), which would make it entirely plausible that if she just flew east (with a slight northward angle) she’d find herself over New York in the early morning while most of the rest of the country is still dark.

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These bumpy grey pads at the pedestrian part of the intersection here are known as (among other things) tactile paving; they’re to assist people who can’t fully rely on eyesight to get around.

Interestingly (imo), they were actually invented in Japan in the 60s (by a Miyake Seiichi), where today they’re extremely ubiquitous. They even show up later this episode!

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They’re often referred to in Japan as 点字ブロック, tenji (Braille) blocks, and they tend to come in two types: the “dot” design, which indicates a place to stop (or an angle change, or more generally “caution”), and the “line” design which indicates you can safely keep going. They’re generally colored yellow in Japan, ideally making them stand out more to help people with impaired vision find them, and are mandated by law in most places public transport can be found (among others).

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Not really a translation note, but “deer cola” felt especially funny in the context of all the horse medicine stuff. 

I guess “[animal] [drink]” is a common branding device in-universe, given the crab beer Kobayashi’s always drinking.

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Also not really a translation note, but the difference between how “hard” Kanna and Chloe are running to be at the same speed was a nice animation touch.

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遊んだ遊んだ! asonda asonda!

One feature of the Japanese language is a very heavy use of repetition. This includes “reduplication,” a linguistic term for creating words by repeating a root (e.g. a “boo-boo” in English or the dara-dara example below in Japanese), but also just like… saying the same word multiple times, as Chloe does here.

Typically this is done for emphasis or to help increase clarity: if you’ve worked in a Japanese office, you’ve likely heard someone in a phone conversation say desu desu in response to someone asking for confirmation. 

This acceptance of repetition sort of extends beyond the obvious uses like this as well: for example, personal pronouns are much less common; instead (if the subject isn’t dropped) you’ll often just use the person’s name again. You’ll notice similar trends with other types of words as well.

Not to mention the ubiquity of things like otsukare.

This often ends up being a challenge for translators, because reusing words in English (when it’s not for an obvious reason) tends to stick out rather unflatteringly, even if they aren’t that close together. 

(Like when I overuse “hence” in these notes.)

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This “Christ” in the Japanese was “ったく” (short for 全く mattaku, but just used as a semi-generic exclamation). I mostly bring this up because it’s a good example of a word that doesn’t work out of its cultural context; e.g. it wouldn’t make any sense for a fantasy character to say “Christ,” but since this is an American speaker it works just fine (and helps distinguish that fact, even). 

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but English uses a lot of “explicit reference” words like this, that can break immersion if put in the mouths of characters who wouldn’t have exposure to said reference—which can be annoyingly limiting when trying to write dialogue sometimes.

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As a bit of a culture shock for a lot of Americans I’ve met, most Japanese homes tend to have wall mounted air conditioning units, like this one, that are only for heating/cooling the one room they’re in. (Many also have a “Dry” setting that makes them act kind of like a dehumidifier as well.) It’s common to not have them in every room, like bedrooms, however.

This is in contrast to the central air conditioning system used by a majority of homes in the US (though type/use of AC in the US varies a lot by region; less common in the north for example)—and places like the UK where apparently residential AC units of any kind are quite rare.

You may have noticed that the doors between rooms always seem closed in Kobayashi’s apartment. That’s not just to make the backgrounds simpler, it’s also a good habit to keep if you’re going to be running the AC!

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“Kobayashi, are you お休み today?” 

“Yeah, お休み.”

お休み o-yasumi, is a noun form of the 休む yasumu, to rest. The word has a variety of applications, as we see here. A day off work/school, i.e. a rest day? お休み. Want to say “good night” to someone before bed? Also お休み.

In this case, it’s not even necessarily clear it’s being said as a pun; as mentioned earlier, repetition is a common feature of the language, so despite the yawn there wouldn’t really be any reason for Kanna to think Kobayashi was about to go to nap or anything.

