The Maho route is translated. It wasn’t my favorite route when I first read it, but having to engage with each line individually has given me some new perspective on what’s going on. It is an introspective route where Kida and Maho search for answers to the questions posed by the other routes in a rather explicit Socratic dialogue.
It also presented me with a chance to reflect on how I approached this translation. Maho is the only character to address Kida as “Senpai” rather than his name. Up until this point, I had decided to drop most usages of honorifics as the various dynamics between relationships didn’t change enough to draw additional attention to them. An astute listener should still be able to quickly grasp what honorifics characters use for each other and adjust their impressions accordingly.
Maho’s route is a different case though, and I found it a disservice to pretend that the word didn’t exist when the kouhai-senpai relationship was such a pivotal aspect of the route. Due to the way the game handles the protagonist’s name, you never actually hear the Kida’s name or the honorifics used to address him in voiced dialog. However, because Maho always addresses Kida as Senpai, which can stand alone naturally without a name, so you do hear her explicitly address Kida by the way she calls him. This is actually a rather interesting detail about the language that leads to some additional emphasis on the honorific, whether accidental or not.
So Senpai stays in. Kind of. While I no longer have to do gymnastics around the word and doing things like translating it to “Upperclassman,” I am still dropping it when it is used as an honorific in the same vein as “Kun” or “San.” The sentences just get too unwieldy when there are multiple senpais being addressed at once, and there is still the issue of character economy and the limited space in textboxes. I realize that this is a pretty controversial topic and that many readers have their set preferences. Not everyone will be perfectly happy, but I hope people can be understand the compromises that are being made. This translation is grounded in two very different languages, and I intend it to be more of a bridge between the two rather than a pure replacement, capturing as much of the textual beauty of the original while acknowledging that some patterns don’t quite work so well in English.
Work has also already gone underway with the Sumadera route. The translation part of the project is approaching its end, and I hope to be able to focus primarily on editing soon.