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In episode 9 of Kamigami no Asobi, time mark 6:54, the following conversation occurs in the English subtitles:

  • (Yui) Um, Apollon-san, are you ok?
  • (Apollon) I'm just fine. I'm kalos.

I had to look up kalos, and found an article for kalos kagathos (Greek καλὸς κἀγαθός) at the Wikipedia. It means "the chivalrous ideal of the complete human personality, harmonious in mind and body, foursquare in battle and speech, song and action".

On the one hand, I think it is probably a bad translation in that very few English viewers will know the word. (Well, unless this is a point where I happen to be ignorant.) On the other, the original Japanese may well have used a concept of the same ideal, and the translator found the best English match.

BTW, Apollon was not fine, being in the midst of an emotional breakdown. So if the Japanese had him overemphasizing his well-being, maybe it was a good translation. 🤔

  • I just started watching episode 10, and Apollon again uses the word kalos. At about the 2:35 mark, he says, "Come on. It's a play! A drama! This is incredibly kalos!". He is excited about the idea of the students holding a play. At least this time I sort of knew what he meant. – RichF Nov 16 '16 at 3:37
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The two lines you quote are:

YUI: あのう、アポロンさん、大丈夫ですか。

APOLLON: え?ああ、僕なら大丈夫。カロスだよ。

The word I have emboldened above is カロス karosu, which is just Greek "kalos" written with the Japanese syllabary.

Of course, just as no English speaker (save perhaps a Classicist) will know what the word "kalos" means, no Japanese speaker will know what it means either. This being the case, retaining the word "kalos" when rendering the line into English seems like an acceptable choice; it's equally incomprehensible in either language.

If the show never explains what Apollon means by "kalos", I suppose that the Japanese audience is also supposed to infer what he's on about from context.

  • Thank you! Heh, that's funny. How do you translate a word that no one knows even in the source language? 🙂 One of the plot points is that the students are studying for mid-terms. I haven't read the source visual novel, but it may have offered more info. Perhaps Apollon was particularly fond of his Greek studies and had become enamored of the word kalos. If so, I speculate that due to time constraints and/or pacing considerations, the animation studio chose to skip that plot point but still use the word. That would explain why he re-used it in the next episode. – RichF Nov 16 '16 at 4:35
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I'm from Greece, and I know for sure that the word kalos (καλός) means (good, fine).

Apollon says that "I'm kalos (good)".

  • thanks. Kalos is rarely used, if at all, in English. As mentioned in my question, when I looked it up in Google, the best entry seemed to be for kalos kagathos on the Wikipedia. I just retried a search, this type specifying define kalos. The links tend to be articles discussing its use in the New Testament. So it is good to know it has a simple, modern meaning (at least in its original language). – RichF Nov 19 '16 at 23:14

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