Sunday, 24 February 2013

Kyouto Girl Scouts

Cologne has a Japanese friend who studied at his university in Germany, and now he's studying at hers. She's also a member of the Kyouto Girl Scouts, and every year they seem to have a presentation by a foreigner about their country. They asked her to do one this year on Germany, but she figured it would be more meaningful if an actual German did it, so she asked Cologne, who demurred on grounds of insufficient Japanese skill and suggested that I do it instead. I accepted because I like to help out, I thought it might be fun, it seemed like good Japanese practise and I never, ever turn down a public speaking opportunity, because I like to keep my skills sharp.

I got an e-mail from the chapter captain explaining the task and suggesting some contents. I would speak on Vancouver, my personal experience Japan, the Girl Guides of Canada as compared to the Girl Scouts in Japan, etc. So far, so standard. To confirm, I asked whether I was to present in Japanese or English (through translation). She requested that I do it in Japanese.

Ok, fine.

For about thirty minutes.

Holy shit, really?

“But don't worry. You can do your self-introduction in English.”

Lady...what planet do you live on that you were thinking the self-introduction was the part I was worried about? I introduce myself at least 900 per day. That is literally one of the first things I ever learned, right after “everyone, please sit” but before “I go to the bank.” I could introduce myself while fleeing an alligator. But no, she wanted to reassure me that the stupidly easy part would be A-OK in English.

But that was fine. I had over a week to prepare. A Japanese rough draft eluded me, so I bashed it out in English, translated it, had some people look over it for me. Jugs was in Girl Guides for 13 years and provided me with a ton of great material. I ran into a bit of a roadblock in that most of the things that I would want to share about Canada are all stuff like socialized medicine, and multiculturalism, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, which I think are interesting subjects that would probably get a good reaction from university or even high school students, but might not go over quite as well with 12-year-old girls. What are 12-year-old Japanese girls even interested in? Justin Bieber? I considered putting him in there somewhere, but couldn't think of anything to say.

But I put together a script and a PowerPoint that I thought were pretty good. It had a good mix of basic introductory stuff, stuff that was interesting to me, and stuff I thought would be relatable to them. By this point I was tired, really tired. More than once I'd asked myself how I'd gotten myself into this. It's my stupid “do everything” rule. I'm not being paid, I'm not being fed, I might not even be compensated for my transit. But I finished. And then I glanced at the schedule again. Following my half-hour presentation, there would be a half-hour question period.

Rude Boy: uhm. what the FUCKING HELL? they also want me to do half a motherfucking goddamn cocksucking hour of motherfucking questions?! how in the holy name of fucknipples will they ever, in the realm of natural motherfucking possibility, ever ever come up with that many fucking questions? never mind that i will be expected to goddamn listen to, understand, and extemporaneously answer for that period of time? all of this AFTER i'm mentally fatigued from having just delivered a motherfucking presentation in motherfucking japanese? wh, what the hell is wrong with these people...?
Jugs: don't worry though. you can introduce yourself in english

In the end, I pulled it off, if not stylishly, then at least competently. I made a couple of blunders and once, just once, faced a wall of frowning confusion, but it was otherwise reasonably smooth and I got some nice reactions to some stuff, like pictures of Banff and the revelation that, in the winter, my hometown is slightly cooler than Niflheim. Most importantly, I impressed myself by deviating significantly from my script, treating it as more of a reminder of what I wanted to say, expanding and restructuring on the fly. Next time I do something like this, I'm definitely just writing up bullet points. Of course, when I do presentations in English I don't have any notes, or even really much idea of what I'm going to say until I get up there. But I'm not quite there yet for Japanese.

My presentation took about 20 minutes, which was then followed by 45 minutes of questions and discussion. I worked hard on the formal part of my presentation, but I kind of knew that this would be the fun part. The leaders (and one particularly outgoing girl) had to carry it at a few points, but just about everybody came up with something. Contrary to my expectations, by the end of it I wasn't even tired at all. In fact, I was energized!

