As you may or may not know, I recently translated volume 2 of Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru on Nano Desu Translations. You can read the first two volumes of the series here.
Before you ask, yes, I have plans to continue translating all the published volumes of Oregairu. But for now, I thought it would be interesting to walk you readers through the translation choices I made. How exactly did I set out to capture the “voice” of Hikigaya Hachiman?
As I explained in my earlier post about translating light novels, the translation means everything when it comes to the reader’s enjoyment of the story. Novels live and die by the strength of their prose. There are minimal visual elements to distract the audience from the writing quality. Even though LNs aren’t a branch of literature renowned for their elaborate prose, they are written as breezy and enjoyable reads. I’d already translated a light novel before, so I more or less had an idea of the language I was dealing with.
This time, I wanted to go further than just a readable and flowing translation. For those of you not familiar with Oregairu, the appeal of story comes through the witticisms of the protagonist. The novel is told in first person, so when you’re reading Oregairu, you’re really reading Hikigaya Hachiman.
I perceive most attempts at first person storytelling in amateur literature as shallow – you don’t actually learn much about the narrator from the way he or she chooses to put words together. I agree with Guy Shalev that this is symptomatic of LNs in general – at least the ones popular with the male otaku crowd. They’re full of exposition dumps and (if it’s in first person) the narrator explaining his feelings, rather than letting these feelings come across organically through the prose.
Oregairu is a little bit different in that, while these elements of amateur writing are still noticeable, Hachiman’s personality comes through very strongly in the Japanese. So to write a translation that could capture the essence of the work in English, I needed to think very carefully about what sort of language fit the characters – in both the dialogue and the narration.
Anime Subtitles and Other Translations
What really helped me out in my case was that I had access to a wealth of other translations of Oregairu-related material, even if nobody had written a full translation of the particular volume I was translating. The translator of the first volume, NanoDesu, sent me a short document with the translation conventions he chose. I read the first volume very closely, particularly in regards to the localisation decisions NanoDesu made. I wanted to keep as much continuity between the two volumes as possible, even if our writing styles are different. (It’s a very solid translation, so hats off to NanoDesu!)
I also watched the anime and read the subtitles very carefully, especially for the scenes I was covering in my own translation. I decided that out of all the subbed versions I watched, Commie’s translation matched my image of how the characters spoke the most. While there were iffy lines and outright mistranslations here and there, I thought their translation captured the tone of the dialogue very well. As a result, some of my lines are influenced by Commie’s translation.
One area where my translation is very different from Commie, however, is with honorifics. I kept all honorifics in, and I even left terms like “riajuu” untranslated as well. I thought the translation of “riajuu” as “someone who lives a fulfilling life” was rather clunky and that it didn’t really express Hachiman’s angry nerd personality quite as well.
Of course, the anime translations only apply to the dialogue and certain monologues. I was on my own when it came to the prose. As always, this was the hardest part of translating a novel.
Hachiman’s Literary Voice
There were two things I noticed straight away about Oregairu’s prose. Firstly, Hachiman was very adept at changing registers, sometimes in the same paragraph. Sometimes, he wrote with very rough, masculine slang. Other times, he wrote in a very feminine way, often to be sarcastic. Occasionally, he used more literary language, including metaphors and complex kanji. He was also a great fan of puns and Japanese wordplay. Some examples are below:
Yuigahama folded her arms and scowled. “I went around asking everyone where you were,” she complained. “Everyone was like ‘Hikigaya? Who’s he?’ It was sooooo weird.”
“You don’t have to tell the world about it.” Just how did this chick manage to shoot a bullet through my heart every time? She wasn’t even aiming. Was she some genius sniper or what?
“It was sooooo weird,” she repeated herself for some retarded reason, frowning. Thanks to her, the knowledge that no one at school even knew who I was gouged my innards for the second time.
Now I feel sorry for my former try-hard self who spammed emoticons in every text. I thought using love hearts was disgusting, so I used stars and smilies and musical notes. Just thinking about it sends shivers down my spine zomg srsly.
