But now, I have more manga to talk about!
Portrait of M & N
I feel like there should be a story surrounding our assignment to this series, but all I can remember (and all we get from email) is that they needed somebody to take over at volume three, and since we were already translating Gakuen Alice (same manga artist), we were the logical choice. There may have been some feeling of rejection upon discovering that TokyoPop had licensed it and not assigned it to us (we're already translating Gakuen Alice! why wouldn't they give it to us?), and it definitely helped confirm the theory that just because TokyoPop is publishing something already doesn't mean we personally would never be given the translation assignment. (Of course, that should be in the past tense, because TokyoPop is...not...? in business anymore? We think they still do Hetalia...)
So anyway, we ended up translating the series after all, and balance was restored. And of course we got the assignment at volume three--we're pretty sure any translator faced with translating a volume like that would want to quit. Not that it's super hard, just that there's soooo much text, it really wasn't worth just $3 a page.
The series is about a boy with a narcissist disorder and a girl with a masochist disorder and their unlikely romance. In Japan, narcissists are called N, and masochists are called M; hence Portrait of M & N (also, the main characters had names starting with those letters). I think ultimately there was some S in there (sadism), but I don't think it was official, or nearly as bad as the N or M. Anyway, the manga artist threw in some more characters and hilarity ensued. It was kind of funny, because Athena remembers this being the series where a review of volume two complained about how it's another series where the girl has no female friends, so we figured that reviewer would be happy to read volume three.
This series stands out to us as the one that would have proven that American Southern dialect is an acceptable substitute for Japanese Kansai dialect...if volume five had ever made it to print. I think I wrote a post about this already, but here's the deal: the series takes place in...Osaka or Kyoto. Somewhere in the Kansai region. But all of the characters use the standard Tokyo dialect. This was especially confusing to some readers in Japan, who knew that Tachibana Higuchi, the artist, was from the Kansai area herself. So Higuchi-sensei had a whole bonus manga about why she decided to ditch the dialect idea. ...Aside from her embarrassment of making it sound horrible.
What she did was replace dialogue from favorite scenes with each of the characters so that it had a Kansai dialect, and comment on how that changed certain characters' images, and whether or not it worked for the series. I don't remember the details anymore, but Athena and I thought of as many English dialects as we could (which, granted, isn't that many) and applied them to each of the scenes to see if the images changed the same way Higuchi-sensei said they did with Kansai dialect. The only two dialects that worked were American Southern and maybe Irish. And as Americans, not only can we not properly judge how someone from the UK would perceive an Irish accent, but we don't feel qualified to convey Irish as opposed to standard American English (not to mention, how would Irish compare to standard American English as opposed to standard British English?). So we default to American Southern.
And if only that volume had made it to print, we would be able to point it out to all the manga reviewers that complain about the "lack of creativity" and "inaccuracy" of translating a Kansai dialect into an American Southern one.
The other main thing we remember about this series is in the part where they went to the beach, there's one panel where, in the background, our narcissist Natsuhiko was giving a lecture to the female friend on skin cream, sunscreen, etc. Athena noticed it and pointed it out to me, because she was busy numbering every single instance of text on every page, and she had to check the skin cream bottle to see if it had a legible label or not. Higuchi-sensei pointed it out in the afterword, saying she was sad how few people commented on it (in fan letters, etc.), and we were like, "We noticed it!" We thought about tweeting at her to let her know, but we were too timid.
As I said before, it wasn't an exceptionally difficult translation, but it was extremely time-consuming. I think we had a translation script that ended up being, like, 300 pages long. Even with TokyoPop's ridiculously space-consuming format, that's long. So on the translation difficulty scale, I'm going to give it a seven for sheer text density. Well, that, and there were a few topics we weren't used to covering, which tend to be difficult to translate because we don't know the vocabulary in Japanese or English, and so have to look up words.
I think that the favorite character is Hijiri. Are we biased because he was voiced by Akira Ishida in the CD drama? Yes. Yes, we are. But he's still a really fun character, and his little brother was taken to Alice Academy and became a pretty awesome character in Gakuen Alice.
We never did finish the series--TokyoPop shut down before we got to the end. But we do have the last volume...in a box, somewhere in our storage unit. Maybe someday we'll read it, and we'll know how the series ended.
Today I'm thankful for knowing that evidence exists that an American Southern accent is an acceptable Kansai dialect equivalent, having time to play on the iPad today, Page coming inside so we could turn the heater on, having plans to make Muddy Buddies tonight, and getting to watch more Burn Notice last night.