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.
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!
Wow, I can't believe it's been almost a year since the last blog post. Sorry about that folks. We still love ya all.
The last year's just been pretty rough, schedule changes and personal matters have had their toll on us and the amount of energy and time we had left over for scanlators-to-fans communication was subsequently pretty limited. However, things are beginning to easen up again, so here we are, back.
Didn't just come back, either. We've listened to all the great feedback you've been providing and worked on this elaborate project behind the scenes to hopefully start getting rid of all the bad ads, the unfortunate by-product of keeping us up and running. Check this page for all the info on that.
Along with that stuff, we have also implemented our very own discussion software, coded from scratch by our awesome admin. So if you've been a frequent participant in discussions on our site, make sure to get an account or use the social sign in and you're good to go. Obviously, all this stuff is new, so if you come across any bugs, please just report them here and we'll take care of it asap.
What else is there? Oh right. A public service announcement: Nothing changes, you don't have to become a "supporter" to keep reading manga here, and that'll never change. So please don't stress. This is just for those who want to donate on a regular basis.
If you do however generously decide to become a supporter, chances are we can get rid of ads completely in the future. We're also brain-storming a few additional perks. One of them, my favorite, is to put together a "translator magazine" of sorts, with articles and opinion pieces by our staff, elaborate translation notes, reviews, that sort of thing, maybe even with some public participation and a Q&A corner - that sound like something you'd be interested in? I'll pay special attention to the posters saying "yes" who have a certain badge next to their names. ;)
Anyway, that's all we had to say for now. There was a lot of new code added, so please bear with us if anything breaks, we'll try and take care of it asap. <3
Edit: To comment on this blog, click on the title.
Hey there, Anon here. In the comments many of you ask us how we learned Japanese. I decided to write a short blog series about how I, personally, learned the language since you all seem to be really interested in how the process can go - there's plenty of other paths than my own, naturally. Today we'll be covering reasons for learning the language and setting appropriate goals. This series will be written from the point of view of a self-learner. I will cover classroom learning in another post later in this series.
Goals & Motivation
So you've decided to learn Japanese, great. Many of you are most likely not sure how to embark on this enormous task. One common mistake is not setting any short, mid, and long term goals. How motivated are you really, how much time are you willing to invest on a daily/weekly basis and what would you like to achieve? This could be reading manga, watching anime, reading novels, playing Karuta, communicating with your significant other or friends, traveling, acquiring linguistic knowledge, having fun, and the list goes on and on. There are two different kinds of motivation I will talk about: the intrinsically and the extrinsically driven.
This is the kind of motivation that comes from within. It is usually something you like doing. Some examples of this would be:
These are things you wouldn't procrastinate on, you'd do them without a second thought because you enjoy it, find it interesting, challenging, thrilling, etc... Having intrinsically driven motivation is going to be very beneficial in the long run. Learning a language is not all fun and games though, not everything will be that enjoyable. What is fun in learning a language is also very different from person to person. You should try to find things in the language learning process that are fun to you.
Extrinsic motivation usually comes from an outside source. You might not always like it, it could feel more like a chore. Some examples of this would be:
Extrinsically driven motivation doesn't always last very long, and it can be hard to then motivate yourself to keep going. It's not always a bad thing, however. There's also not always a very clear distinction between the two. Sometimes people just aren't driven internally (yet) and need a little push to get started. Over time this might develop some intrinsic motivation, but that is not always the case.
Use it or lose it
Keeping yourself motivated is in my opinion the hardest task when it comes to learning a language, even more so for a difficult language like Japanese (for native English speakers at least). It's more comparable to an ultramarathon than a sprint... or even an exhausting jog, for that matter.
The most important factor in successfully learning a language is the frequency you engage with the language. You don't always have to be actively studying it; just using the language like reading and speaking the language could be enough depending on your current level in your target language. You'd ideally want to use it every day, even if it's only 20 minutes a day. 20 minutes every day would yield better results in the long term than one long 2-3 hour study session during the weekend.
I've often heard the excuse from people that they simply can't find the time to study every day. I'd say this is bullshit for 99.95% of all of you out there. There is so much dead time during the day. You could be reviewing vocabulary while you drop the kids off at the pool, read a page of a study book while you're waiting in line, think in the language or review a grammar point while taking public transportation to work or school, etc... It's not that you can't find the time, you make it so you have time for it if this is truly important to you.
Setting short, mid, and long term goals
More often than not you will have a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. You will like certain parts of the language learning process, but you might absolutely despise some of it as well. To make sure that you'll still be on this journey a year from now we will need some planning. You'll want the learning process to be as rewarding as possible and make the process itself fun whenever you can. This could for example be done by including your favorite manga, anime, or drama series in your studies.
Long term goals
These are some examples of the kind of goals you might like to achieve near the end of your studies (although you never ever finish learning a language, there's always something you didn't know yet). These are harder to quantify, and wouldn't make very good short or mid term goals:
You'll want to set your mid and short term goals with these in mind, as those will have to contribute to achieving your long term goals.
Mid term goals
These are the goals you might want to achieve in the next couple months to a year. Examples of these could be:
These goals are harder to complete in a short amount of time, but easier to quantify compared to the long term goals. Every couple months I would review these and update when needed. They are the foundation for my short term goals.
Not all of these goals would be very fun to achieve, but they could lead to rewarding results. You'll eventually see progress towards your long term goals and that will drive you to work even harder.
Short term goals
These are the goals you'd like to achieve in the next week-month. Some examples are:
You want something that you can measure, something that you can tick off in a to-do list. That will help you to stay on track and improve in the long term. Every Sunday I'd sit down and write down my goals for the next week. I'd keep track of what I did every day and would check the weekly goals I had completed that day. A week could look something like the following:
Notice how each one of these is measurable. For vocabulary I would be using a Spaced Repetition system like Anki or Memrise and review the words that were scheduled for the day.
My study time would vary from 20 minutes a day to a couple hours, depending on how I was feeling that day. The key thing was to do something every day, without breaking the streak. I would not always meet my weekly goals, but that would motivate me to work harder the following week.
I wouldn't be too ambitious with your weekly goals at first. If you're a novice language learner you will need time to adapt to a daily study schedule and need more time to do some of activities listed above. Heck, you'll need time to figure out how long the activities listed above will take you in the first place. I'd set one or two goals for myself and try to complete them. Once you get more comfortable with the study schedule you can try and add more to it.
Without putting a study plan together it will be very hard for you to stay on track. You don't have to do it the exact same way as I did, but at least have some understanding and record of your long, mid, and short term goals. What you study is also less important than the fact that you're actually studying and putting in the time and effort.
Next time I will be talking about input and output in language learning. Good luck with your studies!
Hey there manga fans! Turk here with my first ever blog post as I prepare to ring in my 1 year anniversary translating at MS. Took me long enough. Anyway, today I thought I'd delve into the exciting and wondrous world of Japanese personal pronouns! This is something that came up in a translation I worked on recently and I thought I could shed some additional light on it in the blog where I have more space. Sound boring enough for you? Well, bear with me for a minute here.
First of all, for those of you who may not know, what is a personal pronoun? Well, in English, you know them as "I", "you", "he", "she", "it", etc. But today, we're going to talk about "I". In English, when you refer to yourself as the subject of a sentence, you ALWAYS use this word, no matter what. For example: "I kicked the ball." "I want ice cream." "I have a pen. I have an app-"...yeah you get the idea. It's also worth noting that gender doesn't come into play when you're speaking in the 1st person at all. Boy or girl, it's still just "I". In the English language, we only have gender-specific pronouns when we're using the 3rd person. And furthermore, in English, every sentence needs a subject. That's actually NOT the case in Japanese, but that's a topic for a whole other blog post.
