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July 20th, 2012 | EarthBound, Uncommon Knowledge

I learned something new today about the Black Antoid’s name in Japanese, so I thought I’d share!

Japanese name
First, the Black Antoid is called the アリアリブラック in Japanese, or “Ari-Ari Black”.

“Ari” can mean many things, including “ant”. So on the surface, that’s where the translation “Black Antoid” comes from. Something about the Japanese name always seemed “off” to me though, like there was more to it than just saying “Ant Ant Black”, which isn’t very creative.

Digging deeper
What I learned today is that “Ari-Ari” is also a special term Japanese Mahjong players use when drinking coffee during a game. (see here and here)

In this context, “ari” means “with” or “to have”.

Basically, when ordering coffee, if you want milk and sugar added to your coffee, you just order an “Ari-Ari”. So you might say something like, “Give me a hot Ari-Ari, please.” and you’d get hot coffee back with sugar and milk added.

Of course, if you just wanted black coffee instead, you’d order it “Black”.

Putting it together
So, when Itoi named this enemy, he combined those two types and called it an “Ari-Ari Black”. Anyone familiar with these terms was probably like, “What? Black coffee with nothing in it, but also has sugar and milk added? That’s crazy talk.” And then Itoi tied it all up with the ant-related word play.

Anyway, it’s never really as funny or interesting when you have to explain a joke (especially one in another language), but now you know the rest of the story behind this enemy’s name!


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20 Comments to Origin of the Black Antoid’s Name

OM said on Jul. 20, 2012

Fascinating little snippets like these always make me wonder which western games have proved particularly problematic for Japanese translators, if any…

RandomGuardian said on Jul. 20, 2012

Now you know… and knowing is half the battle!

Chewy said on Jul. 20, 2012

Wow, fascinating! And incredibly depressing that such awesome names are impossible to translate :'{

jrronimo said on Jul. 20, 2012

I really like posts like this. I always like to know the origin of the wordplay and puns in games/anime/etc. Thanks for the post!

platinatina said on Jul. 20, 2012

You could say that this post was a……. black factoid.


Radiostorm said on Jul. 20, 2012
MrSaturn03 said on Jul. 20, 2012

You’re right that maybe it isn’t as fun having the joke explained to you, but come on! This is some seriously interesting stuff and things like this always make me think of Itoi in a different way <3

Leeaux said on Jul. 20, 2012

I wonder if the translator of the game knew this but couldn’t find a way to duplicate the effect.

Like how they managed to keep the Punk(Sure)/Puncture joke.

Or just didn’t know what they were going for.

Halloween said on Jul. 20, 2012

I love it.

Anonymous said on Jul. 20, 2012

So it’s like ordering a single-single at Tim Horton’s.

Neko Knight said on Jul. 20, 2012

Thank you Tomato from a fellow Japanese language geek-erm, “enthusiast.”

Mr. Tenda said on Jul. 20, 2012

That’s cool 😮

JFDP13 said on Jul. 20, 2012

When i understand it, it make me laugh! Maybe it has not the “impact effect of self-realization” but even though it’s funny, and, in any case, it sure is interesting!! (…at least for me, who is strongly interesting in languages)

jinxkatty7 said on Jul. 20, 2012

🙂 I like how the black antoids name origins don’t fry my brain. Thats very nice! You don’t know what happened to my brain when I was in Moonside. And then it turned out that Moonside was pretty much a fake…

Jason said on Jul. 21, 2012

Re: OM

I’ve always found FPS/military games to be really oddly translated in Japanese. I’ve been playing through “Ghost Recon: Shadow War” on the 3ds, and it all just feels.. really literally translated. I’ve never had that issue with the Front Mission or other native Japanese games, so I think it’s an issue with translation (the Call of Duty games also sound strange in Japanese).

o_O But it could just be me.

Esper said on Jul. 22, 2012

Wow. That’s pretty funny.

Hm, I wonder if there’s a translation that could of kept the joke in some way.

Gaffer Tape said on Jul. 24, 2012

Wow, that is awesome. You might not think that it’s as funny to have the joke explained, but I sure got a kick out of it! It’s actually very clever, and it seems just like something Itoi would make up. Thanks!

Anonymous said on Aug. 4, 2012

Ari ga 10ppiki

Ari ga 10(tou)

Shane Hunt said on Nov. 8, 2012

“it’s never really as funny or interesting when you have to explain a joke (especially one in another language)”

Perhaps, sir, but this comes very close. Excellent post. Thanks so much!

Justin said on Jan. 5, 2014

I would have gone with “Regular Black Ant” to keep the joke. Not sure that English audiences would really get it though :p


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