Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Here are my translation notes for vol. 13 of Fruits Basket. As usual, TP stands for Tokyopop's text, JP stands for the Japanese text, and my own translation follows; and my page numbers are according to Tokyopop's edition. To convert to the Japanese edition, subtract six this time.

(Note that I make no claims for the literary value of my own "translations." While I do try to put them, when I can, into idiomatic English, my goal is solely to give people an idea of what the Japanese says. Readers can rephrase literal but awkward translations to their liking, but there's no way for non-Japanese-speaking readers to alter free translations to follow the literal meaning more closely.)

p. 33, panel 5: TP: "While the only feeling she had for her hopeless and dreaming son was regret."
JP: "...koukai ga saki ni tatte kurereba ii no ni"
"...although she should have repented before acting"

p. 44, panel 2: TP: "He's a gentle flower, and you should treat him accordingly."
JP: "Choushi ni notta gendou mo tsutsushimubeki desu yo"
I'm not quite sure about this, but a literal, if clumsy, translation might be something like "You should be careful in your unrestrained speech and behavior". At any rate, there's nothing like "he's a gentle flower" in there.

p. 49, panel 5: TP: "but also to some degree he has the same effect on people."
JP: "kedo niteru n' da sukoshi aitsu ni mo"
"but is also a little like that guy" "Aitsu" ("that guy") clearly refers to Kyou, whose image is in the panel.

p. 52, panel 3: The text in the three balloons on the bottom of the panel got mixed up. The text in the rightmost balloon should be in the middle, that in the middle balloon should be in the leftmost, and that in the leftmost balloon should be in the rightmost.

p. 64, panel 3: TP: "judging myself by others' ideas of happiness."
JP: "dochira ga yori fukou ka o hakari ni kakete"
"weighing in the balance which one is unhappier" This is another case where the Japanese text seems to make no sense in the context, because it's actually alluding to a scene which will be fully shown only later (in vol. 19, in this case). The translators have substituted something which would make sense in the current context, but which is wrong. In fact, these words and the words in the panels which immediately precede and follow this one are Manabe's recollection, not Yuki's thoughts. And the quotation marks which TP has placed around the words immediately following this quote and on top of the next page have no basis in JP.

p. 68, panels 1 and 2: TP: "For me, the 'evil' is that part of myself."
JP: "Ore ni totte no 'aku' wa sonna ore jishin da"
"For me, the 'evil' is that 'me' itself"

p. 80, panel 6: TP: "I...I might have judged him poorly..."
JP: "Watashi...watashi mo biryoku nagara nantoka..."
"I...but if I also do the little I can, somehow..." I don't know where TP's line came from.

p. 83, panel 4: TP: "And if Kureno-san were to be scolded by Akito-san on my behalf..."
JP: "Akito-san ni shikararete shimattaraba"
"If [I] were scolded by Akito-san" This is another one I'm not sure about. In the Japanese text, the grammatical subject is omitted (i.e., there is no word corresponding to TP's "Kureno-san" or my "I"). This is perfectly grammatical in Japanese, and in fact is common when the subject can be inferred from the context. In this case, I think that the natural way to read the sentence is with "I" as the subject. While TP's reading is conceivable, I don't see anything in the Japanese text, either in the part I quoted or in the rest of the panel, to support it.

I don't know where TP got "on my behalf" from. Presumably they mean "because of me," but the two phrases don't mean the same thing.

p. 84, panel 2: TP: "that the person she wants to see is in there"
JP: "aitai hito ga kono yo ni iru nara"
"if the person she wants to see is in this world"

p. 99, panel 2: TP: "are just a stone's throw away"
JP: "kono yo ni iru"
"are in this world"

p. 101, panel 4: TP: "I want to help them!"
JP: "kanatte hoshii"
"I want their wishes to be fulfilled"

p. 109, panel 5: TP truncates Momiji's speech here: in the JP, "boku no namae o dasu nda yo." ("give them my name") is followed by "Zettai ni. Zettai ni da yo," or "Definitely. Definitely." The meaining doesn't change, but the JP adds a bit to Momiji's characterization.