Hayama bit his lip in vexation. He had probably never imagined something like this before: that there was hatred right under his nose, or that dark emotions were swirling underneath the smiling veneer of those whom he trusted.
The second thing I noticed was Hachiman’s fondness for dumb references and Internet memes. There’s even a reference to Naruto’s catchphrase “dattebayo”, which of course I just had to translate as “Believe it!” If you can read moonrunes, there’s a list of references in the novels here, and that doesn’t even cover everything. Some Japanese fans even have blogs dedicated to decoding the references and memes in Oregairu. It’s crazy.
I had a few conversations with my editor about how to handle this sort of language. He was of the opinion that blatant memes take the reader out of the story, and I wasn’t sure if the Japanese has the same effect. After all, as a filthy gaijin, I had to look most of these memes up, so my reading pace is a lot slower than the average Japanese reader.
In the end, I decided to use English memes in replacement of the Japanese memes. I knew I was writing for an audience who was familiar with this sort of language, and, more importantly, it did fit Hachiman’s character. His character seems to resonate particularly with netizens, so I made him speak their language.
It wasn’t particularly hard to use this writing voice since it’s pretty close to how I normally write on the internet, although the language is a bit more simplistic for the most part. As a twenty-year-old, I still have intimate familiarity with teenage slang, so I had no trouble getting in touch with my “inner Hachiman”, so to speak.
That said, I used a much more sophisticated vocabulary than I would normally use for an LN translation, especially compared to my work on Henneko. I wasn’t afraid to use words like “consternation”, “perfunctory” and “schadenfreude”. (After all, it wouldn’t hurt to make LN readers pick up a dictionary every now and then, heh heh.)
As much as Hachiman is an internet wise guy, he’s also shown to be unusually talented at Japanese. He’s ranked third in the school at Japanese, and he’s also a voracious reader. His competency is naturally reflected in his word choices. While the lexicon isn’t too difficult, his wordplays are a bit more sophisticated than what I saw in Henneko and he’s adept at metaphors as well.
When translating Oregairu’s prose, I drew conscious influence from The Catcher in the Rye, which I studied carefully for its use of first person voice. Putting aside the obvious similarities between Hikigaya Hachiman and Holden Caulfield, I think The Catcher in the Rye is a masterpiece in capturing tone. As I reread the novel, it occurred to me that so much of the nuance of the tone comes through the syntax and the run-on sentences, so that even seemingly neutral words developed sarcastic connotations in Holden Caulfield’s train of thought.
When translating, it’s easy to just fall back on the dictionary translations of words without paying attention to how context and the syntax of the sentence provides meaning. As a result, it is common to find translations which are grammatically correct and accurate to the literal meaning of the original, but fails to capture the voice of the work. Oregairu isn’t nearly as prose-heavy as The Catcher in the Rye, but I do think the prologue of the second volume showcases the rambling spirit of Hachiman’s writing style. Compared to the rest of the novel, it took me a lot of rewriting before I was satisfied with the opening.
“I Hate Nice Girls”
Volume 2 of Oregairu is covered in episodes 4 and 5 of the anime. I personally think they’re two of the weaker storylines in the overall scheme of things, but I was really looking forward to translating Hachiman’s infamous “I hate nice girls” monologue, which happens at the end of episode 5. I distinctly remember this as the moment that turned me into a fan of the series, not because I agreed with Hachiman’s ideas, but because it treated his isolation and cynicism with empathy.
Hachiman is a more pathetic, unlikable human being in the light novel. His creepy love for Totsuka is more emphasised and so are his siscon tendencies. There is literally a chapter in the volume called “Hikigaya Komachi Will Marry Her Onii-chan For Sure When She Grows Up (I think)”. He also comes across as more openly lecherous and racist.
As anime viewers are aware, much of the humour in Oregairu comes from poking good-natured fun at Hachiman. In chapter 1, Hachiman professes to have been that creepy guy who keeps ringing up a girl, assuming that she likes him just because she gave him her number. Yuigahama and Yukinoshita both make fun of him for this. Then, in chapter 3, we see the “nice girls” monologue, only in a completely humorous context where he’s assuming the love between he and Totsuka will never be. In the last chapter, the same lines are repeated, but with total seriousness. In that moment, the pathos underscoring the humour comes to the surface.
