Hi all, I’m PlumJucie, the translator of Okitegami. I’ll start off by saying that I have NOT read any of NiSiO iSiN’s other works. I just haven’t had time yet. I also have not watched the live-action adaptation of Okitegami. Here in this blog post, I’m just going to address some of the questions people have had, and also some of my own thoughts while reading it.
“What the heck went on with the releases? They were so infrequent!”
First of all, if you know who the author is, and you know how well he writes, you’d take an eternity translating him too, if you cared about quality. I haven’t read any of his works, and this is a manga adaptation, and I can still feel that his writing is a high-quality work of art.
Well, also I’m a translator whore and I loan myself out to 8 other series, so that takes up my time, too.
If his writing is so great, how do you think your translation compares?”
There are some series where I’m just like, ‘nice, I think my sentence hit the spot.’ Well this isn’t one of them, haha. But it’s not about the accuracy; it’s about just being able to read Japanese in general. When you read a translation of any manga, the biggest thing you’re missing out on is the Japanese itself. I can translate the story for you anytime, but if you want to know a few extra quirks, the emotions, and the subtle lingual patterns of a character, that would take essays. For instance, you can read the translation of Kyoko speaking and get a “cutesy” gist from her, but when you read the Japanese, you get another side, a grammatical side, a stylistic side, a side that you can’t understand without understanding the language.
Anyway, I do my best with the translation, but there’s a certain wall that I can’t get over, so unfortunately that area’s restricted access to those who are bilingual.
“What sets this manga’s writing apart from other manga?”
The flow, I’d say. Conversations flow as smooth as silk in this manga. In some manga, I feel like I have to stretch my mind a bit to understand their replies to each other, and it’s not even because of a lack of understanding of culture sometimes. It’s just poor or weird dialogue writing imo, hah.
One more thing that’s different is the formality of the dialogue. The majority of the dialogue is done in formal or business terms, so you’ll see me write stiffer conversational sentences. Like a book versus a script. In most manga, you’ll see scenes with friends talking with each other informally, but in this, I don’t think I’ve seen Kyoko drop a beat yet, aside from that middle school girl investigation joke.
“So is it difficult to translate?”
It’s not bad. The hard part is writing the English up to par, since I can’t just write, “hey guys, what’s up?” Everything is situational.
But everyone always tells me that there’s way more than meets the eye with NiSiO’s works, so I may have missed things. Without having read his other works, currently I’m just inclined to think it’s one of those “palate cleanser” works that he described in the Sunaga Hirube arc.
“Is there any significance to the characters’ names?”
Yes. Have I researched all of them? No. But here’s my simple take on Kyoko and Yakusuke:
Okitegami Kyoko – Okitegami, her last name, has the same reading (but different kanji) as a farewell letter. A letter left behind. Her character forgets, but leaves memos/notes/letters for her future self. So the title is also a pun on her name, since it can be translated as Okitegami’s Memo, “Memo’s memo,” hahaha.
Kakushidate Yakusuke – Kakushidateru means to be secretive, but the second kanji is replaced with the kanji for building or house. Secret house? House of secrets? Could be something like that. His first name, Yakusuke, can also be read as “yakkai” meaning annoying, troublemaker, someone who needs to be cared for. Anyway he’s an unlucky guy who always needs help, as you all know.
The rest of the characters names are all puns, most certainly. I remember the partner who brought this series up to me, and he asked me to translate the chapter titles without having read the chapters yet. I stared blankly at “Hijiori Oritetsu” for a good couple minutes before telling him, “lol, no.” (Who could’ve known that was a name, lmao.)
Thank you all for reading my translations. It has been a joy translating this series. If you have any more questions, I will try my best to answer them in the comments.
Special thanks to MOE for first bringing it up to me way back when I first started translating back in 2015. (He was the typesetter for the first half!)
Special thanks to THE SICKEST RINGO MAIN NA for always bearing with me and my barrage of incomprehensible questions about Japanese grammar. simultaneously start translating and cleaning -> prioritize cleaning the pages requiring redraws -> prioritize cleaning the series that are translated sooner -> use translations to typeset pages -> finalize redraws with the English text on them while the non-redraw pages are being typeset.
Oh and the other important thing; we’ve been working with a group channel similar to IRC for a while now, so all our translators share their dedicated channel and whenever anything comes up they have trouble translating with, they can always buzz the others and get some advice or ideas. It’s really useful both in terms of speeding up finding solutions for problematic lines but also in the actual final quality we produce because there’s so much input by all our people.
