So I really enjoyed this episode, which is rare for me, as the show generally does little for me. People have been asking me to quantify this, and I honestly can’t explain it, beyond the fact the episode just seemed a lot more fun to me – genuinely fun, as opposed to ‘fun for the sake of a ham-handed moral’ than previous episodes. Perhaps also the brilliance of the above scene managed to take me off guard enough to sweep away my usual ironclad pessimism, but let’s not dwell on the issue too long.
Anyway, notes after the jump.
A little more punctual this time.
So let’s see, first thing on my mind is the Osakan speech pattern. It’s a very difficult thing to convey in English properly – to the extent that one of the first reactions my newfound colleagues had to the first script I turned in after we started our joint was basically “wtf r u doin with akane.” The Osakan accent is, generally speaking, fairly understandable to someone who only knows ‘normal’ Japanese – it essentially tends to just take a large hammer to the grammatical structures and make them a lot sharper and more sudden, and as such the best way I could think of to handle this with Akane is a snappy, cutting out unnecessary syllables style of speech. The thing is that while this looks perfectly normal and fine in the hands of a 14-year-old girl, it has connotations of being awfully brash and uncultured when it’s coming out the mouth of an adult. As such, while the way we handled it ended up being fairly equivalent to the actual differences in the Japanese, it only really worked in Akane’s hands. I originally did not want to use the style of wording I’d used for Akane for the nice Osakan ladies in this episode precisely because of this, but in the end we settled on doing it the more consistent way.
That said, our editor was pretty adamant about leaving ‘nattou gyouza’ untranslated for no reason other than some kind of bizarre concept of cultural sanctity being applied to flavors (not even actual foodstuffs, here, mind!) so the overruling stick came out pretty heavily from all sides on that one.
God of good taste, we call ye concensus.
There is an actual foodstuff we leave untranslated in this ep, however – and that’s takoyaki. It’s one of those Japanese foods that kind of has no western equivalent, and is so engrained on the Japanese culture as to just kind of be allowed to ‘be’ itself when referred to in English. Normally I try and worm an explanation of things that would be obvious to the Japanese into the dialogue, but there wasn’t really a good place for it in this ep, so: takoyaki is a kind of mix of octopus meat (‘tako’ meaning octopus) and vegetables, rolled into a batter-y pancake-y dumpling-y thing and grilled (‘yaki’ meaning fried or grilled). It’s apparently quite delicious, though the concept has always kind of put a halt to any idle curiosity I may have.
Referring to earlier, and staying on the food theme, the episode focused on these ‘nattou gyouza’-flavored sweets. Gyouza are a kind of pork dumpling – or pork by default, anyway, one is of course free to use one’s filling of choice. As with everything in Japanese cooking, it seems, copious amounts of cabbage are also used for flavor – so if you want to imagine that the sweets also taste of cabbage, to further compound how awful they taste, feel free. Nattou is less contentious from a translation standpoint, however, it’s purely fermented soybeans, plain and simple. You’re free to decide for yourself whether the sweets are meant to taste like a combination of nattou and a standard gyouza, or whether it’s meant to be an actual ‘nattou gyouza’ which would be a dumpling containing pork and soybeans. Considering the host of the TV shows chooses to compliment the two seperate flavors, however, we decided to roll with ‘the main flavor of gyouza’ and ‘the main flavor of nattou’ for our translation purposes.
While these are foodstuffs that have a certain amount of cultural significance, and in normal situations wouldn’t be worth translating, the most utterly important thing about the scenes and lines that draw mention to them is that the viewer has to be constantly punched in the face by the concept that these sweets would be fucking HORRIBLE to your average person – something that only the regional tastes of Osakans could somehow appreciate. A lot of people aren’t necessarily going to know by heart – or know accurately – the exact meaning and flavors that compromise nattou and gyouza, so rendering them down to their simplest component parts ensures the viewer is immediately hit by the ridiculousness of the combination, without having to fumble around for their Japanese cuisine knowledge in the back of their brains.
Or such is my logic, anyway.
The last thing is the preview for the next ep. Was I the only one that immediately thought of Schwarzenegger b-movie Jingle All The Way when I saw it? That’s basically my mindset for what I expect the ep to be and how I intend to write it in terms of tone – the wacky hijinks of Miyuki going through hell and high water to stop Mothers Day being terrible because she can’t get the right present. I’m actually looking forward to seeing what moral they spin out of it (“It’s the thought that counts?” V:) but I fully expect the process to get there to be full of absolute shenanigans, so I decided to spin the next ep title with that mindset in mind. If they do play it straight, expect that to get retconned in the actual ep.
Anyway, enjoy the ep.