Fairy Tail Zero 004 - Dances with Blades
Fairy Tail Ice Trail 004 - A Fleeting Glimpse
Fairy Tail 405 - Tartaros Arc: Part 6 - Magna Carta

Lost in Translation: Humanity and Divinity

Posted Oct 10th, 2014 by Jinn

Hello there everyone, voxanimus again. You were all so kind in your comments on my last blog post that I thought I'd do another one. Well, that and this week's One Piece chapter has yet again a lot of stuff I want to talk about. I think.

Anyway, let's get the more lighthearted stuff out of the way. Several characters' full names were revealed this week, and I wanted to give some background on the references contained therein. Corazon's real name is Rocinante, or the name of Don Quixote's horse in the eponymous book. Law's name contains two references to the Napoleonic Wars: the Battle of Trafalgar is a naval engagement in which British forces led by Horatio Lord Nelson sunk 22 French ships without losing a single of their own. "Water Law" is a transliteration of the Japanese pronunciation of "Waterloo," the name of the battle in which Napoleon was defeated once and for all. Japanese has a habit of using the native pronunciation of a word when adopting it into Japanese; the Belgian pronunciation of Waterloo is closer to "Water Law." This means that transcriptions of the name as "Watel" and the like are clearly wrong. On the heels of this fact, I would like to make a request to all of you readers. Please refrain from commenting other scanlation groups' translations—be it of names, attacks, or dialogue—in the Mangastream comments section. I find it disrespectful to not only my work but that of our other translators. We spend no small amount of time and effort trying to come up with the most faithful and appropriate renderings we can of these manga, and to ignore that work is not very nice, to say the least.

Now, let's talk a little about the main underlying reference of this week's chapter. Again, though, to understand it, we need a bit of historical background.

Following Japan's defeat in World War II, the Allied Forces insisted, as part of the war reparations, that Japan move away from its imperial government and towards a more democratic one. Pursuant to this goal, Emperor Hirohito was required to issue a statement officially renouncing his status as living god, which would thereby decrease his monarchical right to sovereignty and pave the way for the writing of a new Japanese Constitution that would formally enshrine democratic power as the de facto arbiter of Japanese politics. The Emperor and the Japanese royal family would remain as mere symbols of the Japanese government, with little real power. The name of this declaration was 人間宣言 (にんげんせんげん, ningen sengen), which means "declaration of humanity." Sound familiar?

It is certainly very evident that Doflamingo's father's descent from the Holy Land and attendant renunciation of holy status is at least superficially similar to that performed by Emperor Hirohito following World War II. But the similarities do not run as deep as they did last week. Doffy's father's reverse apotheosis, if you will, caused his family to fall into ruin, as they were preyed upon by those they used to rule. Yet, on the other hand, Hirohito's renunciation of divinity was, at least in the long run, a very good thing for Japan. It allowed for the appointment of a Japanese Prime Minister and governance power to rest almost wholly in the hands of the three branches of the Japanese government.

In truth, though, Japan was actually occupied by Allied forces (in effect, the United States) and the majority of the governmental and economic reforms implemented following the war were done so at the behest or even command of the occupying forces. While it is probably not disputable that the long-term consequences of Allied occupation of Japan were beneficial, the attitude of the average Japanese citizen towards the occupation itself is less clear-cut. Some believed that the somewhat ham-fisted occupation's use of power hearkened back to the pre-Meiji days of the shogunate.

Ultimately, I cannot say whether or not Oda is trying to critique, using Doflamingo's family as a foil, the treatment of Japan at the hands of America following the Japanese emperor's renunciation of holiness. I was neither alive during the occupation period nor have I been to Japan and had a chance to talk with Japanese people about this. In addition, attitudes toward these sort of political issues vary from generation to generation, and I know not which generation's reaction Oda is calling upon. What do you think? Leave your opinion, or any suggestions or feedback, in the comments below.

Stay frosty, friends.

- voxanimus

 


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Naruto Ending (Very) Soon

Posted Oct 6th, 2014 by Jinn

So, it really is happening, and sooner than most of us thought. November 10th (officially, as usual we'll get it a few days earlier), or in other words, 5 more chapters to go.

