Dan’s Recent Projects of May 2013 and Work Description

Actually, this is going to be slightly longer than it should. This is my blog and I probably should talk a little bit more about what I do.

Let’s see. I’ve actually worked on two iTunes apps.
CITYHUNTER http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/comicom-cityhunter/id538748635?mt=8
HOKUTO http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fist-of-the-north-star/id538750399?mt=8
These apps are both available in English and I believe the two are available to anyone in the US, Canda, and the UK. I had a fun time working on these. I enjoyed reading both of these titles when I was growing up in Japan, so it was great to be able to translate them after all these years.

I translated the discussion between Mamoru Oshii, Kim Joon Yan, and Mitsuko Okamoto titled “Animation and postwar Japanese society – Robots, cyborgs, androids, humans.” This was part of LOOP-02, the 2nd Summit Meeting on Film and New Media Studies. It is an interesting read, to say the least. If you like Oshii or if you like to get an interesting take on humanoid entities in modern Japanese animation, I highly recommend it.
More information is available here.

After Takeshi Nogami completed the Witches of the Sphinx series, I decided I wanted to do one of my own. It is titled, the Lionheart Witch and it is a doujinshi series that I work on when ever I have time. I’ve talked about it on this blog and I have an independent web site for it as well. I would like to help provide this project in English, but I can only do so much at once.

There’s a bunch of small stuff that would be too numerous listed out separately. I’ve provided English language support for Hiroaki Samura, Taro Minamoto, Yūichi Sasamoto, Ken-Ichi Sonoda, and many others.

I’ve also been in charge of providing English language support for the new Yamato series, Space Battleship Yamato 2199. I help translate the proper nouns and also help with in-film text, i.e. small segments of English that might show up on PDAs the characters use and such. The English subtitles are provided by someone else besides me.

Then there was a film titled Eva 3.0 you might of heard of. I supervised all the foreign language segments in the film itself, as in all the small English text that comes up on computer screens and marking on various hardware. I also provided an English translation of the entire film, and with the help of David Fleming, an English subtitled print designed to be shown in theaters is now available, although I don’t know where or when it will be shown.

“So Dan, what do you actually do in anime besides translate the final film?” you ask.

I’ve answered this question a number of times, so I really should sit down and write it out. Here’s goes a quick and dirty draft. Basically I work as a creative consultant, prop maker, and language specialist.

There are roughly 4 things I am commonly called to do.

1) Pre-production consultation on foreign terms and concepts.

Sometimes I check the character names, occupations, ethnicity for gender and age. Some writers and directors want to go for realism, or at least learn how foreigners would interpret certain naming decision. Sometimes my advise is reflected in the final product, sometimes it isn’t.

I am also commonly asked to come up with names or acronyms for various elements of the film. I have a trusted circle of friends that I rely on for non-English support, i.e. German, Russian, Spanish, etc.

Then there are times when directors and authors only have a vague idea of what they are looking for. I end up doing research and provide them with ideas regarding setting, plot elements, historical backgrounds, and character types.

2) Production support involving visual elements.

As you might notice watching anime these days, there’s a lot of English text that gets tossed around on the screen. You’ve probably noticed them mostly in science fiction shows and military themed stories, but there is a surprising amount of English and other foreign language elements in even regular high school romance stories. That’s where I come in. I’ve done everything from adapt document circulation control codes issued by the Department of Defense to Akkadian cuneiform script. I can’t do this all alone, of course, and I relay on the goodwill of others to helpe me through.

3) Production support involving audio elements.

Some animations projects involve the use of foreign languages in the original Japanese production. It might be an odd foreigner talking in the background to give the setting a more worldly feel, or a comic relief character that the director felt would be more interesting if they spoke a different language. (Hey, don’t laugh. That’s be done to death in the US as well.) In those cases the director or scriptwriter would hand me a draft of what they want spoken in English, and I would provide them with a translation and a recording sample. Sometimes they would ask me to actually play the part. I’ve done this enough times where I’m actually getting comfortable. It’s unnerving.

There are also cases where one of the major characters in the series are supposed to be bilingual. Almost all Japanese anime characters who speak Japanese are voiced by people who are native to Japan, and in cases the voice talent needs to imitate speaking a foreign language. That’s where I provide coaching and such. I have been very fortunate to meet many highly talented voice actresses and actors in this capacity.

4) Final translation

Sometimes I do a complete English translation of the entire film, but there are also times when I would supervise English translation production, or I come up with the terms the translators are suppose to use. Sometimes I do the translations of a series for a few volumes and let others take my place. The first volumes are always the hardest to translate, so I’d like to think I help carve out a way that others can follow-up on.

5) Public relations and derivative product support.
Even after the film is complete and a translation is done, the film has to be sold and marketed. In cases, I’ve translated entire storyboards or just parts of liner notes included in the original software release in Japan. I’ve also provided help in advertisements and publicity campaigns. Sometimes clients which to replicate the feel of the original in a different language and I may be called upon to help out.

I’d like to think that my strength lies in the fact that I try to keep on eye on both ends involved in the production of a project. There’s the creator’s intent, and there’s the audience’s interpretation. The two do not always match-up, and there are times when the two are purposely made to contradict. In the end, it is the creator’s decision, but I do my best to provide enough information so that they can make an informed choice.

And yes, I can translate from both Japanese to English as well as English to Japanese.

Thanks for reading.

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While I may not be able to respond to all comments, I always welcome feedback. Thank you.

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