We don’t really have any particularly strict internal hierarchies, everything is pretty horizontal. For translations, though, we have some translators who “rank” higher in that they either have more years of experience with Japanese or their fields of study in university are actually useful (take voxanimus for instance, who took Japanese at the graduate level and is a linguistics major, pretty ideal for translating if you ask me). These guys and gals are there to provide help with complex structures or even TL check entire chapters. The difference, by the way, between TL checking and proofreading is that a TL checker looks at both the translation and the original text and often rewrites lines entirely or finds possible misinterpretations and whatnot. Nevertheless, although voxanimus is the main TL checker, we also get his One Piece translations TL checked by eucalyptus – nobody is above or beyond checks and quality controls. (Update: Incidentally, eucalyptus recently took over OP from vox 2 weeks ago while she’s completely free from university duties). We just really try hard to get everything as correct as possible. Ego is just not an issue within our ranks.
Not that we don’t proofread and quality check as well. Every redraw is double-checked, and so is the typesetting. The releases on a whole are read by a bunch of people, our staff has some pretty intense fans for these series after all. We spend hours discussing arcs, plotlines, characters and whatnot in the chat. So whenever we find something off or that could still be improved afterwards, it’s also brought up and the page is updated. Plus, we do read your comments, a lot more than you might think. Partly to make sure we don’t miss any mistakes that you all do us the favor of pointing out, or to answer questions when they may arise. Mostly because we like hearing what you all have to say. Really.
So yeah, basically the process is repeated throughout the day, with some people coming and others going. And now to get to the actual point why I even bothered to write this all up; We’d love some extra hands!
Are you interested in joining our team? You can not only help us improve the quality further, release faster and lighten the workload on our team but also join a super cool club of really hardcore fans (and, surprisingly, pretty fun people) – we do have a lot of fun, otherwise we wouldn’t bother coming back week after week, and we’re willing to teach you all you need to know to be of use. We went out of our way and prepared a forum entirely dedicated to showing you the ropes, no matter which position you’re interested in. As of now, not all sections are completed, but you can find out all about the status and positions we need to fill right over here.
A Few Notes about Nomenclature in One Piece Posted May 19th, 2016 by Jinn
A few (rather important) new characters and epithets were introduced in this week’s chapter. We ended up going back and forth a few times with the romanization of their names, and there appears to be a bit of confusion among you all as well, so I thought I’d just come forward and clear the air.
Let’s talk about Sanji’s older sister. Her name in katakana is レイジュ. This is pronounced “Ray-joo.” The standard romanization for this name would be “Reiju.” Initially, I wasn’t too much of a fan of this spelling, as I felt it didn’t look appropriately “feminine.” She herself is clearly quite feminine, and her charms/flirtyness are a part of her character. At first, then, I didn’t (and still don’t) feel that the word “Reiju” looked like the kind of name a character like that should have. Her name is very close to the word “Rouge,” a relatively common name for similar “sexy possibly villanous woman” archetype characters. (Anyone ever played Sonic Adventure 2?) I therefore decided that Reige would be a better romanization; it maintains the pronunciation while fitting more with the image of the character.
However, after thinking about it a bit more, I realized it was more important to preserve the commonality in the patterning of the Vinsmoke children’s names. As many of you probably already know, the Vinsmoke siblings introduced so far all have a number at the beginning of their names. Additionally, with the introduction of Yonji and Reige/Reiju, we can perhaps guess that the pattern is “number + j + vowel.” The “Reige” spelling goes against this patterning, and makes it seem like Reiju is somehow unique or different than her siblings, a conclusion I would rather avoid readers jumping to. So I ended up switching the name back. This happened pretty soon after the chapter was released, within about 10 minutes.
Next, let’s talk about name ordering. This was basically just my mistake. For those who aren’t aware, Japanese names are traditionally written with one’s surname or “last” name first. Obama Barack, Smith Will, etc. In certain series (Haikyu, BNHA, TG) we reverse the ordering because it can be confusing for readers to identify which is a character’s first name and which isn’t, especially when they are referred to by both. However, there’s a strong existing precedent for NOT swapping names in One Piece, because “Luffy D. Monkey” just sounds weird. We’ve gotten used to the other ordering, and the rest of the names should follow suit. I forgot about that this week. My apologies. The name ordering is now fixed; it took me a bit longer than I’d like to get around to having it switched, however.
