Friday, 15 August 2014

A Year of Translating

A year ago, I saw a fan-drawn comic that piqued my interest. Having just gone through the main part of Tae Kim's grammar guide, I thought, 'Hey, I might be able to understand that'. That would end up being my first translation on this blog. I like to think of the day I posted that up as the day I was born as a translator.

With that said, that means I've turned a year old as a translator! Time to break out the cake!

I'd like to give a shout-out to the various people who leave comments, especially messages of thanks. I have to give my apologies for hardly ever responding to those. My general policy when it comes dealing with comments is to respond if there's a need to clarify a translation or if there's an error.
But with messages of thanks, I don't know what to add. To be honest, I get a bit red in the face.

Roughly how flustered I get when I get comments of thanks
As a translator, let me say that your comments of thanks help nourish the soul.

Especially after going through 2ch. That place can get pretty toxic.

If you're doing it, please continue being awesome and keep it up : )

Below the cut, join me for a bit of a trip down memory lane. I'll write about my history as a translator, as well as a list of some translations of mine with some of my thoughts. Warning - the list gets quite long.

Even if it what comes after doesn't sound like your cup of tea and you're stopping here, if you've read this far, thanks a bunch.

- Skoban

My history as a translator

After about two years of studying Japanese, it felt like I was hitting a plateau in my studies. One of the things I tried my hand at was translating. I was hoping to move beyond 'I think I understand this statement' to 'This is what the statement means'.

I tried a few phrases here and there, some Q&As. But it was when I spent an evening translating song lyrics that I came to realise that it was something I enjoyed doing. The next step was to turn it into something regular. Something that would let me continue to hone my skills as well as keep me on the ball.

Enter blog! project. I'd been using it as a source and reference for sentences, so I decided to step up to the plate and offer to translate for them. The idea was that it would provide me with something to translate every day, as well as letting me give back. I started translating there in October. By now, I've gone past 1000 blog post translations, so I have to thank them for giving me the opportunity and the platform to get lots of practice in.

This blog remained as a place for me to put up my other experiments in translating. Besides a few spikes of interest, it remained quite low-key until early this year. Then some time in January, I had a 'senpai has noticed me' moment when this blog was given a shoutout on Twitter by Wota in Translation. That brought a bit of attention to this nook of the Internet.

Other things I've learnt thanks to my translating - image editing, video editing, and subtitling.

One of the goals of my translations is to enlighten, amuse, or deepen enjoyment of idols. I hope I've made headway with that.

I still think there's a lot more left for me to learn. I still get grammar points mixed up here and there, and if it wasn't for on-line dictionaries, my translations wouldn't be as solid. But I can tell that I've improved by a lot in this one year.
I actually think I've hit the point of diminishing returns with what I can learn from translation, at least at the level I do it, but I enjoy it enough that I'm going to keep at it. Barring life getting in the way, of course.

My thoughts on translations I've done
This is roughly in chronological order of translation. Note that some posts are from blog! project.
It's not exactly a list of 'best-of' posts, since I don't think I'd remain objective. If I tried, it'd end up with me just listing down all my Berryz and Momo posts XD
Instead, it's more a list of posts where I have something to talk about. Some of my comments are frivolous, some are more personal, some are just to highlight stuff. I hope that some of you might find some gems amongst these.

dancinthruthenights - マジ勉NOW! feat.新井ひとみ
Lyrics translation. This was what awakened me to being a translator, in a sense - I was almost compelled by the desire to translate this song. That made me realise that I was on to something, that here was something that I enjoyed.
Doesn't hurt that I enjoy the song as well - lyics- and music-wise. I love the little conversation in the middle, where Hicchan takes a dig at the adults.

♪.A strange day (Kanazawa Tomoko)
My first translation on blog! project. Content-wise: KanaTomo introduces us to the idol of the Kanazawa household.

Momochi-sensei: Dreams come true
As an Otomomochi, a minor aim of mine is to highlight aspects of Momochi beyond the Musubi and the Yurushite-nyan. This is a wonderful example of her in her Tsugunaga-sensei role. The article moves away from her idol aspect to focus on her aspirations of becoming an educator.
It also amazes me that in spite of her busy schedule, she somehow managed to find one month to do teacher training.

Personally, this was a huge project to me as well. This was one of my first article translations, and way longer than anything I'd done before. This was also one of my first translations that garnered attention online. It makes me proud to think that hopefully some people might've given Momochi a reassessment.

