素晴らしき日々~不連続存在~

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—
As Sponges—Buckets—do—

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

「大変申し訳ございませんでしたぁぁぁああああぁ」

?

(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?

ちゃんと起きられたか?
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.

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15 thoughts on “素晴らしき日々~不連続存在~

  1. Sorry if this seems off topic from your post, but you’ve played Katahane? I’ve heard of the game and seen some pictures from the game but other than the barest minimum of a summary, I have no clue what it’s about. Spoilers don’t bother me so if you have spoilers, please spoil away! :D

    • Well… I haven’t actually played-played it yet.
      I mean, I played it a couple of hours on and off for a while and then forgot about it because reading too much Japanese for too long makes my head hurt.

      If that still counts…

      Thus far (and of what I remember):
      Wakaba, an aspiring playwright, is writing a play based on historical events in her free time when she isn’t helping out around in her family’s shop (bakery, if I recall). She’s got a super obvious crush on Cero (who’s your typical oblivious guy), and Cero has to, let’s see, travel to some place to get some guy to perform maintenance on his ‘little sister’ Coco (a walking, talking doll of sorts).

      Somehow Wakaba convinces Cero to take her (and her brother, I think?) along. And that’s all I’ve gotten to thus far, which probably isn’t much help.

      Buuut… I have heard that it is well-written and that it has f/f (as well as m/f) in it. So if well-written is what you’re after and you don’t care what flavour love or your 18+ scenes come in, I think you’re fairly safe. And a patch’s out for the game (I think it just came out the end of August) so you can play it in English.

        • I’m aware of the literal/natural versions, but I can’t/won’t use the patches partially because of the reasons listed in this post.

          And I mean, if I had to choose, I’d want to go with natural, but it’d also mean giving up a) honorifics and b) untranslatable Japanese topics, the loss of which inconveniences me a *lot* more than reading in Japanese.

  2. Those two are the only differences though. It’s not like every line is translated differently.

    For an example, look at the translated script files and search for ALT=
    E.g. a script from before they’ve met Rein, the maintenance guy:
    http://tlwiki.tsukuru.info/index.php?title=Katahane:sr002.txt

    I’m reading the literal one and I like the writing so far.
    It’s not been cumbersome or something, and I’ve managed a pretty high reading speed. (I’ve been rushing it, because I’m not impressed with the VAs yet.)

    • Hm, interesting.
      I stand corrected — the literal/natural versions *are* pretty much the same except for honorifics and the like (e.g. forms of address). And the translation is really quite good, especially considering it’s a fan translation effort.

      Still, I prefer playing it in Japanese — perhaps I wasn’t very clear in the post, but the thing is, I like playing it in Japanese. It’s just not as convenient or as quick as playing in English, but this is largely solved by a program I downloaded just today (Interactive Text Hooker).

      Besides, I’m pretty picky about my stance on translations — for example, I prefer a middle ground (between the Literal and Natural versions, in this case) where words like “sis” or “sister” should be used in descriptions and thoughts (in most cases), while “nee-chan” (hyphenated and uncapitalised) should be used for dialogue. (See? Picky.)

      P.S. It makes me a sadpanda that you’re not impressed with Cero’s seiyuu, but ah well. ;__;

  3. I’ve started reading VNs like that too now, with mecab for pronunciation and jparser for looking up kanji.
    It’s indeed pretty comfortable.

    I don’t like Cero, but I do really like Kohaku’s voice.

    • It’d probably be easier if I used MeCab too, but ITH is enough for now. I’ve kind of gotten used to looking things up, and it helps me retain the new words, expanding my vocabulary.

      And oh, do you mean you dislike Cero as a character, or Cero’s voice? I thought Mizusawa’s general performance in the two works were of similar calibre.

  4. I’ve been using Translation Aggregator with just those two tools.

    Mecab can split a line well, but edict2 entries are usually longer than mecab presumes.

