Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Via ajhall's Journal, Nick Lowe's (presumably not the Pure Pop for Now People one) "The Well-Tempered Plot Device," a witty, and useful, classification of some plot devices used by lazy fantasy and sf writers.

On The Comics Journal Message Board, R Bienvenu discovers one of the most brilliant things I've seen: Rorschach's confrontation with the child-murderer from Watchmen #6 redrawn (very well) with both characters replaced by cute little girl anime characters. (As with (almost) all TCJ Message Board threads, this won't be up forever.)

Tom Spurgeon hosts a fascinating discussion between Bart Beaty and Charles Hatfield on Hatfield's new book Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature. I haven't read the book yet, but after reading this exchange I'm eager to.

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Monday, November 21, 2005


Brief, uncensored snap judgments on two graphic novels.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The story is cutesy. The art is like Paul Pope's, but not as good. I had no reason to care what happened to any of the characters. I don't understand why everyone thinks this book is so wonderful. But then, I find myself feeling that way about most critical favorites (as long-term readers of this blog will be aware).

Mark of the Succubus: This is one of Tokyopop's "OEL (original English-language) manga": i.e., a comic or graphic novel created by English-speaking creators and first published in the West, but done in a supposedly "manga style." As such, it's the first "OEL manga" I've seen whose art could actually pass for manga. Unfortunately, the story is a tedious compilation of cliches.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005


Once again, my translation notes for vol. 8 attracted some notice, so I decided to continue with vol. 9. (Links to earlier installments in this series are now in the sidebar.) As before, TP stands for Tokyopop's edition and JP stands for the Japanese edition, The page numbers refer to Tokyopop's edition, but this time you need to subract four to get the Japanese page numbers. Also, if you see that I've made a mistake, or just have a comment to offer, please email me (using the address in the sidebar).

p. 29, panel 4: TP: "Now, there's just one question I've been dying to ask you!"
JP: "Ma hitotsu yoroshiku tanonmasu!!"
"Yoroshiku tanomu," of which the JP is a polite form, is an expression meaning "leave to your best judgment" or "trust to your discretion." "Hitotsu" means "one," and I'm not really sure what it's doing in there; but I am pretty sure that there's nothing in the JP about asking a question.

p. 30, panel 3: TP: "Hey! I thought you had a ..."
JP: Simply "Oi!!"

p. 30, panel 6: TP: "He's oblivious to the fact that his words and actions grate on others..."
JP: "Hatsugen to koudou ga chiguhagu na ue tanin no koto nado okamainasage na kono nori wa..."
Literally, this means something like "This pattern, where speech and actions are irregular and he seems unconcerned with others..." It's not a large difference, but Yuki is less harsh on Kakeru in JP than in TP.

p. 41, panel 3: TP: "Of course there will be some challenges...but if you see them through...I'm sure many fun adventures are waiting for you."
JP: "Taihen na koto mo takusan...aru to omoimasu ga keredo tanoshii koto mo takusan matte ite kudasarisou na..."
This means more or less "I believe there will be many serious things, but also many fun things waiting..." There's nothing about "if you see them through."

p. 51, panel 2: TP: "You want to eat the curse of their bodyguard?"
The word in JP corresponding to "eat" is "kurau," which means "receive" as well as "eat," and in this instance probably means the former.

p. 61, panel 3: TP: "Maybe I'm just a stupid girl..." There's nothing corresponding to this in JP.

p. 61, panels 4 and 5: TP: "Ever since I met you I've thought, maybe it was more than coincidence...that you bumped into me." Again, there's nothing in JP that corresponds to this.

p. 62, panel 1: TP: "Because, I thought, maybe our meeting meant something. Because...I was happy!"
JP: "Anta ni aitakatta kara dakara ureshikatta kedo na!!"
This means simply "I wanted to meet you, so I was happy!!"

p. 90, panel 2: The title of the book Megumi is holding is untranslated in TP. It's "Noroi," which means "Curse" or "A Curse" or "The Curse" or "Curses."

p. 107, panel 1: TP: "The people were different, but my curse still hadn't gone away."
JP: "Atataka na kuuki wa mukashi kara kawatte inakatta no yo."
Literally, this means "The warm (or kindly) atmosphere hadn't changed from old times." It's not clear to me what this signifies in this context; but it doesn't mean what TP has.

p. 108, panel 4: TP: "For the first time in my life, I felt happy."
JP: "Datte ureshikatta no yo."
This means just "But I was happy."

