You’ve noticed it. Those series’ titles, those band names, and those Japanese celebrities with very particular spellings.
CANAAN is CANAAN, all caps, and not Canaan. LUCKY☆STAR has that star in the middle if you can manage to remember the keyboard code for it. Love★Com has a different star, though many will make do with Love*Com. s-CRY-ed is not Scryed. NieA_7 is not anything but. Baccano! has an exclamation mark. L’Arc~en~Ciel is L’Arc~en~Ciel and not L’arc-en-ciel or Larc en ciel. They are tildes, not hyphens, and make sure you capitalize that ‘a’. Dir en grey fans spot the new and the ignorant by chastising those that write Dir en Grey or, heaven forbid, Dir En Grey. Yoshitoshi ABe always has that ‘b’ capitalized; he is never Yoshitoshi Abe. Someone once told me that hyde, the vocalist for L’Arc~en~Ciel, is spelt in unassuming lowercase when associated with that particular band, but spelt as HYDE when associated with his solo work. This doesn’t always seem to be the case, but that’s one hell of a confusing thing to remember, huh?
Being a grammar nazi and supremely anal retentive in general, of course I always do my best to ensure I’m spelling things the way they were intended to be spelt, but sometimes, it’s just a pain in the ass, and sometimes, it’s just impossible to tell.
The stars in LUCKY☆STAR and Love★Com are are in many Japanese fonts by default, but they’re absent in most English ones, making it particularly annoying to find ways to type them. miyavi has changed his official stage name so many times, you’d have to be well-versed with his history to know which name to refer to him as during which part of his career, and with so many names. He’s been miyabi, 雅, MYV, and 雅-miyavi-, among others. Who wants to do a proper superscript when they write Tommy heavenly6? Or look up the not equals symbol every time they want to write cali≠gari? Same with whatever that weird German character is in Weiß Kreuz, though that’s more “it’s a different language” and less “goddammit, why does there need to be a funky symbol there?!” It’s hard fighting with the obsessive need to do things right and the overwhelming practicality in just not caring.
The SEED in Gundam SEED should be capitalized. I know this because Japanese magazines always write the SEED in capitalized roman letters, even when the rest of it is in kana. But many other series have the entire title “officially” in kana, and then it’s more or less up to translators to dictate how they’re romanized and how particular their spellings are. For example, I’ve seen people write both Beck and BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad. The latter is more popular, but the original (ベック) is all katanana with no subtitle, so who knows? Similarly, is プラネテス PLANETES or Planetes? Should SOUL EATER be capitalized? It is in the logo, but it’s also just ソウルイーター.
The fact that there is no real equivalent to capital letters in Japanese pretty much means that they can have a field day with it and do whatever they want. (They kind of do whatever they want with English anyway.) Most likely, they use it just as a means to stand apart. “SOUL EATER” may or may not be more dramatic than “Soul Eater” — do the Japanese percieve the capital letters to be like shouting like we do? Or is it just different, but not necessarily “louder”? It’s not that hard to remember that ELLEGARDEN, RURUTIA, and ONE OK ROCK are capitalized, or that angela and stereophony are lowercase if we don’t think of them as capital or lowercase letters. They’re just symbols representing a subject. A capital letter does not denote a proper noun and lowercase does not denote a common word. Forget all your rules and just recognize them as what they are. And all the other quirks they pull aside from capitalization/lack of, all the weird spacing and symbols — all just ways to stand out. They aren’t “weird” symbols; they’re just part of the name.
But then sometimes I get the distinct feeling that even the namebearers don’t care that much about how their names are spelt. It’s just all the neurotic fans like me making a big deal out of it. For example, Dir en grey. Only the ‘d’ is capitalized, right? That’s how it’s written on magazines and all of their albums until the Marrow of the Bone (2007), at which point it became DIRENGREY, though I’m not sure if that was an “official” name change or just a typographical choice reflecting musical changes. In any case, neither “Dir en grey” nor “DIRENGREY” is what Shinya, their drummer, wrote on the autographed drumpad he threw out into the pit when I saw them last November.
Nope. That says “DIR en Grey.” Kind of weird, yes? Not even “Dir en grey.” Geez, Shinya, learn how to spell your own band’s name! How can you expect self-righteous fans to yell at other, “less knowing” fans if you can’t even get it right? Maybe in the end, it really doesn’t matter at all as long as people know what you’re talking about, but that doesn’t sit well with the obsessive-compulsive. I don’t care if you capitalize things in odd places or don’t capitalize things or put stars in the middle of words that are impossible for Westerners to type. I just want there to be a right way to write things. Is that so much to ask?
For the record, I did not catch that drumpad (sadly). I just ran into the person who did after the show and got a picture.