Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Episode 21 Runthrough (Part 4)

This week, we’re looking at the opening theme in this episode, called “Hologram” by Nico Touches the Walls.

Because it’s the theme and the verses are short, we’ll work the entire theme here.

(We should also point out that when we translate, we’re not aiming for a perfectly publishable translation, i.e. something you’d see in subtitles. What we’re aiming for is something that reflects the syntax and structure of the original sentence. With verses, it becomes more difficult to make sure everything makes sense because sentences are divided into verses, so we’re taking a few moments here and there to explain how everything connects.)

真っ白な景色にいま誘われて  

僕は行くよ 

まだ見ぬ世界へ

迷子のまま旅してた 

鼠色の空の下  

日替わりの地図 

いくつもの夢が滲んでいた  

いつかはさ  

ちっぽけな僕のこの歩幅でも  

あの雲の向こうまで行けるかな  

強がって 

キズついた  

心透かしたように  

降り出した 

雨粒たちが  

乱反射繰り返す

真っ直ぐな光が 

交差して  

行く先も告げぬまま

どこまでも 

突き抜ける  

淡い残像 

両目に焼きつけて  

届くはずなんだ  

まだ見ぬ世界へ

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真っ白な景色にいま誘われて
(Masshiro-na keshiki ni ima sasowarete)

真っ白な (masshiro-na)- is a noun meaning “pure white” with the adjectival verbal suffix -na. Some nouns, not all, can take on an adjectival role with a suffix that behaves like a verb: -na.

景色 (keshiki)- is a noun meaning “scenery” or “landscape.” “Masshiro-na” is modifying “keshiki.” So this is a “pure white landscape.”

に (ni)- is the dative particle. The dative case is an inflexional case that indicates time and locations that are contingent to actions to some degree. But in this case, it’s indicating agency in passive verbs. The agents is the one by whom something is done.

いま (ima)- is an adverb (and sometimes now) meaning “now.”

誘われて (sasowarete)- is the gerund of the passive, indicative, affirmative conjugation of the verb “sasou,” meaning “to temp” or “to lure.” The gerund in Japanese does many things. In this case, it’s linking a series of actions. So sometimes you’ll have “Verb A, and Verb B.” Verb A is in the gerund and is letting you know something else is coming up.

Translation: “Tempted now by a pure white landscape, and”

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僕は行くよ
(Boku wa iku yo)

僕 (boku)- is a masculine, first-person, singular pronoun: I. In Japanese, nouns do not inflect for case, because particles tell you the case already. So “boku” can be “I” or “me” depending on the context.

は (wa)- is the topical particle. The topical case is simply the topic of the sentence. Japanese does not require there to be a subject in a sentence- but English does. So in one’s translations often the topic will become the subject.

行く(iku)- is the indicative, imperfective, affirmative conjugation of the verb meaning “to go.” The imperfective tense simply means that it is either taking place in the present or in the future. In this case, it’s the future.

よ (yo)- is an emphatic ending particle. You can add emphasis in your translation by adding an exclamation mark at the end. Sometimes it’s a smart choice, sometimes it isn’t. When it isn’t, it’s often because the “yo” particle is functioning as an indicator of conveyed information.

Translation: “I will go!”

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まだ見ぬ世界へ
(Mada minu sekai he)

まだ (mada)- is an adverb meaning “hitherto.”

見ぬ (minu)- an indicative, imperfective, negative conjugation of the verb “miru,” meaning “to see.” “-nu,” as a negative suffix, is an old thing. Now it is reserved basically for songs and poems. Remember that in Japanese modification of nouns, by and large, happens through preceding verb phrases. This verb phrase is modifying the subsequent noun.

世界 (sekai)- is a noun meaning world.

へ (he)- which is pronounce [e], is the locative particle. The locative case is rather limited in Japanese and indicates the direction of an action, so it’s very much like the English preposition “to.”

Translation: “To a world that is hitherto not seen”

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迷子のまま旅してた
(Maigo no mama tabi shiteta)

迷子 (maigo)- is a noun meaning “child.”

の (no)- is the attributive form of the copula “da.”

まま (mama)- is a dependent noun that, as an expression, works akin to a post-position. If there is one thing that is perpetual at The J-Sub Experiment, it’s our inability to decide what exactly “mama” is. So this is what we think it is, for now. Anyway, “mama” means “as it is” or “still” and it takes a preceding verb phrase to give it a more useful, or fuller, meaning. In this case, it is “maigo no” so, “still being a child” or “as a child.” We have no particles after that, and given its time-related meaning, we see it acting like a post-position (which is like a preposition except it goes after the phrase).

旅してた (tabi shiteta)- is the truncated periphrastic indicative, progressive, past, affirmative conjugation of “tabi suru,” meaning “to travel.” “Tabi” is a noun meaning “travel.” And this noun, like many others, takes “suru,” the verb meaning “to do,” to make it a verb. The periphrastic aspect comes from the fact that to get a progressive aspect (meaning that it is describing an action carried out over a length of time) is created with the gerund of the verb plus another verb, which is then the main verb of the verb phrase, “iru.” “Iru,” in turn, gets conjugated for the past tense, to “ita.” But this periphastic construction often undergoes truncation, meaning something is dropped out, in this case the initial /i/ in “ita.”