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“Laze about” here is だらだら dara-dara, another phenomime (擬態語 gitaigo in Japanese)—one of those words that mimics the “sound” of an idea/concept/state, which don’t actually make a sound per se.

These phrases aren’t necessarily childish or anything (overuse of them can be, but you can find them even in news articles and political speeches for example). They are, however, used frequently by children, and by adults talking to children, as they’re very “easy” words: they’re expressive, they capture useful daily-life concepts, and they usually roll off the tongue. You’ll notice, for example, that Kanna uses them a lot.

Kanna has a very interesting way of talking actually, which I’ll touch on a bit more later.

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Kobayashi’s “bean jam” here is あんみつ anmitsu, a traditional Japanese dessert (technically a spinoff of mitsumame). It typically is a mix of red beans (and/or red peas), agar (an algae-based gelatin equivalent), some fruit, some variety of rice flour product (shiratama in this case, similar to mochi), and a syrup (often black sugar based).

You can find it year-round, but it has a strong summer association and is even used as a summer season word. (It’s typically chilled and you can often get it with ice cream as an ingredient.)

It’s also sometimes paired with a green-tea flavored something as well (e.g. ice cream, agar, or syrup). The trinity of green tea, red beans (aka azuki), and shiratama makes what I like to think of as the “Japanese S’mores Flavor (for Adults)”. No I will not elaborate on this.

I will though point out the shaved ice flavor Kobayashi ordered later in the episode:

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え?今スイカ様子あった?

A word of note here for language learners is 様子 yousu, which has a lot of definitions, but in cases like this where it’s attached to a noun or phrase means roughly “the appearance of __” or “an indication of ___” etc. In actual use, it typically means something that makes you think of whatever ___ is—or the lack of something that would make you think ___.

For example here, it’s like “Watermelon? Where’d that come from?” (since the TV was talking about a different dessert-y food entirely). 

Or an unrelated example: “I think that guy is hiding something” → “Really? I haven’t seen any yousu of that.” In other words, it can be a lot like “sign,” as in “I’ve seen no sign of ___.”

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These color-bordered envelopes (originally colored based on the flag of the country of origin) used to be the standard for air mail, domestic or international, though they haven’t been required for several decades.

That said, they’re still popular for that “ooh, international mail!” feel (at least in Japan) and you can buy them at most places that sell stuff like envelopes. As here, they’re often used in media to immediately convey that a letter came from outside Japan.

Kanna (and Kobayashi) says エアメール, lit. “air mail” in English, which is used colloquially for international mail specifically, rather than “mail sent by plane.”

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They’re having what’s called 冷やしそうめん hiyashi soumen, chilled/cold soumenfor lunch here. (Soumen being a thin wheat noodle; udon but thinner.) As Kanna says, it’s very easy to make!

Basically you just boil it, wash it in cold water, add ice, get some sort of sauce to dip it in, and you’re done! It’s a popular quick meal in summer, and much easier than the more involved nagashi soumen setups you may have seen elsewhere, where they slide the noodles down a chute for you to try to grab and eat. (It’s basically the same meal aside from that though.)

(You can of course add more to it, but as we see here, you don’t really have to.)

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The type of tea here, for the curious, is 麦茶 mugicha, barley tea. Mugi is the general name for cereals/grains including wheat (komugi), barley (oomugi), rye (kuromugi or rye mugi), and oats (enbaku or oat mugi). It’s incredibly common in Japan (and much of East Asia), where it’s the household summer drink.

It has no caffeine like many other teas, and has a bunch of various nutritional benefits, so it’s considered a good way to stay hydrated as you’re sweating buckets in the muggy Japanese summer weather.

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帽子した?  boushi shita?
した! shita!

I thought this was a cute way of phrasing this question/answer, and a good example of the “parent and their young child” way these two talk.

