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  1. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, Shinimasu TL notes: Enhanced Edition #1   
    I wrote earlier about how I thought when translating a few lines in Shinimasu. This series is going to be in that vein, with an eye to explaining translation decisions and highlighting unusual takes. I’m going to try to make it interesting for people not knowing Japanese, but to save effort I’m not going to be providing literal translation equivalents to lines.
    Why am I doing this? Because my brain is a fuck and producing blog posts is an interesting motivation for doing a second pass on my translation.
    Unfortunately for those expecting worthwhile content I feel like digressing a bit into history and methods for this first post, though. This is what my TL setup has looked like for most of the time I’ve worked on the project: 
    I started out doing 64 lines in December 2017, this got Asonn involved, and he introduced me to Porygon, who set up a git repository* and provided the tool you see. My brain swears I tweeted this pastebin, and I know I at least got some comment, but twitter search can’t find it so who the fuck knows? Anyway, I probably did 129 lines just copying from the game or script (can’t remember), then I copied them to the tool and worked there. One of the joys of working with porygon is that he has highly motivating auto-updating progress pages for you to fap to after pushing your new lines. This probably helped me more than I’d really like to admit.
    Either way, apart from being convenient for reinsertion later**, the tool has rudimentary edict-lookup of the (autoparsed) tl lines, which is convenient if you’re extremely fucking lazy. I’m not going to say I never used it (I am extremely fucking lazy), but going j-j definitely was needed more than once. Other than that I guess it’s ok, though it does have a still-unfixed bug where it’ll fuck up and display too few lines of text in a box due to some miscalculation.
    It’s certainly missing some features my dream tool would have, though. Personally I’d love to be able to see the script commands surrounding a line through some UI element to expand, as this could partially substitute for actually having the VN open for visual/scenographic context. It doesn’t have EPWING lookup, but that’s high effort since the format is bullshit apparently. It also doesn’t let you play voiced lines associated with spoken lines, though Shinimasu is unvoiced so I guess it doesn’t really matter for this project.
    Today I had to contact pory since it had stoped working properly; it turned out my build of the tool was old enough that a bug with java 9 (I had recently updated) was making it unusable. He quickly got a fix for the tool, but it took enough time that I lost the energy for revising my tl. Or that’s my excuse, anyway.
    See you next time for actual tl discussion w
    *What’s a git repository? Well the long answer is long and full of programmer-speak, but basically it lets you keep an online backup of your files, preserving older versions each time you decide to add a newer version to the server. You can do this while multiple people are working on the same file sometimes, though it can get hairy. I ended up not needing this much, but it’s been good insurance against data loss (and I have changed laptops at least once during translation, also had to reinstall windows once…). Really if you don’t have a backup for any translation of length, you’re probably doing it wrong (but also I am a CS student so it’s… not as hard for me w)
    **By virtue of saving the line number in the original script where the Japanese line was and associating that with the eventual translated line. I used a simplified version of this myself based on google sheets columns when I did tech for the ichigo & kyuugo tl.

    View the full article
  2. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, Readability And Eliminating Unintentional Ambiguity: That's Where It Starts   
    Ambiguity is a fascinating element of language, one an editor both struggles with and celebrates regularly. On the celebration side of things, ambiguity is an essential tool in the setup of a lot of short jokes, for one. As an example, an ambiguous statement leads to a misunderstanding, and in a VN said misunderstanding usually leads to an accidental love confession, resulting in the unfortunate victim stammering outrageously while blushing like a sunset. How cute. Ambiguity can also be a powerful tool in foreshadowing, since it allows a single statement to be interpreted in two ways, of which one can be applicable to the immediate present, thus making it a perfectly reasonable line to have in the present, and the other only meaningful when considering future events, usually causing the reader to look back and say, "Ahh-hah, now I see what it really meant." Ambiguity is also absolutely essential in writing clever blog post titles. But on the struggling side, ambiguity is often an enemy getting in the way of your reader enjoying your text.
