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Archive for the ‘Translation’ Category

I have a new book (and film) review of Makoto Shinkai’s your name. on Contemporary Japanese Literature. your-name

your name. is a novelization of director Makoto Shinkai’s your name., an animated film that tells the story of Mitsuha, a high school girl from rural Gifu prefecture who wishes she could be a boy in Tokyo in her next life. After an incredibly vivid dream in which she wakes up as “Taki,” a high school boy living in downtown Tokyo, she discovers it’s not a dream at all – and Taki is also switching bodies with her. As the two teenagers try to navigate each other’s lives and relationships, only able to communicate with each other only by writing notes in each other’s cell phones when they switch, they begin to unravel a mystery involving Mitsuha’s town.

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Best of ALC, Part 3

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, but ALC is the translation gift that keeps on giving.

Friendly reminder that none of these entries are incorrect translations and that I’m glad that ALC covers so much English-language slang; the humor lies in the unexpectedly enthusiastic, oddly phrased, or out of date translations.

Part 1 | Part 2

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As with many of the stories contained within Yoshiya’s Hana monogatari, “Yellow Roses” ends in tears. The story’s focus is not on plot, however, but rather the beauty of the two young women and the depth of their feelings for one another. Entire paragraphs are spent on detailed descriptions of mournful eyes and chiseled cheekbones, and the poetry of Sappho is quoted at length. As in the above passages, Yoshiya’s writing is characterized by fragments and ellipses, which heighten the emotional impact of certain scenes while leaving the reader free to fill in the suggestive gaps in the text with her imagination.

Contemporary Japanese Literature

Yellow Rose

Title: Yellow Rose
Japanese Title: 黄薔薇 (Kibara)
Author: Yoshiya Nobuko (吉屋 信子)
Translator: Sarah Frederick
Publication Year: 2014 (America); 1923 (Japan)
Publisher: Expanded Editions

I’m absolutely thrilled to write that one of Yoshiya Nobuko’s stories has finally appeared in a readily available English translation. “Yellow Rose” is drawn from Yoshiya’s acclaimed collection Hana monogatari (Flower Stories), which first appeared in print in the 1920s and has been a major guiding influence in shōjo manga, literature, and aesthetics. Thankfully, Yoshiya’s fiction is not just important from the perspective of literary history but also a true delight to read.

The short story “Yellow Rose” is about Katsuragi Misao, a twenty-two-year-old college graduate who accepts a teaching post at an all-girls prefectural academy “a thousand miles distant from Tokyo” to avoid getting married. On the train departing from Tokyo she meets Urakami Reiko, who happens to be a student entering her…

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Utagawa Kunimasa, “Young Woman and a Cat at a Kotatsu” Tokyo National Museum. Ukiyo-e, Nihon bijutsu zenshū, Tokugawa, (Comprehensive Collection of Japanese Art) vol. 20 (Kōdansha, 1991), p. 34. Via Japan Focus.

Utagawa Kunimasa, “Young Woman and a Cat at a Kotatsu”
Tokyo National Museum. Ukiyo-e, Nihon bijutsu zenshū, Tokugawa, (Comprehensive Collection of Japanese Art) vol. 20 (Kōdansha, 1991), p. 34. Via Japan Focus.

I ended up skipping the May reader since I was busy with the edits for the cross-dressing in anime and manga series. However, the gender issue rightfully on everyone’s mind in May was Elliot Rodger and #YesAllWomen. I don’t have much to contribute that conversation other than a link to a list of well written articles below, but I do have some more articles to share about gender in Japan.

In this gender reader: the history of beauty in Japan and China, gendered pronouns in Japanese and English, a survey of LGBT students in Japan, a collection of essential articles about Isla Vista, and more.

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Yes, JET alum Tim Martin interviewed Jim Breen, creator of WWWJDIC, one of the most popular online Japanese dictionaries, which revolutionized Japanese-language learning technology. This was the first dictionary I used, and while I tend to use Space ALC for helping localize phrases (often to hilarious effect), WWWDIC’s multi-radical kanji and text glossing have been key tools for many of the English-speaking JSL learners of my generation.

Photo courtesy of Jim Breen. Via JETWit.

Photo courtesy of Jim Breen. Via JETWit.

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Part 1 here.

Space ALC: my favorite general online dictionary, that treasure-trove of excellent example sentences and entirely bizarre translation possibilities, that bright spot in the depths of translation despair. (Some are a little NSFW for language.)

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Space ALC is one of my favorite online dictionaries, especially since it uses a lot of example sentences and words in context. The dictionary also has a huge database of English-language slang terms, both historical and modern, and as the dictionary is more directed at English-to-Japanese translation (read: Japanese speakers inputing English terms, including slang), sometimes the results I get are nothing short of hilarious. My other translator friends and I like to swap screenshots of some of the weirder terms we get, and so I wanted to share some of my favorites with you all.

Just a note: none of these entries is wrong; this is not Engrish. If I had to deal with the sheer amount of slang that English has as a non-native speaker, I would be glad to have a place that could explain what buck wild means. However, going from Japanese to English turns up a lot of results that have odd slang terms listed as the first entries, which is why I find it so funny.

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Part 3: “Who Wants to Live Forever?”

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Andre’s prior confession to Oscar demonstrated the loss of control for love trope Ikeda has established, but the purpose of the scene was to show Andre’s mental anguish and instability rather than to prove to Oscar how much he loves her. The main theme of love in the latter half of the manga still relies on loss of reservation as proof of love, but when this trope results in a successful confession of love, it is because Oscar and Andre have begun to see themselves as equals, bringing in a new and complex element to the love story which sets it apart from many other shoujo manga.

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Part 2: “Dancing in the Dark”

To read Part 1, click here.

To read Part 3, click here.

The second major incident of a character losing control for love is the scene in which Andre confesses to Oscar. However, this scene is not a simply a case of a character defying class and cultural conventions to tell someone of a drastically different social position that he loves her. This scene is dark and complicated and may be upsetting or triggering. The initial loss of control experienced in the verbal confession and the kiss  most definitely fits within the model Ikeda has established, but what happens next is about as subtle as the metaphor of Ikeda taking a sledgehammer to the established characterization. While I’ll mainly be discussing what this scene means within the narrative context of the manga, I’d also like to look at what this trope means in contemporary culture.

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Character, Control and Confession: A Three-Part Look at the Theme of Love in The Rose of Versailles

For summaries of the basic plot of The Rose of Versailles, see Deborah Shamoon’s article “Revolutionary Romance: The Rose of Versailles and the Transformation of Shojo Manga” in Mechademia 2 (2007): 3-18 and my article “Japanese Dramas Take on Gender Norms.”

To read Part 2, click here.

To read Part 3, click here.

Part 1: “Love Hurts”

A major theme of the Oscar-Andre love story in Ikeda Riyoko’s (1972-3) ベルサイユのバラBerusaiyu no Bara (The Rose of Versailles) is the loss of control of one’s emotions. In the events leading up to the pair’s (finally) becoming lovers, there are three major points at which one of the characters completely loses control of his or her emotions, risking everything in the process. While risking it all for love (cue the ’80s and ’90s pop ballads) is certainly not an uncommon theme in romantic stories, in BeruBara, the themes manifests in such a way that the act of being completely overrun by one’s emotions is the ultimate symbol of love. However, literary symbols do not exist in a vacuum; the idea of love driving a person to lose all logic and reason ties in very strongly into to Japanese and American cultural depictions of love.  Thus, in this series of articles, I aim to explore this trope as it functions in BeruBara and in other media.

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