Cologne had invited himself along when he heard that it was a Girl Scouts meeting, but he ended up being disappointed when he found out they were all chuugakusei. Normally in a situation like this he'd try to tear me down, in what he thinks is friendly ribbing but is actually just really dickish, but even he conceded that I'd done pretty well. And he showed remarkable patience, considering.

As if that weren't enough, the three leaders – about 19, 26, and 35, respectively – were all pretty hot, so there was that. Following the presentation we ate maple cookies while drinking tea, and then made bracelets. The entire time, people just kept coming up with more questions. It was a good chance to disabuse myself of the idea that Scouts are all weirdos and mutes. And at the end, I was presented with an envelope containing 3000 yen plus my travel expenses! The event was great, the people were great, and I kind of want to join Girl Scouts now.

Afterwards, the three of us grabbed a late lunch at Aeon. There was a hilarious soft language barrier in effect the whole meal, as Cologne speaks very little Japanese, his friend speaks even less English, and I speak no German whatsoever, so at any given time there was always one person who didn't know what the conversation was even about. And then the girl went shopping, because Aeon. Pfft.

Since it was still too early to go to a pub, Cologne and I dropped into Round1. We played some DDR, but they only had Evolution X3, and I'm pretty sure we ended up playing on the noob machine because the pad was terrible and some stuff wasn't even unlocked. And is it just me, or are all DDR songs full of impossible crossovers? They're not even spins, they're straight-up double steps. Very sloppy. Then we played both Initial Dick and Wang at Midnight, and I kicked his ass, because driving.

Finally we made our way to the Pig & Whistle, where we hoped to win four Guinness glasses by drinking eight pints of it. Unfortunately, the promotion was over. Way to go, Cologne. We consoled ourselves with less expensive beer and a baseball game on TV, and just as I was feeling gratuitously foreign and ready to leave, some old guy sat down at our table and started talking to us. He was quickly joined by his wife, his son, and, later, some random girl whom nobody knew. She wasn't physically attractive, but very interesting to talk to, and, despite having sat down with us because of her interest in English, was still willing to speak Japanese (a goddamn rarity in Asia, as you may have experienced).

The ambient Nihonjin/Gaijin balance tipped after happy hour, the old guy kept buying us umeshuu, and we partied late into the night and the ensuing morning. I swear, I have all the luck when Cologne is around. Anyway, in a few hours we'll be meeting up again. Should be good.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Myoumanji and Kamigamo Jinja Photoglut

As I move about the Internet, I occasionally find bouts of elitism aimed at perceived Japan newbies, particularly in regards to a certain class of content they supposedly have a tendency to churn out. Some people seem to believe that posting pictures of a temple is the pinnacle of weak-kneed FOBishness. Well, fuck those people. Here's a temple and a shrine in northern Kyouto that I trekked out to this week.

The entrance to Myoumanji (妙満寺).

The photo above this line is a little more visually interesting, but the one below has slightly better composition.

I haven't seen all that many temples in my day, but I have a pretty good sampling, and I've never seen a tower like this. I'm far from an expert, but it looks directly influenced by Indian Buddhism to me.

Yeah, all the little alcoves in that tower are occupied by a miniature Buddha like this. The level of detail would be incredibly impressive, were the temple not set on this site in 1968. Which always makes me wonder, why this thing where they move temples instead of building new ones? Tradition? Conservation? Laziness?

Now for Kamigamo Jinja (上賀茂神社).

Young lovers!

Should've positioned the camera closer to the surface of the water.

Notice how this is later in the day, so the snow's melted and people have started to turn out.

There was a wedding going on inside, hence the two mounds of gravel. I would've loved to have watched for a while, but I didn't want to gawk. Also, if you look carefully you can see the miko conducting the ceremony. There sure are a lot of them. I've always wanted to get a picture of a miko in the garb of her craft, but that's somehow always felt a little crass, even if she is most likely a university student working a part-time job who doesn't care one way or the other about Shintou. Luckily, this time I came across one who was kind enough to pose for me:

 Totally legit.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Neon Genesis Evangelion analysis

I never watched End of Evangelion. For one thing, I thought it was ridiculous that an anime that was originally written as a deconstruction of the commercialized mecha genre had itself been so commercialized. I also thought the original series was a complete work in itself that didn't gain much from an addendum. And finally, I thought that the last two episodes were artful and evocative.

