Animal Crossing fart jokes remain lost in translation as Kapp’n returns to new horizons

Image: Nintendo’s Life

Christmas – or rather Friday, November 5 – arrived early yesterday when the long-awaited Animal Crossing: New Horizons version 2.0 update was surprisingly released more than a full day ahead of schedule.

While much of the hype around the alleged last major free content update focused on the return of Brewster and his coffee, much of the post-Direct hype focused on the return of Kapp ‘ n and his boat.… Well, at least in this writer’s house.

And so, we were happy to see the same old Kapp’n again yesterday after such a long absence, but we were also excited to notice a few small changes, prompting us to share some fun facts and fan theories about our personal favorite NPC from the Japanese side of the Animal Crossing fandom – or, should we say, Dōbutsu no Mori fandom. That’s right, we’ve played over 500 hours (and it’s not over) of the two Tobi Mori (Animal Crossing: New Leaf) and Atsu-Mori (ACNH) so you don’t have to!

Although you would, of course.

Kapp'n backs up in a boat off our dock like he's been the one waiting for us to show up
Kapp’n backs up in a boat off our dock like he’s been the one waiting for us to show up (Image: Nintendo Life / Andrew J. Rue)

Fun fact: it’s a kappa!

Unless you have more than a fleeting knowledge of Japanese culture, you can be forgiven for mistaking Kapp’n for a sea turtle when in fact he is a kappa, a sometimes mischievous and sometimes malicious creature of Japanese folklore.

Physically, kappa are often portrayed as small half-human, half-reptile creatures that have turtle shells on their backs and Friar Tuck-like bald spots on the top of their heads. Indeed, if you doubt us about Kapp’n and his loved ones on Tortimer Island, the bald spots you can invariably find above their heads are telling. Called Sara (literally, “dishes” or “plates”), these bald areas are in reality concave and contain small puddles of water which would be at the origin of a kappathe supernatural power of.

Kappa They are also said to haunt the streams and ponds (and even toilets) of Japan, where they play harmless pranks or viciously attack their hapless victims. One can imagine that the legends on kappa could have served to scare children away from playing near dangerous waters, but perhaps other aspects of their mythology are best left unexplained. More relevant to Kapp’n, however, kappa are said to be fond of cucumbers and apparently associated with gas, which would largely explain why Kapp’n sings about cucumbers so often and cuts the wind midway through Dōbutsu no Mori.

And as you have surely noticed by now, the name Kapp’n itself is a play on words. kappa. Well, the same goes for his original nickname in Japanese, Kappei.

Kappei (Kapp'n) apologizes not so politely for cutting the wind in Tobi-Mori (ACNL)
Kappei (Kapp’n) apologizes not so politely for cutting the wind in Tobi-Mori (ACNL) (Image: Andrew J. Rue)

Fan Theory: He’s a crooner and a boor!

Many fans of Dōbutsu no Mori have drawn comparisons between Kappei and at least two celebrities, which suggests that his character was inspired by one or the other, or perhaps a fusion of the two.

First of all, some have noticed similarities between the songs of the sailors that Kappei sings and the songs that YÅ«zō Kayama sang, especially his hit “Kimi at Itsumademo(Officially, “Forever with You”, above). YÅ«zō Kayama is a famous musician and actor whose dual musical and film career was roughly analogous to that of Elvis Presley, and although our family swear his songs were the inspiration behind Kappei’s sailor songs, we let your ears judge this one. .

Second, others have noticed similarities between Kappei in dialect and name and an Aomori-based TV personality known professionally as Ina Kappei. The choice to rock Springfield’s Captain McCallister when locating Kappei for the West was inspired, but in his native Japan he speaks less like a pirate sailor and more like a country boor. In fact, Ina Kappei’s stage name itself is a play on inakappei, an insult that can be translated as bumpkin or yokel.

