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Everything's Coming Up Roses

Fred the Barber


Since the translated prologue script for Majo Koi Nikki is more or less finalized, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. So here I am, kicking off the editing blog I've been meaning to work on for a while, and also trying to build some hype for our TL project, where we are planning to release a patch for the official free trial version of the game soon, as a signal of how things are going towards our final patch for the full game.

Like many things in life, translating occasionally means making trade-offs. With a large text, some detail and nuance isn't going to come through, regardless of how good at it you are. As a translator, TLC, or editor, one prime responsibility you have is to identify as many of those nuances and references as you can. But even if you're quite successful on that mark, you'll still occasionally be faced with a set of translation options that precludes maintaining everything; even among the nuances you found, something must be lost in translation. What should you do? Simple: evaluate your options and choose the best trade-off available. This is a story about a trade-off.


The first sentence of the VNDB summary of Majo Koi Nikki (courtesy of these fine fellows) is: "Alice lives alone in an old barber shop in the shopping district of the rose-colored town." Rose-colored town? Now, don't get me wrong, there's a whole lot of pink in this game, especially in the UI, but the city itself isn't anything you could call rose-colored, unless you were talking about plant stems. See the below night-time aerial shot of the town for reference to how not pink it is, as well as just how pink the UI is. So where did that oddly specific phrase come from?

Well, it turns out there's this Japanese phrase, バラ色, appearing all over the original script. It'd be pronounced "barairo", and literally translated, it of course means rose-colored. It most commonly appears modifying a word for town/block/neighborhood (that's their "rose-colored town"), and then with that it also appears modifying a shopping district (finally giving the "shopping district of the rose-colored town" in the VNDB summary). It also modifies a train station; obviously the train station located in that neighborhood. The first translator to come across this phrase, recognizing it as a neighborhood name, just romanized it: "Barairo District", "Barairo Station", "Barairo shopping district". The last phrase has a minor issue (you might wonder, is it a subset of Barairo District, or just a different name for the same whole place? it's the former), but there is a bigger problem here.

First off, having multiple translators on the project gave us an interesting view: the phrase got translations as varied as "rose town" and "the pink district". And that spurred us towards consciously thinking: isn't some obsession with pinkness, flowers, or roses kind of an important thing in this game?

Definitely more green than rose-colored. Alas, this map view and its cute chibi sprites aren't part of the free trial.

I'm writing this blog, of course, because the answer was yes. Rose-colored stuff are an obvious and important motif. And better yet, pretty much every time the writer wanted to put that motif to use, this exact adjective, "barairo", is the word used in the original JP text to signal it. One late-breaking character in the prologue actually has "Barairo" in his full title, and his nickname is a portmanteau of his title: "Baragon". If that's not enough, meanwhile, the adjective "barairo" is the crux of what I view as probably the most important line in the whole prologue (which I'm not going to say any more about; gotta save the goodies for later, after all).

To a Japanese speaker, all these things will layer over each other with no problem; it's the same word, after all. But we're not going to literally change that character's name even if it sounded remotely natural to call this guy "Rose-coloredgon" (or, God forbid, "Rogon"; sounds like a hygiene product), and we can't start using "barairo" in English as an adjective to say something is rose-colored; something's got to give.

So here's the trade-off we made. First of all, the "Barairo District" gets an English-translated proper name: Rose Village. Sounds nice and quaint, though we technically lost the color from the literal translation. The whole English phrase "rose-colored" starts sounding cumbersome when you try to put it in a proper name, hence, Rose Village. Doesn't it sound like a great place to go get a haircut? "Rose Village Station" and "the Rose Village shopping district" fall out of this naming pretty naturally and sound fine.

For the cases where the phrase was simply used as an adjective, rather than a proper name, we're consistently using the adjective "rosy", to get maximum resonance with all the roses we just strewed around the text.

Now what about that guy with "Barairo" in his full title? Similarly, it got turned into "Rose"; his title sounds pretty good that way. I'm not telling you what it is. And his nickname? Still Baragon. Which is no longer a portmanteau. That's what we lost. That's the nature of a trade-off. It's unfortunate, but all things considered, it's a small sacrifice for the greater good.

And what did we get in trade? Why, only all those lovely roses that the English readers will now see and connect together in their minds, consciously or unconsciously, and which should resonate strongly with the pink UI and pink CGs you'll come across while reading this lovely VN.

The patch for the free trial of Majo Koi Nikki isn't out yet, but it's on its way. If you're the romantic type, maybe think of it as a bouquet of roses, from us to you. Enjoy!


Recommended Comments

1 hour ago, Rose said:

Roses are great indeed.

@Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, after all.

And while it is perhaps true that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, most people won't stop and smell the roses if you don't present them properly.

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33 minutes ago, Fred the Barber said:

@Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, after all.

And while it is perhaps true that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, most people won't stop and smell the roses if you don't present them properly.

Somehow that sounds like an encouragement to all forum users to smell @Rose. Well what could go wrong :wub:

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