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So, I was just about to start to see a new anime, called

「月がきれい」,

which I immediately translated to

"The Moon is beautiful". (a)

Now, to my surprise, in the intro, the title is translated as

"As the Moon, so beautiful". (b)

What I want to know is the following:

  1. Is translation (b) correct?

  2. If so, why would one translate it has (b) instead of (a)?

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「月がきれい」 was first used by famous Japanese writer 夏目漱石 (Natsume Soseki) as a metaphor used between lovers when they want to convey their love for each other. Choosing this very interesting imaginary over a direct translation of "I love you", 漱石 was apparently coy about expressing affection in his work.

The phrase was translated by Meiji-era novelist and teacher Natsume Sōseki since he believed that two people in love do not need direct words to convey their feelings. (Wikipedia)

小説家・夏目漱石が英語教師をしていたとき、生徒が " I love you " の一文を「我君を愛す」と訳したのを聞き、「日本人はそんなことを言わない。月が綺麗ですね、とでもしておきなさい」と言ったとされる逸話から。 (source)

Having not seen the anime, I skimmed through its Japanese and English Wiki pages. Apparently it is a teen romance story. Your (a) has "the Moon" as its subject, and it is described as "beautiful". It is a simple statement of fact, a declarative. In contrast, your (b) is not a complete sentence, missing the subject, indicating that it is talking about something else. Something else is beautiful. Therefore, the original translation, your version (b) is the more apt option, as it keeps the subtlety of work: immature adolescent love, the hesitance and shyness in a first love (初恋), the beauty of high school romance, and so on and so forth. Without directly naming the subject, (b) invites you to search for its subject.

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    Good, detailed answer. You have addressed why this interpretation of the title makes sense here. I think it's worth adding though that, broadly, titles (and especially anime titles) are rarely directly translated - the answer to "why wasn't this title translated to its apparently equivalent English phrase?" is typically just "marketing".
    – Mindful
    Apr 15 '20 at 0:37
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    @Mindful I agree. The Japanese wiki page seems to suggest that rather than a third-party translation or an after thought, "as the Moon, so beautiful" might be what the producers/director chose to represent their work.
    – Eddie Kal
    Apr 15 '20 at 0:41
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    This is a well-known episode of Soseki, but look like this is an urban legend that started to spread in the 1970's... niguruta.web.fc2.com/kensyo_kirei.html
    – naruto
    Apr 15 '20 at 7:42

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