I have several questions about this quote which is spoken by the character Akuma in the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 game. It's very different from the English localization ("Now you have witnessed what a true demon can do.") and I can't quite grasp it and have some questions, because I noticed how this character speaks in old fashioned way, evidenced by the presence of the suffix ぬ here, which, if I am right, it's not the classical form for ない, but the marker that (quote from wiki) "was used mainly for verbs that indicated intransitive, naturally occurring, or unintentional actions" and this might have been a little tough to understand.

I will start by breaking down the quote:
力求むるも=here I want to say 'pursuit of power' (even this verb I mostly see it written as 求める, didn't know about this variant)
修羅に染まれぬか!=here I would say either 'strife' or 'conflict', but I don't know how 染まれぬ should be interpreted. Even if I regard it as 染まれた, how should it sound? The only idea I had was "(the pursuit of power) is steeped in conflict".
This has been giving me problems...also, another thing that I'm curious about, sometimes I hear it in anime, but just what nuance is there with が at the end?
Finally, there is 腑抜けが which I see translated as either 'coward'or 'fool', mostly I've seen example with the former, though it's something I'll determine when I understand the rest better.

I'm sorry if I could not explain well enough, I was quite intrigued by many ways characters spoke in this game and this one I spent some time trying to figure it out, but it's clear that I need some opinions about it.
Thank you in advance for those who can help me out in any way.


1 Answer 1


My classical Japanese is pretty rusty, and since I don't play video games I don't have any familiarity with the context or any direct experience with the way a character like this would talk. If the following is off base, I trust someone better informed will correct the record!

[Edit: The above caveat proved even more prescient than I expected, on all counts. Many thanks to user naruto for pointing out several problems with my original answer, which I have edited below in response to his helpful comments. Obviously, whatever errors remain in spite of his efforts are mine alone.]

First, 求むる is the 連体形 (attributive form) of the verb 求む (the classical equivalent of 求める). Here it's followed by a particle, も, that in this case has the same meaning as modern けれども or のに. So "Although you seek power…" or "You seek power, and yet…"

The next element, the noun 修羅, seems to be less straightforward than I initially thought. It ultimately comes from the Sanskrit word asura (Japanese 阿修羅), a Buddhist term that refers to a particular type of warring demigod. (Basically, asura are powerful, demon-like beings who are doomed to fight each other constantly for many millennia as a result of karma generated in their past lives.) The short form, 修羅, can refer either to the asura themselves or to the realm or plane of existence they inhabit (修羅道). The latter meaning gave rise to a very common usage in which 修羅 is a metaphor for warfare or battle, and I thought that was how it was being used here. However, naruto informs me that in this case 修羅 should be taken as referring simultaneously to strife and a demon. (I don't know how that works, but I'm sure it's clear to those who have played this game.)

As for 染まれぬか, when the particle か occurs at the end of a sentence in classical Japanese, it is preceded by the 連体形, not the 終止形. The 連体形 of the "completed action" ぬ (what the Wiktionary page you linked to calls the "perfective ぬ") is not ぬ, but ぬる. That means the ぬ in this line of dialogue must be the 連体形 of the negative ず, and the verb 染まれぬ must be in negative form.

So putting this all together, we have a negative rhetorical question: "Although you seek power, you cannot be stained by demon/strife?"

Finally, 腑抜けが! is just "You coward!", using the final particle が that expresses an insult, as explained in this answer:

Why is が added at the end of この小娘が in this clip?

  • Thank you for the explanation! I think I did come up with something similar to what you said among my interpretations, but I think I can get a better idea now and looking at what you wrote ""Can one seek power without being stained by battle?" , might be the best way to interpret it, and in this case I believe that I will consider it as if there was the substantive こと after 求むる, even from the first time reading it I assumed it was supposed to be a 'thing" (the pursuit of power), thus,"Do you think obtaining power is done without getting into strife?" is what I think would work. May 10, 2020 at 23:58
  • +1, but I think this も is just "although", and the speaker is talking only about the person in front of him (Virgil), not fighters in general. "Although you seek power, you cannot be stained by demon/strife!" would be more literal.
    – naruto
    May 11, 2020 at 2:01
  • @naruto oh, I see! Thanks and I'll fix that. But in the context of the game, does 修羅 refer to a demon, or to battle/warfare? (Or somehow both??) I know it derives from the Buddhist term 修羅道 but was assuming that here the relevant definition would be 激しい戦闘, as 大辞林 has it. And am I right in thinking it's a rhetorical question and not a statement?
    – Nanigashi
    May 11, 2020 at 2:38
  • @Nanigashi Well 修羅 is both the name of a god and a well-known metonym for fierce battles, so it somehow refers to both. I feel this か is not a question but a confirmation (the same か as in そうか).
    – naruto
    May 11, 2020 at 4:48
  • Sorry to be nitpicky, but the sentence says not 染まらぬか but 染まぬか (potential), so "you cannot be stained?" is more literal.
    – naruto
    May 11, 2020 at 12:47

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