Saturday, March 17, 2012

Volume 4

POW!  Right in the kisser.
To begin, I'd just like to say that this cover is probably my favorite of all the reprint covers.  Jupiter's pose, dynamic and literally crackling with energy, captures her spirit.  All of the English covers have had richer, bolder colors, but this one really pops.  I feel like I'm going to take a rose-scented fist to the face any second.

Before I dive into the nitty-gritty of this volume's contents, I want to make some general comments:
-Tokyopop messed up many of the act numbers. for example, Act 17 is labeled as Act 13 in Tokyopop's 4th volume, but the next act is properly labeled as 18 in the next volume.

-Someone suggested that I redirect some of my criticism of William Flanagan to the person responsible for editing his work.  At first, I and many others didn't think that there even was an editor working on this project, because none is listed in the book credits.  However, Brad from Moonkitty.net was able to track down the editor through Twitter.  She says that Kodansha's policy is to only credit the translator and the letterer of each manga.

This brings me to two thoughts:  (1)  Kodansha is kind of a dick to not credit people for their work.  (2)  This woman is doing a terrible job at editing.  No one can fault her for not catching mistranslations, but does she really just gloss over the grammar mistakes, typos, and completely bizarre English word choices?  Again, these are not problems that I encounter in the other manga that I read.

-"Sparkling Wide Pressure" is correctly translated in this volume.

-Once again, Naoko's bonus "punch" comics, specially written for this reprint, have not been included.  If you'd like to read them, you can find them on Miss Dream.

I'm going to start with positive examples, because unfortunately, I have a lot less of them to offer.


GOOD STUFF!

Even though he refuses to write "oh my God" and "damn", Flanagan is not puritanical.  Here's an example of how he faithfully translated something that Tokyopop censored.  Usagi is either talking about her first sexual experience with Mamoru or she's referring to the scene at the end of volume 1, where she wakes up in his bed after passing out as Sailor Moon.  Either way, Tokyopop didn't want anyone getting naughty thoughts about teenagers, so they manipulated the text.  Removing the information that Usagi has been in Mamoru's room and in his bed doesn't just misrepresent their relationship; it also takes away a lot of the reason for Usagi to be so jealous of Chibiusa.  If she didn't have some sort of connection with those two places, she wouldn't care about a little kid comandeering them.


This is the scene at the end of the volume where Wiseman coaxes Chibiusa to come with him.  Flanagan's translation is much more accurate, and reads better to boot.  I always thought Tokyopop's rendition was too blunt and hastily made.  Wiseman hasn't given her any reasons to "reject the world you knew before" yet, and "or you can never make it" is a pretty vague warning.  Personally, I wouldn't be convinced.  In contrast, his assertion that she couldn't even have come to him if she didn't want to is pretty compelling.  If I were in Chibiusa's shoes, I would say, "Go on..."

Prince Demande is explaining his dislike of the Ginzuishou and the people of the white moon.  His explanation is more detailed and understandable in Kodansha.  I could imagine that a totally peaceful world where people lived hundreds of years with all their needs fulfilled might, in fact, become fat and lazy.  I kind of wished Naoko explored this more in the story; maybe Crystal Tokyo was like the spaceship colonies in "Wall-E".

This isn't really that big a deal, but it shows a change that had to be made in Tokyopop's version since they didn't create a nickname for Darien / Mamoru.  The idea is still pretty much the same, but I think Usagi's character is represented more positively when she freaks out about Chibiusa using her special nickname for Mamoru, rather than just flipping out because Chibiusa got close enough to him to receive a doll as a gift.

BADNESS

I'm pretty disappointed with this volume.  I feel like there is more awkward, clunky language than usual, and there are misrepresentations of the content, too--something I haven't noted as a problem yet in Flanagan's translation.  Let me start with those.

MISREPRESENTED CONTENT
I think this is a really big gaffe right here, because it has an effect on our understanding of the story.  The grammar in the Japanese correlates to the English "no matter (how many)", both of which are completely ambiguous about actual number or degree, and both of which operate in a semi-hypothetical realm.  For example, imagine someone stole bread for his starving family and gets caught.  He could say, "it doesn't matter how much bread I steal...I can't feed my family."  This statement doesn't indicate how much bread he's stolen, or if he has stolen any bread before this particular incident.  What it does indicate is that he's incapable of feeding his family in spite of his efforts, in spite of how much bread he might acquire. 

However, Flanagan has interpreted Chibiusa's words as a concrete statement: "I can't say how many 'Legendary Silver Crystals" I've tried!"  The use of the present perfect (have tried) necessarily indicates that Chibiusa has acquired multiple Ginzuishou in the past, before this incident.  This goes against everything else the story has told us so far.  Chibiusa herself even says on page 228 (Act 21) that this whole experience is her "first time" meeting Usagi and Mamoru in the past.  If that's the case, how could she have possibly gotten her hands on multiple Ginzuishou before?