Finally, while we’re talking about ordering, I’d like to offer my thoughts on the epithets of the two newly-introduced Vinsmoke siblings. People seem to be preferring an ordering that has the color come first, followed by the noun. That is, “Green Winch,” not “Winch Green.” Unfortunately, the latter ordering is the one given in the raws. Additionally, the epithet is not written in kanji or hiragana like a regular name; it literally is “Winchu Guriin” in katakana. with the information we have at the moment, I don’t feel that that’s enough to assume that it’s an actual name and should therefore be reordered, especially given what I just mentioned about not reordering names in One Piece. People have also pointed to Sanji’s name as an example of a “switched” ordering, but the two aren’t exactly comparable. The reason Sanji’s epithet, “Black Leg,” is written in that order is because it is fundamentally different from his other siblings (so far, at least). As I mentioned earlier, “Winch Green” and “Poison Pink” are written in katakana. “Black Leg” is written in Kanji, and it’s often written in the Japanese text after Sanji’s own name, similar to how “Pirate Hunter” comes after Zoro’s, or “Straw Hat” after Luffy’s. Adjective ordering in Japanese dictates that these epithets be placed in FRONT of the names they describe. That’s why you get “Straw Hat Luffy” not “Luffy the Straw Hat.” As far as we can tell in this chapter, “Winch Green” and “Poison Pink” do not follow this pattern. Reiju refers to herself just as “the Poison Pink,” not “Reiju the Poison Pink” or “Poison Pink Reiju.” Of course, this information may change as we learn more about these characters, but at the moment, given the information we do have, I don’t think we can assume that the ordering of the epithets of the two Vinsmoke siblings should be switched.
Thanks as always for your support.
Hunter x Hunter Translations Information Posted Apr 20th, 2016 by beta
Just got a quick info regarding Hunter x Hunter for you today. The series takes about 2-3 times as long to translate as One Piece (the 2nd longest series in our weekly line-up), but at the same time, for many of us on the team, it’s their favorite.
We have various systems of proofreading set up for all our series, ranging from simply reading through it while typesetting (putting the text into the bubbles) and making sure there aren’t any typos to having a 2nd translator attached to a series who reads both, the raws and the primary translation fully – making sure no meaning is lost and often offering alternative phrasing options to the primary translator.
In the case of Hunter x Hunter, we have our most veteran translator working on the series, whose translations we generally only look through for typos and such and who makes those lightning-fast releases possible in the first place by staying up well into the early morning hours every week for us all. However, HxH is not an easy series to translate by any means. Not only is it extremely text-heavy, but often also worded very ambiguously, with complex grammar and vocabulary; especially so in the current arc where Togashi is throwing one complex scenario into the mix after another, along with dictionary-styled explanations for them all — leaving us feeling like Gon.
But as I mentioned above, it IS the staff’s darling, so we go through extra lengths for it. We have several translators going through the chapters bubble by bubble, offering alternative readings. (For better understanding; Japanese often doesn’t clarify who is talking to who or about who as pronouns tend to be omitted and/or unclear.) Given the length of the chapters and people involved, our goal is to have an updated, final, as-close-to-perfect-as-possible chapter that we’re all very happy with by the following week. Thus, we highly recommend that you all re-read the previous week’s chapter now before reading the current one.
For 350, we did the update already
24h ago, about 2 days before the new chapter coming in, and we’ll definitely try to do those updates asap, but generally speaking, re-reading it on Thursdays is your safest best. Let me know in the comments if you’d like facebook updates on that progress. To give you an idea, we updated 1-2 bubbles on about half the pages. While I wouldn’t say that any of the changes affect the overall understanding of the chapter, most of them do contribute a lot to helping the dialog make more sense than previously. For instance, we changed the assumed speaker on 1-2 occasions, changed the implied (groups of) people in some other bubbles and improved the overall flow in everything else. In short: It’s definitely worth re-reading, especially if you want to be sure that you have the most complete understanding of what happened.
Finally, I just wanted to state – those complex, difficult and often rambling bubbles are most definitely INTENDED to be difficult to understand, they’re meant to look long and complex, and we aren’t fans of removing that aspect in the translation by just summarizing what it says. We’re meant to feel like this and enjoy it.
Somewhere in Translation: 07 Posted Mar 8th, 2016 by Jinn
Literal vs. Liberal
Pt. 2 – Profanity
Heya Heya, it’s DzyDzyDino again.
It’s been a little while since my last update, and for that I apologize. In between getting perpetually sick and being really busy with other projects, I just had problems finding the time! But I’m back to pick up where I left off!
Last time, I wrote a bit about Literal vs. Liberal translations. Since then, it’s something I’ve been even more aware of than usual while translating and reading.
One area where Literal vs. Liberal really raises some questions is profanity.
First, let’s talk shit.
What is shit? A “profane” word for fecal matter? A vulgar expletive? A casual word among perhaps younger and more “rowdy” people for “stuff”?
I’m taking a shit.
Look at this shit everywhere.
You’re in deep shit now.
Are you shitting me?
I don’t give a shit.
This list can go on and on, and although in some cases, maybe it literally is referring to fecal matter, not always.
So the japanese dictionary equivalent for shit, くそ (kuso) doesn’t fit in all these (or nearly any) situations. “Kuso” really just is a more vulgar term for feces that can be used as an expletive.
The pure English concept of profanity though doesn’t exist the same way in Japanese. You can be profane and vulgar without using “kuso.” You can be profane just by how you talk and who you’re talking to.
