Have you watched "The Matrix" or the sequel "The Matrix Revolutions"? If you are a fan of the movies or a keen learner of Japanese, you might already know this fact: The symbols on the computer screens consist of reversed letters, numbers, and Japanese katakana characters.
The Japanese title of "The Matrix" is "Matorikkusu （マトリックス）." This is a simple translation, but movie titles are sometimes turned into totally different ones in Japanese. Read the article, "Movie Titles in Japanese."
マトリックス is written in katakana. So, what is katakana? Katakana is the one of the three Japanese writing scripts. Others are hiragana and kanji. The combination of all three is used for writing. Roughly speaking, kanji represents blocks of meaning and hiragana expresses the grammatical relationship between them. Katakana is used for foreign names, the names of foreign places and words of foreign origin. Confused? Let's look at an example.
"Kinyoubi ni Matorikkusu o mita （金曜日にマトリックスを見た）" which means "I watched The Matrix on Friday." In Japanese "I" or "you" is often omitted. Therefore "I (watashi)" is not included in the sentence. "Kinyoubi (Friday)" and the verb stem "mi (to watch)" is written in kanji. Since "Matorikkusu" is from the English word "Matrix," it is written in katakana. The rest are written in hiragana.
As I mentioned, foreign names are normally written in katakana. For example, "Keanu Reeves" is written as キアヌ リーブス. Learn how to write your name in Japanese.
Kanji has been very popular for tattoos and designs. If you are interested in kanji tattoos, check out my "Kanji for Tattoos" page. According to my "Language Poll," katakana seems to be the least popular among the three scripts. However, it is simpler than kanji, and has only 46 characters. Also, "The Matrix" makes katakana cool! Learn more about katakana with my "Katakana Lessons."