Jump to content
  • entries
    508
  • comments
    1400
  • views
    229870

Yuusha vs Eiyuu

Clephas

195 views

First, as a fantasy anime/VN fan, one thing you'll inevitably run into are these two words... 'yuusha' (勇者) and 'eiyuu' (英雄).  The problem with these two words is that they inevitably end up translated as the same thing... 'hero'.  However, the nuance of each word is dramatically different, at least for those of us who actually care about nuance.

Now, 'yuusha' is a word you hear mostly in certain types of fantasy VN or anime... these include 'sent to another world' and 'classic swords and sorcery fantasy', but can include things similar to Power Rangers and games like Venus Blood.  The usage of yuusha generally refers to a 'chosen' individual who is stuck with the duty/obligation to confront a force that is beyond the capacity of normal people.  Demon Lords, kaijin, insane gods... you name it, it probably has a swirly target sign that only a yuusha-type hero can see on it.  There are 'evil' yuusha (mostly in dark VNs), but for the  most part, they are pictured as being on the side of 'good' pictured as a near-absolute concept.

'Eiyuu' is a bit different.  The concept of 'yuusha' can't really be applied to a real person, because the real world is almost never unambiguous enough to allow for the term to be usable, but the concept of an 'eiyuu' can be applied to real people.  War heroes, great military leaders, rulers that lead their people to victory against an impossible foe, men who turn the tide of a war, etc. fall under this term's aegis.  As an example, Valzeride from Silverio Vendetta falls under the aegis of this word, as does the insane loli in Youjo Senki.  It is much easier for an eiyuu to be evil, because all an eiyuu needs to be is glorious to a group of people.  They don't need to be moral or upright...  or even seem so. 

Really, this is just a commentary on how confusing Japanese words that translate the same can be...  and it might give you all a hint as to why some of us say that 'Japanese translation is an oxymoron.'



9 Comments


Recommended Comments

I see yuusha as more like your average jrpg protag/group saving the world and eiyuu as someone/group who perform(ed) heroic deeds.

If that's a more simpler explanation - its definitely not an easy one for the translator :)

Share this comment


Link to comment

That's quite an interesting topic, although to be honest I didn't pay much attention in regard of the hero though lol. That said, I did find some interesting answer from Yahoo Answer (Not reliable I knew). From there I guess I could interpreted 'yuusha' (mean 'brave man') as the people who is very brave and willing to challenge anything for the sake of protecting everything, and the example were mostly from old RPG one. While for eiyuu (mean 'good man'), I guess it could be applied to anyone else who have some sort of record and recognized by history for bring prosperity or something like that, and the example would be like 'Eiyuu Senki' (Duh) and arguably 'Fate Stay Night'. In the end, those two term were pretty much blurred into one definition, and I think the current translation could be still worked (Translated both terms as hero), even though the nuance was pretty much different. 

Edited by littleshogun

Share this comment


Link to comment
16 minutes ago, littleshogun said:

That's quite an interesting topic, although to be honest I didn't pay much attention in regard of the hero though lol. That said, I did find some interesting answer from Yahoo Answer (Not reliable I knew). From there I guess I could interpreted 'yuusha' (mean 'brave man') as the people who is very brave and willing to challenge anything for the sake of protecting everything, and the example were mostly from old RPG one. While for eiyuu (mean 'good man'), I guess it could be applied to anyone else who have some sort of record and recognized by history for bring prosperity or something like that, and the example would be like 'Eiyuu Senki' (Duh) and arguably 'Fate Stay Night'. In the end, those two term were pretty much blurred into one definition, and I think the current translation could be still worked (Translated both terms as hero), even though the nuance was pretty much different. 

Yuusha can be translated as 'one who is brave' or 'brave one'.   Eiyuu is more annoying, but the essential meaning is 'glorious man', though the 'osu' kanji used in this case is different from the scientific 'osu' kanji that simply refers to the male of any species.

Share this comment


Link to comment
2 hours ago, Zakamutt said:

Isn't "great man" quite good for (at least male) eiyuu? You get associations to western ideas with that, but they seem about right.

Generally, it is associated with war, but it has more recently been applied to people who discovered vaccines to deadly diseases and the like, though it goes 'so and so no eiyuu' in cases like that.  In actual fact, 'eiyuu' is a term that is almost never used outside of fiction, nowadays...

Share this comment


Link to comment

I think you could kind of make the distinction that a Yuusha is chosen to accomplish some difficult task, though they often continue to be referred as such after the task is complete,
while Eiyuu is an epithet that's only given to those who have accomplished some such task.

Edited by Beichuuka

Share this comment


Link to comment

one of the most renowned japanese dictionaries (japanese ver. of oed, i guess) says yuusya is a brave man, end eiyuu is a man of intelligence, talent, bravely.
the first usage of the word yuusya is 1220, and eiyuu is 1010, I didn't know both words are quite old!


interestingly, a dictionary around 1600 defines eiyuu as "an excellent samurai", and I completely agree this definition.


well, in anime and games, I think eiyuu suits characters of Dynasty Warriors series and servants of Fate, and yuusya is for a protagonist of Dragon Quest and Y's.

Edited by mnmnoko

Share this comment


Link to comment
13 hours ago, mnmnoko said:

one of the most renowned japanese dictionaries (japanese ver. of oed, i guess) says yuusya is a brave man, end eiyuu is a man of intelligence, talent, bravely.
the first usage of the word yuusya is 1220, and eiyuu is 1010, I didn't know both words are quite old!


interestingly, a dictionary around 1600 defines eiyuu as "an excellent samurai", and I completely agree this definition.


well, in anime and games, I think eiyuu suits characters of Dynasty Warriors series and servants of Fate, and yuusya is for a protagonist of Dragon Quest and Y's.

Keep in mind that usage of the language shifts with the culture.  I'm merely stating how they are used at present.  If you had a dict from immediately after the Meiji Restoration, it would be more interesting.  There is a saying in Japan that I think distills the essence of an 'eiyuu' perfectly... 'Kill one and you are a murderer, kill a hundred and you are an eiyuu.'  Eiyuu is not necessarily a purely positive term, and it implies infamy along with glory, under current nuances.  Yuusha has pretty much been reduced to only being used in reference to fictional characters or people who are stupidly brave.

Share this comment


Link to comment

Sorry for sticking to this, but I managed to use the first modern Japanese dictionary, Genkai, published in 1891. There, 'Eiyuu' was defined as "those who have abilities and intelligence better than other people".

But it doesn't contain the word 'Yuusha' sadly, the nearest word I can find is 'Yuushi (勇士)', defined as a "strong or brave warrior." 

It seems these definitions are not so different from contemporary dictionaries though. :vinty:

 

On 2/16/2018 at 8:59 PM, Clephas said:

Yuusha has pretty much been reduced to only being used in reference to fictional characters or people who are stupidly brave.

 

So interesting, because as far as I can remember, I don't use 'Yuusha' as a real person except for joking. (I'm Japanese.) And interestingly, it doesn't seem so strange that mythological people who we are not sure they really existed, such as Susanoo or Yamato Takeru, are called both 'Yuusha' and 'Eiyuu'.

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×