Image source: Wikipedia Image

Let’s start this particular post with the summary of the premise:

Four girls enjoying a school life witness their lives take a turn for the unexpected when they are suddenly stranded on a deserted island. Fortunately, Homare Onishima has experience in surviving in the wild and teaches the other girls on how to make the best of their current situation but it will take true teamwork if the girls are to survive and return home.

Source: Wikipedia

Hard pass on this one.  Pretty much everything that is wrong with recent anime.  Why the girls are stranded has yet to be explained and the characters continue to most of the time wear their full school uniforms that never get dirty.  That would make things too difficult to animate in way the industry currently operates.  The show mostly shows the girls overcoming their revulsion of eating insects, various creatures and the like in semi-humorous ways along with obligatory fan service.  The punchline to most of the gags in the anime usually ends with “sou nan desu ka?”

Japanese: ソウナンですか?

Romanized: sou nan desu ka?

English: Are You Lost?

The title is intentionally written in katakana.  Katakana is usually used for foreign words, but also may be used similar to they way we use italics in English.  Here it is done to obfuscate the meaning.  Written in hiragana  そうなんですか? it is used like “really?” in English.  However, written in kanji (Chinese derived characters) 遭難ですか? it means “is it a disaster(or shipwreck or accident)?”  It’s essentially a rather untranslatable play on words.

What I wanted to show with this anime was the practice of “active listening” used in Japanese.  During a conversation the listener uses a variety of expressions while the other person is speaking.  In English the amount of interruptions used by the listener in a Japanese conversation would be considered rude.  However in Japanese it’s the reverse and not actively listening shows disinterest and is considered rude.  For a more comprehensive look at this I’d point interested readers to this webpage – The Art of Aizuchi: Active Listening in Japanese Conversation.

What I wanted to highlight from this anime title was the word “sou”.  There are a myriad of meanings for this word, but the usage used here is “so, really or seeming”.  Recall the stereotypical pre-woke Hollywood portrayal of Japanese people saying things like, “Ah So, Smith-san!” for “That’s right Mr. Smith”.  It shows agreement and an active participation in the conversation.

For me personally, it took about four years of study before I unconsciously started to begin using the various active listening expressions.  The most common for me are the many variations of “sou”, “hai, hai,hai” (yes, yes, yes) and “un… un… un…” essentially a grunting sound in English that is casual “yes” in English.  I just about fell off the chair when I suddenly realized I was using that one.

The one that I’ve resisted using, but now actually do use is “heeeeeeeeeeee” (sounds like “hey” in English) said with a rising intonation.  It’s always sounded ridiculous to me, but it’s incredibly common in Japanese.  It expresses surprise.  You’ll hear Japanese all say it in unison on TV variety shows and the like.

I’ll leave you with 12 seconds of video that actually uses all the expressions I’ve discussed in active listening as spoken by the woman on the left, Saori Oonishi.  The video will start at 25:25.

25:28 – hai, hai, hai

25:30 – honto ni (really, truly)

25:36 – heeeeeeee

25:38 – un,un,un

25:40 – sou desu ne

None of these really add any information to the conversation.  They just demonstrate her interest in what the speaker is saying.