EDIT: Scripts on the release page now have “Ippitsu Soujou” changed to “Imperial Report”
Just thought I’d make a post on the matter of these two henshin phrases from Shinkenger. If you watched the series already, along with other Super Sentai series, you’ll probably be in agreement that Shinkenger is VERY Japanese in its regard. Seriously, whether it be that the monsters of the week are all based on Japanese demons/ghosts, or the Five Disc Shot attack being most likely a reference to The Book of Five Rings (just read that article, the rings being represented by the Five Elements in Japanese philosophy, and its author strived for mastery in calligraphy as well as swordsmanship). It’s certainly clear that the producers and writers for this show did a little digging around for references.
And given Toei’s love for puns (seriously, all the Shinkengers’ and Magirangers’ names are at some level a pun, but that will be a different post for a different day), it’s no surprise that there would be some sort double meaning behind “Ippitsu Soujou” or “Ikkan Kenjou”. Quoting off an anon in a thread off of /m/:
“The tenka gomen is the Japanese phrase used to refer to the Chinese concept of the Mandate of Heaven, the idea that the Emperor is chosen by heaven to rule.
Ippitsu soujou is a phrase used to refer to a ritual opening statement that must be included in any letter written to the Emperor. It can have no direct English translation but the anon who suggested Imperial Dispatch has a good equivalent.
The GUIS translation, Imperial Report, isn’t bad either. It lets Genta’s slightly different phrase (ikkan kenjou) pun off of it appropriately.
A better translation of the opening song lyric line ippitsu soujou tenka gomen would be “Chosen by heaven, we report to the Emperor.”
If you did ippitsu soujou as Imperial Report, you could do ikkan kenjou as Sales Report (like GUIS did) or Sushi Report.
Ikkan kenjou is basically a double pun where both layers of the pun refer to how Genta is a sushi-selling merchant. So, you can translate it two ways, which is how TVN ended up TLing it two different ways in two different projects.
The pun works this way: ikkan kenjou is an alteration of the phrase ippitsu kenjou, which is a ritual opening statement that must be included in the first line of an informal business memo. Ippitsu kenjou really has no direct English translation.
Changing the ippitsu to ikkan makes it reference sushi instead of business, so you could imagine it could reference a sushi-selling memo. I’m pretty sure this is how GUIS came up with Sales Report.
You can also translate ikkan kenjou differently to literally just mean “presenting one piece of sushi,” which is the other half of the pun. If you want to emphasize this level, then Sushi Report would work.”
Looking into it, the translation in the OP, using “Authorized by Providence” is still correct, just more of a stylistic choice in the translation. And looking into the Ippitsu Kenjou, it seems the more common use is Ippitsu Keijou, though Google does still show a decent amount of results with the former’s kanji. Perhaps it’s more of a colloquial thing with which version you would use. While looking into Ikkan Kenjou and its translation, I also came upon this, a translation for Genta’s character song where the translator used a more direct approach of the kanji and translating it as “Always arriving without fail”. Granted, with songs you will take a more stylistic approach to get a better flow, but it does seem a bit in Genta’s character to be singing that as a pun.
TL;DR version of all this would be that I believe I am going to translate, at least during the henshin sequence, Ippitsu Soujou and Ikkan Kenjou as Imperial Report and Sushi Report from now on, respectively. I’ll probably make a page for some notes, though, to explain double meanings. If you have an argument against it, be my guest and persuade me.
Also, if you want more over analysis into another Yasuko Kobayashi tokusatsu show, check out these notes on QCing for Mirai Sentai Timeranger. I thought they were pretty interesting reads myself, and makes me wonder just how much damn research she goes through when writing a series. I guess that’s why I love the stuff she’s worked on.