HM64 Variety Channel (Part 1)

Welcome to the first part of my translation of 牧場物語2 (Bokujō Monogatari Tsū, Harvest Moon 64)’s Variety Channel (sometimes known by fans as the Entertainment Channel)! If you’re confused about what this is and why I’m doing it, check out the landing page here. Otherwise, let’s get right into it with our very first show! For each episode, I’ll show you the original Japanese text, followed by a fairly literal direct translation, as well as a “localization” that renders the text as it might have appeared in a release product.

First airs: Year 1, Fall 11



Cut the Villain!

Episode 1

JapaneseDirect TranslationLocalization
昔々、わるいだいかんが あくのかぎりをつくしていました。Long, long ago, a bad daikan was exhausting the limits of evil.Once upon a time in feudal Japan, an evil daikan was evilly ruling over a village as evilly as possible. Today’s evil agenda: tax collection, for evil!
「ひえー、おだいかんさま!“Eeep, Daikan, sir!“Eep! H-honorable daikan, sir!
おゆるしください!」Pease exempt me!”I b-beg of you, give me more t-t-time! I’m behind on this year’s h-harvest!”
「だまれ!だまれ!“Be silent! Be silent!“Shaddup!
こめをさし出せぃ!」Just present your rice to me!”Just hand over the goods, before I get mad!”
村人たちの運命やいかに!How will the villagers’ fate go!What will happen to the villagers?!
つづくTo continueTune in next week to find out!

If you’re not confused by any of the details in this text, I applaud your knowledge of historical Japanese drama tropes! For the rest of us Westerners, this episode probably needs some explanation. Let’s start with the term daikan, shall we?

A 代官 (daikan) is a historical Japanese political position. During the Edo period (early 1600s to late 1800s), Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa Shōgunate—a military government established by Tokugawa Ieyasu after his victory in the Japanese civil wars of the Sengoku period. Being a feudal system of government, it was designed with an emphasis on land ownership and territories, and daikan were an important piece in the shōgunate‘s structure. They were assigned various territories and in charge of administrative affairs in those territories, including the collection of taxes. For this reason, the term is sometimes localized as “magistrate”.

In period pieces like the ones Cut the Villain! parodies, it’s pretty common to cast the daikan as a villain, known as 悪代官 (akudaikan, evil daikan). These characters are a pretty close equivalent to the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood—taxing residents as much as 80% of their yield, engaging in nepotism, and generally not being great guys! Historically, there’s not much basis for this trope, however. Such overtaxing would generally lead to residents up and moving away, so the actual lord of the region would strictly punish any daikan who implemented overly-harsh levies. Still, akudaikan are a staple of the genre, and when the audience sees one, they’re anticipating comeuppance at the hands of a samurai with bated breath.

Ace Attorney's Steel Samurai clashing with his opponent, the Evil Magistrate, as seen in the Switch remaster of the original trilogy.
An example of this trope you might already be familiar with is the villain of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney‘s Steel Samurai, the Evil Magistrate.

Clearly, the aku in the title is short for akudaikan, and evokes the word “evil” in this context. “Cut the Evil!” sounded a bit too unnatural to me, so I opted to choose one of aku‘s other definitions for the show’s title: “villain“.

Knowing all that, the only other cultural question I expect most people to have is “Why does he ask for rice?” Well, at the time, taxes were largely (though not exclusively) collected in the form of rice, referred to as 年貢米 (nengumai, annual rice tax). Rice—being a shelf-stable, easy-to-transport staple—was probably the most sensible alternative to cold, hard cash. The daikan makes no bones about his power over the villager, as he asks for the rice with 差し出す (sashidasu) a verb reserved for submitting something to one’s superior.

Since part of the goal of this project is to help readers learn Japanese, I’ll also cover any terms or grammar that are complicated or contain unexplained nuance. For this episode, the only one that jumps out at me is 限りを尽くす (kagiri wo tsukusu), a phrase literally meaning “to exhaust the limits (of something)”. It can also convey that someone always or habitually does something, or even that someone does their best to do something or act in a certain way. In this case, it shows that the daikan is acting about as evilly as he can in all things he does.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force‘s Broodwich was definitely created by someone who was 悪の限りを尽くしました.

Lastly, you may be wondering, “Why did you start with a show from the middle of Fall?” It turns out that, since Harvest Moon 64 starts the player on Spring 3, they actually miss the shows that would have aired Spring 1 and 2, and can’t see them until the entire series has completed! Since the show tells a linear, complete narrative, I decided not to put you through that. I’ll just pretend we started on Spring 1, instead. With that, let’s move on to our next show!

