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Alethea & Athena
Here we go again 
23rd-Oct-2014 06:03 pm
Oh man, we made a mistake today. After we check email, LJ, Facebook, etc., we like to play a little Kingdom Hearts [chi] before getting to work. On Thursdays it's always a little extra exciting because Wednesday night (actually Thursday afternoon in Japan) is when they do maintenance and add shiny things to the game. But when we got to the game this morning, it was shut down for some emergency maintenance, and it was going to be another half an hour before it was back up again.

We were still determined to get our morning Kingdom Hearts session in, but in the interest of not being total slackers, we thought we'd work on something first. We had just turned in our translation of Say I Love You 7, and what with everything on our schedule, we had several options to choose from as to what to do today. Our next deadline is for My Little Monster 7, with another Say I Love You due soon after that--we've always been pretty close to the wire on Say I Love You, so it might be nice to our editor if we tried to get this one in superfast! (also, it's the only series we have with that editor, and we haven't really been able to show him that we're capable of working superfast!). There was also the option of taking a day off to work on costumes, but that option was blah for many reasons, including the fact that we've taken way too many days off lately already, and we're set to take a bunch more off very soon.

Finally, there's the Manga Translation Battle. We still hadn't decided what we want to translate for that (if anything), and since half an hour wasn't a great amount of time to get much work done anyway, we decided to do a little research. We went to the translation battle's website to see if we could get more information on which series would help us win. We read an interview with one of the past winners that had us all snippy about that person's attitude, which was bad enough, but then we made the mistake of reading the judges' comments on the winning entries from last year.

It's not necessarily that we disagree with the judges--in fact, that's exactly the problem. We read their multiple comments about how vitally important character voice is, and how "this translator really did well with that," and it was hard not to automatically finish those comments with, "Unlike those other loser translators." We know full well that it might have been a very close match, and the runners-up might have done a very good job with character voice, too. They just didn't comment on the runners-up, and we don't know why each entry was chosen over, say, ours.

(As a sidenote, we've always been aware of the possibility that we didn't win last year because we're already in the industry, the winner wasn't, and maybe they wanted to prioritize amateurs over professionals because the professionals don't need the break. The little information we got on other winners seems to corroborate this theory, but in that case, it might be a good idea to say so, because otherwise, you're just adding fuel to the pirates' arguments of, "Scanslators are so much better!")

So then, two things happen. First, we start to get nitpicky about the judges' comments. Second, we start second-guessing everything about our translation choices. Their insistence that character voice is so important would be great, because we agree, but since we didn't win, we're like, "You're right, all our characters sounds the same! Ooooohhhh nooooo!!" And since we thought character voice was one of our strengths in translation, it gets tough. So we maintain our sanity by convincing ourselves that the only reason the other Acchi Kocchi translator beat us is that she used an accent for one of the characters, because at least two of the judges said, "Especially Mayoi," in their praise of her character voice.

And then we say, "Ugh, forget everything," and decide to work on My Little Monster because we just did Say I Love You and we could use a change of scenery. (Normally we would say forget everything and go play Kingdom Hearts, but we already explained the whole "we can't take any more days off" thing.) And I think we're doing okay, because it was probably not even half the time we spent working that we were like, "Ugh, these characters all sound the same. We don't know how to write character voice at all!! Should we try harder to represent Natsume's polite speech? What about Yamaken? He's smart but kind of a punk! What do we do? I don't know! Aaaahhh!!"

Other times we were like, "I don't know what we were so worried about. We're doing totally awesome with these characters." But most of the time, we were like, "We're going to have to change it all when we have the whole context anyway. Whatever."

And it had the added bonus of making us cry! Not because of insecurities, but because the story was kind of tear-jerking. It totally caught me off-guard. This just doesn't seem like the kind of series to do that. I'd go into it more, but of course that would be spoilery.

Today I'm thankful for finally getting to play Kingdom Hearts [chi], making good progress on work today, getting to eat cocoa peanuts, getting to sing along to "You are the HERO!!", and Page totally ignoring the "draw a circle on the floor to catch a cat" trick.
23rd-Oct-2014 10:50 pm (UTC)
Aww, I wouldn't have expected My Little Monster to be a tear-jerker either, but I guess that's a good thing—when a story hits just that right note and stirs up emotions without seeming like it had set out to be emotionally manipulative.

