I totally revised this article on 2017 May 4th.
About This Blog
I am Enki-Du (not a real name). I am a native Japanese speaker born & living in Japan. I listened to & watched BABYMETAL on YouTube and was surprised by their performing abilities. Then I learned not a few people outside Japan are also interested in BABYMETAL. I want YOU to know more about BABYMETAL & their songs. This is why I here present my translations of BABYMETAL's songs and translation notes.
There were already some translations of BABYMETAL's songs, but reading those translations, I felt that BABYMETAL's songs or Japanese songs are difficult to translate for some reasons (see below). Needless to say, it is difficult for people to understand things of other cultures.
About Romaji Notation
I present the lyrics in romaji, but there seems to be no standard romanization of Japanese. I'm sorry my romaji notation is not uniform. For example, the same phrase may be sometimes separated and sometimes united. I insert a hyphen before "nai" (e.g. "shira-nai") to show it is the negation auxiliary verb.
I write Japanese single long vowels double (e.g. "oo" for o: ). The sound system of Japanese is based on mora (not on syllable), and one long vowel is counted as two morae. Some long vowels were originally two short vowels (e.g. kufu → ku'u → ku: (= eat)). In the melody of a song, sometimes not one long note but two notes are assigned to one long vowel. For these reasons, I write all long vowels double in the romaji lyrics. In explanations, however, I may use macrons or circumflexes for long vowels (e.g. Tôkyô), or I may even drop them from such famous words as "Tokyo" (thanks to aine san on comment of 2013 Nov. 27).
Just for reference: In Japanese, "n" at the end of a syllable is counted as one mora (written as "ん"), so such a word as "ほんき" (honki) has three morae and usually three notes are assigned to it in the melody of a song. Such words as "もっと" (motto), "さっき" (sakki), etc. have three morae, and the middle is silent (called "促音" (sokuon) in Japanese). Those words are distinguished from two morae words "もと"(moto), "さき"(saki), etc.
About Lyric Presentation
Japanese CD packages almost always include the lyric card. I call the lyric printed on that card "the official lyric". It is registered in the list of the copyright collecting agency. The official lyric is very important because some Japanese words have several meanings and the kanji that is used specifies the meaning. For example, "とぶ" (tobu) includes "飛ぶ" (= fly) and "跳ぶ" (= jump). And Japanese lyric writers sometimes use such an unusual combination of kanji & sound as "現在(ここ)". That is, sometimes they write "the present time" and read it as "here".
I mostly follow the official lyrics, but I may divide long lines or unite short lines. If I find some phrases or lines are omitted in the official lyric, then I transcribe them as far as I can. If I find a word is sung with different pronunciation from the official lyric, then I transcribe the actual pronunciation.
Usually punctuation marks are not used in Japanese lyrics, but I punctuate romaji lyrics. I append a question mark to all interrogative sentences, an exclamation mark to all imperative sentences, and I also keep those marks contained in the original lyrics.
In Japanese, the words borrowed from foreign languages (except Chinese) are usually written in katakana, but some words are written in alphabet in the official lyrics. I present them in uppercase or small capital in the romaji lyrics (e.g. "CUTIE STYLE" is for "Cutie Style").
About Translation Notes
I write many long translation notes: Firstly, if I find ambiguity or something in the lyric, I present some possible interpretations and explain why I choose one of them. Secondly, if I feel difficulty in translation, I explain what I want to translate. Thirdly, if I find the lyric has reference to famous old songs, movies, etc., I mention them. Fourthly, if I think some background knowledge about the topic of the song is helpful, I present it. Fifthly, if I think the song is controversial in some way, I present my personal view about it.
About the Singer of the Phrase
To show the singer of the phrase, I use marks as follows:
- The lines that are not enclosed with brackets [---] & not marked with "M", "Y", "S" are sung by the main singer. On most songs, SU-METAL is the main singer but MOAMETAL & YUIMETAL sing some phrases with her. On BLACK BABYMETAL's songs, MOAMETAL & YUIMETAL are the main singers.
