Girei (Pain’s Theme)

Girei (Pain’s Theme)

Girei Lyrics Discussion

Today we’re doing something a little different from anything we’ve done in the past. I’ve completed reviewing all of the anime series I’ve watched up to this point so it’s time to start writing about other topics, but fear not, there will be more anime reviews in the future.

While browsing Quora I came across a question asking, “what are the lyrics to the song ‘Girei?,'” also known as Pain’s theme, from the anime Naruto: Shippūden. Since Shippūden is one of my favorite series, and I’ve often seen misinformation about the lyrics of this song spread around the English-speaking internet, I figured I’d answer the question.

While I originally answered the question on Quora, I decided I’d write a slightly more in-depth answer to and discussion of this question here on DoubleSama.com

For those who aren’t familiar with the song “Girei,” it’s the song that plays whenever Pain, one of the main antagonists of the series, appears in Shippūden. The controversy surrounding the lyrics of this song are due to the fact that official lyrics were never actually released.

Because of this, the community has had to determine the lyrics to the song for themselves and this has caused an extreme case of misheard lyrics which have essentially become considered canon by the English-speaking internet. In the next section, I’ll be going over these incorrect lyrics, going over the “probably” correct lyrics, and breaking down the lyrics as well.

Pain (Yahiko Body) from the anime Naruto: Shippuden
Pain (Yahiko Body)

Girei Lyrics

First let’s go over just one of the incorrect lyric versions. As you’ll see, these lyrics are in English which is most likely due to English-speakers mishearing words in the language they know the best: English. Remember, these are the wrong lyrics:

“As we forgive for love

but we can not pull through

if we can not forgive

we all tribute to love”

So to start off, the fact that these lyrics are in English should be the first hint that they’re incorrect. English is not uncommon in anime soundtracks, but there are no other English songs on the Naruto soundtracks so why would this be the only one? There are English lyrics in the opening/ending songs, but those don’t typically count as part of the official sound track of an anime unless they’re “character songs.”

Second, the lyrics are pretty vague and don’t exactly fit the character the song is the theme of. While this alone isn’t enough to prove the lyrics are wrong, once we take a look at the correct lyrics it should become clearer that these English ones just don’t make as much sense.

So what are the correct lyrics? Well the first thing is that the correct lyrics aren’t even in English, they’re in Japanese, as in the language spoken in Japan, the country this series is made in. The correct lyrics are here:

“Me sei no Rikudo

Aniki no boku

Girei te no ronri

Kono te boku wa”

Before we get to breaking down the lyrics line by line, there are two things I feel I need to explain. The first is that I think some of the confusion over the language of the lyrics can in part be attributed to Pain’s name. In English we know him as “Pain,” but in Japanese he’s known as “Pein.”

While his name is technically in English, we need to think of it as the borrowed word that it is. Just as Pain’s name is borrowed from English, the English language borrows words from a number of different languages as well, such as “tsunami,” which comes from Japanese.

This means that just because his name is an English word, it doesn’t mean anything else about him has to do with the English language. Just as the word tsunami can be used in English context, the word pain (pein) can be used in Japanese context.

I think the misunderstanding about the origin and context of Pain’s name is one reason so many think the lyrics to his theme are also in English.

The second thing I need to explain is that the title of the song is “Girei.” Why does that matter? Well the word “girei” is in the correct (Japanese) lyrics. It’s true that the title of a song can be in Japanese while the lyrics are in English, but the English lyrics don’t really have anything to do with the word “girei,” so it would be a strange choice.

Pain’s Theme Lyric Breakdown

The first line of the correct lyrics, “Me sei no Rikudo” is translated as “A pair of Six Paths eyes.” This is undoubtedly referring to Pain’s Rinnegan eyes which were the defining feature of the Sage of Six Paths and are what allow Pain to perform the Six Paths jutsu to control multiple bodies.

The second line, “Aniki no boku” has two possible translations that I think could work. The first, and the one I prefer, is “I, the older brother.” Originally, I translated this line as “My older brother.” But Saa, a native Japanese speaker, pointed out my mistake in the comments. I recommend reading their comment for an explanation of this.

The second translation that could also work is, “Anonymous.” This would instead be referring to how Pain has chosen to live his life. Nobody knew his true identity because he goes by a pseudonym rather than his real name and he uses surrogate bodies. While this translation works as well, I think the first one makes more sense in context.