p. 109, panel 1: TP: "Me...happy."
JP: "Ureshikute."
This means simply "happy." Hana in this panel isn't implying that it's extraordinary for her to be happy, as she is in TP.

p. 112, panel 4: TP: "It couldn't have been..."
JP: "Kowai."
Here this means "I'm scared," as in panels 1 and 2.

p. 115, panel 4: TP: "Don't assume that things are a certain way 'cuz that's what people tell you."
JP: "Nanka iroiro kimetsuken na yo."
The JP is a difficult sentence to translate, but "kimetsukeru" means "scold" or "take to task," and "iroiro" means "various." So the meaning is probably something like "Stop criticizing yourself over everything." (The "yourself" is not explicitly in the JP, but it's the only way I can think of to make sense of the sentence in context.)

p. 116, panel 1: TP: "'It's what we do. It's love.'"
JP: "Kimetsuketari shinaide."
The TP is a recollection of the words of Hana's father on p. 98. This is completely absent from the JP, which is a continuation or recollection of Uo's words on the previous page, and means "Don't keep criticizing yourself."

p. 116, panel 4: TP: "It was so bizarre...when I looked down..."
JP: "Fushigi...itsu no ma ni ka yasashiku miete."
This means "Strange (or wonderful)...before I knew what was happening, it looked gentle (or kind)."

p. 116, panel 5 and p. 117, panel 1: TP: "From that moment on...I never walked alone again."
JP: "Soredake no koto na no ni. Tatta soredake no koto na no ni."
I'm not quite sure, but I think this means "Because of only that. Just because of only that." At any rate, the TP is pure invention.

p. 122, panels 3 and 4: TP: "There are times when my heart feels so full I think it's going to burst."
JP: "Mune ga itamu koto ga aru no."
This means "There are times when my heart hurts."

p. 123, panel 2: TP: "No matter how miserable their situation..."
JP: "Donna ni hito ni shiitagerarete mo zetsubou shite mo..."
This means "No matter how much you're oppressed by someone else (or "other people"), or in despair..."

p. 123, panel 3: TP: "All anyone really wants is to be accepted by others."
JP: "Yappari hito ni ukeirete hoshiku naru n' da."
This means "you want to accepted by someone else (or "other people")."
Note: in this and the preceding example, the word I've transcribed as "hito" is actually written as the kanji for "tanin," or "another person/other people" (Japanese generally does not distinguish between singular and plural, another thing that makes translation difficult), with "hito" in furigana (see my translation notes for vol. 7 for an explanation).

p. 145, panel 3: The phrase "as the cat deserves," present in TP, is absent from JP.

p. 146, panel 3: TP: "A monster who it's practically a fact killed his own mother...who killed my wife!!"
JP: "Jibun no hahaoya o...watashi no tsuma o koroshita mo douzen no bakemono nan' da zo!!"
"Douzen no," which means "the same" or "like," modifies "bakemono" (monster), not "fact." So a more accurate, though clumsy, translation would be "No better than a monster, who even killed his own mother...my wife."

p. 148, panel 3: TP: "You're so eager to blame your troubles on your son..."
JP: "Goshisoku o semetatete okinagara..."
This means "While torturing you son in advance..." ("Semetateru" actually means "torture severely.")

p. 148, panel 4: TP: "Are you afraid of the blood that might be on your own hands?"
JP: "Mizukara no chi o nagasu koto o sakenagara..."
This means "While you avoid spilling your own blood..."

In earlier installments of this series I said that I wasn't judging the translations overall, and that mistakes were inevitable when translating a lengthy work. But what isn't inevitable is deliberately adding things which aren't in the original text. Sometimes it seems to be done to add variety to a repetitive passage, as in Uo's dialogue on pp. 61-62. Sometimes the translators add little moral exhortations that weren't in the original, as on p. 41 above. In any case, I don't agree with the practice. Particularly not in the case of Fruits Basket, which (as I've said before) is one of the best series currently being published in the U.S., and deserves to be represented to English-speaking readers as accurately as possible.

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Friday, November 11, 2005


Recently I reread The Lord of the Rings for the first time in many years. I'd been a big fan of the books as a young teen, not only reading them several times, but reading everything else by Tolkien I could get my hands on, as well as the slim secondary literature that had appeared at the time. But by the time the Silmarillion (which I never read) came out, I had outgrown my initial enthusiasm; and as an adult I absorbed the distaste of "real" critics for The Lord of the Rings by osmosis, without ever going back to check for myself. I hadn't planned to reread it now either: I'd planned to just read a couple of chapters, to answer a specific question. But I'd forgotten just how readable it was. Moreover, it's eminently skimmable: like a well-structured computer program, it can be divided into modules, with the details of one module being irrelevant to other modules, so if you're bored with Tolkien's lengthy topographical descriptions, or the Tom Bombadil chapters, or even the whole of Book Five, you can skim or even skip them with little loss of comprehension. What follows are some disorganized (as usual) thoughts on my reading.

