リボーン in Tokyo Mew Mew

     Readers who are familiar with my old Death Reborn Revolution and Death Ribbon Revolution article may be interested to know that there is a similar name confusion in the original Japanese version of the manga series Tokyo Mew Mew.

     There are several special powers in that series that contain the katakana-character combination リボーン.  For instance, Ichigo Momomiya, the main character, uses a power with the name リボーン・ストロベリー・チェーック, where the ストロベリー represents the English word strawberry, and チェ[ー]ック represents the word check (the extra in チェ[ー]ック indicates that Ichigo Momomiya pronounces the e sound in チェック longer than usual).  None of the names of the powers use the katakana character combination リボン, which is the usual way to represent the word ribbon in Japanese.  (リボン appears in the lyrics on the screen while the opening Japanese song of the anime version of Tokyo Mew Mew plays.  However, there is no indication that those particular lyrics are relevant to the names of the special powers.)

     When the translators at Tokyopop were working on the official English translation of the manga, they decided to render all of the instances of リボーン as “Ribbon.”  So, the name リボーン・ストロベリー・チェーック was rendered as “Ribbon Strawberry Check” in the Tokyopop translations.  However, when the translators were working on the Sailor Moon manga, they rendered the リボーン in Sailor Saturn's special power as “Reborn,” not “Ribbon”!  It is likely that different translators were working on the two series.

     As I pointed out in my Death Reborn Revolution and Death Ribbon Revolution article, the combination リボーン is used to represent the English word reborn, while リボン is used to represent the English word ribbon.  An example of リボーン being used for the word reborn is in the name of the manga series 家庭教師ヒットマンREBORN (リボーン)! (Katekyō Hittoman Reborn!).  The manga series 姫ちゃんのリボン (Hime-chan no Ribon), shows the combination リボン being used for the word ribbon.  The difference between リボーン and リボン may seem trival, but they represent two different words.

     According to that information, the combination リボーン that appears in the names of the special powers in Tokyo Mew Mew represent the word reborn, not the word ribbon.  So, the three parts of the name リボーン・ストロベリー・チェーック reasonably represent the phrase “Reborn Strawberry Check.”  If the name of the special power appeared as リボン・ストロベリー・チェーック, then there would be no problem in concluding that the combinations represent “Ribbon Strawberry Check.”

     Even if the リボーン in the names of the special powers are meant to be puns on リボン, that does not necessarily mean リボーン can mean either reborn and ribbon.  There are times when there are ambiguities in the Japanese script, but the situation with リボーン and リボン is not one of them because of the difference in spelling and the difference in meaning.  (I admit that both words might after all be intended at the same time, despite the fact that リボーン is used instead of リボン, but there is no indication of that.)

     The word check is more often represented by チェック than チェーック.   It has been stated above that the reason for the extra is that Ichigo Momomiya pronounces the e sound in チェック longer than usual.  It can be argued that since Ichigo is pronouncing the e sound longer than usual, then perhaps the リボン in リボーン just means that she is pronouncing the o sound in リボン longer than usual.  So, the name of the special power is actually just a variant of リボン・ストロベリー・チェック, representing “Ribbon Strawberry Check.”  That is one possible argument for “Ribbon.”  However, there is no instance of リボン being used in the names of a special powers in the Japanese version of the Tokyo Mew Mew manga.  The names consistently appear with リボーン.  Since we have examples of リボーン in the names, but not of リボン, it is best to read the リボーン as “Reborn” without thinking it actually means something else.

     (The manga image and the anime screen shot linked in the first paragraph both originally were posted in the Ichigo Momomiya entry of Wikipedia by Angie H. and Yume no Kishi.)

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