In fact, Evangelion doesn't really get rolling, thematically, until about episode 21 of 26. Everything up until that is just groundwork: World-building, character exposition, and countless, but uniformly brief, clues to the reality behind the main plot, all expertly worked in between the orgy of action and suspense that occupies the lion's share of each episode's runtime. It works so well because it doesn't reveal the answer to the puzzle, but it does give you all the pieces.

Rather than broader speculation, I'm going to do something slightly more succinct and possibly more interesting, and instead submit my personal interpretation of the story and its meaning.


The constant use of Christian symbolism within Evangelion is immediately obvious, at least in its stylistic choices. The main enemies are called “Angels” (使徒、“Apostles”), they're named after various minor characters from the Bible, and the opening theme is called 「残酷な天使のテーゼー」、“Thesis of a Cruel Angel.” The alien who spawned them is called Adam; his rival, who created we humans, is called Lilith. Adam is kept docile in NERV headquarters by being pinned to a giant cross, his stem cells being harvested in the form of weeping blood; the Spear of Longinus, an extragalactic superweapon, has been plunged into his flank.

Lilith didn't arrive on the scene until well after Adam had set up shop, the so-called “First Impact,” populating the planet with fifteen children. But where had opted to create a handful of beings possessing immense physical and spiritual power, Lilith envisioned a planet overflowing with much smaller, more pathetic creatures who instead drew strength from their social bonds and the ingenuity she would bestow upon them. Unfortunately, no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time, either physically or metaphysically; “Seeds of Life” simply weren't built for cohabitation. The ideological divide ended with the vanquished Adam imprisoned underneath the Antarctic ice, where he remained until we ignorantly dug him up.

This directly caused the Second Impact, which wiped out most life on Earth. It also reawakened Adam's subjugated children, who then endeavoured to reunite with their progenitor. This is why they target NERV headquarters, where Adam's comatose body is being held (though for some reason the government knowingly exposes residents to collateral damage rather than evacuating them). Should they ever be successful, this will signal the catastrophic Third Impact.

As they discover, however, the Angels are invulnerable to all conventional weapons, owing to their unusually resilient “AT Fields.” Thus they scramble to produce something capable of penetrating this seemingly invincible barrier, ultimately discovering that it can be punctured by an equally strong AT Field. Since the Angels were created by Adam, only creatures of equal calibre are capable of generating a sufficiently strong AT Field, and thus they begin to construct the Evas. Owing to their pedigree, the Evas are possessed of seemingly godlike power themselves.

Now look what we've got. Adam and Lilith created Angels and humans, and then humans created the humanoid Evas. Adam's Angels are a diverse bunch, no doubt about that, but Lilith essentially modeled humans after her own form, or should I say, “made them in her own image.” In other words, God is just a man, and in a way, Man is a god unto himself.

God created us, and we've learned to create Gods. Even supposing that there is a God in our real world, and He created us, our imperfect ability to comprehend Him means that we are, in fact, creating Him in our own minds when we attempt to comprehend Him. You might liken it to Plato's World of Forms, in which there is another dimension full of the indisputably perfect versions of every single thing, and each instance of these things in our world is an earnest but flawed imitation. Constructing an understanding of God in our minds, based on the actual God, is like trying to construct a real-world chair based on Form of Chair. It goes against actual Christian doctrine, which contends that there is a single, knowable God, but it lends a whole new perspective to the words of Voltaire, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.”


The Evas possess minds and wills of their own, and their pilots are required to use a combination of domination and coercion in order to use them effectively. Each is imbued with the soul of the pilot's mother, keeps him or her alive within a womb of breathable fluid (in fact Adam's blood), and are only capable of operating for five minutes at a time unless directly connected to a massive power generator. They're capable of rapid regeneration, are equipped with intimidating (yet stylish) armour, and, when restrictive measures fail, they seem to turn almost feral, with Unit-01 immediately devouring the heart of its fallen foe. Oh yeah, and all pilots are only 14 years old.

