Regular RocketNews24 readers will know doubt have seen our articles documenting some of Japan’s weirder translations of Western movie titles (Malkovich’s Hole, anyone?), or perhaps caught our collection of English movie posters remade using their Japanese titles. But today’s list of 10 adapted movie titles was nominated by none other than Japanese movie watchers themselves, who felt that the new names their country had given to these feature films were actually pretty cool.
Let’s take a little look, shall we?
In a survey conducted last month by marketing and consulting group iBRIDGE, 500 Japanese people were asked to rate a list of adapted, Japanese, movie titles when compared to their original English names. One or two of the names suggested are real head scratchers, but the list did also turn up some unusual titles that we’d never think to search for when trying to find our favourite movies in a store.
Let’s take a look at the 10 Japanese-language film titles that moviegoers were especially fond of. We’ll be introducing the movies by their original English titles, followed by their Japanese titles and then their translations in bold.
▼ They’re young… they’re in love… they die at the end.
10. Bonnie and Clyde: 俺たちに明日はない（Oretachi ni Ashita ha Nai / There’s No Tomorrow For Us）4.4% of the vote
We begin our translation adventure with a Japanese title that immediately ruins the ending of the film to which it belongs by telling prospective viewers that the heroes will most likely die. Perhaps the name Bonnie and Clyde – little more than a pair of unfamiliar, foreign, names to Japanese eyes and ears – was a touch ambiguous, but calling a movie “There’s No Tomorrow for Us” is akin to releasing The Sixth Sense as “A Boy and His Ghost Counsellor”.
8. (Tie) An Officer and a Gentleman: 愛と青春の旅だち (Ai to Seishun no Tabitachi / The Travellers of Love and Youth) 4.6% of the vote
Is it just me, or does the Japanese title for this one make it sound like a movie starring Bill Murray about a bunch of ageing hippies travelling across America in a clapped-out VW camper van? Actually, could someone please make that? It sounds like it’d be a pretty good film…
8. (Tie) The Notebook: きみに読む物語 (Kimi no Yomu Monogatari / The Story I Read to You) 4.6% of the vote
To be fair, “The Notebook” is a pretty vague title, and anyone who hasn’t caught a trailer would probably have no idea what it’s about from the name alone. “The Story I Read to You” at least lets us know that we’re not going to be watching 90 minutes of footage of a few sheets of bound writing paper.
7. Basic Instinct: 氷の微笑 (Koori no Bishou / Ice Smile) 5.4% of the vote
Now that we think of it, there was kind of a chill to Sharon Stone’s smile during that one scene. Nice work, Japan, we like this one!
6. Up: カールじいさんの空飛ぶ家 (Kaaru Jiisan no Sora Tobu Ie / Grandpa Carl’s Flying House) 6.2% of the vote
Once again, Japan opts for a title that gets straight to the point. Going by the Japanese title of this animated movie, we clearly have an old man – whose name is Carl, by the way – and we know that he’s got a house that flies. Sounds like fun! And it will be, until that heartrending opening leaves viewers with a weird empty feeling in their stomachs for the duration of the movie.
5. Die Hard with a Vengeance : ダイ・ハード (Dai Haado* / Die Hard) 7.4% of the vote
OK, this entry is quite frankly a mystery to us. Perhaps the people behind the survey were under the impression that Bruce Willis is playing a man named Jean L’Clane and that the film was shot in Paris, because the title they compared the Japanese adaptation to was Une journee en enfer, which is the name Die Hard with a Vengeance was released in France under. Except, that’s not its original title, guys…
Sorry, Japan, but you’re not claiming “Die Hard” as a piece of your own linguistic genius–that honour clearly belongs to Murika! Moving swiftly on…
4. The Body: スタンドバイミー (Sutando Bai Mii / Stand By Me) 8.4% of the vote
Another sneaky one from the survey’s makers here since, although Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me is based on Stephen King’s novella The Body, the English-language film adaptation was always Stand By Me to begin with. Besides, when Japan thinks the same name will work for the subtitle of a Doraemon movie, you know something’s not quite right.
▼ “Has he gone?” “Well, he left…”
3. Gone with the Wind: 風と共にに去りぬ (Kaze to Tomo ni Sarenu / Leaving with the Wind) 11.6% of the vote
It may seem like splitting hairs, but while the English original’s title suggests scattering and being blown out of existence (unless some literary critic would like to inform us of some other meaning in the title of Margaret Mitchell’s classic novel?), the Japanese title conjures up more of an image of being carried elsewhere. A mite chirpier, perhaps, but worthy of special praise? Nah.
2. Sister Act: 天使にラブソングを (Tenshi ni Rabusongu wo / Singing Love Songs to Angels) 12.8% of the vote
We’re not the biggest Whoopi Goldberg fans, but calling Sister Act “Singing Love Songs to Angels” is just silly. Sorry, Japan, but this one sucks. She’s acting like she’s a sister to avoid the mob, see, not trying to hit on an angel…
1. Frozen: アナと雪の女王（Ana to Yuki no Joou / Ana and the Snow Queen) 24.6% of the vote
Proving that the world really can’t let it go, Frozen came in at number one in Japanese moviegoers’ ranking of cool title translations. Hardcore fans of Disney’s latest movie may disagree, but we’re actually going to side with Japan on this one since a) Ana and the Snow Queen is much closer to the name of the fairy tale by which Frozen was inspired, and b) as with so many Disney and Pixar movies, “Frozen” is a fairly ambiguous title.
The only bone we have to pick with the name “Ana and the Snow Queen” is that it sort of gives the impression that Ana is the main protagonist, but as anyone who has seen the movie will know, there is no real protagonist – only cleverly written songs with characters dancing to them. Sorry, am I being cynical again?
What do you think of these titles, Rocketeers? Should Japan be proud of its alternative names or should its translators spend a little more time in creative writing school? Let us know in the comments section below!