Category Archives: Translations
Why is slavery such a common plot device in isekai web novels? It’s something I’ve touched upon in earlier blog posts and Twitter threads, but it’s only become a big question within the last year or so, thanks to The Rising of the Shield Hero‘s general popularity with the Western anime community. What was once a curious oddity within the light novel subculture has gotten much more visible now. And thanks to America’s fraught history with chattel slavery and persisting political issues regarding how that history is taught and remembered, isekai slavery is a more controversial topic there.
As a result of all the recent chatter, I became curious about why slavery became such a trend on Narou in the first place. I stumbled upon a story called よくある異世界奴隷事情を現実的に考えてみた (“I Tried Thinking About the Common Isekai Slave Circumstances Realistically”). It’s an essay/short story that explores the topic. I thought it was interesting so I reached out to the author ε-(´∀｀; ) and obtained their permission to translate it. Here is the translation:
Let’s look at some of the stories that Makoto Shinkai referred to when creating Your Name. Below is a translation of a column written for the official Your Name guidebook. It’s written by Mizuo Watanabe, a manga critic and the main writer of the yearly Kono Manga ga Sugoi! guidebook.
“I may not be popular, but I live on.”
These are the words of Toru Honda, a Japanese cultural commentator and self-identified otaku. Despite his obscurity in the English-speaking otaku world, he did attract buzz in Japan about ten years ago for his controversial ideas. He also coined the phrase “2.5D dimensional space”, which is pretty useful for understanding maids and idol culture. For that, at least, he deserves more discussion in English than he has currently received.
Honda first came to fame by pissing over Densha Otoko, the film that made otaku “cool” in the eyes of the mainstream Japanese public. As far as Honda was concerned, the protagonist of Densha Otoko was a traitor to otaku. By renouncing his otaku ways and becoming a “normal” lover, Densha Otoko merely fed into a system Honda calls “love capitalism”, wherein a man’s attractiveness is measured by his economic worth.
Honda himself has renounced romance and other human relationships, choosing instead to live vicariously through his love of moe and cute anime girls. Giving up 3D for the sake of 2D is what he calls the “Love Revolution”, an act of rebellion against the vicissitudes of capitalism.
At first glance, it’s easy to be dismissive of Honda. He seems to play up the “kimoi otaku” stereotype for effect, all the while dressing up his thinly veiled misogyny with pseudointellectual references to Western philosophers. But when he talks about his own life, I could start to see where his attitude comes from. At the very least I think there’s some worth in translating his words, especially to put a human face on the people who argue passionately for the superiority of 2D anime girls.
This post is a translation of an interview with Toru Honda on Mammo.tv, an educational site aimed at high school students. The focus is on philosophy and not on otaku particularly, but I think you can see how his attitudes as an “otaku” were formed, and how they’ve been influenced by his experiences and the philosophical texts he’s read. I’ll leave it to you to make up your mind about him.
And now, without further ado…
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:
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!
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!
I’ve been reading Shokugeki no Souma lately. Despite my scant interest in cooking, it’s a fun manga. In order to spread my appreciation of the series, I decided to translate an interview with the editor of the Shokugeki no Souma manga, which is published on the Shonen Jump+ website. It’s part of a series called 推す！この一話はコレだ！(translated in this post as “Check out this chapter!”), where the Shonen Jump editors pick out their favourite chapter of the manga they’re working on and talk about it in detail.
Although it was published early in the series run, I translated this interview because it discusses one of my favourite chapters, along with shedding light onto the creative process behind the manga.
(Note: Names are given in Western order: First name last name.)
On the whole, black characters are quite rare in anime and manga. Plus, it’s been pointed out before that the majority of them are based on racist stereotypes. Although there is a black population in Japan (in fact, the current Miss Japan is half-black), most Japanese people are only exposed to black people through the media, which tends to reinforce their ignorance. As a result, you’d be hard-pressed to find an anime that focuses specifically on black issues.
The Little Women anime (1987) is one of the exceptions, as it goes out of its way to educate its young viewers about slavery and the American Civil War. The notable thing about this production is that it actually adds black perspectives that were entirely missing from Louisa May Alcott’s novel. The character of Hannah, the family maid, was changed into a black woman, and there’s also a subplot in the early episodes focusing on an escaped slave named John. 
As great as this is for people who like some diversity in their anime, it still remains that these perspectives are included for the benefit of a Japanese audience, not for an African American or even a White American audience. These representations are drawn primarily from second-hand sources. Moreover, the distinctive qualities of “Black vernacular” are completely erased through translation, which serves to obscure the complex relationship between race, gender and class.
If anything, this anime makes visible the uncomfortable politics of Alcott’s original novel, for by depicting black bodies without their voices, Little Women affirms a sanitised version of racial relations that revolves entirely around the white, middle-class experience.
This is a post about translation. It shows how all translation is, in the end, a matter of representation. I’ll compare how the white characters and black characters in Little Women are “represented” in Japanese, with a particular focus on women’s speech (which makes sense since this is a show about, you know, little women). But before we get to that, let’s go over some basic concepts in translation and sociolinguistics.
NOTE: I am currently not accepting translation commissions. Sorry about any inconvenience!
If you’d like me to translate something from Japanese into English for you, you’ve come to the right place. I’m Kim Morrissy (AKA 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 3 Australian cents per Japanese character. See the full post for all the details!
“Project Qualidea” Special Roundtable Discussion with Sagara Sou, Tachibana Koushi and Watari Wataru
(Note: This is a translation of the interview featured on the Dash x Bunko website.)
Qualidea of Scum and a Gold Coin (Kuzu to Kinka no Qualidea, or Kuzukin for short) has created quite a stir after getting a second printing straight after its publication in January. Now that Tachibana Koushi has announced his involvement, this ambitious “shared world” project involving multiple light novel labels will now begin in earnest! Our newcomer Tachibana Koushi-sensei joins in to explain the full details behind his involvement in this mysterious project! Don’t miss this chaotic public roundtable discussion filled with explosive statements (?!)