And since I don't have any especially interesting stories about Logan...well, there was the tiny incident on the way home. Mickey really hates being in the car, especially if it's not moving, so anytime we hit a red light, the crying started. The only way to deal with it was to ignore it (and pray for fewer red lights), so mostly that's what we did. But on the way home, Mickey was crying again, and Logan was really excited to be going back to Pa's house, so he turned to his little brother and said, as if to get him to stop crying, "No, I'an' go Pa's house!"
...Maybe you had to be there.
Anyway, we still have a multi-part series to continue.
This assignment came almost a year and a half after our last new assignment (Maid Sama!), and we didn't get to start with volume one, so it did nothing to help assuage our fears that our clients were beginning to abandon us in favor of more favored (and/or cheaper) translators. In fact, we got this assignment because the first translator on it was having a difficult time meeting deadlines for the series, which was on a tighter schedule than normal. So once again, we're called in to save the day...and we keep thinking, "Why don't they just ask us in the first place?"
(As you may have guessed, the lack of new manga work in over a year had us pretty cynical by that time. We had other work, with which we had an on-again-off-again love-hate relationship, so that didn't help.)
Anyway, the reason for the tighter schedule is that the Deltora Quest manga was based on a fantasy novel series of the same name, so it needed a lot more approvals. Approvals take time to get, so translations needed to be turned in on time or else. As for us, we had seen most of the anime series and liked it pretty well (despite the anime adaptation not actually being all that good, in our opinions), so we were pretty sad to find out Kodansha was translating the manga and not letting us do it.
Of course we were happy when we ended up with the assignment after all. And we used it as a great opportunity to buy the books! They were written by an Australian woman, so we didn't have to worry too much about the extra time it takes to read novels in Japanese, and we were able to find the whole series pretty easily on Amazon. Probably the hardest thing about it was finishing the series, wanting to read more, and not being able to get a hold of the third Deltora series...which we did order from Amazon, but it never showed up at our doorstep. It may or may not have fallen prey to the package thief our next-door neighbor told us about when he rescued another package for us.
I probably don't need to point out that we loved the novels, but I'm pointing it out anyway. They were written for a slightly young audience (like the literary equivalent of a Y7 rating? maybe an E10+), which happens to be the demographic whose entertainment we enjoy the most. (Teen Titans go!) The characters are great, the themes are great, there were even some plot twists that were really surprising! And we read somewhere that the author came up with the idea after realizing how much her (grand?)sons love video games, so we're guessing the Legend of Zelda vibe was no accident. No wonder the series was popular enough in Japan to be made into a video game, a manga, and an anime.
Translating the manga was...very easy for the most part. It was very actiony. Lots of big pictures without much text. It was like a super abbreviated version of the books, too, so again there was a lot less to translate. And since it was based on a series of Australian fantasy novels, we had very few translation notes to deal with (and therefore less research to back them up).
The biggest challenge was finding the balance between taking dialogue straight from the novels, or translating it without looking the lines up. An interesting thing to note about the book was that the characters actually never use contractions (and yet it doesn't sound awkward that they don't--it took us a while to even notice). So we weren't sure whether we should follow suit or not...except for the fact that two volumes were translated before we got the assignment, and of course we didn't want to be too inconsistent. Ultimately we decided that since the Japanese dialogue used Japanese contractions, it was okay for the English dialogue to use English contractions. There was definitely a higher degree of silliness in the manga--Lief and Jasmine fighting a lot more, for example.
Oh right, I haven't actually explained what the series is about. (Forgot to do that with Maid Sama, too...) It's about the kingdom of Deltora, which was taken over by the Shadow Lord several years ago, and the only way to conquer him and take it back is to collect the gems and place them in the Belt of Deltora, place the Belt on the true heir to the kingdom, and restore peace and happiness and stuff. So it's like the Legend of Zelda--our heroes go from place to place, beating a boss at each terrifying location and retrieving one of the gems. It's pretty fun stuff.
The manga obviously had some differences, and most of the time we just chalked it up to "here's how we fit in the most important stuff," but there was one part where it just went waaay off. We got to that part and were like, "What the--!? What are you doing!? (<--to the manga artist)" That turned out to be especially challenging, because Emily Rodda (the original author) always left clues in each book to tell the heroes (and the readers) what the Important Secret is, and usually it involves the main characters only getting part of the clue, and having to figure out what the rest of it is on their own, often after realizing that their first attempt at figuring it out was wrong. In the Shifting Sands, the manga decided to take the incorrect assumption of the main characters and make it the fact. It was especially "fun" for us, because changing the filled-in blanks for the Japanese version worked well enough, but switching it to English grammar made it not work so well for us.
Speaking of clues and Japanese versus English...a lot of the time, the characters had to solve word puzzles. This wasn't usually a problem for us, because we figured we should just stick with the original English puzzle anyway, and therefore we didn't have to come up with any new puzzles. But there was one puzzle (in The Valley of the Lost) where the clue was a picture. Obviously in a novel, the translator can change the description of the picture to fit the puzzle better without too much trouble. But when that changed description becomes a real picture in a manga, and the picture doesn't match the original English clue...well, that's where you run into problems. We had to email our boss on that and ask what he wanted us to do. I don't remember how we ended up dealing with it--either we translated the Japanese straight and left a translation note, or we came up with a new thing entirely.
Despite all that, I'd probably only give the series a two on the translation difficulty scale. Maybe a three, because it was really hard to pin down Barda's character voice. We seem to always have trouble with the valiant knight types. Do they talk like a hardened warrior, or do they talk like a proper palace denizen? Where's the middle ground? I don't know!
I think the favorite character is probably Lief. He was a punk in the first volume (of the novels...he was kind of a punk throughout the entire manga series), but he got much better. But all the characters are pretty great. And one of these days, we're going to get Dragons of Deltora and find out more about him...
Today I'm thankful for getting to see the voice of Balthier on Burn Notice, getting a free plush at Chik-Fil-A, our favorite Chik-Fil-A employee saving the day and getting more cookies for us (Steve ordered a dozen, they only had one half-dozen pack left, so they took five of the individual ones (which was all they had left)...and we got a free plush as an apology), Candy Crush fruit snacks, and having a copy of Oliver Twist with which to continue our Disney Reading Project.