In this new translation, we are being told that Chibiusa has been bouncing around through time and snatching Ginzuishou for God knows how long--enough that she "can't say" how many crystals she's tried.  This is patently false.  Also, while there are theoretically countless Ginzuishou existing in every nanosecond of the time stream, the story never directs us to think about this, probably because the image of piles and piles of Ginzuishou ruins the unique, powerful, and mystical nature of the item.

I think that Flanagan may have misinterpreted the Japanese って as indicating a quote or example, when the combination of って and the ~た form of a verb with a quantifier like 何個 indicates "no matter how much / how many X, in contrast, Y."

I really don't get why this panel turned out to be a problem.  Unlike Tokyopop, Flanagan is just totally wrong with his translation, and it doesn't even make sense.  Sailor Moon and Chibiusa are arguing; with whom has Pluto been arguing "for a very long time"?  Pretty sure she's alone out there. 

Unless she's been maintaining her sanity by arguing with herself.  Couldn't Queen Serenity have given her a chair to sit on?  Does she ever sleep?  Shower?  Eat?  If so, what does she eat?  Does Domino's deliver to space-time?  Does Domino's still have that awesome 555 deal...?  Look, there's a lot of mysteries surrounding Pluto, but what she's saying in this panel ain't one of 'em.
Again, why was this not properly translated?  Esmeraude explicitly says, "the hands that Wiseman gave me," in Japanese.  The kanji for "hand" is right there.  Yet Flanagan chose the word "item" instead.  What?  As if the word itself is not enough, Esmeraude is showing off her creepy Wiseman hands in the same panel.  Who even uses the word "item" like this, anyway?  "I'm going to return the item I got for Christmas."  No.
Usagi isn't making sense in Kodansha.  She "used to take them for granted" but now "they aren't here."  These two situations don't contrast.  If you take someone for granted, you don't notice or appreciate their presence.  She sounds like she's saying, "if they were here, I would continue to take them for granted," when she really means, "I used to take them for granted, but now that they're gone, I realize how much I miss them."  Besides which--and this might be the more important point--she's not actually expressing the idea that she took her friends for granted in the Japanese.  Tokyopop is the closer adaptation.

Even though I like how Flanagan's rendition sounds, it's not accurate.  Tokyopop's is.  The change in meaning doesn't really affect anything, though, so I won't get too hot under the collar.  Saphir still remarks on the power of the black crystal and recommends that the Black Moon clan stop wasting time and energy on Earth; this makes sense whether Earth is Prince Demande's legacy or his possession.

Flanagan is having more problems decoding the Japanese grammar here. What's being said is that somebody brought about the revival of all the long-forgotten crime and murder that had plagued the Earth before Crystal Tokyo. That somebody was Phantom. Flanagan mistakenly attributes the words "crime" and "murder" to Phantom himself, and describes him as a "criminal and murderer that people had forgotten." Phantom is a criminal and a murderer, but the point here is that he brought back the horrible things of the past through his evil leadership and influence over others.

I guess I don't care if Phantom is referred to as a "spellcaster" or not; I'm just puzzled why Flanagan chose this word. The only two nouns given in Japanese are "shidousha" (leader) and "shihaisha" (ruler).

As for Tokyopop's translation, the first part is accurate enough, and the bit about him having a "black crescent symbol on his forehead" was present in the original Japanese release, but removed in the reprint.

SLOPPY ERRORS
This panel is a grammar nightmare, the worst I've encountered so far.  Artemis is
talking about the "Mystery Circles" and UFO sightings that have been reported all over Tokyo, and connecting them to Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter's abductions.  He's messing up plurals, subject verb agreements, sentence clauses...it's just a royal mess. The proper grammar would be something like: "Only one thing do I know for sure: the flying saucers that took Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter were all the very same type of vehicle." Even then, it would probably be best to change the first part to, "There's only one thing I know for sure," instead of the more formal arrangement he's using.

Not to be outdone, Luna chimes in with a grammar flub of her own.  She should be saying, "if we don't meet up with Chibi-Usa soon..."  There's no need for a "to".  In all seriousness, I feel like I'm reading something from one of the English language learners in my class.


The phrase "at a time like this" is missing the "a".

AWKWARD, CLUNKY WORD CHOICES

I know some of the stilted language in the reprints don't bother a lot of people, but I think that it sometimes interferes with the reader's immersion into the story.  Unnatural language forces you to focus on the words themselves, not on the story or the feelings conveyed through those words.

Mamoru is describing Chibiusa's demeanor.  People don't "produce" faces unless they're purposely trying to identify with a machine.  Although Tokyopop's grammar is messed up, (it should read "look how friendly she's become since...") their choice of phrasing is much more natural.  I can't imagine anyone saying something like what Kodansha Mamoru is saying in real life.