The suru (past tense shita) verb used here is the ultimate in “generic verb,” and it basically doesn’t get any simpler grammar-wise to phrase something as “noun+suru” like Kobayashi does here (even the particles are dropped). 

Kanna, for her part, doesn’t respond with a “yes” or etc, but instead just repeats back the verb itself in confirmation.

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Just to note another one of those words like dara-dara: bura-bura, used for things like wandering around, doing something (or nothing) casually/aimlessly, or (with one bura) for something dangling/swinging in a more literal sense, like a spider, slack yo-yo, or wind chime.

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These booklets are a common homework assignment for practicing kanji; you can see along the left side there it shows the stroke order, with the first block giving an example to trace over & showing where to start each stroke.

Each character is made up of radicals (e.g. “hot” above: 日 and 耂), which each have a standard way to write them. There’s 214 such radicals (though many are pretty niche; only about ~50 of them are needed to make most characters), and once you get a hang of them it makes learning new characters much easier (not too different from learning word spellings in English imo).

Kanna is repeating out loud the reading for the “hot” character as she writes it.

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In addition to the above workbooks (which usually involve both kanji and math problems at Kanna’s grade), elementary school summer homework in Japan typically involves doing an illustrated diary (not a daily one necessarily) and some sort of research project about a subject of your choice. (Think kind of like a small science fair project).

The “research” project part is pretty expansive, and you can typically even do something more arts & craftsy for it.

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Manhole covers in a lot of Japanese municipalities feature art representative of the area. For example, the city of Chofu, where the author of GeGeGe no Kitaro lived most of his life, has several with art of that series.

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(Photo from https://www.gotokyo.org/jp/spot/1734/index.html)

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I mentioned earlier that Kanna has an interesting way of speaking. Probably a better way to put it is that she has a pretty convincingly childish way of speaking (despite the monotone). That is, she uses simple grammar and “easy” words most of the time, but then throws out random big words and fancy idioms from time to time that make you go “…where did you learn that?”

In this case, the phrase she uses is 巷で人気 chimata de ninki. Chimata originally means like a fork (in the road), and since those are often places with lots of people passing through, it expanded to mean “the undefined place where people talk about ~stuff~.” So it’s used for “many people are saying~” or “word on the street is~” types of situations (or “talk of the town,” as here).  

It’s kind of an “adult” word though; for example the character for it isn’t included in the jouyou kanji (the 2000+ that are taught in elementary through high school). Hence Kobayashi’s reaction here.

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The word she uses for “protected” here is 死守 shishu. The word is the combination of the characters for “death” and “protect,” ~meaning to protect something even at risk to one’s life (to the death, as it were).

It’s a word that you learn in third grade in the Japanese education system—the same grade Kanna is in!

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Both of these types of signs are common sights in residential areas like this: depending on where you live, it can feel like there’s always some sort of construction project going on, and Japan’s many family/individually-owned businesses like this tend to be closed on various extra days during the summer (and certain other times) to allow for time off.  

In this case, them being closed August 12th~16th implies they’re taking off for Obon (and probably leaving town to visit family).

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The word Kobayashi uses here is 風物詩 fuubutsu-shi. Fuubutsu refers to something that makes up part of the “scenery” of a place or season, in a pretty broad sense. This shi typically means “poem.”

So fuubutsu-shi is originally a type of poem celebrating a season or a scene of natural beauty, that sort of thing. From that, it’s also now (more popularly) used to describe things that are representative of a season; the kind of stuff you say “it’s not winter until…” about, or “you know it’s summer when…” (It can also be used for places + seasons, like the ice sculptures of Hokkaido winters, or even summer Comiket in Tokyo.)

They’re very similar to the season words I’ve mentioned previously, though they’re far less strict about what counts as one. Here, Kobayashi’s could be referring to the whole package experience of “having to take cover and wait out a sudden heavy rain, despite it being mostly clear skies a few minutes ago,” which you could call fuubutsu-shi (summed up probably as like 夏の雨宿り etc.)