- The lines marked with "M" are sung by MOAMETAL, with "Y" by YUIMETAL, with "S" by SU-METAL. "S,MY" means the former half is sung by SU-METAL and the latter half by MOAMETAL & YUIMETAL. I'm sorry if I mistake the voices of MOAMETAL, YUIMETAL, & SU-METAL.
- The phrases or lines enclosed with single brackets [---] are also enclosed with parentheses (---) in the official lyric or don't appear in the official lyric.
- Most of the phrases or lines enclosed with single brackets [---] are sung by MOAMETAL & YUIMETAL, but those marked with "(s)" are sung by SU-METAL, with "(m)" by MOAMETAL alone, with "(y)" by YUIMETAL alone.
- The phrases or lines enclosed with double brackets [[---]] are death growls by some man/men.
- Some phrases or lines enclosed with brackets appear without parentheses in the official lyric, but I enclose them for some reason. The lines that are enclosed but not indented are such kind.
About Difficulty in Translation
Translation of Japanese songs is difficult largely because there are many omissions. For example, "I miss you" corresponds to "boku wa kimi ga koishii". This is too long to say (particularly in songs), so only "恋しい" (koishii) is said, and the context determines who miss whom. The grammatical subject & object are added only if the speaker thinks they must become explicit. In Japanese, they are something like "in Tokyo" of "It rains in Tokyo." and grammatically dispensable.
What is worse, Japanese people don't care about grammatical ambiguity. For example, "先生の嫌いな生徒" (sensei no kirai na seito) has two possibilities: "a student disliking a teacher" and "a student disliked by a teacher", but many Japanese wouldn't think this is ambiguous. A school boy clearly said "the meaning is clear because teachers are not allowed to dislike students". Yes, he is right.
If the speaker & the listener share recognition & concerns, there is no ambiguity. It seems to me that many Japanese think sharing recognition & concerns is important for society and unconsciously confirm their sharing through such (ambiguous) sentences. Therefore, if the communication breaks down due to ambiguity, they would think the listener is to blame rather than the speaker (particularly in informal conversations).
Actually the sharing often fails: boys often misinterpret girls' songs, optimists often misinterpret pessimistic songs, etc. Needless to say, there are a lot of riddling songs all over the world and some song writers never think about the answer.
About My Translation
I'm not an English speaker. I'm sorry that I've probably made many mistakes in English and I sometimes change the translations when I later find the word is somewhat misleading or hit upon a more suitable word. Please be careful when I use a simple English expression which has a special meaning to native speakers (e.g. "get down") without a translation note. Probably I'm not aware of that special meaning.
I try to keep the original word order in translation because I think the order of the images occurring in the mind is important. I think, particularly when reading the translation while listening to the song, the translation of a certain part should come together with the melody of that part. I add a note if I think the translation is difficult to read due to the word order.
Japanese lyric writers prefer the lines consisting only of single noun clauses such as "痛いほど高鳴るビート" (Itai hodo takanaru biito; The beat which gets painfully strong). (Sometimes there is no larger sentence that contains such a noun clause.) I often translate them to normal sentences such as "The beat gets painfully strong." for ease of understanding.
Though I often disregard big grammatical structures of the original lyric, I translate words rather literally, that is, "megitsune" to "female fox". "Megitsune" also means a woman who deceives men, and there may be a more suitable English word for this meaning, but the lyric of "Megitsune" contains some expressions associated to foxes, so it should be "female fox".
Some readers have kindly suggested more suitable expressions than mine (e.g. "PLEEASE!" for "I entreat"). Probably many of them are more suitable, but I'm afraid some might be what I would not select even if I knew English well. For example, "Zakkenja nee zo!" is a harsh pronunciation of "Fuzakeru no de wa nai zo!" (= don't kid / stop kidding). It is more aggressive but contains no insult, so I will not translate it to an insulting expression.
Some people seem to translate what a typical Tokyo girl says in a certain situation to what a typical London girl (or a typical New York Girl or whatnot) would say in that situation, but such translation can't convey the difference between their ways of thinking in that situation.
About English Lyrics for Singing
At first, apart from the English translation which is rather literal, I had intended to write the English lyric that we can sing with the melody, but it is too difficult for me to accomplish.