Atelier Marie and Elie: Zarlburg Alchemists
I'm not sure what the circumstances were when we were offered this title, because what was even more memorable was what happened afterwards. I know I talked about it a lot on LJ, so sorry if you already know the story. See, this series is... kind of a sequel? to the video games Atelier Marie and Atelier Elie, which are only available in Japanese. It had been our dream for over a year to get a Japanese PS2 so that we could play Japanese games like Kingdom Hearts Final Mix and the Saiyuki Reload Gunlock fighting game. And this was our chance! Now that we were translating a series based on a Japanese video game, it only made sense that we obtain said game to help us better understand the world in the series. That meant we needed a Japanese PS2 for work, and that made it a business expense. And it just so happened that Atelier Marie + Elie (one disc with both Atelier Marie and Atelier Elie) was being released for PS2 at that same time.
But we didn't have any money. Our first plan was to get Mom to buy a Halloween costume or three from us--we figured she'd be willing to help us pay for a Japanese PS2 because now it was a business expense, and this all happened in October. If she ended up only buying one, hopefully her friends or Sarah's would see it and think, "Ooh, that's nice. Maybe I should get her to make one for me, too," and thus we'd earn enough. So we asked Mom if she wanted us to make a Halloween costume for her or Sarah or Kimee, and ended up explaining our ulterior motives. But when we did, Mom said, "Why don't I just give you the money for an early Christmas present?" And we're like, "Really...? *sparkle sparkle sparkle*" And she's like, "I have to talk to Steve about it first."
Those of you who don't already know can probably see where that went. I'm pretty sure Steve's refusal came out of bitterness from our lack of enthusiasm about going to Seattle with them for Thanksgiving (to visit his family), but they decided they couldn't support us in our worship of the false gods known as video games, and so our plan was defeated.
I don't think the translation suffered too much from our lack of understanding. We were able to look things up on online walkthroughs and whatnot, but it was still kind of sad. We guessed on the spellings of a lot of the names until we could find a website that had official-looking spellings, so we got used to spelling them one way and then found out they were spelled another and got very sad. In the case of Nordis, we left a footnote saying that we had spelled it with a "th" instead of an "s" before and were very attached to it. Of course, it was so long after that that we finally got to volume 2 that we'd forgotten all about it, and by then we had gotten Celeste to buy us a Japanese PS3, so we had played the game and were then used to it being spelled with an "s." It's all rather complicated.
It is a lot easier now that we've played the game, though. Since it's about alchemy, they'll mention ingredients for stuff and, while before we'd be like "What the heck?," now we understand what everything is. We've also noticed a few things that are a lot more enjoyable if you've played the game, like when Millie comes and asks Marie and Elie if she can borrow ingredients, or when Elie's talking to the barkeeper and he's like, "Where's that stuff I asked you for?" and she's like, "Uh... we're working on it!" It has no bearing on the story whatsoever--it's like in Pirates of the Caribbean when Jack Sparrow tells the other pirates that the dog is never going to move.
I think the favorite character consensus is Daglass. At least, I think that's how it is for the game. In the manga, we're not quite sure. Maybe Hallesch? The two elves are adorable, too. And Marie and Elie of course. *goes through mental character file* Schwalbe!! How could I forget Schwalbe. He's the best. Ex-bandits are just awesome as a rule.
I'm not sure how the series rates on the translation difficulty scale. It's one of those that's easier than you think, but then you realize that it's easier than you think, but it's not as much easier as you think, so then it's harder than you think. But it's still not all that hard, so maybe a six.
Going back to it taking so long between our translating volumes 1 and 2, we actually weren't sure if TokyoPop was really going to release the series for a while. We turned in the translation of volume 1 and then heard nothing about it, so we wondered if maybe they wanted the translation so they could decide whether or not they really wanted it or something. It wasn't until we were hanging out with TokyoPop people in line to the CLAMP panel at AX last year that we found out they were actually going ahead with it. I guess that just goes to show that being a translator doesn't automatically get you inside info. Though I guess we had the inside info that they were looking at it (since we had to translate it), so maybe it does.
Oh man, this series. This series taught us kind of a lot, like that a lorelei is a German river mermaid. Basically it's about...um...alchemists? You know, the resident potion-makers. We kind of got the idea that it was about the people behind the scenes of epic fantasy video games--carrying on with life while the heroes go around saving the world. In the manga, Elie teams up with Marie, and they run an alchemy shop together while teaching a couple of little elves the art of alchemy. In the game, you can hire elves to be your assistants.
I personally am highly amused that when I read my own typing of, "How could I forget Schwalbe," I had to stop and think for a minute to remember who he was. Poor Schwalbe. I think a big part of why he was forgotten is that after we wrote this post, our favorite character by a landslide became Strafe. He's a dangerous lost puppy. We never did figure out how to get him to show up in the games, though, so we only know his manga persona. It's probably the same.
One of the things about this series that stands out translation-wise--and we very likely wrote an entry about it at some point--is the names of the special attack moves. We like them, because they're in German, and German sounds cool. But we also don't know German, so we'd come across a word in katakana, and all we'd have to go on is that it's probably German, it has something to do with attacking stuff, and it sounds roughly as indicated by the katakana. I think it took us like three hours or more to figure out what シュヴェート was supposed to be. (I'm not telling because then you can try to guess if you want! But if you figure it out really fast, don't be a jerk about it.) It was exhausting and more than a little frustrating, but the language geeks in us can't help but love it.
Today I'm thankful for fond memories of Atelier Marie and Elie, finishing our Sherdock translation today, Snickers ice cream bars, summer event Heartless at Kingdom Hearts [chi] (even if they take a million AP to fight), and getting to watch Silver Spoon last night.