You guys really do excellent translation work. I think (hope) you know that intellectually, but I'll affirm it anyway! And I get using an accent to establish character voice and sometimes that helps readers, but the accent itself shouldn't necessarily be the end of it—it almost feels like a shortcut in a way, if that's the only thing that sets the voice apart as distinct. So I think being able to differentiate characters by other less-obvious markers is a skill to appreciate. (and I'm not saying the winning translation didn't do that—I honestly don't remember at this point.) Don't be discouraged!!

On the topic of Say I Love You, I got v4 today and I neeeeed to know... did Yamato use emoji in his emails to Mei??? In the English version they used ☺︎ and ☹ faces and some running-person icon that looks like a crosswalk pictograph and I caaaaan't picture any Japanese teen using those (or American teens, either, with emoji all over smartphones and facebook) . Plus they totally center-aligned the text on the phone and I'm pretty sure no phone displays texts/emails that way. Graaaah. Anyway, sorry to sidetrack this comment... other than a minor detail that was unreasonably important to me, the volume and the afterword by Hazuki-sensei were good reads! Reading this part of the story was much less frustrating than watching it in the anime... (I also really liked the note for the "small face" compliment—it's another thing I see now and then in shoujo manga, but it did sound like a funny, random comment if someone wasn't familiar with that background. The Land note was fun to read too!)

edit: Lastly, I'm bummed that Page didn't fall for the catch-a-cat trick (though you must be okay with it since it's in your thankful list. there's a certain amusement to be found in a cat's defiance of expectations), but now you've started me thinking I should give it a try with my own test subjects...

Edited at 2014-10-24 02:55 am (UTC)
24th-Oct-2014 02:27 am (UTC)
Yup, in general I think that if something makes me cry, it's usually good storytelling. There are a few exceptions, most notably Toy Story 3, which made me cry but made me angry for making me cry at the same time--it hit nostalgia buttons but we mostly hated the movie.

Aww, thanks for the affirmation! Everyone needs it occasionally, so we really, really appreciate it. We agree that an accent in and of itself is not a sign of being able to write character voice, but we haven't even read the translation in question, so we're in no position to talk. (We were going to, but the text was small and we couldn't figure out how to zoom in, plus we'd had enough trauma for the day.)

The answer is yes, Yamato does use emoji when he texts. Usually in translations we represent those as [SMILEY], not realizing until just now that if they're working with clean scans, they're not going to know what the original looked like. It probably didn't help that in this case, the first one he used was ^^ but with a little rectangle under it that we don't know how to recreate in type. There's also a stick-figure running man, and one that looks like this: X_X

Except for that last one, our guess would be that it's kind of like in Facebook, how you can put in <3, and it will automatically change to a heart, or the codes that let you make a shark or penguin. Or like on message boards where you can pull up a menu that lets you choose which emoticons you want to use. The first one especially seems to fit that description, because it almost looks like a normal emoji, but the rectangle really is under the ^^ and not between them. Later, there are texts (from other people) with things like scissors in them.

Yeah, the "small face" thing was something that had us a little puzzled for a long time, but we never bothered to look it up because it wasn't an issue in anything we translated until now. So we were like, "If we're confused by it, chances are the readers will be, too."

Haha, you're right, we were amused at Page's defiance, but there's a little more to it. I thought about explaining in a parenthetical but I was too apathetic by that point. When we saw that article that has all the pictures of cats inside almost imaginary circles, we thought, "Yeah, Page is kind of like that!" She instantly took to her round cat bed, and it wasn't long before she was using our giant snake plush as a bed (although now she likes to customize it, so instead of being on top of it, she'll open up a space in its coils and be on the floor with it wrapped around her; I'll take a picture if it happens after we get a memory card). But she tends to do it more with rectangular things--a reusable grocery bag that tends to get left on the floor, some green CD Japan packing paper that got left on the floor (though in that case it was deliberate, because cats like playing with paper).

So we have this long piece of fabric that I use as one of Page's favorite interactive toys, and today we thought, "Hey, let's leave it on the floor in a circle and see if Page goes inside it!" So we did, and she mostly ignored it until the one time she walked over it. And that's the story, which we found highly amusing.
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