Yep, another one. There aren’t as many lines that I’d like to discuss as last time, especially because the past two episodes have not been particularly hard in terms of translation. Still, there were a few interesting points I didn’t touch on before, and a couple new lines that I’d like to go over.
CR’s translation pretends this catchphrase doesn’t exist, which horrified me when I watched it. It’s her catchphrase! It’s not like this sounds normal in Japanese, so why would you smooth it over into normal English? By ignoring an obvious catchphrase like this, you’re rewriting the script and character in a way that I feel is going too far.
That being said, I understand the motivation to localize the phrase, because it carries a few implications that might not be obvious to non-Japanese viewers. In Japanese, a “mania” is a geek or obsessive hobbyist. For example, there are “kitte mania” (avid stamp collectors) and “ressha mania” (train-spotters). In other words, these are people who are very devoted to very specific interests– interests that most people wouldn’t understand.
Now, if we’re talking about very specific interests that other people wouldn’t understand, then yes, sexual fetishes also fall into this category, and this is most likely what Nobara means when she says “Maniac!” In this scene, after declaring “Maniac!” she goes on to list all sorts of traits about Ririchiyo that could be considered fetishes or paraphilias: her loliness, her black tights, her hair style, and even her unusual name.
Now I’m writing a subtitle, and it’s pretty obvious that she’s saying “Maniac” out loud, so I subtitled it that way. I figured since it’s not normal Japanese in the first place, you’re meant to work out what it means based on context. No reason to spoon-feed an explanation to the viewers. However, if I were writing a script for a dub, I might localize it to “Fetish-tastic!” or something along those lines. It’s still clearly a catchphrase, but the meaning is more transparent to English-speaking viewers.
Speaking of catchphrases, here’s another… not really.
Ririchiyo says this exactly twice: once in episode 2 and once in episode 6. The same is true of the manga (chapter 2 and chapter 5). The word-for-word version is, “Are your eyes knotholes?” At first I thought this was an analogy that Ririchiyo had invented herself, so I was going to just go with the literal translation. However, I looked into it a bit more, and it turns out the Japanese “fushiana” (knothole) can mean “poor eyes” as a secondary definition. In other words, “eyes that are knotholes” is an existing idiom, not something that Ririchiyo made up.
Generally speaking, idioms should be translated for meaning, not for their specific imagery. It’s nice if you can equate an idiom with an idiom, but usually the important part is what the idiom means, and not the words of the idiom.
To use an English example, if you wanted to translate “at the drop of a hat” into another language, you wouldn’t write about hats literally falling to the ground. Someone would read that and think, “What do falling hats have to do with any of this?” The important part is that “at the drop of a hat” means “at any moment” or “at the slightest provocation.” The fact that it’s talking about hats isn’t really important.
Similarly, there was no real reason to use “knotholes” in this case, because unlike “maniac” above, Ririchiyo was using the word in the same way your average Japanese person might. Since it wasn’t a unique catchphrase, meaning was more important than memorability.
That being said, even if it’s an existing idiom, she does say the exact same sentence twice in the series. I figured it was worth making it somewhat memorable, so rather than something boring like “How bad is your eyesight?” or “Are you blind?” I decided to put a bit of a spin on it, and came up with the above line.
A few people mentioned this in the comments. I already gave some replies, but I may as well reiterate here, where more people will see it.
Because Zange is a hundred-eyes, there’s a distinction between the things he sees normally and the things he can See using his supernatural Sight. If you’ve read enough fantasy novels, you’ve probably come across characters who have “The Sight” with a capital S. Fantasy novels often capitalize common words when they have supernatural meanings, and “See” is a common target.
I’m not making this up, either. In the manga, in place of 見る, which is the usual word for “to see,” the word 視る is used to refer to Zange’s supernatural Sight. I decided to reflect that by using a capital S in English.
So just to be clear, in episode 6, Zange did not see Ririchiyo’s panties, since she had all her clothes on and there was no wind. However, he did See them.
This is primarily what I wanted to talk about in this post. This was a tricky phrase to localize until I had a sudden spark of inspiration and found something that worked perfectly.
To recap, Karuta mentioned earlier in the episode that she understood things using her “sixth sense”. When Ririchiyo looked skeptical, she corrected herself to “fifth sense”, which impressed Ririchiyo even less. So when Watanuki wonders how she was able to tell which tanuki was the real Watanuki, she says, “My sixth… I mean my fifth sense… no, not that one, either.” Whereupon she thinks for a moment and comes up with “gozou roppu”.
“Gozou roppu” is a reference to traditional Chinese medicine and roughly translates to “five yin organs and six yang organs”. While still a bit out there (and we wouldn’t love Karuta if it wasn’t), you can more or less follow her train of thought: “six → five → five and six”.
If you don’t know what the four humors are, you can click on this shiny Wikipedia link. Just like the theory of yin and yang organs, this is a very old-fashioned medical theory that is not supported by modern science. Even better, it’s associated with a number that also fits into Karuta’s train of thought, albeit in a different way. Instead of “six → five → five and six” as the original Japanese went, the English translation goes “six → five → four”.
So in short, for this line I replaced an outdated Eastern medical theory with an outdated Western one. Since all the important points match, including the number, it fits in quite seamlessly. However, for those who are curious about these sorts of cultural references, now you know.
Ah, songs. I should mention that I’m fully responsible (and fully to blame) for anything to do with the song translations, because with the exception of maybe one or two of them, none of the song translations are edited. I usually do them last, and directly in Aegisub, so they tend to get released however I originally wrote them.
The gimmick in this song should be pretty obvious, but this isn’t the first time I challenged myself a bit or had a bit of fun with the song translations. In episode 3, I happened to figure out a translation for the first two lines that rhymed. It was so perfect that I ended up tweaking the rest of the song to make it rhyme as well. Not that the song rhymed in Japanese; this was purely for fun. I did the same thing for the first six lines in episode 5′s ending theme, although the remainder of the song translation doesn’t rhyme (I’m not sure if the rest of the song is even a “song”, but oh well).
This week, the challenge was a bit more obvious. Karuta’s song starts each line of the chorus with a line from the gojūon, which you could more or less call the Japanese alphabet. Each line shares the same consonant and contains all five vowels. The first line is the bare vowels “a i u e o”, followed by the second line, “ka ki ku ke ko”, and so on. There are a few with irregular romanizations, such as “shi” and “tsu”, but I’m not here to teach you kana.
Back to the song. Each line starts with a column of the gojūon and continues off of the last syllable. In the line above, we have “a i u e okashi shita” where “okashi” means “snacks/candy”. The next line was “ka ki ku ke konna ni mo” where “konna ni mo” means “this many”. And so on and so forth.
The lazy approach would have been to translate the words normally and count four backwards in the English alphabet. For example, for “ma mi mu me mon buran” I could have just started with “mont blanc” and then counted backwards from M: “I J K L Mont blanc”.
That’s the lazy approach.
In Japanese, Karuta goes through the gojūon in order (well, almost. If you swap two of the verses then everything’s in order). So I decided, no cheating: I go through the English alphabet in order as well. Since “gojūon” means “50 sounds”, that meant doubling up the 26-letter English alphabet and skipping Z. Also, the gojūon is actually 46 sounds so the last group of five would not be repeated.
Aside from “yogurt” which happened to work out perfectly, I had to do some real word twisting to get this to work. Still, I’m pleased with the result, and I hope y’all enjoyed it too.
Until next week!