This 'thread' here is for you to post your feelings and thoughts about Naruto coming to an end.

Also very welcome are any and all kinds of predictions on how you see the final 5 chapters going - what will happen? Will Naruto and Sasuke even fight at all, considering how little time is left for that? Will Kishimoto solve this final conflict that we've been all waiting for with another 'Talk no Jutsu'?

Finally - what are your wishes for the future? Would you all be into a continuation of some sort? Naruto GT, with their kids or grandkids taking over? Or just let it end and rest in peace - we did have a great ride after all, especially in the early beginning, pre-shippuuden - in my opinion, anyway.

Anyway, any and all thoughts are welcome.


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Lost in Translation: Amber Lead and Toxic Waste

Posted Oct 3rd, 2014 by Jinn

Hello everyone, voxanimus here. This week's One Piece was rather sui generis as far as One Piece chapters go, and I thought I'd write up a little blurb explaining, at least in part, the references and allusions Oda-sensei was making, some of which are not immediately apparent to non-Japanese audiences. (Of course, the real reason I'm writing this is that dino has done more than a few of these sort of things by now and I can't let myself be bested by the likes of him.)

First, though, I'd like to discuss the name of the "amber lead" substance introduced in the chapter. I was rather conflicted on how to translate this. The Japanese word used by Oda is 珀鉛, one that, as far as I know, does not exist anywhere else in Japanese literature. It is not a known Japanese word and has only really been used this one time in One Piece. The first kanji in the word means "amber," as in crystalline tree sap. The second kanji is a common one and means "lead," as in the poisonous heavy metal. The problem is that the kanji for "amber" contains the radical 白, which means white, an obvious nod to the actual whiteness of the substance. Translating 珀 into English as amber causes it to lose that nuance. Secondly, the pronunciation of 珀鉛 is hakuen (はくえん), which is actually a real Japanese word when written with different kanji (白煙) one that means "white smoke." Again, this is a reference to the whiteness of the substance and the whitening it causes in those poisoned by it. Ultimately, I was unable to find a word that could capture both the "amber" and the "white" nuances simultaneously and resorted to a literal translation, along with the resolution to explain the subtleties of the name separately.

Alright, let's move on to the actual content of the chapter. I—and, looking at the comments, several of our readers—was taken quite aback by the graphic, frankly gory content of this week's chapter. This is not the first time Oda-sensei has given a central character a tragic past but it is perhaps the first time he has done so so gruesomely.  His reasoning behind this grisly portrayal is, however, probably more understandable once one realizes the references underlying it.

Characters and entities in the world of One Piece are often purposefully juxtaposed against one another by Oda-sensei in an effort to critique or call to attention aspects of the real world. The Tenryuubito are a classic example of the ills of a class system and feudalism; the World Government is the archetypical example of a despotic military tyrant, etc. Despite the seemingly childish superficial appearance of the manga, One Piece is surprisingly mature in the themes and motifs it chooses to tackle. This week's chapter brought to light a similar theme, one I daresay is close to the heart of many Japanese.

First, a little historical background. Compared to the rest of the world, Japan's industrial revolution came very late and very rushed. The Tokugawa Shogunate, a feudal government complete with daimyo and shogun and samurai, continued uninterrupted from the early 1600s up until several years after the arrival of Commodore Perry's Black Ships in 1853. Japan only began its Industrial Revolution in 1870; most of the world's nations had finished theirs by 1820. Japanese conquests of Northern Asia including China and Russia in the early 1900s further increased the need for modern technology and the industrial infrastructure required to produce it. Japan was able to meet this demand, but at significant cost.

Pollution, particularly from mining operations, went virtually unchecked as the need for metal for the production of weaponry was paramount. Cadmium runoff from the mines contaminated nearby rivers, and water from the rivers was used to irrigate nearby rice fields. The rice absorbed the heavy metal and it began to accumulate in and poison the people that were eating it. Two of the most prominent symptoms of cadmium poisoning are calcium depletion, which causes softening of the bones—so much so that the entire body begins to hurt—and anemia, which causes paleness of the skin because of lack of blood. The pain all over the body was severe enough that cadmium poisoning was named "itai-itai byou" (イタイイタイ病) in Japanese, which literally translates to "ow-ow disease."

