23

To my ears, the Japanese means:

I am an akuma (demon), and a shitsuji (butler).

I guess it must have a pun meaning, too. On one occasion, a bad guy cried out "a-a-akuma?", but that's the exception: everybody seems cool after hearing it. How can Sebastian say this so casually?

29

Yeah, it's a pun. When read

悪魔で執事ですから
akuma de shitsuji desu kara

It means

I'm a devil and a butler, you see.

Whereas, when read as the identical-sounding

飽くまで執事ですから
aku made shitsuji desu kara

It means

I'm a butler through and through, you see.


This pun (aku made vs. akuma de) is a relatively common one in Japanese. For an example of a second-order pun of this variety, see the omake at the end of episode 26 of Yowamushi Pedal:

I'm a sheep through and through

The fellow on the right was transformed from being a sheep to a (human) butler, and so instead of saying aku made shitsuji desu kara "I'm a butler through and through", he says aku made hitsuji desu kara "I'm a sheep through and through" (butler = shitsuji, sheep = hitsuji; cf. What do the sheep dolls represent in Mayo Chiki?).


Additional note: the aku in the two examples are homophones that mean different things. The aku in my first example is , which means "evil". The aku in my second example is 飽く, which is a verb meaning "to grow tired of" (you see its more common synonym 飽きる = akiru more often).

The compound construction aku made (飽くまで) means "until I grow tired of ~" when viewed as two different words, and means "completely" or "thoroughly" when viewed as a fixed idiomatic compound (this latter usage is standard; analyzing it as a verb+まで is not).

The official English translation by Funimation aptly captures the meaning and magnitude of this pun by translating it as "You see, I'm merely one hell of a butler." This reflects both his demonic nature as well as his skills as a servant using a common English expression that has more or less the same meaning.

  • Whats the literal meaning of "aku made"? I believe "aku" still means "evil", but its not a red flag – Jesvin Jose Sep 8 '13 at 10:41
  • 6
    @aitchnyu They're homophones that mean different things. The aku in my first example is , which means "evil". The aku in my second example is 飽く, which is a verb meaning "to grow tired of". The compound construction aku made (飽くまで) means "until I grow tired of ~" when viewed as two different words, and means "completely" or "thoroughly" when viewed as a fixed idiomatic compound. – senshin Sep 8 '13 at 10:45
  • Now I notice "akumade" in all anime I watch, even when the subtitles are not faithful. Awesome answer! – Jesvin Jose Feb 11 '15 at 18:50

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