Thinking about it, there is a small possibility that it's actually our 99th translation for TokyoPop, and our 100th invoice, because we had to fill out an invoice for some work we did over winter break in 2003. I think we had that invoice as #1, being our first non-translation, non-intern work for TokyoPop, but we can't check because that invoice was lost when our harddrive got reformatted a year ago. But we did translate an interview with the creators of Battle Royale when we were interns, so we'll say this is our hundredth either way.
And so, in honor of our 100th translation for TokyoPop, we're starting a multi-part series of in-depth looks at each series we translate/have translated! And!!! We're having a little contest! We don't have an appropriately celebratory icon, which is very sad for a celebration. And so we're having a contest!! We want an icon from one (or more) of the serieses we translate (list to be provided at the end of this entry), preferably from the manga since we didn't work on the anime of anything, of one or more character in the attitude of celebrating. Nothing with spoilers, please. We can't afford to buy a prize, but we might be able to get the winner a copy of a book we translated! (This contest is unaffiliated with TokyoPop.)
So, without further ado, we begin our multi-part series with none other than...
Fruits Basket was actually the second of our translations to be released, but the first one we turned it. And! Volume 17 is our 100th translation!! Thus we come full circle, or something.
The story of how we got to translate Fruits Basket goes a little something like this: We were at TokyoPop, working as interns, of course, and we were copying something for the office manager, when Jake Forbes, then a senior editor at TokyoPop, came to us and told us he had an offer he thought we would find difficult to refuse. He then asked how we would like to be the full-on, paid translators for Fruits Basket. We told him we would like that very much, thank you. So he went off to do more senior editor stuff, and we started jumping up and down and squealing (quietly. There were people at work).
He wanted to get the book done very quickly so he could hype it to all the retailers, so as soon as they finally got copies of it, he asked if we could get it in by next week. Based on how easily we had finished previous amateur translations, we were sure it wouldn't be a problem. And then we learned that it's Fruits Basket. It really didn't help that first volumes are among the most difficult to translate, we weren't used to the TokyoPop format yet, and Hakusensha sometimes gives more pages to first volumes (as they did with Fruits Basket). And of course, all our translating had to be done after work, which basically meant we were working two full-time jobs. Nowadays, translating seems like a part-time job, but trying to get that much done in that little time made it full-time.
Fruits Basket is probably our third most difficult series to translate. First of course is CLAMP no Kiseki, and second we'd say is Nosatsu Junkie. In some titles we translate, the translation just flows from Japanese into English very easily. Fruits Basket is not one of them. I think it has something to do with writing styles, and how in synch we are with the characters. We used to explain it like this: Natsuki Takaya is a master of the Japanese language, which makes it that much harder for people like us to accurately convey her meanings.
Part of the problem is that, when you look up a word in a dictionary, sometimes you get a lot of SAT words, like, for example, volplane. (That's actually not a word we've found while translating Fruits Basket, it's just one we got as an example from Gessel-sensei in our Japanese 444 class, and it's the only one I remember.) But there's no chance in heaven or earth that Kyo Sohma would use a word like volplane. Or spoony. Or other such words. So we have to figure out the best way to convey the phrase in English. Fortunately, Jake was an excellent editor as well as manga fan, and he does his best to make things work as well as preserve the original feeling of the manga. He's no longer a senior editor at TokyoPop, but he still does the English adaptation for Fruits Basket.
On a translation difficulty scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the translation comes as soon as Athena reads the lines and 10 being soul-crushing, I'd give Fruits Basket an 8. Some volumes are easier than others, of course, but usually we're very frustrated at how awesome a line is in Japanese and how difficult it is to make sense of it in English.
Favorite characters... they're all very awesome, of course. I always liked Shigure, because I like the evil scheming type, and of course I like the love interest, so I've always liked Kyo. And he's so cute the way he tries to be nicer to Tohru and stuff. Athena really likes Kakeru; he's her kind of crazy, she says. She likes Yuki a lot, because she can relate to him, and so do I. Especially when he's talking to his mother and she's acting just like ours. And of course there's Kureno, who is basically Tohru, only male and cursed, which makes him even hotter. But with Kureno there's always the esoteric factor, since he's not in the anime, so it's like we like him just because less people know about him. And Momiji!!!!!
