Another quick project plug: Luna Translations just released their v1.0 English patch for the Majo Koi Nikki (a.k.a. Witch's Love Diary) demo. And guess what? You should totally go get it. I've been helping out with their proofreading, and I can tell you they've done a bang-up job so far.
Best part? It's super easy to obtain. Qoobrand offers the trial, which covers the game's prologue, as a free download on their site. (You'll want to grab the first one, not Trial 2.) Just download it, patch
It's sad but true: we've finally come to the end of our tour of Japanese punctuation for VN editors. But before we bid adieu, there are a few more types we have yet to cover. None merit full blog posts, however, so I offer them up here in a bit of a punctuation grab bag. Reach in if you dare.
The placeholder: 〇 The 〇 is typically used to censor offensive language by replacing one of the characters in a word. It's the equivalent of writing "f*ck" or "sh-t" or in English. Everyone knows wha
Another day, another deep dive into the esoterica of visual novel punctuation. Next on our chopping block: the wave dash ( 〜 ), which looks an awful lot like the Western tilde (~) but functions nothing like it. Our refrain here is a familiar one: the wave dash has no place in well-localized English VNs and should be removed or replaced wherever possible. No ifs, no ands, but one very small but.
How 〜 functions in Japanese
The wave dash has several fairly pedestrian functions in written J
I’m on vacation, which as a dad, is usually more exhausting for me than not being on vacation. That means no rants about the evils of third-person direct address in VN translations this week — sorry! I just don’t have it in me.
Instead, I thought I’d give a long overdue plug to a project I helped out on last year: ff80c38’s 2x Ren’Py port of True Remembrance. And by “helped out on,” I mean ff80c38 did everything; I simply pitched in with a little Photoshopping and typesetting at the very en
Next up in our parade of visual novel punctuation: the interrobang. That’s right, I said the interrobang. Can you believe it?!
Huh?! What the hell's an interrobang?!
"Interrobang" is the term we'll borrow to describe that little dogpile of punctuation, usually represented as ?! or !?, that sits at the end of nearly every question in a visual novel. It's meant to convey incredulity, combining elements of both a question and an exclamation. And, since the typical VN's stock-in-trade
After some great discussion regarding v1 of this working definition, I brought it back to the shop for some tweaks and tinkering. The results are posted below as v2 of the definition. And I'm sure I'll repeat this cycle many, many more times.
So, without further ado...
A 5-point test for visual novels
1. It must be read/played on an electronic device that outputs to a screen.
Fairly self-explanatory. Computers, game consoles, handhelds, phones — hell, even a smart watch would qu
Last time, we discussed how the casual ellipsis should almost always be considered punctuation non grata in VN translations. Today, we set our sights on a new target: Japanese-style quotation marks. Handling these couldn’t be simpler: If you see any in your text, replace them with English-style quotation marks immediately. No exceptions. No special cases. No mercy.
A quick primer on Japanese quotation marks
If you’ve spent any time looking at Japanese texts, you’ve likely seen 「 and its f
A couple blog posts back, I argued that the story exploration game Gone Home can be considered a visual novel. After some great discussion there, it seemed only logical to tackle the much bigger question: “What is a visual novel?
Which is why I’m not going to. That’s a spike-filled, snake-infested pit of a question if I ever saw one — and I already had spikes and snakes for breakfast. Instead, we’re going to attempt to answer a more nuanced question: “What are the minimum requirements somet
Let’s not mince words here. The ellipsis is a blight upon English translations of visual novels. It must be uprooted and killed with fire.
Before the slaughter begins, however, let’s review some basics. As the name suggests, the ellipsis represents an elision — that is to say, omitted content. It functions as the “yadda yadda” of the English language. It is the “Step 2: ???” before the all-important “Step 3: Profit!” A writer deploys those three little dots to indicate either the intentiona
This past weekend marked the unofficial start of summer here in the States, and to celebrate, dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster threw down the gauntlet in a major way. The hot dog, it declared, is a sandwich. It consists of bread (the bun) holding some filling (a plump, juicy hot dog). It meets the textbook definition of a sandwich. Therefore, it’s a sandwich.
