Kekkyoku hitori

Chochotakamuneek is a YouTube account up to which its multitalented proprietor "Chocho" is loading self-translated Japanese-language covers of English pop songs and jazz standards. His versions of "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Alone Again, Naturally" are totally boss.

On the evolution of Chocho's style: If you look at a video from earlier in the year — say, "Thriller" — and compare it to a more recent effort like "Hotel California," the first obvious difference is that Chocho's translations are getting sleeker. Compare:

You try to scream/ But terror takes the sound before you make it

Omoikiri sakebu/ Dakedo oto wa sude ni yatsu ni nusumareteru

... where each line is crammed absolutely full and still at least four or five mora too long, with:

There she stood in the doorway/ I heard the mission bell/ And I was thinking to myself,/ "This could be Heaven or this could be Hell"

Kanojo ga tatsu doorway/ Hibiku mission bell/ Kono yukitsuku saki wa/ Tengoku, iya, jigoku na no ka

The lines in the latter still tend to end in what we might gesture terminologically at with a phrase like "feminine moraic rhythm," a sort of trailing-off that contrasts with the tendency in English to end the line hard — but the technique is more impressionistic and the overall effect less cramped.

Chocho's translations are often slightly skewed meaningwise (for example, in "Alone Again," Chocho either didn't notice or chose to ignore the subtle transition from planning to jump off a tower in the present to remembering being stood up at the altar in the past), but he applies a lot of creativity to metrical issues. Another example from "Thriller," which even rhymes:

You're fighting for your life inside a — killer — thriller — tonight!

Inochi o kakete tatakau yori — hoka nai — abunai — tunaito!

Or this assault on the Gordian knot of Germanic simplicity:

She loves you/ Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Kanojo wa/ Omae ga suki!

I also like the way he translates "dance floor" in to "dance floor of sin" (tsumi no dance floor) "Careless Whisper." This is a technique long—


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I also like the way he translates "dance floor" in to "dance floor of sin" (tsumi no dance floor) "Careless Whisper." This is a technique long

And this would be the point where the dancing zombies finally attacked the post. Oh, Vincent Price! You had warned us! But it was too late!

Vilhelm S:

This is indeed great.

I guess part of the reason the "Alone Again" translation works so well is that Gilbert O'Sullivan's original itself uses the kind of polysyllabic trailing-off that you describe. A line like "despite encouragement from me" seems almost designed to be translated into Japanese.


"the subtle translation from planning”

subtle transition.


You're forgetting that Careless Whisper was piled upon in 1984 by both Saijo Hideki *and* Go Hiromi. Saijo's version changed "Careless Whisper" to "Dakishimete Jiruba" in what is still the goofiest translation of a Western pop song I have heard. Jiruba, for all of you who are as clueless as I was, is J-speak for "jitterbug".

Listen to the song, look at George Michael, and tell me that he was dancing a jitterbug. With his two feet that got no rhythm. Absurd...


@Peter, couldn't that be a subtle reference to the mention of the dance in Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go"?


MMS: Nice follow! I've made it official.

Carl: Fixed that too, thanks. I should have known better to mess with the laws of nitpicking irony.

Vilhelm: Totally! If I were writing a "What's to be done with Japan?" article for the NY Times I'd probably also finger the blase attitude towards suicide there.

Peter + Aragoto: It could be a reference, but it's still pretty ridiculous applied to that song. Plus, is it even possible to dakishimeru someone while dancing a jitterbug?


Exactly. There are metalevels of stupid in the Japanese version of that song (say what you will about the Wham! original), and the fact that it one of the more popular Japanese covers (in Japanese) of a Western pop song is somewhat of a disappointment to me...

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