On that note, let's look at the Japanese side of things. Unfortunately, things aren't quite as simple. There are different 1st person pronouns that are used in different regional dialects, by different genders, and in different social settings. Some of them could get you in a lot of trouble if used when talking to your boss, for example. It's really amazing how much the Japanese language can change depending on the relative social standings of the people in the conversation. Even Japanese people struggle with honorific speech, referred to as keigo (once again, a topic for another post...)
So now that we've established that there are many 1st person pronouns, let's look at some of them, starting with some common ones:
-私 (watashi): Relatively formal (you can use it when talking to superiors) and usable by both men and women.
-僕 (boku): Informal. Most commonly used by boys as it gives off a childish vibe. You may hear it used by girls who are boyish in nature, however (especially in anime and other media). One example of this is Diane from Seven Deadly Sins.
-俺 (ore): This one is very informal and you'll almost never hear it used by women (but once again, anime does break those rules... in fact, another 7DS character, Jericho, likes using "ore" to evoke a tougher image of herself.) The reason being is it sounds very "macho" and is usually used by men to assert their masculinity/dominance. It's used most commonly by men in social settings, although you'll hear grade school boys who want to sound tough use it as well. You should never use this one when talking with someone who has authority over you. As some of you probably know, almost all shounen manga protagonists use "ore" as well. Take our beloved Luffy, for example: "kaizokuou ni ore wa naru!" ("I'm gonna be king of the pirates!") The future pirate king has to be manly and tough, right?
From my experience, those are the most widely used in spoken Japanese by quite a large margin. Now let's check out some other ones:
-あたし (atashi): A derivative of "watashi", but this is an extra-feminine version. Only women and very flamboyant men will use this one. Characters like Nami in One Piece favor this pronoun.
-儂 (washi): This one is used by old men, at least in media. It's kind of a stereotype, but living in southwestern Japan I've definitely heard it used by old folks from time to time. Anyway, using this one just makes you sound like a grandpa. Which is quite fitting, since it's used by Ryo-san in Kochikame, which, until its conclusion a couple weeks ago, one might say was the grandfather of Weekly Shounen Jump manga. It was serialized for an astounding 40 years! More on this below.
-わたくし (watakushi): Also another way to read "watashi". This one is pretty much as formal and polite as it gets. Consider using this if you ever find yourself talking to the Emperor. Or maybe if you were a butler serving his master or something.
-内 (uchi): You might hear this one if you ever find yourself in Osaka or Kyoto, because it's often used in the Kansai dialect. Even then though, it's much more favored by women than men. If you're familiar with "Ore Monogatari" or "My Love Story" in English, the adorable Yamato likes to use this pronoun, although that story takes place in Tokyo if I recall correctly.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Well guess what? These are just the tip of the iceberg! And although I've tried to give you a decent enough idea of what situation each of them would be used in, there's tons of exceptions. And as I mentioned before, in many cases pronouns are skipped over entirely in the Japanese language! Anyway, I'm sure by now you're wondering what the point of all this is. Well, in the Shounen Jump author comments from issue 44 of this year, we included some extra omake chapters paying tribute to Kochikame's 40th anniversary and final chapter. You can read them here: http://mangastream.com/r/wsjac/%2316/3710/1 so check them out! In the first one authored by Kohei Horikoshi of "My Hero Academia", Ryo-san is talking to All Might and Deku. Well, remember Ryo-san's favorite pronoun? It's "washi"! So as a little extra touch for the title of this short, Horikoshi decided to switch out the "boku" in "Boku no Hero Academia" with "washi". Furthermore, the full title of Kochikame is "Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kouen-mae Hashutsujo", so he slapped a piece of that on the end as well to create "Washi no Hero Academia-mae Hashutsujo". If you were to translate that, it would come out as something like: "My Police Station in front of the Hero Academia".
Unfortunately, there's really no way to accurately convey this in English, but I tried my best to come up with something. Since "washi" has that old geezer stereotype, I decided to go with "mah" in place of "my", since "mah" kinda makes you think of some old dude with no teeth yelling at kids like: "get off mah lawn!" But even so, the joke probably would have still been lost on a lot of people who couldn't read the Japanese, so I also left an accompanying TL note, and now I'm here writing this long-winded blog post. It really makes you realize how much more expressive of a language Japanese can be than English in some areas, and how disappointing it is that there are some aspects of it that just can't be carried over to English no matter how hard we translators try. In some cases, being willing to invoke a little creative license can be the key that separates a bland and awkward sounding word-for-word translation from a more natural-sounding one that conveys the same nuances as the Japanese. We've covered that issue in past blog posts as well!
Anyway, for those of you who stuck it out all the way to the end, I really appreciate it, and I hope you all learned something! I'll see you all on disqus, the forums, reddit, or maybe in the blog again someday! Until next time!
We're often asked how we manage to release so many projects every week, and it seems to be often wrongly assumed that we simply have a big team - we don't. Let me tell you a little about the secret to our productivity: it's all about our fine-tuned workflow!
We only work on series we love, but that doesn't mean we only love what we work on. There are other great series out there that, in a perfect world, we could potentially pick up, but our plate's pretty full right now as it is. We only have so many members and so much time. Of the 10 weekly series we carry, 7 are from one single magazine (update: with HxH on hxhiatus, it's only 6 :( ). We get those in raw format every Thursday - all at once. Pretty much all of us either go to university or have a proper job; we outgrew our nerdy high school selves 5-10 years ago. We're nerdy adults now. Busy, nerdy adults.
But how do we really do it then? Having almost all of it fall on 1 day is the main reason, really. What doesn't fall on that day comes in on the weekend, when most of us are free anyway. When you know weeks and months in advance when you need to be around to enjoy your hobby, it's pretty doable. Some of us have arranged their classes and seminars so that Thursdays are free, others go to work a few hours later or come home a few hours earlier. Some of us work from their home offices, and are their own bosses, so even taking all of Thursday off is possible. It's a combination of being able to predict when you're going to be needed, communication about it and then the willingness to make real-life arrangements work out for it. It's manageable because we keep it limited to a few busy days of the week. Of course, the key to all of that theory actually working is having an amazing team of very reliable people who make time no matter what, week after week.
The process itself is then pretty straightforward. Let's look at Thursdays - we get our seven series, sometimes eight (every 4th week we get a ~45 page Boruto chapter on top of it all now) and make them available to our translators, most of which have one series to work on. There is one that carries three (update: two now, damn you Togashi ruining my point - yay after-the-fact-edit humor though) on his shoulders alone. But he's a vampire who doesn't sleep at night, so there's some special advantages there. For our Shokugeki no Soma translator though, for instance, raws come in around midnight his time and he's a financial analyst - so he needs his beauty sleep, of course. That, incidentally, is the reason why we take longer to release that one than the rest; it's only completed after he's back from work the next day (update: which is why we switched to another translator, who, no worries, is also a big fan).
While the translators' quills are scratching away, the cleaners get started on their magic. Sadly, WSJ is printed on 100-fold recycled paper that wouldn't pass for toilet paper in most households, and with as little ink used as possible. Which is understandable, considering their weekly circulation is in the millions and magazines are typically thrown away after reading anyway, but yeah, doesn't make it any easier for us. So, the cleaners do their thing, and ideally start cleaning pages that require redraws, so we can start on those as soon as possible, too.
Redrawing is necessary all those times you have text not inside bubbles or on a white / black background, but actually placed on top of art. It wouldn't even be all that bad, if Japanese wasn't written top-down and right to left... so it's impossible to just cover it with English text, and we often spend the longest time removing that text and then applying the Photoshop tools and drawing skills we have at our disposal to make it appear like there was never any Japanese text there to begin with. That is, literally re-drawing the image behind the text. It does help though, of course, if that page is already typeset and you only have to redraw the bits that are still visible from beneath that.
We prioritize cleaning and redraws for series based on two factors: ease of translation/cleaning and personal preference. Bleach is done first because it's usually got less text than your average ingredients label. It's usually light on redraws, too. We've got a few huge OP/HxH fans on the staff, and the TLers tend to finish those quickly as well, so those are done next.