In contrast the relevant season word here would probably be yuudachi (or niwaka-ame), a word referring to the short, sudden bouts of rain that tend to fall (from cumulonimbus clouds, the makings of which are noticeable in the backgrounds before this) on summer evenings.

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Feels like in season one she woulda eaten it. Three cheers for character growth!

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The parentheticals there are just the “English” in hiragana/katakana.

Kobayashi’s comment (nihongo de ok, roughly “you can just use Japanese”) is an internet-born term people originally would use to reply to someone who said something that didn’t make any sense, had terrible grammar, or was so full of katakana loanwords it was hard to read etc.

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Kanna says this line in English, and while I have no proof at all, my guess is that the specific choice of “wicked” was taken from the translation of “maji yabakune?” used in season one.

Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon S2E9

…設立から大分地盤が固まってきており、少しずつだが、業態は改善されている。

One thing to note here is that Kobayashi(‘s narration) isn’t saying the company has already made solid improvements, it’s that the company has finally established itself somewhat (as it was only founded relatively recently, and typically new companies are especially busy while trying to get off the ground) and now is starting to make improvements.

Similarly in the second sentence, it’s not “was” slow going, it’s “is still” slow going, and the working conditions “are” improving, not “have improved.”

This is がんば ganba, short of course for がんばって ganbatte, which I’m sure most of you are familiar with: the (in)famous “do your best.”

I only mention it because I like this shortened version of it. Ganba!

This is a fun little idiom(?)/saying: 鼻で笑う hana de warau (conjugated as hana de warawareta), lit. to laugh using the nose. It’s used to describe laughing at someone you’re looking down on for whatever reason (not necessarily in a super serious way, could just be a friend being dumb etc.; in this case it’s Elma’s being naive).

Typically it refers to like a “heh-but-through-the-nose” kind of “laugh,” but as you can see in this scene (where clearly Kobayashi is laughing with the mouth, even starting with “pff” lips) it works idiomatically even if the laughing isn’t only through the nose.

You may have heard that Japan is/was a “lifetime employment” country, where typically people would get hired right out of school and stay at that company until retirement. While that’s much less true today than it was even a couple of decades ago (and has become kind of controversial in ways), it’s still much more common of a practice than in say the US.

One result of this is that there’s a much bigger distinction placed between hiring people in spring as part of the annual graduation rush (the Japanese school year ends in March), and mid-career hiring. Typically you can’t participate in the fresh grad hiring if you aren’t one, even if you’re new to the field in question. 

For larger employers (i.e. 5k+ employees), roughly two-thirds of all hirings come from fresh grads, and only small employers (<300 employees) hire more mid-careerists than people directly out of school.

Of course, this split tends to apply mostly to “standard” full time jobs, not so much part time, and is not necessarily a thing in every industry/at every company.

Just as a minor point of clarity, this “organized text” in Elma’s document refers to the phrase まとめられた文章 matomerareta bunshou. In a literal sense, matomerareta can mean organized/consolidated etc., and bunshou text/passages, but meaning-wise it’s more like “writing that gets its point across clearly/cleanly.” 

This is a pretty big compliment and a very useful skill to have in organizations like this, as writing such that people can quickly and easily understand exactly what you’re trying to say often saves a ton of time and frustration.

我々はエルマの気迫に押されるがままにその書類を読み始めた。

Another minor point, but where the English could imply that they were overwhelmed by Elma’s intensity through the act of reading her report, the Japanese implies more that they started reading it because of how intense Elma was being. 

It doesn’t really make much of a difference either way, but it stuck out a little for me. 

To justify mentioning it, I guess I’ll explain the grammar point Kobayashi uses: されるがままに sareru ga mama ni. Sareru is a generic verb/verb conjugation for having something done to you (technically here it’s 押される, to be “pushed/pressed/pressured”), and mama refers to a state, condition, or “way” (like “do it this way”).

