Japanese capitalization with inconsistent official sources


I am planning to complete information for the band LOVEBITES from my physical media collection and noticed the “fixme japanese capitalization” tag.

The Japanese Styling Guide states:

non-Japanese characters should be capitalized as intended by the artist or label.


words in the Latin script on a Japanese release should be in the same case as on the album art if other available sources, such as official discography or record label pages, are consistent, not normalized according to English or other capitalization standards.

I noticed that across official online sources, the band name is always capitalized and song titles have the first letters of every word capitalized, but album and release titles are not consistent. Different releases also have different styling on album arts (always capitalized letters, but first letters sometimes printed larger).

Overall, most of the releases are written in all caps, sometimes with larger first letters on album covers. However, in Japanese and international social media posts, the latest album “Judgement Day” in particular is often spelled in the normalized way, while a recent Blu-ray release is always in all caps, consistent with the official shops.

Here are examples from the label’s shop:

So my questions are:

  1. Do I try to guess the artist’s or label’s intention by majority spelling or fall back to normalized English for everything?
  2. Do I consider releases in a release group separately when doing so?
  3. Do I consider release groups separately or should the artist page on musicbrainz have consistent capitalization for release groups?

Thank you for your help.


There was a discussion recently about those Sᴍᴀʟʟ Cᴀᴘɪᴛᴀʟꜱ and we concluded to convert them to lowercase (while keeping capitals uppercase).

But it’s just one detail of your whole topic.


I’m still trying to make a sound decision for this artist specifically; I will ignore other artists with the “fixme japanese capitalization” tag, because I am not familiar with them.

Arguments for Japanese-style full capitalization:

  • the band, its members and the main record label are all from Japan,
  • official shops are mostly in Japanese and require proxy services for purchases,
  • almost all releases use it in those shops, arguably making it the artist’s intention,
  • the UK-based label that distributes physical media for the western market uses all-caps in their shop, while many other Japanese artists’ releases there use normalized spelling (https://jpurecords.com/en-de/collections/lovebites).

Arguments for normalized English capitalization:

  • the band’s name, all original release names and all original song names are in English,
  • specifically, all titles contain only Roman letters,
  • all lyrics are in English,
  • established shops such as cdjapan use normal capitalization for all releases,
  • the default language on MusicBrainz is English.

Personally, I definitely prefer normal spelling, especially when the titles should be used for tagging and folder naming, but full caps seems more accurate to me for database purposes. Which does not make this easier.

I think the rules for this should include a preferred fallback for unclear cases.

Frankly, none of these are valid arguments for ignoring Style / Language / Japanese.


To take one of your examples:

This one has a Japanese tracklist and title as well as an English tracklist and title.

But the casing that Victor is using for English, is apparently not good compared to what is printed.

They use GLORY, GLORY, TO THE WORLD and also Glory, Glory, To The World which are both different from the front cover we see.


Gʟᴏʀʏ, Gʟᴏʀʏ, ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ Wᴏʀʟᴅ

Which could be equivalent to:

Glory, Glory, to the World

So at least I think going full caps would be wrong for this English tracklist.

I don’t see the back cover, for the rest of the tracklist.

For the Japanese tracklist, refer to this page they are probably correct. On the packaging, I guess you should see it on the obi and in the booklet.


So I’ve been busy updating all kinds of data, except for release titles. Tracks are pretty consistently spelled everywhere and the band is always referred to in all caps, so I’m confident in my choices there.

For release group titles, the official label shops are mostly consistent in using all caps. Titles that are not in all caps seem to be mistakes, judging by other releases in a group and by various description texts.

The album art is always the same for all releases in a release group. Out of the 14 release groups, five have all caps on the album cover, seven are stylized with small caps and the remaining two are a mixture.

Other sources, such as third-party shops and social media (Twitter, youtube), seem to flip a coin and aren’t of much help.

I interpret the styling guide as “if other sources spell it the same way as the album art, use that, otherwise fall back to general styling rules”, but I’m not sure if this is correct.

The way I see it, I have these choices:

  1. All caps for all releases: An argument could be made that the small caps on album covers is an art design decision and the music artist intent is all caps here.
  2. Normalized spelling for all: In line with the majority of release titles. The argument for this choice would be that there is no clear artist intent (that is consistent overall).
  3. Normalized spelling for small caps: In line with the discussion in the other thread and closest to the guidelines, but the result is an ugly-looking mixture of spelling styles on the artist page, which arguably is not artist intent.

What counts is the releases, not really what’s online, as much.

Mixture of spelling on artist page, as long as they all follow what is printed, is totally ok.
It’s only ugly for you if you (want to) see it ugly. :wink:

I think we should not change a release style because of other releases.

And it seems that the other release groups are already in This Style as Well, anyway, no?