So, to summarize:
Receive scans -> simultaneously start translating and cleaning -> prioritize cleaning the pages requiring redraws -> prioritize cleaning the series that are translated sooner -> use translations to typeset pages -> finalize redraws with the English text on them while the non-redraw pages are being typeset.
Oh and the other important thing; we've been working with a group channel similar to IRC for a while now, so all our translators share their dedicated channel and whenever anything comes up they have trouble translating with, they can always buzz the others and get some advice or ideas. It's really useful both in terms of speeding up finding solutions for problematic lines but also in the actual final quality we produce because there's so much input by all our people.
We don't really have any particularly strict internal hierarchies, everything is pretty horizontal. For translations, though, we have some translators who "rank" higher in that they either have more years of experience with Japanese or their fields of study in university are actually useful (take voxanimus for instance, who took Japanese at the graduate level and is a linguistics major, pretty ideal for translating if you ask me). These guys and gals are there to provide help with complex structures or even TL check entire chapters. The difference, by the way, between TL checking and proofreading is that a TL checker looks at both the translation and the original text and often rewrites lines entirely or finds possible misinterpretations and whatnot. Nevertheless, although voxanimus is the main TL checker, we also get his One Piece translations TL checked by eucalyptus - nobody is above or beyond checks and quality controls. (Update: Incidentally, eucalyptus recently took over OP from vox 2 weeks ago while she's completely free from university duties). We just really try hard to get everything as correct as possible. Ego is just not an issue within our ranks.
Not that we don't proofread and quality check as well. Every redraw is double-checked, and so is the typesetting. The releases on a whole are read by a bunch of people, our staff has some pretty intense fans for these series after all. We spend hours discussing arcs, plotlines, characters and whatnot in the chat. So whenever we find something off or that could still be improved afterwards, it's also brought up and the page is updated. Plus, we do read your comments, a lot more than you might think. Partly to make sure we don't miss any mistakes that you all do us the favor of pointing out, or to answer questions when they may arise. Mostly because we like hearing what you all have to say. Really.
So yeah, basically the process is repeated throughout the day, with some people coming and others going. And now to get to the actual point why I even bothered to write this all up; We'd love some extra hands!
Are you interested in joining our team? You can not only help us improve the quality further, release faster and lighten the workload on our team but also join a super cool club of really hardcore fans (and, surprisingly, pretty fun people) - we do have a lot of fun, otherwise we wouldn't bother coming back week after week, and we're willing to teach you all you need to know to be of use. We went out of our way and prepared a forum entirely dedicated to showing you the ropes, no matter which position you're interested in. As of now, not all sections are completed, but you can find out all about the status and positions we need to fill right over here.
A few (rather important) new characters and epithets were introduced in this week's chapter. We ended up going back and forth a few times with the romanization of their names, and there appears to be a bit of confusion among you all as well, so I thought I'd just come forward and clear the air.
Let's talk about Sanji's older sister. Her name in katakana is レイジュ. This is pronounced "Ray-joo." The standard romanization for this name would be "Reiju." Initially, I wasn't too much of a fan of this spelling, as I felt it didn't look appropriately "feminine." She herself is clearly quite feminine, and her charms/flirtyness are a part of her character. At first, then, I didn't (and still don't) feel that the word "Reiju" looked like the kind of name a character like that should have. Her name is very close to the word "Rouge," a relatively common name for similar "sexy possibly villanous woman" archetype characters. (Anyone ever played Sonic Adventure 2?) I therefore decided that Reige would be a better romanization; it maintains the pronunciation while fitting more with the image of the character.
However, after thinking about it a bit more, I realized it was more important to preserve the commonality in the patterning of the Vinsmoke children's names. As many of you probably already know, the Vinsmoke siblings introduced so far all have a number at the beginning of their names. Additionally, with the introduction of Yonji and Reige/Reiju, we can perhaps guess that the pattern is "number + j + vowel." The "Reige" spelling goes against this patterning, and makes it seem like Reiju is somehow unique or different than her siblings, a conclusion I would rather avoid readers jumping to. So I ended up switching the name back. This happened pretty soon after the chapter was released, within about 10 minutes.
Next, let's talk about name ordering. This was basically just my mistake. For those who aren't aware, Japanese names are traditionally written with one's surname or "last" name first. Obama Barack, Smith Will, etc. In certain series (Haikyu, BNHA, TG) we reverse the ordering because it can be confusing for readers to identify which is a character's first name and which isn't, especially when they are referred to by both. However, there's a strong existing precedent for NOT swapping names in One Piece, because "Luffy D. Monkey" just sounds weird. We've gotten used to the other ordering, and the rest of the names should follow suit. I forgot about that this week. My apologies. The name ordering is now fixed; it took me a bit longer than I'd like to get around to having it switched, however.
Finally, while we're talking about ordering, I'd like to offer my thoughts on the epithets of the two newly-introduced Vinsmoke siblings. People seem to be preferring an ordering that has the color come first, followed by the noun. That is, "Green Winch," not "Winch Green." Unfortunately, the latter ordering is the one given in the raws. Additionally, the epithet is not written in kanji or hiragana like a regular name; it literally is "Winchu Guriin" in katakana. with the information we have at the moment, I don't feel that that's enough to assume that it's an actual name and should therefore be reordered, especially given what I just mentioned about not reordering names in One Piece. People have also pointed to Sanji's name as an example of a "switched" ordering, but the two aren't exactly comparable. The reason Sanji's epithet, "Black Leg," is written in that order is because it is fundamentally different from his other siblings (so far, at least). As I mentioned earlier, "Winch Green" and "Poison Pink" are written in katakana. "Black Leg" is written in Kanji, and it's often written in the Japanese text after Sanji's own name, similar to how "Pirate Hunter" comes after Zoro's, or "Straw Hat" after Luffy's. Adjective ordering in Japanese dictates that these epithets be placed in FRONT of the names they describe. That's why you get "Straw Hat Luffy" not "Luffy the Straw Hat." As far as we can tell in this chapter, "Winch Green" and "Poison Pink" do not follow this pattern. Reiju refers to herself just as "the Poison Pink," not "Reiju the Poison Pink" or "Poison Pink Reiju." Of course, this information may change as we learn more about these characters, but at the moment, given the information we do have, I don't think we can assume that the ordering of the epithets of the two Vinsmoke siblings should be switched.
Thanks as always for your support.
Just got a quick info regarding Hunter x Hunter for you today. The series takes about 2-3 times as long to translate as One Piece (the 2nd longest series in our weekly line-up), but at the same time, for many of us on the team, it's their favorite.
We have various systems of proofreading set up for all our series, ranging from simply reading through it while typesetting (putting the text into the bubbles) and making sure there aren't any typos to having a 2nd translator attached to a series who reads both, the raws and the primary translation fully - making sure no meaning is lost and often offering alternative phrasing options to the primary translator.
In the case of Hunter x Hunter, we have our most veteran translator working on the series, whose translations we generally only look through for typos and such and who makes those lightning-fast releases possible in the first place by staying up well into the early morning hours every week for us all. However, HxH is not an easy series to translate by any means. Not only is it extremely text-heavy, but often also worded very ambiguously, with complex grammar and vocabulary; especially so in the current arc where Togashi is throwing one complex scenario into the mix after another, along with dictionary-styled explanations for them all — leaving us feeling like Gon.
But as I mentioned above, it IS the staff's darling, so we go through extra lengths for it. We have several translators going through the chapters bubble by bubble, offering alternative readings. (For better understanding; Japanese often doesn't clarify who is talking to who or about who as pronouns tend to be omitted and/or unclear.) Given the length of the chapters and people involved, our goal is to have an updated, final, as-close-to-perfect-as-possible chapter that we're all very happy with by the following week. Thus, we highly recommend that you all re-read the previous week's chapter now before reading the current one.
