Tuesday, May 15, 2012

William Flanagan's Facebook Post

Someone reminded me about posting this, so here it is.  William Flanagan is the translator for the Sailor Moon manga re-release.  After the first volume came out, fans voiced some of their concerns, and Flanagan decided to write this response on his Facebook page.  It's dated November 16th, 2011.  He took it down pretty soon after, on a recommendation from a friend who warned him not to PO Kodansha.

The only two comments I will make are these: 

(1) He makes a lot of excuses that consumers can't do anything about and thus they are not obligated to accept them.  I understand that translating manga pays peanuts and is likely a thankless job, but that's not my problem; that's his problem.  He chose the path of a manga translator, just like I chose the path of an ESL teacher.  As such, he needs to own it.  I don't really care if the guy who fixed my car's brakes is constantly being yelled at by his boss and he already fixed 20 sets of brakes before mine--I just want my brakes to work.  In the same way, I don't care if a translator hates his job a little and can barely feed his family--I just want a quality product in my hands.  If it were up to me, he'd get paid more and have a better life and whatever else he wants, but it's not up to me.

(2)  I have no idea why he chose to comment on two of the most insignificant, irrelevant translation "problems."  Who really cares about "myaa" and "eeh?"  I guess he had no good answer for his spotty use of honorifics, stilted language, inconsistent translation of "love" and "beauty" and the like.

Volume 5

In celebration of how President Obama publicly declared his support for same-sex marriage this month, the cover of this volume features Sailor Venus hurling rainbows at your face.

I found this volume to be a significant improvement over the last volume.  There are less instances of weird, clunky language and no major misrepresentations of the original content.  The new translation surpasses Tokyopop's in quality much more often than not.  If future volumes continue this pattern, I think I'll be satisfied.

Nevertheless, two problems became readily apparent the day this book was released: an inexplicable lack of translation notes and some nasty printing issues where the ink looks horribly smudged on several pages.  Flanagan certainly hasn't had trouble filling up respectably-sized sections of translation notes, sometimes with entries of questionable value--writing about Tokyo Tower twice and explaining that the Crown Game Center's phone number isn't a real working number come to mind--so I'm puzzled as to why we have nothing to read at the end of this book besides the preview for the next volume.  Worsening this situation is the fact that the advertisements for volume 5 feature the same promise to deliver "incredibly detailed translation notes!"  As for the ink splotching / splattering, this only seems to have affected a small batch of books.  My copy is fine except for a couple of slightly smeared words.

For this entry, I will first talk about the improvements, then I'll talk about the problems, and then I have some thoughts to share about the story itself, irrespective of the English adaptations.