    Jparser uses the wrong pronunciation for quite a few words and fails on long hiragana parts.

    Here’s an example where there are _four_ differences (besides separating grammar endings):

    Jparser:
    [hoka ni] -> soto ni
    [hougai ina] -> hou ga ii na
    Mecab:
    [tometeoita] -> yameteoita
    [kenkyuu shitsu] -> kenkyuushitsu

    That last one seems insignificant, but it’s really annoying for complicated entries that are hard to figure out when separated.

    ITH seems to be better at finding text hooks, right?
    I haven’t tried it yet.

    About Mizusawa, I like her voice for girls, but not for guys. And I’ve yet to really see Cero do anything, so I’m still undecided. (I’m at the point where the gang has just left Rein’s house, so not much further than you.)

    And I’ve only done one route in Aoishiro, so I need to play that too, especially now that I want to hear Kohaku again. I liked a lot of VAs in that, Syouko’s the most (her age shows a little, but still really beautiful).

    • Ooo, it’s cool what jParser and MeCab can do. But “hoka ni” is pretty lame of jParser. o_<a Though I get the feeling that these two would be better at dictionary-type words with one possible reading only.

      Which makes sense in a way, since one would have to know some Japanese to make use of them, and presumably one should know how to read common words (e.g. 来る、来て、来週、来ない) instead of relying on programs that may not pick them up. It'd be nice if we could manage to make them figure out which word to use based on context, or using speech pattern analysis for voiced lines or something… :D *dreams on*

      I don't exactly know what text hooks are (^_^; ) but this is basically all it does:

      http://img17.imageshack.us/img17/788/ithblurred.jpg

      I don’t usually have trouble dividing the chunks up when reading — it’s mostly foreign vocabulary that I have trouble with. This lets me copy it and look it up more easily when I don’t get something, basically.

      And oh, yeah, I agree with you on that front — Cero’s lines thus far are fairly normal, so it’s not really possible to be wowed by virtue of his lines only yet. Sigh. I do miss Kohaku’s 「小娘よ」 dearly.

      And I’ve only done one route in Aoishiro, so I need to play that too, especially now that I want to hear Kohaku again.

      Which route did you play? You seriously should play the other routes — they’re completely, completely different. o.o
      My favourite characters are Nami, Nacchan, and Kohaku. >_< I kind of like Yasumi neutrally, and Migiwa I can take or leave. (Like Shouko, I'm 苦手 with Migiwa's type. :D )
      But Nami holds a special place in my heart since she was the first route I attempted. (Besides which, it's cute to contrast Nami's voice with Misaka Mikoto's, as I was watching Railgun at the time of playing Aoishiro.)

      And yeah, Shouko’s voice really fits her, doesn’t it? Her seiyuu’s age shows most when she’s trying to do a kid’s voice (the flashbacks to eight (?) years ago), but I checked her up and I thought it was excusable since her seiyuu is in her forties.

  5. The main problem with text hooks is that they sometimes need a filter. I’ve had to set my own once and I still don’t understand how it works, but it was just for removing repeated characters.

    From the screenshot, if ITH has auto clipboard copy it should work fine with Translation Aggregator.
    All TA does is read the clipboard to send and request data from its translation tools. Launching AGTH to hook into games is a separate feature.
    Mecab and JParser then look entries up in edict2 (offline) just by mousing over them (like Rikaichan, but with set boundaries).

    I played Yasumi’s route. Going through the walkthrough’s order of good ends. Now in Migiwa’s route.

    • Yeah, ITH has an auto-copy function. The tutorial I was working with was specifically explaining its usage in relation to TA/Atlas. The tutorial also mentioned ITH works better (i.e. with more, different, popular game engines) than AGTH and is more user-friendly to the average computer idiot (i.e. me).

      I’m not using TA (or Atlas) though — I personally prefer to use Denshi Jisho (online) since I’m used to it.

      And ooo, MeCab and jParser work like Rikaichan? I’ve got Rikaichan as an add-on in Firefox and it’s quite convenient.