At this point this should all sound rather familiar. It's no coincidence that the genesis and symptoms of amber lead poisoning in One Piece pretty much exactly mirror those of the real-life cadmium poisoning that occurred in Japan in the early 20th century. I cannot be certain, but I would venture a fair guess that this historical incident was what Oda-sensei was referencing in this week's chapter. In fact, itai-itai disease is just one of the Four Big Pollution Diseases (四大公害病, yondai kougaibyou) that plagued Japan in the first half of the twentieth century as a result of mismanagement of toxic industrial waste. The first, itai-itai disease, predates the other three, which occurred in the late 50s and early 60s, by 40 or so years. Those interested in reading further should check out the Wikipedia article on the topic.

Well, that ended up being less of a blurb and more of an essay, so for those of you that have made it this far, I thank you for your patience. Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this issue or other things relating to One Piece and its translation in the comments, I'll be around to answer them. Also, if you liked this, and would be interested in reading more blog posts like it, do let me know.

- voxanimus


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Claymore End

Posted Oct 2nd, 2014 by Jinn

And thus yet another amazing series comes to an end.  Thank you for reading along with us all these years! 

Claymore was one of my favorite manga series since long before I joined Mangastream several years ago, and it’s been a pleasure to translate it for the better portion of the past two years. Wikipedia tells me that Claymore debuted in 2001, and I guess Yagi-sensei deserves a break after all these years. Let’s look forward to his next work! 

With the end of this series, I would be remiss in not acknowledging the work of my fellow staff members, as well as the incredible translation work of my now-retired Mangastream senpai gernot, who was translating Claymore with the highest quality years before I came on the scene, and is responsible for much of the definitive Claymore scanlation out there today. I have strived to follow through in kind. It’s been an honor to carry this series, one of my personal favorites, through to the end (and hopefully in a worthy fashion). 

Thanks again to all of my fellow staffers for seeing us through, and thanks again to all the MS readers!

- waychanger


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Beyond HSDK

Posted Sep 13th, 2014 by Jinn

So although HSDK has had an abrupt finale, Matsuena Shun-Sensei is by no means done. He'll be releasing three one-shots, each featuring some color pages and all ranging around 44-46 pages. They'll be coming out in consecutive weeks, in consecutive issues starting in mid-November.

The first one, coming out on 11/12, is titled "Kanata"
The second, coming out on 11/19, is "Haruka"
And the third, releasing on 11/26, is "DemIII"

Check out the raw page we uploaded at the end of the final chapter to get a tiny preview of 'em.

We will be releasing all three of the one-shots. The above dates are when they hit the shelves in Japan. We're not sure exactly when we'll be getting RAWs, but as soon as we do, we'll be working these out.

Anyways, thanks for reading HSDK with us for all these years!
Make sure to check back for the three one-shots!

-DzyDzyDino


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Somewhere in Translation: Hissatsu!!

Posted Sep 4th, 2014 by Jinn

I don't know where this began -- I'm sure it stems from all the martial arts oriented fiction from China with warriors with long-winded names (Iron Crane Atop the Waterfall) and their trademark weapons or techniques. That probably echoes the martial arts which also has these names for their postures. The names are metaphors, both descriptive and inspirational. "Young Maiden plucks the Shuttle from the Ocean Floor" in Tai Chi, as a descriptive name but also an image to help meditate upon the move and its meaning.

Regardless, nowadays it's just a given in manga and anime. A lot of times they even have injokes or break the fourth wall to joke about it -- they name their techniques. It's a thing. It's geeky. We love it, kids love it. Nothing more badass than a guy with an awesome name for the move he throws at you.