The third line, “Girei te no ronri” can be roughly translated to “Hand of Providence.” This is another reference to his Rinnegan eyes like in the first line, but with a different meaning.

While in the first line the reference to his Rinnegan was being used as a description of his appearance and skills, this third line is referencing his Rinnegan as an explanation for his divine right to rule. The Rinnegan are seen as the symbol of the divine and Pain is the only person known to have them other than the original Sage of Six Paths (as far as we’re concerned for the sake of this post).

The fourth and final line, “Kono te boku wa” is a simple declaration that translates to “This is who I am.” combined with the other three lines, this last line is saying that the character known as Pain is a combination of his Rinnegan, his role as the older brother or leader, and his divine right to rule.

Just like with anyone else, Pain is simply a combination of all his past experiences throughout his life and that’s exactly what these lyrics for his theme convey.

Pain using "Almighty Push" from the anime Naruto: Shippuden
Pain using “Almighty Push”

Conclusion

So what have we learned? “Girei,” also known as Pain’s Theme, has Japanese lyrics, not English ones. Unfortunately, I have seen the incorrect English lyrics spread far and wide across the internet, including on Quora which is supposed to be a site where experts answer questions.

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22 Replies to “Girei (Pain’s Theme)”

  1. A pair of Six Paths eyes
    My older brother
    Hand of providence
    This is who I am

    Awesome lyrics for an Awesome song. How’d you manage to translate it?

    1. Once you have the lyrics in their original language, translation is fairly simple. All you need is a combination of word and phrase translations, along with some context.

      For example, the first line doesn’t actually directly translate to “A pair of Six Paths eyes.” Instead, the first portion refers to a pair of eyes, and the second portion refers to six degrees/options/paths/etc. From here, we can get that the line is referencing Pain’s “pair of Six Paths eyes,” which through context we can understand as his Rinnegan.

      As with anything that’s translated, it’s either going to make more sense in the original language, or some amount of word interchangeability is going to be in play. Also, musical lyrics don’t necessarily need to follow proper grammar conventions, which can make things a bit tricky as well.

  2. I would like to add some precisions, as I’m a Japanese student even if it doesn’t make me an expert.
    “Pein” is totally a katakana retranscription of the word “Pain” so it means exactly the same, so we can say that his name is in English.
    Moreover, “aniki” has a connotation of mafia chief more than old brother, it’s really a “yakuza”, gang surname but in this case, it also match with Pain’s character and the Akatsuki trip.

    I agree with your opinon about English culture and language, I don’t think the song is in English, but I also have some difficulties to heard Japanese into these lyrics. Phonetic is so different… For instance we can heard a lot of sounds “fi” and “fo”, that are not Japanese at all, only “fu” truely exists. I can be wrong, and maybe “fu” sounds “fo” to me and “hi” like “fi” but I’m not sure. Next, the first “sei” sounds really like “shi” so I’m confused about this version of the lyrics.

    I saw some theories saying the song is in Chinese and I found the idea excellent. Japanese mythology is central into Naruto, and Japanese mythology is essentially based on Chinese one. It can refer as Pain like a true god, the original one, the first one, Chinese language having this wise connotation. But as I do not practice Chinese, I can’t tell clearly.

    Maybe I commited some misunderstandings, in which case I want to apologize, I’m French 🙂

    1. You have some excellent points here, so allow me to clarify a few things I mentioned in this post.

      First, as far as the name Pain/Pein is concerned, my main point was that the fact that his name is “Pain” isn’t sufficient enough evidence to prove that the lyrics to his theme are in English, as many would try to say.

      As for “Aniki,” I know it’s used in terms of the Yakuza, but that’s basically what the Akatsuki is. The Akatsuki, like the Yakuza, is simply a highly structured, criminal organization. Further, I translated it to “older brother” because that’s how it’s used in context. Oniisan would typically be used when referring to your older brother by birth, but Aniki is referring to a “brothers in arms” sort of sense. The two aren’t really brothers, but they view each other as brothers, and the one referred to as Aniki is higher up in the organization, and thus deserves the respect given to an older brother.

