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!
I recently read Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal’s guide on how to become a voice actor. Their book, called Voice-Over Voice Actor: What It’s Like Behind the Mic, was first published in 2009, but their observations about the North American voice-over industry should still be valid today. Here’s the part I found most relevant to my interests as a fan of English dubbed anime:
Here’s generally how [English dubbing] works: you’re in the booth (sitting or standing), and in front of you is a monitor on which the engineer will play the animation for you. Your script is on a music stand in front of you. Usually your dialogue is broken down into bite-sized pieces called loops. You may watch a lop a couple of times to get a feel for both the timing and what the mouth movements (or flaps) look like before laying down the dub track.
Oftentimes the director has the engineer play the track in the original language so that you get some context from the original performance. How close you try to get to the original performance is up to the director. This process definitely takes some getting used to, and can, at times, be like juggling a ball, a bowling pin, and a chainsaw. But you will usually have your guide: the beeps.
Immediately preceding the moment when you need to begin speaking, you hear (in your headphones) The Three Beeps. These beeps are timed so that you begin speaking on the beat where the imaginary fourth beep would fall. So: beep… beep… beep… speak! (pp. 35-6)
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.