For 350, we did the update already ~24h ago, about 2 days before the new chapter coming in, and we'll definitely try to do those updates asap, but generally speaking, re-reading it on Thursdays is your safest best. Let me know in the comments if you'd like facebook updates on that progress. To give you an idea, we updated 1-2 bubbles on about half the pages. While I wouldn't say that any of the changes affect the overall understanding of the chapter, most of them do contribute a lot to helping the dialog make more sense than previously. For instance, we changed the assumed speaker on 1-2 occasions, changed the implied (groups of) people in some other bubbles and improved the overall flow in everything else. In short: It's definitely worth re-reading, especially if you want to be sure that you have the most complete understanding of what happened.
Finally, I just wanted to state - those complex, difficult and often rambling bubbles are most definitely INTENDED to be difficult to understand, they're meant to look long and complex, and we aren't fans of removing that aspect in the translation by just summarizing what it says. We're meant to feel like this and enjoy it.
Literal vs. Liberal
Pt. 2 - Profanity
Heya Heya, it's DzyDzyDino again.
It's been a little while since my last update, and for that I apologize. In between getting perpetually sick and being really busy with other projects, I just had problems finding the time! But I'm back to pick up where I left off!
Last time, I wrote a bit about Literal vs. Liberal translations. Since then, it's something I've been even more aware of than usual while translating and reading.
One area where Literal vs. Liberal really raises some questions is profanity.
First, let's talk shit.
Shit. shit. shit.
What is shit? A "profane" word for fecal matter? A vulgar expletive? A casual word among perhaps younger and more "rowdy" people for "stuff"?
I'm taking a shit.
Look at this shit everywhere.
You're in deep shit now.
Are you shitting me?
I don't give a shit.
This list can go on and on, and although in some cases, maybe it literally is referring to fecal matter, not always.
So the japanese dictionary equivalent for shit, くそ (kuso) doesn't fit in all these (or nearly any) situations. "Kuso" really just is a more vulgar term for feces that can be used as an expletive.
The pure English concept of profanity though doesn't exist the same way in Japanese. You can be profane and vulgar without using "kuso." You can be profane just by how you talk and who you're talking to.
I keep bringing up "kuso" for a few reasons. One, because that's the one people tend to know and is easily / readily available to look up online. Two, because, frankly, that's just about where the direct translations stop.
English can be a very colorful language, and when it comes to profanity, you could paint Picasso. Cockramming assmunching fuckmongering bitchfaced dickhole of a douche pirate.
I've heard colorful Japanese insults thrown around, too, around drunk and rowdy Japanese folk, but the word "kuso" was not involved among them. Calling people things like "Toxic Waste" and "Scattered Trash" and stuff like that. Ugly stupid octopus. etc.
If I was translating a serious Yakuza manga, and some tough gangster who'd seen some shit was really pissed off at someone... if he stood up, slammed his fist down on the table and said "Vanish! You foolish octopus!", what we'd have is a problem to communicate. Unless he was talking to the comic relief in the series, a magical disappearing cephalopod, this is the time for something like "Get the fuck out of my face, you... umm... douche pirate."
You get the picture.
I keep coming back to "kuso" also because that's really the only direct profanity translation there is. There's nothing for fuck. Fuck? A vulgar way to describe two people having sex? It's a lot more than that. I won't list the options here.
When translating vulgarity in manga, usually you take a look at the character and how the phrase compares to their regular speech. Is what they're saying way more forward than what they'd usually say? Or are they the kind of character that usually speaks pretty loose/brash to begin with?
Apart from expletives, name-calling is also a pretty common place for profanity.
In japanese, name calling usually starts with "kono!!" (with what comes after it implied possibly) or "Kono ______!!!" now. If we were being super literal (and I have seen plenty of bad scanlations/translations that have done this), we would translate "kono" to the literal "this!!!"
このやろう！！ Kono yarou!! Yarou literally being a guy, dude, whatever. But depending on context can be very vulgar. How vulgar? It depends on the situation. If you're shouting angrily at someone and say this, it'd come across as "You motherfucker!!" or "You bastard!" or whatever else, depending on how you say it and who you are and who they are. But of course, if we're being super literal, we'd go "THIS GUY!!"
What are we? Guidos? "Ayyye! This guy!! This guy right 'ere? Can you believe this guy?" No. No we are not.
殺す コロス ぶっ殺す ぶっ殺してやる
Here's some manga favorites. The kanji in above is for korosu or "to kill." If we're being super-duper literal with no concept of Japanese language whatsoever, we'd type that into google translate and see it pops up as "to kill" and be like "To kill!!"
Kill is a strong word, and without getting into who would / wouldn't say this and too far out of subject, the most usual context would be "I'm gonna kill you" "I'll kill you." But again, it's so context based, it's not going to be translated as that in every situation.
It's a pretty heated thing to say and sometimes they'll inflect even more "passion" into it with that little bu- prefix which kind of adds strength into the following verb. (like the internet favorite, Kake meaning to cover with, or to put on (top of). Adding a Bu- for emphasis leaves you with something for another discussion entirely.)
But so what, someone struggling for their life, enraged and out of control saying bukkorosu!! We translate as "I'm REALLY going to kill you!!" or even better, "I'm going to kill you" ... IN BOLD? Come on. No. Context, people.
"I'm gonna fucking kill you!" at the very least. "You're fucking dead."
It really depends. And again, it might not always be profane. It really depends so much on context.
Profanity is not as cut and dry as it is in English. There are not simply "bad words" you don't say. If we're going there, there's whole manners of speech you shouldn't use, and there's a proper way to conduct yourself, and anything going against those would be "profane" in some way, depending on context.
We read a lot of your comments and many of you feel profanity in manga feels inappropriate or doesn't seem like what a certain character would say. For the most part, we try not to use profanity unless it actually adds something to the scene or character.
If a character who normally speaks in a rather tame tone suddenly starts speaking in a manner way more, well, vulgar than he normally speaks and is popping off at people, profanity is an excellent way to illustrate that.
If we had to, could we leave the profanity out? Sure. Some translators choose not to use any. Some translators have a vision of an anime/manga world that's, well... PG as opposed to PG-13/R. It's always a choice, always up for discussion, and apart from straight mistranslations, there's always room for debate.
In the end, it all comes down to interpretation, the translator/scanlation group, and choices.
We know you trust us to bring you a quality, meaningful scanlation every week and appreciate your readership. We love the series we translate and make every choice with as much information and intent as possible. As translators, we try to convey all the meaning we found when reading the original Japanese raws into English.
I had a lot more to say and a lot more examples, but this went on way longer than I expected already. Perhaps I'll revisit this topic at a future date, as I know it's one that's constantly being addressed.
Until then, from me and the crew here at mangastream, thanks as always for your readership and we hope to continue to bring you timely scanlations of the highest quality we can muster for the forseeable future!
Peace out, bitches.
Felt like rambling a little. Redrawing is, as most of you already know, about removing the original Japanese text on the images, on all the occasions where text is not in bubbles, boxes or on otherwise neat, clean and solid white or black color background. It'd be called just "drawing", but it's really about trying to fill in what's once been there, and it's often just a fragment, like half of someone's face, or half of a building.
Whenever it's just half of something, that's a great thing - that means you have something to go by, and can sometimes even clone-stamp from a different section of the page. When you have nothing to go with, it's literally drawing a whole chunk of art, trying to match the respective mangaka's drawing style and so on. Pretty tough deal, right? It is, and that's probably why competent, capable and long-lasting redrawers are the hardest position to fill in a scanlation group. Never mind how thankless of a job it is; best case scenario, nobody mentions a thing cause they don't notice it - worst case, it's obvious and it bothers people and they bitch at you. And any redrawers' strongest critic is he/she him/herself, having sometimes spent hours on a single page, knowing all of its individual pixels by name and hence seeing any possible screw-ups that most readers wouldn't even notice. Really bad for people with OCD, I speak from experience.
