There is a famous sci-fi TV series called Yínhé Fēilóng which means “Milky Way Flying Dragon.” It’s part of a group of TV series called “Xīngjiàn Qíháng Jì” which roughly means “Tales of Strange Starship Journeys.”
What’s it about? Well. there is a starship, and the captain’s name is Ràng-Lǚkè Píkǎ’ěr. In addition to the captain himself, there are other characters, such as:
Bǎikē (who is a rénxíng jīqìrén, which roughly means “human-like machine person”)
Qiáodí Lāfújí (my favorite character)
Wò’ěrfū (who is a kèlíngòng)
Wéisīlì Kēluòxià (by sheer coincidence, Wéisīlì is also the name of the most famous character from original Chinese-language science fiction),
Díānnà Tèluòyī (who is half bèitǎrén)
If you don’t recognize this TV show, take a look at one of the covers of the Taiwanese DVD set:
This is a big issue when English speakers and Chinese speakers interact with each other. The English titles and Chinese titles are often so different that it can be difficult to determine if we are talking about the same movie/TV show/book/etc.
Ok, there are some cases which are quite straightforward, such as the movie Měiguó Duìzhǎng, which literally means “Captain United States.” And it wasn’t too hard for me to figure out that Fùchóuzhě Liánméng (Avengers’ Union) is The Avengers. But without a reference, such as a movie poster, it’s difficult to make the connection between Biànxíng Jīngāng (Shape-Changing Hard Metal) and Transformers.
Not that things are any easier going in the other direction. Taiwanese people always stare at me when I explain that the most common title for Shéndiāo Xiálǚ (“Divine Eagle Gallant Companion,” alternatively “The Giant Eagle and Its Companion”) in English is Return of the Condor Heroes. And then there is Tiānlóngbābù which is often called Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils because that title is practically impossible to translate into English. An alternative English title, “The Eight Levels of the Heavenly Dragon” is more literal but misses the point, and yet another English title, “Dragon Oath,” demonstrates that the translator pretty much gave up on trying to translate the original title and instead tried to create a title which was appropriate for the work being translated.
Which raises the question … how are various manga and manhwa titles translated into Chinese? The answer is, the Chinese titles for various manga and manhwa are often as close to the Japanese/Korean/English title as Yínhé Fēilóng is to Star Trek: Next Generation, or Lǜ Yě Xiān Zōng (Traces of the Wild Green Celestial) is to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
I think some Chinese manga/manhwa titles are an improvement … and some make me groan.
So I have put together a collection of Chinese titles of various manga/manhwa with a literal English translation, and another list of the official English titles. And I’ve jumbled the order. I will post the correct correlations between the Chinese titles and the official English titles when I have time. Until then, have fun matching them up yourself.
Chinese Titles / Literal English
Huǒyǐng Rěnzhě (Fire-Shadow Ninja)
Huàn Hǎi Qí Qíng (Fantastic Sea Strange Happenings)
Wǒ de Yěmán Wángfēi (My Uncivilized Royal Consort)
Hánghǎi Wàng (Seafaring King)
Rényú Liànrén (Merman Lover)
Fàngkè hòu Bǎojiànshì (After Class Nurse’s Office)
Xiāngjù yī Kè (Together for a Moment)
Quǎnyèchà ([no translation])
Yāojing de Wěiba (Tail of the Evil Spirit)
Tōutōu Àizhe Nǐ (Secretly Loving You)
Měi Shàonǚ Zhànshì (Beautiful Maiden Warrior)
Wǒmen de Cúnzài (Our Existence)
Měiwèi Dà Tiǎozhàn (Great Delicious Challenge)
Juéduì Bǐshì (Absolute Bishi)
Sǐshén (Death Gods)
Yǐn zhī Wàng (King of Secrets)
Zhànlì Shājī (Trembling Intent to Kill)
Bǎo Mǎ Wángzǐ (Precious Horse Prince)
Huálì de Tiǎozhàn (Glamorous Challenge)
Wǒ hé Tā de XXX (My and Her XXX)
Měishí Lièrén (Gourmet Hunter)
Huā Yàng Rénshēng (Flower-style Life)
Mó Kǎ Shàonǚ Yīng (Demon Card Maiden Cherry)
Pósuōluó (I ought to put this as [no translation], but just for kicks, I will translate this as ‘Whirling Gauze’)
Official English Titles
Evyione: Ocean Fantasy
Flower of Life
Nabari no Ou
Your and My Secret
UPDATE: The answers are posted in the comment below.
Next Time: Spirit Sword (novel)
Sara K. thinks it is wonderful that this post is going live on her birthday.