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In the pilot/premiere (specifically Kaguya Wants to be Stopped, ch12 of the manga), Kaguya calls 'true love' as 真実の恋 (I think shinjitsu no koi しんじつのこい).

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Later in the sleep-deprived fetish episode (in S02E05) Kaguya calls 'true love' as 本物の愛 (I think honmono no ai and ほんもののあい). The narrator also calls this 'true love' (in katakana トウルーラブ) and 'eternal love'.

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(Also, for some reason, the narrator seems to introduce 2 other terms 真実の愛 - しんじつのあい shinjitsu no ai translated as 'real love' and 永遠の愛 - えいえんのあい eien no ai translated as 'eternal love'. Note the shinjitsu no ai vs shinjitsu no koi.)

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  1. What's the difference between S01E01 真実の恋 and S02E05 本物の愛 ?

  2. In particular, what makes the latter 本物の愛 so 'cringe' or something? Is the former just as cringe? Or what? See what 2 of the other characters Nagisa (Kashiwagi) and Chika (Fujiwara) think about 本物の愛:

Nagisa says 'She actually said "true love"!'

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Chika says 'Aren't you a little too old for that?'

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What I got so far:

  1. I know the Japanese language brilliantly has specific words for 'like'/'love' like suki, daisuki, aishiteru, koishiteru. In the latter 2 words, we can of course see the respective roots 'ai' and 'koi'.

  2. Maybe not directly related, but I remember in the Japanese dub of Frozen whenever Anna (RIP Sayaka Kanda) said 'true love', it was translated as 'unmei' (fate, 運命, うんめい).

1 Answer 1

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First off, I think that the translation 'true love' is used for both simply because it is more natural as English, as the following n-gram shows.

this ngram

As a Japanese phrase, 本物の愛 is more natural but 真実の愛 does not sound too different. 本物 means real as opposed to fake and 真実 is truth as opposed to falsity.

So practically they are used synonymously here.

Now why the girl blushes is something to do with Japanese mentality. Generally people do not talk about love directly and also 本物の愛 sounds too serious to talk about. It sounds naive as well. A natural response would be laughing as Fujiwara does. The girl is too polite to do that, and feels awkward.

Note in the manga version, right after the girl's blushing, there is a narration: (かぐやは)このワードが口に出すだけで恥ずかしいものであることを認識すらしていない. (Kaguya does not even realize this word is something too awkward to utter, where this word refers to 'true love').

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  • 2 - But anyway either 本物の愛 or 真実の恋, I think it makes perfect sense under the idea marriage or engagement. Here's what I think now: Nagisa is weirded out like 'Wow, Kaguya's thinking of marriage in such a childish ideal way like how little girls think about "marriage" in such an idealistic way?' It's cringe simply because such term 本物の愛 (or 真実の恋?) in this context is associated with childish, in particular girlish, ideals of marriage, BUT such a term isn't cringe in some serious conversation with, involving or about one's spouse, fiancée or serious romantic partner. Am I getting warm?
    – BCLC
    Apr 5 at 12:52
  • @BCLC Oh I misread, but in this context it should be safe to say they are the same. Re 1, there is no clear-cut distinction between koi and ai (the manga's subtitle contains a word 恋愛 which is usually translated as love), but generally koi is for the younger and ai is mature. E.g., first love is 初恋 and there is no word 初愛. Also a 10 year old girl may be koishiteru, but using aishiteru would be weird (unless the object is her pet or something). Re 3, literally 本物の愛 would be closer. But again, English true covers both 本物の and 真実の. The latter is not so commonly used.
    – sundowner
    Apr 5 at 14:12
  • Re 2, what exactly is considered childish is to think that there exists such a thing as true love. I don't know if this is a good comparison (and sorry if you are religious), it is like asking if there is God. It sounds a bit ridiculous for serious discussion. And for the last point, you are right but it depends much on the personality. If you are generally diligent (like 会長 in the anime) and dating a girl for some time, then saying 愛してる will probably taken seriously, but even then the girl might start laughing.
    – sundowner
    Apr 5 at 14:18
  • There is a famous anecdote that Soseki Natsume told his student to translate the English I love you as the moon is beautiful in Japanese. So expressing love in words is quite new and not assimilated well enough in Japan.
    – sundowner
    Apr 5 at 14:22

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