This also is a large point of contention among fans. Those that prefer the Japanese, and those that prefer a translation of the Japanese. A lot goes into deciding which to use, there's no real right or wrong answer for this and sometimes the fans just prefer one over the other. Many times when trying to figure out exactly what the spelling of an attack is supposed to be, the "meaning" of the attack helps to figure it out.

The Hissatsu or Ougi that characters utter before attacks sometimes is just them declaring they're about to use a special technique.

Hissatsu (必殺) literally translates to "certain kill."
Usually a Hissatsuwaza (必殺技) or "certain kill technique" usually is accepted as "special move" -- the definition of which, I'll leave up to you.

Ougi (奥義) is also another one. The general definition of this is "Hidden attack" or "secret attack." Usually it's not so secret, but usually it's pumped up in storyline as the secret techinques of some clan passed down or something.

In reality, these terms are used interchangably along with some other ones and whatever the author feels like creating. Video games like fighting games may use the two to differentiate between a "Special Attack" and a "Super" or something like that.

Other times, the person will have a fighting style or type of magic or something they use and they'll call that out before every attack. "Okama Kenpo!!" (Transvestite Fist Way) "Santouryuu" (Three Sword Style) whatever, followed by the specific move.

As for a reason, I suppose it's just kinda badass. A point of pride maybe, "You know it was ____ badass attack that gotcha." Even in the western world, this is kind of echoed in Pro Wrestling, although they dont really (or do they?) shout out the names of their attacks. They're "representing" their styles, I suppose -- though usually in manga/anime, there's almost this unspoken rule that it's almost like an incantation, like the attack wouldn't work if this wasn't declared before it. (Come on, how many of you as a kid thought by shouting "Kamehameha" loud enough... just loud enough... ah, nevermind.)

Once getting into the naming of the attack, this is where authors get a lot of language play.

One thing they do is create combinations of kanji. The kanji they use to name the attack aren't always official combinations, but creative combinations with an implied meaning. Just like in English, if a villain used a "hyper-electro-flashbolt" you'd kind of know it was some fast electric projectile or something, even though that's not a real word.

But because the compounds aren't official, they don't always have official readings either. Here, authors often use furigana to their advantage. I talked a bit about furigana before, but essentially it's the small characters printed next to kanji in some publications that gives the pronunciation or reading of that kanji (in order to help the reader).

Authors use this at times to imply meaning or give the reading they want. The same is true with attacks. When that happens, it becomes a pain in the ass to translate at times -- especially when the reading either has nothing to do with the kanji or is in a foreign language. Usually, we take the meanings of the kanji as a clue on where to start. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's way out there.

For example, in the recent issues of Toriko, the Horse King used an attack known as "Destroy Breathe." The furigana was written as "desutoroiburiizu." So, why not "Destroy Breeze"? -- Well, apart from that being pretty stupid (as if a manga never did anything stupid...) "ahh run away from the destroy breeze!!" etc... apart from that... we take a look at the kanji (the chinese characters) that the attack is written with.

絶滅の呼吸

Now, normally that would be read as "zetsumetsu no kokyuu" which translates to "breath of destruction." The author, however, gave it a different reading -- the name that he wanted for the attack, with the kanji to provide its meaning. Hence, we go with "Destroy Breathe."

The kanji and the reading don't always line up so nicely, and sometimes the intent is pretty damn obscure.

And of course, you get the times where they don't give a foreign language name to the attack, and leave the kanji as Japanese. In those cases, we (at mangastream) almost always give the Japanese name for the attack, followed by its translation in a note. For some series though, the fans have accepted an English name for a technique.

Kage Bunshin or Shadow Clones? Haoshoku, Kenbunshoku, and Busoshoku Haki or their many other accepted translations?

Also, because the Authors take freedom in naming their attacks, often with katakana for using words from another language, sometimes deciphering their names and how to spell them in English can be a nightmare.

As many of you do know, katakana is a phonetic alphabet "a e i o u ka ki ke ko ku ta chi te to tsu sa shi se so su etc etc etc..." so to spell out certain words in Japanese, they have to approximate. Sometimes it works out very easy with minimal changes. Point = po-i-n-to. band = ba-n-do.