Sᴍᴀʟʟ Cᴀᴘɪᴛᴀʟꜱ → Small Capitals

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Alright, I changed titles to follow cover art. Thank you for your help so far.

How would you spell this one?

The cover art is the only place where the title appears on the release and it spells “Awake agaiN - LIVE FROM ABYSS”.

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Ach… Did you see the spines?

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Yes, it’s the exact same as the front cover. The booklet and disc also have the same font graphics.

“Awake agaiN LIVE FROM ABYSS” (with small caps, as always)

I will write it like this if that’s how it should be done on MB, but I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of it.

For a database that is heavily used for tagging music files, over-interpreting the album art choices of graphics designers and assuming that their font choices imply a preference by the music artist or record label is kind of strange to me. All other official sources make it look like the label does not really care if it’s all caps or normalized. But of course, I only have experience with this one artist, it probably makes more sense with other artists.


The “AWAKE AGAIN - LIVE FROM ABYSS” form that you have right now at https://musicbrainz.org/release/7d9f222c-20b4-4436-bfd9-882c3aef9cd5 seems reasonable to me (although I might be tempted to change it to “AWAKE AGAIN: LIVE FROM ABYSS” per Style/Titles - MusicBrainz Wiki since there doesn’t appear to be any punctuation on the cover image, which is what I’d use as the primary source of data here).

The use of small caps on the cover seems very much like a graphic design decision due to “ᴀɢᴀɪN” – I have a hard time imagining that the artists’ intent could be for that to be rendered as “agaiN”. The label writing it in all-caps online also seems at odds with the “if other available sources, such as official discography or record label pages, are consistent” portion of the Japanese style guidelines.

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The label writes almost every release in all-caps on their shop. In English text in a social media context (youtube videos, Twitter), they sometimes use normalized spelling as well, but it’s arbitrary and to me seems very much like it depends on the staffer that wrote the post that day.
The condition you quoted is the main reason I made this thread: If official sources are not consistent with the album art (which is the case if we consider small caps to be small letters), then the style guidelines do not clearly state what to do and everything falls back to “artist intent”.

I’ve also talked to a japanologist about this and they said that for this particular artist, it very much seems like online, the label defaults to using all-caps because it looks better in Japanese sentences. But I’ve also seen artists where capitalization was done much more purposefully, such as the examples jesus2099 showed in the other thread.

As for the subtitle delimiters: Online sources always use “-” or “–”.

This is speculation, but I think the band members care much less about this than we do. :sweat_smile: I have even considered trying to ask them.

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It’s worth a shot! The one time that I got an answer about this (from a non-Japanese artist), he said that his intent is for titles to almost always be capitalized following the English rules and that he’ll be more careful about how he writes titles on Bandcamp to prevent confusion in the future. :slight_smile:

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FYI: Obi image of AWAKE AGAIN - LIVE FROM ABYSS from amazon

Back image

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The capitalisation is clearly printed, IMO, it’s not full caps.
The release is still more important than the internet, IMO.

But this band has no titles where they put full lowercase or full uppercase?
Maybe if the case, we should go with standard English…

The capitalization as it is right now on MB represents how it is on the album covers (and all other album art like spines and booklets), except for the two that I called a mixture, one of which is the “Awake Again” Blu-ray we are discussing. I refuse to believe that the official name is “Awake agaiN”. The other is this one:

There, the album cover spelling is “Five of a Kind” with small-caps and the subtitle “LIVE IN TOKYO 2020” is all-caps.

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If this was a European cover, I look at that artwork I just see a prettified title. The graphic artist has made a style. If I had that in my hands and was adding it then the title would follow guidelines and write “Awake Again: Live From Abyss”. I don’t really understand why this is different for a Japanese cover

The special guidelines are made for this kind of Latin script work titles in which the fuNKy sTYLe is the artist choice and is rigourously kept consistent throughout releases, like part of the spelling of the words.

It shouldn’t be. The Japanese capitalization guideline is about following text, not graphic design. It’s actually not unusual for Japanese graphic design to have different capitalization than Japanese text.

In October and November, I tried to contact

  • the band’s staff via the contact form on the official website,
  • one of the band members via their business e-mail,
  • support at JPU Records,

about the intended spelling of releases.

Apart from JPU, who are UK-based, I led with a Japanese translation in my inquiry. I listed some examples and mentioned that this is for MusicBrainz. I received no responses, to date.

My personal opinion, from everything I know about the releases and the band, is that for this band’s releases, the release capitalization styles were arbitrary choices of the art designer(s). Considering that opinions are split here, that the current interpretation with the small-caps resulted in a seemingly random mix of style among release groups and that none of the people who could confirm any artist intent felt the need to do so, I would like to conclude that normalized spelling according to MB guidelines is the most appropriate choice.