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I think many people remember the Japanese game series, Mr. Driller. There was an arcade machine and several console games, and they were pretty popular. The idea was to drill through coloured blocks, periodically refilling your air supply with oxygen tanks.

However, does anyone know what Mr. Driller says whenever he picks one up?

Here's my attempt:

He always says something like 「えき!」

Since "air" is 空{くう}気{き} and "oxygen" is 酸{さん}素{そ}, I tried searching for other things.

「てき!」made no sense, meaning "opponent" (敵), etc.

「へき!」means, among other things - "barrier" (壁).

Other games in the series have similarly unintelligible (to me) quotes upon picking up air tanks.

Here's a link to some gameplay, and the first two oxygen tanks are picked up at 0:15 and 0:25: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeSEoA1JKJA

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    maybe it's 平気 ? – Flaw Feb 1 '16 at 14:49
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    @Flaw honestly 平気 seems really tempting; an え sound is what I keep hearing. – rhyaeris Feb 1 '16 at 16:28
  • Honestly I not only cannot hear the あ sound, I also cannot hear the R sound that makes it ラッキー. It's intriguing that there's such a difference between different listeners. – Flaw Feb 1 '16 at 23:58
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    because I don't know the phonetic alphabet or IPA and I can't write it. So the most convenient way for me is to use R since it comes from typing ら? Perhaps it would be more clear if I said that I cannot hear the onset of ら rather than saying I cannot hear R. – Flaw Feb 2 '16 at 0:59
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    Of course Japanese has an /r/ sound, it's just not the same one English has, or the same one French has, etc. – snailplane Feb 2 '16 at 8:34
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Sounds like he is saying 「ラッキー」 to me.

Know nothing about the game but that is what my Japanese ear picks up.

EDIT: Just found this:

カプセルを取った時に ラッキー♪ ってドリラー君が言うんだけど

RE-EDIT: Found these, too.

Go to paragraph (about) #9, which starts with "It's a shame":

It’s a shame, then, that the in-game voices are a bit grating. The voice actors themselves aren’t the problem, just one particular usage of them- i.e. the way Driller-san and friends say ‘Lucky!’ (or in the case of the dog, ‘Lucky-wan!’) every time you pick up an oxygen capsule.

Read the paragraph (about #5) stating with "Graphically":

... the repeated sound clip of ‘’lucky!’’ when you collect an air tank ...

I have nothing more to say, really.

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    That's honestly an amazing find. Actually, it's kind of surreal to be told by two Japanese people (if you're Japanese) that they hear an あ sound rather than an え sound which I keep hearing. I'm surprised at how stark the difference in listening ability seems between the ears of natives and those of learners. :) – rhyaeris Feb 1 '16 at 16:16
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    I am a Japanese speaker. It is obviously difficult to explain how I hear things . One thing I was sure was that I immediately caught the clear small っ sound and the following き and the elongation at the end. If I had 「〇っきー」, I only had one word for choice, We would never pronounce 「えき」 like that with a small っ - not even in singing. 「へき」 is not even a choice from the beginning because it is just the on-reading of 「かべ」. To read it へき makes no sense as 「かべ」 is the word. – l'électeur Feb 1 '16 at 23:15

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