For a moment there, I was keenly aware of how roughly I spoke. I practically snarled those words at her. I wondered why I did that. It wasn’t something to get so riled up over.
I scratched my head as a way of hiding my irritation. That was the desperate sound of clutching at straws. The silence rang out between us, an extension from the stillness of before, and it made me sick.
It was the first time I was unable to stomach the silence.
The novel’s got more edge than the anime in that regard. I felt like the writing really elevated itself in the last chapter. Personally, as a translator, I enjoyed writing the melancholy moments in the story best of all.
As for how I chose to render the “nice girls” monologue, you’ll have to read the novel if you haven’t read it already!
Localisation Choices – Why British English?
From a pragmatic perspective, it really wasn’t a sensible idea to translate Oregairu into Australian English (i.e. British spelling). The first volume is written in American English, after all, and I know from the site stats that most of the readers are from America.
Problematic at times was my use of slang. Sometimes, I had no idea I was using Australian or British slang, which left my (American) editor baffled at my translation choices. For example, I’m a bit distraught that Americans don’t use the word “whinge” – it is an extremely useful word. In those cases, I had to revert to American slang, or at least more neutral slang.
I also stuck with the American “cell phone” and “elementary school”, which in Australian English would be “mobile phone” and “primary school” respectively. If I did use the Australian alternatives, it would have shifted the setting to Australia, which is bad localisation for a number of reasons. I certainly didn’t want Hachiman to be saying things like, “Yeah, mate, put another shrimp on the barbie!” in a broad Australian accent.
Basically, while I used Australian spelling throughout, I made sure to restrict my vocabulary to words an international audience would be familiar with. This was a tentative juggling act, as you can imagine.
So why bother with the British spelling in the first place when I obviously know American spelling (which is, honestly, a more sensible spelling system in every way)? In the end, it was really just a small act of egoism on my part. I wanted to leave my imprint on the work to remind readers, however subtly, that this novel went through someone else’s hands before it came to you. As much as I wanted my translation to do justice to Watari Wataru’s writing, I also wanted it to reflect a small part of me as well. I hope readers can forgive that artistic impulse of mine.
If you want to read more about my thoughts about the translating process, check out this interview I did with Cho on English Light Novels. That article focuses mainly on Henneko.
Overall, I enjoyed translating Oregairu more than I did Henneko, and that could be a result of me improving at translating (it only took me two months to finish a volume this time), but mostly it’s because I love Oregairu and it’s one of my favourite series ever. I focused a lot on Hikigaya Hachiman in this post because his writing voice presented the biggest challenge as a translator, but my actual favourite character in the series is Hayama Hayato. He got a lot of attention in volume 2 and I really enjoyed translating his scenes.
As I said before, I am committed to translating the rest of the novels, but probably at a slower rate since I have some other priorities besides translating.
One of my biggest areas for improvement as a translator is my less-than-perfect proficiency in the Japanese language. I’ve made some big leaps and bounds this year, but I still have a long way to go. I submitted part of my Oregairu translation for a university translation course I was doing last semester, and while I scored perfect marks in “readability” and “appropriateness of translation choices”, I did slip up with minor accuracy-related issues. I also spelled Zaimokuza’s name wrong. In the end, I got a 92.
I’m confident that I know what I’m doing as a translator. But because I am a perfectionist, I have been getting stressed over my translations and frustrated with my Japanese ability, especially because I also want to be a speedy translator. So my number one priority for the rest of the year is to improve my Japanese. I want to do justice to the series, and if I rush it, I might just get things wrong.
I also want to blog more and, well, have a bit more of a life. For those of you who are following the Oregairu translation, sorry for the delays. That being said, the first chapter of volume 3 should be done by next week. I’m working on it!
Anyway, until next time, guys!
Thanks for the great read! I’ll be sure to check out your translation of OreGairu after this!
