If you’d like me to translate something from Japanese into English for you, you’ve come to the right place. I’m Frog-kun, a Japanese studies major who specialises in literary translation. See here for a list of things I’ve translated online.
I charge a small fee for private translation commissions. Don’t worry, it’s not much – just 2 Australian cents per Japanese character. See the full post for all the details!
The Great Passage (or Fune wo Amu) is a novel by Shion Miura. It’s getting an anime next season, featuring character designs by the Rakugo Shinjuu artist and a spot in the Noitamina TV block. I suppose most anime viewers should have it pegged as a mature and down-to-earth drama, especially after seeing the trailers. This was my impression of the anime as well.
As it turns out, the anime’s style is only one interpretation of the novel’s story, and the live action film directed by Yuya Ishii appears to be quite a different beast, judging by its trailer. It depicts the story as a quirky romcom, complete with a socially inept male protagonist, before taking a melodramatic turn. The light-hearted approach to weighty topics is reminiscent of the “trendy dramas” of the 1980s and 1990s. (It’s worth noting that the novel, despite being published in 2011, is set in the 1990s.)
I haven’t read the original novel, so I can’t tell you how faithful either adaptation is to the story. Nor have I watched the anime or film themselves. I only have access to the trailers, so I can only comment on how these adaptations have been pitched to their audiences. The two trailers strike a completely different tone and feel, to the extent that I initially found it hard to believe that they were adaptations of the same story. This says something interesting about the leanings of their directors, as well as the perceived target audiences of the live-action film and television anime in Japan.
In a nutshell: The Re:ZERO Ex novel raises more questions than it answers about Crusch and Ferris’s pasts, but Re:ZERO fans should enjoy it nonetheless. The lack of a central plot in this volume does make it weaker than the main story, however.
A note of warning: This review contains spoilers for the Re:ZERO Ex novel. In fact, I wrote this blog post for the express purpose of spoiling it because it hasn’t been translated yet. Don’t read this post if you don’t want to get spoiled for the anime because I’ll be discussing the main story here as well. Also, there are no web novel spoilers here, so please don’t provide any in the comments.
So I was reading the first Re:ZERO Ex novel and this conversation came up on pages 160-161.
Here’s a rough translation below:
It’s been a while, guys! The last few weeks have been busy for me so I’m sorry for the lack of content on the blog, but I did manage to produce some articles for Crunchyroll in the meantime. I recently finished a three-part history of the word otaku, which you can read below!
My history differs from a lot of other Japanese and English-language histories of otaku because it’s about the way words are used in different cultures rather than about “actual” otaku. I hope that even seasoned anime fans and academic junkies alike can see the word with a fresh perspective.
I bought this light novel thinking it was a cute knight/princess story but it was a gay romance instead
Actual title: 12-gatsu no Veronica (Amazon link)
Hey guys, I’m back with another review of an untranslated light novel that nobody has read or will ever read. But I liked it, so here’s a blog post about it. I will be spoiling the crap out of the entire novel, so here’s a fair warning in advance. I have a lot of ~FEELINGS~ to convey, so let’s jump right into it.
Earlier today, Crunchyroll launched a new weekly column called “Found in Translation”. It’s super cool stuff. Like, wow, it totally blew my mind and changed my religion. You guys just have to read it, I don’t know who this “Frog-kun” person is but he’s so wise and sagely and good-looking and–
…yeah, it was me…
I wrote a column about the translation choices in the Re:ZERO anime and light novel. Please give it a read when you have time!
Apparently, this will be a weekly thing, so look forward to a translation-themed feature article on Crunchyroll every week. I’ve added a link to my CR writer profile on the header of my blog, so you can find my writing there any time. While my views do not represent Crunchyroll, I will be using this platform to raise awareness about translation issues and promote some particular English-language releases that catch my eye. Wish me luck!
Now what will happen to this blog…
You may have noticed that I have not been blogging much lately. I don’t have an excuse, but I do have an explanation: I’ve been busy with translation-related work lately.
I recently had some of my translations published on Crunchyroll: an interview with two voice actors from the Re:ZERO anime, as well as an interview with the director and composer. Check them out if you like. (As always, if you’d like me to translate something for you personally, feel free to send me a commission.)
Another reason why I haven’t been in the mood for blogging lately is because I’ve been getting back into fanfiction. I haven’t written any fanfiction for about a year now, but apparently I’ve been doing it on-and-off for ten years (h-o-l-y c-o-w). So I guess you could call me a fanfic veteran now.
Speaking from the perspective of someone who is fairly experienced in both activities, It’s been really interesting doing translation and fanfiction side by side. Actually, the two things have a lot more in common than one might casually assume. They’re both considered derivative work, and they are both incredibly difficult to make look easy.
But the commonality that interests me most is the idea of “fidelity”. Literary translators and fanfic writers are often expected to capture the “soul” of the original work. Even when a fanfiction belongs to a completely different genre than the original work, fanfic writers are often praised for writing something “in-character”, and they are just as frequently lambasted for getting things “out-of-character”.
The same expectations apply to translators, although they probably have it worse because translations generally function as substitutes for the original. As a result, people can get anxious about translations. For those who can’t speak the original language, they can never be entirely be sure that a translation is accurate. Even though a translation can never be the same as the original, even minor changes to the text can be construed as a “betrayal” or a “bastardisation” of the original work.
As you might imagine, I have some mixed thoughts about this state of affairs.
I’ve been having interesting conversations with various Twitter folk lately about the kind of anime-related criticism they would like to read. One of the main things people said they wanted to see was more writing about the nitty gritties of the animation craft and how it impacts the viewer’s experience (obligatory reference here to the excellent Sakuga Blog, a new animation blog on the scene which all of you should check out pronto). For what it’s worth, I happen to agree with this assessment, but I’m not terribly educated about animation theory, and I don’t think that many anime fans are.
And this is okay! I don’t think you need to know theory to love and appreciate anime. But what if you want to convey to others how much you appreciate the animation craft, beyond just “the animation looked cool!” or “the voice acting was good!”? I think that most of us are aware that the visuals and sound impact the way we perceive the characters and narrative, but we lack the vocabulary to describe what exactly is going on. This can be frustrating when we’re trying to explain why we like (or don’t like) something about a work of art to another person.
Also, for critics who take themselves and their opinions seriously, this sort of thing should matter a lot. Pure formalism may not be a highly-regarded form of media criticism these days, but it does lay the important groundwork for any lens of analysis. So let’s not disregard it out of hand.
Since I’m a beginner too when it comes to animation theory, I figure we can learn about these things together. This post is about the basics of scene composition. I drew most of the information here from the revised edition Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics by Maureen Furniss, which I think is a really well-written and accessible guide to the main issues in the field. I also encourage anyone with an education in animation theory to do us all a favour and leave a comment and/or some links to further reading. Your knowledge and insight would be very much appreciated!
(Note: While this post draws on general theories about animation, the examples I use are all from Japanese anime. While I’d love to discuss non-Japanese animation too, that’s a topic for other posts.)
The Qualidea Code anime started airing today! …leaving audiences around the world very confused. Thus, I have prepared a handy FAQ to explain what the heck is going on and how this series was conceived.
[NOTE: This guide uses Japanese order for names: family name first, given name last.]