Has anyone heard of Subarashiki Hibi ~Furenzoku Sonzai~?
Or less likely, played the game? It hasn’t been translated into any other language, not that I know of anyway.
I hear it’s something like the Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica of visual novels, and regarded as one of the best titles in the year 2010.
Mind, I haven’t gone about to see a lot of what’s said about it since I’ve just started playing SubaHibi, and it seems like one of those things that I wouldn’t want to be spoiled for, even though the tags at the Visual Novel Database have done enough spoiling, I think. And the summary, sadly. That’s kind of lame, actually — a summary that spoils (potentially major?) stuff in a work. D:
SubaHibi is classified as an utsuge (鬱ゲー), so I know it’s going to be depressing and stuff.
It also has multiple protagonists and is told in chapters. I’m on the first chapter, and it has a female protagonist. And a lot of subtext, of the tsundere, and of the setsunai variety, even. I can’t help but think how nice it’d be if there were visual novels (or anime adaptations) just vaguely like the first chapter (“Down the Rabbit Hole”) and not much else — since I also know SubaHibi itself is going to take a depressing turn, and get all 18+ too, eventually, with fairly dark themes… or I dunno, fetishes I suppose, if it happens to suit one’s taste.
I can’t say how much I like SubaHibi now, not when I’ve only barely scratched the surface. I kind of want to see how my opinion of it develops though. I mean, at the very least, it’s got the comedy bits right. (I consider a work successful comedy-wise if it can make me laugh out loud [vs. grinning or chuckling quietly, etc.].) It’s written by SCA-JI, and people seem to think he (?) is verily amazing, but since I’m not really into the visual novel scene, I wouldn’t know.
What I do know, though, is that this series looks verily good in both the character design and the voice acting department. There’s also the bonus of Mizusawa Kei (a.k.a. Kawashima Rino) voicing the protagonist for the first chapter. Mizusawa Kei/Kawashima Rino = Kohaku from Aoishiro and Cero from Katahane. I’m in love with her voice, and her voice acting is squee. And this series supposedly has (some) yuri, though apparently not a whole lot? Who knows.
And it seems fairly well-written so far, and has interesting literary references to Western literature, like stuff by Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll (like “Down the Rabbit Hole” didn’t give it away) and Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano De Bergerac.
I’m interested in seeing how it turns out, and how (and if) it lives up to its reputation. Not many series can withstand the hype for its good writing and still turn out to be good (as far as I’m concerned, anyway). Actually… not many series are even hyped up for good writing. Hm.
And it seems like there was a translation project for SubaHibi that went on hiatus fairly soon. The reason for the hiatus seemed forced, and personally? I think it’s because it wasn’t within the aspiring translator’s abilities to translate. SubaHibi (thus far, July 19th of “Down the Rabbit Hole”) has many lines of rather enigmatic dialogue that may be hard to translate and still maintain that level of vagueness present in Japanese open to further interpretation later on, and as I mentioned, it has a lot of literary references. The references are to both Western literature and to East Asian literature (e.g. Romance of the Three Kingdoms), and characters even quote from it.
Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to come up with anything of decent quality by retranslating a translated work. Especially when it’s something like literature. Unless, of course, you are a godly translator who is confident enough to think you can one-up someone like Emily Dickinson. (I quite like her poems, by the way.)
For example, the first two stanzas are quoted (in Japanese) in SubaHibi:
The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—
The Brain is deeper than the sea—
For—hold them—Blue to Blue—
The one the other will absorb—
Even the Japanese translation (naturally) cannot and does not capture the feeling of a typical Dickinson poem, in its rhythm and unique… Dickinson-ness.
This is perhaps why I prefer to watch anime series I like raw when I can, and why I refuse to play visual novels in English/without any regard for the original words in Japanese. (I mostly struggled through Aoishiro and barely started Katahane, and am taking my sweet time with SubaHibi.)
I know I read slowly compared to a native speaker, because if I ever set a visual novel to auto-read, I have to set it at nearly the lowest setting before I can manage to catch everything before it skips to the next line. But still, I have yet to find a translator who translates to my liking. (Well, the translator of Akaiito comes to mind… that translation is quite beautiful, as far as I’m concerned.)
Still, even a skilled translator may not translate the way I like — for example, I personally think honorifics are a seriously important part of any relationship dynamic in a Japanese work. It’s even a major plot point, for goodness’ sake, for someone to switch from a family name to a given name, or to go from, say, -san/-chan/-kun to (gasp!) honorific-less territory.
And then there’s the untranslatable keigo or masculine/feminine Japanese. You can only translate stuff as “formal, stilted, and polite”, “neutral”, or “casual, slang, and potentially disrespectful”.
