The The Genius Bakabon has jokes like (after Bakabon is mistaken for a bear by a nearsighted hunter)

Don't make that mistake again- I couldn't bear it.

And many many other puns, which I doubt work in Japanese.

There is also an entire plotline where if he makes a pun then his boss won't fire him- e.g. After an overly long lunch Bakabon says

Don't wring my neck we'll iron this out. (It's a laundry)
ま ま! せんたく屋さん しぼらないで みずにながしっちょだい!


I wish you could forgive me.

And when sprayed by the boss's wife's perfume

Whoa! you mist!

Is Bakabon written in English and translated to Japanese?

  • Can't speak/read japanese at all but just realized in "気をつけてくれないクマっちゃうな~~~と", there is katakana "クマ" read as 'kuma', means 'bear'(animal). Many kanjis have similar/same reading but with different meaning, and AFAIK in manga, it's usual pun to use the different character/kanji from the one it's intended to. That form of pun is really common in comedy/gag manga, and really hard to be 'localized'... Like in "クマっちゃうな", I think there must be another kanji read as kuma that would be the correct one if we put it there, but instead, the author put "クマ" that usually translated as bear(animal). CMIIW
    – user2435
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 4:52
  • The first dialog seems to be a pun of 困っちゃう (komacchau, get into a trouble) with koma replaced with kuma (bear).
    – Aki Tanaka
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 12:12

2 Answers 2


Just like Eric above has said it's not uncommon in anime, so is in the manga world. The translator 'localized' the joke. Well 'localized' is just a word I choose though.

In my country whose language ain't English, many mangas from Japan are published, but as far as I remember, I can't remember a joke appeared in Japanese. Once I read Miiko (I forget it was in Kocchi Muite! Miiko or Miiko Desu!). The setting was in the bus, where one character named Mari have a car sickness. Then, Miiko engaged her classmates to play a chain-word game (where someone says a word and next person has to said a word started with the same last alphabet as the previous word spoken) so that Mari would forget her sickness. Too bad though, accidentally, the words their classmate said all had relation to the sickness, like food's name (imagine you're queasy and have to be reminded of food), even one clearly said "puke" XD. Miiko manga is from Japan, so were the words I read in the chain-word game in Japanese? Nope. They're in my native language. But the translator did a very good job in choosing the words, so the story ain't disturbed even a little.

Another side is from manga scanlation world. Many scanlations have something like "TL's note" (Translator's note). There, I often (not that often though) see translator told how hard it is to translate the joke, since it's a wordplay like the tongue twister Eric gave as example. Some tried to 'localized' it, some left it as it is, wrote the literal meaning, and later gave explanation about the joke.

I didn't read Bakabon, but yeah comedy/gag manga usually will have many words-play like that. I don't really know since I'm not a translator either, but translating joke must be very tough, because you have to keep the meaning intact, while keeping the joke itself.

So, yeah, Bakabon IS originally in Japanese, and all the puns you've seen is originally in Japanese. IMHO, with Bakabon you read that made you even questioning the origin of it, sounds its translator did a very good job with 'localizing' the jokes :) We don't know whether the meaning is intact or not, but I think as long as you read it and you don't feel something's lost, well we could say it's very good :)


It's really not uncommon for anime which appear in English to have puns "translated" from Japanese.

One example that comes to mind is Persona (ペルソナ Perusona), which, when translated to English, ended up with the pun "Bear-sona!" said by the character Teddie (yes, like teddy bear), whose original Japanese name was Kuma (literally "bear" in Japanese), clearly not having such a pun.

Another rather complex example is this tongue twister, which is a very complex pun in both Japanese and English, using completely different bodies of text.

The studios which produced Tensai Bakabon were TMS Entertainment and Pierrot, both of which are rooted in Japan and produced the anime in Japanese. The original manga was written by Fujio Akatsuka (a native Japanese) and published in various Japanese shounen magazines by Kodansha and Shogakukan, both Japanese publishers.

  • This book- Genius Bakabon has no marking as far I can see of either of those studio. Only written by Fujio Akatsuka, translated by Zufelt and home page kodansha-intl. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 13:26
  • @user2617804 The studios I listed are for the anime version. The manga was written by Fujio Akatsuka (who I think lived his entire life in Japan), and published by Kodansha and Shogakukan (both of which are Japanese).
    – Cattua
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 15:16

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