It’s the Little Things That Count: About a Single Moment in In/Spectre

Okay, whose idea was it to mention Harlequin novels in anime subs???

If you didn’t read the post I linked above the cut for whatever reason, the subs for In/Spectre‘s first episode mention Harlequin novels. There’s a particular connotation I’ve assigned to Harlequin novels, as I mention in the notes for In/Spectre. Note “trashy” is the word I used to describe them in the post – they’re hugely disposable, popular with women and fairly repetitive, so they could be likened to shojo manga.

At first I thought Harlequin novels didn’t exist in Japan – a bit of digging around reveals they do. Turns out the native audience also recognises Harlequin novels as well, according to this reaction page I found on the episode. So why do I have a problem with the translation? Certainly part of it is what I’ve already discussed, but I couldn’t put my finger on it for about a day or so.

The missing piece of the answer is basically what A Fan of a Certain Age discusses in relation to fanfiction here – the little details tend to be what I fixate on. The little details are what I need to fixate on as a person who deals with the Japanese language.

So, the little details here are that a samurai wouldn’t discuss Harlequin novels. It’s anachronistic (but intended to be humorous, given the pink flower background), although it does do the job required at the time – namely revealing the samurai isn’t what like his appearance suggests.

If you look at the website I found regarding Japanese Harlequin novels, the appearance roughly matches those designs, but the ideas wouldn’t mesh in my head without proper confirmation. So I went back to the episode and found where the samurai mentions it – you can hear the word shousetsu (novel) in there, but not the outright naming of Harlequin. It’s just shousetsu, as far as I know (although I listened to it quite a few times and missed hearing what came before shousetsu just about as many times). It might’ve been different in the manga, but it’s not in the sample chapter (chapter 1, of course) I found and I don’t know if I can get my hands on the manga any time soon.


Do you think the samurai not mentioning Harlequin was an “avoid a lawsuit” thing? Was it just something that was not meant to be thought over as much as I did?

Either way, I spent about two hours researching this post and confirming one line…I’m not getting that part of my life back…

 

 

 

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