School and I: On the days I was worried, the close friends who saved me - Singer Yajima Maimi-san
This is another wonderful article, about ℃-ute's leader and how she handled school and idol work.
Due to the quirks of the Japanese language, I translated this article in the first person. Only when I got to the end did I realise it was written by someone else, and should have been in the third person. But I left it as is, as I couldn't be arsed to correct it  a memorable lesson to myself as a translator.

Announcement regarding Morning Musume。
One Four! I find that by now, most people seem to have accepted this or ignored it. Few more months until we get to One Five!

Momo talks about her graduation thesis
Another Tsugunaga-sensei translation. On her radio show, she asks permission from her listeners to enter a serious topic. She talks about the topic of her graduation thesis, supporting families who were coping with family members in persistent vegetative states. A pretty heavy topic when contrasted to the Momochi persona.

Pizza x10! (Sayashi Riho)
Riho resolves not to turn into a ponyo i.e. put on weight. But... pizza...

Recommendation (Okai Chisato)
Okai-chan recommends Maiha's store. Nice to see the Kids keeping in touch.

New Artist Award☆ (Miyamoto Karin)
The Japan Record Award recognises 4 new groups with the New Artist Award, and announces the Best New Artist Award at the ceremony itself. Previous winners of the Best New Artist Award from the H!P family include °C-ute and S/mileage. J=J, sadly, did not manage to turn their New Artist Award into the Best New Artist award. Karin talks about her frustration in not being able to make the leap.

2013 (Suzuki Airi)
Airi reflects on 2013. In particular, she brushes on the the impact of the issues she faced that year.
To tell you the truth、 I got scared of people、  and there were times where I shut myself in。
While she doesn't mention it explicitly, 2013 was the year of the bus photo incident. That blew over pretty quickly for most of us, but it gives quite the impact to hear how it affected her.

These dudes were hardcore. Much respect.

[Live report] Berryz Kobo's first Nippon Budokan performance. Yappari Anata Nashi de ha Ikite Yukenai
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3
To celebrate Berryz' 10th anniversary, I translated the award-winning Barks coverage of their Budokan live. I'll let the 10,000 words speak for themselves.

【Event Report】University graduation confirmed, Berryz Kobo・ Tsugunaga Momoko、「My Momochi Musubi won't be graduated!」
And Momochi graduates! Proving that you can be an idol and still get a degree.
Looks like that bane of idols, 'Focusing on Studies', couldn't bring down everyone's idol.

A report from Tsunku♂ to everyone
Tsunku♂ drops a bombshell and announces that he would be undergoing treatment for cancer.

Tsunku♂'s message to Berryz Kobo on their 10th anniversary
And this just goes to show that even cancer can't get a good troll down.

Juice=Juice Miyamoto Karin talks, "My rival is MoMusu.'14 Oda Sakura"
In some ways, Karin shows a level of professionalism that reminiscent of Tsugunaga-pro. I, for one, welcome the latest version of our new idol cyborg overlords.

Momoko: Just like how a swan is actually struggling under the water, I think we don't want the fans to know.
And here is Momochi talking about keeping pro.

H!P Blog Relay: The aftermath
Sayu started a fun project to lead up to the HinaFes.  Each H!P member discussed a given topic, and choose the next member to continue the discussion. This also led to this blog having at least one translation for each H!P member. It went in a bit of a blur though, so I can't really remember their individual writing styles though.

Maasa, Ass Appreciator
A look into why Maasa's considered one of the big 3 H!P pervs.
Maasa's note to Mai: Asses are communication.
Miya's ass is the bomb

An announcement。(Miyazaki Yuka)
Yukanyan announces that she's dropping out of university. Much respect to her for being able to make a decision to focus properly on her work and having the guts to make it public.

The Hello! Member Who'd Die First in a Horror Movie, and the Hello! Member Who'd Survive to the End
My first proper 2ch translation. It's different from the blog posts and the interviews I'm used to,  as the language is much more concise and slangy. Even though I don't watch horror, this thread amused me enough that I felt like I should share it.

- Naka - (Nakajima Saki)
Nacky regales about how she's a victim of Maimi's actions. But we know they still love each other ♥

Twenty! (Suzuki Airi)
I like the ritual of changing necklaces to mark Airi's entry into adulthood.

Eating Time! (Suzuki Airi)
'Face full of yum' is personally one of my favourite translations. But you've got to admit, it's right on the nose when it comes to Airi.

Music My Life (Suzuki Airi)
Airi's always said that she loves singing. However, it looks like she's slowly shifting towards the path to become a wholesome musician. This essay by her shows part of that, where she talks about picking up the guitar.

