Memos on The Memorandum of Okitegami Kyoko
Hi all, I’m PlumJucie, the translator of Okitegami. I’ll start off by saying that I have NOT read any of NiSiO iSiN’s other works. I just haven’t had time yet. I also have not watched the live-action adaptation of Okitegami. Here in this blog post, I’m just going to address some of the questions people have had, and also some of my own thoughts while reading it.
- “What the heck went on with the releases? They were so infrequent!”
First of all, if you know who the author is, and you know how well he writes, you’d take an eternity translating him too, if you cared about quality. I haven’t read any of his works, and this is a manga adaptation, and I can still feel that his writing is a high-quality work of art.
Well, also I’m a translator whore and I loan myself out to 8 other series, so that takes up my time, too.
- If his writing is so great, how do you think your translation compares?”
There are some series where I’m just like, ‘nice, I think my sentence hit the spot.’ Well this isn’t one of them, haha. But it’s not about the accuracy; it’s about just being able to read Japanese in general. When you read a translation of any manga, the biggest thing you’re missing out on is the Japanese itself. I can translate the story for you anytime, but if you want to know a few extra quirks, the emotions, and the subtle lingual patterns of a character, that would take essays. For instance, you can read the translation of Kyoko speaking and get a “cutesy” gist from her, but when you read the Japanese, you get another side, a grammatical side, a stylistic side, a side that you can’t understand without understanding the language.
Anyway, I do my best with the translation, but there’s a certain wall that I can’t get over, so unfortunately that area’s restricted access to those who are bilingual.
- “What sets this manga’s writing apart from other manga?”
The flow, I’d say. Conversations flow as smooth as silk in this manga. In some manga, I feel like I have to stretch my mind a bit to understand their replies to each other, and it’s not even because of a lack of understanding of culture sometimes. It’s just poor or weird dialogue writing imo, hah.
One more thing that’s different is the formality of the dialogue. The majority of the dialogue is done in formal or business terms, so you’ll see me write stiffer conversational sentences. Like a book versus a script. In most manga, you’ll see scenes with friends talking with each other informally, but in this, I don’t think I’ve seen Kyoko drop a beat yet, aside from that middle school girl investigation joke.
- “So is it difficult to translate?”
It’s not bad. The hard part is writing the English up to par, since I can’t just write, “hey guys, what’s up?” Everything is situational.
But everyone always tells me that there’s way more than meets the eye with NiSiO’s works, so I may have missed things. Without having read his other works, currently I’m just inclined to think it’s one of those “palate cleanser” works that he described in the Sunaga Hirube arc.
- “Is there any significance to the characters’ names?”
Yes. Have I researched all of them? No. But here’s my simple take on Kyoko and Yakusuke:
Okitegami Kyoko - Okitegami, her last name, has the same reading (but different kanji) as a farewell letter. A letter left behind. Her character forgets, but leaves memos/notes/letters for her future self. So the title is also a pun on her name, since it can be translated as Okitegami’s Memo, “Memo’s memo,” hahaha.
Kakushidate Yakusuke - Kakushidateru means to be secretive, but the second kanji is replaced with the kanji for building or house. Secret house? House of secrets? Could be something like that. His first name, Yakusuke, can also be read as "yakkai" meaning annoying, troublemaker, someone who needs to be cared for. Anyway he's an unlucky guy who always needs help, as you all know.
The rest of the characters names are all puns, most certainly. I remember the partner who brought this series up to me, and he asked me to translate the chapter titles without having read the chapters yet. I stared blankly at “Hijiori Oritetsu” for a good couple minutes before telling him, “lol, no.” (Who could’ve known that was a name, lmao.)
Thank you all for reading my translations. It has been a joy translating this series. If you have any more questions, I will try my best to answer them in the comments.
Special thanks to MOE for first bringing it up to me way back when I first started translating back in 2015. (He was the typesetter for the first half!)
Special thanks to THE SICKEST RINGO MAIN NA for always bearing with me and my barrage of incomprehensible questions about Japanese grammar. <3
Special thanks to Studio Momotsuki for the cute fanart at the end! Check out their Twitter or Instagram! They go to conventions, too! (You might meet me at their booth one day, hahaha.)
And thank you to the Mangastream team for working on this and hosting it!