Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

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. LUCKYSTAR has that star in the middle if you can manage to remember the keyboard code for it. LoveCom 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?

You're doing it wrong!

You're doing it wrong!

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 LUCKYSTAR and LoveCom 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.

Shinya's autographed drumpad

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.

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  1. ghostlightning on August 16, 2009 5:19 pm

    I LoL’d. I have conniptions deciding how to type Sheryl Nome’s song “Iteza Gogo Kyuji ☆ Don’t Be Late.”

  2. IKnight on August 16, 2009 5:31 pm

    Don’t get me started on ∀ Gundam. And I’ve seen people refer to Planetes in Greek capitals: ΠΛΑΝΗΤΕΣ.

  3. Emperor J on August 16, 2009 8:58 pm

    A lot of this pedantry just drives me insane lately, don’t even get me started on the Murder, She Wrote stuff I had to endure this past week. Anyway, I tend to think that mutual understanding is all that’s required. I’ve probably missed the point entirely

  4. schneider on August 16, 2009 9:16 pm

    My pet peeve is lowercase names. I mean, ARGH.

    At least we don’t have names spelt in alternating caps and lowercase…

  5. Kiriska on August 16, 2009 10:20 pm

    @ghostlightning: Aw, man. I completely forgot about song names, which are like anime names in that there’s a lot of stuff that’s just in kana and then romanized in odd capitalization patterns. Then again, songs are also prone to stuff like “Blah song blah ~Fubar mix~” and “Bah… PUNCTUATION and Exclamations!!”

    @IKnight: Ah, forgot about the Greek spelling, which is probably akin to Weiß Kreuz in the “different language” category.

    @Emperor J: For the stuff that’s difficult to call one way or another, I agree that a mutual understanding is all that’s really needed, but if there is a right answer, you might as well go for that, right?

    @schneider: There are at least a few instances of alternating case, like Ayumi Hamasaki’s “reBiRTH” off her Guilty album, but thankfully, those are kind of rare.

  6. Harry on August 17, 2009 4:28 am

    You forgot to mention MUSE.

    Which might not be necessarily relevant, because maybe the capitalization issue might not be so important when the name’s origination is English to begin with.

    But I’ve kinda taken to spelling MUSE in all caps now, just because that seems to be the way they want it.

  7. Kiriska on August 17, 2009 5:31 am

    I think for things that are English-language in origin, we’re quicker to apply English rules and standards, which denote that names are capitalized in the first letter and lowercase otherwise. So even though Muse is written MUSE on their logo, I’ve never considered that that might be the intended way of writing it and naturally consider it a typographical choice. :O I mean, if you take it that way, there are a lot of bands whose names regularly appear in all caps; should we have been writing SYSTEM OF A DOWN and LINKIN PARK all along? And is it really GoRiLLaZ rather than just Gorillaz?

    Then again, I’ve always written MIKA in all caps for some reason. ._.

  8. TJF588 on August 20, 2009 6:54 am

    “how they’re names are spelt”

    Ah, I get this way with FINAL FANTASY and KINGDOM HEARTS. It’s even worse with some recent stuff here in the States, particularly anything with a colon. “FFXII: REVENANT WINGS” doesn’t have that colon in Japan, and it’s not too consistent here. “FFIV: THE AFTER YEARS” or “FFIV: The After Years”? The FFT port/remake is ALL-CAPS with the colon, though the FFCC stuff is generally regular-caps in the subtitles (I say “generally” because it’s “Ring Of Fates”, while other entries treat short words like “of” normally). Oh, and then there’s the COMPILATION (OF/of) FFVII, which is ALL-CAPS except for the “of” in “DoC” (which has a side game of itself as “DIRGE of CERBERUS LOST EPISODE -FINAL FANTASY VII-“); AC and ACC, though, are just a straight string of “FFVIIAC”/”FFVIIACC” (ALL-CAPS). However, with these and “DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY”, fans insist on colon-izing them (“DoC:FFVII”, “FFVII:AC”), and even sticking the “FF[whatever] part up front (it works better for organization I guess, but still wrong). So, “Final Fantasy: Dissidia” instead of “DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY”.

    Oh, and then KH has some goofies. The first three games (not counting that cell phone/mobile phone port) are ALL-CAPS: “KINGDOM HEARTS [FINAL MIX]”, “KH CHAIN OF MEMORIES” (though this likes getting a colon), “KH II”. But then “KINGDOM HEARTS II FINAL MIX+” (no space; agh, didn’t even go over the “INTERNATIONAL”s for FF (nor the FFI/II for PSP (sub(?))titles)) came out, and within that is “KINGDOM HEARTS II Final Mix” and “KINGDOM HEARTS Re:Chain of Memories” (the latter we got later, though a space is often injected after the colon; thankfully, I don’t think two colons have occured). Then we have the portable sequals…ish things. “KINGDOM HEARTS Birth by Sleep” (often colon’d), “KINGDOM HEARTS coded (colon’d and reg-Caps’d), and, the doozy, “KINGDOM HEARTS 358/2 Days”, read “three five eight days over two” (“khdays” in URLs). “KHBbS”‘s title is based on the KHIIFM secret movie “Birth By Sleep”, so even the in-game bonus stuff has goofy syntax.

