Sunday, 22 February 2015

SaeKano Volume 1 Chapter 1 Translation Notes and Discussion

Chapter 1 TL Notes

Welcome to the first installment of this translation project's translation notes.

These notes are generally going to be used to point out and explain some of the references and terms used in the Light Novel. SaeKano is deeply seeded in Otaku culture, with some of the terms quite unfamiliar to me. I've had to look up some words which are not in any standard Japanese dictionary. Some of these words also have no English equivalent and finding a good English equivalent for some of the terms can prove difficult at times. As such, these notes are also going to discuss some of my thoughts behind the translation process.

Although there are many references in the Prologue, I won't be listing them here, I will place them in another post later. Now then time to start!

Reference Comments

『Empire's Golion』refers to the anime Beast King Golion (百獣王ゴライオン), a rather old mecha anime from the 1980s. Nen○roid refers to Nendoroid, those little big headed figurines.

The Red Straw Hat Tomoya mentions is a reference to none other than Luffy from One Piece.

Da. po refers to Da Capo, a visual novel that was later adapted into manga and anime.

This line Quit speaking like that meddlesome girl with rotten luck. You sound like you want to get beaten up.” seems to refer to Yoshiko's line here Why are you being so slow man? Ah well, since it's you Tomoya I guess it can't be helped”. The original Japanese of Yoshiko's line is 「何モタモタしてんだよ、もう、しょうがないなぁ倫也は」. Supposedly it refers to the character Natsumi Rikako from the visual novel Parfait ~Chocolat Second Brew~.

Yodo○shi refers to Yodobashi, an electronics store in Japan. Whether they have fast service because they're atrociously bad, I don't know.

Aah, so you mean La○ta○” refers to an adult shop in Akihabara Lammtarra. Now I have actually visited a shop similar to this in Akihabara, which may or may not be this one. If it is, I only ventured on the first floor anyway and yes there were games on display, although I don't remember if they were tucked away neatly in a corner or not. Also on display were 'other' items, although I don't recall them being placed in areas with 18+ curtains to shoo away minors.

Tomoya mentions Comiket and First Train. Comiket used to, if I recall, allow people to line up overnight (and longer) so that they could be the first ones to buy some of the highly limited goods. However due to safety issues this is now forbidden and so the first train refers to catching the first available train to get off at the station closest to the Comiket venue. I have heard from many people that things sell out incredibly fast, so Tomoya is not exaggerating at all when he mentions this.

There is likely more, but this is all I can find for now. Feel free to comment if you think you've found a reference I haven't and share it with everyone else!

Translation and Culture Comments

Tomoya also mentions porting a lot. Now some of you might not be too familiar with the process of porting games in Japan. Quite often many eroge, R18+ games are ported from PC to other consoles such as the Playstation 3/4 PSP/Vita etc. in order to reach a wider, more general audience and increase sales. Quite often these ports have extra content not included in the original game but cut out all erotic content. You can think of it as DLC, although a very expensive one because you practically buy the game again. Tomoya's comments over it being acceptable raise insights into the Japanese consumer culture as well (curse greedy Japanese DLC strategies which Westerners hate). These games are no longer Eroge but instead become Galge which I translated loosely into dating sim. Dating sim is by itself a misnomer (which I'm propagating, not that I want to), in Western culture, many people associate Visual Novels and the like with Dating Sims. There are many visual novels which I am sure do not actually involve the protagonist 'dating' a heroine at all, sometimes it is more along the lines of being strung along with the heroine than anything to do with dating. 

When I was translating, Galge and Eroge were difficult terms to deal with, Galge especially. Galge typically refers to a game with young, attractive females that you can interact with. In Japanese young, attractive females are generally known as bishoujo. In this instance of the light novel though, Galge means non 18+ all ages game.

While it was tempting to substitute dating sim for the term bishoujo game, I came to the conclusion that all Eroge are generally bishoujo games but not all bishoujo games are Eroge. There isn't a good flat out term in English that could replace Galge, yet Galge is such an unattractive term to use. That being said I did leave in Eroge by itself, although I was tempted to replace it with R18+ game or Erotic Game.

Tomoya also mentions the term Couples Love which is イチャラブ in Japanese. This was a tricky one, originally I translated it as Flirtatious Love, but looking at the meaning of it again, I think the best translation of it is Couples Love, referring to the displays of affection between a couple with a good relationship.

I also had a discussion with my editor over the use of Sakura instead of Cherry Blossom and vice versa. You may have noticed the switch I made if you had read the first version I posted and then the second updated one. Sakura by itself is a fairly obvious noun, however what spurred me in the end was the fact that Perfect Sakura would sound terrible over Perfect Cherry Blossom.

As a novice translator on the scene I also find myself still struggling for a translation style I'm comfortable with. There is much discussion over the degree of liberalism one should take when translating. It is very hard for translate everything to a degree that would match every word for word, implication for implication, context for context and so forth. Whilst I found myself being a little more liberal with my translations this time round, there were still parts of it where I stuck to a more direct translation. I'm sure some of you may have noticed the inconsistencies here and there. Also when translating it's quite important that I stick to a consistent narrative voice for the characters. Yoshiko seems like a fairly blunt character with very casual language, so I tried to write in a narrative voice style that would match his character. As for Tomoya, his personality is quite mixed, even though I've witnessed more of him than anyone. He is as he says, a bit of a hypocrite at times although he does realise the insensitivity of his actions at times. This makes it a bit hard to give him a more consistent narrative voice. But at least he isn't as blunt as Yoshiko (barely).

After translating I've gained a lot more insight over the simplification and changes of certain Japanese lines in English (however I still don't like the Valkyria Chronicle localisation). I've noticed Crunchyroll Subs uses very simple English if they can, and that's probably to reach a wider, global audience.

And so with the translation of the prologue and Chapter 1 done, this basically covers Episode 1 of the anime. Eriri and Utaha don't feature in Chapter 1 at all, and from the looks of it Chapter 2 as well. I'm guessing the anime production wanted the inclusion of those two for greater effect.

If you have any comments over the translations, please feel free to leave them.

Until next time.


  1. "The Red Straw Hat Tomoya mentions is a reference to none other than Luffy from One Piece."

    I confess that I don't know One Piece, but I was certain it was from the opening scene of Kimagure Orange Road.