The name Katamari Damacy can be roughly translated as "soul of a clump",
with "clump" referring to the ball of detritus that the game's main character
rolls around with. The name's translation isn't clear at first, so for those
of you interested I'll explain here.
, the first of the two kanji
means a "lump; mass; clod; cluster", in other words a pile of
collected-up dirt or the like. This is pretty straightforward.
The second kanji
, which is what usually confuses readers, is not damacy
- a word meaning "soul" or "spirit". Why the unusual
pronunciation and spelling? There are two possible explanations for the
pronunciation, either (or likely both) of which may be correct. One
is that damashii
is simply an accented way of saying the word
with the "t" softened to a "d" due to it coming directly after another word - it's not entirely unlike an English speaker saying "dere" instead of "there". The other explanation is that
it's a pun - "dama" is Japanese
for "ball", referring to the katamari
that the main character rolls around in the game. "Shii
" can also mean
"surroundings" or "circumference", but is written differently in kanji
The spelling "damacy" rather than the more correct "damashii" is simply a
different, hip way of spelling the word - think of how many times you've
seen products labelled "Xtreme" or with a letter C replaced with a K (Kool Aid).
The Japanese language doesn't differentiate much between "si" and "shii", so
this spelling isn't technically wrong.
below the title, as written on the game's packaging, simply spell out
the game's title, "Katamari Damashii".
They do this for two reasons. One, without the katakana reading "damashii",
one would read the two kanji
and assume the game's title to be
"Katamari Tamashii". Two, the game's fun and simple style
means that the game appeals to young children and non-Japanese import
buyers, who may not know enough kanji
to read the title otherwise.
Finally, it should be noted that the kanji used are remarkably similar in
appearance - perhaps this could be called a kind of visual alliteration.
Some fans have suggested (partly joking) that the title was picked first
by some clever-thinking game designer who, thinking of the similarity between
the two kanji, saw imagined them placed next to each other, and, reading them as
"katamari tamashii", began to imagine what kind of a videogame would arise from
the concept of the player controlling a ball of dirt.