So: suru – shite iru – shite ita- shiteta

Translation: “As a child, I was traveling” 

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鼠色の空の下
(Nezumi-iro no sora no shita)

鼠色 (nezumi-iro)- is a compound noun meaning “grey,” or more literally “the color of a mouse.”

の (no)- is the attributive form of the copula “da.” The attributive form is just the way a verb looks when it is in an attributive position, i.e. modifying a verb. There are very few verbs in modern Japanese that look any different in the attributive anymore. But this is one of them.

空 (sora)- is a noun meaning “sky.”

の (no)- is the genitive particle. The genitive case is one that indicates ownership of categorization. “X no Y” tends to translate to “Y of X.” When it doesn’t work out at all, then it’s probably the attributive form of the copula, as we saw before.

下 (shita)- is a noun meaning “under.” What something is under is indicated with the genitive particle. We don’t have a particle indicating how “shita” relates to the previous phrase, but that is very common in songs.

Translation: “Under the sky that is grey”

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日替わりの地図
(Higawari no chizu)

日替わり (higawari)- is a noun meaning “the turn of the day,” which often gets translated as a “daily special” or “daily.” There are nouns that modify other nouns through the attributive form of the copula (these are the so-called -no adjectives.) This is one of these cases. So the adjective thing is a nifty translation thing but makes for bad syntax.

の (no)- is the attributive form of the copula “da.”

地図 (chizu)- is a noun meaning map. What they mean by a “daily special map” is that the map changes every day or that they have to keep on changing their map. There’s also no particle for this noun phrase either, but one assumes that it’s that one is traveling with one such map.

Translation: “[With] a daily map”

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いくつもの夢が滲んでいた
(Ikutsumo no yume ga nijinde ita)

いくつも (ikutsumo)- is a noun meaning “a great many.” LIke “higawari,” it modifies other nouns with the copula.

の (no)- is the attributive form of the copula “da.”

夢 (yume)- is a noun meaning “dream.”

が (ga)- is the nominative particle. The nominative case

滲んでいた (nijinde ita)- is the periphastic, past, progressive, conjugation of the verb “nijimu” meaning “to run” like ink running, or “to spread.”

Translation: “A great many dreams were spreading”

(The idea might be that the dreams over time one has as a child kind of blur as one grows up.)

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いつかはさ
(Itsuka wa sa)

いつか (itsuka)- is a noun (and sometimes adverb) meaning “someday.”

は (wa)- is the topical particle.

さ (sa)- is an emphatic secondary particle. It can go almost anywhere, it seems, or people have used it almost everywhere.

Translation: “Someday!”

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ちっぽけな僕のこの歩幅でも
(Chippoke-na boku no kono hohaba de mo)

ちっぽけな (chippoke-na)- is a noun meaning “tiny” with the adjectival verbal suffix “-na”

僕 (boku)- is the same as we saw before.

の (no)- is the genitive particle.

この (kono)- is an adjective meaning “this.”

歩幅  (hohaba)- is a noun meaning “step.” We will take this to be plural. Nouns normally do not have suffixes added to them to make them plural. Context will let you know about that.

で (de)- is the instrumental particle. The instrumental indicates the means by which an action is completed, like a strategy or a certain cause, or a tool.

も (mo)- is a secondary particle, which means it follows the main case particle, and it means “even” or “too.”

Translation: “With even these my small steps.”

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あの雲の向こうまで行けるかな
(Ano kumo no mukou made ikeru kana)

あの (ano)- is an adjective meaning “that.” Japanese has four locational stems that appear in pronouns and adjectives and adverbs. “Kono” has one of them; and “ano” has another. The other two adjectives are “sono” and “dono”

雲 (kumo)- is a noun meaning “cloud.”

の (no)- is a genitive particle.

向こう (mukou)- is a noun meaning “the other side”

まで (made)- is a post-position meaning “to,” in the sense of the end-point. It’s the “to” in the “from-to” dichotomy.

行ける (ikeru)- is the potential, imperfective, affirmative conjugation of the verb “iku,” meaning “to go.” The potential mood describes things that can possibly happen, so “can go.”

かな (kana)- is a compound ending particle, coming from the interrogative particle “ka” and the dubitative particle “na.” Together, the mean something like “Now there’s a question, right?” But more practically it gets translated as “I wonder if…”

Translation: “I wonder if I can go to the other side of that cloud.”

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強がって
(Tsuyo-gatte)

強がって (tsuyo-gatte)- is the gerund of the verb “garu,” meaning “to seem” and the stem of the adjectival verb “tsuyoi,” meaning “strong.” “Tsuyo-garu” is a common enough combination for one to find in a dictionary. It just describes someone trying to seem strong. The gerund in this case is again being conjunctival.

