Wow, so, okay. This episode. Really good. Like, no shocking relevations plot-wise or new forms or any of that stuff, but I felt this episode was really well-written, smoothly put together, and just great to write. All the characters are on top form, really oozing character – with Gentarou and Shun really standing out, but everyone getting a chance to shine. Just utterly fantastic all around.
And that’s that episode fellated. Plenty of translation stuff to discuss after the jump including – gasp – actual localization I had to do. My apologies, and explanations after the jump.
But for now, enjoy!
Sup! Let’s talk words.
First of all, the title for ep 22. Whilst the translation I used for it – “Denying Who You Are” – captures the meaning of the title as a phrase, it’s filled with awful puns. For example, the first two kanji – the “who you are” bit is written with the kanji for ‘horse’ and ‘kick’. You can see where this is going. The last two, meaning to reject or deny, can also mean ‘kick’. So, uh, subtle puns all around then. Thanks, Fourze writers. As you can imagine, I just stuck with the meaning as a phrase rather than trying to ham-handedly put horse jokes into the translation.
Claw. Claw, claw, claw. Okay, this one is basically a result of me writing myself into a dead end. Heat has an easy job of it at Over-Time because his “It’s space time!” translation for “Uchuu kita!” lends itself really well to having the noun swapped out for something else. “Blast off!” becomes a very difficult thing to try and force the word ‘claw’ into when “uchuu” is replaced with it. I see a lot of talk with people about how “Space is awesome!” would be a good translation for uchuu kita, so I went with “Space is clawsome!” for “Claw kita!”. And now you will never see that referenced again.
Also, when he first uses Claw, Gentarou starts mimicing Eiji from OOO by doing his little “SEIYAAAAAAA!” gimmick. We never subbed that in, it just being a noise, so when he says “Get it?” in the subs he is referring to that and not the terrible claw joke I made moments beforehand. Just so you know.
Okay, the big one. Rakugo! This episode features the Ama High’s Rakugo Club, or “Rakugo Research Society” as they call themselves. Allow me to respond to THAT particular name with a hearty “fuck you” to start.
Rakugo is a traditional Japanese form of, essentially, stand-up comedy. It’s performed by one guy sitting on stage, with minimal props, telling a story featuring two characters, who he differentiates between with subtle turns of the head and little nuances. It’s a lovely bit of Japanese culture and all, but it poses unique translation issues.
First of all, let’s be honest, nobody fucking knows what rakugo is. That’s the big problem to start with. So, Rakugo Research Society out – nobody even knows what you are, so you don’t get to be a Research Society and add another layer of complication to the issue. Club it is. Rakugo is an actual thing, though, and while I’d considered translations like “comedy”, “standup” and “wordplay”, none of them quite do it justice. Instead, I settled on adding sort of mini TL notes into the actual dialogue, having JK subtly explain to the viewer that rakugo is about wordplay, and later, that it uses props – and is hence a form of performance.
Oh, yeah, why do they go to the rakugo club? Cause they found a fan. Why does that make any sense? Because a fan is one of the few props one is allowed in rakugo. Is this going to make any sense to an English speaker? Again, no, so I tried to insert the fact that a fan would be a rakugo prop into the dialogue. Bam, two birds one stone motherfuckers.
So we get past that hurdle, we explain to the viewer what rakugo is, but now there’s another problem – the wordplay itself. The scene begins with the rakugo club all reciting this lovely little story, about a boy who has a name so utterly fucking long it’s perplexing. What I chose to go for is translating the kid’s name – as the point of it is that it means all these things about how his life is going to be fucking excellent – as though they’re just using them to describe a dude. It is never quite explained what exactly they are doing here, so I figure this way will have people who don’t get it not scratching their heads too much, while allowing anyone crazy enough to get this reference (apparently Gintama referenced it once? idk) to figure it out, I hope.
THEN, then, the dude starts pulling some original wordplay. He wants to ask JK “How may I help you?”, but oh no, that would be too easy. He has to set up an elaborate joke that’s punchline is pronounced exactly the same way as the Japanese for “How many I help you?” The scene, literally, goes something like this:
Kijima: “Now then, my apologies for keeping you waiting.”
Kijima: “There’s a twist in our tale, however, as the writer coming furiously to his Wednesday deadline is brought an expected revelation by his guest.”
JK: “Ooh, ooh, what is it?”
Kijima: “What? It’s still Tuesday?!” (Nani?! Kayou kai?!) “Now, how may I help you?” (Nanika you kai?)
Now, as you might be able to tell, this joke is incredibly clever in Japanese, but is utterly not going to work in English. At all, whatsoever. So I was essentially forced to write a new one, making a bad twist between the English “Can I help you” and the Scottish “Cannae help you.” This… will hopefully be funny? I don’t know. It’s all I could think of, please don’t kill me. The entire thing is an atrocious concept to even approach in English, and I think any attempt is going to be slightly terrible, I can only hope mine isn’t too utterly atrocious.
Also, I put in an insert song translation for Endless Play, because there’s no dialogue in that scene and it’s fucking Endless Play. So yeah, that’s a thing.
Anyway, if you read all this… thanks, I guess? Any critique or criticism on any of this stuff would be appreciated. There’s some stuff where I’ve just been trying to write myself out of a hole, and places where I’ve probably written myself into one. One has, alas, much to learn.