♪.April (Kanazawa Tomoko)
KanaTomo's middle-of-the-road solution to supporting between two of her fellow members is a stroke of genius. Another thing to highlight is how she sets a goal every month and reflects on how last month's goal turned out. I love that. Sadly, she seems to have stopped doing that recently.

Momochi on 'Uwasa ha Gohou ka Shinjitsu ka Gase Dema Collection'
Which talks about Momochi coming from a poor family. Most of these rumours are actually pretty old, but I think they surfaced again due to the surge in Momochi's popularity.
One argument I heard stated that these rumours originally surfaced since Momo was so pro despite her young age, so the wota thought that she must have come from a destitute family.

Something I want to convey (Otsuka Aina)
Aina talks about her perspective on why she left Hello! Project. While I don't particularly agree with her reasoning for what led to her departure, I respect that she was brave enough to put her thoughts forward. Now she's an amateur singer, which to me is a sign that she wants to stick to that path. All the best to her.

Tsunku♂-producer's theory of work「Forge your powers of observation on your commute to work」
Funny, Tsunku♂ says the same kind of things my dad says.
Also, he mentions that 'Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo' started as a ℃-ute song. Which begs the question: Who'd be Rose Quartz?

An announcement concerning Morning Musume。’14′s Michishige Sayumi
As one of the last vestiges of the Platinum Era and a spearhead of the Colourful Era, Sayu's loss will be greatly felt. However, I do look forward to seeing how the Musume will evolve without the presence of Sayu.

Mano-chan on Sayu grad
Mano-chan basically encapsulates the feelings of the wota regarding Sayu grad in her tweets.

℃-ute Suzuki Airi 「Although I was exposed…」 Her photo book commemorating her twentieth, done with a slightly mature feel
Continuing on with Airi wanting to become a wholesome musician. Here she mentions wanting to study English to help her express her thoughts through writing lyrics.

Berryz Kobo's au Book Pass original photo book 'Girls Messing Around'
The Berryz girls went all out on making this photo book. It turned out well, packed with Berryz' charm. Chinami dressed as a fish, lying on ice? While the rest of the girls look on? One look at that and I knew we had a winner.

Mimicking the Momochi Musubi
My first attempt at messing with subtitles. They aren't easy to do, but I learnt quite a bit.

KanaTomo’s Hello! Shop talk event
There's also a translation of the Q&A on Jicchan, which is a lot less cluttered than mine. But I'd like to highlight the earlier part, which was about songs significant to KanaTomo. KanaTomo's awakening as an idol is of note in particular. The story just gets more and more awesome as we receive more details.
In my mind, here's how I it went down:
Kntm goes for karaoke.
Kntm sees promotions for the BeriKyuu 'Chou Happy Song' campaign
Kntm notices that one of the prizes is a signed ℃-ute poster (and doesn't notice that the grand prize is an opportunity to sing with BeriKyuu)
Kntm participates in the contest.
Kntm forgets about the contest.
Kntm receives call telling her that she won the grand prize.
Kntm goes 'The heck you talking about?' and puts down the phone.
Kntm then remembers about the contest and calls them back.
Kntm: So did I win the poster?
Yeah, so much win.

Momo♥Pro with Karin
Momo teaching Miyamoto Karin how to be even cuter. If anyone could eke out any more cuteness from Karin, Momo'd be it.

Poster☆ (Miyamoto Karin)
Karin got so excited getting her poster for UTB that she signed it. When I first saw the photo, I had to double-check if UTB were now giving signed posters, but no, it's one of a kind. Just goes to show that she was just as excited as the rest of us.

Berryz Kobo’s Shimizu Saki talks about the impactful title of the new song and Hello! Pro’s next leader
Captain bares her pride as a senpai, not wanting to give away the title of H!P leader to any of the whippersnappers. I hope she'll be able to stand there in the brief period before their hiatus.

I was one of the last 100 remaining in 2002's Hello! Pro Kids Audition. Any questions?
The H!P Kids auditions happened ages ago, in an age where information was a lot less available, so there aren't that much stories, particularly non-official, about it. It was interesting to find out more about the auditions from a different perspective, from someone who went through almost all of the stages but didn't get in. Seems like the OP grew up to be a sweet young lady as well.

Suzuki Airi x Sayashi Riho: Hello! Pro Next Generation Ace Dialogue (2012)
I found it interesting that neither of them admit outright to be the aces, despite that being their more-or-less their unspoken role in their groups. Also Airi talking about how 'SHOCK!' affected her - that she herself took it pretty badly. It's a reminder that even the girls may not always enjoy being too focused at the centre of the spotlight.