...now that I think about, that isn't the best way to encourage you all to apply for the task, huh? xD
It is fun at the same time, I promise. It's rewarding, because you get to see the result of your work on the page right when it's completed, and despite the rumors that we're all a gang of evil pricks, we're actually a fun little private community of hardcore fans from all walks of life and it's a lot of fun to work within our group, that I also promise.
We're looking for anyone with some experience with Photoshop, really. It may seem like you need to be an artsy person for this, and it certainly helps a lot if you are and can draw (maybe even with a graphic tablet?), but at least 50% of all redraws are about knowing your tools. Your clone stamp tool, your healing brush, your dodge and burn tools, the line or brush tool and most definitely the selection tools. If you have those under your belt from appliances outside of manga redrawing, chances are you already have what it takes to take a shot at this and help out your favorite team release those favorite series of yours. ;)
Really, what is most important is that you have the spare time you are willing to dedicate to this and the ability to learn on your own, from various tutorials out there and the feedback you'd receive from the senior members. We don't have any minimum time requirements or anything like that, but if you're busy with a demanding job, wife, kids and other hobbies, this really isn't for you and why the heck would you even consider applying anyway? If you're going to college and have a few hours every day where you just don't do shit and would rather be productive with a fun hobby instead of watching that 12th re-run of the Big Bang Theory, then come on in, our doors are open for ya. Obviously, anything in between works too, haha.
Thar, just compiled a little imgur album with a few examples of before and after redraw panels. Some of those examples are all about clone-stamping accurately (those gray patterns, the stuff that looks like a chessboard basically) and spot-on, if you're even 1 pixel off it looks off, so zoom in there and and make ALT+CTRL+Z a shortcut, cause you'll use it a lot to go back a step. Others are more about having an understanding for the art and connecting lines, getting the curves correctly and to look natural. Check it out for yourself.
If you're interested, check out the application page here and send your attempt to smokybarrettms [at] gmail.com along with some other information like your age, time-zone, experience, etc.
I will say this; redrawing is basically a major bottle-neck, both for speed of releases and, effectively, also the amount of series we can work on. People keep messaging us to pick this or that up, and I have no doubt they will in this thread also (please don't...), but what it comes down to is, each series can be measured in hours of effort it takes, and we don't do half-assed jobs where we just rush something out the door. In other words, the more helping hands we got, the better we can do.
We're really a tiny group, there's tops two dozen active people at a time, and half are translators with their respective series, so you can imagine the impact of even one person leaving or becoming busy with a new job or the exam season approaching and such. Don't get me wrong, this is no "oh pity poor us" thing, we're having fun as it is, I'm just stating the facts, we're pretty happy with how much we manage and how fast we do it, but if you want us to do even better, it's up to you to join in the frenzy. :)
PS: Here's a great tutorial resource that you better be prepared to read and re-read if you're serious about joining:
Literal vs. Liberal
Pt. 1 - Context
DzyDzyDino here again! Back with another little blog entry about translation, localization, and Japanese.
The purpose of these blog entries, apart from sharing with you a little behind-the-scenes glimpse, is to hopefully also show you what goes into localization and a bit of how the Japanese language works.
Because no translation is ever perfect, especially for a language so fundamentally different even in syntax from our own, we're always left choosing between something more direct and literal that reads awkwardly or something that reads and feels smooth and native in English but takes some liberty with the Japanese.
Either way, I think knowing a little about the source material helps to enjoy both methods of translation a bit more, and that's what these blog posts hopefully help to do!
The Literal vs. Liberal translation / localization is one that usually divides fans and translators alike. Sometimes there are more direct cases, like... do you want honorifics like -san, -kun, -chan, -sama, do you want them localized on a one-for-one basis to things like Mr. and Sir, or do you want it omitted based on context as to whether or not it's even important to the story?
I think most of us here at mangastream prefer a context-heavy localization (at least I do!). In other words, one which prioritizes getting the "meaning" and "feel" of what the original Japanese is across into a way that feels and means the same thing in English. Oftentimes choosing a meaningful translation over one that might be "by-the-book" or correct on a "word-for-word" basis with the Japanese.
There's a Japanese saying that gets used in a lot of manga: "百年早い"(hyakunen hayai) which literally translates to "100 years too early." - meaning "you're way too inexperienced/amateur for this, try again in 100 years." But unless there's like some specific plot device circling around 100 years or time-power or something like that... (lol), nothing is meant by the 100 years. It's simply a saying, and one that does not exist in English. So every single time someone says that, regardless of context, should it really be translated as "You're 100 years too early!"?
Many would argue, "Yes!" and when I first started translating 10-ish years ago, I'm sure I felt the same as well. But over time, I began to value really getting into the character and thinking about how that character would talk, what he would say and how it would come across in English.
Idiomatic Expressions (or "sayings") are one thing, and some people can draw a line in the sand with those. But what about everything else?
Here's a good example of over-literal vs. context. A line that happens nearly every week in every series we do, "来るな～！” (kuruna~) If we were to translate this absolutely literally, it'd be "Don't come!". Sometimes I see other groups decide to blur it just a tiny bit and go "Don't come here!" but Japanese is a context-based language.
This line, when it appears, appears by itself in a bubble with nothing else around it - so no pronouns, etc. A literal translation would be "Don't come!" 100% of the time, but that phrase can be interpreted differently based on the setting and whoever's saying it... and it should be! "Stay back!" "Don't come any closer!" "Get away from me!" "Stay where you are!" all the way to "Look out!!" and "Don't touch that!!"
This line could be someone running away from a killer, it could be someone holding off a horde of beasts, telling their comrades to stay away and save themselves, it could be someone warning his friends that a trap is right in front of them, it could be someone that just doesn't want to be followed. With all those possible situations and all the different characters that could be in them, is "Don't come!" really the right translation in each and every case?
Our hero's sister has been kidnapped as bait in a warehouse. The villains have set a trap right next to the door. The sister sees the hero running up to the building and shouts "来るな！" - This is a total classic movie trope, and if you imagine any western movie, the line here would be "It's a traaaaap!!!" and that's precisely what would be meant contextually there.
This is a topic that sparks a really long debate, and to be honest, what I really wanted to talk about this week (profanity in Japanese and translations) I could hardly start without laying some groundwork down first.
In the end, there is no completely right choice, and any choice you make ends up leaving something out. Something invariably becomes "lost in translation." We do our best to mitigate what gets lost and look at every series and every instance on a case-by-case basis and often have team discussions on how to handle certain ones.
The most important thing is to have intent behind what you choose, and at least here at mangastream, we really care about what we're doing, we love these series, and we've put a lot of thought behind all of our decisions in order to try to bring you something we're proud of releasing and that we'd be happy to read.
We can't always please everyone and we're also not perfect either, but we're always open for discussion and always listen to your feedback!
After all that, if you're still dedicated to not missing a single thing out of the original Japanese... well... there's a lot of resources out there nowadays to learn the language on your own!
Anyways, I did want to get into profanity this time, but with how long just talking about the basics of context and liberal/literal got, it looks like it'll have to wait till next time, so until then, thanks for supporting us!
DzyDzyDino here again.
Hope all your holidays were well, whichever ones you happened to celebrate! And Happy New Year to everyone as well! 2016 is upon us!
In the spirit of the Holidays, I thought I'd share this approrpiate little story from a recent Bleach chapter we worked on.
So when we work on chapters, usually we're all on Skype or some kind of chat together with eachother. This way we're all in touch through every step of the process, and the translation goes through a few sets of eyes which are all familiar with the series in the hopes of catching anything that might be off. We can also discuss what might be more appropriate for certain translations and what sounds off for what character and so on. Everyone here also has pretty strong English skills so we usually catch any spelling or grammatical mistakes too (but sometimes they still slip through! You guys are always great at catching them when that happens, and our team fixes it as fast as we can!)
