By: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting
If you’ve ever studied Japanese you know that some things get dropped based on the context. For example, in English we pretty much always say, “my name is ___” or “I am ___.” However, in Japanese you can basically just respond “___desu” (desu acting like a verb “.”) and be fine. Outside of a context, you would probably state the “I am” part as “watashi wa” or “boku no namae wa” or some variation (BTW, I’m just writing out the phonetics of the sound for that rather than the romaji or hiragana/kanji).
It’s just the way the language is, and it makes sense because shorthand is–linguistically speaking–normal. It just changes depending on the language, context, and area. The reason I note this is that I’ve been thinking a lot about translations lately after catching up on Mairimashita! Iruma-kun.
In the middle of reading, I zoned out and found myself staring at the Japanese title for a few minutes when it hit me that there is absolutely no mention of high school in said title (clarification: the Japanese title, not the English one). This matters because the official English title for the series is Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun.
Well, she says it matters, but why does it matter? You may ask. Well, in Japanese, the title is Mairimashita! Iruma-kun, and specifically the characters are written “魔入りました! 入間くん”
If we look at the kanji/hiragana being translated, a more literal translation would be something like, “The demon entered! Iruma-kun” or “Entered the demon! Iruma-kun!” because 魔 is the character for “demon” while 入 is the character for enter. And, more specifically, mairu is the formal word for entering (to go to/to come). (Also, when standing alone, the two characters together mean “magic” or “enchant” – not necessarily important to this discussion, just thought I’d add the note here.)
Now, Iruma is not a demon despite currently living in Hell and attending a demon high school. So, what demon is entering?
At first I thought it was his adoptive grandfather, Lord Sullivan. However, Sullivan is a supporting character not seen as regularly with Iruma as characters like Alice or Clara. Which brought me to my current theory that Iruma is the demon referred to in the title.
But, again. He’s currently human, right? How can he be the demon referred to in the title?
I’ve seen some say that the translation should be similar to “the demon [king] is entering” and thereby hints to Iruma becoming the next Demon King but that creates the same issue for me as the high school problem. The title doesn’t say Demon King, it just says demon.
Now, I can agree that Iruma has already been set up to become the next Demon King via the prophecy. And because I’m lazy I’ll just share the wiki info here to explain how that is:
“He shall make one and all of his servants.
He shall form blood pacts and heal all demonkind.
He shall descend from a foreign realm,
And wear the golden ring of Solomon on his right hand.”
And in relation to said prophecy:
But that info isn’t enough for me to write Iruma off as the titled demon.
Instead, I think the title is hinting at Iruma turning into a demon and thereby he is “entering” demonhood. By extension, this leads to his rise to as a Demon King.
One of the first things tipping me off to this is that the opening of the story paints humans as “instatable creature[s] with greedy hands,” their “desire is no different from a bottomless pit.” It’s something fitting to a demon, particularly matching with the idea of “returning to origin” discussed in the work. The continued opening points to Iruma’s parents as being such humans, while Iruma is just the kind-hearted sufferer of their misdeeds. He is a fairly virtuous character overall as he always lends a helping hand, is gentle and kind, and so on. Even during his “evil” cycle, he’s not particularly bad–though he does break rules to get things done. The statement, therefore, is not pointing specifically to Iruma yet but does hint at the potential and sinful qualities inherited in human nature. (And if you’ve ever studied religion, you’d probably be thinking of the Christian doctrine of “Original Sin” right about now.)
The next hint to me is that Iruma has been undergoing triggered physical changes. For example, in Chapter 1, Sullivan covers him in a demon perfume but after that Iruma never needs to do so again. When he paints his nails black, they remain so indefinitely to this day–no reapplication and no removal. (Also, I think in his evil-cycle his nails temporarily lengthen into points and those too are black but I could be wrong…)
And, though it is through the help of Arikured, Iruma is now semi-regularly experiencing an evil-cycle. I think that the more this cycle continues, the more bonded Iruma and Arikured become. This appears to be supported as the higher in rank Iruma gets, the more he and Arikured become inseparable. For example, when Iruma reaches Rank Hé (5), Arikured tells Iruma they won’t survive without one another.