Put together, the whole phrase is used to indicate “you” do/did something that someone else wants you to, without (meaningful) opposition. (Something similar in raw meaning but with a very different connotation would be “going with the flow.”)

If a friend says “hey let’s go do something,” and next thing you know you’re out bowling despite preferring to stay at home, this is you.

You can stick the mama ni to various other things as well to come up with a similar idea, but without the sareru the nuance may end up different. 

The word for clairvoyance here is 千里眼 senrigan, lit. “eye(s) [that can see] a thousand li”, li being a Chinese unit of measurement for length (shorter than a mile, but for general purposes “eyes that see a thousand miles” is basically the gist).

Despite the perhaps physical-sounding nature of the term, it does actually describe the same power as “clairvoyance” in English: being able to perceive things outside your actual range of vision, including potentially into people’s hearts and minds etc.

Hence why it’s a thousand screen display, when she updates it with tech knowledge:

“Tainted by work” here is 職業病 shokugyou-byou, lit. an occupational disease. The “proper” definition is a disease one gets from working in a particular job, such as black lung for coal miners or even posture-related health issues for desk workers. 

Additionally, it’s used colloquially to refer to noticeable habits or quirks that people in a certain profession pick up, like a baker always waking up super early or a programmer using programming lingo out of context in normal conversation. The latter being especially noticeable in Japanese, as a lot of such terms are English in origin.

“Shocking” here is a fun word: ドン引き don-biki“Don” here is added just for emphasis; the main meaning revolves around 引き hiki/biki, from the verb 引く hiku, meaning to pull. 

The idea is that someone does/says something that you recoil from. Maybe it’s gross (“I only shower once a week”), maybe it’s mean (“They didn’t smile enough so I didn’t leave a tip.”), maybe it’s creepy (“I sent like 30 texts yesterday but still no reply.”), just anything that has you feeling like you might want to create some distance because… phew

It’s kind of similar to the current use of “cringe” as an adjective/noun, though with less of an internet-slang feel* to it, and generally used more as something the speaker is doing rather than describing whatever/whoever is being cringe. 

(*I think it started being used popularly in this way in the early-to-mid 90s, with the “don”biki variant specifically popping up around 2005.)

A “Premium Friday” is the last Friday of the month, where you get to leave work at 3 pm. It is largely theoretical. 

The idea was created by the Japanese government as a way to reduce working hours and encourage domestic spending (boost demand), but it has not been implemented by all that many employers, and especially not many smaller employers. There isn’t, after all, any mandate or government-provided incentive for doing so.

Evidence from the places that did implement it suggests it is actually good for the economy, but good luck convincing bosses to give extra paid time off.

“Last Friday of the month” was chosen because most people get paid on the 25th each month (Japan tends to pay monthly instead of every two weeks), so it would usually be right after payday, when people are more willing to get spendy.

Kobayashi saying eight hours here reminded me of a “fun” fact: the typical Japanese work day is eight hours plus a one hour break. Plus a one hour break, not with. So a typical work day is actually nine hours. Most commonly 8 to 5 or 9 to 6. Not many “nine-to-fives” here.

The characters for Joui are 上井, which usually read as Kamii or Uwai. It’s “Joui” because that means, when written as 上位, “superior.” As in “a superior life-form.” Like a dragon, say.

でも、ゆっくりやる事業改善案を見せてもらえたじゃない?

This one is actually kind of a critical mistake. In the English it sounds like she’s talking about the improvement proposal that Elma made and that the boss looked at. In the Japanese though, she’s talking about a different plan, one the boss showed them*, that is similar in idea but is going to take longer to be fully implemented**. So we’re being told that while Elma didn’t get what she wanted as fast as she wanted it, it is still basically going through at a slower pace.

*In ”見せてもらえた misete moraeta,” the misete vs mite means they were the ones who got shown something, rather than the ones who got someone to look at their stuff. 

