Japanese Anime Fans Are Baffled By Demon Slayer Season 2’s English Title

Japanese Anime Fans Are Baffled By Demon Slayer Season 2’s English Title
The women who worked in a yuukako were known as yuujo. (Screenshot: ©吾峠呼世晴/集英社・アニプレックス・ufotable)

The English title for Demon Slayer’s second season is Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc. The Japanese word used for the arc is yuukaku (遊廓), and that word has a much more pointed meaning than “entertainment district.”

Yuukaku is translated as a “red-light district”, “pleasure quarter” or even “brothel.” Yoshiwara is the most famous centre for prostitution in Japan — and it’s also the setting for the second season, leaving little doubt about the word’s meaning. “Entertainment District,” however, is defined as “a type of arts district with a high concentration of movie theatres, theatres or other entertainment venues.” These are clearly different spaces, and words with different meanings.

Above is the official English logo.  (Image: ©吾峠呼世晴/集英社・アニプレックス・ufotable) Above is the official English logo. (Image: ©吾峠呼世晴/集英社・アニプレックス・ufotable)

Popular Japanese blog Hachima Kikou recently called the English title “egregious” and “no good.” The site’s commenters chimed in, seeming to be slightly baffled by the title.

One commenter pointed out that the word kanrakugai (歓楽街) can translate to “entertainment district” and wondered if the English title for second season was mistranslated. I would imagine that’s not the case and that something else is afoot.

Commenters offered their own suggrestions for titles, including “Nightlife District Arc” or even “Yoshiwara District Arc.” Others surmised that it wouldn’t be possible to properly translate the title as “Red-light District Arc” due to the overt sexual connotations. To get around that, yet keep the nuance of the original title, one commenter wondered it wasn’t simply written as “Yuukaku Arc.” Another commenter replied, “Because kids these days know how to Google.” Good point.

A bird's eye view of Japan's most famous yuukaku, Yoshiwara. (Screenshot: ©吾峠呼世晴/集英社・アニプレックス・ufotable) A bird’s eye view of Japan’s most famous yuukaku, Yoshiwara. (Screenshot: ©吾峠呼世晴/集英社・アニプレックス・ufotable)

Controversy isn’t new to this season’s title. When the title was originally revealed this past February, some parents in Japan were not pleased. According to Livedoor News, some said they felt uncomfortable with their children watching an anime with the title and like they couldn’t explain to their children what type of place yuukaku was. At the time, other fans defended the title, pointing out that these pleasure quarters were real places, and it was bizarre to pretend that they never existed.

For the anime’s English language release, distributors seem like they wanted to avoid this controversy altogether. The translation might not be correct, but, I guess, at least it won’t upset parents.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Entertainment District Arc is airing on Funimation and Crunchyroll.

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