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Chikai - Translation Notes

From the first line, I'm already making a judgement call when translating these lyrics.

Original Translation


unmei nante shiranai kedo
I don’t really care about things like “fate,” but

The truth is, I'd already translated 「運命」 ("unmei") as "fate" in "Hikari," so I kept it as "fate" here. It could just as easily be translated as "destiny," which jives more with the Kingdom Hearts aesthetic, but works best as "fate" in "Hikari" because the phrase "mask of fate" rolls off the tongue in a way "mask of destiny" never will. Because I'm obsessed with connecting the Kingdom Hearts theme songs together as an overarching story, I wanted the link between the 「運命」 of "Hikari" with the 「運命」 of "Chikai" to remain apparent to anyone reading my translations of both songs.

Aside from that, the adjective-ish word 「なんて」 ("nante") here belittles the word it's sort-of modifying ("fate"), giving us the impression that the singer doesn't think very kindly of it, as a concept. This stacks in dismissiveness with the verb 「しらない」 ("shiranai"), which, for reasons better explained by a man who will not die hungry, should be translated as "I don't care about [subject]" rather than the more literal "I don't know anything about [subject]."

Speaking of dismissiveness…

Original Translation

本当にこんな私でもいいの ねえいいの

hontou ni konna watashi demo ii no, nee ii no
Am I really the one you want? Am I good enough?

The phrase I want to focus on here is 「こんな私でも」 ("konna watashi demo"), which literally means "even this kind of me." Sandwiching a noun between 「こんな」 ("konna") and 「でも」 ("demo") is another way of downplaying the desirableness of the noun in question. A more literal translation of this line might read, "Are you even okay with this kind of me? Is [this kind of me] really okay [with you]?"

Thankfully after this line and the one immediately following it, the singer stops doubting herself and starts in on the declarations of everlasting love. (That's why we're all here, right?)

Original Translation


kyou to iu hi wa uso itsuwari no nai
Today is a day where there are no doubts or lies

This is more or less translated as is, but I changed the order of the words "lies or doubts" to "doubts or lies" for reason of personal preference. I suppose I should also mention that the song doesn't literally say "Today is…" but rather "The day called today is…" That sounds clunky in English, so I dropped it.

Original Translation


onaji iro no yubiwa wo shiyou
Let’s wear rings matched in color

Compared to the prior example, where I rephrased something to sound less clunky in English, this could be translated more fluidly as "Let's wear rings of the same color." I originally translated it this way, but changed the wording to more closely match this later phrase:

Original Translation


asahi iro no yubiwa wo shiyou
Let’s wear rings colored with tomorrows

My first instinct here was to match my prior translation of "Let's wear rings of the same color" by translating this line as "Let's wear rings of the color of the morning sun," but that's both clunky and long, so I trimmed this line down and changed the wording of the other line to match the new, trimmed down version of this one.

How did "the color of the morning sun" become "[the color of] tomorrows," anyway? Japanese lyrics often use "morning sun" to mean "the future in some grand sense." In English lyrics, we often use "tomorrow" to refer to "the future in some grand sense." Therefore, by the mathmatical property of substitution, "morning sun" became "tomorrow." I pluralized it to drive home the point that I'm referring to the future rather than simply the day coming after this one. If you're out and about in Japan, don't use 「朝日」 ("asahi") to mean "tomorrow." Use it to buy a beer (assuming you're at least 20 years old). Use the word 「明日」 ("ashita") to mean "tomorrow."

Original Translation


yakusoku wa mou shinai
sonna no dareka wo yorokobasu tame no mono
I won't make any more promises
Just to keep others happy

Backing up a bit, the translation of this couplet changes some grammar points to get the point across more clearly. In English, I've written this as one full sentence over the span of two lines. In Japanese, this is more like two distinct sentences, which would read something like this: "I won't make promises anymore. Things like that exist for the sake of making someone (else) rejoice." The implication, which is somewhat lost in translation, is that a 「近い」 ("chikai"), or "oath" is not for "the sake of making someone (else) rejoice," but something that the speaker means from the heart, for his or her own sake. The grammar strengthens this impression. From a grammatical standpoint, notice that the particle used when talking about not making promises in the first line is 「は」 ("wa"). This is the contrasting 「は」 and here it's contrasting between 「約束」 ("promises") and 「近い」 ("oaths").

Original Translation


mune no takanori wo kasanete odorou yo
Let's dance, chest to chest, hearts throbbing

I'm going to fully admit here that I'm not sure how literal the original lyrics are trying to be with the verb 「重ねる」 ("kasaneru"), or "to pile up." I've seen this verb used in lyrics to refer to kissing: 「唇を重ねる」 ("kuchibiru wo kasaneru"), literally "pile up (our) lips."

