Happy New Year! Here’s the final Yuru Camp special. Thanks for your patience, and please enjoy the episode! Of course, you’re also not getting away from notes, so after the jump.
P.S. SSR shouldn’t be too far out. Sorry about that, that’s my fault!
There are only two. To get the first one out of the way, it’s about Saitou’s weird song. As far as I can tell it’s not a reference to anything (cf. the real Love Song of the Alps from Yama no Susume, and a modified… Yankee Doodle from the same), which seems fishy to me, but I really don’t know. In any case, the only thing of note is that the first bit of every line is a count (as represented also in the English), including the tenth, running 一つ、二つ、… 十. But not really: it’s not actually ‘ten’ (十, ‘too’) but rather ‘distant’ (遠く, ‘tooku’). This pun (?) is rendered in the subs as ‘ten leagues’, since I couldn’t think of anything better.
Now for the real note: shiritori. Probably you know what this is, but if you don’t, it’s a game where players say words in sequence, with the catch that every one must begin with the final kana of the previous. I have no idea what this game is called in English, though I’m sure it’s got a name. That’s beside the point, anyway. The main condition is that since no words in Japanese begin with ん, saying a word that ends with ん ends the game with your loss (for example, Nadeshiko loses with ‘Fujisan’).
There are a couple of choices to be made with respect to translating a sequence like this. The first, sort of default option is to just leave it more or less unworked, with perhaps the romaji in the subs glossed with the translation, or vice versa. Of course, this is the easy way out.
The other option is to play the game.
Now, if you want to play shiritori in English, you have to decide what a kana is. The natural inclination is, of course, towards the letter, but you could make an argument for the syllable; the kana are, after all, a syllabary (this is a bit of a misnomer, though, and it might more accurately be called a morary (not a real word, but that won’t stop me)) and not an alphabet. The main issue that arises with using ‘syllables’ is that they’re poorly defined in English and the sounds will shift according to your accent and whatever else. If you go for a strict definition (with clear-cut initials, medials, finals, etc.) and then require identical spelling therefor, the game immediately becomes more or less impossible.
Consider also that Japanese doesn’t really have the syllable conception (as mentioned earlier, it works off of morae). Further, even kana aren’t always moraic: when they’re slammed together to produce the youon, the first kana is really a letter and not a complete sound. Consider that きょ (‘kyo’) is one mora, and the first kana is reduced to only ‘k’. Further, shiritori plays using the first kana only: Rin’s allowed to go to ‘kya’ from ‘ki’ and to ‘cho’ from ‘chi’. Of course, this bit about ‘letters’ potentially depends on your romanization system (though mine is dogmatically correct, so don’t you worry), but in any case two kana can produce one mora, and the writing system is the hard reference here, not any flimsier speech conception. As an aside, this is because the smaller kana were not historically used (you had to
guess be literate), and so in earlier times the kana really were in direct mora correspondence.
Basically the syllable thing just doesn’t seem like a good option. It was interesting to think about, though.
So yes, a letter-based conception is the most useful. We keep the ‘ends with n’ rule because it’s convenient in this context, though it doesn’t really have a basis in English (since words do start with n). After that, it’s just a matter of picking the best words we can within the rules. It doesn’t matter overmuch, since the episode’s shiritori doesn’t really relate to anything else, but it’s a good exercise. The sequence is, with romaji // literal translation // subs:
bakedanuki // supernatural tanuki // tanuki monster
kyabia // caviar // roe
ajisai // hydrangea // evening primrose
ikada // ‘raft’, but here a ‘raft’ made of skewered meat; usually eel // eel skewer
daidarabocchi // a legendary giant // roc
chouchin’uo // Atlantic footballfish (terrifying) // carp
origami // I’m not translating this // paradigm
Minobu manjuu // manjuu from Minobu, hello // Minobu manjuu
uwabami // ‘large serpent’, but also a legendary snake // Uroboros
miyako tanago // Tokyo bitterling, a fish // spiny bitterling
gohho // Gogh, as in van // Gogh
houtou // check out Episode 9 // houtou
Followed by, out of sequence and all Nadeshiko, ontamaage (‘deep-fried hotspring egg’), Motosuko (‘Lake Motosu’), and Fujisan (left as it was to get the game to end properly). Note the patterns up there in the words: Aki’s are all mythological creatures, Rin’s are all related to fish, and Nadeshiko’s are all food (as far as I can tell, there’s no overall theme, nor does Aoi run anything for her part). The definition of a ‘word’ is pretty important to this game, but it’s stretched both in the original Japanese and the subs. In English I’d probably dispute anything with a space (similarly, anything in Japanese that would have a space when romanized, though that’s really going in reverse), but even in Japanese ‘Minobu manjuu’ is pretty suspect, and so I didn’t worry too much about it.
Anyway, that’s all I have to say about shiritori. Thanks for those five minutes you’re never getting back. As a bonus, have this fun syllable-based sequence that I almost went with, but thought too cheaty.
tanuki monster // sturgeon roe // rose // roasted eel skewer // werewolf // wolffish // Fushimi (the location in Kyoto) // Minobu manjuu // dropbear // barracuda // Tahoe (the location in California) // houtou