Must-Read: Introduction and Scientific Notes to Moyashimon!

I can’t believe there’s an anime so related to my major! I’m not exactly doing agricultural sciences, but rather Food Science and Technology, of which microbiology and nutrition are large components of, so this show interests me even more than mecha. Rather than the usual anime which seeks to entertain, Moyashimon is more like an educational programme masquerading as anime.

This anime is about a guy who can see all microbes. By see, I mean he visualises them as 10 cm tall cute avatars who can talk and play games. With this talent, he enters the microbiology department of a Tokyo agricultural sciences college. It mainly focuses on veterinary and plant sciences, so you see lots of animals, crops, microbes and mud. It’s quite a stark contrast to Honey and Clover, which is an arts college. The arts are really fun and cheery, with bright colours and aesthetics in abundance. Arts students engage in much love-making and emotional journeys. However we science students sit in labs and take readings from spectrophotometers, count colonies and titrate random stuff. And once in a while, some get to go into the jungle and catch animals or collect mud. In Moyashimon, we sciencies finally have an anime FOR US!! I weep tears of joy.

I highly doubt Moyashimon is going to get subbed (or licensed by Odex for that matter) since it seems rather difficult. The Japanese scientific terms are hard to understand even for native speakers, much less weeabos. For the benefit of all, I have translated and made easy-to-understand all the key terms used in episode 1.

This is some insane shit. Or rather, it’s a dish native to Greenland’s Eskimos, where they ferment an Auk (a sea bird) INSIDE a seal (or its skin) and buried underground until the decomposition is advanced. It is allegedly (and probably) extremely pungent in aroma. The weird thing is that the best website for this dish is in Japanese. Once the bird has gotten really rotten, the seal hide can be cut open and the juices SUCKED FROM THE ASS of the bird. Seriously. Another way is to use the juices as a sauce. The Eskimos used to eat raw meat to obtain their essential vitamins, but as cooking caught on, they started to suffer from vitamin deficiencies due to these being broken down during the heating. Thus, kiviak is their means of solving this problem.

Prof Itsuki drinks rotten bird juice from its ass.

Aspergillus Oryzae -tan
These cute guys are the mould (as in, fungus) used for fermenting soybeans into miso and soy sauce. I bet some of you guys didn’t even know miso isn’t found in nature. This is commonly used in China and Japan. As a mould, this is way larger than bacteria.

Oryzae-tans only miso culture

I’m sure most people know yoghurt. But most people think yoghurt is some sort of icecream!! It’s more similar to cheese than to ice-cream really. The latter is essentially an emulsion and a foam, with fats, proteins, water and air all combined when they would normally be in separate phases. Yoghurt is however, a product of fermentation, where certain bacteria convert the lactose (milk sugar, which many people are intolerant of and shit their pants after eating) to lactic acid when they respire (as in, produce energy without oxygen). Lactic acid is the reason why yoghurt tastes sour, and the increased acidity levels denature proteins and cause them to coagulate (clump together) into a more solid form. It is very very good for you.

Lactococcus Lactis -tan
In Moyashimon, L. Lactis is actually spelt the old way (as in, it was classified as Streptococcus previously). The term lactococci basically means that it is used in the milk-related industries and are absolutely safe. Anyway, this is just a bacteria used in dairy products like cheese and yoghurt to increase the amount of lactic acid. These are the good guys.

Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus -tan
These are like the brothers of Lactis-tan, in that they serve the same purpose in yoghurt. LB-tan is a picky feeder and can only metabolise lactose, but they add acetaldehyde,CH3CHO, which has a fruity aroma. Acetaldehyde is also the compound which causes hangovers. LB-tan is named after Bulgaria, the country of its discovery. As for the difference between bacillus and coccus, the former is rod-shaped while the latter is spherical.

Lactobacillus Yoghurti -tan
Yoghurti is considered a probiotic. You know how Yakult and Vitagen always boast about how their bacteria are good for you? Those are probiotics, where you are drinking living bacteria. To put it bluntly, Yakult is bacteria juice. L. Yoghurti is commonly used in Japanese drinks.