The Lord of the Rings is really three books in one. First, there's what I will call the "low adventure" story, which consists of the parts where hobbits have a starring role, excluding Frodo and Sam's journey to Mt. Doom. Then there's the "high adventure" story, basically the parts where hobbits are absent or only spectators. Finally there is Frodo and Sam's journey, which is more or less sui generis. These three "books" vary widely, not only in tone, but in quality as well.

Taking the worst first, the high adventure parts -- those parts of Books Three, Five, and Six where hobbits aren't in the foreground -- are painfully bad. The problem isn't that Tolkien has turned his back on the realist novel of the 19th and 20th centuries and chosen to follow earlier modes of storytelling, it's that he does such a poor job of it. He wants to evoke the spirit of medieval heroic poetry, but he doesn't want to put in any of the things that make heroic poetry interesting, such as lust, passion, betrayal, failure, and death. Instead we get a series of automatic triumphs for Aragorn and Gandalf. (It's as if Tolkien, having been forced to make Aragorn and Gandalf fallible in The Fellowship of the Rings for the sake of the plot, couldn't bear to put them through any more difficulties.) Book Five, in particular, is largely devoted to Aragorn's apotheosis. And since Aragorn is a pasteboard figure, the result is tedium. Actually, all the characters in the "high adventure" are pasteboard figures, but Aragorn, with his complete lack of either flaw or personality, is the dullest.

Much of the high adventure is concerned with war. Here, again, Tolkien can't be blamed for choosing not to depict modern war (though it's peculiar that Mordor, which symbolizes industrialism, hasn't even developed cannons). But his depiction of pre-industrial war is idealized and sanitized to the point of unreality, as a comparison with the Iliad makes obvious. The depiction here of both war and politics seems to owe the most to English boys' school stories: take, for instance Legolas's and Gimi's orc-killing contest in Book Three, or the portrayal of Wormtongue and his treatment by the other characters.

Book Five is less childish than Book Three. We do see a little passion, though only in minor characters (Eowyn, Denethor). And the plot requires Mordor to be a genuinely fearsome enemy, so its armies can't be dealt with as easily as were Saruman's. But the bad guys are still portrayed as bullies who, when face to face with Aragorn or Gandalf, will fold up before their adversary's superior manliness. And the implication that the only important characters who die are those who have somehow deserved it (Boromir, Denethor and Theoden) is as offensive in its own way as Legolas and Gimli's orc-killing contest.

Tolkien's failure in depicting romance and sexuality has been discussed often enough that I don't need to rehearse it here, and the same is true for the deficiencies of his prose. And it's in the high adventure sections that these failure is felt the most, in the latter case because of Tolkien's unsuccessful attempts at an elevated style.

Turning from the worst of The Lord of the Rings to the best, the depiction of Frodo and Sam's journey to Mt. Doom (excluding the Cirith Ungol episode) is far superior in quality to the rest of the book. In fact, going by purely literary criteria it's the only part which can claim to be literature at all. When I reached the end of Book Three (high adventure) and began Book Four, the difference in quality was so great that they seemed to be by two different authors. The characters in the journey narrative feel genuine emotion instead of striking poses, as they do in the rest of The Lord of the Rings. Sam's love for Frodo is the most moving thing in the entire book. Even Faramir, who has leaked in from the high adventure part, behaves here like a human being rather than a cardboard cutout. Frodo and Sam face real moral dilemmas which can't be resolved with pat formulas, unlike the moral issues in the rest of The Lord of the Rings (more on this in part two). Even Tolkien's prose improves. We feel the hardships and horror of the journey, and even the endless topographical descriptions are bearable now that they actually have a point.