This translation would be perfect if they were "piling up their chests," but there's another complication. Instead of piling up 「胸」 ("mune"), they're piling up 「胸の貴教」 ("mune no takanori"). According to various online Engish translations (for Japanese people studying English), 「胸の貴教」 means "hearts throbbing" or "a rush of excitement." It's possible they're piling up heart-throbbing experiences by dancing, rather than literally piling up their chests while their hearts throb. I decided to split the difference and have them "dance, chest to chest, hearts throbbing" in translation.

Original Translation


hirakareta doa kara sashikomu hikari
Light spills from the open door

I don't have any special translation notes for this line, except to point out that it closely parallels the line 「静かに 出口に立って 暗闇に光を撃て」 ("shizuka ni deguchi ni tatte kurayami ni hikari wo ute"), "Quietly standing in the exit / Light shoots through the darkness" in "Hikari." After all 「出口」 ("deguchi"), or exits, are also 「ドア」 ("doa"), or doors. I don't think I listed this comparison in my essay on the KH theme songs, so I wanted to point it out somewhere.

Original Translation


sentakushi nante mou tokku ni nai
There’s no longer any other viable option

We once again see the dismissive 「なんて」 ("nante") affecting the noun 「選択肢」 ("sentakushi"), or "choice", but what I want to focus on is the 「とっくにない」 ("tokku ni nai") part, which doesn't really survive my translation. I wrote "no longer" as an approximation of 「とっくにない」 but a closer translation would be "We're already at the point where there's no other choice." It's a small difference, but the word "already" would have portrayed a sense of finality that more closely resembles the original Japanese. Still, I thought the closer translation was more awkward and wordy than necessary and trimmed it down.

Original Translation


ima iu hi wa kako zenrei no nai
Today is an unprecedented day

I cut out a word here. The original phrase 「過去前例」 ("kako zenrei") literally means "past and precedent" or "past precedent." The phrase doesn't seem to be idiomatic — It's not a common phrase in Japanese. Searching for it on Japanese search engines just returns results for the lyrics to "Chikai." I therefore cut out the word "past," as all precedents take place based on past information, and simply translated this as "an unprecedented day," rather than "a day for which there is no past precedent."

Original Translation


anata wo kudasai
I've decided on you

Let's face it. This line is wrong. It captures the feeling, but it's definitely not a translation at this point. The literal translation of 「[noun]を下さい」 ("[noun] wo kudasai") is "please give me noun." This said, "please give me yourself" is awkward and "give yourself to me" is spicier than the original line by far. I translated this line based on the way the phrase 「[noun]を下さい」 is used when ordering food in a restaurant, where it can be translated as "I'll have the [noun], please." Then to make it sound less like she's ordering her lover as the lunch special, I changed that phrasing slightly to "I've decided on you."

Original Translation

あなたを下さい(愛の 愛の)


anata wo kudasai (ai no ai no)

hi no noboru oto wo kata narabete kikou you
I've decided on you (on love, on love)

Let's sit shoulder to shoulder and listen to the sound of the sunrise

Aside from the issue with the aforementioned 「あなたを下さい」 ("anata wo kudasai"), the 「愛の 愛の」 ("ai no ai no") is almost certainly meant to lead into the following line, rather than adding meaning to the line to which it technically belongs. So, rather than "I've decided on you (on love, on love)," the parenthetical section should be ignored here completely and instead appended to the following line as such: "Let's sit shoulder to shoulder and listen to the sound of the sunrise (of love, of love)." This, however, makes no temporal sense when reading the translation along with the song, and adds more words to an already criminally long translated line.

It's completely wrong, but it's aesthetically pleasing, and really, we live in the age of spectacle, not the age of reason.

Original Translation


tomo ni ikiru koto wo chikaou yo
Let's join in an oath to keep living — together

I might be a pedantic, pretentious, headstrong writer, but I would normally never use an em dash in a line like this. I had a reason. The original line is ambiguous in meaning. It could be read as, "Let's … keep living together," but it could also just as easily be read as "Let's … keep living, together." The em dash maintains this line's original sense of mystery. The thrust of this song is that the singer and her partner might be preparing to enter into a life where they get to spend every day together, or they might not. It's entirely possible that as much as they want to be physically present with one another, there might be a reason that they have to remain separated, but together forever within their hearts. When the plot of Kingdom Hearts III is taken into account, this makes a certain amount of sense.