Yūzō Kayama (left) appearing on TV with Ina Kappei (right) circa 1980s - holy cow, whatta coinkydink!
YÅ«zō Kayama (left) appearing on TV with Ina Kappei (right) circa 1980s – holy cow, whatta coinkydink! (Image: Source)

Fun fact: it has a brand new flag!

In Tobi-Mori (ACNL), Kappei’s flag featured a ship’s wheel in white over a simple blue and red checkered pattern, a symbol as fitting as any for our beloved ferryman. At Atsu-Mori (ACNH), however, Kappei now sports a brand new flag on his boat.

At first glance, it appears that Kappei’s new red and white flag represents a mountain with the sun. Certainly, the flag will certainly remind some Western players of Hokusai’s thirty-six views of Mount Fuji, especially since its most famous draw can be donated to the museum in the game itself.

Nevertheless, if you have studied even a little Japanese, you will instantly recognize Kappei’s new flag not only as a volcanic mountain resembling Mount Fuji, but also as a clever interpretation of a phonetic letter of one of the two syllabaries used. in Japanese writing. system, namely the letter hiragana pe. Why the letter hiragana pe, you might reasonably ask? Well, because Kappei spells his name in hiragana, which finally brings us to our own fan theory….

Kappei (Kapp'n) flies a new flag in Atsu-Mori (ACNH) depicting Kappei's father disguised as a mountain with the sun
Kappei (Kapp’n) flaunts a new Atsu-Mori (ACNH) flag depicting Kappei’s pe disguised as a mountain with the sun (Image: Andrew J. Rue)

Fan Theory: Kapp’n is an elaborate fart joke!

Like most characters in Dōbutsu no Mori, Kappei’s name is kind of a pun, and it works on more than one level. At the first level, as we mentioned above, Kappei is a combination of kappa and the male name ending -he I Where -pei (as in the common names Kōhei or Junpei), giving us Kappei. On the second level, as we also mentioned above, Kappei could be a tribute to Ina Kappei given the dialect and name they both share. At the third level, Kappei could also be a subtle fart joke. Try and nude with us for a spell.

it seems reasonable that the same phonological process that transforms buu in puu could also transform he I in pei, making Kappei work as a combination of kappa and a wet poo

When rendered as sound effects in a manga, the most powerful buu or the softest (and possibly the wettest) puu are the onomatopoeias of choice for transmitting flatulence to the reader. These can appear arbitrarily elongated (as in buuuuuu) or in jerky bursts (as in puppuppu), and spelled in hiragana or katakana for emphasis. And the creativity of Japanese artists does not stop there. For example, a silent whistle can be captured with suu or combined with puu, giving us interpretations as colorful as pusuuuu. While we admittedly defer to our memory, we could swear we saw at least one captured toot as he I. As amateur linguists, it seems reasonable to us that the same phonological process which transforms buu in puu could also transform he I in pei, so Kappei also works as a combination of kappa and a wet poo.

A print by Yoshitoshi of a fisherman using chemical warfare to repel a kappa attack.
A print by Yoshitoshi of a fisherman using chemical warfare to repel a kappa attack.

If it looks like we’re getting here, consider the facts that he is a word for a bottom burp in the
dictionary and neppe is slang for sleepwalking gas. Perhaps less ubiquitous in everyday language than onara, he appears in common expressions like he demo nai, which idiomatically translates to “trivial” but literally translates to “not even a fart”. Or, consider the related expression, kappa no he, which idiomatically translates to “a piece of cake” but literally translates to “a kappa‘s fart “- wait, a kappait’s fart… ?!

With all due respect to YÅ«zō Kayama and Ina Kappei, it would appear that the expression kappa no he– in addition to the strong and innumerable associations between kappa and all that is scatological to begin with, provided a third source of inspiration for Kappei’s character.

So, the next time you see Kapp’n and his new flag in New Horizons, well… you can’t read this article right now, can you?

Please feel free to share your love, fun facts, and fan theories about Kapp’n below.


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