What I found most interesting, though, was the existence of an AT Field. Described as the barrier that separates sentient life forms from each other, all metahumans possess one – it's just that only Angels and Evas are capable of physically manifesting theirs'. And really, we are all insulated within our own little AT Fields – we can converse, project, and empathize, but we can never directly know one another's thoughts. Our AT Fields protect us, but also partition us. No matter how close we grow with someone, we will always be isolated. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be the source of a lot of loneliness and misery.

Which is intriguing, in light of the fact that the ultimate goal of the Third Impact is to achieve human instrumentality. This is a science fiction concept – emphasis on the “fiction” – wherein all human beings join a gestalt of all the knowledge, experience, and emotion possessed by all members together. We now think and act as one. Since differing opinions and values are essentially the source of all human conflict, war ends, social problems cease to exist, everyone shares. But you know what's funny? It's this supposed Utopia that the main characters are actually fighting against. In fact, many lay down their lives to prevent it, because they would literally rather die than lose their individuality.


The main cast have psychological issues out the ass. Misato-san is the picture of a prim and professional young military woman, but her personal life is a train wreck. Ikari is so obsessed with his dead wife he risks literally destroying civilization in order to reincarnate her. It's common knowledge that Tomino was in the depths of his depression at the time he created this series, which is why the setting is so bleak, the plot is so despairing, and so many major characters die, often pointlessly. It also informed the insecurities and personal struggles of each of the principal characters, and considering all of this the denouement is surprisingly hopeful.

Episode 21 is dedicated entirely to Asuka and her problems. She's been quietly dealing with them the whole time, but this is where she finally snaps, breaking under the weight of her foe's postmodern existentialist psychological assault. Asuka is always trying to validate herself. She brags about her sync ratio, and makes exaggerated claims of her own skill. She's quick to point out that her Eva is the first one specifically built for combat. She bullies and manipulates Shinji while denying her burgeoning romantic feelings for him. And her precocious sexuality (I mean the Kaji thing) is more of a cry for help than anything – above all, Asuka just wants to be acknowledged. Her problem is that her entire sense of self-worth is invested in other people's assessment of her. The Angel exploits this vulnerability, forever ruining her confidence as an Eva pilot.

Despite any objections Kant might make, Rei is perfectly satisfied to be used as a means to an end, without any regard for her own welfare. She has no body shame, because she barely inhabits herself in the first place. She follows any order she's given, undertaking the most dangerous sorties without a second thought. She immediately agrees to act as a meat shield while her partner lines up a difficult shot; when he gives voice to the danger, she assures him, “You won't die. I'll protect you,” silently acknowledging that she very well might. Later she openly says that it makes no difference if she dies, because she can be replaced. It later transpires that NERV has a whole vat full of clones – soulless dolls – into which her consciousness can be placed should her current body meet with destruction, and, in fact, she's already died and been transposed several times in the past. But she seems to believe it on a deeper level as well, thinking of herself as no more than a mere tool, valuable only insofar as she is useful to NERV. Without any will or compulsion, who even knows what she'd be doing if they hadn't picked her up.

Finally, this same problem carries over to Shinji as well. Emotionally crippled by patriarchal rejection, he does whatever he's told, apologizes even when he's in the right, and agrees to join the NERV defence only because nobody else can do it. Even the usually loving and supportive Misato can't conceal her disgust at this, telling him that he'll only be a liability with that attitude. He feels shy and hesitant with Rei, meek and dwarfed by Asuka. His most significant win comes when he defeats the Holy Ghost to Adam's God – Misato explains that only those with a will to live deserve to. In the final two episodes, as one battle rages around his ears and another between them, all his deepest fears and insecurities are laid out once and for all. And what's the final verdict? The series ends with the afternoon sun of all things. He's surrounded by people who love and respect him. He's been convinced – or rather, has convinced himself – that things will get better, and that his life is valuable. You have to have respect for Tomino for the courage that must have taken.