First airs: Year 1, Fall 12



Sing Tonight!

Episode 1
Marshmallow Nuts

JapaneseDirect TranslationLocalization
みなさん、こんにちは!Hello, everyone!Hello, viewers!
歌ってナイトの時間で~す!Iit’s time for Wanna Sing Night!It’s time for Sing Tonigh-tah!
さて今日のゲストは、今注目の新人グループ、”マシュマロナッツ”のみなさんです!Well, today’s guest is a group of newcomers who are getting a lot of attention right now. It’s everyone from “Marshmallow Nuts”!Despite being new on the scene, tonight’s guests have been getting a lot of attention lately. Give it up for Marshmallow Nuts!
「ラララ~ぼくらの64~♪“La la la~ Our 64~♪“La la la~ time for our 64~
がんばろう64~♪」Let’s give it our best 64~♪”Ra ra ra! Full power 64!”
ほんとに元気が出ますね。It’s truly uplifting, right?It really pumps you up, doesn’t it?
ありがとうございました~!Thank you very much~!Thanks for watching!

Unlike the previous show, this one doesn’t require much explanation. Every episode, the host gets a famous band or singer on. After being introduced with one or two descriptors, they sing a couple lines from one of their songs. The host offers a brief summary of the feeling the song evokes, and thanks the viewers for watching. That being the case, how about just we take a closer look at the Japanese used, here?

Even if you have a decent handle on Japanese, the title of the show, 歌ってナイト (utatte naito), might throw you. Instinctively, you might expect it to be something like 歌っているナイト (utatteiru naito), which would be “Night That’s Singing”. In actuality, 歌って is an abbreviated form of something like 歌って欲しい (utattehoshī, I want you to sing). Truncations like this are pretty common, and there’s no real way to figure out what was omitted without having read a lot of Japanese or being told, so if you were confused, don’t feel too bad.

Rewriting the song to work in localization is a little tough if you want to preserve the original meaning. “Our 64” doesn’t really mean anything, after all! Still, I think at least the localization from “let’s do our best” to “full power” might be a close enough match for a song that’s 元気が出る (genki ga deru, to feel uplifted; to be energized).

Vergil, as seen in the third battle with him in Devil May Cry 3.
Devil May Cry‘s Vergil takes his “motivation” from the similar phrases 本気を出す (honki wo dasu, to make a serious effort) and やる気 (yaruki, will to act/motivation/enthusiasm).

If you’ve only learned a little conversational Japanese, that definition might be at odds with your understanding of genki. Most Japanese-learners’ first exposure to genki is in the stock phrase お元気ですか (ogenki desu ka, are you well?), used in small talk. In that context, genki is best-interpreted as “healthy”, but its meaning is a bit more nuanced than that. Taken ultra-literally, the combination of the Chinese characters for “origin” and “energy” refer to the spiritual origin of energy and activity in all living things.

Of course, conversationally, no one thinks of it that way. Still, a healthy (or motivated!) person could be said to be accessing that energy source, and, of course, being active. Similarly, if a song makes your genki 出る (deru, to come out; to be produced), it’s pumping you up, filling you with energy, and making you want to be active and express that! In contexts like these, genki‘s meaning is closer to “energetic” or “spirited”.

A looping gif of Ed from Cowboy Bebop balancing her computer on her head as she sways from side to side. The computer's name is トマト (Tomato).
Sometimes, girls who are so energetic they can’t sit still are referred to as 元気っ娘 (genkikko, or genki girls), because of how genki they are! Genkikko also tend to fill everyone around them with energy.

Anyway, that about covers the first episode of Sing Tonight!, so let’s take a look at our third and final show for the day:

First airs: Year 1, Spring 3



The Monmon Show

Episode 1

JapaneseDirect TranslationLocalization
みなさんのなやみをかいけつする、 モンモンTVの時間です。It’s time for Monmon TV, which resolves everyone’s troubles.Solving everyone’s problems, it’s The Monmon Show!
しかいは私、モンモンまるがつとめさせていただきます。The host is me, Monmonmaru, graciously serving the role.With me, your host, Monmonmaru!
さあ今日のなやみは?Well, today’s trouble is…?So, what’s today’s trouble, Miss?
奥様「ずっと作物を育てて生計を 立ててきましたが、らくのう をやってみたいんです。Housewife: “For a long time, I’ve been growing crops to make a living, but I would like to try dairy farming.”Housewife: “Well, I’ve always made a living from my crops, but I want to try my hand at raising cows, too.
どうしたらいいでしょう?」How do you think I should do it?”Please tell me, where should I start?”
モン「なるほど、動物を飼うのは たいへんですよ。Mon: “I see… Raising animals is serious.Mon: “I see… Raising animals is a big responsibility.
生き物です からね、かくごしないと。As you know, they’re a living creature, so you must prepare.I’m sure you know this already, but cows are living creatures, so you have to be ready to take care of their needs.
まぁ、まずは牧草地をどんどんふやしておいた方がいいでしょうね」Well, first of all, you should definitely quickly add more pasture in advance, wouldn’t you say?”Well… First you should make sure there’s plenty of grass for them to graze on, right?”