Lactobacillus Plantarum -tan
This is a very common bacteria found in many fermented foods such as sauerkraut, sourdough, kimchee etc. Most interesting point is that it has a weapon – hydrogen peroxide, to drive away other competing bacteria.

Vinegar is yet another product of fermentation. The key ingredient in it is ethanoic acid, which is what you get when ethanol is oxidised (the key ingredient in alcoholic drinks). There are a trillion uses of vinegar (flavour, preservative, cleaning agent etc) and just as many different types of it. The raw materials which were fermented generally decide what the vinegar is, like rice vinegar is from rice and balsamic vinegar is from white grapes.

Acetobacter Aceti -tan
This is an aerobic bacteria which oxidises ethanol to make ethanoic acid which is why your wine gets soured. It is a a major cause of spoilage for many foods.

A type of rice wine, but used for cooking and flavouring instead. It’s sweet and you probably know it for teriyaki sauce.

Bacillus Halodurans -tan
A bacteria commonly found in soil and water, but in Moyashimon’s case, it was in the toilet. It is used industrially to produce various enzymes including proteases (which digest proteins) and xylases (which break down xylose obviously).

Bacillus Subtilis Natto -tan
A particular strain of Subtilis that is used to ferment that shit which is natto, those gooey smelly beans you see Japanese people eat. I puked once in Japan when my host offered me it for breakfast. Lol.

Saccharomyces Cerevisiae -chama
An yeast, very important industrially! Most science people will know this, for it is the same yeast bakers use to leaven bread! Leaven as in, to make the bread dough rise. This happens when the yeast respires anaerobically (without oxygen), digesting the sugars in the dough and producing ethanol and carbon dioxide as byproducts. Ethanol! This is why Muslims cannot eat leavened bread and most of them eat flat-breads like pita and roti prata and naan. But there are some very tragic Muslims who do not know this and have committed great sins. Anyway, cerevisiae-chama is also used in wine and beer making, as it produces ethanol as stated.

Trichophyton Rubrum
The fungus which cases athelete’s foot and ringworms. Hehe, the sexy grad student in this anime has it on her feet, which is why she wears open-toed shoes in a lab (not allowed because chemicals might spill and burn your feet).

In the two short comedy sequences at the end, Oryzae are talking to Chrysogenum (which is in fact a penicillin mould commonly found on foods as a contaminant). As we all know, penicillin kills many bacteria, which is why the Oryzae kids all fled when they realise who they were talking to. Cute.

Whew, that was long. I know many people are looking forward to this anime, and perhaps this post could be helpful for English fansubbers. So if you guys know anyone who is planning to sub this, just pass this link to them.

25 Responses to “Must-Read: Introduction and Scientific Notes to Moyashimon!”

  • ….

    is it actually fun to watch?

  • That was impressive. Here’s to hoping someone will pick it up after reading your notes. Do consider doing these on a regular basis or something.

  • I thought the primary acid in vinegar was acetic acid rather than ethanoic acid. Perhaps it depends on what you’ve fermented to make the vinegar. Here in America, cider vinegar (made from apple juice) is the most common, and it definitely features acetic acid.

  • Aha! Just looked it up, and “ethanoic acid” is another name for “acetic acid”. That certainly explains things.

  • Hey, thanks! I’ve been looking forward to Moyashimon because it’s something different, but I don’t know if I’d be able to keep up. :(

  • OMG TJ you’ve just become my hero!

    Well ok, you were already my hero.

    I was totally at a loss for how to translate some of that scientific crap, especially the whole Kiviak scene. This article is super useful and helps make the show more understandable. Too bad most people will probably get a bad case of tl;dr before they even get halfway down. :P

    Anyway, although I’m not really a science/ag guy, I’m definitely excited about this show. I hope you’ll keep providing more of these awesome and detailed explanations of all the scientific terminology as the show progresses.

    Also, lol @ your natto comment. Did you seriously get sick trying to eat it?

    I’m not super fond of the stuff, but it’s not horrible tasting; mainly just the stringy texture of the stuff weirds me out. D:

  • Orion: No problem,though there was one bacteria I missed out, which was the one right at the end flying out the window. I just couldn’t figure out what was “hiyochi”. Clue is that it’s a bad bacteria which cannot be taken home (ie to their fermentation factories), which probably means that it’s a bacteria that would contaminate and destroy their production batches.