The reaction from Team Hot Dog was swift. “Nooo! That’s not true!” they Luke Skywalkered across the Twiterverse. “Hot dogs are ho
Here in the United States, we’ll be spending Thursday the way The Lord God intended: eating our weight in meat, potatoes, and gravy, then farting ourselves to sleep on our uncles’ living room couches. Those of you from other countries have good reason to be jealous; there’s no slumber quite as deep or blissful as the post-Thanksgiving coma. But guess what, my forlorn foreign friends? This year, you’re in luck. That’s right — I’ve decided to write another image editing post. With any luck, this’l
I just had an extra big breakfast, so I thought I'd pull up a chair and solve one of the most hotly debated issues facing the English-speaking VN community today. No, no need for thanks. Just name a stadium or sandwich after me at some point. Or both. Ready? Here we go. Honorifics or no honorifics? Should translated visual novels maintain the traditional Japanese cavalcade of name suffixes — san, kun, chan, sama, and so forth? Or should they adopt a more familiar Western approach, dropping hono
If you’re the image editor for a VN translation, you’ll probably spend at least half your time setting English type. Lots of it. (The other half will be spent laboriously retouching out all the Japanese text you’re about to replace.) Sounds simple on the surface, right? Any pixel monkey can copy/paste from a translation document. But there’s a lot more to good typesetting than just clicking with text tool and banging away on the keyboard. Just like good prose, there’s a certain rhythm to good ty
This blog is all about owning my mistakes and putting them on public display, so let’s do this. And yeah, I knew this one was going to come back and bite me in the ass. This was my albatross. This was my giant ass-biting albatross. The great “tricky” debacle of 2015 So there’s this word that shows up in the English translation of Koisuru Natsu no Last Resort. If you’ve read it, you might have noticed it once or twice. “Tricky.” Umi, the main heroine, falls back on this word a lot to describe the
How do you eat an entire whale? One bite at a time. Preferably with Cholula. How do you edit/translate/whatever a visual novel? One line at a time. Preferably with bourbon. Whether you’re a fan of the final product or not, one of the things that impresses me most about MDZ’s fan translation of Koisuru Natsu no Last Resort is that it got released, period. As in, if you were so inclined, you could download the installer right now, patch the original Japanese game, and go play the thing on your new
If I could give you any two pieces of advice, gentle reader, they would be: don’t eat unopened mussels, and don’t proofread anything you’ve edited. Neither will end well for you. I always scratch my head when I see a visual novel translation project with the same person listed as Editor and Proofreader. Or worse yet, Translator, Editor, and Proofreader. Or (and I know I’ve seen this at least once) Translator, TLC, Editor, and Proofreader. I’m all for DIY, but that's a disaster waiting to happen
As I was drinking my third cup of coffee this morning, it occurred to me that most non-otome or yaoi visual novels I can think of pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Bechdel Test requires that a work of fiction: have at least two women in it who talk to each other about something besides a man. With obvious exceptions (Planetarian, etc.) most VNs have little trouble crossing this threshold — the casts are almost entirely female, and slice-of-life sc
You know how you can translate Japanese far too literally and end up with stilted and nonsensical prose? It’s also possible reinterpret Japanese graphics far too literally and up with an illegible mess. Case in point: vertical type. Japanese text is typically typeset one of two ways: the traditional tategaki style (characters arranged in vertical columns, read from right to left), or the more modern yokogaki style (characters arranged in horizontal rows, read left to right, as in English). When
As any translator can probably tell you, Japanese jokes are a huge pain to capture in English. There are unfamiliar memes, cultural references, wordplay, riffs on kanji characters — none of which are particularly easy to convey to Western audiences. If you get lucky, a few nips and tucks in editing are all you need to make one of these unwieldy beasts work in English. If you get unlucky, however, you end up having to grab the rib spreader and do some major linguistic surgery. Sometimes the patie
There is a secret language spoken in the darkest corners of the visual novel world, a cant so ancient and intricate that none know its origins. To be initiated in its ways, one must drink from the Dread Chalice and be reborn in fire. Only then will the caul be drawn from your eyes. You shall know onomatopoeia. And you shall know fear. Sploosh 101: What is onomatopoeia? Before we jump in with both feet — *splash!* — let’s do a quick primer on terminology. An onomatopoeia is a word that imitates,
There’s no getting around it. If you’re looking to edit visual novels, at some point you’re going to have roll up your sleeves, put on the rubber gloves, and get elbow-deep in some H. The good news is that if you come prepared, practice your technique, and set some clear boundaries, it can be a pleasurable experience for both you and the reader.
First, a disclaimer: I don’t like pineapple on my pizza, and I don’t like H-scenes in my VNs. It’s not a prudish thing; it’s a narrative thing. They’r
And now a little something for all you image editors out there. (If you don't speak Photoshop, just keep walking; there's nothing for you here.) Some visual novels make image edits simple — the UI is mostly flat colors, 90º angles, and 1-bit transparencies. Easy peasy. Meanwhile, some more recent VNs like to store all their UI elements as semi-transparent overlays with full 8-bit alpha channels. If you've ever tried editing these, you know what a pain they can be. And so, I came to love a comman
Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s an untranslated (i.e, romaji) word sitting there in the script you're editing, staring right up at you. It’s been left like that because the TL team figured people ought to know what it means. But will they really? And what are the ramifications if they don’t? You’re running out of time, and patch release day is breathing down your neck. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO? In the case of KoiRizo, I ended up relying on a journalistic standard commonly called “the first refe
I make a living in copywriting, but KoiRizo was my first attempt at editing a visual novel. Suffice to say, there were a few bumps along the way. So in the spirit of this blog, here are just a few of the many, many things I wish I had done differently. 1. I should have started out using a style guide.
From the very beginning, I should have picked one of the major styles guides and made it my bible. Instead, as I came across questions — Should this be hyphenated? Should that be capitalized? — I
A good editor is a good reader.
By that, I don’t mean that he or she is well-read (although that helps). And I don’t mean that he or she reads exceptionally fast (although I’m sure that helps, too).
An editor’s most important job is to serve, quite literally, as the reader’s proxy. If you want to edit anything — a magazine article, a TV script, a visual novel — it’s your job to approach the text not as yourself, but as someone you’ve never met, someone who doesn’t share your likes, your disl