All three of them are the playthings of their own inferiority complexes, as they're driven to do reckless, stupid, and self-destructive things due to their skewed misunderstandings of their own worth. This is the message that I personally get out of Evangelion: Accept your own value, acknowledge your own right to exist, act of your own will, and keep living.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

On Minegishi Minami's disgrace


So AKB48 member Minegishi Minami (峯岸みなみ or みぃちゃん) spent the night at a guy's house, got caught, and, in a fit of panic while waiting for the axe to fall, shaved her fucking head. All right, this story is way old now, but since she's my favourite, I thought I should weigh in just a bit.

So first of all, can I just come out and say the no-dating rule itself is complete bullshit. I get it, I understand it's there because fans would go suicidal with jealousy if their favourite girl became sexually unavailable to them (not that they ever were), because the entire AKB brand is, after all, a wish-fulfillment fantasyland before all else. But you gotta admit it's a touch unreasonable, and also naiive, to expect these girls to refrain from any and all romantic and sexual affiliation for the years and years that they spend with the group. Certainly not in the prime of their youth. What the fuck are they gonna do, les out their whole careers?

(Side-note: They totally do, though. No, not maybe, not probably. They do. That many hot girls locked up with nobody but their producers and each other for company for days and weeks at a time? Get fucking real. Somewhere in Japan, or wherever they're touring, they could be having a six-girl orgy right now. You're welcome.)

Look, anybody who really “loves” these girls would be thrilled to see them develop romantic connections and pursuing their own human happiness. Fuck knows it's all they're gonna have when they get graduated, since they've spent their high school and university years getting what I imagine is only a bare minimum of education, developing skills that are useful for only one job – a job that's not particularly kind to women past the age of about 25, by the way. Hamasaki Ayumi is an exception; go ahead and tell me what ever happened to Yaida Hitomi. You've probably never even heard of her. But, ok. Crazy stalker fans. Transmuting the male gaze into gold bullion. Can't argue with results.

At the same time, nobody forced them to sign their contracts. They wanted to be idols, and that carries a certain opportunity cost. They knew the rules and agreed to them of their own free will. In that respect, the company had every right to demote her. She should be so lucky; I remember one member, a few years back, got expelled outright just for being photographed in public with a boy. Minami's merely being kicked down to kenkyuusei. My understanding is that she caught a little lenience since she's one of the original members. I'm not sure if this means that she'll eventually be in contention to re-join the main group as a full-fledged member, however, although obviously I certainly hope so. But it definitely won't happen if she's anything less than exemplary in both conduct and professional performance for the next year, minimum, and it's possible that she may be pressured to resign of her own accord.

When I first heard the news, my reaction was, in order:
1. Holy fuck, she's ugly now
2. Is this faked? Am I accidentally reading The Onion?
3. It's going to be awfully embarrassing to tell people she's my favourite from now on
4. At least I still have Miyazaki

And it wasn't until later that I realised how incredibly crass that was.

She was maybe a little bit stupid in spending the night at that guy's house, and she was definitely stupid in getting caught. (Not that she was exactly capable of blending into a crowd, even before her new look.) But let's have a little sympathy. We all have stories of alarmingly stupid shit we've done, and again, the no-dating rule – total bullshit.

I immediately thought that I should start lying about her being my favourite. Just to avoid the ensuing conversation – you like the crazy weirdo one who shaved her head? But I'm not gonna do that. I mean, I'm just some prick on the Internet, she'll never read this, she'll never hear me say it, but she needs fan support now more than ever. So go ahead and throw your lot in with Minami. If you liked her before, don't stop. And if you always had something against her, maybe don't amp up the Schadenfreude or spend too much time vilifying her on Facebook or anything, because she's a bright young person who made a mistake and you know nothing about her.

And maybe one day we'll see her get back to this:

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Communication styles

As part of my ongoing efforts to absorb myself into the folds of the Japanese people around me (whether or not this is actually possible and to what extent is a subject for another discussion), I of course endeavour to make use of their communication style as much as possible. I've long since adopted their typical gesticulations and cadence. I assemble constructions through imitation. I modify my jokes to appeal to them in a way I wouldn't to Canadians; in particular I have lately been trying to tone down my use of sexual humour, at least among Japanese who aren't used to me yet.