**Which you can tell from the ゆっくりやる yukkuri yaru, where yaru is basically “do” and yukkuri means (in this case) at an unhurried pace.

(Re previous note: Hence why she says “immediately” here.)

“Black (ブラック)” and “white (ホワイト)” in the context of Japanese employers refers to how well employees are treated: a company with good benefits/pay, reasonable levels of overtime, and feels safe to work at is “white,” while a company that has excessive overtime, often pays poorly, breaks labor laws, and allows harassment to fester is “black.” 

While “white company” was created simply in contrast to the term “black company,” the latter finds its origins in front businesses for organized crime, which were called “black” in the sense of “illegal” (similar to “black market” or something being in a “grey area”). Given the international reputation of Japanese work life, you can imagine that “black company” as a term sees much more use.

There’s been some discussion about maybe replacing it due to the racial implications (especially since it uses the English word “black”), but while typically English translations drop the color for that reason (e.g. ブラック企業大賞, an “award” given to Japan’s worst employer each year, is officially “Most Evil Corporation of the Year Award” in English), it hasn’t really penetrated to the mainstream at this point.

The rice there is in a 飯盒 hangou, a metal container that looks… like that, and is the stereotypical item of choice for cooking rice while camping. It has its origins in the mess kits used by the military, but these days they’re primarily marketed as portable rice cookers for camping use. 

You can get round ones too, but the bean shape is very popular.

“Settings” here is 設定 settei, lit. exactly that, “setting(s).” E.g. if you open a computer program and look at the settings menu, it’ll be settei in the Japanese language settings (settei). 

I bring it up here because there’s a bit of a difference in how it gets used colloquially like this. In English, the “setting” for a story typically refers to where and when it’s set. In Japanese, “setting” in that sense is usually 舞台 butai. But settei is still used when talking about fiction, just in a different, more expansive way.

Often in these cases settei is used to refer to the various conceits that provide the context in which the story takes place. In this show, for example, one such “setting” is that dragons are real: another is that magic exists. It comes up especially often in fantasy/sci-fi type stuff where there are major distinctions between that universe and the real world—not that stories in a real-world setting don’t have settei of their own, but they often are lumped into descriptions of the plot in that case (”a dragon comes to live with an office worker in her apartment”).

It also refers to the “settings” of characters, like name or age, and things like “they run a bakery that’s going out of business and are trying to save it.” Basically all the details you’d have in a character profile.

It also gets used in conversation to refer to pretend things or (basically) lies: like here, where Saikawa thinks Shouta is playing pretend with his ley-lines talk, or e.g. if someone is trying to tell you some outlandish story (“my uncle works at Nintendo…” or someone asking for love life advice for “their friend”) and you’re just like “Okay so that’s the settei here, I see.”

Not really a big deal, but Elma’s line here in Japanese implies she won’t let Tohru call her that anymore (see her もう mou). Tohru’s response is also more of a “I haven’t been?”, since of course she wasn’t aware of Elma’s-mental-image-Tohru tormenting Elma in the previous scene:

The word for “full of” in the title here is ざんまい zanmai (a suffix form of 三昧 sanmai), usually meaning that there’s a whole lot of [whatever] to immerse oneself in. I mostly bring it up because there’s a famous restaurant chain called Sushi Zanmai that specializes in, obviously, sushi.

And you know, Elma is a water dragon that looks kinda like an eel… I’m just sayin’…

Not really a translation note, but wild that Elma didn’t even touch her parfait. (Not so wild that Fafnir finished his so quickly.) Serious business ahead…

“Genuinely” here is 素直に sunao ni, where the “ni” is used like “-ly” to make sunao work as an adverb. Sunao itself is an interesting word that falls into that category of “simple concept that is often hellish to translate.”

For some context, the first character, 素, is also used in the word 素顔 sugao, which is a face without makeup and 素材 sozai, basically raw ingredients/materials. The second, 直, is used in words like 直線 chokusen, a straight line, or 正直 shoujiki, honest.