So something else that's neat about us here at mangastream is that we have staff located all over the world from all different walks of life. This is awesome for lots of reasons but one that comes up a lot is cultural and language references. Bleach, for instance, looooves to throw in Spanish and German and whatever else they feel like.
In the past I've talked about "creative furigana" or using readings for implications before. Normally on the side of kanji in shonen manga, they'll have the reading for the kanji to help younger readers learn them, but they also get used for creative purposes or implications. A really simple example would be someone saying "That Jerk" but the reading for it is like "Naruto", so it works as a kind of subtext sometimes.
Furigana gets used in different ways for the ever creative names of attacks too. In this particular issue of Bleach, we had an attack that was written in Japanese as 「毒いりプール」 (A pool with poison in it, or a 'poison pool'). The reading for this however, plain as day, was "Gift Bad."
I did a double take, a triple take, stood up and got a drink, came back and checked again. Yup. Still looking me right in the face "Gift Bad."
What do I do? Do I change it so it makes more sense and make it "Bad Gift"? Maybe a Poison Pool is a bad gift? A guy charging up for a big attack, "rrrrraaaaaaaaaaarghhhhh!! BAD GIFT!!!" It's not inconceivable in the world of manga, right? Doubled by the fact that Xmas at the time was right around the corner, I go and pull up the Bleach wikia to make sure there's no associations with this character and Santa Claus, or he doesn't have some present gimmick.
I imagine a Santa Claus character reaching into a bag, "You've been bad this year! Lump of coal! BAD GIFT!!!!" or "You've behaved this year!! PONY 4 U!! GOOD GIFT!!!"
Still. Something's not right.
I run it by a staffer who happens to speak German and he clarifies. "Gift means Poison. Bad means Bath."
Wow. Many wtfs were had. Since I saw words I recognized in English, I immediately assumed they were English words and probably would have gone done some terribly wrong translation route. But thanks to our awesome team here at mangastream, a disaster was avoided and we got out the right translation.
tl;dr Strange translation. Teamwork wins out. Disaster averted.
Anyways, just thought I'd share this fun little Holiday-themed story with you for today and wish you all a Happy New Year from the staff here at Mangastream.
Hopefully you didn't get any Gift Bads this year. (ノ*゜▽゜*)
It's been a little while, been a bit busy with some new projects and also took over translating on a few more of our series.
As usual, I'll just be picking out and addressing little things that can't quite get conveyed properly in the translations of our chapters, or things I find neat and I hope you might find neat as well. Onwards!
Most recently, Akame Ga Kill had a kind of epic moment for me... like one of those moments where someone in the movie says the title of the movie. Like at the end of Chinatown, "Forget it, Jake... it's Chinatown." Or "Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club". "7.62mm Full Metal Jacket" etc. etc. Sometimes it's gimmicky, other times it sheds new light on the title and is really cool.
Akame Ga Kill (アカメが斬る) had that moment for me, and the translation of the title had a lot to do with it and why it doesn't quite come across. First of all, there's the "Kill" part of the title, which is written as 斬る(KIRU) for to cut/slice or kill by slicing/slashing. This is played on further because of Akame's Teigu, Murasame, which kills anyone it cuts or slashes, means cutting and killing are one and the same. And since they are pronounced the same, they decided to stylize the actual spelling of the title, calling it Akame Ga Kill instead of Akame Ga Kiru. This may be common knowledge already, I'm not sure.
The title usually gets translated to something like "Akame Kills" or something like that, but this is where the vagueness of Japanese also steps in a bit. The title is open to so much interpretation, and you're left wondering a bit of Akame Kills What? Without anything else attached, there's also some other further out interpretations and connotations attached, but I'm starting to get off topic here.
Japanese is often very context-specific, with sentences leaving out many important parts and having you interpret it via context instead. So this title is vague and we just go along assuming it to mean Kill Akame. But then in the most recent chapter, Akame tells Tatsumi that if she should become possessed by Murasame, that she wants Tatsumi to kill her. Tatsumi then responds by saying, "Fine, but then if Incursio takes me over and I go out of control, I want you, Akame, to be the one to kill me."
This whole "Akame, you will be the one to kill (me)" is conveyed with the line "Akame Ga Kill" and suddenly brings a whole bunch of different connotations to the title. Instead of seeing the title as "Akame Kills", I started to see it as "Akame Is/Will Be the One Who Kills" and if this current arc is the climax, then maybe the title is coming from a wish by her sister for Akame to be the one to kill her? Starting to read into it now, but that's the cool part and totally what the whole point is. By leaving things vague like that, any time any new bits of context come in, suddenly new possible interpretations spring up.
This is probably one of the hardest and also most fun parts of translating. Often the author will write some super vague line of dialog on one page. You read it, you don't really fully understand what it means or what it pertains to, but as you read on and context fills in, it clicks in and makes sense.
It's kind of like watching a movie where you see a clip of the conclusion first. You've seen events. You don't know their context, why people are doing what they're doing, but you have some vague ideas that are floating in your head. As you watch the movie, the blanks fill in and then it all makes sense.
Wow. I kind of went on for a while there. I had a bunch more examples and things I wanted to bring up, but I'll save them for next time! I guess that means you'll be hearing a bit more from me over the next few weeks!
Until then, thanks as always for following us and reading our scanlations! Till next time, byebye!!
So the current Naruto Gaiden series is about to come to an end. Whether in the next chapter or within the next 11 or so, it definitely has an expiration date on it, which was really already announced before it even began, so it's not much of a surprise.
Rumor has it that Kishimoto's going to start working on a new series in August, or early fall. The big question is - what's he gonna work on? Many speculate it's gonna be something related to his one-shot Mario, but honestly, I don't think so. That short was a really old idea of his that he decided to polish and publish, and that was that.
Personally, I really hope he doesn't steer in the direction of any kind of realism. His work, whether Mario or that Baseball one-shot he did, didn't impress me, and I will always connect his style with fantasy, with feudal Japan and with some kind of adventure plot - so I really hope he goes for something like that in his next series as well. Be it about Samurai, some adventure/discoverer theme (without them being pirates, or else xD) or something else I didn't think of.
The other option is, and I think it's not that unlikely at all, is that he's using this Gaiden interlude as a sort of introduction to Naruto Part III. Honestly, I struggled quite a bit to see how he'd do it, and I still do. I mean with existing power levels being a big hindrance since it feels like those were already maxed out with Kaguya/Madara/Sasuke/Naruto.
I would love to see him doing something like a 10 year time skip though, and only few of the kids still around, with Sarada and Boruto as the protagonists in a crazy, post-apocalyptic world where all the adults were slayed by some uber-powerful enemy - think of Future Trunks' in DBZ, that sorta thing. But really, I don't think Kishimoto would ever go there... unfortunately.
Anyway, you all have any ideas on how he could spin Naruto further? Do you even want him to? And if your answer's a stern 'no', then what kinda series would you like him to create next? Describe it in detail, I love reading everyone ideas.
Hello people! GTY_Ponzorz here. This is the final part of the blog post series about Honne/Tatemae. Thank you for sticking with me all the way and reading up to the 5th blog post. This post is just me prattling on about why it might be important to understand the whole honne/tatemae thing and to know a bit about social issues in Japan. Here we go.
Last few words from me
I apologise if this entire thing has been incredibly long and boring. If you read up to here anyway, you have my deepest gratitude, and I really hope you at least learnt something or had a laugh. :9
To reiterate though, I cannot stress how prevalent, important, and serious the whole concept of Honne/Tatemae is in Japan. It’s as important as Ichigo getting his next power up and a new costume to go with it, and almost as important as having nice pristine weekly manga scans. :9
As a second point though, again, it is not to say that such a concept of preserving honor and what not exists solely in Japanese society. We are largely all the same human beings on this planet (some differences aside :9 ), and value a lot of the same things - love, loyalty, bravery, courage, friendship - and are faced with the similar conflicts and issues in our respective societies. I am discussing honne/tatemae with you though, because it really is a big deal in Japan. Everything I have written is definitely not the only way to go about understanding this topic, and it definitely may not even be the most correct in the eyes of many - it is perfectly fine and normal if you have differing views, or feel that I have over-analysed some parts.