      Finally, as for the language used in the song, I think the mishearing of some syllables can most likely be chalked up to the Gregorian chant-like singing. I can hear what you’re saying about the first “sei” sounding like “shi,” but when we then listen to the second line, “Aniki no boku” just seems too clear for it to be something else.

      There’s also the issue with the Chinese translation you found having to do with Pain being the true, original god. While this definitely makes sense for his character, the Japanese lyrics are essentially saying this same thing, so I can’t accept that argument alone to prove that the lyrics are in Chinese. The third line is referring to Pain’s divine right to rule, so that’s already covered in these lyrics.

      If anyone is familiar with Chinese, please comment your thoughts on this, as well as what you believe the lyrics would likely be if they were Chinese.

      1. Thank you a lot for your answer! It seems more clear to me now.

        I totally agree with your first point, at first sight I thought you mean that Pain was not found on the English word but on a Japanese one.

        That’s a nice interpretation for the “Aniki”. I just explored the option of the mafia trip, because to me this song is singing by the Akatsuki members, but the idea the song was writed by Nagato is also a good one, and in this case it matches with the two versions.

        I agree with that, latin consonances in this song may make the lyrics hardly understandable.
        But more than just how do the lyrics sound, I found that Chinese language is justified in this case.
        Indeed, if a Chinese-speaking person could add some precisions, it would be really fine!

        1. I am a Chinese and the lyrics does not sound anyway similar to Chinese, I think it sounds closest to Japanese 🙂

          Additionally I did my own research online looking for the lyrics translated into Chinese and apparently only the wrong lyrics were spread…

  3. On the “Girei te no ronri” line, I’m hearing “torii” or “tori”.

    Google translate is giving me “a ritual” when translating “儀礼てのとり”, where “girei” translates to “ritual”, changing stuff around and deleting some of the hira also yields various references to “ceremony”. I don’t speak Japanese at all but I figured this might be worthwhile commenting.

  4. Muito interessante essa letra, mas não querendo ir contra ninguém, mas tradução é uma coisa muito pessoal, o que eu quero dizer que 100 pessoas forem traduzir uma letra, nem todas ficarão iguais. Cada uma vai fazer a sua leitura e interpretar de um jeito. Agora, partindo da sua tradução, eu, na minha modéstia opinião, conhecendo o Anime, conhecendo o personagem (Pain), ficaria assim.
    Com dois olhos divinos;
    Sou o irmão mais velho;
    A mão da providência;
    Isso é quem eu sou.

    1. I think this translation is completely viable as well considering the “aniki” in the second line isn’t very clear in regards to who it’s referring to. Other than that, our translations are essentially the same.

  5. This is awesome ! Nagato and his Six Paths of Pain is my favourite in Naruto, I just love how he looks so evil to many people but once you get to know his reasons, you start to think that this guy is doing the right thing.

  6. I wanted to ask, what about the second muffled voice in the song, the one that sounds like a man voice that sings afrer the woman, what does it say ?

  7. “girei
    me sei no rikudo
    aniki no boku
    girei te no ronri
    kono te boku wa
    pein“

    “sacrament (or ordinance)
    the eyes of the six paths
    the older brother
    the hand of providence
    this is who i am
    pain“

    i think this is the best way to describe nagato, each verse refers to him as a person, as a god
    which I think is the intention of the song

    i believe it has an influence of the “ 7 sacraments of the catholic church ” in the title of the song(GIREI), and in the creation of the character pain
    i don’t like the translation “ritual“
    ritual can be anything, since sacrament refers to the 6 bodies of the “pain“ + the seventh, which is nagato

    sorry for my bad english

    1. There’s one major flaw in your theory: Pain is not based on catholicism. He, and the Six Paths specifically, is explicitly based on Buddhism.

      The Six Paths are Deva, Asura, Human, Animal, Preta, and Naraka. These reference the Six Realms of Existence in Buddhism. So the first line does translate to ritual.

    1. The original Japanese text came from anonymous Japanese users on various forums. I then confirmed the lyrics as best I could and set about translating them. Unfortunately, there have never been “official” lyrics released for this song, so our best idea for the lyrics comes from native Japanese speakers. I hope that answers your question.

  8. Hello, I am a native Japanese speaker and I think your theory is very interesting but I would like to point something out. “Aniki no boku” means “I, the older brother” and not “my older brother” (which would be “boku no aniki”).