Why is the journey narrative so much better than the rest of The Lord of the Rings? A major part of the answer is that in the rest of the book, Tolkien was relying on his own imagination, which was great for inventing languages and histories and species -- in short, world-building -- but lousy when it came to characters or lived experience, whether that of men, elves or hobbits. But in the journey narrative, Tolkien was writing from his own experience. In an article in The Guardian (hooray for searchable archives!), Neil Spencer pointed out that the landscape of Mordor was inspired by Tolkien's own World War I experience on the Western Front. And in fact, the whole journey narrative is basically the Western Front (minus the battles) transposed into Middle Earth: the blasted, dead landscapes; the endless marching, alternating with hiding in holes; and the overall sense of hopelessness and futility. Frodo's overall situation is like that of a World War I soldier: he's sent by his superiors on an impossible mission, to his probable death; and when he miraculously completes his mission, at great psychological cost, and returns home, he finds that others receive most of the glory (Aragorn in the wider world, and Merry and Pippin in the Shire) and he is unable to fit back into "civilian" society.

Though the greatest influence of World War I in The Lord of the Rings comes in the journey narrative, some influences can be seen in other parts of the book. Denethor is like the British generals: an old man sending his son to die in a senseless, futile task. And perhaps the communications breakdown which delays Frodo's setting off in Book One may owe something to similar breakdowns in World War I, though that's just speculation on my part. But more generally, the sense of a diminished world, and of beauty irretrievably lost, which pervades the book is too close to British post-World War I nostalgia for the prewar world to be a coincidence.

But there's another reason why the journey narrative is so superior to the rest of the book. In it, Tolkien allows himself to deal with painful realities he deliberately suppressed elsewhere in the book -- most obviously, death. In his well-known essay "On Fairy-Stories," he talks about one function of fairy-stories (by which he meant not merely the Brothers Grimm and such, but something close to what is currently called "fantasy") as being the "Escape from Death," and The Lord of the Rings seems to have been (among other things) Tolkien's personal Escape from Death. (Viz. his remark in the foreword to The Lord of the Rings that "by 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead.") Of course, not all literature has to be tragic. But when all the important sympathetic characters are miraculously immune to death, it becomes less a question of "consolation" (to use another term from Tolkien's essay) than of artistic dishonesty. Frodo and Sam, of course, are also miraculously rescued from death; but Tolkien allows himself to contemplate the possibility that they won't be. In fact, you could go so far as to say that he knows that in reality they wouldn't be. In Chapter Four of Book Six (The Return of the King, p. 244 in the Ballantine three-volume paperback edition) with their mission accomplished but with no way to escape the eruption of Mt. Doom, we have this conversation between Sam and Frodo:

"But after coming all that way I don't want to give up yet. It's not like me, somehow, if you understand."
"Maybe not, Sam," said Frodo; "but it's like things are in the world. Hopes fail. An end comes."

In The Lord of the Rings as a whole, is good destined to win over evil. In fact, the odds against Frodo and Sam even getting to Mt. Doom are so great that Gandalf must have been counting on providence, or destiny, or Eru to lend a hand; otherwise, sending them to Mordor with the ring would indeed have been suicidal folly. But again, within the journey narrative, Tolkien allows himself to entertain the notion that good might not win after all, as in reality the industrialism symbolized by Mordor triumphed.

One could say that Tolkien not only created a new genre in The Lord of the Rings: he incorporated within the book a revisionist critique of itself (revisionist in the sense that, for example, Watchmen was a revisionist superhero story). But the effect produced by this isn't a Bakhtinian multiplicity of perspectives, unless you read the book against the grain as I did. Rather it's to neutralize this critique and render it harmless: to inoculate the book as a whole against reality, so to speak. Providence does make sure that Frodo succeeds, even when Frodo himself proves unequal to the task; and in "The Scouring of the Shire," Frodo even becomes a facsimile of a "high adventure" character himself, putting the bad guys to flight with ease. In fact, I suspect that an essential part of the book's appeal is the way it first depicts those bitter aspects of reality which Tolkien knew from experience, and then takes it back, saying "Don't worry, it isn't really like that."

In part two of this post, I'll talk a bit about the "low adventure" parts of The Lord of the Rings, and say some things about the book as a whole.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005


Via Kevin Maroney, a tribute to and retrospective of the 1970s underground comix anthology Arcade, by Alan Moore.

For those interested in translation matters, "Subdee, g" has a very interesting post on manga_talk comparing Viz's translation of the first volume of Death Note with a fan translation by a well-regarded scanlation group, showing that "even minor differences make a difference." Some of the comments are very informative as well, particularly those by kirimi.

A long and fascinating thread on Warren Ellis's "Engine" forum discusses porn comics, in particular whether drawing them is a good way for creators to make money. (Short answer: yes.) There's also an interesting digression into the phenomenon of yaoi, or manga about male homosexual relationships created by and for straight women.

