Me & My Brothers
Once again, I must resort to old documents to remember the circumstances revolving around this assignment. Apparently it started with an email that went exactly like this:
"I'd like to assign you Me and My Brothers and Gakuen Alice. Please take a look at our webpage and let me know if you would like to take on these 2 series."
We already knew about Gakuen Alice, but more on that later. I guess we checked out the website and decided we liked the idea of Me & My Brothers, too, because we accepted the assignment (not that we were likely to have declined). I checked our LJ post from the day we got the assignment and found this:
"But when we finally finished work, we checked our e-mail and found we'd been offered two new(ish) titles!! Woohoo!!! And one of them is one we're fans of already! The previous translator has become unavailable, but for good reasons, fortunately, so we get to do them now! Yaaaaay! And they're both in current release, so we probably could talk about them, but it's not official yet, so I'm actually wondering if maybe I shouldn't say anything just yet. Hm. But it's exciting and we don't have much other news.
Anyway, it was almost six o'clock when we got the e-mail, so we made a mad dash to find out what we could about the other title so we could e-mail our boss, but I don't know if we made it in time. And it's Friday!! Aaaaaaaaaaugh!!! But at least we know what they are now (we first started talking about it on Monday). I actually kind of had a feeling on one of them that turned out to be right."
I couldn't say I know what that feeling was, but I'm guessing it was something about Gakuen Alice. And as for summaries, this is another thing we found:
"Right, summary. It's about a girl who was living with her grandmother because her parents died in an accident when she was reeeeeeally little, but then her grandmother dies, and she finds out that shockingly! she actually had four older brothers who now take her in. With that, I Hate You♥, and Pick of the Litter, it makes us wonder what other manga about big families is out there, or if we actually happen to be translating all of the ones there are. (Except Pick of the Litter is over, so it's not really the progressive tense with that one.) We like them a lot, so maybe we'll get to do even more! Yay!"
Apparently we were very excited in 2008. Makes sense, since that's the year we went to Japan, and the year we met Toshihiko Seki, and the year we got annual passes to Disneyland. That was a good year.
Anyway, Me & My Brothers is the first title we worked on from the middle, that wasn't volume one of a sequel. We started the series from volume six, and wondered why they didn't just assign it to us to begin with, but, as Athena says, "I guess other translators need to eat, too." TokyoPop sent us all the volumes up through six, but the first two were in English (and we had to send back the rest), so it became a good opportunity to see what English-translated manga was looking like those days. Since we're stuck-up like that, I'm sure we rolled our eyes at certain phrases that sounded off, but it must not have been too bad, because the only thing we really remember was the reference to Abigail Breslin.
See, Sakura (the heroine) is very petite and looks a lot younger than she is, so our guess (since we haven't read the Japanese version) is that Masashi (her oldest brother) compared her adorableness to a Japanese child star. In the English version, they went with Abigail Breslin, and there was an aside or a note that said, "The girl from Little Miss Sunshine." We understand why stuff gets localized, so that in and of itself was not the problem. The problem was that they went with an R-rated movie for their reference, and at the time, we hadn't really heard of Abigail Breslin (although our sister was a fairly big fan of her brother Spencer--she loooved The Kid), so we figured that no one would really get the reference unless they'd seen that one movie, which was R-rated, and the manga was rated Teen (not that we don't think teens watch R-rated movies, but we avoid them ourselves and we think it's not a bad idea to not encourage younger teens to go see them; also, R-rated comedies tend to be pretty nasty). But we had heard of Dakota Fanning, and since we knew who Dakota Fanning was, we figured probably everybody else had heard of her, too, because we haven't heard of anybody. Plus, they could then use a reference to a more family-friendly movie.
Of course, that's just our opinion, and everyone's entitled to their own.
Anyway, we immediately fell in love with the series. We always like to see people caring about each other, and that's pretty much what the series is about. And even though it's not a fantasy series, there are several chapters with a bit of a mystical flavor to them. And it's just nice.
Athena just reminded me that we had other artistic differences with the English adaptation writer. There was one chapter where...shoot, I don't remember very much, but there was a chapter that involved the Shinsengumi for some reason. Athena says they were at one of those historical Japanese village places where you can rent costumes. Anyway, the Shinsengumi was involved, and it came up in the dialogue. We left it as Shinsengumi and wrote a note, but we figured that most people reading manga would probably have heard of the Shinsengumi, and we had faith that the people down the line (adapter, editor) would just have a little margin note for the people who didn't know what it was. Instead, they took our note and "translated" the term...to something we only remember as sounding really weird. It's probably not so bad to people who aren't purists and/or haven't heard of the Shinsengumi, but since we only ever talk about the Shinsengumi with people who already know what it is, it's hard not to think that "doesn't everybody know about the Shinsengumi?" It was a little off-putting.
Overall, the series was pretty easy to translate. I remember having a difficult time with the term "happou bijin," which refers to someone who acts differently depending on the people he or she is with, so as to be attractive (a bijin, beautiful person) to people from all persuasions (happou, eight directions). As far as we know, there's not really a term for this in English, but we were watching Scrubs at the time, and I remember thinking that the way JD described the surgeon he fell in love with made me think she was a good example. I don't remember how we ended up dealing with it. Anyway, I guess we'll give the series a difficulty rating of four.
It's hard to choose a favorite character, because they're all so great. I lean towards Masashi because of the romance, and Tsuyoshi was really great keeping Masashi in line. Takashi was great because we like the intellectual majime type, and Takeshi was great whenever he did something other than stand in the background (which he was also great at), and Nana and Nene were great because they were, and of course we can't forget Naka-chan and Suzuki-kun. Oh my goodness, Naka-chan was hilarious. And she was so great in the CD drama. Everyone in that was so perfectly cast.
Today I'm thankful for remembering the Me & My Brothers CD bonus drama about the miai, cookies that make great vehicles for chocolate chips, getting to play with our Codee toys yesterday (so awesome; we're going to have to get more), the creature design changes for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and making much better progress on Saiyuki Ibun today.