Posts Tagged ‘The Mystic Archives of Dantalian’

Demon. Wouldn't have tea with that.

The proper pronoun for the embodiment of a pocket dimension existing for the purpose of storing forbidden grimoires would probably be ‘it’. If the pocket dimension is a cute tsundere (?) character, though, nobody is going to think twice about treating it like a fellow human being.

Demon. Would have tea with her.

Our tendency to humanize creatures and objects was strong enough to make Vocaloid, for example, what it is today. Humans were made to become strongly attached to other humans. If so, it only makes sense to make things we are strongly attached to more human, even if it’s all make-believe. The idea is nothing new, and I’m quite sure there’s a blog post out there exploring the idea further. The question is, does the other side reciprocate the feeling?

Yes, are ha ii ningen deshita.

Dalian sums up her previous Keykeeper with the above words. It is remarkable how neatly the word ‘human’ corresponds with its Japanese equivalent. It’s the kind of word you could technically use to describe the old lady living next door, or even yourself, except it is too cold and too precise. You won’t use the word ‘human’ when there are warmer alternatives like ‘man’ or ‘person’ that actually fit into everyday conversation. Outside a scientific context, the word ‘human’ probably made the biggest career in fantasy and science-fiction settings, where it serves to remind us that, yes, humans are merely one of the countless number of species inhabiting this world.

That’s also basically the function it serves here. Not “I liked Wes” or “Wes was a neat guy”, but “Wes was fine by the standards I judge human beings”. Simple, but effective at getting across the distance Dalian feels between herself and the deceptively similar-looking creatures surrounding her.

There might, however, be more to be found in the simple sentence. Because unlike what we see in the English translation, Dalian does not use a personal pronoun, but a demonstrative. To put it simply, you might want to translate the sentence as “That was a fine human.” We reserve ourselves the right to differentiate between ‘creatures’ and ‘people”, why shouldn’t Dalian do the same? The tables are turned on us, and it might be humans that are ‘creatures’ in her eyes.

On another note, the demonstrative Dalian uses is also the one which implies the highest degree of distance from the speaker among the Japanese demonstratives. Why does she make that choice? The ‘distance’ we are considering is an ambiguous quality – it can refer both to spatial position as well as emotional attachment and attitude. Does the demonstrative merely show that Wes is dead, and therefore distant, unreachable? Or does it betray something about Dalian’s feelings towards the old man? That also is food for thought.

But before the episode closes, Dalian reminds us about the difference between her and humans one more time.

Shikatanai kara, watashi mo tsukiatte yaru no desu.

The quote shown above mostly seems to be a more polite version of the standard tsundere declaration. Like most of those, it contains one of the infamous Japanese benefactive verbs (what the tsundere uses to get across the nuance:“I’ll do it for you, so you should be grateful!”) What’s different from usual is that the verb is not the common ‘ageru’ (used between equals as well as towards strangers) but the less formal ‘yaru’. Seeing her otherwise polite wording, it does not seem likely Dalian has any intention of offending Hugh. But then again, it might not be surprising that Dalian uses ‘yaru’ when talking to a human. It is, after all, the verb normally used towards plants and pets…

Subs courtesy of Commie subs.

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