Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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It almost seems like getting any translation done this week is a lost cause. This morning, we got a call from the Family History Center director, saying the one consultant at the center for today's morning shift had a doctor's appointment, and none of the regular Wednesday-morning consultants could cover for her. Of course we agreed to do it, and so we got much less translation done today than we had planned. But we did have a very nice morning at the Family History Center, so I'd say we came out ahead.

Other than that, the main news is that we've decided we should look around and see if there are any condos that we like and can afford before we go ahead and rent a place, but we have found a couple of apartments we'd like to consider.

And, we have more manga to talk about!


I almost made this post about the wrong series. That's what I get for writing my chronological lists out of order. Good thing I listed all the dates.

Anyway. Kieli! Kieli was another landmark series for us, because it was our first job for Yen Press. Our encounter with Yen Press was a lot more casual and a lot less nerve-wracking than our encounters with Del Rey and CMX. It was actually a lot more like our encounter with TokyoPop.

We were at Anime Expo, wandering the Dealers' Hall, as convention-goers are wont to do, and we passed by a seemingly (in our memories at least) nondescript manga booth. I seem to remember almost not even giving it a second glance. But as we walked past, there was a man there handing out samplers. He was pretty proactive about it, so we ended up with know what, I think I told this story better back when it happened. Here, have an excerpt from our AX07 report! (It's kind of long and texty, so you can skip it if you want, but we were so funny back then. Why aren't we funny like that anymore?)

We finally found the dealers' room and started out by just wandering around, but we soon got bored of that and decided to check the directory to see where there might be a booth manned by people we know. But while we were wandering, we passed by a small, unassuming booth with a bunch of people yelling out, "Free manga! Free manga!" This was nothing new, and I think I was distracted by something, because I don't remember how I found a manga sampler in my hands. But in my hands it was, and so I looked at it. It was from a company called Yen Press, and as I looked at the pictures representing its contents, I stopped in my tracks and said, "You've gotta be kidding me! This is Spiral!!"

We've liked Spiral for a long time, and when we got a hold of the manga, I would automatically translate it in my head and it was just so translatable and so awesome that we'd been wanting and wanting to translate it. Back when we were devastated at not being asked to translate the Kingdom Hearts manga, at the same time we were bummed out because TokyoPop was also listing Spiral on their site, and we weren't translating it. We found out later that there was something up with the licensing and TokyoPop might not have it after all, so we made sure to put a note in to our boss saying if they ever worked that out, we'd love to translate it. But now here we were at AX, a couple yards past some other company's booth, and there it was--translated!

So we backtracked a little bit and said, "Is this Spiral?" And he's like, "Yup. And Zombie Loan, which is awesome." (I'm paraphrasing.) And so we asked if they were looking for translators. Companies just starting out always are, as he confirmed when he said, "I'm always looking for translators!" We hadn't been planning on looking for more clients at AX this year, but we brought our business cards just in case... except that we had left those in the hotel room, too. Drat. So we told him we'd be back later with a business card. As we walked away, Athena took a closer look at the sampler and noticed that everything in it was translated by the same woman. The same woman, as we confirmed later, who was half of the second set of TokyoPop twinterns. She's our freakin' kouhai! But she's also very nice, so we don't begrudge her Spiral. Also, the fact that they only have one translator on everything indicates that they really do need more translators. We were still kind of weirded out, I guess, by the whole thing and developed the theory that Yen Press was started by some eccentric billionaire, who somehow jumped in on the negotiations for Spiral and stole it away.


After the panel, we figured we had some time to pop into the dealers' room, find Yen Press, and give them one of the business cards we finally remembered to carry around with us. (Convention badge holders are such handy devices.) We were thwarted in this endeavor by the vastness of the dealers' room, however. It was really weird--we just couldn't find the booth! It was like all those fairy tales and things where the guy comes across this magic house or shop or something in the woods or the city or somewhere, and then they try to go back there and it's vanished! Ooooooohhhhh!!! We even pulled out our directory, and they weren't listed! They weren't even listed on the insert with corrections and additions! Very strange. But then we wanted to go to the CMX panel, so we left.


After the panel, it was back to the dealers' room! This time we were determined to find the Yen Press booth! And to see if we could win another prize at the Square-Enix booth, since we now had two FF11 cosplay pics on our camera. We wandered around for a while and still weren't able to find the Yen Press booth, so we told ourselves we were not to be distracted by shiny anymore and we would go through aisle by aisle until we finally found it. And it was elusive, but we did indeed find it! Yay! And the guy remembered us from before! Yay! So we gave him a card and told him we've translated stuff like Fruits Basket and Saiyuki, and he said, "I think I have some work for you," and we're like, "Sweet!" And we're also like, "Is there someone we can contact?" because experience from last year (Viiiizzz! *shakes fist*) tells us that just because you hand someone a card doesn't mean they'll get back to you. So he gave us the card of the person in charge of freelancers, and we left, adding, "By the way, if your translator on Spiral ever wants to stop for any reason..." to which he responded, "I think you'd have to pry it out of her cold, dead hands." Darn it!! Oh well.

We never did get to translate Spiral. Oh well.

Anyway, when we got back from Anime Expo, there was already an email in our inbox with a job offer from Yen Press. ...You can't see it, but I'm having a difficult time writing any more of this entry because I'm so distraught over not being that funny anymore. Athena suggests that I'm intimidated by the awesome amusingness of that AX report excerpt, and that is definitely true. I'm sitting here thinking, "How can I make the rest of this entry funny like that one? It's, like, not even worth reading anymore." But Athena also suggests that you guys are sitting there thinking, "Dude, that report isn't even that funny." So. There you go. I guess.