      Yasumi’s route is one of the most heartwrenching ones, I find, but I prefer to make her sulk in taking other routes. :D

  6. So how is Subahibi going?

    You piqued my interest and I decided to look around for a bit (like HCG and reviews), but from what I can gather (SPOILER) you’re heading for a Kuttsukiboshi deluxe.

    I’m avoiding it like the plague at least.

    • NUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!

      ANYTHING BUT KUTTSUKIBOSHI. ;_______;

      *sobs*

      … actually, I kind of stopped playing around since this post — so I guess it’s been about a week? I hadn’t reached Kuttsukiboshi wonders, but Yuuki (the female protagonist of the first chapter) was kind of you know, well, she just randomly started having sex with one of three other female characters, and I was kind of -____- …

      Don’t know how much you read or found out by snooping around for SubaHibi, but thus far had been my experience:

      Possible ‘routes’, if you can call it that, since the story doesn’t really branch —

      – tsunderekko (Kagami) — obviously has a crush on Yuuki, and totally cute if you like tsundere.
      – the ‘imouto’ character (Tsukasa — no, this isn’t Lucky Star) — seems quite heterosexual, but likes to tease Kagami for her crush on an oblivious Yuuki, thus invoking tsundere denials.
      – the weirdo character (Zakuro [called Takashima-san thus far]) who sets everything into motion.

      So everything was kind of peachy for awhile, then there was some BST (high on the ‘B’, since Kagami is comically violent toward Yuuki).

      Then all four of them end up playing this game where you draw lots to pick one person to issue an order. (The lots have the word ‘king’ on one, and the others are numbered x – 1, with x being the number of participants.) The ‘king’ issues an order (e.g. “Number two do ten push ups!”) and the order must be followed, no matter what. Naturally this ends up with Yuuki kissing one of the girls, and it seems like this is the only flag to trigger Yuuki randomly having sex with one of the other girls.

      It actually ruins something quite nice — I liked it up till after Kagami and Yuuki’s BST-charged kiss that showed both Kagami’s fear of rejection and love toward Yuuki. Naturally, I cheated and picked Kagami first during the game mentioned above, so I was kind of still peachy with the story.

      Then out of curiosity I picked the least likely character Yuuki would be with (Tsukasa) and… they were going to have sex too. -_____-

      Incidentally, Takashima Zakuro’s relationship with Yuuki is a bit 懐かしくて、切ないなんです. It has the basis for one of those heartwrenching stories, so I was kind of rooting for Takashima/Yuuki too. I hadn’t checked whether she too would randomly have sex with Yuuki.

      I mean, character-wise, there is no way in hell Kagami (or Yuuki) would have sex at school in a classroom where Tsukasa could (and should and would) walk in at any moment. So I was still hoping there was going to be some The Reveal later on — being nary halfway through the first of six chapters is hardly enough to go by.

      I also looked through Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano De Bergerac for the relevant quoted bits in SubaHibi, and would like to think this series has some substance… though maybe I’m expecting and hoping too much. I’m willing to bet SubaHibi does have an interesting story, but as for whether the sex scenes tossed in have any rhyme or reason to them… (I was sort of holding out for there to be a reason introduced later — since SubaHibi does fall into the denpa genre.)

      I may continue playing SubaHibi some more later if I suddenly feel like it, I suppose. And YMMV, but this is an actually pretty interesting and decent game, if only perhaps the first chapter (though I can only guarantee that up until just before the random sex scene). Or maybe I’m just smitten with the idea of a (gasp!) female protagonist with female interests in a story-heavy game, versus ‘otome games’ or what 99% of VNs usually are (i.e ordinary guy who can get any girl, and yet is only known for being ‘nice’/優しい).

      … the only other games I know fit these criteria are Aoishiro and Akaiito. Success, I want more. :<

  7. Pingback: TL Note by Hisa x Mihoko « TL Notes

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