Let’s tackle the bottom of page 1 today which seems to be a thought bubble for Kyon on initial glance. Japanese is read from right to left and vertically from the top to bottom. This is a little disorienting at first but you find it quick to get used to. For the sake of brevity lets do only the first line starting from the left. (BTW, clicking on the image at left will get ypou to the higher res version)

Taking advantage of the furigana we have So no “ore” wa (ha) yoko ninatsute.  Japanese use those sort of half brackets as quotation marks. Sono translates as “that”, ore the kanji in brackets is an informal for man or male person. Wa (hiragana is “ha” but it is pronounced “wa”) means is. the second kanji is yoko or side. The string of hiragana after is ni na tsu te. Plugging this into Google translate is comes out as “the summer to”

Broken English translation is That man is the summer to. Which doesn’t make a whol;e lot of sense as is. So we are going to hold off on trying to translate that into plain English from the broken until we get the rest of the lines translated and can see what the other lines are talking about. Japanese often does not have a word for word translation into English and this makes translating an art instead of a science.

This is the first post of the translation practise series. Lets dive right in. The scan we are using is the opening page of a Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya page from an issue of Shonen Ace.

Working into the first frame of the scan, (Japanese is read from right to left and vertically from the top to bottom) The first line is all Hiragana text and in romanji is read as shikashi maa. The second line is mixed with a kanji and hiragana. In manga aimed at younger people there are often little hiragana symbols printed next to or above to help with the exact pronunciation of the kanji. Taking advantage of this the kanji -hiragana is nan to iu.

The first line – shikashi is an interjection roughly equivalent to however or but and the maa is a feminine injection. So this translates as, running shikashi maa through Google Translate (free webtools FTW!), “but well” with an emphasis on the softer pronunciation since its a girl (Mikuru?) speaking.

The second line is Nan to iu. Looking up Nan in a Kanji Dictionary (or running it through Google Translate) we get “what” with to iu being modifiers. This is where being new to the language hurts a little, Running nan to iu through Google comes out as ‘sake’ (not the rice alcohol). Generally to iu is a modifier that sets up what follows (or previous stated) as ‘what happened’. It does not have a direct translation. Mikuru is setting up the rest of the dialogue in the boxes on the page.

This is why translating is an art, not a science. Japanese with all its use of modifiers and particles does not always translate in a word-for-word manner.

As always comments and clarifications are welcome. Please help us all by giving your input.

Haruhi Scan

Rainbow Hill Language Lab had an excellent blog post up on learning Japanese through reading. He makes the point of Japanese being easier to read than listen to because of the way words run together. There being no way to pause or rewind an audible conversation, it is a leap to listen to a speaker just talking in his (or her) language with a limited vocabulary and even with that it can still be a challenge: just listen to the rapid fire Japanese of manga live reader Rikimaru Toho in the video. Learning Japanese through reading can help to overcome this because you are able to slow down and look something up and return to the  text and pick up where you left off.

To learn any language you need massive amounts of authentic input, and it helps if it is something that you find interesting. This is especially important if you are not living in a place where you are constantly exposed to the language you want to speak.

If the only Japanese you read is in the classes that you go to, the rate you learn new words is going to be pretty low. I make a point in my lessons on eduFire of using words that most people in the class already know. This is so we can focus on practice, without getting hung up on explanations of new vocabulary.

When you read you are going to be exposed to may more words than you would if you were just listening to a conversation. You are also going to be exposed to Japanese that is authentic and without error. Manga is almost 100% dialogue, and depending what genre of manga you read, an accurate picture of modern Japanese spoken today.

Coming soon to this blog – an series of scans from an old Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya manga starting with the above page. Practise with a purpose.

vagabondbigI added a new manga to my reading list. I picked up the Vizbig edition of Vagabond, a fictionalized account of the life of Musashi Miyamoto. From the Wiki:

Vagabond (バガボンド Bagabondo?) is an ongoing manga by Takehiko Inoue, portraying a fictionalized account of Miyamoto Musashi’s life, on a loose adaptation of Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi.
Growing up in the late 15th century Sengoku era Japan, Shinmen Takezo is shunned by the local villagers as a devil child due to his wild and violent nature. Running away from home with a fellow boy at age 17, Takezo joins the Toyotomi army to fight the Tokugawa clan at the battle of Sekigahara. However, the Tokugawa win a crushing victory, leading to nearly three hundred years of Shogunate rule. Takezo and his friend manage to survive the battle, and afterwards swear to do great things with their lives. But after their paths separate, Takezo becomes a wanted criminal, and must change his name and his nature in order to escape an ignoble death. Based on the book “Musashi” by Eiji Yoshikawa, Vagabond is a fictional retelling of the life of Miyamoto Musashi, often referred to as the “Sword Saint” – perhaps the most famous and successful of Japan’s sword fighters.

I am looking forward to getting more of these volumes. Miyamoto’s life is something I always wanted to know more about, even though this is a fictionalized account of his life, it will quench both a desire for shogun era history and samurai in my manga reading ant the same time.

Spent the day browsing through the Flea Market at the Hocking Hills Market, found a stack of 80’s Savage Sword of Conan comics in a corner of one of the booths. These were definitely not collectors level as the spines were very worn and they had various tears and rips and yellowing. Decided to get one for nostaglia anyway, if it is in bad shape then I will not mind if it gets damaged from reading. I spent many an afternoon as a kid buried in Conan comics and Mike Grell’s Warlord from DC.

