For the handful of people keeping track of this project, the Sumadera route is complete. I think for many readers, Sumadera’s route leaves an especially strong impression, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the writing in this route was the only reason I wanted to start this project. Hopefully the words can speak for themselves.
That marks the end of the first pass on Tenshi no Inai 12gatsu and the beginning of the more collaborative parts of the process. The plan is to do an initial translation check, and then a more involved editing pass.
I didn’t write an update last month because not much happened. I received Fire Emblem Engage, and was thoroughly addicted for the entire month. There is a common complaint that the story is weak, but in my opinion, the writing is not too different than what you would expect out of a tokusatsu or magic girl show. In that regard, its execution was quite effective. While the localization is likely fine for the most part, there are small decisions here and there that detract from the kind of world building they were trying to accomplish. This is certainly a case where having an open mind and some cultural context would improve your enjoyment. A more direct translation and less localization might have been effective here, letting the reader engage more freely so they can build their own interpretation.
I still somehow managed to squeeze some reading in, finishing up my reading of the Fagles translation of The Odyssey and Bloom into you: Regarding Saeki Sayaka #2.
There’s quite a lot to say about the Odyssey, one of the most re-translated books of all time. Fagles writes in verse sometimes, but doesn’t force it. He is willing to completely break the conventions of English grammar to stay in metre. It emphasizes how important the actual sound and structure of the original work is, and the difficulty of capturing that while retaining the lexical meaning of the words. Sometimes you can’t do it all, and it’s the destination language itself that is the problem. It worked for me. This shows that a contract can be written between the translator and the reader, where the reader agrees to compromise and think a little more in terms of the original language in order to get an image that better captures the colors and texture of the original.
Saeki Sayaka ni Tsuite was a surprising read for me. I honestly had no idea what to expect from a novelization cashing in on license, but it turned out to be a thoughtful, introspective, and poetic experience. I realize now that even in a medium made for mass consumption, there is some high quality writing being done, and one shouldn’t be quick to snub it as somehow less literary. I’m honestly excited to explore more contemporary “low brow” novels to see what I’ve been missing out on.
That being said, my current read is Blood Meridian, which doesn’t exactly fit that description. To be honest, if you can read a typical novel in Japanese, you’ll feel right at home with Cormac McCarthy. The sparsity of punctuation, refusal to explicitly name the speaker, weird connections of sentence fragments–all of these require you to feel out the sentence and base your interpretation more heavily on context. This is basically how Japanese works as a language, and it never struck me as out of the ordinary that these things were going on. The author doesn’t owe the reader to write only in a way that is easy to understand, and can do some interesting things if the reader has an open mind about what can be done with the language.
This is just a brief outline of the things I’ve been thinking about while reading. I hope to do some more of the long form writing I was planning on doing in the beginning of the year once things get less busy.