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In Hunter x Hunter, episode 97, Feitan activates his nen ability.

What language is the vertical text on the right?

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According to the Hunter x Hunter Wiki:

Feitan's first language is Chinese; he speaks in sentence fragments in Japanese while switching to his native tongue when angered.

Given this, and the text is written in either Japanese kanji or Chinese (as @kuwaly beat me to pointing out), and the fact that there is a Japanese translation provided, I'm going to conclude that the text is written in Chinese. (There may be some fragments of Japanese, but I somewhat doubt that.)

  • Kanji and chinese character actually are the same (but different reading, depend on which language you read it), or you could say that Chinese character is the kanji's source. Since only kanji there, no hiragana at all, and well eventhough there's a possibility it's ancient Japanese, but given character's background, I also agree it's likely Chinese. – user2435 Oct 2 '13 at 15:58
  • @monkry Yes, indeed. The reason I didn't want to say conclusively that it was not Japanese is because you can form some sentences with kanji only. It just makes more sense for it to be Chinese here. – Killua Oct 2 '13 at 20:00
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    I don't think this answer is quite correct. It would be nice if we could get someone who really knows Chinese over here, but as near as I can tell, only 了, 下, and 乃 are valid characters in either Traditional or Simplified, making it unlikely that this is actual Chinese. (There's also 々, which is found only in Japanese, confusing things further.) A lot of the components of the characters are real, but it looks they're put together in a way that doesn't occur in Chinese (or Japanese). – senshin Jan 5 '14 at 0:09
  • @senshin That may be a result of the "sentence fragments" part. Further inspection may be needed, though. – Killua Jan 5 '14 at 0:19
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    @Eric Well, sure, that would explain it if it was mixed Chinese/Japanese, but this looks more like a mixture of Chinese, Japanese, and some other language, too. It could be one of the other hanzi derivatives like Vietnamese script or something, or maybe just a made-up set of characters. – senshin Jan 5 '14 at 0:27
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Preface: I don't know anything about Hunter x Hunter, so I have no idea what language Feitan is "actually" speaking in the context of the show. It is entirely possible (as far as I know) that Feitan speaks Chinese, and that the captions are supposed to represent some variant of Chinese that exists in-show or whatnot.

That said: the captions that accompany Feitan's speech are most likely not a real language. I know Japanese well enough to tell you it's not Japanese; a bit of gruntwork in Chinese and Vietnamese character dictionaries suggests it isn't either of those; and if it isn't Chinese, it can't be Korean hanja either, since hanja are mostly identical to Chinese hanzi. It's possible that the script there is a more esoteric derivative of hanzi, e.g. Sawndip, but I doubt that's the case.

As evidence of this, we observe that the captions contain the character 々, found only in Japanese, as well as a number of other probably-untypeable characters, which are not found in Japanese. Since the language must be 1.) Japanese; and 2.) not Japanese, we are forced to conclude that language is not a language at all.

That said, the characters in the caption are very evocative of hanzi (particularly insofar as they appear to be built from standard Chinese radicals), and were probably consciously designed to appear Chinese while not actually being Chinese. Note that some of the characters that appear are real characters in Chinese - in particular, 了, 下, and 乃. The rest don't seem to be, though.

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He speaks normal Japanese.. But backwards. You can see this clearly at 17:12 where the Japanese subtitles say "どうした" (do u shi ta) and he says "tashiudo" (ta shi u do) which is what you would get if you read the hiragana backwards.

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The characters on the right are gibberish that is written to look like Chinese. As many have said, some characters used are viable in Japanese, some viable in Modern Chinese, possibly some viable as obscure ancient Chinese not sure, but mostly it's constructed from legitimate parts to form gibberish. It's the equivalent of writing "angsk ville ast, arg be yous being may kis dangeroust stranger ous" Kind of looks like English with some viable parts to anyone who doesn't know English, but is generally gibberish.

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it's 100% Feitan talking backwards. If you don't believe, you can watch the english dub aswell if you do not understand japanese at all. I can clearly tell you it's not chinese because im a chinese myself.In the english dub version, you can clearly hear them talking backwards.

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I believe he is speaking inverted Japanese, and the text on the right is Japanese kanji. I'm Chinese, and I can read Chinese characters, so hopefully, my brain isn't exploding and I'm right. :)

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    Do you maybe have a way to confirm it, or some definite confirmation instead of hopefully :) ? – Dimitri mx Jan 8 '14 at 21:12

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