For example, if you’ve watched/read Skip Beat!:
How do you translate Kyouko’s frantic
(Taihen moushiwake gozaimasendeshitaaaaaaaa!!!)
And how is it different from…
- すまん — suman
- わりぃな — warii na
- 悪いけど、… — warui kedo, …
- ごめん — gomen
- ごめんね — gomen ne
- ごめんなさい — gomen nasai
- すいませ～ん — suimase~n
- すみません — sumimasen
- すみませんでした — sumimasendeshita
- 本当にごめん — hontou ni gomen
- 本当にすみませんでした — hontou ni sumimasen deshita
- 申し訳ごさいません — moushiwakegozaimasen
- 本当に申し訳ございません — hontou ni moushiwakegozaimasen
- 誠にすみません — makoto ni sumimasen
- 誠に申し訳ございません — makoto ni moushiwakegozamasen
(All ways of saying “sorry” or apologising, off the top of my head. I’m sure there are plenty more.)
Or how about things that sound really cool in Japanese but sound lame and corny when it’s translated into English? I’m sure the bilingual/multilingual folks out there can appreciate this. Something that sounds really cool or at least interesting, poetic, or otherwise pleasing in one language, automatically sound super corny if done up as a straight translation into another language.
And yet, I don’t like it when translators artificially force Western ideas or values onto Japanese works. If that’s what I wanted I’d be watching/reading Western works instead.
Translate conservatively but creatively — preserving what one perceives to be the essence of the message, without altering the ultimate tone or dynamic of the scene, characterisation of a character, or any relationship dynamics.
One thing I can’t stand is when people stick in gratuitous profanity when it’s not there in the original. I don’t care if you stick in swear words in your every day speech in every other word, but let’s not bring it into translations, shall we? There’s nothing worse than seeing an ojou-sama-type character (or at least someone who uses keigo almost all the time) saying something like “shit” or “fuck”. “Shoot”, “oh no”, “oh dear”, “dear me”, “my”, “goodness”, “heavens”, “goodness gracious”, etc. are all perfectly viable alternatives.
I guess this SubaHibi post ended up being more about translations and stuff instead of the work proper. I suppose it’s because I was thinking how one should approach SubaHibi, if to translate it. I can’t help but think that even a professional translator would somehow mess it up.
Personally, I think translating something is a marvellous and enigmatic art. One of my cousins says translating isn’t appealing because it’s “not logical”. I presume he means there is a lack of a one-to-one correspondence. Which would be wholly correct. The interplay of nuances, connotations, or feelings that something may evoke all come into play; what sounds right in one language may have a wonderful corresponding pair in an entirely different form. It’s always really easy to tell when someone’s translating part for part from Japanese to English — it’s clunky, awkward, and painful to read. I find it cute when people put up a perfectly good translation and then feel compelled to put in a translator’s note that gives the word for word literal (and totally awkward) translation.
If we wanted word-for-word literal translations, we would never have human translators. Google Translate and Babelfish would more than suffice.
For example, how would you translate the following?
chanto okirareta ka
chanto = perfectly; properly; exactly
okiru = to wake up
-rareta = past tense of the passive form (in this case, it means someone else did the action to you, or in other words, someone else woke you up)
ka = question particle
Context: An adult is asking a child this question.
A ridiculously literal translation: “Were you properly woken up?” (AWKWARD, and never something you would say to a child)
A fairly literal translation: “Did you wake up properly?” (Sounds off, still)
Preferred: “Did you have trouble waking up?”/”Did you give mommy* any trouble this morning (when she woke you up)?”
*basically anyone who was doing the waking… I’m just using Nanoha, Vivio, and Feito-chan for this little exercise. :D And though, I wouldn’t seriously make Nanoha say “Did you give mommy any trouble this morning?” to Vivio as a translation of “chanto okirareta” in the anime, since it would imply a certain relationship between Nanoha and Fate that isn’t expressedly stated in canon –>Note that this is in ep 14 or something, before Vivio starts calling Fate or Nanoha her mommies<–. Translators who inject translations with their fake, yuri-gogglified subtext get my disapproval as much as those who put in gratuitous profanity.
Essence of the question: an adult showing affection and concern over the child’s well-being, and engaging in simple conversation with the child, in addition to seeing if the child was well-behaved. Serves its purpose much like “Were you a good girl/boy today?”
Whether the question is in the negative form or not has no bearing whatsoever.
And I suppose I should end this post.
And continue playing SubaHibi, for my beloved tsunderekko awaits.