We often hear these days* how Japan is number one economically and technologically, how we must catch up with it if we are to survive and so forth. But there is one Achilles heel to this giant - Japan, that wonderful country which has given us industrial robots TQCs and an inflated yen, has never heard of Daleks. Such ignorance! The average man on the Ginza or woman on a Shinjuku train can't tell you what a Tardis is. Oh dear, what barbarism. Quelle horreur and all that. Dr. Who has never been shown there in that benighted land.

However, a glimmer of light shone briefly when in 1980,four of the Target novelisations were translated into Japanese by Sekiguchi Yukio and published by Hayakawa Shobo in paperback. Hayakawa is a big company which has published a very great deal of SF much of it translated from Western works. As far as I know only those four have appeared though more were planned.

They are, in order of publication:-

Now, since no one had seen Dr. Who, this allowed the artist, Sato Michiaki, to give free rein to his imagination. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the Daleks. Friends, these might well be Daleks, but not as we know them. They, as indeed are the drawings of the Doctor and his companions, are a literal rendition of the written description. Below is a reproduction of an interior illustration of these Mitsubishi Daleks. Rather dear little things, aren't they, somewhat reminiscent of Chumblies?


Well and good. Our friends in the Land of the Rising Yen haven't met Daleks (who confined their depredations to London and environs, leaving Tokyo-trashing to Godzilla and Mothra). So they get A for effort, one feels as one leaps through Jiku daiketto. The real worry occurs with the fourth book, Dareku-zoku no gyakushu (literally ‘The Daleks strike back’). At the end, in the translator's afterword, we find a cutaway of a Mitsubishi Dalek and an explanation of what all the parts represent. Next follows a map of the continents of Skaro and information on the flora and fauna thereon. Finally, there is a brief history of Skaro and the neutron war. Despite the Japanese captions on the map, there is something decidedly familiar about all of this. And then one comes to the final sentence and all is revealed. These data all come from the 1979 Dalek Annual.

Next question. Since both translator and artist had access to a Dalek Annual (Sato’s map) is clearly based on one in it), they now know what Daleks really look like, so why the Mitsubishi Daleks in the book and even in the cutaway which is based on the one in the annual? This shows a certain persistence in the face of all odds and probably tells us more about the Japanese than it does the Daleks.

Seriously, several explanations, spring to mind, Since in all the books, the characters look nothing like the TV originals, it would seem that for the most part, Sato, the artist, did not have access to any source material, even though translator Sekiguchi acknowledges help from the Pinnacle Doctor Who books (he quotes from Harlan Ellison's forewords extensively), the Japanese Starlog and even the BBC's Tokyo office, all of which would or could provide stills.. Having committed the Mitsubishi Daleks in the first book, Sato may have decided to stick to them for consistency's sake so as not to confuse the readers to whom all this was new (the books were all published within several months of each other). It is also possible that, for some reason ,the Japanese may not have been granted the rights to use the actors' faces and the original Dalek and Silurian designs in the artwork.

Mitsubishi Daleks are a bit of a worry in other departments, too. While the translations are remarkably faithful to the English, Mitsubishi Daleks seem to have an aversion, not shared by real Daleks to repeating their warcry 'Exterminate!’. For example, in Day of the Daleks at the conclusion of Chapter One where the Controller reports to his superiors and you realise they are Daleks, we have that famous scene of the Daleks led by the Black Dalek, screeching 'Exterminate' over and over again, which forms the conclusion of Episode One.

In Dicks' original, it goes thus : "The Black Dalek's voice rose higher still as it chanted the threat of destruction that was the Daleks’ only creed: "They are enemies of the Daleks. All enemies of the Daleks must be destroyed. Exterminate them. EXTERMINATE THEM! EXTERMINATE THEM!!"

In the Japanese, the Black Dalek's speech runs thus: "Karera wa Dareku-zoku no teki da. Dareku no teki wa minagoroshi ni shinakareba naranai. Korose! Shimatsu shiro! Hitori nokorazu korose!" The underlined words are the various synonyms for 'exterminate' they feel obliged to use. You don't have to be a linguist to see that they are different each time. They mean literally ‘kill’, ‘put an end to’ and ‘obliterate’. Obviously Mitsubishi Daleks have a much wider vocabulary which they are anxious to show off (Japanese, like Latin, being rather rich in words implying destruction and mayhem).

Seldom do they use the same word for exterminate twice, though korose and minagorose (literally, ‘kill-all’) are popular. Apart from the above, they use zetsugensareru, koroshite shimau, koroshite yaru They almost wax poetic in their desire to avoid repetition as in the scene where they positively identify the Doctor, via the Mind Scanner. In Dicks we have: "You are the Doctor. You are an enemy of the Daleks! Now you are in our power! You will be exterminated! You will be exterminated! YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!"