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Friday, November 04, 2005


About two weeks ago I read on someone's LiveJournal (I think) that they wished they'd bookmarked a scanlation of a "manga about three little girls who turn into flying rabbit superheroes to save people from gloom, cynicism, and despair." When I read this I remembered having seen a brief anime about three girls who turn into flying rabbit superheroes, but I didn't remember the name. Since then, with some help, I've identified it: it's Sweet Valerian, based on an as yet unlicensed manga by CLAMP. Unfortunately, though, I no longer remember where I read the original reference. So if anybody reading this does know who mentioned it, please pass this info along.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005


My post on the translation of vol. 7 of FB (scroll down to Oct. 9) attracted some notice, so I thought I'd try doing something similar with vol. 8. This time, although I didn't do the whole volume, I looked at more than a single scene: I went through looking for scenes that were important, and where a wrong translation was likely to be significant. As before, page numbers refer to Tokyopop's edition; if you have the Japanese edition, you'll have to subtract two to get the Japanese page numbers. TP stands for Tokyopop; JP for the Japanese edition.

p. 33, panel 1: TP: "...he still can't help but be concerned about me." JP: "sou ieru chikara ga aru," literally "he still has the power to be able to say something like that"; more idiomatically: "he's still able to say something like that."

p. 34, panel 3: In TP, Haru says: "Besides, you don't think I get obsessed with myself, too?" In JP, Haru says: "Sore ni ore datte kihonteki ni wa jibun no koto shika kangaete nai yo," which can be translated as "Besides, fundamentally I only think about myself, you know." Here TP has watered down Haru's self-criticism.

p. 91, panel 2: TP: "...you have to keep searching for that reason" (i. e. to be alive). JP: "yappari riyuu ga hoshii desu," or "you still want/long for a reason, after all."

p. 92, panels 1 and 2: TP: "The people in my life give me something to live for. And someday, I hope I'll find that special someone to whom I can say 'You're my reason for living.' Whenever I start to feel sad, I think about my reason, and I know I have to keep doing my best." JP: "Dareka no tame ni ikirareru you na jibun ni 'Sou omotte mo ii yo' tte itte moraeru you ni megesou ni naru toki arimasu ga ... ganbatte itari shimasu."

The JP here is very difficult, owing to the complexity of the sentence, and presses against the limits of my Japanese proficiency. And it's not just me; when I asked for help on the jpnforum group, one of the respondents said: "I'm a native speaker of Japanese. This sentence was at first incomprehensible to me." Japanese, at least written Japanese, uses complex sentences with several relative clauses much more often than English does. Takaya in particular frequently uses such sentences, which is one of the things that makes Fruits Basket the most difficult manga to read that I've yet encountered.

Here's the translation supplied by Susumu Oh-ishi, the aforementioned native speaker, with a couple of slight alterations by myself: "I somehow keep doing my best, though I sometimes feel nearly discouraged, so that I will be able to become a self who lives for other people, and to have someone say to me 'It's okay for you to think that.'" Of course, if I were actually doing a translation, I would split this up into two sentences: "I want to become a self who lives for other people, and to have someone say to me 'It's okay for you to think that.' And though I sometimes feel nearly discouraged, I somehow keep doing my best."

As I said above, there are points where I can't say from my own knowledge that Oh-ishi is right and TP is wrong. But there are two places where TP is certainly wrong: first, the words Tohru envisions being said are not "You're my reason for living." Second, these words will not hopefully be said by Tohru but to Tohru: the appearance of "moraeru," a form of "morau" (one of the "verbs of giving and receiving" that bedevil beginning Japanese learners) guarantees this.

p. 92, panel 4: There's no "stay true to yourself" in JP.

p. 93, panels 2 and 3: TP: Ritsu thinks: "I want to hear those words one more time. I want you to say them one more time. In JP, both sentences are clearly in the past tense, so it should be "wanted" instead of "want": they're cl Also, the JP of panel 3 runs "Mou ichido itte hoshikatta n' da," which doesn't specify whom Ritsu wanted to say the words: a literal, but awkward translation would be "I wanted them to be said one more time."

p. 123, panel 1: TP: "I don't think it's even possible." JP is less definite: "Muri kamo na," or "It may be impossible."