It might sound strange, and even asinine - to explicitly discuss and read about this aspect of Japanese society, but it’s something you’re better off being aware of if you have an interest in Japanese culture because it really is a thing that legitimately exists.
There are many other social issues / deep cultural traditions and concepts that exist in Japan - and for those who are interested, it is highly enlightening to read more in to it and gain a better understanding about the nation that so many of you respect and appreciate for their manga/anime.
Funnily enough, Japan is not actually a perfect utopia full of sexy ninja, swashbuckling (stretchy) pirates and full-time shinigami (I don’t think most people can have such a vocation there) who run off to summer festivals every two episodes, watch some fireworks and then assemble the seven dragon balls to summon Shenron to grant them their heart’s deepest desires.
While the biggest problem some of us may have in regards to Japan may be “OMG why is it Golden Week, where is the next issue of WSJ??” The people living there actually have plenty of unique social issues quite irrelevant to a late manga chapter - just to list a few for starters:
They have an aging society, their birth rate is lower than Yasutora Chad when he’s lying on the ground, and they have heaps of problems with how underpaid and how bad the welfare is for their temporary workers, some sexism, the marginalisation and lack of government support for the Japanenese diaspora that return to Japan from South America (Bolivia and such), a bit of racism in the monocultural society, their nuclear problem, Abenomics... complications of honne/tatemae … oh have I said Abenomics yet? The list can go on for a little bit longer I daresay.
: ) Of course, every country has their own set of issues, right? But knowing about these issues might help you understand and appreciate the aspects of Japanese culture we all enjoy - Sakura flowers, gari gari ice-cream, weekly WSJ - that little bit more.
Thanks again for reading, hope it was still somewhat more interesting than your homework. ; )
Sources: Btw. don't reference/quote what I wrote up there in an academic essay pls. I wrote it for fun , it's not really a stellar example of writing and to use it academically in any sense is about as advisable as slapping Kenpachi in the face with a floppy gigai.
Sup guys, GTY_Ponzorz here. This is part four of the blog post series discussing Honne/Tatemae in Japan. This post is rather long, so apologies in advance.
How does all this help me understand Anime / Manga better?
This is a difficult question to answer, but I’ll have a go at it anyway. : )
This is my personal opinion, and I am sure many of you may have even more insightful, profound opinions - which would be awesome if you could share it, I am interested in everyone’s views! I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this, it’s a subjective thing in the first place - just connect with the stories you read/watch in the way that is most meaningful to you personally, and take what you learn from it and strive to become a better person, to better guide those around you. : )
To set the scene, which may be a very obvious one (forgive me), the origins of Manga and Anime as we define it today is, well, Japan. This means that the writers who no doubt put their lifeblood and soul, and all their experiences of their life, in to writing a given story, will have been influenced by the culture and societal standards of the society from which they were born/grew up/live in, in one way or another. (Let’s keep the flaming of any particular series that is not advancing to your taste, and editors (who are not soul-less either btw), and “they’re milking it for money” and blah blah out of this and assume for now my comment about the mangaka is a general truth ;9.) This means that the stories they write, and the characters they bring to life for us, will reflect those nuances too. Some particular nuances may not be very familiar or recognisable to an audience who has never experienced watching anime or reading manga before - but the more you watch it, the more cultural aspects you learn, right? (Or at least, I think you’re supposed to.)
The most obvious examples everyone picks up on would be the typical traditional stuff like how there are summer festivals in Japan, people wear Yukata, watch fireworks together, go to the shrine together on New years eve (insert falling snow scene), smash watermelons at the beach, obligatory school festival episode in anime etcetcetc - that sort of thing.
However, there are many deeper nuances that can be picked up on. Of course, everyone - even people who grew up native to Japanese culture - will perceive certain events or themes differently.
When one character shows their fragile weaker side to another character they have developed a trust bond with, that is not the tatemae. It’s a bigger, more significant ordeal than you think it is, when you reflect on the whole tatemae culture - even if the event in question is something very trivial, or very stupid.
“Hey, Soma-kun, I really don’t want to go to the study group today. I’m kind of uncomfortable around that group of people.”
That simple statement can be a biiiig deal. :x People usually don’t say that sort of thing to just anyone.
“I really dislike the beach, so I’m gonna pass this time round.”
“Okay, I get it.”
This sounds kind of … really super duper lame right? But even small things like this - if someone says this kind of thing to you, you ought to treasure their confidence in you. : )
In terms of Bleach, and where the values honne and tatemae (and giri) come in, I can think of a few examples. Of course, you can disagree - and tell me I’m thinking too much into it. But this is all in good fun, and looking at a story from this kind of a perspective can be interesting!
Shunsui and Aizen
Honne and Tatemae doesn’t have to just be for politeness, or to maintain an image. It really takes a lot of searching and perception to be able to understand what the other party is getting at.
Their banter these recent few chapters are a good example of general vagueness, sarcasm, and underlying implications that exist for the reader to interpret. I think Urahara, Shunsui and Aizen are pretty pro at this whole Tatemae thing.
A friend pointed out his point of view on a specific scene in Bleach to me:
When Shunsui spoke to Stark about how Hitsugaya is apparently going to be stronger than he is 100 years later, he feels that Stark was really saying:
"Mmm yea he is strong, but I am stronger."
That’s the sort of subtle thing you’ll begin to pick up on for yourself the more you understand certain aspects of a country’s culture.
Da Central 46
What the actual flaming fudge are these guys even doing?
Has the C46 legit done anything useful in the history of Bleach?
They only tried to
- Kill Rukia - death by giant flaming bird / allegedly most dangerous weapon in SS -_-
- Banish Urahara
- Kill Shinji
- Kill every other vizard
- Obstruct CC Shunsui
- Condemn Aizen to Muken, and oh my, look at where he is now and what he is doing. (¬_¬)
One could say that their job is primarily to preserve the peace and good of Soul Society. Yet, they are often manipulated, and will make a ruling that may be unjust, but it is the direct way to preserve the peace (rather than investigate the truth.)
C46 is the tatemae of peace and harmony in a society that is supposed to have no conflict, and now who’s the shogun that puppets his shadow government? Aizen Sousuke.
The C46 makes the judiciary system look like absolute trash - in fact, a lot of stories do. But I suppose it exists for many purposes, one of them may be a sort of commentary on how power is manipulated, how a government can be run (puppeted), how fearsome a facade can really be - and perhaps show that the people who follow their instincts and their hearts, perhaps, are doing things in a better way.
There is not a lot to say on this except for the fact that most protagonists in Shonen manga are very straight forward, demonstrate qualities of courage and strength, and always do what their heart tells them is the right thing to do. It’s almost like it’s for the purpose of challenging the main tatemae culture of Japan.
Many shonen protagonists are brash, say what’s on their mind, total KYs .. and so forth. It’s quite a contrast to real life, and they challenge the way people are normally expected to behave. Perhaps that’s why shonen manga is so popular - it is really fresh, exhilarating - and the story will take you into a boundless world where speaking your mind and following your personal beliefs is the right way to go.
When a protagonist is at a low, afraid to reveal their true feelings for fear of bringing inconvenience and harm to those around him - he’s usually taught that he shouldn’t be afraid to take the risk to pursue his dreams and goals, that he should just get stronger, and that people accept him that way and they are there for him.
The Gotei 13 , and the quincy crew, and the espada
The Gotei 13 and the Sternritters are a collective group with a clearly defined leader (In the case of the Gotei, I will talk about Yamamoto Soutaichou as I feel Shunsui is a different kind of leader to Yama-jii)
Japan is a very hierarchical society - this is also a facet of their culture that is entrenched in deep cultural and historical roots. This is where “giri” (Obligations) arise from.