They have collected the stories for the various comics that were based on Howards’  original Conan stories including many with original Barry Windsor-Smith art:

The Savage Sword of Conan, Vol. 1 (v. 1)

oishinbo_1Oishinbo is the very popular manga from Kariya Tetsu and Hansaki Akira. It follows two reporters from a fictional newspaper in Japan as they travel around the country gathering cuisine and foods for a special “Ultimate Menu”  From the Wiki:

Oishinbo (美味しんぼ?, lit. “The Gourmet”) is a long-running cooking manga written by Tetsu Kariya and drawn by Akira Hanasaki. The manga’s title combines the Japanese word for delicious, oishii, and the word for someone who loves to eat, kuishinbo.[1] The series depicts the adventures of culinary journalist Shirou Yamaoka and his partner (and later wife), Yuko Kurita. It has been published by Shogakukan between 1983 and 2008 in Big Comic Spirits, before resuming again on February 23, 2009,[2] and collected in 102 tankōbon volumes.

I really love this manga. The art took a little geting used to, specifically the faces and eyes, but Akira does render the foods with painstaking detail. Shirou’s father is a master potter and a gourmet who gets recruited by a rival newspaper to head up the “Supreme Menu” project which of course pits him directly against Shirou and the “Ultimate Menu”.  This theme and several others contribute an ongoing tension that run through the stories.

Oishinbo SushiThe Ala Carte issues are translations of stories around a central theme. The stories are necessarily in chronological order. The series has been running for so long in Japan that it becomes hard for new readers to follow a series this long. The current issue focuses around Fish,  Sushi, and Sashimi. I felt there was some drop off in the stories  this time around. I really wish they had included the Basic Knife Skills story from the first volume in this issue. It would have worked better since it had more to to do with Shushi than anything else and would have introduced the reader better. That being said, the extended Salmon Battle story was very good and informative. Overall the volume maintains the fun and informative stories in the first volumes.

I really urge anyone looking for an easy and informative intro into Japanese food culture to try this series.

driftinglifeJust picked up a copy of Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s manga A Drifting Life. I have been trying to read more adult manga lately. Adult in the sense of not being aimed at the teenage market, not in the sense of being R or X rated.

A Drifting Life is the somewhat autobiographical tale of growing up wanting to be a manga artist in post war Japan. From the publisher:

A Drifting Life is his monumental memoir eleven years in the making, beginning with his experiences as a child in Osaka, growing up as part of a country burdened by the shadows of World War II.

Spanning fifteen years from August of 1945 to June of 1960, Tatsumi’s stand-in protagonist, Hiroshi, faces his father’s financial burdens and his parents’ failing marriage, his jealous brother’s deteriorating health, and the innumerable pitfalls that await him in the competitive manga market of mid-twentieth-century Japan.

Hiroshi meets manga legend Osamu Tezuka (Atom-Boy, Black Jack and many others) and becomes involved with other legends in the manga business on his way up. Lots for manga lovers to gawk at as he moves through these manga legends. Tatsumi’s artwork is simple and clean, with clean lines and a sense of proportion rooted in the Disney influenced era he comes from, rather than the BESM style so prevalent. Everyday life is important and emphasized, look elsewhere for extra-dimensional monsters and power battles. Drawn and Quarterly publishing has printed this in Americanized left-to-right format, instead of the right-to-left Japanese style which might be an easier to read format for those who are not familiar with right-to-left reading. A Drifting Life is also very large, at 840 pages in a good paper stock.

Drawn and Quarterly also has a preview pdf available to look at here, which is a good way to get a feel for Tatsumi’s writing and art style.

Very good news, mangaka Rumiko Takahashi is finally starting on her next manga now that the epic Inuyasha is over with. And the best part is that her next series will be simultaneously published online in English for North American audiences.

Takahashi’s new series will be called RIN-NE, and will be about ghosts and hauntings…

The manga is set to be published weekly in Shonen Sunday magazine in Japan with simultaneous weekly chapters for North America being posted at meaning no lag time for American maga fans. Nice!!

check out the full article at Comic Press.

Sweet, this is great news!

akibaatdeep21Akibahabara@deep now up to the third volume but I wanted to post on the second before I get to far behind …

In the second volume Page , Akira and the rest of the @deep company move into the online game world, an MMO in the vien of World of Warcraft or Lineage2, to find Yui the originator of the @deep mascot software. The only problem with going into Aquila is that the MMO game world is owned by Digicap, the corporate enemy of Akihabara@deep. Of course Yui resides deep in the most difficult dungeon in all of Aquila and setting up an almost inevitable confrontation with Page’s nemesis in the corporate world of Digicap. 

The pacing is well done and although some parts of the confrontation are cliche and very predictable it is suspenseful and dramatic. Yui’s fate and the addition of new members to the @deep team who happen to fill much needed roles (corporate lawyer anyone?) really set the tone and I immediately jumped to Amazon and preordered the next volume in the series.

you can get Akihabara@deep volume 2 from Amazon now at this link.

from manga for 40-somethings

In Ore ha Mada Honki Dashitenai dake (literally translated as “I Just Haven’t Been Serious Yet”) main character Ohguro Shizuo is quickly approaching middle age. In the game of life Shizuo, like many other forty-something males, feels he has lost, and lost big-time. He’s a fat, divorced father of one living with his own single father. If Shizuo was cynical he could take comfort with his managerial position, but then again he works at H Burger. He has no direction in life and there is no purpose. In everyway, to Shizuo, age 41, life is slowly becoming an agonizing affair. But that’s only because he has not been serious about his life

This manga looks really interesting, I hope someone picks it up for translation to the US market.

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