Derkila, the previous Demon King, may have also been a human at one time. Out of speculation, if the Ring of Gluttony is a sign of the Demon King and if it is synonymous with Solomon’s ring from The Testament of Solomon (a pseudepigraphical work, purportedly written by King Solomon that describes enslaved demons semi-regularly used in manga depicting demon kings), then I don’t think it’s a jump in logic to assume that Derkila may have, at one point, been a fiction representation of Solomon having turned into a demon. And I do firmly believe that the ring at one time belonged to Derkila, since Alikred is Derkila’s name backwards and fits the literary counterpart of Dracula and his half-human son, Alicard. Although, with that said–maybe Iruma will only become a half-demon. Who knows?
In relation to the ring, I think “Ring of Gluttony” may have another skill we don’t know about yet. The current skills we know about are:
- Devil Mode – This is the lowest power output it has, able to make a small fire and allows Iruma to use basic low-level castings.
- Demon Mode – Has a stronger output than Devil Mode
- Ifrit Mode – The strongest mode available without special requirements able to make a large fire that is several times larger than Devil Mode’s fire
- Pandora – The final and most powerful mode of the ring that uses all the magic available in the ring leaving the host vulnerable to all attacks after. For it to be activated, it requires the host to say, “Pandora.” (It’s called “Pandoroola” in the anime.)
It works by consuming another demon’s magic and giving it to the wearer. We assume that the ring stores the power, but as it is a ring of “gluttony” (habitual greed or excess in eating), I don’t think it stores the magic it takes within itself. I think it acts like a second mouth for the wearer–one that consumes magic and helps focus it upon release. One of the reasons I think this is that when the ring is “hungry” Iruma acts differently too.
If Iruma is becoming a demon, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to think that Sullivan is the mastermind or working in tandem with someone else to do so. We don’t, after all, get to see the specifics of the contract that Iruma or his parents sign with Sullivan, so who really knows?
Even if I’m entirely wrong in this, that’s my theory and I’m sticking with it until proven otherwise!
Besides, if I’m wrong, we can–at the very least–see that the creator is leading us to see Iruma as the next Demon King. I mean, starting with the Royal One Arc, we see Iruma taking the First Throne (Chapter 60 & 61):
We also see a hint of the future in Chapter 198, as Iruma wishes to have a real drinking party with all his classmates in the future:
And, as we enter this new arc, we get the real rise of a king. Starting with Opera inviting Iruma to become his new master when Sullivan eventually dies (perhaps fortelling that Sullivan will die as Iruma consumes all of his power) (Chapter 199):
I mean, look at that evil smirk from Opera. How is this not part of a scheme?
As a final note for Iruma becoming a demon that I forgot to mention above, Iruma eats a LOT. Like, way more than humanly possible. In classical literature, eating food in Hell traps you there and Iruma eats an awfully large amount on a daily basis. In Chapter 203, we see how Iruma’s massive consumption can relate back to several points in the work. The first is the opening lines of the series, in which humans are bottomless pits of greed and desire. The second is recurring themes of gluttony without being harmful that is seen basically every time Iruma eats. And, finally, the image of an adult Iruma eating demon food with a mountain of plates behind him as the Demon Council consider his future prospects as a Demon King Candidate:
If Iruma is going to become the Demon King, it will certainly be exciting.
Going back to translations for a moment, I don’t mean to make this post seem like there has been a translation error. Last year, I attended the online panel, “Adventures in Translation with Industry Expert” hosted by Funimation Con (notes here). In the panel, it was made clear that translating is hard work because of the differences in linguistics, idiosyncrasies, culture and so on. The translations aren’t inaccurate, per say. They are simply the best that can be made based on the information the translators have and the context provided by either author or publisher.
I guess as a final note: If the period of the story never leaves high school; if Iruma becomes the Demon King upon graduation, as the story seems to be setting up in the latest chapters, than it is not inaccurate to use “Demon High School” in the title now is it?
EDIT: 14 July 2021 – Copy edits made.