Put them together, and you’ve got a word with connotations of directness and being unadorned. The original definition of the word tends toward “simple, natural” in the sense of e.g. life growing up on a rural farm. 

The more common use for it these days is to describe people and their actions. Positively, it can mean something similar to a person being happy to help, or kind of like the opposite of conniving; open, frank, genuine. Less positively, it can mean someone is too trusting and easy to trick into doing things OR someone who is “too honest” and says hurtful things. 

(If it helps: tsundere characters are often described as explicitly not sunao.)

In this case, the idea is that Tohru accepted the invitation easily as-is, without putting any conditions on it, or doing any “ugh, what a pain, do I have to, jeez” rigamarole—she just accepted. Another way you could put it in this case might be “It’s even more unusual for Tohru to accept an invitation like this without a fuss.”

Just to point out the hand on head thing again.

Also just to point out that this is another example of otsukare, as a reminder of how ubiquitous that word is.

And it makes a good place to end on: thanks for reading!

Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon S2E5

Better late than never! Hopefully I’ll catch up with these before next week’s episode hits.

私は、種族全体の目的よりも自分がやりたいことをやっているエルマに、興味がありました。

当時の私、そんな感じでしたし。

What Tohru is saying in these shots is a little different in the Japanese:

“I had an interest in Elma, who was doing what she wanted to do instead of advancing the goals of the species [her faction]. Since that’s how I was at the time, too.”

That is, for the first sentence, Tohru is saying Elma wasn’t interested in the broader dragon goals, not Tohru herself.

Then in the second sentence, instead of a wishy washy “I think that’s how it was?” Tohru says that she was like that too, hence her interest.

So it goes from like:

 “I was interested more in Elma than in faction goals, because she was acting freely. I think, anyway.” 

to more of a:

“I was interested in Elma because she was acting freely, not bound by faction goals. That’s what I was like too, after all.”

Not sure if it really counts as a translation note, but since I had some questions about it, here’s a few words on the Tohru/Elma disagreement scene.

Tohru thought Elma was like herself: acting not according to what dragon (or human) society asked of them, but according to their own personal set of values. Elma, by allowing herself to be placed in the position of “god” by the humans, had changed that; she locked herself into permanently being a (large, important) cog in the human society. From Tohru’s perspective, she’d lost the one person she felt kindred with, her fellow “free actor.” She doesn’t particularly care what happens to the humans, hence the 私が言いたいことはそういう話ではない (“That’s not what I’m trying to talk about”) when Elma says she’ll just stop the wars from happening: that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t solve Tohru’s issue.

Hence Kobayashi’s response: both grand (involved the fate of nations), and petty (Elma got “trapped” by food, and Tohru’s initiation of the fight was for personal reasons).

喧嘩するほど仲がいい kenka suru hodo, naka ga ii

This is one of those sayings that is often a giant pain in the butt to translate, because it’s not an odd concept in English, but for whatever reason* there is no common pithy saying for it like there is in Japanese, so it’ll almost come off less smoothly. 

The idea is that, in order to “have a fight” with someone, you have to already have an established relationship that’s at a certain level of closeness.

Two strangers? Why would you even have a reason to fight, who cares. Two acquaintances? Why deal with it, just smile and nod and go on with your day. Two close friends though? You probably care enough to want to convince them of whatever it is, and/or you don’t want to have to hide your real thoughts/feelings around them like you might around, say, just random coworkers or something—meaning more chances for friction.

*My theory on this is that it comes from the same place as the “wow Japanese people are so polite” stereotype and stuff like honne/tatemae as discussed in a previous episode’s notes: in a situation where two strangers/acquaintances might get into a shouting match in the US, in Japan there’s a comparatively higher chance they just tatemae it up to prevent direct conflict and end the situation early—hence less likely to “have a fight” per se. As always this stuff is just on a continuum though.