Anyway. Right, Kieli. So we had a new project, and we were like, "Whoa, that was fast." Seriously, that image of Yen Press being a magic floating castle owned by an eccentric (and possibly evil) billionaire stuck with us for a long time--it helped that they paid us rather handsomely, and kept doing so until we came to the end of the two long-running titles we did for them. Now, like all the companies we still work for, they pay us somewhat less, but that's just how things are, and we'd rather have some work for less money than no work for no money.

So the woman who came to be Yen Press boss asked us if we'd be willing to do it, and they'd pay us X amount of money, is that okay? And we were like, "Wait...are you sure you didn't accidentally put an extra zero in there? Is the decimal point in the right place?" (It's not like it was that much. If there had been one less zero, it would have been ridiculously low, but at least then the "is that okay?" question would have made sense.)

We hadn't heard of Kieli before, but it looked nice enough. We knew it was based on a novel (or series, rather), and later we found out that novel had won first place in Dengeki's writing contest. Second place that same year went to Baccano!, which was written by the same guy who writes our beloved Durarara!!. I haven't read Baccano!, though (we saw one episode of the anime and decided we'd had enough slicey-slicey and blood splatter for one series, and that was the end of that), so we couldn't say which we like better of the two. I think overall, I like Durarara!! the best, but I do really like Kieli, especially the first volume.

It's about a girl (Kieli) who sees ghosts, so she's an outcast among her peers, and therefore she attaches herself to a dead guy. Well, kind of. Eighty years ago, there was a gigantic war that depleted the planet's resources (ironically, it was fought over the planet's rich resources), and the team that won the war was made up of soldiers that were reanimated corpses that now no longer die, and regenerate like Wolverine. But the side that won the war now wanted to be seen as benevolent religious leaders instead of warmongering tyrants, so they turned on the Undying (as we translated the name) and hunted them down until none were left to tell people what really happened back then. Well, none, except for the few, like Harvey, who managed to escape the hunters. Kieli meets Harvey and decides to follow him around (like an annoying little sister, not like a stalker), and that's basically the premise.

Yen Press's instructions were exactly the type of instructions that we don't know what to do with. We were told to translate as literally as possible. Well, there are about a million different possibilities as to how to translate something literally, so... Fortunately, we also had instructions to make it readable, so we went with that.

But here's an example of the type of thing that gets us really baffled as to how to best please our editors. Harvey realized that there was no way he was going to get rid of Kieli, so he sits down and says, いっとくけど (ittoku kedo), or however it was exactly that he said it. Literally, it means, "I'm going to tell you in advance, but." Say that in English, and you're like, "What does that mean?" But if you understand how "oku" works, it makes perfect sense. "Oku" is a verb suffix meaning, "I'm (He's/She's/It's/You're) going to do this now to make sure that when it needs to have been done, it will have been done." You see what happens when a word exists in one language but not another?

So we translated it to, "Let's get one thing straight." Or something close to that. Technically, that's not what it literally means. If we were to go with a more literal translation, we would have gone with something like, "I'm telling you now, but..." But that doesn't quite have the same nuance...does it? Maybe it does, but it sounds a little unnatural, at least to us. And factoring in Harvey's personality and mood (he was rather grumpy), we decided to see if we could get away with what we had. We were really worried that we'd get in trouble for not translating it "literally," but I think when we got our comp copies, we checked and the editors had used our translation.

In fact, we think that what we used was a really great way to get the meaning and spirit of the sentence across, and if we'd seen it in a subtitle or something before we came up with it, we probably would have thought, "Hey, that's a good way to translate that! We should remember oku that!" (I can say with a fair amount of certainty that we did come up with it ourselves though, because I have vague memories of taking the line from something Dr. Cox said in Scrubs, which we had recently discovered and enjoyed.)

Anyway, as you can see, the translation difficulty level was a little skewed because we were under pressure. We wanted very badly to impress our new (well-paying) client, and we weren't sure where we should be on the chokuyaku/iyaku spectrum. ("Chokuyaku" means "direct/literal translation," and "iyaku" means "meaning translation." These terms come up sometimes in discussions among Japanese<->English translators.) Also, there was some technical stuff and some historical stuff, but it wasn't super hard, so maybe a five? Six? Four? I don't know.

Favorite character is Harvey! Tadah! Our love of Harvey may or may not have been influenced by the similarities we saw between him and Dr. Cox. We were really into Scrubs for a while. The Corporal's great, too...and I just realized the irony in the fact that he's a corporal but not corporeal. Haaa ha ha...ha... I don't think the pun is there in the Japanese, but I do know that the author (Yukako Kabei) has a fairly good knowledge of English. And...Joachim? Is that how it was spelled? And Kieli's pretty good, too. She got really annoying in later volumes of the novels, but this is about the manga. And she got better.

Wow, that post turned out to be longer than expected. But the part about how we met Yen Press is pretty fun to read, I think, so don't miss it!

Today I'm thankful for fond memories of Harvey and Dr. Cox, getting to read our Anime Expo 2007 report, getting to help out at the Family History Center, figuring out the right order to make these posts in, and still having chocolate ice cream to look forward to at some point.
Tags: kieli, multi-part series 2, translating

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