Category Archives: Translations
In the 1980s and 1990s, translation theorists discovered social justice. It became very popular to talk about what it means to be an “activist translator” and the ways we can use translation to make marginalised minorities more visible. We call this the “cultural turn” of translation studies.
Sociology is still the dominant paradigm for translation theories today. This should come as no surprise if you think about it. Translation is an act of cross-cultural communication, so all the major sociological theories are a natural fit. In fact, I took up translation studies after majoring in Japanese language and cultural studies, and I’ve also taken courses in history and sociology. Postcolonialism and feminism are not new concepts to me.
Feminism… well, everyone knows what that is. (Or, at least, everyone thinks they know what that is.) I don’t want to get into any internet arguments about it so I’ll just say that feminism is about women’s rights and leave it at that.
Postcolonialism doesn’t get talked about so much in pop culture, but it’s just as important when it comes to social justice. Postcolonialism is the study of the cultural legacy of colonialism. As we know, there was a period in time when European powers colonised much of the known world, and the ongoing effects of racism and imperialism are still felt today.
This post is a short compilation of some of the more detailed essays and reflections I’ve written about the subjects. I did them for my translation theory class so the language is pretty academic. But I do talk about a lot of my personal experiences as well, so I hope you find them interesting.
Romeo Tanaka’s New Visual Novel: Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu – An Insider Look at the Visual Novel Industry
Romeo Tanaka is best known in the English-speaking anime fandom for writing Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, one of the better light novel series out there. He’s also a visual novel writer, and two of the titles he’s worked will be getting anime adaptations next year: Rewrite and Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu.
Today, I’m here to hype up Kouya. The full version of the game hasn’t actually been released yet (it’s coming out on the 25th March 2016), but a trial version came out a couple of days ago. I played it and I have opinions. I feel it is my God sworn duty to hype up the game and its upcoming adaptation for all you visual novel fans out there.
For those of you who don’t care about visual novels, there is no hype. The anime will be shit. I guarantee it.
Fan translation is an interesting subject for media scholars. The whole practice is a demonstration of how our media consumption habits have been changing thanks to online technology. Fans have always been creating their own content, but now they’re able to distribute them much more quickly and more widely than ever before. A lot of the academic debate has centered around the ethics of fan translation and its relationship with piracy, which is a very fascinating subject that will get its own post one day.
Ironically, what gets less attention is the actual translating aspect. There have been scattered observations about the translation strategies used by fan translators, but very little empirical research. How do fan translators compare with professional translators? No one can answer this for certain. The question has only become more difficult to answer as the boundaries between “fan” and “professional” in the anime/manga/VN scene become increasingly blurred.
Today, I’d like to share with you guys a case study published in 2008 which directly compares a fan and professional translation. It’s not perfect (the scope of the study is extremely limited, and not to mention the study was published seven years ago), but what’s interesting was the author’s conclusion: the fan translation was considered just as competent as the professional translation.
Let’s start today’s post with a Youtube video.
What’s interesting about this guy’s take on fansubbing is that he brings up translation theorists in order to justify his argument that fansubs are Objectively Bad Translations. This is something you should probably take with a grain of salt. It’s really easy for an academic’s work to be oversimplified when it’s being talked about in a non-academic environment. Even if the argument itself is presented accurately enough, the context around it might not be. In other words, someone might present an academic theory as fact when a theory is really just a theory.
This is relevant to the world of translation because, if you read any of the modern theories, they’re pretty much all in agreement that what makes a good translation is… um… well… it depends.
Seriously, that’s what it comes down to.
I’ve 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 theory behind translation – and why you in particular, as an anime fan, should give a crap.
This will be a series of posts that covers a major translation theory/debate every week with a key focus on how it applies to anime and its fandom. I’m writing this for a non-specialist, non-academic audience, so I’ll try not to sound too technical or dry. Translators might find some of this stuff relevant to their craft, but this isn’t a guide on how to translate.
Hopefully, after reading a couple of these posts, you’ll have a more informed opinion on key fandom issues such as fansubbing, localisation, faithfulness, and, of course, DUBS VERSUS SUBS.
But before we get started, we need to ask ourselves the obvious question.
If you follow my blog/Twitter, you might know that I’ve been encouraging light novel fans to join the summer reading program over at English Light Novels. In June, we read the first volumes of Kagerou Daze and Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou. If you’re familiar with either of those series, hop on over to the discussion thread and share your thoughts!
If you think you’re too late for this party, never fear. You can always participate in the July program. This month, we’re reading The Isolator by Reki Kawahara (yes, THAT Reki Kawahara) and Tasogare-iro no Uta Tsukai by Kei Sazane. (For more information on where to find these novels and the program schedule, click HERE.)
Getting back to Kagerou Daze and Mimizuku, I thought I’d do something a little different and give readers a taste of what Japanese readers think of the light novels we’ve been reading in English. I’ve translated the top two reviews on Amazon into English. This is by no means a comprehensive overview of fan opinion, but it should give you an idea of what some Japanese readers look for in light novels.
I will not be translating Oregairu any more.
Despite the date on this post, this is not an April Fool’s joke!
Oregairu volume 4 is complete, just in time for the second season of the anime. You can read the volume here. I mentioned well in advance that I would step down as the Oregairu translator after volume 4, and now here we are. There will be no more updates on the series at Nano Desu. The good news is that you can read the rest of the series at Kyakka.
Final thoughts about the series below:
I should’ve announced this ages ago, but… the Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko light novel has been licensed by Digital Manga Publishing. It was never formally announced on their website as far as I can see, but you can see it on the upcoming titles list under the title of The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat. No release date has been given yet. Hopefully, it’ll actually get published, and when it does, I’ll give you the heads up.
Of course, for those of you following the English translation on Nano Desu, this means the project has been formally ceased. If you haven’t, you’d better go read the translation while you still can. I worked on volume 1. The PDF/ePub versions are being taken down later today, but if you ask nicely, I might email you a copy on the strict condition you don’t go around distributing it.
At any rate, I’m honoured that a novel I worked on is getting an English release. I’m also grateful to Nurin and Shingetsu (the translators of volume 2) for their hard work, along with the rest of the Nano Desu staff. Henneko was the first light novel I ever translated and I’m still pretty proud of my work. Of course, since it was a first-time translation project, it’s plagued with minor accuracy errors, so I’m looking forward to the official release to settle the score.
I hope you choose to support the series, especially if you enjoyed reading the fan translation!