But one aspect that I've always struggled with has been a much more fundamental element of the differences in communication style between Japanese and “Westerners.” The annoyingly overzealous will harp on about honne and tatemae, sociologists will talk about how they've been inculturated with a different set of communicative mechanisms, and so on, but I would like to characterize it as the “burden of transmission,” after the philosophical burden of truth. Basically, I submit that the Western style of communication puts the burden of transmission on the speaker, while the Japanese (Asian?) style puts it on the listener.

In English, I tend to be considered an extremely effective communicator. (Whether that comes through in this blog or not, I have no idea...) If I say something to you, unless I am being deliberately deceptive you're going to know exactly what I mean. I do it through my intonation, my body language, and, most skilfully, in my choice of words, so that there can be no mistake about the message I'm shooting at you. This precision is valued in my home society, where it's my responsibility to say what I mean, and failure to do that indicates some form of mistake on my part.

(Of course, since I perceive myself as being so good at it, I tend to view any miscommunication as caused by some intellectual deficiency of the person on the receiving end – a feeling I have to curb in Japanese, since obviously my still-developing language abilities are much more often the culprit.)

In Japan, however, it is instead the ability to comprehend and interpret that is considered the mark of a great communicator. This requires an attention to detail, observation of subtle hints, and taking heed of unvoiced implications. The most important information may actually be embedded in what someone doesn't say. It's here that I tend to run into problems, because I have yet to disabuse myself of the subconscious belief that dicking around with that stuff is above my pay grade. Go gather your thoughts for a bit and come back to me when you can string together a logical narrative, I got stuff to do.

In other words, whereas English demands clarity of expression from the speaker, Japanese requires active receptiveness of the listener. My home culture places the burden of transmission on the broadcast tower, my adopted one puts it on the antenna.

One time after English Club I tried to see if anybody wanted to go grab some dinner. One guy was up for it, and on our way there we ran into Takamatsu. We asked her to come along and she seemed to straddle the line, as if wanting to go but not sure if she should. I gently persuaded her that it would be fun, until eventually she agreed that yeah, ok. I was totally unaware up until this point that I had done anything wrong, because if she really didn't want to she could have made an excuse (“Homework!”) or just said she didn't feel like it, and no hard feelings if so. Cause it's her job to tell me, right? It's not on me to sacrifice a goat and divine her will in the pattern of its entrails.

Unfortunately when she was gone for a moment the guy explained to me that, while it wasn't a big deal, I had unknowingly kind of forced the outing on her, a bit of a social miss. I should have understood her hesitation to mean an unwillingness to offend by refusing, rather than an unwillingness to offend by intruding. I'd assumed she would come to me, she expected me to go to her, nobody even tried to meet halfway and we ended up totally failing to connect.

Luckily it did turn into a fun evening and we even paid for her because her birthday was that weekend, and we have hung out since then as well, so don't go thinking that I'm a completely oblivious prick or anything. But since little misunderstandings like this crop up from time to time I have made a mental note to take greater care.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

SNSD - "Oh!" Japanese vs Korean lyrics comparison

Ever since SNSD/So Nyeo Shi Dae/Shoujo Jidai/Girls' Generation started releasing songs in Japanese, I've been kind of wondering how they were translated. Did the writers try to keep it literal, or were they more concerned with retaining the general feeling? Did they adjust for audience expectations? So, just for fun, let's have a little comparison. I picked “Oh!” because its Japanese is the least atrocious.

First of all, check out this video:

(If the link breaks, just YouTube search “snsd oh korean japanese.” There's a few of them.)

It's a video of the two songs synced, with each version separately relegated to one speaker. Pretty cool, eh? Although a little distracting. If you read both Korean and Japanese, maybe listen to it while reading the following chart. Let me know how that goes for you if you decide to try. Input overload. The Korean lyrics and translation come from here, the Japanese lyrics come from this video, and the Japanese translation is my own.

