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Naming Japanese Techniques

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#1Guest 

on Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:28 am

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Lesson 1: Kanji vs. Readings

The most notable difference between English and Japanese, and what tends to cause inaccuracies, is that in manga, techniques are written twice, yet translations (which most everyone reads) only show one version (the reading).

In simple terms, Kanji is a symbol for a concept. There is no definite way to interpret them, and therefore they are not equivalent to English words. Readings are the potential "words" derived from Kanji, often with different implications and contexts for their use.

To give a vague English equivalent. A Kanji might represent "red" while readings would be scarlet, crimson, red, sanguine, bloody, vermilion, etc.

Lesson 2: Readings of Kanji


For a starting example, the Kanji for Rukia's Sode no Shirayuki are 袖 白 雪.
*It is important to note that 袖 白 雪 does not equal Sode no Shirayuki.

The English translation of Sode no Shirayuki is "Sleeve of White Snow"
Let us take 白 - it represents White.
Some readings for 白 are Haku, Byaku, Shira, Shiro, and Shiroi.

Now, examine the Kanji of Rukia's three Shikai techiniques.

月 白 - Tsukishiro (White Moon)
白 漣 - Hakuren (White Ripple)
白 刀 - Shirafune (White Sword)

You can see how they all contain 白, and yet sound different! Respectively, they use the -shiro, haku-, and shira- readings. Which is correct, then? Although certain readings are intended as prefixes or suffixes and some are intended for use in certain composite words or have special connotations entirely (eg. the 白 Byaku- reading implies "pale" more than "white"), the content in this forum is fictional, and it is completely within your poetic license to choose whichever reading you like or even alter/create a reading of your own. Kubo Tite does it all the time.

Quincy, for example, is a completely fabricated word.
The Kanji for Quincy are 滅 却 師, read as mekkyakushi. By noting the reading as "Quincy" beside the Kanji, however, Kubo Tite (and yourselves) can bend the phonetics while keeping the intended theme/definition clear.

Lesson 3: Context Interpretation I

Perhaps the most difficult obstacle to address when finding the words for a technique is the context of the concept (Kanji) being used.

Let us utilize Sode no Shirayuki again, and this time consider the potential versatility of its mere kanji: 袖 白 雪

Alone, this can at best be interpreted as "some form of extension relating to the color white relating to or composed of snow".

The kanji does not specify that 袖 is referring to the sleeve of a garment. It does not specify what context white (白) applies in, nor how snow (雪) could be related.

Based solely on the Kanji, the phrase could refer to a White Sleeve in the Snow, Snow White's Sleeves, A snow-topped pale wing of a building, or any combination one could imagine of words relating to "Snow" "Extension" and "White".

*Similarly, the frequent disputes in manga about exactly how certain techniques translate are based on correctly interpreting the correct readings of the correct kanji.

How to specify, then? Place the appropriate Readings next to the Kanji.

The Hiragana* for Sode no Shirayuki are as follows:
*Japanese characters used to represent readings, similar to English alphabet. Each character represents a syllable rather than a letter.

そ - so
で - de
の - no
し - shi
ら - ra
ゆ - yu
き - ki

A few important equations to note.

そでのしらゆき - equals - Sode no Shirayuki

Consider these exactly the same. The only difference is the characters used to write them.

Sode no Shirayuki / そでのしらゆき - does not equal - 袖 白 雪

To reiterate. Sode no Shirayuki is one interpretation of the above Kanji. The Kanji must be detailed with some form of reading. More importantly, one reading can fit a multitude of Kanji.

The hiragana カ (ka), for example, is commonly associated in manga with Fire or Flowers (Ryuujin Jakka / Katen Kyokotsu), which have two different representative kanji. Matched with a different kanji, it would mean something else entirely.

So, using Sode no Shirayuki, the way it should be presented is as follows.

袖 白 雪
そでの しら ゆき

Or in Alphabet.

袖 白 雪
Sode no Shirayuki

Lesson 4: Context Interpretation II

Above explains the theory of how Reading/Kanji relation are intended to give the clearest exposition of the ability while allowing the greatest creative nomenclature, as well as how they are to be presented once complete.