Ayame is awesome for several reasons, but for us, the number one reason is that he's the most fun to translate. Part of this is because he's crazy enough to use words like volplane and spoony. Actually, that's all of it, really. He just strikes us as the type to be very dramatic and embellish everything, and it's fun to choose words and giggle at them. We were very proud of ourselves when we came up with "forthwith" (see the chapter when Tohru and Yuki visit his shop; hopefully they still used it). Though at first his wild stories were annoying because of all the run-on sentences. It took us twenty minutes to translate the one page where he tells the story of why he has long hair.
Everybody is just too lovable. But couples-wise, my favorite is Tohru and Kyo still. It had to be Kyo from the very beginning, because putting a cat in the Zodiac would be like putting an onigiri in a fruit basket.
Oh! That reminds me. TokyoPop's completely redone their site now, but whenever you went to the page that lists all the manga, they advertised Fruits Basket with a thing that said, "A family you can't help but love--even if they act like a bunch of animals!" And every time we saw it we were like, "Dude, it should totally be 'even if they are a bunch of animals'." It made us sad.
Akito is...still rather disliked. Learning his back story sheds a different light on everything, but man. There were times when Athena wished her numbering pen was sharper so she could scratch his face out. That's a special honor reserved for him, Hiwatari (DN Angel), and Hazel (Saiyuki Reload). Of course, it might often depend on how irritable she is at the time of translation, but not always. It could just be how into the story she is. She's not sure right now, since it's been a while since she's felt that way.
One last thing I remember about Fruits Basket is that at first, Jake didn't want to see the anime so he wouldn't be biased in editing it, but then he decided it would be better to watch it so he would be more familiar with the characters. He told us as he read the subtitles that our translation matched the subtitles about 95%. We were a little worried that maybe he thought we were plagiarizing them, but we didn't have our own copies of Fruits Basket DVDs at the time, so we couldn't have. Not easily, anyway, and it wouldn't have been worth the money.
We were a little sad when Natsuki Takaya stopped talking about video games in the chat columns. She stopped like the week before Final Fantasy IX came out, so we never got her thoughts on it. It was very depressing. If she ever comes to AX, I hope to be able to spend hours fangirling over Kingdom Hearts with her. Or, you know, twenty minutes at the Meet the Guests Reception. But she stopped talking about video games, so we don't even know if she liked Kingdom Hearts! (grief...)
That's about all I can think of to say about Fruits Basket. The floor is now open to any questions anybody might have. We will be more than happy to answer them! Unless you say, "How do you feel about this development in volume 20?" And then we'll say, "Shut up!" because we've only read through volume 17. But other than that (or anything from like 18 or on), we'll be more than happy.
Today I'm thankful for getting our rent paid, the opportunity to translate Fruits Basket, 100 translations!, the office having free Skittles, and people being kind enough to take us to the bank.
Here's the list of the works we've translated (minus CLAMP no Kiseki and stuff that hasn't been announced). You can comment with a link to the icons, or e-mail them to us at AletheaN[at]gmail[dot]com!
Fruits Basket, vol.1-17
Ai Yori Aoshi, vol.1-16
Saiyuki Reload, vol.1-7
DN Angel, vol.1-11
Lagoon Engine, vol.1-4
The Candidate for Goddess, vol.1-5
Scrapped Princess, vol.1-3
Shaolin Sisters: Reborn, vol.1-4
Sengoku Nights, vol.1-2
+ANIMA, vol. 1-4
Bus Gamer 1999 – 2001, The Pilot Edition
Elemental Gelade, vol. 1-4
Nosatsu Junkie, vol.1-2
St. Lunatic High School, vol.1
Atelier Marie & Elie, vol.1
Hiyokoya Shoten, vol.1