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Related I guess: Japanese slang - まんじ、マンジ、卍


From Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:

In S02E09, specifically Chapter 82, when Yu (Ishigami) praises Kaguya by describing Kaguya as 'maji manji', the translation in the anime appears to be 'based' and then in the manga it's translated to 'dope A.F.' Kaguya asks what this means, but Yu actually doesn't know.

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Context: Yu is praising Kaguya as part of thanks in re that Kaguya is lending Yu a female school uniform as part of Yu's cheerleading club's performance in an upcoming sports festival. Yu had (seemingly) no one to ask out of fear of harsh rejection.

Guess: Maybe it has the same effect as 'based' or 'dope' but doesn't really mean the same thing, as in general not just with Japanese to English translations but translations in general?

  • Edit re 'based': Based (lol) on what I understand of the term 'based', I don't think 'based' is that good a translation. But what I understand is that 'based' is about...unpopular opinions I think? So I guess Kaguya is based in having the unpopular opinion of lending Yu a uniform, and it's unpopular (in Yu's thinking) because other female friends of Yu might not lend their uniforms. But then again 'based' on wouldn't apply to many of the other times 'maji manji' is used I believe.

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This site in its explanation of the term 卍 mentions 「マジ卍」 is something of a set phrase.

ここ最近(最近でもないかもしれないし、もはや速攻で死語のカテゴリに入れられているかもしれない)、特に10代を中心に「マジ卍」という謎の言葉が出てきましたね。

It further lists the phrase's possible meaning as per people surveyed who claimed to its users:

(1)「ヤバい」同様、オールマイティに何かと使える
「ヤバいと同じくらい、なんでも使えるオールマイティな言葉。明日レポート提出だわ、ノータッチ、まじ卍。とか、そんな感じで使う」(20歳・学生)
「なんでも使えると思う。テストまじ卍とか」(21歳・学生)
「ヤバいとき。驚いたときなどに使う」(29歳・専業主婦)
「いい意味でも悪い意味でも、ヤバい、と同じような感じで、まじ卍、と使います」(25歳・会社員)

(2)特に意味はない
「なんとなくでつけているもの。だるいときや面倒なとき」(25歳・会社員)
「意味は特にないと思っている。言い表せない言葉のとき使う」(23歳・会社員)
「特に意味はない、流れでうわ~まじ卍だわ~などと使う」(24歳・学生)

(3)テンションが上がるとき使う
「漠然と何かしらテンションが上がることや、イケイケな様子、状態。イケイケな人たちを差して『あの人たち超卍系』などと使う」(18歳・学生)
「テンションが上がること。ライブがもうすぐ始まるとか、まじ卍だね! といった感じです」(23歳・公務員)

Both (1) and (3) are applicable in your case. There are a number of similarly versatile words that younger generations use in a huge variety of vastly different situations: やばい, えぐい, きつい, すごい, etc.

And マジ comes from 真面目, and also occurs in forms like マジで, マジに, etc. It's often interchangeable in a lot of contexts with 本当(に), ホント(に), ホンマ(に), ガチ(で). Some of these words were originally dialectal but are now/were previously making the rounds among young people.

In your context マジ卍 just means something to the effect of "You are so awesome" or "You are so freaking badass" etc. I don't think "based" is a good translation. "Dope af" sounds okay. From what I gather from what little context you include in your question the speaker seems to use it as both a compliment (褒め言葉) and as something they say because they are in awe in a not-so-good sense and are left speechless. In that case, "You are so freaking badass" would work as well if not better, in my humble opinion.

All of these are what's known as 若者言葉・若者語 (young people words/language), which means you will hear it used mostly by people in their teens and 20s. I doubt you will hear it often in the workplace and other professional settings, if at all. I get a sense that people in their mid to late-20s start to gradually wean themselves off 若者言葉 in their transition to proper 社会人.

Also, this is purely subjective, but in my observation, マジ卍 already seems to be quickly falling out of use. It has a strong 2016/17-ish feel to it. Now you'd more likely hear えぐい or older terms like やばい.

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  • Thanks and Lol nice job with the 15/16 (or 16/17) thing. I guess it goes to show the gap between the manga's publishing and the anime's airing.
    – BCLC
    May 27 at 7:10
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    It seems like the fact that they don't understand the slang they're using is relevant, so something like "you're so badass" doesn't feel like it would fit to me, because that's not really slang anyone would have trouble understanding.
    – Leebo
    May 27 at 7:13
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    @Leebo Okay, I found the original manga and gave it a quick scan. The 「それどういう意味ですか」「僕もわかりません」lines don't have to suggest the slang is not understood or used by them. Just as an example without any actual reference, in fact it feels more like such a situation "You are the man" "Hmm, why did you say that?" "I don't even know." where you say something highly flattering or loaded, and when asked, you find yourself at a loss for words as to why you said it. Not doing the best explanation here, but I think it happens all the time in real life: "Why did you say that?" "I don't know" (high pitched)
    – Eddie Kal
    May 27 at 7:30
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    What does 'based' mean in that context?
    – aguijonazo
    May 27 at 9:15
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    @aguijonazo urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=based
    – Eddie Kal
    May 27 at 11:18

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