Yama no Susume Third Season – 11

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Last week’s episode was a subtle, delicate piece about the bittersweet consequences of growing up, of the still altogether surprising whirlwinds one reaps from any blessing. This episode’s got nothing to do with any of that! Get hype, it’s mountain climbing time! Woo, get out there!

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See Episode 7’s notes for the susuki mimizuku / straw horned owl’s toy context. Read on for owl facts.

There was a difficult pun about owls this episode; let’s start from the top. The Japanese have the term ‘ミミズク’, which literally (for some definition of ‘literally’) means ‘ear owl’. Or maybe it means ‘ear-having’, or maybe it means ‘ear and hair’. It definitely means ‘ear [(and/or) something]’, but the ズク part is disputed and unclear. Anyway, it refers to owls that look like they have ears. And yes, all owls have ears, but you know what I mean. The Japanese thought the big feather tufts above the eyes looked like ears (like, on a cat), while the Europeans saw them more as horns, and in English we have ‘horned owls’ or ‘eagle owls’ (don’t ask me about the second one).

But these definitions (according to Wikipedia, anyway; I’m not a zoologist) aren’t quite equivalent: English horned owls are limited to (and compose all of) the genus Bubo, while Japanese mimizuku include also the likes of genus Ptilopsis (formerly within Otus), including Ptilopsis leucotis, which you may recognize from the best anime ever made. Meanwhile, the famous snowy owl, Bubo scandiacus (formerly Nyctea, and disputed), is a Bubo and thus part of the horned owls as thus defined, but doesn’t actually have ear tufts or anything like them, and so isn’t a mimizuku. As a result, ‘horned owl’ isn’t really an ideal translation, but it’s the best one we’ve got.

How much of this is actually relevant to common vernacular (or even accurate: I’m not a zoologist!) is anyone’s guess. In any case, the important thing is that owls with ear tufts are ミミズク. So what are owls without ear tufts? The Japanese call all other owls 梟 (‘fukurou’), and this appears to be a well-established distinction that’s actually commonly observed: fukurou and mimizuku are considered distinct and separate in common parlance. An owl either has ear tufts (or something like it) and is a mimizuku, or it doesn’t and it’s a fukurou.

Sidenote: there are owls with ‘fukurou’ in their name that are mimizuku (e.g. シマフクロウ, ‘shimafukurou’, Bubo blakistoni (formerly Ketupa blakistoni), though this is disputed) and owls with ‘zuku’ in their name that are fukurou (e.g. the アオバズク, ‘aobazuku’, Ninox scutulata).

In any case, Aoi makes a joke about it being funny that Ikebukuro (note: ‘Ikebukuro’ (池袋) = ‘Ike’ + ‘fukuro’) has a horned owl (mimizuku) as its sort of famous toy thing (again, see Episode 7) instead of a non-horned owl (fukurou). It’s a ‘fukurou’/’fukuro’ (梟/袋) pun. Hinata, however, replies that mimizuku are in fact fukurou. And why?

Because while there’s the distinction maintained between フクロウ and ミミズク, フクロウ can in fact refer to owls as a whole. In particular, note that the name for the family of true owls (Strigidae, to which all above-mentioned belong) is called フクロウ科 (‘fukurou family’), and the order Strigiformes containing that family is called フクロウ目 (‘fukurou order’). And so Hinata’s correct in a technical sense: all mimizuku are fukurou. But Aoi, not a zoologist, doesn’t know this.

There you go, that’s the joke.

So how was it was translated? Clumsily. You can see it in the subs, of course, but it’s rendered as a pun between ‘eagle’ and ‘Ike’ (‘uro’ actually kind of sounds like ‘owl’ too, but it wasn’t worth it). Instead of Aoi not knowing that mimizuku are technically fukurou, it’s Aoi not knowing that eagle owls are actually the same thing as horned owls.

In other news, what’s a traverse? It’s going from peak to peak or something like that, usually along a ridge. Essentially, not going down the mountain before climbing another. I’m sure there’s a better definition, but you know what I mean. I’m not certain this is really the word (or what the difference might be between ‘traverse’ and ‘traversal’), but of course it also means simply to pass through or over an area in a figurative sense. And that’s important, guys: what else is being traversed awkwardly by our girls?

Momotarou’s, you know, the peach boy or whatever of folklore. Look him up. He’s like the James of giant peach fame, except really nothing like James except for the peach. And being a boy?

if you don’t remember what ‘Fujimi’ means, check Episode 10’s notes.

And lastly, Hinata mentions something about すれちがい this episode (the same phrase was in title of Episode 10). ‘We’ve done nothing but miss each other recently’, or something like that. I went for ‘miss’ as in ‘fail to align’ or just in general sort of be different (though it unfortunately can read as ‘long for’). But すれちがい is a vague term with many meanings. It also means to pass as the seasons do, or to overtake as pedestrians might. It means to differ in opinion, to not see eye to eye. It means to misunderstand one another, and it means to grow apart from each other.

It means I didn’t do a good job of translating it. Just full disclosure.

See you guys next week.

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