Translation Commissions [STICKY]

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 1 Australian cent per Japanese character. For reference, most professional translators charge at least twice as much for the same amount. See the full post for all the details!

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I bought this light novel thinking it was a cute knight/princess story but it was a gay romance instead

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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.

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I’m writing articles for Crunchyroll now. What will happen to this blog?? doushiyo

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–

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…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…

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Translation, Fanfiction and the Idea of “Fidelity”

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.

Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai - 01 (2)

Someone didn’t outgrow his Chuunibyou phase

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.

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Why I Only Follow One Anime Per Season

anime diagramThis diagram explains the gist of it.

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The Basics of the Animated Mise-en-scène

vlcsnap-2016-06-18-19h23m22s129I’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.)

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Everything You Need to Know about Qualidea Code

1468033439_2_4_4bdcd55acfeee6cd3d711c6dfc8e79f8The 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.]

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Hiroyuki Imaishi on Kazuki Nakashima’s Writing

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Since I just started watching Gurren Lagann (yeah, I know, I’m behind the times), I figured I might as well dig up an old translation I did for Kill la Kill, which was also directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi and written by Kazuki Nakashima. Nakashima is an interesting case for an anime scriptwriter. When he’s not writing anime scripts, he’s also a playwright for the popular Japanese theater company Gekidan Shinkansen. You can read an interview with him on the Performing Arts Network Japan here if you’re interested.

Imaishi’s commentary came from the Japanese limited edition Kill la Kill BD and was included at the end of the first volume of the drama CD. See the comments in their original Japanese here.

Hope you enjoy the translation!

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Frederik L. Schodt’s “Dreamland Japan” – Twenty Years On

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Frederik L. Schodt is a household name in the English-speaking manga world. A close friend of the late Osamu Tezuka, Schodt translated several of Tezuka’s major works into English, including Astro Boy and Phoenix. He’s also the author of The Astro Boy Essays and the translator of the upcoming manga biography The Osamu Tezuka Story.

For all his important work in the Tezuka department, Schodt is perhaps most notable for pioneering the study of manga in English. In 1983, he published Manga! Manga!which remains something of a cult classic among hardcore manga aficionados today. It was more journalistic than academic in its treatment of the subject, but it had a level of prescience that so many subsequent manga-themed publications would lack. For one thing, it predated the manga boom in the West for years, and for another, Schodt never limited to his focus to the mainstream and popular. His writing has aged well because he was able to observe things that people less immersed in the medium would have overlooked.

Schodt’s interest in the off-beat and obscure manga would carry over to Dreamland Japan, which was first published in 1996 as a spiritual sequel of sorts to Manga! Manga! It was written during the height of the manga boom in Japan, which was also the same time the fledgling market was starting to take off in the United States. As a result, Dreamland Japan has some interesting historical value twenty years later. As Schodt noted himself in the preface of the 2011 collector’s edition, Dreamland Japan is “a snapshot of a cultural and artistic phenomenon that is unlikely to be repeated again anywhere, in the same way.”

Even Schodt’s 2011 afterword was produced during an historical moment in the manga world. The manga bubble had recently burst in the States, leading to a very uncertain and turbulent period for the English manga industry. The industry has since recovered from the fallout, but Schodt’s observations remain very pertinent today.

In this post, I’ll examine the manga magazines, artists and works Schodt highlighted in the original Dreamland Japan. How easily can they be accessed in English? We might have thousands of titles available in English now (whether through legal or illegal means), but how much access into the world of manga do English speakers really have?

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Some Concrete Revolutio-related Stuff + I’m Hiring!

conrevo noizi ito

Art by Noizi Ito

First off, I recently collaborated on a post with my friend iblessall about the official English translations of the Concrete Revolutio anime. Please check it out on Mage in a Barrel!

Speaking of Concrete Revolutio, lately I’ve been translating some of the interviews and commentary posted on the official website. I’ve been doing it on and off in my spare time, so it’s gonna take a while before I finish translating everything, but I’m super stoked about this anime and I hope it lives on as a cult classic. A few weeks ago, I translated some commentary by the director and scriptwriter, which I hope you find interesting!

I’m also hoping to write some articles in the future about the cultural history of kaiju movies, tokusatsu, magical girls and some of the other motifs used in Concrete Revolutio. I hope this will be of interest even to people who haven’t watched or didn’t enjoy the anime. That said, this will require lots of independent research and some rewatching of Concrete Revolutio, so I plan to take my time with this little project.

In other news, I’m hiring a social media coordinator! I’m also giving away a free 20% discount voucher for Madman’s online shop. Details below the cut!

Applications are now closed. Thanks very much to everyone who applied!

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Some Musings on Erotic Manga

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(This post might be about porn, but it is completely SFW, I promise. No lewd links or images here! If you want porn, go look it up yourself.)

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