March 26th, 2005

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So here's the poop...

penelopecat has given me copies of the Pita-Ten manga to read, but there was something that I knew was lost in the translation there in issue 2 when Hiroshi Mitarai was introduced.

There is an editor's note explaining the joke about how the kanji 御手洗 (Mitarai) are the same kanji used in otearai which is the Japanese word for lavatory (literally "Honorable Hand-Wash"). However, there is nothing explaining where Ayanokouji comes up with calling Hiroshi "Poops".

So I had to solve this mystery! He says, "Otearai... Toilet... Big... Poop?" The "big" struck me. The polite word for "poop" in Japanese is daiben (literally "big convenience"). But where did the "big" come from in Ayanokouji's dialog? Hmmm, I wondered if it had something to do with the name Hiroshi or something Hiroshi said. Ah, but there are more than 250 ways to write the name! Then I remembered that on a page where they show the mock exam results, the editors did NOT replace the Japanese names with the English transliterations! I looked up Hiroshi's spot and there it was. The spelling used for "Hiroshi" was 大 -- the kanji that means "big".

Thus, Ayanokouji was reading alternate pronunciations of the kanji 御手洗大 on the blackboard (which in the English manga had been replaced with vertically-written "Hiroshi Mitarai"), and that led him to read "otearai dai..." and easily finishing "...ben?" I'm guessing that's how the dialog went in the original Japanese.

Phew. They should have had an editor's note on that one too, but maybe the editors thought they'd get complaints if they explained how to talk about poop in Japanese!

But they also never explain why Ayanokouji is nicknamed "Ten-chan": His given name, Takashi, is spelled as 天 -- the same kanji as the word ten, which means "heaven" or "sky". I would have thought that, given the story featuring an angel-in-training, it would be something worth pointing out.