    When discussing SQEX stuff, it’s safe if you assume it’s ALL-CAPS (“SQUARE ENIX” in Japan), but when discussing things with othe Englishers, just reg-Caps it (“Square Enix” in North America).

  9. Kiriska on August 20, 2009 2:14 pm

    Ahhh, fffff. I hate it when I proclaim my own grammatical neutroticism and then slip up. =_= But it’s bound to happen sometimes.

    But lol. I’m not huge on the FF fandom, so all of that chaos is more or less unknown to me — sounds pretty hilarious though. Do people actually fight over that or is it just an internal organizational rage? XD Perhaps because so many of the titles are often abbreviated, I don’t really see people pick fights over how they’re capitalized, though I have seen people OCDly rename files to how they personally prefer after they’ve downloaded music or something.

    As for Kingdom Hearts, I’ve never really encountered anyone to spelt it in all caps, despite its appearance as such on packaging and KH is also so often abbreviated that the titles themselves are less meaningful in some sense. The colon seems to be (nearly?) universally accepted for subtitled games, so CoM, Re:CoM, 358/2 Days, and BbS all get one. The FINAL MIXes don’t count as subtitles though, so I’ve always seen Kingdom Hearts II FINAL MIX+. SQUARE ENIX I’ve always taken to capitalizing. Trudging through all this, it seems easy to conclude that for the inconclusive titles like both of these game series, everything’s up to the whims of the fan.

  10. Toonleap on August 21, 2009 1:46 pm

    I barely pay attention to the way Japanese writes the title for their series…until now… :) Guess They want the names to look different so They shine among the rest…

  11. Martin on August 21, 2009 6:45 pm

    I didn’t pay much attention to this until I 1. joined last.fm and 2. started listening to lots of Japanese music. Even when Windows Media Player ‘helpfully’ finds the album info for you there are still annoying changes; I remember Mono’s new album was listed in that particular font where the letters are a slightly different shape. Now it drives me nuts because the likes of the Macross Frontier has duplicate entries for all the songs!

    It’s ironic, really, that Dir en grey chose their name specifically to stop it being open to interpretation and double meanings! I thought the caps on the Marrow album was just a stylistic choice for the album artwork… [shrugs]

    I once joked, after seeing kana getting scrambled in my hard drive’s mp3 folder, that any music I write would be released under the title ‘Unicode Error’. That’s capitalised, and I might actually use it someday.

  12. Kiriska on August 22, 2009 4:02 pm

    Oh, geez. As much as I love last.fm and tracking my music, I can’t stand to look at it sometimes. No one can agree on any sort of conventions. Even beyond all thousands of oddly spelt or capitalized or punctuated band and song names, no one can agree on whether Japanese artist names should be written surname given name or given name surname. Then half the artists names are romanized and half of them aren’t, so Ayumi Hamasaki isn’t the same as 浜崎あゆみ. And then there are anime tracks that are tagged by series rather than artist (this is compounded when the series in question also has multiple permutations because of abbreviated series names or whatever), and then there are multiple artists that share the same name, and adshjahdjhdskj!! D:

    As for Dir en grey, I also considered the caps for MARROW to be stylistic and maybe even for OUROBOROS. I mean, maybe their graphic designer is just going through an all caps phase just like some people go through a sans-serif phase or an all lowercase phase… at the very least, they haven’t made some kind of announcement about it like Gackt’s graduation to GACKT, lmfao.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a Unicode error in my filesystem, though since Windows automatically saves Notepad fines in ANSI, I have to force it to Unicode every time I save files in kana.

  13. TJF588 on August 22, 2009 10:20 pm

    As for Dir en grey, I also considered the caps for MARROW to be stylistic and maybe even for OUROBOROS.
    Any instances of small CAPS (like how “LORD” is handled in old/old-style Bible translations)? Voices of the Lifestream uses it on track titles on its DVD slipcover.

  14. Kiriska on August 22, 2009 10:26 pm

    No, there are no official instances of smallcaps for Dir en grey, though that might be what Shinya was going for on the drum pad, even if he kinda messed up on the “Dir” part, lol.

  15. kevo on August 31, 2009 2:44 am

    Chaos Head is ChäoS;HEAd (no spaces, umlaut required) and kevo is always lowercase. If you see someone named Kevo on the internet it’s not me. :)