I also had a question for you: Have you read any of Tanaka Romeo’s works? He’s mainly a VN writer, but he has done some LNs as well, which are AURA and the Jintai series. I’ve heard nothing but praise for his prose, but I’ve also heard that it’s very hard to translate, so I was wondering if you had any thoughts on it.
Thanks for the comment! And no, I haven’t read Tanaka’s works. I had heard some similar things about his difficult prose, which kind of intimidated me since my Japanese is not the best. I’ve seen the anime for both Aura and Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, and I do get the impression he is a writer of sharp wit. I wish I had more substantial things to say, but there you go.
> “I distinctly remember this as the moment that turned me into a fan of the series, not because I agreed with Hachiman’s ideas, but because it treated his isolation and cynicism with empathy.”
I think this was the point at which I started to pay closer attention to the show, as well. A snarky Kyon-type protagonist is all fine and good, but a vulnerable character masking his hurt with sour-grapes cynicism… and admitting as much? Now I have someone to root for.
Welcome to the NHK reaches a similar point where it stops treating Satou’s isolation and derangement as primarily jokey, and starts to reveal that he is in genuine pain. I think this came across more strongly in the manga than the anime. It’s like listening to someone telling you what they introduced as a humorous anecdote, but as the story goes on you become increasingly aware that their smile is forced and that they’re inviting you to laugh with them to help them keep from crying.
Regarding Hachiman’s register-switching and vocabulary: this is one of the things I really love about the author David Foster Wallace. Especially in his nonfiction, he’s able to integrate high intellectual discourse with colloquial expressions and tone in a way that makes reading an essay feel like having a conversation. (I’m the guy who recommended Infinite Jest on ask.fm, by the way. Hope you’re enjoying it.)
I’ve been eagerly following your Oregairu translations, and I’m really pleased that you’re taking such a thoughtful, nuanced, and literate approach to them. This might not be world-changing literature destined to be taught in schools, but it’s been personally meaningful to me, and it feels like the author really put himself into it (those afterwords), and I think it deserves the respect you’re giving it. So thank you.
You’re the one who recommended Infinite Jest to me? Wow, I’ve been really enjoying it! Some parts were obfuscating, other parts were brutally honest. It’s a story that’s shook me to the core. I’m definitely interested in checking out David Foster Wallace’s essays after this, since I’d also heard they were more approachable than Infinite Jest.
Oregairu isn’t really comparable to something like that, but it’s a really commendable effort for a writer still in his twenties. I’ve been following Wataru Watari on Twitter and he really does come across as a slightly older and more mature Hachiman. You really get the sense of a writer who is, very literally, writing what he knows.
Thanks for enjoying my translations! It’s been a pleasure to work on Oregairu and I fully expect it to continue being so.
I recommend starting with “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” when you’re ready to check out DFW’s essays. The title essay is probably his best-known piece, and is really funny as well as thought-provoking. There’s also a great piece about TV and its relationship to literature, which I kept wanting to refer to in response to your previous post about sexism and Tumblr, but couldn’t figure out how to do it without block-quoting whole paragraphs.
The bit about translating memes really reminded me of the excellent Funimation adaptation of the Steins;Gate anime. You have characters who are brilliant scientists, unabashed otaku, closet otaku, the founder of Akihabara as an otaku Mecca, and a teenage cosplay enthusiast. Most notably, Kurisu, the closet geek, unknowingly blurts out 4chan memes every now and then, which Okabe and Daru immediately jump on.
The adaptation replaces those instances with western geekery, Doctor Who and Star Trek references and such. (Subs previously used western internet memes, but they weren’t limited by lip flaps.) In some cases, I preferred the dub choices, especially since it allowed for references to other time travel fandoms, which seems obvious.
As an American, I’m sad we don’t use “whinge,” too.
In fandom circles, “wangst” might have gained some traction, and others just equate it to masturbation with “wank,” (lol British term anyways, and although I’m told that wangst is “whiny angst,” not so sure it’s not “angst wank” XD) ergo big internet arguments being archived on Fandom Wank.
