[Image: Star Wars Official]

Yesterday, when the Japanese release date for Solo: A Star Wars Story was announced, the official Star Wars Japan Twitter account also revealed the movie’s logo. People online are saying how uncool it looks.

The Japanese title is actually different from the English-language one. In katakana, the Japanese writing system used for foreign words among other things, the title reads ハン・ソロ or “Han Soro.” So, what’s the big deal?

One of the things Hollywood movies and TV get wrong when they recreate Japan is that English letters are used all throughout the country. Hollywood tends to put everything in Japanese characters to emphasize that the scene is, in fact, set in Japan.

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But in Japan, for example, Uni-qlo’s original logo was entirely in English letters, with “Unique Clothing Warehouse” written on the side of shops. It’s only been in the past few years after the katakana logo ユニクロ (Yuni Kuro) became so widely used in the West that it began appearing alongside the English Uni-qlo logo back home.

[Image: GFDL | Creative Commons]
[Image: GFDL | Creative Commons]

Here is an old photo from MNGS.Web, illustrating how much English lettering you can see in Tokyo’s Akihabara. Some English words are aimed at tourists, while others are not.

[Photo: MNGS.Web]

To be fair, you will also see a great deal of katakana on signs and products. English language ability varies within the country, and that’s where katakana can come in.

[Photo: MNGS.Web]

But English is used because Japanese people think it looks cool for the same reason English-speakers think Japanese characters look neat: they’re foreign.

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So, what’s the problem with the Han Solo title? “It’s seems fine to do this with the English language title,” wrote one commenter on 2ch, Japan’s most popular bulletin board.

Rogue One was also written in katakana, but the word “rogue” would probably be difficult for many people in Japan to read in English. “Solo” or “Han Solo” would be easy, especially among Japanese Star Wars fans.

Then again, many people didn’t exactly seem impressed with the English language logo.

Here is a comparison:

“This isn’t good either,” wrote another 2ch commenter. “The Japanese one seems better,” chimed in yet another.

You might think the Japanese logo looks fine, but the problem for many in Japan making these complaints is contextual. They think the katakana logo looks like a domestic sports drink logo, a fast food logo, a bicycle shop logo, a medicine logo (Photoshopped image above) or even the logo for discount store Don Quijote.

Here is the Solo logo compared with the Don Quijote logo:

And the Game Center CX logo:

As evident in this Star Wars Japan tweet, the official full-length title is ハン・ソロ/スター・ウォーズ・ストーリー, which in English is “Han Solo: Star Wars Story.” The indefinite article “a” is omitted, because the Japanese language often omits it when bringing over English phrases; however, it does typically bring over the definitive article “the” as or “za.” Oddly, the article “a” appears in the Solo subtitle.

It did not appear under the Rogue One logo.

The problem might be the Japanese font. Here is a fix, even going so far as removing the indefinite article “a.” I think this Japanese font looks much better!

Or this tongue-in-cheek attempt:

I agree that the selected Japanese font used isn’t that great, but Walt Disney Japan is trying to stick close to the original English font.

Not everyone is hating on the logo, of course, but if people in Japan are going to get upset about something, how about the later Japanese release date of June 29? Now that’s uncool.


Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.