Sometimes it's a little bit of a stretch. party - pa-a-ti. hamburger - ha-n-ba-a-gu.

Sometimes it's way out there, like the ever infamous McDonalds = ma-ku-do-na-ru-do. Anything with a th is always fun. Three = su-ri-. Earth = a-a-su.
Shove it up your Earth.

So, when the possible word can be any language at all, the kanji (that is, when it's there) is the only thing we've got to cling to for any clues.

In One Piece recently, someone used an attack called "Za-n Te-gu-ju-pe-ri"
I remember being stuck on that for a very long time, with no idea what I could do with it. Xantac Jubilee? I was really lost. The kanji was my only real hint.  

斬・星屑王子 (Zan - Hoshikuzu Ouji) (Slash/Behading - Stardust Prince)

Okay. The Zan means "beheading" or "slash", but the reading was left intact as "zan" even though the rest of the characters aren't even close to the same. Why?

This was in One Piece, and Oda loves to use puns and plays on words. Therefore, I assume the Zan is going to be just that. He wanted it to be a kind of slash, but it's possible the word is San and not Zan and he's just making a play on words.

The first thing that came to mind, admittedly, when I saw Stardust Prince was Katamari Damacy. After I abruptly gave up on that avenue, I also thought of what's known in Japan as "Hoshi no Ouji-sama" lit - "Star Prince" a.k.a. The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince). If you've never read it for some reason, it's a classic.

It's written by Antoine De Saint-Exupery... and a quick google in japan's wiki confirms it. Saint-Exupery is written as "sa-n-te-gu-ju-pe-ri"
Oda replaced the San with a Zan to fit make it a play on the name, but the name of the attack would be spelled "Saint-Exupery".

Other times kanji could be like "Spinning scythes of bloody murder" and the reading could be "corn on the cob" or something completely unrelated to it.

A lot of time, there's subtelty in the word play that can't be translated in any way, so more often than not new attacks are accompanied in our translations with a translator note explaining it. We try to be complete to make sure you're not missing anything, but in the end we still have to decide what goes in the bubble.

Translations are just that. They're never going to be a perfect equivalent of the language, but we strive to bring you translations of a high quality that read naturally in English and that are enjoyable. By learning a little bit about Japanese, it helps you better understand the context and content a bit more. Though a lot of this, you probably pick up on gradually as you read manga on your own, there's always so much I wish I could add with each chapter.

I had a lot more to say, but this is already pretty damn long already. Till next time!

-dzydzydino


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Translating Names in Manga is a Strange Thing

Posted Jul 26th, 2014 by Jinn

There are many issues to face when trying to translate from Japanese to English, as it's not always a direct one to one translation.

In fact, it rarely is.

Many words and idiomatic expressions don't have an English equivalent, some things need cultural context, and so on. Right now though, I wanted to talk about names. Names that aren't native to Japanese in particular.

I'm sure many of you already know this, but written japanese is made up of Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.

Kanji are Chinese characters. 忍、念、男、女、刀 星、闇、殺
But of them, Japan has designated roughly 1,945 for general usage. Each one has its own (sometimes multiple) meaning, and multiple pronunciations based on context.

力 means "strength" and is pronounced "chikara" however it can be pronunced "riki" when used in certain combinations.
馬力  bariki   "horsepower" or it could also be "ryoku" when combined here 協力  kyouryoku  "cooperation".

Hiragana and Katakana are Japanese Alphabets. These characters have no meaning on their own. Each is a phonetic (A, Ka, Sa, Ta, Ha, Ma, etc.)

Hiragana are used for native Japanese words and parts of speech. It looks like this:
あのさぁ、ぼくはかめがすきですけど。

Katakana on the other hand is used for non-native Japanese words or certain kinds of emphasis and looks like:
ナンデロボットガカタカナシカシャベレナイ

So for every name that is not a traditional Japanese name, it ends up spelled out phonetically within the constraints of the Japanese Alphabet. While some are fairly obvious or use common conventions for converting to English, others can be much more obscure. There's not necessarily any fully right way to go about it. There may be some outright wrong ways at times, and some almost certainly correct ways but you can never be certain until the author states how it's spelled in English.