The Tsugunaga Constitution
Something I'd always wanted to do, to help spread the Momochi agenda. A personal goal of mine is to have this and the New Tsugunaga Constitution printed out and sent to Momochi before Berryz enters their hiatus.

Leadership: Shimizu Saki
It seemed to me that some people thought that Captain was unfit to become H!P Leader, saying that they felt that she was lacking in leadership. I translated this hoping that it would give deeper insight into how Captain is as a leader. Maimi has done an interview for the same feature, but no scans of those have popped up.

Juice=Juice dialogue - Fukumura Mizuki x Miyamoto Karin - Summary
Mizuki really does give a nice onee-san vibe, doesn't she? I also subbed it, which had me listen to Karin mewling over and over again. Those doses of pure cuteness had me melting by the time I was done.

【Berryz Kobo】 Sugaya Risako・ Talking about their 10 years and her vision of the future「The members are like lovers to me」
I like the Tsunku♂ anecdote. Before, it felt like she used to just shout out her lines when singing. She had power, but it wasn't really focused. But after that incident, it was like she had learned how to direct that power. It's the difference between getting hit by a stray baseball and getting hit by a bullet train. Nowadays, I think that Risako, vocally, is H!P's siege weapon - she may be lacking somewhat in finesse, but her vocals hit you like a ton of bricks.

Suggestive! (Yoshizawa Hitomi)
Yossie basically summarises the wota's thoughts on Fuku-chan's photo book in this post.

2ch: My girlfriend asked me 「Between Karin-chan and myself, who's more important?」, and I got dumped when I answered 'Karin-chan'
The poster obviously has his life priorities sorted out.

Final day (Suzuki Airi)
Airi summarises their spring tour, highlighting the fact that they soldiered on despite the criticisms regarding their performance - and by sticking to their guts, managing to sway some of the naysayers.

Millenium Girls: Sato Masaki x Kudo Haruka
This is Maachan pretty much let loose - she talks about how she gave up 4 other idol group applications to apply for MM, studying (or lack of it), and the future.
I don't think I'll ever be able to capture Maachan's childish whimsicalness in my translations. Thankfully, Duu speaks like someone twice her age, so that's easy for me.

Juice=Juice: And that's why we sing today! (UTB Feb 2014)
I love how eclectic JJ's musical preferences are - Karin: 80s idol music, Yuka: piano pieces, KanaTomo: Western, Sayuki: Japanese folk music, Aarii: Contemporary Japanese music.

To everyone who’s always been supporting me ☆ (Goto Maki)
So Gocchin got hitched. As a person who's always been waiting for her to go into AV, this presents a massive roadblock. Though a honeymoon video would be warmly welcomed.

100 questions to Sakura Gakuin's Kikuchi Moa 【Complete version】
I'm more familiar with her as MOAMETAL, so I was expecting something way more hardcore. Instead, I found Moa pretty endearing as she talks about manga and reveals her scaredy-cat nature.

An announcement (Sudo Maasa)
On a bitter note, the very first announcement from the horse's mouth. The original even made it to Yahoo! News Japan. Tsunku♂'s statement had already come out, but it felt more reassuring coming from the girls themselves.
I've settled down somewhat by now, and come to terms with their decision. I'm thinking that I probably should make the trip to Japan to see them before they go.

Twitter Tidbits #4: Berryz Hiatus Edition
And here we have a selection of Twitter responses to the announcement. Other reactions not included: Base Ball Bear's Yusuke Koide going for karaoke to sing Berryz songs and accosting people to talk about Berryz Kobo, and the Tower Records President retweeting a bunch of Berryz songs.

Berryz' Post-Announcement Thoughts
The girls interviewed on their thoughts just after the announcement. Glad to see that even through all the pressure, Berryz still remain Berryz.

Date (Suzuki Airi)
And to close off, here's Airi boasting about going on a date. With a wota, no less. And matching outfits at that. But this is Airi, and you can't help but let it slide when she seems so happy about it.


And if you've made it this far, you probably deserve a cookie. Thank you for reading through my ramblings, and hopefully, there'll be a repeat next year : )


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Congrats on the translator birthday, Skoban. Here's to many more! I'm glad if my original shoutout got you a little bit of attention. :)

    PS. Fun fact: that Airi gif you posted was actually made by me all the way back in 2008 or so. Good times. It was funny randomly seeing it trending (is that the word?) on Reddit many years later.

    1. Thanks a bunch for the support! : )

      Yeah, I remember seeing that Airi gif making the rounds on Reddit as well, which had me amused. I guess that it's true what they say, in this world, Watsugozara Kamoza Land.

  3. Congrats Skoban! Best otomomochi translator ever! ;)