Mark Simmons (
Fri, 8 Oct 1999 10:41:51 -0700

Edmund Chiu asks,

> Another question I want to ask is what is the rank of Camille near the
> end of Zeta? If Fa has a rank (in the episode where Sara is planning a bomb
> in the park, when Camille is calling Fa to the park office, he said
> something like Fa Yuri guncho(?)), then it's safe to assume Camille has a
> rank too....

  And as has been noted, Camille doesn't seem to have one. Even Katsu has
a rank (namely corporal), but if Camille has one, none of the other
characters see fit to mention it. Considering he takes orders from Emma,
he's probably equivalent to an ensign (navy)/2nd lieutenant (army) or

Tomonaga writes,

>I personally prefer the naval ranks (as
>with Star Wars, Star Trek etc) for character who command/crew the space

  Most translators agree with you (the scripts and the
Viz comics both use naval ranks), if only because it sounds odd to have
warships commanded by a colonel. However, I've belatedly decided to
switch to army ranks, for two reasons...

* The terminology used to describe large groups of mobile suits -
regiments, brigades, divisions - is, as best I can tell, army-specific.

* While Japanese uses the same terms for both army and navy ranks, the
noncommissioned ranks (private, lance corporal, corporal, sergeant,
sergeant major) used in Gundam _are_ army-specific, as far as I can tell.
There are terms in Japanese for petty officer, chief petty officer, et
cetera, but they use the army terminology instead. Thus, if you want to
use navy ranks, you either have a jarring switch when people get promoted
from sergeant major to ensign, or you have to clumsily map each army rank
to the appropriate naval one. Thus, in the Gundam novels and scripts, everyone ends up as a a chief petty officer. :-)

>Another interesting note, Japanese people use their family name first
and then
>their given name. However the characters in the Gundam series use given name
>first then the family name as in English speaking countries.

  Interesting, eh? In the original series proposal, Tomino wrote the
names of characters like Hayato Kobyashi and Mirai Yashima in kanji and
ordered them Japanese-style, but by the time the series aired they'd been
rewritten in phonetic katakana and ordered Western-style. I guess this is
supposed to give the series a futuristic, internationalist tone.

  (On the other hand, in Ideon and L.Gaim, Tomino had a cast of
characters with purely fantasy names which were structured
Japanese-style, family name first... just for variety's sake, I guess.
Thus, the character named Gavlet Gablae in L.Gaim would be from the
Gavlet family, while the character named Gavlet Gablae in Xabungle would
be from the Gablae family. So they don't really have the same name after all!)

Daydd writes,

>This may simply be a matter of bowing toward people's expectations.
>Gundam's audience was Japanese and would therefore expect the rank to be
>attached to the first of two given names.

  I _very_ much doubt it. Not only would Japanese viewers easily be able
to figure out which was the family name, but names like Hayato and Mirai
are obviously personal, rather than family, names. (And it's obvious that
the Zabis all share the same family name,but the leaders of the Zeon
military are addressed as "General Dozul," "General Kishiria," and
"Colonel Garma.") Given that it's very clear that characters are being
addressed by their personal name, the effect for the Japanese viewer must
surely be one of jarring informality. I'm sure that was _completely_

  And, in reference to Tomonaga's rank chart,

>>Chu-jo Lieutenant General - Army,AirForce
>> Vice Admiral - Navy
>> Air Marshall - AirForce(UK)
>"Vice Admiral" is incorrect here. This used to be Rear Admiral in the US
>Navy, but is now Rear Admiral (Upper Half).
>>Sho-sho Major General - Army,AirForce
>> Rear Admiral - Navy
>This is where Vice Admiral fits into US Navy parlance. "Vice" means "in
>place of" but is usually meant as "second to" -- as in vice president.

  No, the translations were correct - it's just that Tomonaga listed them
out of sequence. Sho-sho (rear admiral/major general) comes first, then
chu-jo (vice admiral/lieutenant general), then tai-sho (admiral/general).
Officer ranks are divided into three groups of three, with each following
a sequence of sho/chu/tai (little, middle, big).

-- Mark

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