"I Want to Eat Your Pancreas"

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Seen by a friend of Jeff DeMarco in Sydney, Australia's Chinatown:

Most people who encounter this poster assume that it is just the result of bad machine translation.  But that's the real name of a real novel and a film based on the novel, and it is the correct translation of the Japanese title:

Kimi no Suizō o Tabetai 君の膵臓をたべたい ("I Want to Eat Your Pancreas")

web novel (2014)

novel (2015)

manga (2016-17)

live-action film (2017) ("Let Me Eat Your Pancreas")

anime film (2018)

Nathan Hopson remarks:

I'm unfamiliar with this particular cinematic gem, but the interwebs say:

Plot Summary: An unnamed protagonist happens to find a diary in a hospital one day. The diary belongs to his classmate, a girl named Sakura Yamauchi, who is revealed to be suffering from a terminal illness in her pancreas, and who only has a few months left to live. Sakura explains that the protagonist is the only person apart from her family that knows about her condition. The protagonist promises to keep Sakura's secret. Despite their completely opposite personalities, the protagonist decides to be together with Sakura during her last few months.

Cecilia Segawa Seigle observes:

It is indeed a very weird title and personally I don't want to see the movie they are making from the book with that title – which was evidently a sensational moving story of a high school boy who picked up a sick girl's diary she had accidentally dropped and fell in love with her.  She is dying from a pancreatic illness — and eventually dies.  Evidently Japanese people (young and old) loved the story — it was a best seller and received some literary prize.  I have no idea why the writer Yoru Sumino (a male) gave his novel such a weird title — maybe to draw attention to the book — and he succeeded.

Although the title sounds terribly gruesome in English, I'm wondering if there's something about its expression in Japanese that makes it less so.


  1. Y said,

    October 16, 2018 @ 3:47 am

    Cf. Please Don't Eat My Mother.

  2. Philip Taylor said,

    October 16, 2018 @ 4:10 am

    The storyline reminds me very much of a deeply-moving Indonesian film, Malaikat tanpa sayap, which I first watched on an international flight and later sought out to watch at home. Highly recommended.

  3. David said,

    October 16, 2018 @ 5:12 am

    In the film they explain the title, apparently in Japan a piece of folklore claims you can cure diseases of specific organs by eating those organs, and it's a reference to that.

  4. Victor Mair said,

    October 16, 2018 @ 5:32 am

    Malaikat tanpa sayap ("Angel without wings") (released on February 9, 2012)


    Vino considers selling his heart to an organ harvester in a desperate bid to fund his baby sister's surgery.

  5. Shihchuan said,

    October 16, 2018 @ 10:32 am

    My guess is that in Japanese society, there is a considerably high level of acceptance of things "weird/absurd/somewhat pathological" in popular culture (or even in their culture as a whole). For me as a young Taiwanese who is reasonably familiar with Japanese popular culture, the title made me chuckle while thinking "that's kinda ridiculous – but not suprising coming from Japan", and it did stirred my curiosity as to how this title/gag was related to the actual content, even though it isn't my usual genre of choice at all.

  6. Michael Watts said,

    October 16, 2018 @ 11:38 am

    I have no idea why the writer Yoru Sumino (a male) gave his novel such a weird title

    I recently found myself composing the following comment on another site:

    I have a (female) friend who has expressed that she believes prostitution should be legal…

    But on review, I deleted the "(female)" on the theory that it was redundant with the following pronoun "she". This makes me curious what's going on with the note "(a male)" up above, and more generally how often people take pains to explictly mark something that they were about to say anyway.

  7. DWalker07 said,

    October 16, 2018 @ 4:54 pm

    Regarding the phrase (a male): Was he a Japanese cisgendered male with brown hair? We need to know.

  8. Jason said,

    October 16, 2018 @ 9:38 pm

    ….The Issei Sagawa story?

  9. JB said,

    October 17, 2018 @ 4:40 am

    That was my first thought too, Issei Sagawa…

  10. Victor Mair said,

    October 17, 2018 @ 7:03 am

    Instead of continuing with your in-joke, please be so kind as to tell the readership who Issei Sagawa is.

  11. stephenl said,

    October 17, 2018 @ 8:25 am

    Issei Sagawa is a noted murderer and (relevant here) cannibal (there's a medmium-creepy vice documentary about him https://video.vice.com/en_us/video/interview-with-a-cannibal/55e0d95aca0b0b2c784ce579?popular=1 ) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Issei_Sagawa

  12. Anarcissie said,

    October 17, 2018 @ 2:07 pm

    There is a similar line by Kurt Cobain in 'Heart-Shaped Box' which I will forbear to quote here. One can look it up easily enough.

  13. JB said,

    October 17, 2018 @ 2:54 pm

    Sagawa is hardly an in-joke, nor for that matter known only to amateurs of serial killers and gruesome true crime stories, at one point he was a minor celebrity on Japanese tv, and even made a number of appearances in horror films if memory serves. Plus there's always Professor Google.

  14. Martha said,

    October 17, 2018 @ 9:29 pm

    "In the film they explain the title, apparently in Japan a piece of folklore claims you can cure diseases of specific organs by eating those organs, and it's a reference to that."

    I'm afraid this makes the title make no more sense to me. If it were "I want to eat A pancreas", it would make sense based on the explanation of this folklore, but YOUR pancreas? Who wants to eat whose pancreas?

  15. John Renfroe said,

    October 17, 2018 @ 11:31 pm

    It may not be any less gruesome in Japanese. I read the (Japanese) title aloud to my Japanese friend when we were deciding on a movie to see here in Tokyo a few weeks ago. She was horrified.

  16. RP said,

    October 20, 2018 @ 6:32 am


    I also thought of the Nirvana lyric, but I don't see the offense as that great. The fainthearted should stop reading, but it is "I want to eat your cancer". I do think this is relevant to the post, though, since this lyric was often read as a rather disgusting hunger for consuming diseased tissue. In fact, the meaning was, "I wish I could take this disease away from you", which I think is the meaning in the film under discussion.

  17. Smith said,

    October 22, 2018 @ 9:38 am

    Love the apposition in the post title, by the way. "Sydney, Australia's Chinatown".

  18. Troy S. said,

    October 22, 2018 @ 2:05 pm

    I'm reminded of a Persian expression, "jigare to bokhoram," which colloquially means "You are just so cute!" but literally means "I want to eat your liver."

  19. Victor Mair said,

    October 23, 2018 @ 2:58 pm

    "Love the apposition in the post title, by the way. 'Sydney, Australia's Chinatown'."

    So do I, but that's not the title of the post and it's not an apposition.

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