While the 1st part of season 4 has left us at the start of a battle that promises to be epic, small focus on the Japanese title of the anime. What does “Shingeki no Kyojin” really mean?
After 16 masterful episodes, the first part of season 4 of Attack on Titan came to a spectacular conclusion.
While waiting for the second part, which will be broadcast in early 2022 on Wakanim, it’s time to take a look at the title of the manga and the anime, Shingeki no Kyojin.
In France, this title has been translated as Attack on the Titans, unwittingly diverting the initial meaning of the Japanese name. With hindsight and the many revelations made during the series, Shingeki no Kyojin takes on its full meaning, once again revealing the genius of its author, Hajime Isayama.
FROM JAPANESE TO FRENCH
In Japanese, Shingeki combines two kanji. The first is pronounced “susumu”, which means “to advance”, and the second, “utsu”, the equivalent of “to strike”, in the language of Molière. The two kanji placed side by side can be translated as “attack” or “offensive”.
As for Kyojin, it also consists of two kanji in Akira Kurosawa’s language: “Kyo” (“giant”) and “Hito” (man). The whole thing together therefore simply means “giant”.
Funny detail, the English (Attack on Titan) and French translations have chosen the term Titan instead of giant, probably in reference to Greek mythology. In the latter, the Titans, or Titanides, are giants and giants, primordial deities who preceded the gods of Olympus. They were sons and daughters of Uranus and Gaia.
TITANS VS GIANTS
This choice of translation is particularly effective in Western countries. Indeed, “Titan” has a much more aggressive and terrifying connotation than “Giant”. We think in particular of Roald Dahl’s Bon Gros Géant, for example; the term is therefore much less significant than “Titan”.
Between Shingeki and Kyojin, we have the particle “no”, which shows membership in Japanese. Thus, “Titan” or “Giant” is determined by the word “Attack” or “Offensive”. Literally, it does not mean “Attack on Titan” but the opposite, “Titan attack” or “Titans assault”.
In French, the title nevertheless captures this ambiguity. Attack on Titan can mean that humans are launching an offensive against giants, but it can also mean that the Titans are attacking humans.
This is not the case in Shakespeare’s language with “Attack on Titan”. Small precision, the Japanese does not indicate the plural or the singular. In French, the logical bias was to include this plurality in the title.
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In Japanese, Shingeki (“Offensive”) also has a military connotation, implying that an army advances and launches an assault on an enemy position. This term is more meaningful than Kogeki (“Attack”), introducing the notion of progression.
The particle “no” also induces a second meaning in the title, which could be translated as “Les Titans offensifs”. This is very significant after the revelations of season 3, when we understand that the Titan of Eren is called “The Assailant Titan” or “Shingeki no Kyojin” in Japanese.
We understand that Hajime Isayama had planned everything from the start; its two-way title simply referred to the hero of the saga, Eren Jäger, the one who moves forward and never stops. As the absence of singular or plural in Japanese left doubt, the author played on it to make us turn our heads once the pot aux roses revealed!