All members of the Gotei are bound by the decisions of the C46, and the individual squads have a captain, who in turn defers to the captain-commander.
It’s that self-sacrificing sense of duty to your leader, and your people.
In Bleach, there are times where obedience is paramount, and you put your life on the line to protect Soul Society. (Think TBTP, think quincy invasion). But there are also other cases from the very beginning (SS arc), where you can see characters challenge the thoughts and values of their superiors, and make a stand. Early on, there is Ukitake and Shunsui vs Yamajii. Even now, the quincies are staging an uprising against Yhwach. This portrays the conflict between what is a rigid duty/obligation (to your lord/people) and what is the “right thing” to do (for yourself and the people/values you care about) - and it directly challenges the norm of the existence of a “paramount” duty (giri) that is socially unacceptable to turn your back on in a collectivist society.
There can be a lot of symbolism to do with the double code of honne/tatemae, the mask, the truth, the lies.
Not just in Bleach - but if you think in terms of Bleach - you can find symbolism in Aizen’s Kyouka Suigetsu, the masks of the Vizards, the internal battle with the inner hollow (Specifically in terms of the hollowfication process, the more agitated you get - instead of trying to stay calm - the faster the hollowfication happens. Your true feelings are super bad for you D: ) and even within the characters themselves. Ishida pretty much never says what he thinks, but his friends get it and just let it go. So what is he doing by Yhwach’s side right now? Biggest facade ever, if I can hazard a guess.
A lot of this honne/tatemae stuff is related to why the term tsundere is even a thing. :x
Tousaka Rin!!!!! (Fate Unlimited Budget Works)
Who in Bleach are the manipulative shrewd ones, whom you really have to read between the lines to get at the heart of what they’re saying, and who are the ones who always speak their mind? Which characters have a relationship of trust in each other? Which characters put up a wall and speak in riddles? This kind of stuff can all be related back to Honne/tatemae, if you think about it. Might give you a new perspective on things. : )
That’s it for part four – thanks for reading, and part 5 will just be a final wrap-up/summary post. Hope you enjoyed reading.
Hi guys, GTY_Ponzorz here. This is part 3 of the series of blog posts talking about Honne/Tatemae in Japanese society. Since the concept is pretty confusing, I thought it’d give some real life examples so people can have a better idea.
Applications in real life of Honne and Tatemae
(Some silly examples)
Example 1: Urahara-san says to Isshin-san and Ryuuken-san very neutrally/casually, “Are you staying for dinner?”.
People fluent in Tatemae-speak (not an official word, I coined it just now please don’t quote it in official cases :9 ) will take this to mean that “You’ve been here long enough, we’re done for now, I have other business to attend to, pls leave.”
The proper response to this (understanding the hidden implication) would be to say “Oh you’re right, it is getting late! I shall trouble you no further and be on my merry way. Thank you very much for all your hard work today. Otsukare-sama deshita. *leaves*
People who don’t get it, will be like “Oh yar sure, I’ll stay for dinner. I have nothing to eat in my fridge at home anyway. Thanks man.”
( ;9 Which guy d’you think said what? )
Jokes aside though, in an actual situation if you don’t get the response right then that is your instant recipe to a very awkward situation right there. This is what we call “Kuuki yomenai” (lit. can’t read the air/atmosphere). I’ll talk about this later.
Example 2: As small kids, Sasuke would always be at Naruto’s house. When Sasuke’s mum comes to pick him up, she will say “Please, come to our house next time.” However, every time it is arranged for Naruto to go to Sasuke’s house, some inconvenience would always come up at the Uchiha residence and Sasuke winds up at Naruto’s house every damn time, all the time. In terms of Tatemae, this would mean that the mother doesn’t really mean to have the other kid over at their place. She is just saying “please. come over next time” to save face, to sound polite.
I will reiterate the above kind of examples are totally normal in Japanese society, and people who are used to this type of tatemae culture will just take it all in stride A-OK.
Example 3: This is not a direct example, but it’s something I’ve personally screwed up on in my noob days.
When someone asks you to do something/go somewhere, and your answer is going to be in the negative, don’t say it straight! You have to be vague. No joke. It’s considered very rude to give a flat out no.
Example: (Please keep in mind that GTY_Ponzorz doesn’t want to go to see Avengers in this HYPOTHETICAL scenario)
Voxanimus: Hey Ponzorz, are you going to watch Avengers with everyone this Friday?
Patapon: Nah, I’m not going. (iya, ikanai yo.)
^This does not fly. The asker will be pretty shocked you gave such an outright “no”. They might take it to mean that you have something against going, you are being condescending, you don’t like them, etc. Wrong impression.
Let’s try again.
Voxanimus: Hey Ponzorz, are you going to to watch Avengers with everyone this Friday?
Patapon: Ah… I want to go but… Friday is a bit… (Literally in Japanese, you will say, “kyou wa chotto”. Which translates literally to “today is a bit…”)
You want to go but Friday is a bit… what? Well, most people who get the implication will take it to mean, today is a bit NOPE NOPE NOOOPE / I don’t want to go / I’m not free, got my hands tied.
It basically means an instant “no, probably/definitely not going” without directly saying “i’m not going (ikanai yo)”. Even so, it’s a lot more acceptable, polite, and respectful.
Note that you said you wanted to go - most people who get this tatemae thing will just take that as fluff, the prelude. :9 But even so, most people say it.
Example four: This is another instance of an indirect vague-response to when someone asks you for a favour you don’t want to do.
DzyDzyDino: Hey can you please do this for me.
Ponzorz: No, I can’t do it / No, I don’t want to.
^ Yep you guessed it, wrong response. Rewind time.
DzyDzyDino: Hey can you please do this for me.
Ponzorz: It’s a little difficult… (chotto muzukashii ne…)
Muzukashii = Difficult , which is the key word.
Chotto = a little, which is a buffer in a bazillion cases. It’s so useful. -_-
What it DOES NOT mean: Yeah it’s difficult, but I’ll have a hack at it.
What it DOES mean: I don’t want to do it , I’m not inclined to perform this favour for you.
How do you reply to a “muzukashii ne…” ?
You would therefore have to follow on with a “Oh I see, don’t worry about it then” and drop it, or, find another way to persuade the person now that you understand they actually don’t want to perform your request. Don’t say “how is it hard? It should be easy for someone like you!”. They don’t want to do it. Either change tactic, or drop it altogether.
(Sorry Dino and Vox for randomly shoving your names in to the examples, yurushite kure ;-; I’m bad at making up names.)
As mentioned before, Kuuki Yomenai literally translates to “Can’t read the air/atmosphere”.
It’s for those people who are often saying / doing the wrong things, at the wrong time, and making a situation very awkward.
In colloquial japanese, this is abbreviated to the acronym “K.Y” which just stands for, Kuuki Yomenai.
You can upgrade this to SKY, which is “Super Kuuki Yomenai” .
It is generally not advisable to aspire to be a super KY, or an Ultra KY, or a super-ultra-mega KY. It’s perceived as a negative trait most people in Japanese society strive to avoid being labelled as.
To quote the Tofugu website,
"Basically, KY is used to describe people who have trouble getting a read on situations, or have trouble feeling the atmosphere of a situation. This is viewed as a bad thing, and most Japanese do what they can to avoid being labeled as KY.
In many ways, KY can be representative of Japanese culture in general. Japan is a group-oriented society that values harmony, rainbows, and cute animals. As such, Japanese people are well known for being indirect, ambiguous, and avoiding conflict.”
That said though, those KY people are often an archetypical character in many anime/drama/manga storylines. Those kind hearted, or maybe loud mouthed, silly, silly, people. How many can you think of?
Okay to be straightforward with you all I’m done with part three. Don’t be a KY and have a good week. :D Part four will be about how all of this can be related back to the Manga and Anime y’all so avidly follow. Sort of.
Thanks for reading! : )