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View Full Version : Origins of the Japanese "S-Rank"


archmichael
06-24-2007, 09:03 PM
Everyone who has played some Japanese console games and watched anime knows that if you do well you get an A-Rank, but if you do something near perfect it's considered S-Rank.

But why S? And where did they get that from?

cckerberos
06-24-2007, 09:43 PM
I always figured that it stood for "super," or perhaps "sugureru" (excellent).

jayjay
06-24-2007, 09:44 PM
Perhaps A-rank is for "Amachua" (amateur) and S-rank is for "Shihan" (master)?

There's really no reason for them to pick "A" as the lower rank just because we begin our alphabet (and therefore our alphabet-inspired lists) with it.

archmichael
06-24-2007, 11:06 PM
Perhaps A-rank is for "Amachua" (amateur) and S-rank is for "Shihan" (master)?

There's really no reason for them to pick "A" as the lower rank just because we begin our alphabet (and therefore our alphabet-inspired lists) with it.

Things is the ABCD ranks are just rated just like we would.

awldune
06-25-2007, 09:55 AM
My understanding was that in Japanese schools the top grade you can get is "S." I have no cite, however.

cckerberos
06-25-2007, 11:10 AM
My understanding was that in Japanese schools the top grade you can get is "S." I have no cite, however.
Nope. Or at least, all of the public schools I taught at used numbers (1-5 scale, iirc), and given the centralized nature of the Japanese school system, it's most likely standardized.

Measure for Measure
06-26-2007, 01:59 AM
Googling turns up a lot of references to the Naruto series: in that anime/manga/game S-Class criminals are scariest.

I see from this site (http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2401) that the allies sorted Japanese WWII era war criminals into Classes A, B and C. There's even some controversy involving public figures who visit shrines connected with Class A criminals.

Pure speculation: manga authors wanted something beyond "Class A", which was both familiar and tainted. Settling on "S Class" may have merely been a matter of alliteration.

cckerberos
06-26-2007, 02:24 AM
Googling turns up a lot of references to the Naruto series: in that anime/manga/game S-Class criminals are scariest.

I see from this site (http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2401) that the allies sorted Japanese WWII era war criminals into Classes A, B and C. There's even some controversy involving public figures who visit shrines connected with Class A criminals.

Pure speculation: manga authors wanted something beyond "Class A", which was both familiar and tainted. Settling on "S Class" may have merely been a matter of alliteration.
Interesting idea, but seems very unlikely to me. The ranking system used (most often in video games rather than manga or anime) mimics the American grade system, going down to F (and skipping E). Also, saying something is Class A in Japan does not carry a negative connotation.

cckerberos
06-26-2007, 02:32 AM
The Japanese wikipedia article on the letter S says that it stands for "special" or "superior", although it doesn't give any kind of citation.

jovan
06-26-2007, 04:47 AM
Nope. Or at least, all of the public schools I taught at used numbers (1-5 scale, iirc), and given the centralized nature of the Japanese school system, it's most likely standardized.
Here's an example (http://www.mi.sanno.ac.jp/station/sac/result.html) of an university that uses the S-A-B-C-D-F ranking system. Here's another. (http://muse.tuad.ac.jp/docs/grading/grading_j.html)

cckerberos
06-26-2007, 07:07 AM
Here's an example (http://www.mi.sanno.ac.jp/station/sac/result.html) of an university that uses the S-A-B-C-D-F ranking system. Here's another. (http://muse.tuad.ac.jp/docs/grading/grading_j.html)
Interesting. I was only referring to secondary education, but your post makes me wonder about Japanese universities. At the one I'm currently studying at there is no S rank for grades.

TokyoBayer
06-26-2007, 09:53 AM
The Wife (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=426324) says that one of the universities she teaches at uses S as the top grade and the other uses A. Tokyo University (where she got her masters and is getting her PhD) uses kanji and not ABCs for grades.

Revenant Threshold
06-26-2007, 09:57 AM
Just to complicate things further, if there is a rank beyond "S" on Japanese games, it's usually "SS".

cckerberos
06-26-2007, 11:52 AM
Just to complicate things further, if there is a rank beyond "S" on Japanese games, it's usually "SS".
That one's pretty easy to understand, I think. I assume that just as the Japanese write LL for XL size (and LLL for XXL), the additional S is just show that it's even more superior.

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