Reading Berserk in 日本語, an amateur analysis.

I downloaded Japanese Berserk scans years ago and turned to them for an obscene amount of time last year. I have felt that the raw translations hold a power for being the original language the story was crafted and presented in.

Sure you can dump it all in Google translate and dismiss these skills, or you can practice and appreciate a piece of art the way it’s meant to be.

In this post, I hope to discuss what I’ve found with my attempts reading Berserk in Japanese, which is a goal I have held for many years.

I’m not an expert on Japanese, far from it. It might seem embarrassing even bothering to translate something so advanced however, I love Berserk and want to give my interpretation a shot.

Volume 28. I’m going to be looking at a moment with everyone’s favorite character, Sonia! Since I’m certain nobody else cares about this nor wants to translate her words.

その時アヒル達を救ったのは鳥の王さま。

白い鷹だったのです。

シールケ:鷹.。。

Sonia: At that time the one who saved the ducks was the bird king. The white hawk.

Schierke: Hawk…

救った (すくう)/ To save. Something I hear a lot in anime but haven’t learnt the kanji on WaniKani yet.

The white falcon took along his servant dragons and defeated the crows in an instant. Notable vocab in this bubble include.

あっという間に (あっというまに)/ in a flash

家来(けらい)/ Servant

 (りゅう)/ Dragon. Should have learnt this by now but WaniKani for 25 levels hasn’t taught it. Core Berserk vocab!

カラス共(からすども)/ The crows. 共 being first person plural.

鳥とトンビは親戚みたいなものです。トンビの子はこの時初めて仲間と出会い。

The hawk and the kite are like relatives. This time the little kite had met her first friend.

親戚(しんせき)/ Relative/kin.

Ivalera: “D-dragon? That’s awesome, the hawk! Wait, did you hear that, dragons! What is this hawk!”

Speech bubble on left: I knew what it was to be able to fly.

I love Sonia

In small box: Sonia is thinking “Elf heart get!” as Ivalera goes ‘and then, and then!”

Here’s where things get over my head…some of the words I didn’t know.

国中(くにじゅう)/ within the country/country wide

荒らし回る (あらしまわる)/ vandalise

群れ (むれ)/ herd

退治している (たいじする) to get rid of / exterminate

Second part of the second bubble on the left, gets fairly complicated but then I realised it’s because I didn’t know the words tying it all together.

だけでなくアヒル達なかには心を入れ変えたはぐれクラス達までもが白い鷹に付きき従いました。

Not only the dragons, but out of the ducks, even stray crows that had had their hearts swayed decided to obey the white hawk.

従う (したがう)/ To obey

Right to left as usual

The little kite is elated! (Don’t really know context of とくい here, to mean elated or special skill or something else I don’t know! Either could work but both sound awkward.)

Only I am able to fly in the same sky and feel the same wind as the hawk. (Oof, words that make fake Berserk fans livid.)

Because this is something neither the wild dragon nor the feeble duck can do. (I didn’t know the kanji or vocab for…..)

荒らしい(あらしい)/ wild, rough, violent

Even so, it was on one day…

karasu no ou ni towarateita (a mouthfull for us English speakers) aruhi no oujyosama ga, taka ni yotte sukuidasareta no desu

A duck princess who had been held captive by the crow king, was saved thanks to the hawk.

囚われている (とらわれる)/ to be enslaved

救い出す (すくいだす)/ to free/rescue


小心者のアヒル達は The cowardly ducks…..

白い鷹とアヒルの王女様を番にすることで自分達と鷹との強い絆を欲しがりました。By seeing the white hawk and duck princess become a pair, I had wanted my own strong bonds with the hawk. (Not quite sure about this, because I don’t see the correlations between the parts)

小心者 (しょうしんしゃ)/cowardly, timid

番い (つがい)/ mate, pair (Tiny blurry furigana on this one.)

(きずな)/ bonds / I didn’t know the kanji for this very ‘anime’ word.

The little kite was not pleased Because flying in the same sky and feeling the same (wind?), was mine only. Nevertheless….

The annoyed kite stared wistfully at the sea and completely drowned her feelings.

むくれた / annoyed

紛らす (まぎらわす) / To divert/relieve/drown ones sorrows.

Ivalera: “Hey, then what, then what!”

Sonia: “Nnn, well. At the beach the little kite met the forest owl who was surrounded by seagulls!” I think that’s how it goes, because ‘kakomareta’ goes before the second speech bubble, it means, the owl surrounded by seagulls NOT that the kite was surrounded by seagulls. Man I’m bad lol, but English is brutal.

囲む(かこむ)to surround

The little kite had thought, despite being covered with seagulls, this little owl somehow seemed sad.

淋しい(さびしい)/ sad. Didn’t know the kanji for this one either.

Ooof. On that note, I’m going to leave it here, I only grazed over 3 pages but tried my hardest to note down everything I don’t know. I’ve been told by someone with 20 years experience in Japan and who’s biased towards auditory/speech learning, that it’s best to learn by listening a lot and then speaking as often as you can. She doesn’t do well with kanji however! Well, reading is my most comfortable area (if I have one). I have done heaps of kanji memorisation on WaniKani these last few years. Spitting out sentences verbally sure is hard, but I’m going to keep working.

I’ve decided to major in Japanese, with linguistics and film on the side. So it’ll be a good fun journey. If I messed up something, leave a comment and maybe I’ll read it. I think using and understanding a different language is one of the most beautiful things in the world, it feels like cracking a code.

I don’t think many Berserk fans bother to actually read this masterpiece in it’s native format. What can I say, I’m a purist.

I hope, someday, I’ll be able to read Berserk in Japanese. 🙂

Sonia appreciation post, owatta!

By vela

Just your typical temperamental yet passionate redheaded. Experienced in insanity, art, writing and life.

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