Here's Mamoru again, saying something weird.  Chibiusa used Luna-P to help her win loads of candy from a game machine.  The Japanese word イカサマ can certainly mean "fraud", but that meaning is not appropriate for this context.  Fraud involves purposeful deception of another for personal gain, like lying to an insurance company about your damages or lying on your taxes so you can collect more money.  Chibiusa didn't receive something from someone else through an act of deceit.  She received something from a game by using an unfair advantage.  This is better defined as "cheating".  Again, no one in real life would utter this sentence in this context.  Also, I'm not sure a fraud is something one "pulls".
The word "afield" sounds really stiff right here, especially because the characters are indoors.  Furthermore, the word doesn't have a hyphen in it, so I'm not sure why one got shoved in between the "a" and "f".



I just think this one is funny.  For whatever reason, Flanagan was moved to add the word "tentacles", and I'm not sure I want to know why.

CONCLUSION

As I said earlier, I'm disappointed in this volume.  I was hoping I wouldn't have to worry about misrepresented content anymore, but here I am, typing a blog entry about it.  Awkward and unnatural text is so commonplace that I just don't have the time to point out every instance.  It's like Flanagan was in a bigger rush than usual to get this book done.  I just hope that my next entry will be filled with more positive comments, because we're only 4 volumes in, and I don't want to feel this pessimistic this early.

If you'd like to read something happier and haven't done so already, check out my previous entry about why the SuperS anime doesn't suck.  If you'd like to read more complaints, I'll have the companion entry about the series's weak points up before the next manga volume.

23 comments:

  1. My volume 3 has the 'e' at the end of Demande. I feel like that would be universal across all copies of it.

    Also, when Usagi mentions sleeping in Mamoru's bed, she's referring to the end of volume 1 when she passes out and he brings her back to his apartment. At least that's what it seems like to me.

    But anyways, I love reading these blog entries and seeing all the errors (and good stuff) brought to light! Looking forward to the next one!

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    1. You're right about Demande's name. Thanks for pointing that out. I'm not sure why I became convinced of the idea that the spelling changed.

      You're also right that the experience Usagi is referring to could be the one at the end of volume 1. I considered this, but the truth is, I'm not really sure if it was Spring or Summer when that happened. Based on the context, in which Usagi is talking about romantic love, and the following scene where they likely have sex--they get all kissy-cuddly and Usagi emerges from the room later wearing Mamoru's shirt--I feel like a sexual implication is being made. However, it's probably just as likely to be the other explanation. I'll rewrite that part to reflect the ambiguity. Thanks for the comments!

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    2. Fantastic article! Pretty much agree with everything. No idea why Flanaghan is inserting hyphens in so many words. I thought it was just Japanese names but now it's English words as well? I wonder if he's using Firefox spell check which always suggests hyphenating a word if it's not in the dictionary. Hmmm...

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  2. Great review! I felt weird about many of those things while reading! Regarding an editor, I believe there is one. Did someone tell you there wasn't?

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    1. If you look at the book credits, there's no editor listed. Tokyopop's books list an editor (surprisingly), as do most other manga I own.

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    2. I tracked down the editor on Twitter: @allaboutmanga

      She says that it's Kodansha's policy only to credit the Translator and Letterer.

      Obviously that's backfired on Kodansha as the majority of readers assume they couldn't be arsed with quality control.

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    3. Wow, good investigative work, Brad! I'll ammend what I posted.

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  3. Great editorial! Really love that you include side-by-side comparisons of all the versions; it really makes it much easier to see how Flanagan got confused and messed up for some (pretty basic) sentences.

    Really loving these series - can't wait to see what volume 5 has in store for us!

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  4. As usual, I'm LOVING your reviews (both of the manga rerelease and of SuperS) and can't wait for more. Keep up the awesome work!

    I would like to ask something though...would you consider doing a review of Kodansha's release of Codename: Sailor V as well at some point? I know there's no Mixx/Tokyopop version to compare it to, but I'd still be interested in seeing you compare the original Japanese with their release.

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    1. I've considered it, but I wasn't sure how interesting or valuable an exercise it would be. It's going to take over a year for the rest of the Sailor Moon manga to come out, so using some of that time to talk about Sailor V would probably be a good idea! Thanks for the compliments!

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    2. Your reviews of Moon have been both interesting and valuable, so I don't see why Codename: Sailor V reviews wouldn't be the same. :) Plus, two reasons I'd be interested in them is you'd mention pros and mistranslations as well, compared to just the out-of-character dialogue and bad grammar. And that was another thing I was thinking as well! Thanks. And no problem! Good work always deserves compliments!

