Language and Humor

Quiz: American Movie Titles in Japan

Try to guess each movie’s original American title from the Japanese title below.

If you would like a hint, scroll down to the version that includes a lead actor’s name for each film.

Japanese film distributors make American titles understandable and appealing by using English or “English” (written in phonetic katakana characters) or Japanese titles.

Examples:

Regular Version

  1. Besuto Kiddo (ベスト・キッド, ‘Best Kid’), 1984
  2. Eddi Maafi no Howaitohausu Kyousoukyoku (エッディ・マーフィのホワイトハウス協奏曲, ‘Eddie Murphy’s White House Rhapsody’), 1992
  3. Koori no Bishou (氷の微笑, ‘Icy Smile’), 1992
  4. Puriti Riigu (プリティ・リーグ, ‘Pretty League’), 1992
  5. Tsumetai Tsuki o Daku Onna (冷たい月を抱く女, ‘The Woman Who Hugs the Cold Moon’), 1993
  6. Paafekuto Kappuru (パーフェクト・カップル, ‘Perfect Couple’), 1998

Answers below

Hints immediately below here.

Hint Version with a lead actors’ names

  1. Besuto Kiddo (ベスト・キッド, ‘Best Kid’, Ralph Macchio), 1984
  2. Eddi Maafi no Howaitohausu Kyousoukyoku (エッディ・マーフィのホワイトハウス協奏曲, ‘Eddie Murphy’s White House Rhapsody’, Eddie Murphy), 1992
  3. Koori no Bishou (氷の微笑, ‘Icy Smile’, Sharon Stone), 1992
  4. Puriti Riigu (プリティ・リーグ, ‘Pretty League’, Geena Davis), 1992
  5. Tsumetai Tsuki o Daku Onna (冷たい月を抱く女, ‘The Woman Who Hugs the Cold Moon’, Nicole Kidman), 1993
  6. Paafekuto Kappuru (パーフェクト・カップル, ‘Perfect Couple’, John Travolta), 1998

Answers below

Scoring

  • 5-6: You really know your American movies.
  • 3-4: Not bad.
  • 0-2: Have you heard of the original titles?

A couple Japanese titles that are more appropriate than the original:

  • Ima o Ikiru (今を生きる, ‘Living for Now’, or ‘Seize the Day’) for Robin Williams’s Dead Poet’s Society, 1989
  • Negoshieetaa (ネゴシエーター, ‘Negotiator’) for Eddie Murphy’s Metro, 1997. Samuel L. Jackson’s The Negotiator, 1998, is Koushounin (公証人, ‘[The] Negotiator’).

See more Japanese titles of English-language movies at:

Movie Titles in Japanese (1) and Movie Titles in Japanese (2) by About.com’s Namiko Abe

Answers

1. The Karate Kid
Besuto Kiddo (ベスト・キッド, ‘Best Kid’, Ralph Macchio), 1984
Is it called “best kid” because a Japanese audience wouldn’t understand the word karate?
2. The Distinguished Gentleman
Eddi Maafi no Howaitohausu Kyousoukyoku (エッディ・マーフィのホワイトハウス協奏曲, ‘Eddie Murphy’s White House Rhapsody’, Eddie Murphy), 1992
Eddie Murphy becomes a U.S. Congressman, hinting at a run for the White House (presidency) in the LAST MINUTE of the movie. Did they confuse this with a never-planned sequel?
3. Basic Instinct
Koori no Bishou (氷の微笑, ‘Icy Smile’, Sharon Stone), 1992
This ties in well with the ice pick.
4. A League of Their Own
Puriti Riigu (プリティ・リーグ, ‘Pretty League’, Geena Davis), 1992
This movie is about trying to get respect for a women’s baseball league. Doesn’t “pretty league” work against this?
5. Malice
Tsumetai Tsuki o Daku Onna (冷たい月を抱く女, ‘The Woman Who Hugs the Cold Moon’, Nicole Kidman), 1993
Alec Baldwin was cold, and Nicole Kidman did hug him. But did anyone see him mooning? And “the WOMAN who hugs the cold moon” ruins the surprise that she’s a villain.
6. Primary Colors
Paafekuto Kappuru (パーフェクト・カップル, ‘Perfect Couple’, John Travolta), 1998
A Clintonesque presidential candidate has sexual indiscretions and lies to his wife, who plays the supportive wife on camera. Is THIS Japan’s idea of a “perfect couple”?