    Steven: Hey, acetic acid is just the common name for ethanoic acid, the latter describes its structure better. It’s like saying sodium lauryl sulphate (the foaming agent for shampoos) rather than sodium dodecyl sulphate. It’s the same thing.

  • @ tj_han

    Well, I’m sure we’ll find out all the details next time, so no worries! :)

  • […] as well as excellent explanations of the various bacteria that appear in the show, be sure to check out this article. […]

  • Oh also…the bad bacteria at the end there is I think also called “hiochi” in English. It’s in the Lactobacillus family anyway, and it’s really bad for breweries. Apparently it sours the beer/wine.

  • Actually about the ethanol, the rules for us Muslim are liquor/anything that lead to drunkness is forbidden. There is slight misinterpretation of our scholars in the past about the alcohol (something like alcohol is component of liquor, so anything with alcohol is forbiddem). However, that misinterpretation is corrected now (although alcohol is a component of liquor, alcohol is not liquor; anyone drinks pure alcohol?). Only in some part of Muslim countries, they still hold to the old interpretation (particularly to the group of Muslims that blindly hold whatever past scholars interpreted)

  • That was very helpful and informative. Thanks.

  • Well this is on my list of possible top ten anime blog posts of the year. Thanks.

  • “However we science students sit in labs and take readings from spectrophotometers, count colonies and titrate random stuff. And once in a while, some get to go into the jungle and catch animals or collect mud. In Moyashimon, we sciencies finally have an anime FOR US!! I weep tears of joy.”

    Amen to that! XD

    Oh man, this anime tickles me pink! I’m a Biological Sciences major with emphasis in Microbiology, so this is right down my alley. I thought the little round guys were some sort of yeast, since budding yeast comes to mind when I look at their design. :D And Lactobacillus? I’ve isolated that stuff at work, now whenever I come across them I’m going to think cute little bacteria. XDXD This anime is just too cool; I really hope someone will sub it.

  • BSS translated the last one as Lactobacillus fructivorans, just thought I’d let you know.

  • I actually rather like the BSS subs. But they translated hiochi as fructivorans. To quote this research paper,

    Hiochi is a general term for lactobacilli which cause sake to spoil. In the show, there was no mention of L. Fructivorans, which is rather specific.

    Also, BSS translated Kamosu as to brew, which is dictionary correct, but perhaps “ferment” would’ve been more appropriate. Small details though, they did a great job overall.

  • im sorry im not into science. im more of a art type, but this show is really good.i think this show will be hard to translate. and even if it does get translated it will still be a lil hard to understand, unless u know japanese.well anyways im just commenting to say this anime is AWESOME.and so are the bacteria. i cant wait till ep 3 to comes out.

  • Thank you for these notes, I’m a Life Science and Technology major (we research the processes in the living cell and search for new applications to put the many cellular processes to good use by directing en influencing these processes) and I picked up this anime when Shinsen released the first episode, I like the show and these notes combine it in a total package for us labjunkies =D

  • Found this page by searching for the meaning of hiochi bacteria. But there are groups subbing it for those interested. BSS subs and also shinsen subs.

  • Kiviak, man, i had to look that up immediately. and it led me here. kudos. good to have something to supplement.

  • “most people think yoghurt is some sort of icecream”

    No, I don’t think they do.

  • The part where Prof Itsuki sucks out the bird’s juices from its ass was seriously disturbing. Urg.

    Thanks for the detail regarding Kiviak. I was searching for something about it and stumbled upon your post. :P

    The world needs more cute microbes.

  • Fantastic! Thank you so much for doing this. I had to guess most of the bacteria as I was watching the first episode, but then I found your post (saying that something was found in the public toilet? It could be anything, really).
    This really helped, thank you.

  • Not a scientist unfortunately, though I’m related to doctors and pharmacists who can whip out random dangerous substances in the blink of an eye. XD; I can relate to your love of Moyashimon; boy am I glad microbiologists finally have their own anime too! \^0^/ And whoever is subbing this is majorly AWESOME. ♥

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