p. 128, panel 5: TP: "it was...the very least I could do."
JP: "saiteigen no koto shika...dekinakatta...desu"
"I could only do a tiny bit" (literally, "the minimum")

p. 128, panels 6 and 7 and p. 129, panel 1: Here again, as on p. 83, the subject is missing from the Japanese text. And the language used by Tohru implies, if taken in isolation, that the subject is "I". TP's translation isn't wrong, but in the Japanese text, Kyou's inference that Tohru is talking about herself is even more natural.

p. 131, panel 2: TP: "Is it because my outrageous wish is so disheartening?"
JP: "Tohou mo nai negai ga kokorobosoi kara?"
"Hopeless" would be better than "so disheartening" here, I think. (The TP sounds awkward, in any case.)

p. 136, panel 2: TP: "Maybe so, but this is a class trip -- there's not much we can do about it."
JP: "Sonna...shuugaku ryokou o kontei kara kutsugaesu you na hatsugen o..."
An accurate translation would be something like: "A speech like that, which undermines the foundations of the class trip..." It's no big deal, but in the JP there's a flavor to the Arisa-Yuki interaction which is missing from the TP.

p. 141, panels 5 and 6: TP: "I still feel like I shouldn't tell her."
JP: "Mada...ima wa tsugerubeki toki de wa nai you na ki ga shite"
"I still feel like now isn't the time to tell her"

When I began this blog, I decided not to have comments, for a couple of reasons. I didn't want to feel obliged to reply to comments; and I didn't want the responsibility of deleting abusive comments (and this was before the explosion of comment span). As an experiment, I'm going to try having comments. I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason, though I don't anticipate having to do so very often -- or to drop the whole thing if it turns out to be too much trouble. And if you want to comment on my previous translation posts, you can do so here as well.

P.S.: Hi, Craig!

Comments! *pleased*

"weighing in the balance which one is unhappier"

I always feel bad for the translation staff when something like this happens, wondering if they have access to up-to-date chapters of whatever series they're working on. But losing that foreshadowing is pretty painful.

Also, changing Momiji's dialogue (p. 109) is especially tragic, even when the basic meaning carries over. I really like the sense of rhythm in his speech. Even in print, there's a sense of the lilt his seiyuu provided in the anime.

(*laughs* When I first saw this post, I had a wild moment where I thought it was vol. 14. Alas.)

Thanks so much for the analysis!
"I always feel bad for the translation staff when something like this happens, wondering if they have access to up-to-date chapters of whatever series they're working on. But losing that foreshadowing is pretty painful."

In this case, the relevant chapter would have appeared (at least in magazine form) months before TP published vol. 13, so it would depend on how far in advance the translators had to turn in their work. But they could reduce the risk of things like this happening by preserving the meaning of the Japanese, and trusting that it will make sense later even if it doesn't seem to do so now. (And if it never does make sense, at least we'd get the same nonsense as Japanese readers did.)

Now that I think about it, I'd have to say that the disruption of "forward links" of this sort is the most serious problem with Tokyopop's translation. Changing the meaning of individual lines is irritating (especially when it's clearly gratuitous), but none of the instances I've encountered so far is crucial. But these forward links are a major structual element of the series. It'd be nice if, after the series is finished, Tokyopop were to reprint it with a cleaned-up translation, but realistically that's unlikely to happen.

But, as I've said before, I don't want to come down hard on the translators. Mistakes are inevitable, and FB must be one of the most difficult manga to translate.
I was just wondering if you'd read the Madman (Chuang Yi) translations of Fruits Basket ... I've been collecting the Tokyopop ones, but I got V.13 from Madman. I'm not sure which translation I prefer. I think the Tokyopop ones make more sense though, and have better grammar.
No, I haven't: the only scanlations of FB I've read were of vols. 1 and 2, and I don't recall who made them. (Vol. 1 was okay, iirc, but vol. 2 was terrible.)

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