What do you call these “clouds” left by planes as they fly? In Japanese, they’re called 飛行機雲 hikoukigumo, lit. “airplane clouds.” And they’re not a season word! 

Officially, anyway. 

However, they are heavily associated with summer, to the point where you if you google around to find out if they are a haiku season word, there are a whole bunch of sites to tell you no, they’re not, stop asking. That doesn’t mean they’re not a great way to tell the audience it’s summer anyway, though! 

If you’re curious as to why the summer association: how long vapor trails like this remain visible depends heavily on how humid the air is. More humidity, longer trails. And Japan has very humid summers (and very dry winters!).

If you’ve heard the song Tori no Uta, the OP to Air (also animated by Kyoani), hikoukigumo is the very second word in the lyrics—no coincidence given the heavy summer theming! If you haven’t heard it, I suggest giving it a try.

“Candy shop” here is 駄菓子屋 dagashi-ya, which is a kind of store that specializes in very cheap varieties of “candy” (maybe more accurately snack foods?): dagashi. If you’re seen/read any of the series Dagashi Kashi, you’re familiar with this variety of snack. 

Dagashi is so called because, back in the Edo period, quality white sugar was super expensive and not something commoners could typically eat. Cheaper brown sugar was, though, so you ended up with different terms for stuff made from each: the expensive 上菓子 jougashi and the cheap 駄菓子 dagashi

Later, in the Showa period after WW2 when the average person was able to afford a bit more, the term stuck around but more generalized, referring to a wide variety of cheap snacks. These snacks are not necessarily always sugary, and they often have some sort of gimmick so it wasn’t “just” a piece of candy—toys attached, or games/puzzles, or requiring some interesting way to eat/drink them. If you grew up with Dunkaroos: that kinda thing.

Similar to “penny candy,” dagashi was/is cheap enough for children to afford several different varieties of with just a bit of change from their parents, and small stores specializing in them—dagashi-ya—sprung up all over the country, quickly becoming a popular spot for kids… and, not too long after, a symbol of childhood nostalgia. 

They’ve been on a big downtrend in the last few decades however. The spread of convenience stores as a competitor for snack buying is often cited as one reason, while a greater variety of ways for kids to spend their playtime now (video games etc.) is another.

You’re probably aware, but of the many reasons to bow in Japan, to show humility when making a request is a big one. 

Of note here is that Tohru doesn’t push Ilulu’s head down, which other characters in other shows might have done here, but just lightly reminds her: yeah okay you’re a dragon talking to a human, but you’re the one asking—act like it. She does, and her sincerity is rewarded.

The word here is ぱねぇ panee, which is a heavily abbreviated form of 半端(では/じゃ)ない hanpa nai, ~lit. “not halfway/half-done/half-assed.” 

hanpa ja nai→hanpa nai→hanpa nee→panee

It’s used probably how you’d expect: describing something intense af.

(I’m mostly just bringing it up because I love super-shortened slang like this!)

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The phrase for “like” here is 気に入った ki ni itta, which is basically to have an interest in something/someone, to take a liking to, to say something is a favorite, etc. When said of another person, there’s typically an air of the speaker considering themselves in a higher position. It generally isn’t “like” in a romantic sense.

Take’s “hey that’s my line,” comes from the fact he’s (in his mind) in the position of power and was judging her on whether he’d try to kick her out of the job. You can tell he was thinking of it as “I like the cut of your jib. I guess you can stay.” kind of thing.

Normally a new employee would not say this about their new boss/job, even if they did like it, though a boss/senpai could of a new employee, hence the “what?”

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Notably, Ilulu used “like” earlier in the episode to refer to Tohru as well. In that case it was 好き suki, which is a more literal “like,” with the various implications that may or may not have. Personally, it strikes me as a little odd to translate them both as “like” in the same episode.

And that’s it for episode five! I’m