Happy Labor Day, everyone! After taking another three-month break from fansubbing because anime is awful, I’ve joined Team Over-Time to work on the latest in the Kamen Rider franchise of rubber-suited bug men kicking demons to death. You may think this is regressive, but to be honest, the last couple Riders I watched had better writing than EVOL and plotting at least as good as Sacred Seven, so basically what I’m saying is I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.
I did enjoy Wizard, and it’s interesting working with a new team. I don’t know what else I can say about the show after just one episode, so instead I’ll just ramble a little about writing.
Character voice is the foundation of any scriptwriting, including fansubbing and all other forms of localization. In fact, fansubbing brings the extra challenges of timing and visual-syncing as well as the thorny puzzle of rearranging all the information in one Japanese sentence into one good-sounding and in-character English sequence.
I came to edit to make myself better at writing dialogue so that if/when I return to translating, I’m a better writer for it. Heat is pretty good at tling out reasonable prose, so my job involves tweaking, looking stuff up, arguing about one-liners, and mostly pulling his writing out of various Japanesiness traps that translators tend to fall into when they’re rushed. I don’t blame him one bit because I do the same things, and I always counted on my editors to do for me what I aim to do for Heat (koda never did, though). I’m editing so I can learn to edit myself.
Haruto has two modes, one normal and one serious. Normal Haruto is very cocky and very breezy, but not actually mean or douchey. It’s important to hit the sweet spot between annoying and offensive, and it’s critical to make his dialogue sound natural and smooth. More than most, Haruto can’t sound stiff or weird. Of course, he was saddled with some exposition this episode, so you can’t win them all.
When Haruto gets serious, he stops dicking around, and his serious side is absolutely heroic, focused on his mission of helping people and stopping the bad guys. The transitions between the two are really interesting (and not in the same way that Amata Sora’s were), and I’ll probably write more about them as we explore the character more.
Which brings us to this. You might have seen Heat’s initial translation of “I’m all the hope you need.” I suspected (and was later vindicated) that Wizard was a more heroic character than that, and was offering a ray of hope rather than strutting his own power.
The phrasing he uses literally translates to “I am the [your] last hope.” I wrestled with it for a while, trying to figure out what the “last” meant in context and just how to translate it without giving off the wrong impression. In the end Heat used a variation of his original that I think hits the target fairly well, but it loses a little bit of something and I can’t tell yet if that’s important or not.
But enough about Haruto. I was worried about Koyomi because I don’t really know her that well from this episode. She seems like a very serious, earnest, straightforward type who doesn’t mince words or crack jokes. This is going to make her further interactions with Haruto fun, I hope, but the thing is that TV English is much more prone to references, mini-jokes, and turns of phrase than TV Japanese even when the TV Japanese speaker isn’t being extremely conservative with her words. For now, we left her with just plain straight translations of plain straight talk, but I’ll be watching her as the show goes on.
Writing-wise, Rinko was probably the weak point of the episode. I know it’s a victim of the week show, but even then she spent a disproportionate amount of time in the composed speech register explaining her motivations, past, and so on. Other than that she cast herself as every other bright-eyed and highly driven B-character you’ve ever seen. Oh well.
As for “lupacchi,” this is our best guess:
<Iguanette> lupacchiotto is the Italian for a cub or baby animal, as in a wolf cub
<Iguanette> Cut that down to just lupacchi and it’s relevant as the word for turning a gem into a small animal
It looked like the belt sings it when he’s summoning the Plamonster familiars, but maybe it also does it when he’s going to fabulous kick strike? I dunno. Hopefully someone over there figures it out soon, whether we’re vindicated or not.
This show is going to be a lot of fun to write.