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  5. Daniella Orihuela-GruberMarch 21, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    Hi there,

    Could you please take down the links to my site and Twitter account? Thanks to this blog post, I've been receiving a lot of hate mail from your readers.

    All the best,
    Daniella Orihuela-Gruber

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    1. Hi there,

      Could you please pay more attention to future translation of Sailor Moon manga volumes? Thanks to your work, lots of Sailor Moon fan are crying.

      All the best,
      a crying fan.

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    2. I'm sorry to hear that you've received hate mail. I've removed the links. I hope that, as a professional, you can separate the valid criticisms from the petty insults, and that you use those criticisms to improve your work.

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    3. Daniella Orihuela-GruberMarch 22, 2012 at 1:49 AM

      Thanks so much!
      I would honestly love to address what goes on behind the scenes in production so you could know exactly why these volumes haven't turned out the way I'd like. But that would burn a lot of bridges for me as a professional, especially as a freelancer. I hope you understand.

      Also, editors like myself do look at blog posts like these! But blog posts are one thing and nasty messages to my e-mail address are another.

      I will continue to try and please fans as much as I can. I knew from the start that this was going to be a tough series to work on, due to the fans, but it's been rough for unexpected reasons.

      All the best,
      Daniella Orihuela-Gruber

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    4. I understand that your hands are tied in some matters, and that there are probably many difficult things going on behind the scenes that people like me can't see and will never know about. Fans have encountered a similar issue when voicing concerns to the translator. He initially responded with a post on his Facebook, but then deleted it so as not to risk his professional relationships. Even though he was saying nothing extraordinary or inflammatory, he had to consider what Kodansha might think.

      I certainly understand this frustrating position you and Flanagan might find yourselves in, but I hope you can appreciate that the fans are in a frustrating position, too. Sailor Moon is something really important and meaningful to a lot us, in ways that transcend the medium. I and others have tried contacting Kodansha again and again with concerns, and they never respond. They're the ones who are ultimately responsible for every problem this reprint has had, but they don't seem to care. So people jump at the opportunity to be able to spill their thoughts and feelings to someone who might listen and be able to do something.

      Of course, some fans think being an incorrigible jerk is the way to get things done, and those people are in the wrong and should be disregarded. At the end of the day, we've opened ourselves up to criticism of all kinds by creating an online presence, and we have to separate the chaff from the wheat, so to speak. I just want a high-quality book in my hands; anything I have to do to get that, I will do.

      Thank you for responding here. I hope your experience editing Sailor Moon turns out to be a positive one, and I look forward to future volumes. :)

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    5. Curiosity Killed The CatMay 15, 2012 at 10:34 AM

      Can I ask a dumb question? I've heard about Flanagan's post on Facebook and him deleting it, but what did it say? I never got to see it and I've been having trouble trying to search on different sites to find out.

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    6. Not a dumb question! I actually have a screenshot of his post and a few of the responses. I will post it in my next entry, which should be up by the end of the day today. I'd post it here, but apparently I can't do that in the comments section.

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    7. Curiosity Killed The CatMay 15, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      Glad it wasn't. And sweetness! I look forward to your next entry even more than I already am then. And that's weird that you can't. I definitely understand though.

      Thanks!

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. I was expecting there to be some mistakes in these books, but this many in just the first four books? What professional manga company allows books to go out with so many mistakes?

    To be fair, I'm buying them. I've actually bought two copies of each book. One to leave alone, and one to use white out and a marker to correct mistakes.

    I really enjoy your website. I like how you don't just say "This is what it should be; they're wrong!" and you offer explanations. You even offer examples of where they've done a good job. You're being fair and balanced with your approach to this series, and I appreciate it. I hope one day in the future, time permitting, you decide to do the Sailor V series as well. I'd love to read your thoughts and comments on it.


    In regards to the negative messages the people involved have been receiving, I'm deeply sorry. Though I have not been involved in any thing of that nature, it's a shame that you're being personally attacked.

    You have to understand. When these books are released with mistranslations, grammatical mistakes, and the like, it's upsetting. Especially since we as fans have to take into account that we may never get versions that are more "accurate." We may never get versions with corrected grammar and translations. We end up spending our hard on money on mediocre releases because it's the best we can possibly get. And that's very sad.

    Do I think that warrants personal attacks on the people involved? Absolutely not. But these problems are a slap in the face of every Sailormoon fan who has been waiting all these long years for an accurate and complete translation, something we still don't seem to be getting.

    Please, from here on out, please be more careful with your work. And maybe, the studio permitting, after the series is over you could go back to these first four books and re-release them, corrected?

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  8. In Flanagan's translation of Pluto's bubble, it may have been intended that she was referring to arguing with herself about whether to leave her post at the gates of time and join the battle. Standing there she's probably seen all the horrors of both the present and future.

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