For example, let's look at the character who up till recently was known as "Branchi" in Toriko.
His name was spelled out as BU-RA-N-CHI.
The first thing I do as a translator is look at it and see if it resembles any real life names.
Hrmmm...  Nada.
Next, I just go over some possibilities:  Branchie, Branchy, Buranty, etc...
Without finding anything I was too excited about, I stuck with something close to the phonetic pronunciation and hopefully safe... "Branchi." (Was never happy with that.)
Recently, "Buranchi" was revealed to be one of a group of three characters.
The other two were "DI-N-NA-A" and "NO-SHU."
So with "Dinner" and "Nosh" as two parts of a three man set and trying to figure out how "Branchi" fit with that, his name suddenly became obvious:
"Brunch"
Until something gets officially printed, it's pretty much up to the translator's discretion to decide what's gonna pass as a character's name.
Once something appears in canonical print always takes precedence.
That's a general golden rule.

For example, Roronoa Zoro.
I had always assumed the Zoro was after Zorro, the masked fictional character.
(I could be wrong on that part.)
However, as for the name "Roronoa"--
"Roronoa" is undoubtedly "L'Olonnais" from Francois L'Olonnais, a french pirate.
Buuuut his name has appeared as "Roronoa" in print by Oda numerous times, so Roronoa it is.

That's just the tip of the iceberg really. Once you get into the names of attacks and techniques or made-up concepts, along with creative and inventive kanji usage, there's a whole other world of interpretation to deal with. But I think I've rambled long enough for now.

If you found any of this interesting, had any questions about any of the translation process, drop a comment and I'll do my best to get back to you!! I find this stuff interesting myself and thought you might.

Thanks as always for reading.
-dzydzydino


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Content of Naruto Color Pages and Small Rant

Posted Jul 23rd, 2014 by Jinn

Figured we'd write a little blog post about those color pages in this week's chapter, as I'm sure they'll cause a lot of controversy and discussion. So I asked our translator dzydzydino to read them and give us a quick summary. He ended up ranting towards the end, but it makes a good post nonetheless. :D


So, this week's Naruto came with a little two-page color spread before the comic about the upcoming Naruto movie, entitled "The Last" ...which of course launches all kinds of speculation as to whether or not it's actually going to be the last Naruto movie or signifying and upcoming end to the series.

Nothing about that is mentioned. However, we do see some sketches by Kishimoto, who will be writing the story and doing character design for the movie. The pictures we see are of a grown up Naruto, under a title "Curtain Call on a New Era" Naruto Project. Lots of fancy big text like "AT LAST" "LONG AWAITED" "NARUTO PROJECT FINALLY IN ACTION" etc. etc.

Is there a forseeable end in the future of Naruto?

Personally, I think if the series is gonna end, it's either gonna be with Sakura dead or Sasuke. Though who knows... we all might be happily ever after, after all. Or we might be happily reading Naruto in 2020, and Kishimoto and Jump might be happily cashing in on 21 years in print.

If the series is actually ending, I'll probably be a lot more accepting of whatever happens. I know Kishimoto has written some of the Naruto movies before, but after seeing enough non-canonical filler-worthy movies written by assistants and asshats alike, I've stopped watching spinoffy movies.

Though there's something universally fanservice-y about seeing your favorite characters all grown up... like the end of Harry Potter. It's a given though--It's why every major series always has a timeskip. So kids can growup alongside their manga. So fart and boob jokes can turn into Kamehamehas and Rasengans.

Regardless, it's been a long run so far, from its start in 1999 to now, it's 15th year in 2014. My interest has varied from feverish to casual over this series throughout those 15 years, but I have always come back to it at some point.

I happen to be enjoying it currently, and wouldn't mind it ending on a high note as opposed to slowly fading into obscurity and getting cancelled.

Opinions? How do you feel about the story currently? Is the end nigh? Must we repent? Shannaro~


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