전에 알던 내가 아냐 Brand New Sound
I’m not the girl you used to know, Brand New Sound
少女の笑顔で Brand New Sound
A young girl's smiling face, Brand New Sound
새로워진 나와 함께 One More Round
Do Something with the new me for One More Round
世界が回って One More Round
The world turns, One More Round
Dance dance dance 'til we run this town
Dance dance dance 'til we run this town
오빠 오빠 I’ll be I’ll be Down Down Down Down
Oppa oppa I'll be I'll be Down Down Down Down
オッパオッパ I'll be I'll be down down down down
Oppa oppa I'll be I'll be down down down down

오빠 나좀 봐 나를 좀 바라봐
Oppa, look at me; just look at me!
I can't quite become like an adult
처음 이야 이런 내 말투 Ha!
This is the first time I’m talking like this, Ha.
それがいいよね、マイブーム Ha!
That's just fine with me, Ha.
머리도 하고 화장도 했는데
I did my hair and even my makeup too.
I did my makeup and enlivened my heart.
왜 너만 나를 모르니
Why is it that you, you’re the only who doesn’t know?!
Catch me in your trap, darling.
두근 두근 가슴이 떨려와요
Thump, Thump; My heart is trembling.
Even if there are hurdles coming up
자꾸 자꾸 상상만 하는 걸요
Again and again, I keep imagining things.
Now and then I'll have some success.
어떻게 하나 콧대 높던 내가
What should I do?
I'm an innocent girl, the bell in my chest
말하고 싶어
With my head held high I want to say to you…
malhago sipeo

Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you.
Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh Oh Oh Oh oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah 많이 많이해
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, A lot!
ah ah ah ah マニマニエイ
ah ah ah ah manhi manhihae
수줍으니 제발 웃지 마요
Please don’t laugh at me, I’m embarrassed.
I'm going to go somewhere right away.
진심 이니 놀리지도 말아요
It’s my real feelings, so please don’t make fun of me.
I can't deal with a distance that won't close
또 바보같은 말 뿐야
Again, I keep saying those silly words.
Somehow, somehow, make a connection

전에 알던 내가 아냐 Brand New Sound
I’m not the girl you used to know, Brand New Sound
少女の笑顔で Brand New Sound
A young girl's smiling face, Brand New Sound
새로워진 나와 함께 One More Round
Do Something with the new me for One More Round
世界が回って One More Round
The world turns, One More Round
Dance Dance Dance 'til we run this town
Dance Dance Dance 'til we run this town
오빠 오빠 I’ll be I’ll be Down Down Down Down
Oppa oppa I'll be I'll be Down Down Down Down
オッパオッパ I'll be I'll be Down Down Down Down
Oppa Oppa I'll be I'll be Down Down Down Down

오빠 잠깐만 잠깐만 들어봐
Oppa, hold on. Hold on and listen to me.
Am I intruding, this is where I'm shocked
자꾸한 얘기는 말고
Stop saying the words you keep saying.
彼女いるの? Oh my God!
You have a girlfriend? Oh my God!
동생으로만 생각하지는 말아
Don’t think of me as a younger sister.
At best, right now I'm less than a lover
일년뒤면 후회 할걸
In a year you’ll probably regret it.
いつもの事 to face
I want to face the way things are
몰라 몰라 내 맘은 전혀 몰라
You don’t know, really don’t know my heart.
Even if I uselessly phone you
눈치없게 장난만 치는걸요
You have no sense and joke around too much.
I can't speak honestly, I'll be scattered!
어떻게 하나 이 철없는 사람아
What should I do? You immature person,
Once an innocent girl makes up her mind,
들어봐 정말
Just listen to me!
She'll wait forever.

Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you.
Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh! Oh! Oh! oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah 많이 많이해
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, A lot!
Ah ah ah ah マジマジで!
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, A lot!
수줍으니 제발 웃지 마요
Please don’t laugh at me, I’m embarrassed.
I think I can't help but confess right now
진심 이니 놀리지도 말아요
It’s my real feelings, please don’t make fun of me.
I can't deal with a love that doesn't get closer.
또 그러면 난 울지도 몰라
If you do that again, I might cry.
Pierce my shocked heart

전에 알던 내가 아냐 Brand New Sound
I’m not the girl you used to know.
少女の寝顔を Brand New Sound
A young girl's sleeping face, Brand New Sound
뭔가 다른 오늘만은 뜨거운 난
Something’s different today, warm hearts.
見つめてお願い One More Night
Please look at me, One More Night
Down Down Mirage The Find Now
Down Down, don’t push, I’ll get angry.
Down Down 意地悪魔法は
Down Down, malicious magic
오빠 오빠 이대로는 NoNoNoNo
Oppa, oppa this right here, no no no no!
もたもたいらない NoNoNoNo
I don't want this slow stuff, no no no no!

