Watashi and anata
The formal pronouns ‘watashi’ (I) and ‘anata’ (you) seldom show up in animes and Japanese dramas because in animes there are many other ways to say ‘I’ and ‘you’, each one with its own nuance. In this clip from ‘Your name’ (kimi no na wa), a girl that unwillingly has exchanged bodies with a boy named Taki, is talking to his friends for the first time; not knowing how Taki addresses himself, she tries different ways until she hits the right one:
Taki: aa… eeto…
The most common words for ‘I’ that we would appear in animes and manga are:
- 私 – watakushi – very formal, old-fashioned
- 私 – watashi – formal, business-like, gender neutral
- あたし – atashi – feminine, semi-formal
- 僕 – boku – young, respectful, non-confrontational, male
- 内, 中 – uchi – children and women, Kansai region
- 俺 – ore – confrontational, confident, tough, male
In real life, saying ‘you’ is avoided, calling the person by his name instead, so all of these forms of ‘you’ are mainly relevant in animes:
- あなた, 貴方 – anata – formal, business-like, neutral
- 貴女, 貴男 – anata – what a wife calls a husband: dear, darling
- 君 – kimi – affectionate, friendly
- あんた – anta – rude, confrontational, despective
- お前 – omae – rude, confrontational, tough; the kanji means ‘respected front’
In animes, people that are portrayed as fairly polite might use ‘anta’, ‘ore’, or ‘omae’, but my Japanese teacher frowns at all of these; Japanese people do not speak like characters of TV shows. There are many more ways of saying ‘I’ and ‘you’, depending on the character’s trade – a samurai, a farmer, a servant; location – Tokyo, Kansai, Okinawa, Hokkaido; and mood – irritated, pretentious, humble.
watashi, desu/da, ne/na Ep. 1
lit: Me? I am a violinist, right?
Eng: I’m a violinist
watashi baiorinisuto da na
わたし バイオリニスト だな
watashi wa baiorinisuto desu ne
わたしは バイオリニスト ですね
- Kawori is talking casually, so she drops the ‘wa’ particle, and uses ‘da’ and ‘na’ instead of ‘desu’ and ‘ne’.
- ‘baiorinisuto’ is the gairaigo for ‘violinist’, i.e., it is a word borrowed from a foreign language.
Jyaa, ne, hana, ‘o’ prefix, arigatou, san/chan Ep.2
lit. Kao! Tsubaki!
Well then, ok? Thank you for the respectable flowers.
Eng. Kao! Tsubaki!
Well then, see you. Thank you for the flowers.
Jyaa ne, ohana arigatou
- Hana is flowers
- Kawori is talking respectfully of the flowers so she adds the ‘o’ prefix
- chan is a casual form of the san honorific
anata/kimi, no, wa Ep.16
lit: huh.. your bag?
Eng: huh.. where’s your bag?
are… kimi kaban wa?
あれ、きみ カバン は？
anata no kaban wa doko desu ka?
あなたの カバンは どこ ですか。
- Kousei is talking casually so he drops the ‘no’ particle
- kaban is bag or briefcase
- kimi is a casual form of anata; it has a connotation of familiarity and affection
wa, ni, arimasen Ep.16
lit: The bag? It does not exist at the school
Eng: My bag is not at school
kaban gakkou ni nai
カバン がっこうに ない。
kaban wa gakkou ni arimasen.
カバンは がっこうに ありません。
- Kawori is apologizing so she speaks formally to Kousei
- kaban is bag or briefcase
- gakkou is school
watashi/kimi, desu/da, na-adjective Ep.18
lit: You? You are cruel, right?
Eng: You are being cruel / You are so cruel.
kimi wa zankoku da ne
きみは ざんこく だね。
anata wa zankoku desu
あなたは ざんこく です
- kimi is a casual form of anata
- Kawori is talking casually, so she uses da instead of desu
- zankokuna (i.e., cruel) is a na-adjective. The ‘na’ particle is appended when the adjective is applied to a noun, e.g., zankokuna hito, but is not when the adjective is alone, e.g., zankoku desu.