I keep bringing up “kuso” for a few reasons. One, because that’s the one people tend to know and is easily / readily available to look up online. Two, because, frankly, that’s just about where the direct translations stop.
English can be a very colorful language, and when it comes to profanity, you could paint Picasso. Cockramming assmunching fuckmongering bitchfaced dickhole of a douche pirate.
I’ve heard colorful Japanese insults thrown around, too, around drunk and rowdy Japanese folk, but the word “kuso” was not involved among them. Calling people things like “Toxic Waste” and “Scattered Trash” and stuff like that. Ugly stupid octopus. etc.
If I was translating a serious Yakuza manga, and some tough gangster who’d seen some shit was really pissed off at someone. if he stood up, slammed his fist down on the table and said “Vanish! You foolish octopus!”, what we’d have is a problem to communicate. Unless he was talking to the comic relief in the series, a magical disappearing cephalopod, this is the time for something like “Get the fuck out of my face, you. umm. douche pirate.”
You get the picture.
I keep coming back to “kuso” also because that’s really the only direct profanity translation there is. There’s nothing for fuck. Fuck? A vulgar way to describe two people having sex? It’s a lot more than that. I won’t list the options here.
When translating vulgarity in manga, usually you take a look at the character and how the phrase compares to their regular speech. Is what they’re saying way more forward than what they’d usually say? Or are they the kind of character that usually speaks pretty loose/brash to begin with?
Apart from expletives, name-calling is also a pretty common place for profanity.
In japanese, name calling usually starts with “kono!!” (with what comes after it implied possibly) or “Kono ______. ” now. If we were being super literal (and I have seen plenty of bad scanlations/translations that have done this), we would translate “kono” to the literal “this. “
このやろう！！ Kono yarou!! Yarou literally being a guy, dude, whatever. But depending on context can be very vulgar. How vulgar? It depends on the situation. If you’re shouting angrily at someone and say this, it’d come across as “You motherfucker!!” or “You bastard!” or whatever else, depending on how you say it and who you are and who they are. But of course, if we’re being super literal, we’d go “THIS GUY!!”
What are we? Guidos? “Ayyye! This guy!! This guy right ‘ere? Can you believe this guy?” No. No we are not.
殺す コロス ぶっ殺す ぶっ殺してやる
Here’s some manga favorites. The kanji in above is for korosu or “to kill.” If we’re being super-duper literal with no concept of Japanese language whatsoever, we’d type that into google translate and see it pops up as “to kill” and be like “To kill!!”
Kill is a strong word, and without getting into who would / wouldn’t say this and too far out of subject, the most usual context would be “I’m gonna kill you” “I’ll kill you.” But again, it’s so context based, it’s not going to be translated as that in every situation.
It’s a pretty heated thing to say and sometimes they’ll inflect even more “passion” into it with that little bu- prefix which kind of adds strength into the following verb. (like the internet favorite, Kake meaning to cover with, or to put on (top of). Adding a Bu- for emphasis leaves you with something for another discussion entirely.)
But so what, someone struggling for their life, enraged and out of control saying bukkorosu!! We translate as “I’m REALLY going to kill you!!” or even better, “I’m going to kill you” . IN BOLD? Come on. No. Context, people.
“I’m gonna fucking kill you!” at the very least. “You’re fucking dead.”
It really depends. And again, it might not always be profane. It really depends so much on context.
Profanity is not as cut and dry as it is in English. There are not simply “bad words” you don’t say. If we’re going there, there’s whole manners of speech you shouldn’t use, and there’s a proper way to conduct yourself, and anything going against those would be “profane” in some way, depending on context.
We read a lot of your comments and many of you feel profanity in manga feels inappropriate or doesn’t seem like what a certain character would say. For the most part, we try not to use profanity unless it actually adds something to the scene or character.
If a character who normally speaks in a rather tame tone suddenly starts speaking in a manner way more, well, vulgar than he normally speaks and is popping off at people, profanity is an excellent way to illustrate that.
If we had to, could we leave the profanity out? Sure. Some translators choose not to use any. Some translators have a vision of an anime/manga world that’s, well. PG as opposed to PG-13/R. It’s always a choice, always up for discussion, and apart from straight mistranslations, there’s always room for debate.
In the end, it all comes down to interpretation, the translator/scanlation group, and choices.
We know you trust us to bring you a quality, meaningful scanlation every week and appreciate your readership. We love the series we translate and make every choice with as much information and intent as possible. As translators, we try to convey all the meaning we found when reading the original Japanese raws into English.
I had a lot more to say and a lot more examples, but this went on way longer than I expected already. Perhaps I’ll revisit this topic at a future date, as I know it’s one that’s constantly being addressed.
Until then, from me and the crew here at mangastream, thanks as always for your readership and we hope to continue to bring you timely scanlations of the highest quality we can muster for the forseeable future!
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