Tell me boy boy love it it it it it it it ah!
Tell me boy boy love it it it it it it it ah!

Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you.
Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh Oh Oh Oh oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah 많이 많이해
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, A lot!
ah ah ah ah マニマニエイ
ah ah ah ah manhi manhihae
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you!
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah 많이 많이해
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot!
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah マジマジで!
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot!

또 바보 같은 말뿐야 , oh~!
Again I keep saying those silly words, oh~!
どうか、どうか繋いで , oh~!
Somehow, somehow, make a connection, oh~!

Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you!
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah 많이 많이해
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot.
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah マジマジで!
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot.
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh 오빠를 사랑해
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oppa, I love you!
Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh オッパルサランゲイ
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! oppareul saranghae
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah 많이 많이 Oh
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot, Oh!
ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah マジマジ Oh
Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! A lot, a lot, Oh!

It pretty much speaks for itself, so I'm not going to offer much commentary, but the main thing you'll immediately notice is that not only has the general flavour of the song seem to have survived, but some lines are nearly identical or work at similar angles. That's no surprise, since a) the everything apart from the lyrics is identical between the two versions, b) it's the same group and thus they require a consistency in branding, and c) at least a quarter of the lyrics are completely meaningless in any language, so this exercise was geared less towards the bigger picture and more towards the exact manner in which the song was brought over. And of course we're examining it in a third language, which just brings it to a whole other level. Like I said at the beginning: just for fun. What's weird to me is that, just by putting the English lyrics side by side, the Korean version actually seems far more direct and less cutesy and innocent than the Japanese, which is the exact opposite of what I would expect.

Incidentally, why do recording companies think that pop songs must be in the native language of the target audience to be successful, and are they right? (Raise your hands everybody who's heard of Nelly Furtado's Spanish-language work.) Why did “The Boys” disappear overnight but “Gangnam Style” is the most-watched YouTube video ever? Are Japan and Korea going to keep exchanging soft culture, or is this just a passing thing, and if it persists, is that going to start affecting public perception of the opposing countries in question?

I don't have any answers, I just find it really interesting to see the same song wearing different clothes.

Translation notes

If I've messed something up, by all means let me know in the comments. I don't do this a lot. Please be kind.

大人には割りとなれない – this 「割となる」 business is something I've never encountered before and I couldn't find a satisfactory answer. Anybody care to explain it to me?
罠を掛けてダーリン – I feel like this is a dead-simple headscratcher here but I actually can't figure out who's being caught and who's doing the catching. Is she putting on her makeup and such as a trap to catch the guy, or to entice him to catch her?
いつもの事 to face – Wtf is this?
打ち明けちゃダメ、散るわよ! - The first half is easy: she can't speak her feelings honestly (because the guy has a girlfriend.) But the 散る complicates it. Who are what is being scattered? I take it to indicate her frustration with the whole situation.
乙女なら一度決めたら/ずっと待つの - I believe “maiden” is the go-to translation on this one, implying all the chastity and feminine beauty that implies, but it's a bit too literary here, so I went with “innocent girl.” I wasn't sure how to translate ずっと、since it really means something like “the whole period of time,” meaning she'll wait for as long as it takes, until he breaks up with his current girlfriend or acknowledges SNSD as his one true love or whatever, but I figured that the colloquialism “forever” would get the job done. Incidentally, I really like this line for some reason.
すぐに好きって言っちゃいそう – More literally, “I'm somewhat embarrassed or regretful to say that it seems as though I will very soon tell you 'I like you.'” But that didn't fit on one line.