Major kudos for your attention to syntax, sentence structure, diction, etc. Most amateur writers are simply looking for an ease of flow, and only learn how to leverage those things through formal study. 1st person is ridiculously hard to pull off, because what it doesn’t say is as important as what it does say, as the writer has to stick to only what the narrator would notice, and the reader might miss out on forming a complete image of things, since the narrator wouldn’t notice or mentally describe them, or have the vocabulary to properly describe them. It makes me wonder about the Monogatari novels, since the anime was so obsessed with visually illustrating how POV affects perception of the world.
It seems the Oregairu addressed this problem by having an introspective and analytical narrator. Hachiman, as an unwilling social outcast, becomes a social voyeur, noticing and categorizing all of the little things Hayama does that reinforce his seat of popularity, or how Yui fails to navigate or recognize Yumiko’s own securities and insecurities. He cares about these things, so the reader gets to learn about these things.
In that sense, Yahari kind of takes the easier route than Catcher in the Rye, who has to limit itself to Holden, who is not all that smart, but would like to be, and has to convey itself in a way so that the reader can recognize the ways in which Holden is in denial. Of course, one of Catcher’s strategies for this is through its adult figure Mr. Antolini, as the mouthpiece of adult maturity, and Monogatari does the same with Kaiki. And Yahari does the same with Shizuka-sensei!
The Steins;Gate dub sounds interesting. I should check it out. I find dub scripts tend to be really underestimated by fans who are so fixated on how the voices sound. iirc the Squid Girl dub added some really cute squid puns, and all the profanity added in Black Lagoon felt really fitting as well.
I always thought of “wangst” as “angst wank” myself. I was a big fan of the term “wanker” back in high school, though it seems to have gone out of vogue in Australian slang in recent years.
Nisio Isin has a very polarising writing style among Japanese readers. He’s often accused of rambling. Also, his attempts at first-person writing sound very similar in that they all sound like himself. So while there’s definitely a strong sense of voice in Monogatari and the faulty narrator is one of story’s big themes, Nisio Isin doesn’t display a good deal of range as a writer.
The funny thing about Oregairu’s “voice of adult reason” is that Hiratsuka-sensei is a very childish character herself. But perhaps she’s mature in the sense that she knows enough about the world works to begin to embrace pure-hearted shonen ideals once again.
I’m making my way through Katanagatari right now, and it reinforces how Nisio’s style of dialogue resembles that of philosophical dialogues. In those formats, it’s okay that the character voices aren’t as distinct, as long as their philosophical stance remains consistent. Of course, unlike the boring likes of Plato and Berkeley, Nisio applies the format to Great Questions of our Time as “Is Kanbaru wearing panties under her spats shorts” and “Which loli does Araragi prefer”
Yes, I feel that one of the entire points of Oregairu is to highlight how teenagers immaturely feel that being all SRS BSNS and cynical is to be adult, hence “emo” phases. But whereas the celebration of pessimism and cynicism comes from irritation as perceived inferiors being cluelessly optimistic, maturity comes from choosing to embrace positivity even after the loss of innocence. After all, as the narrative shows, Hiratsuka can always set aside her childish traits when she needs to, and she keeps pointing out how Hachiman and Yukino’s self-inposed adherence to negativity only breeds more of it.
I’m really eager to see how Haruno is fleshed out. She was left as somewhat of a cipher in the anime, as per her image in Hachiman and Yukino’s POV, but she’s also in between their adolescence and Hiratsuka’s adulthood. She’s old enough to know how to play the game, but also still young enough to wield that power cruelly, as per some of the unintentional (or not? or both?) salt she was rubbing in Yukino’s insecurities during the festival.
Also, I love how anime actually has made “pondering the everyday questions” scenes a staple of slice of life. You rarely get those in western media, except in explicitly educational programs, and those are always framed as documentary format. Whereas anime SoL uses them not to necessarily answer the question, but to flesh out how each character interacts with the same question, and thus how they each relate to the world, and through ensuing banter, with each other. Such scenes are death to narrative momentum, and so would be a storytelling faux pas except in certain styles of literature, yet anime has made an entire genre of it.