Our third show of the seven is The Monmon Show, where Monmonmaru hears a guest’s problem and gives them advice on it. Interestingly, this show is essentially an extra tutorial, with a humorous slant as the show goes on. It actually tutorializes a few game mechanics that aren’t hinted at anywhere else! I think it’ll be interesting for long-time Harvest Moon 64 fans to see as we progress.

The show’s premise is pretty simple, but some of the terms will lose a little nuance for new speakers or those with preconceptions. First off, the name of the host! モンモン (monmon) solves peoples’ 悩み (nayami, worries/problems/distress). Accordingly, his name is a play on the term 悶々 (monmon), which means “anguished”, “distressed”, or “worried”.

Next, the word “should” appears in both translations, and I think it’s worth giving some attention to. The corresponding Japanese terms are どうするか (dōsuruka, which here elides the か in favor of a rising intonation that’s indicated by a question mark) and ~た方がいい (ta hō ga ii).

Dōsuruka is pretty straightforward. Literally, it’s close to “How to do?” or “Anything to do?” Of course, this is clumsy phrasing in English, so we usually translate it as something more like, “What should (I) do?”, but it’s important to remember when reading the Japanese that the thing being asked about is a method or means of progressing. You’ll see it often as characters make plans to overcome a difficult situation: じゃ、どうするか。(Well then, how should we proceed?)

As for ta hō ga ii, its meaning has an important nuance. Ta hō ga ii essentially conveys that a certain course of action is the best one, to the point that other paths are bad choices. You’ll notice I localized it as “need to” rather than “should”. Generally, the concept of “should” is quite a bit more forceful in Japanese compared to English. In this case, it contains the implication that, if what “should” be done is not done, there will be a negative consequence (the cows will starve).

A screenshot from Japanese version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A Hateno villager advises Link to quickly get the blue-flamed torch he's holding to the lab up the hill.
In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, this villager uses ta hō ga to remark that Link “should” get this blue flame to Hateno Lab quickly (before it goes out).

I think a good example of the difference in the weight of “should” is a story I heard about an American man telling his Japanese girlfriend, in English, “we should go out tonight.” For Americans, this is usually a way to open up a conversation about where to go and what to do, and leaves the option of the girlfriend saying, “No, I don’t really want to go out tonight.” But the word “should” confused the Japanese woman, here. She took it to mean going out wasn’t up for debate, and started getting ready, assuming the boyfriend had already made plans. Her Japanese background made “should” seem more forceful than he meant it to be.

The other interesting term is たいへん (taihen). Like genki, the term is usually first learned as part of a common phrase: 大変でしたね (taihen deshita ne, (it) was challenging, huh?). There, it characterizes something as being taxing, but it can also function as an intensifier, similar to “very” (or, more closely, “awfully”/”terribly”). In this show, it has yet another meaning: “serious” or “(of) grave (importance)“. Monmon is using it to emphasize the weight of the responsibility of caring for living creatures. It shows that something will require serious effort or attention. In fact, it sort of carries all those nuances at once, but when constructing an English equivalent, Japanese vocabulary is often easier to grasp when broken up into multiple definitions.

Whew! It feels good to finally get this project started. As I mentioned on the landing page, here’s the download for this article’s Anki deck, as well as a link to the item-by-item study guide, in spreadsheet form. If you’re confused on how to use them, check out the landing page, and it’ll answer all your questions!

As for the next set of episodes, get ready to learn mythology, sports terms, and tons of onomatopoeia, as I’ll be covering the remaining four shows: the sports recap, an elementary school detective drama, a love story, and a tokusatsu-style drama! You won’t want to miss it, so I recommend following me on Twitter to know when it goes up!


  1. Still, I think at least the localization from “let’s do our best” to “full power” might be a close enough match for a song that’s 元気が出る (genki ga demasu, to feel uplifted; to be energized).

    erm, the romaji and the kana are not matching here.

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