I'm trying to translate the 殺気 in the second sentence below to a English equivalent that denotes a emotionless attacker attacking from behind the narrator, but the only words that I am finding online are "bloodlust" (can't use as it denotes emotion);

"thirst for blood" (again, can't use as it denotes a active desire to kill),

and "deadly intent", which my peers have marked confusion with upon reviewing my English only translation.

僕は飛び起き、女の子に背を向けて逃げ道を探す。
I leap away, my back facing the girl as I search for a way out.

ろくに辺りを見回す暇(ひま)もなく、背後から殺気が押し寄せてくる。
Without time to look around, from behind a lethal intent descends upon me.

What would be a better way to word the second sentence so that my translation conveys the meaning behind the original sentence(thereby staying faithful to the source material), and what English phrases/words would work for 殺気?

  • I think the most common translation is "killing intent" (google that term, for example). It's even a TV Trope. – ZLK Dec 3 at 5:01
  • you're saying that the source material introduces some sort of non-human killer with the name 殺気? how about "Death Bringer" or "Death Stalker" or "Reaver" ?? If it's not that, and it's more abstract, we might say a "premonition of death" or maybe a "deadly/lethal force" ... I don't really understand how much leeway you have here... – ericfromabeno Dec 3 at 7:33
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Assuming it is the girl who is harboring the lethal intent (or is there someone else in the room?), why not attribute it to her (or whoever) directly, as would be more natural in English? The disembodied 殺気 might make sense in Japanese but it sounds a little odd in English. If I were translating this, I would take a little more license and phrase it something like:

I had no time to turn and look, but I could sense her murderous intent as she approached me from behind.

or

I dared not waste time by turning to look, but I could feel her murderous intent as she drew closer from behind.

If it is someone else in the room, you could use creative ways to name them like "the silent figure" or "a shadowy form", etc. Personally, I tend to stray a quite far from the source text sometimes, but I think you get my point :)

  • it didn't even occur to me that he might be talking about the girl, because the way he phrased it, I thought the girl had nothing to do with the killer instinct or whatever it is... – ericfromabeno Dec 3 at 15:46
  • You could be right about that. But I decided to translate it as if it were her. But the 殺気 could just as easily be attributed a nameless would-be assassin too. – kandyman Dec 3 at 15:49
  • @kandyman sorry about being late with this reply, but you are correct, the killing intent is coming from the girl. – Toyu_Frey Dec 11 at 4:09
  • @Toyu_Frey np thanks. – kandyman Dec 11 at 11:37

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