Plus, such scenes are so realistic to true social behavior, (at least for me) so there’s an air of sincerity to them that you don’t find in western teen dramas that are entirely focussed on TEH DRAMZ. But I guess Conservation of Detail runs deep enough in narrative aesthetics that they would rather develop characters through scenes that double as plot development, which I can’t argue with, from a craft standpoint.
Roger Ebert said, “Most films make the unspoken assumption that their characters are defined by and limited to their plots. But lives are not about stories. Stories are about lives.”
I find that my tolerance for stories where none of the characters can be bothered to slow down and think or talk about what’s happening (and so by extension the audience is also encouraged not to bother) has declined sharply over time. It seems to me that many stories which rely on “momentum” to propel the audience through don’t really hold up very well if I resist the momentum and start asking questions… even simple questions like “Why did he do that?” or “How did they know that?” or “What would they have done if things hadn’t turned out exactly as they did?”
By the end of volume 1 of Oregairu, not much of consequence has happened. Except, of course, for what’s actually more important than any series of dramatic events: we’ve been introduced to the characters, they’ve been allowed to interact naturally, and we’ve begun to understand them. They’re not just fitted into Roles, mere cogs in the machinery of Narrative, their identities subsumed by Story. We’re being shown their lives.
What I mean by “narrative” is the means by which a piece of media propels its ambitions. That is, if a piece of media wants to tell a traditional story, its narrative will be plot-focussed, but the narrative of a character-piece will, obviously, be character focussed. A thematic-driven piece may use either/or to demonstrate its intended themes.
So narrative momentum is about how pacing and flow create a consistent tone in a piece of media, and an instrospective piece can be slow plot-wise but have plenty of narrative momentum as long as it steadily progresses in its intended purposes. (Your definition may be different, of course, but this is simply what I currently mean when I use the term) I was never bothered by Oregairu’s progression. Its narrative momentum is fine, because it’s a character-focused piece, and every conversation is in service of exploring those chracters, and the show’s overall character-based themes.
In contrast, unless a show is explicitly about “pondering the everyday questions,” like Yuyushiki, they don’t offer anything meaningful to narrative momentum that couldn’t be accomplished better by another type of more relevant scene. The entire Aria series stands testament to that. Idyllic daily life scenes in Aria examine the characters and their relationships while also world-building, and letting the characters’ relationship with the city also serve as a development lens, and all contributing to that iyashikei atmosphere.
I don’t think K-On! has any of those scenes, either, or when they do have some characters pondering, (as does happen in real life) the others are simultaneously pulling other shenanigans in the same scene. (as also does happen in real life)
Both of the above examples also always work in service of micro-plots, in the same way sitcoms across cultures do, and sitcoms famously have to have glacial overall development, and large be “shows about nothing.” But as long as each episode has its own micro-narrative momentum, things are fine.
Even Lucky Star, initially splitting between sitcom episodes with mini-plots, and all conversation/pondering plots, was a chore to watch, and didn’t get better until the new director found a balance between conversation scenes and vignette scenes, as well as building natural transitions between the two. My favorite bit of the show is the conversation where Konata cracks a Cat’s Eye joke about the Hiiragi sisters, which naturally transitions into the excellent mini-plot about friction between said sisters, through Kagami’s grumbling about Konata making everything into anime references. It’s a perfect instance of the show succeeding at what it wants to do, and that’s the importance of momentum.
I wasn’t bothered by Oregairu’s progression either, in fact I quite enjoyed it. What I was trying to say was that I prefer character-focused pieces like it over traditional plot-focused narratives… if not all the time, then at least more than I used to. You’re right that Oregairu’s character focus is in service of its themes, since even its overarching “story” is basically just a revelation and exploration of the relationships between its central characters.
Great article as always! your observations about the main character makes him look as a dumb-yet-complex Main character. (Personally, my favourite type of characters) I haven’t watched the anime nor read the LN, but I’ll make sure to read some of your translation. Your observations and effort to make the translation as accurate as possible makes me think that the reading experience would be great.
And respecting to the your small act of egoism… I think is something most of translators do, not to say something like: ‘Yeah, I did it, praise me for my work’ but to give one’s personal touch in the translation; I do it a lot in my spanish translations.