p. 123, panel 5: The last words spoken by Kyou in this panel in TP are "If I'm not careful ..." JP has "Heta surya ore nanza ..." "Heta," the word translated as "not careful," does not mean this, but rather unskillful or clumsy. Presumably the translators changed it to "not careful" because that seemed to make more sense in the context of Kyou and Tohru's conversation; but in fact this line of dialogue refers to something that will be revealed in vol. 11 (see below). A better translation, taking this later revelation into account, would be "If I'm not good enough ..."

p. 124, panel 1: This is an example of one of the things that make Fruits Basket difficult to read in Japanese or translate. This panel is evidently a flashback, but to a scene we haven't seen yet; in it Akito is saying in TP: "Over my dead body!" The JP has simply "Shinu made," literally "until ____ dies," where the subject is missing. In Japanese, it's perfectly grammatical to leave out the subject in this way. In fact, it's usual to do so when the subject is clear from the context. In this case, however, the context is missing: all we're given is one isolated line. But in an English translation, a subject has to be supplied. The translators made a reasonable guess, given Kyou's words on the previous page. But in vol. 11, we see the full scene from which this panel was taken, and the translators guessed wrong: The subject is Kyou, and a correct translation would be "Until you die." Takaya does this sort of thing fairly often: stick in elliptical utterances or thoughts which can't be correctly interpreted without information which will only be supplied later.

p. 124, panel 3: "With you," in TP, is absent from JP.

p. 124, panel 4: TP: "Why do people have to ask about stupid questions like 'What are you going to do when you graduate?' They just don't get it. Being possessed by the cat, it's not that easy." This is virtually all an invention on the part of the translators. JP reads: "Nekotsuki ni shinro toka shourai toka sou iu koto kikareru to sono mae ni shakai ni dete iken no ka yo toka," or "Before asking someone possessed by the cat about things like plans and the future, the question is whether they can go out into society."

p. 125, panel 3: TP: "You're probably the only one who understands how it feels." JP: "Nita you na kibun an' darou ga," or "You probably have similar feelings."

p. 125, panel 5: TP: "Those are all things that you promised your mom you'd do when she was around." The JP that corresponds to "that you promised your mom you'd do" is "hahaoya no tame ni kimeta." While TP's interpretation is a possible one, I think a more likely interpretation is "that you decided on for your mother's sake." I. e., Tohru decided to get a job and live on her own after she graduated high school so as not to be a burden on her mother (but now that her mother is dead, this reason no longer applies).

p. 154, panel 4: In TP, Shigure is saying "He's your brother Aaya!" The JP is "Kimi no namae wa." "Kimi no namae' means simply "your name," and "wa" is a particle that could mean several things here. Frankly, I don't know what this phrase means in this context, but it doesn't mean what Tokyopop says: as in the scene in volume 7 I discussed, once again the translators are making Shigure more sympathetic, in this case by having him show overt concern for young Yuki.

p. 156, panel 2: TP: "I'm not sad. I'm downright pathetic." JP: "Kanashii yo ne," which means simply "I'm sad," or possibly "I am sad."

p. 176, panel 4: In TP, in response to Momiji asking "Are you scared?" Tohru says "Well, yes! But my mother always told me that we need to face our fears, because if we stay afraid, then those fears can rule our lives, so I mustn't keep avoiding it!!" Again, most of this is invention on the translators' part. In JP, in response to Momiji's question "Nigate na no?" or "Is it a weak point?" Tohru says "Nigate ka nigate ja nai ka to kikarereba, totemo nigate kamoshiremasen ga, shintou o mekkyaku shimashitara hi mo mata suzushii wake de itsumademo sakete totte ite wa ikemasen!!" A translation might go something like "If you ask me whether it's a weak point or not, it may be a very weak point, but 'if you clear your mind, even fire becomes cool,' and I can't keep avoiding things forever!!" The translators' changes here aren't so significant for the characters; but I included this because I think the TP version is less funny.

p. 187, panel 4: In TP, Momiji says "What a nice story," Tohru says "Yes...very touching, and Haru says "And they lived happily ever after." In JP the dialogue is "Yokatta ne ..." "Yokatta desu ne ..." and "Yokatta. Yokatta." "Yokatta" literally means "it was good." It's often translated as "thank goodness" or "I'm glad." The main point is that neither Momiji or Tohru indicate here they realize that Haru's just a story, as they do in TP, creating an inconsistency with the next page.

Some people may feel I'm being too picky, and it's true that none of these changes is that important in itself. But cumulatively, they form a sort of fog blurring the English-language reader's vision of what Takaya wrote. Many of the series' emotional undercurrents are obscure even in the original, and this fog makes the task of the reader who wants to understand what's going on even harder.

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