Source – Source: Wikipedia Image

For our third installment of learning Japanese through anime titles I’ve picked a title to introduce honorifics in Japanese.

Japanese: かぐや様は告らせたい ~天才たちの恋愛頭脳戦~

Romanized :Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai – Tensai-tachi no Ren’ai Zunōsen

Common English Title: “Kaguya-sama: Love Is War”.

かぐや – “Kaguya” – female given name.

様 – “sama” – honorific – equivalent to Mr., Mrs, Miss, Ms, etc. In Japanese it can be used with both first and last names.

は – “ha” romanized as either “ha” or “wa”, but pronounced “wa”in this usage.  This is the  topic marker – frequently translated as “as for” in English.

告らせたい “kokurasetai” – passive form of the verb “kokuru”  – to confess (one’s love), to propose (marriage), to ask out (on a date) plus “tai” which expresses desire.

I should probably do another entry on passive verb use in Japanese.  The passive voice is widely used in Japanese as compared to English.  Things happen in Japanese “just happen” similar to the way police officers’ guns just simply discharge in English news stories.  Culturally it helps save face and nobody has to accept blame for causing a problem.

~ used as a dash here as far as I can tell.  If any of our more Japanese fluent Glibs want to explain the Japanese use of the tilde I’m interested.

天才 – “tensai” – genius

たち “tachi” – makes things plural as relates to people.  Japanese usually doesn’t distinguish between singular and plural unless there is a reason to be specific.

の – “no” shows possession.  Similar to ” ‘s” in English.

恋愛 – “renai” – love, love-making, passion, emotion, affections.

頭脳 – “zunou” – head, brains.

戦 – “sen” – war, battle.

So a literal translation is “(As for) Kaguya-sama (she) wants to be confessed to ~ geniuses’ love brain battle”.  Not particularly close to the English title.

Here is your quick lesson on honorifics in Japanese.  There are many honorifics so I’m only going to touch on the most common ones here. I’m also freely going to “borrow” and summarize from Wikipedia.

San (さん) is the most commonplace honorific and is a title of respect typically used between equals of any age. Although the closest analog in English are the honorifics “Mr.”, “Miss”, “Ms.”, or “Mrs.”, -san is almost universally added to a person’s name; -san can be used in formal and informal contexts and for both genders.

Sama (様【さま】) is a more respectful version for people of a higher rank than oneself or divine, toward one’s guests or customers, and sometimes toward people one greatly admires. Deities such as native Shinto kami and the Christian God are referred to as kami-sama. When used to refer to oneself, -sama expresses extreme arrogance (or self-effacing irony), as in praising oneself to be of a higher rank, as with ore-sama (俺様, “my esteemed self”).

Kun (君【くん】) is generally used by people of senior status addressing or referring to those of junior status, by anyone addressing or it can be used when referring to men in general, male children or male teenagers, or among male friends. It can be used by males or females when addressing a male to whom they are emotionally attached, or who they have known for a long time. The suffix is also used by juniors when referring to seniors in both academic situations and workplaces. Although -kun is generally used for boys, it is not a hard rule. In business settings, young female employees are addressed as -kun by older males of senior status.

Chan (ちゃん) is a diminutive suffix; it expresses that the speaker finds a person endearing. In general, -chan is used for babies, young children, close friends, grandparents and sometimes female adolescents. Although traditionally, honorifics are not applied to oneself, some people adopt the childlike affectation of referring to themselves in the third person using -chan (childlike because it suggests that one has not learned to distinguish between names used for oneself and names used by others). “Chan” is only used between people who have known each other for a long time or who are of the same gender.

So with this little bit of knowledge you can now quickly determine the relationship of people and social status by how they address each other.  Note that for word order in Japanese for native Japanese people your family name goes first followed by your given name.  BUT for the gaijin you retain western name order of first name followed by last name.

Japanese people generally don’t use first names until they have an established relationship with a person.  However, since westerners don’t usually follow this practice most of the time westerners will be referred to by first name + “san”.  This tends to annoy “woke” Westerners in Japan from my readings.  It’s never been an issue for me.

Most older Japanese will almost universally use an honorific plus either first or last name. The only time the honorifics get dropped is if the relationship is very close or you intend to be insulting.  My understanding is this may be changing with younger people.  However all the Japanese people I communicate with including my close friends, we all use honorifics.  In the case of my friends first name plus honorific.  If any the Glibs that actually live in Japan want to comment about this I’d be interested to hear how they address their close friends and what their experiences are.


Student council president Miyuki Shirogane and vice-president Kaguya Shinomiya appear to be the perfect couple. Kaguya is the daughter of a wealthy conglomerate family, and Miyuki is the top student at the school and well-known across the prefecture. Although they like each other, they are too proud to confess their love as they believe whoever does so first would lose. The story follows their many schemes to make the other one confess.

Source: Wikipedia

This one I can actually recommend.  It’s a spoof on the usual high school student council romantic comedy.  The two protagonists obviously like each other, but continuously scheme to get the other one to try to confess his or her romantic interest.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the “will they or won’t they get together” isn’t the point of the series, it’s the gags.  Specifically the reason the protagonist is dressed as first name + “sama” is done to suggest high class status and the idea of aloofness.