Greetings from Honduras :)
Thanks! Hope you find the LN interesting :)
…. Reading too much Light Novel, and now I find my own writing is escalating down significantly.Printed books in Vietnam is sooo expensive!
Anyway, great to see your post!
Excellent post — I think it’s fun to get this sort of commentary on your translation efforts.
But now I can’t help but try to imagine an instance for Hachiman to say “Yeah, mate, put another shrimp on the barbie!” Maybe in volume three, you can work that in there.
Will have to read volumes 1 and 2 of Oregairu at some point. For some reason I seem to have forgotten much of the plot for that series (just the characters themselves have stuck in my mind)… Did it feel to you like the anime rushed through the story really quickly? I might have to watch some episodes again, since I find adaptation an interesting topic as well. Your comments on how Hachiman comes off much more negative in the the books is certainly intriguing. I imagine novels can get away with that more easily though, because you are in the character’s head, and can more fully understand where he’s coming from in all of his observations and decisions.
re the anime adaptation: since I was first exposed to the story via the anime, I never particularly felt the anime rushed through its material. After reading the LNs, I see that the anime succeeded in cutting out a lot of the fluff and the light banter, which let the stronger material shine. The LN does have a bit more edge with its social commentary, and all the characters happen to be more fleshed out in their LN forms, but overall I actually prefer the more focused narrative in the anime.
Episode 5 was definitely rushed, though. I don’t see how they could have arranged the material more succinctly and still retained the highlights, but the transition from humour to seriousness was handled better in the novel, because the scenes were allowed to breathe.
Interesting, I’ve always wondered myself what the writing quality of a typical Japanese light novel was like. Also, I wish you the best of luck in your Japanese language endeavours!!
I understand a lot of criticisms for current LNs are mostly aimed at the first-time writers, the (possible) otaku branching out into literature. But what about more established LN authors like Sakaki Ichirou, Gatoh Shouji, and Gakuto Mikumo? If you have read their novels, how does the quality compare?
Finally, the Japanese have approved Oregairu Season 2. Still no confirmed date though.
Thank you for the well wishes!
I think the criticism for current (MAINSTREAM) LNs applies both to first-time writers and established writers, actually. Sakaki Ichirou comes out with “Outbreak Company”, which is the kind of story you could only get from an LN, and Gatou Shouji is writing “Amagi Park”, which is also pretty formulaic. While I consider them better writers than the average, it seems to me the industry trends have forced them to write stories according to a formula that did not exist even 5-7 years ago. The industry has changed fast.
I liked the series but probably wouldn’t have thought to read the LN.
But just reading how much care you put into the translation makes me want to give it a shot (which i will now do).
and as a Brit I welcome the Australian-English version!
[…] For those of you who are curious about my thoughts translating Oregairu so far, I wrote a post about it on my personal blog. […]
[…] Frog-kun has written another nice article on translating light novels, this time focusing on how he wrote the protagonist of the OreGairu series. […]
Thank you for translating this series.The anime adaptation was the best (I think I’ve rewatched it at least 5 times) and this was probably the one series I took solace in during high school. I’m really thankful for all the thought and effort you’re putting into this translation. I almost don’t want the series to be licensed in America (if it ever does get licensed, that is) because there’s no guarantee that the translators would put as much care into preserving the tone of the text as much as you do.
Thank you for the kind compliments! I’m glad to hear that Oregairu resonated with you a lot. It’s a series that is very close to my heart as well.
If this series were to get licensed, I have full faith that a professional translator would do their very best to get the appeal of this series across. The other translators who have worked on this series have done some great work as well. So maybe there is something about this LN that inspires translators to do their very best. I’d certainly like to think so!
[…] 2014, I translated three light novels: Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko volume 1 and Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru volumes 2+3. This kept me extremely busy (and explains why I had no time for anime). As tedious and frustrating […]
[…] a very fun yet very challenging series to translate. I’ve already written about my translation approach, so it doesn’t feel like I have much else to say. I hope that my translations feel like a […]
[…] talked about translation quite a few times already on this blog (see here, here and here), but I thought it would be a good idea to talk specifically about the […]