The base process is not difficult.

- Choose the concepts you are interested in and find their Kanji (Kanji Dictionary: [Tangorin]).
- Compare terms which use those kanji to get a better idea of what certain readings mean.
- Compose a reading which fits the Kanji or compose one for your personal phonetic preferences using a hiragana chart.


Issues arise, as stated before, with the complexity of context.

そでのしらゆき (Sode no Shirayuki) was chosen as my example due to one component. The の (no) segment. It is not directly related to the kanji.

袖 - そで (Sode)
... - の (no)
白 - しら (Shira)
雪 - ゆき (Yuki)

In this sense, and in most cases, "no" is used as a possessive. It is included into the normal kanji readings to denote "Sleeve of White Snow" as opposed to "Sleeve White Snow" or some other implication.

If the readings were rearranged to "Sodeshiro no Yuki", for example, the meaning would become "Snow of the White Sleeve".

If they were "Sode no Haku no Yuki", the meaning would become "Snow of the Sleeve's Whiteness".

*Remember, these variations all use the same kanji.

Thus, be attentive to exactly what your technique is intended to suggest. Do not use the flat noun reading if you mean for it to be an adjective. Do not use the verb infinitive if it is intended to be a command.

Lesson 5: The Point?

No, you do not have to post Kanji for your Zanpakuto/Kidou/Power/etc.
No, you do not even have to make it a Japanese name.
Yes, unless you know Japanese, doing this properly will likely require a bit of research.
Yes, you may find this to be far more trouble than it is worth.
Thus, this information is for people worried that their phraseology/composition is inaccurate or unreliable and would like a way to solidify it. Alternatively, it is for people who enjoy authenticity and/or tradition, as this is the way techniques are presented in actual manga.

In my opinion, it is nice to have your technique say what is intended, rather than being a fragment of an incorrectly quoted phrase substituted for a general term. Refining your understanding of the readings will help you avoid these errors, and adding the kanji will anchor the theme in spite of them.

Lesson 6: Arrancar Note

Just as most English folk do not know Japanese, most Japanese folk do not know Spanish. Thus, Ressurrecions have three "names" to be written.

1. The (presumably) Spanish name.
2. Kanji for something roughly equivalent to the Spanish name.
3. Readings phonetically equivalent to the Spanish name.


For example, Harribel's Tiburon has the Kanji 皇鮫后 which represent "Imperial Shark Empress". It has the artificial reading "Teiburon" to imitate the sound of the original Spanish.

*Ressurrecion are translated to Japanese in the manga for benefit of the Japanese readers. Therefore, there is no reason to do it here and this note is purely for completion.

Lesson 7: Final Example

Concept: Giant Flying Star
Kanji: 大 飛 星
Reading: Dai Tobi Sei

Result: 大飛星 Daitobisei

English Translation: There is none, specifically. The combination of Kanji and Reading has solidified the concept and requires no further exposition. If I were to state one, it could be anything correctly associated with the kanji.

© 2012 Bleach Story

#2Guest 

on Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:16 pm

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As good as your intentions are we have a staff thread where you can apply to be a mod. However you are positing in the announcements and rules section, an area reserved for as the title suggests announcements and rules. Please cease posting these here inappropriately, there are other areas of the forum which are more suited for these specifically the suggestions and "other stuff" sections.

Please respect the forums sections and the fact that you are not staff yet.

#3Guest 

on Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:20 pm

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Very well,Sir! Yet, don't you think that mostly people check the Announcements & Rules rather than the Other stuff section? That's the reason, I posted it there. I shall be happy to obey your intructions anyway. :D

#4Guest 

on Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:31 pm

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Regardless if that is true these are neither rules nor official announcements. Currently active members will see it if they use the "view posts since last visit" button at the top of the page. If future users ever express curiosity on such an issue they can easily be directed here via a link. If you really want people to have easy access to these you can make a thread with links and summaries to them all. Then add a link to that thread in your signature.

I am all for spreading knowledge and your efforts are appreciated, thank you for understanding the importance of posting in the proper areas.

#5Guest 

on Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:10 pm

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Very informative! Thanks! :D

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