This is a bit boring for the Mitsubishi Daleks. They say: "Omae wa Doctor da. Dareku no ichizoku no teki da. Imakoso, wareware no omoi no mama da! Koroshite yaru! Omae o koroshite yaru zo! Omae no iki no ne o tomete yaru!" Again the underlined words are the exterminate variations. As in the earlier example an attempt was made to duplicate the typography of the original English in the Japanese, too. The final expression means something like "I will snuff out your life" (literally 'I will put a stop to the root of your breathing').

I ask you:, what are Daleks without their oft-repeated, dare we say monotonous warcry? Only once do we get the Daleks in full cry, repeating themselves and that is when the Daleks discover from the Controller that the man who came back with the guerrillas is called the Doctor. Then they do chant: "Yatsu o korose! Yatsu o koros! Yatsu o korose!" ("Kill the fellow" literally). Now, kiddies, stand up, put out you right arm in front of you and in your best staccato Dalek voice, repeat: Ya-tsu-o-ko-ro-se!"

Yes, well. The Japanese language also trips up the Daleks when they announce an emergency. Thus Dicks: "'Emergency., Emergency. The Doctor has escaped! Sound the alarm!" But, japonice: "Kinkyu jittai hassei, kinkyu jittai hassei Doctor ga sotoshita! Keiho o narase!"

By which time the Doctor is halfway to Gallifrey.

Conciseness is not generally a virtue of Japanese (Poor Fellow, My Country, a weighty tome in anyone's language, runs to eleven volumes in the Japanese translation). The hapless ‘Dalek at the console’ in the same scene becomes 'Seikyo sochi ni tsuite iru Dareku' every time it is mentioned.

Great effort is made to follow the English as closely as possible. Such terms as ‘eyestalk’ and ‘casing’ are rendered in Japanese characters with an English gloss so the reader gets the full flavour - the Japanese meaning (being compounds of ideographs they virtually paint a picture) plus the English term Thus ‘eyestalk’, gankei, is composed of two characters meaning ‘eye’ and 'stalk' or 'stem' but ‘eyestalk' is written in the syllabic script beside it so the reader knows it is a special new term. Similarly with terms like 'time vortex' (four characters meaning 'time' and whirlpool' or 'eddy'); 'casing' (three characters meaning 'protection' and 'covering, casing, hood').

The Daleks speak in abrupt sentences, usually in the plain form of the language, peppered with commands as they do in English. However, the gradations of levels of language typical of Japanese come through. The Controller uses the polite second person pronoun anata when addressing the Daleks but the informal pronoun, omae, used to inferiors and familiars when addressing the Ogrons. The Daleks address everyone as omae.

These nuances of language allow the Daleks to express their contempt and hatred for the Doctor subtly as well as overtly in a way not possible in English. The Doctor is yatsu not ano hito or kare, a third person pronoun used of other Dalek enemies. Yatsu is about as low as you can go. It used to mean 'slave'.

On the other hand, the language forces even the Daleks to be polite at times. The command ‘Stop!’ issued to the Controller by the Black Dalek as he leaves the chamber after dropping the brick about the Doctor becomes Chotto matte (literally 'Please wait') rather than Tomare, "Stop still!" said to the guerillas in the tunnel by the Daleks. It also gives us the rather delightful command uttered by the Black Dalek to the Controller as he tries to intervene in their use of the Mind Scanner on the Doctor. Instead of saying "Be silent!" as in Dicks, the Black Dalek says, "Otonashiku shiro" "Behave yourself", the sort of thing one says to a naughty child.

However, in the first book, Jiku daiketto, the language of the Daleks is rather softer, more conversational as indeed it is in Whitaker's original English. Reading the two Dalek books together, whether in English or in Japanese, reminds one how, in many ways, the Daleks have changed. In the earlier Dalek story, they are survivors, just about able to make it about their city and no further. They are a dying race. There are no speeches about "The Daleks are the supreme beings of the universe" though they are as paranoid as ever. They do not have the upper hand and they know it. They do issue orders but the tone is less hectoring. I rather think Whitaker's book makes their speech more conversational. My memories of the aired series suggest a more abrasive style though minus the self-inflating propaganda of the later stories. But it is interesting that Sekiguchi followed this rather different style, so much I checked to see if the translator was the same. Here the Doctor and company use the second person pronoun kimi to the Daleks as though talking to equals. The Daleks use omae, though, but their speech is less abrupt.

Oh, for those familiar with the Japanese language, the counter for Daleks is -tai (‘body, thing, image’) as in ittai no Dareku kagakusha ('one Dalek scientist') rather than -nin (used for people) or -dai (used for vehicles or machinery).

*(Originally published in Junkyard #3 (1989))