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In Koe no Katachi, volume 1, chapter 2, page 37, first panel, Ishida said that.

Because her ears don't have "H"

What does Ishida mean by that? While his teacher did laugh too. What's funny with that joke?

In Indonesian version, he said (I have translated it to English using Google translate)

Because Her ears hadn't been written with the sutra

The Sutra in this context refers to Buddha or Hindu religion.

What's with the translation? Is the Licensed Indonesia translation not the true sentence? Which one is the correct sentence?

Koe no Katachi chapter 2

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Here is the original page in Japanese:

Vol 1, page 102

Panel 1
耳【みみ】にお経【きょう】書き【かき】忘れ【わすれ】たんだよ!
(Her ears hadn't been written with the sutra!)

Panel 3
耳【みみ】なし芳一【ほういち】?
(Hoichi the Earless?)

As hinted in the 3rd panel, it's referring to the story of Hoichi the Earless. The relevant summary:

Realizing that Hoichi had been bewitched by ghosts, the priest vowed to save his friend from further trickery. He painted Hoichi's body with the kanji characters of the Heart Sutra for protection and instructed him to remain silent and motionless when he is called upon by his ghostly audience. That evening the samurai called for Hoichi as before, and was angered when he received no response. The ghostly samurai approached Hoichi but was unable to see anything but his ears. The sutra had rendered the rest of Hoichi's body invisible. Attempting to comply with his orders, the samurai ripped Hoichi's ears off as proof that they had been the only portion of the lute player that was available.

After the ghostly retainer had left, Hoichi was still too frightened to react, despite the blood gushing from the wounds on his head. When the priest returned, he realized in dismay that he had neglected to write the sutra on Hoichi's ears, which had left them vulnerable to the spirit. Despite his injury, Hoichi's ordeal had freed him from the spirit's power, and he went on to recover from his wounds and become a famous musician.

(Emphasis mine)


I could see that the Indonesian version tried to be faithful with the translation, but unless they also provided a hint about this story, then unfortunately the joke got lost in translation.

  • 2
    The licenced English translation from Crunchyroll backs this up, complete with foot note. – Makoto Sep 12 '17 at 7:02
  • i am sorry, i have reread the licensed Indonesia translation where this part come from again and it did said "Her ears hadn't been written with the sutra" ( i dont remember the complete word ) and since in licensed Indonesia translation there is no foot note so i dont know what's the point of "Hoichi" joke. i will edit my question. And thanks for your explanation. this is what i am looking for – Gagantous Sep 12 '17 at 7:11
  • @Gagantous: It's a fairly Japanese-centric reference. I wouldn't be that surprised if the licensed version in Indonesia took its own liberties. – Makoto Sep 13 '17 at 14:43
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As the girl in the third panel says, she can't 'h'ear. ear with the letter h in front of it spells h + ear = hear.

As to what the original Japanese joke was? Probably a similar joke about her. Often times, translations will change jokes if they don't make sense in the translated language- either because it's a pun in the original, or because it references something particular to that culture.

  • But why in my translation he said "have not been read by the book of sutra"? – Gagantous Sep 12 '17 at 4:29
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    Translators often take liberties with jokes more than anything else. They value conveying what's actually happening (he's making a mean joke at her expense), but still want to make sure people understand it's a joke, which doesn't always happen with literal translations. – j4eo Sep 12 '17 at 4:33

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