    As far as I can recall, Nagato used to refer to himself as “boku” during his childhood, particularly when he told Jiraiya “I just want to protect them (Konan and Yahiko), no matter what kind of pain comes hand in hand” (“BOKU wa tada futari wo mamoritai, donna itami ga tomonau koto ga atta toshite mo”). His older, Akatsuki self refers to himself as “ore”.

    This would imply that the line “Aniki no boku” refers to Nagato’s childhood self viewing himself as an older brother figure, and not Yahiko.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll have to update that in the post later today when I have more time.

      I guess the lyrics of this song would be from the perspective of Nagato’s inner voice then. It doesn’t make sense for it to be from the perspective of him as a child considering he didn’t view himself as the older brother at that point. So perhaps his inner monologue would still use “boku” to refer to himself rather than “ore.”

  9. Funfact/excursion:
    Pein i German, is tje same as Pain. But Pein also has the connotation of “suffering”. while Pain is still used in the english language “Pein” is antiquated / used nowadays in high-literature and belletristics

  10. “Me sei” – idk what sei is, but it’s not pair. Pair is 対 , and pair of eyes would be 対の目.

    “Girei te no ronri” is a wierd phrase too. It technically means “the logic of the hand [of] courtesy”.
    Hand of providence (divine aid) would be “sukui no te”.

    Okay to put this once and for all to rest. The lyrics are most probably nonsense. This is nothing unusual for this type of music, that is scoring that is trying to emulate a vibe of church chanting (keeping in theme with Nagato’s god complex). Good example of this is the track “Adiemus” by Karl Jenkins. It’s not rare in anime scoring either. The Requiem from Nausicaa composed by Joe Hisaishi uses nonsense lyrics for the same purpose, emulating church choir chanting in Latin/Greek.

    Which makes sense, Japanese composers aren’t gonna go out of their way to learn Latin or Greek to compose a few soundtracks in them, but they still want that vibe of the sound of those languages. If they used Japanese it would remove a part of that association to chanting in an ancient language.

    So what are the lyrics? Any guess is as good as the other and we will probably never know for certain, if you really want to sing along, sing along and see what syllables work and what don’t and write down your own interpretation.

    1. Your comment on YouTube has additional context. So I’ll be responding to those points as well as the ones listed here.

      1. You’re correct that “sei” doesn’t translate to “pair.” But I also never said it did. “Sei” is referring to the true nature of something, which in this case is referring to the Rinnegan (or six-paths eyes) being able to see the true nature of the world. I included the word “pair” in there because we’re referring to a single pair of eyes – Nagato’s. Japanese doesn’t distinguish between singular and plural as English does. So obviously if you were to translate the line literally it would be off.

      2. As I explained in the post, someone who’s actually Japanese did already correct my translation of the second line. Would it be odd to refer to yourself as “aniki?” In most cases, yes. But it’s also odd to refer to yourself with “-sama” and yet it happens. One of the main reasons you would do something like this is if you view yourself as being above others, which Nagato does.

      3. Again, here’s a line that you can’t translate in the literal sense. The line basically refers to an “all-knowing hand” within a religious context. Therefore, “hand of providence” is a better way to phrase it in English. You could argue that the “girei” in this case is referring to a specific ritual. I also saw you’re saying that it can’t be used as an adjective here because words are missing. However, I viewed it more as a contextual word. We’re not working with full sentences here, so when that’s the case, individual words can often simply be for context. What’s not really up for debate is the fact that the song is titled “Girei” and the word “girei” is featured within it. That alone should give you some evidence pointing at the language of the song.

      4. Your point regarding the last line I agree with. I used “wa” instead of “ha” there and that’s my mistake. As you know, they sound the same when spoken and so that was simply a careless error on my part. Thanks for pointing it out.

      5. As I’ve already responded on YouTube, you’re right about many similar songs using fake languages. Madoka Magica is one that stands out with a fake language that’s a mix of English, Japanese, Latin, German, and maybe more languages used for most of the songs on its soundtrack. And that may very well be the case for the other vocals in this song. I can’t decipher what they’re saying and I’ve never come across someone who could. But the primary vocals of the song can be heard fairly clearly and we can identify individual words from it that are real Japanese words that make sense within the context.

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