Here’s my translation, with discussion, of the title of the last episode of Kyou Kara Maou, which aired today (and which I will hopefully see soon).
The title of the episode, as listed on NHK’s Anime World website, is 「マた会う日まで」. My translation for this title is “Until the Day We Meet Again”. Those of you with no interest in the Japanese language can stop reading now!
Laborious Pronunciation Discussion
In the preview at the end of episode 77, Yuuri pronounces the episode title mata au hi made. This is important to note, because his pronunciation can be a little confusing. At first I thought he was saying shima de, and this drove me bonkers because 日 is not pronounced shi, ever. After spending a good deal of time trying to figure out if this was one of those situations where they use a different kanji than normal in order to add meaning, I suddenly remembered that Yuuri’s h is a fricative. (In other words, he pronounces it with friction, rather like a cat’s hiss.)
The best evidence of Yuuri’s fricative h comes in every episode featuring the kotsuhizoku, or “flying bone tribe”. He gave them the nickname kohhi こっひ. Get it? kotsuhizoku. (That extra h is not something we do in English, and is somewhat hard to explain, though I’ll be happy to try if anyone’s interested.)
Back in the beginning when KKM wasn’t on DVD, the fansubbers wrote this nickname as “Koshi”. And indeed, it does sound like Yuuri’s saying that. But he’s not!
I had one other pronunciation difficulty when translating this episode title. For a time I was convinced he was saying hima de instead of hi made, which introduced quite a dilemma, as there is no word 日ま hima. I spent quite some time trying to figure out if it was a pun before I realized it had to be hi made. I think my Japanese word-break comprehension is still unfortunately informed by the English rules for same.
With the pronunciation understood, let’s break the episode title down.
Laborious and Possibly Redundant/Unnecessary Ma Tangent
The ma in mata is written in katakana with a circle around it, just like the ma in Maou. (Note that this can’t be replicated in standard Japanese encoding. The NHK website uses a graphic for the ma.)
The actual kanji for the ma in Maou is 魔, and it means “demon”. So, mazoku 魔族 = “demon race/tribe/people”, makoku 魔国 = “demon country”, maken 魔剣 = “demon sword”, mateki 魔笛 = “demon/magic flute” (which is interestingly enough how they write the name for Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” in Japanese), majutsu 魔術 = “demon skill/technique” (demon magic), etc. The general word for “magic” in Japanese is mahou 魔法.
Obviously the ma in mata is not the same as the ma in Maou. It would normally be written in hiragana, thus: ま. Writing it in katakana (マ) and putting a circle around it is simply a reference to the title of the series and the “demonic” nature of the plot.
Translating the Title…Gee, That Was Easy
The word mata また means “again”.
The next part, au 会う, is the verb for “to meet”.
Hi made 日まで adds the meaning of “until [such-and-such] day”.
Taken all together, the title might be translated as “Until the Day We Meet Again”. A fitting title for an ending episode–especially given the episode’s plot.