Translation: “It tried to be strong, and”

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キズついた
(Kizu-tsuita)

キズついた (kizu-tsuita)- is the indicative, past, affirmative conjugation of the verb “kizu-tsuku,” meaning “to be wounded.”

Translation: “It was wounded”

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心透かしたように
(Kokoro sakashita you ni)

心 (kokoro)- is a noun meaning “heart” or “soul.” It does not refer to one’s literal heart. The preceding two verses make up a noun phrase that is modifying “kokoro.” Note that we are not given a case particle for “kokoro.”

透かした (sakashita)- is the indicative, past, affirmative conjugation of the verb “sakasu,” meaning “to look through” or “to hold up to light.”

よう (you)- is a noun meaning “form,” but as an expression it will indicate that something is “like” something else.

に (ni)- is an adverbial suffix for nouns. We are using “ni” here because “you” will be describing a verb.

Translation: “Like it looked through my heart.”

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降り出した
(Furidashita)

降り出した (furidashita)- is the indicative, past, affirmative conjugation of the compound verb “furidasu,” meaning “to begin to rain.”

Translation: “It began to rain.”

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雨粒たちが
(Ametsubu-tachi ga)

雨粒 (ametsubu)- is a noun meaning “raindrop.”

たち (tachi)- is a pluralizing suffix. It tends to be reserved for nouns that refer to people. Sometimes it doesn’t.

が (ga)- is the nominative particle.

Translation: “The raindrops”

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乱反射繰り返す
(Ranhansha-kurikaesu)

乱反射繰り返す (ranhansha-kurikaesu)- is the indicative, imperfective, affirmative conjugation of the verb meaning “to do something over and over again” or “to repeat” with the verbal stem “ranhansha,” meaning “to diffuse reflection.”

Translation: “It diffuses reflection over and over again”

(So, this is a very long sentence divided into verses, what it’s getting at, moving right to left, or bottom-up, is that “the raindrops that began to fall continue to diffuse reflection as if they look through the heart which was wounded acting tough.)

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真っ直ぐな光が
(Massugu-na hikari ga)

真っ直ぐな (massugu-na)- is the noun “massugu,” meaning “straight ahead” and the adjectival verbal suffix “-na.”

光 (hikari)- is a noun meaning “light.” (The next verse will suggest that this is plural)

が (ga)- is the nominative suffix.

Translation: “The lights straight ahead”

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交差して
(Kousa shite)

交差して (kousa shite)- is gerund of the verb “kousa suru,” meaning “to cross.” The gerund is again being conjunctival.

Translation: “They cross, and”

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行く先も告げぬまま
(Yukusaki mo tsugemu mama)

行く先 (yukusaki)- is a noun meaning “destination”

も (mo)- is the secondary particle from before. This particle has a habit of making the topical, accusative, and nominative particles drop out. That is what has happened here with the accusative (we think…)

告げぬ (tsugenu)- is an indicative, imperfective, negative conjugation of “tsugeru,” meaning “to inform.” This is the same -nu from the beginning.

まま (mama)- is the same thing as before (whatever that is).

Translation: “Still not informing of its destination”

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どこまでも
(Doko-made-mo)

どこまでも (doko-made-mo)- is an adverb meaning “persistently.” When you break it down what is means is “where to even.” (If you think about it a little bit, you’ll start to see why that’d get the meaning of “persistently.”)

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突き抜ける
(Tsukinukeru)

突き抜ける (tsukinukeru)- is the indicative, imperfective, affirmative conjugation of the verb meaning “to break through.”

Translation: “They break through”

(Again, this is a sentence divided into various verses. What it means is that the lights cross and break through persistently, still not informing its destination.)

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淡い残像
(Awai zanzou)

淡い (awai)- is an adjectival verb conjugated for the imperfective meaning “fleeting” or “faint.”

残像 (zanzou)- is a noun meaning “afterimage.” Note that this noun does not have a case particle, either.

Translation: “A fleeting afterimage”

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両目に焼きつけて
(Ryou-me ni yakitsukete) 

両目 (ryou-me)- is a noun meaning “both eyes.” “Ryou-” is a prefix meaning “both.”

に (ni)- is the dative particle. It’s indicating the location of the verb.

焼きつけて (yakitsukete)- is the gerund of the verb “yakitsukeru,” meaning “to burn into,” both literally and figuratively.

Translation: “It burns into both eyes, and”

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届くはずなんだ
(todoku hazu nan da)

届く (todoku)- is the indicative, imperfective, affirmative conjugation of the verb meaning “to get through” or “to reach” a destination.

はず (hazu)- is a dependent noun meaning “it should be.”

なん (nan)- is a substantivizing suffix. There are a number of related suffixes that are used to make some emphasis or to provide an explanation. Sometimes it is useful to say “it’s the case that” or “I can assure you that.” That is not always necessary, though.

だ (da)- is the indicative, imperfective, affirmative conjugation of the copula.

Translation: “It is the case that it I should get through”

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まだ見ぬ世界へ
(Mada minu sekai he)

We’ve done this verse before.

Translation: “To the hitherto unseen world”