    As you read, your brain furiously analyzes words as they come in, building up and tearing down many possible syntactical structures for the sentence and many possible semantic interpretations of the various words and phrases, before eventually trimming this all down to a single interpretation of the sentence, typically over the course of a tiny fraction of a second. However, there are many stumbling blocks which can lengthen this process or thwart it entirely, notably including actual errors (misspellings, dropped words, incorrect grammar, etc.,), which is probably the chief reason why such errors are so frowned-upon in typical writing. Slowing down the reader's understanding, or preventing it entirely, is generally not the author's goal, assuming said author is not James Joyce.
    Setting aside actual errors, ambiguity is one of the main impediments to a reader's understanding. Since one of a VN editor's chief goals is to ensure a script flows well for a reader, eliminating unintentional ambiguity is an important sub-goal. Even outside of intentional usage like in the cases mentioned in the first paragraph, ambiguity in English is still incredibly common, with small ambiguities cropping up constantly while reading essentially any text. Let's take a look at an example of a super-small ambiguity which slows down the reader just a tiny bit, a sentence containing my least favorite word:
    Looks fine, right? As a whole the sentence is totally unambiguous. But while you're reading it, you're going to run into "that", and "that"'s a problem. "That" is an incredibly flexible word in the English language: it's a pronoun, a determiner, an adverb, and a relative pronoun. It's actually even more flexible in British English, where it can act as a subordinating conjunction, and even though most VN translations are written in American English, the lines there are pretty fuzzy, and it wouldn't be surprising or confusing to see a sentence like "He asked that she go" in a VN.
    Now, in the sentence above, "that" is being used as a relative pronoun, but the prefix of this sentence, "I told you that" is also a perfectly well-formed English sentence in which it's instead being used as a pronoun, and if your brain follows such an interpretation immediately as you read the sentence, it'll take it a few extra milliseconds for your brain to unwedge itself, reorganize into treating "that" as a relative pronoun, and continue on forming the correct interpretation.
    All right, doesn't sound like a big deal, does it? You're right. This particular, single instance isn't. But they add up, and you can do better, so you might as well. To put it in super technical jargon I didn't know until I was writing up this post, English has a so-called "zero relative pronoun" which can be used in place of relative pronouns like "that" which are introducing restrictive relative clauses. To give an example, since the previous jargon is so technical as to be basically useless, instead of the above sentence, you can just drop "that" and write:
    Now, look, I'm not saying this makes a huge difference, but doesn't this version feel a tiny bit better when you read it? Eliminating usage of overly-flexible words like "that" is a good way to reduce some ambiguity, but keep in mind this is a single example of a specific case. It just happened to be the one which prompted this blog post. However, I assure you, if you start reading your work with a careful eye out for the clarity of each line, you'll find tons of small, unintentional ambiguities popping out at you which you want to correct. Training yourself to look for them and to clean them up is one part of helping your text flow better.
    I guess that's that. I hope you got something out of that, and I ask that, if you have questions, comments, or problems regarding this or "that", you leave a note below to that effect.
  3. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, What Is Editing? (baby don't hurt me)   
    My blog posts so far have mostly been about how to edit. That holds true for most every other VN editing blog I've ever seen as well. But I'm a really big believer in approaching any significant task from a "Why, What, How" perspective. So now, let's try to answer those first two questions.
    Even "What Is Editing" would be starting in too far (it made for a better title, so sue me). Let's start with this: why do translation projects, or even original fiction projects like novels, have editors?
    The goal of editing is to help the author achieve their goals.
    An author brings a whole lot of goals to the table: a story, characters with personalities and motivations, a setting, overarching motifs, style, ... probably a lot of other stuff I forgot. Anyway, you get the idea; there's a lot there which they're just trying to get out on paper (or bits, or whatever) and then into your brain.
    An editor doesn't bring any of that stuff. An editor instead strives to understand all of these things the author wants to communicate, finds the points where they can be better achieved, and refines the text to better achieve the author's goals. Although there's obviously some overlap, there are quite different skill sets involved in the raw writing and the editing, and thus the two roles are often fulfilled by two people.
    How about for a translated VN, rather than for, say, writing a novel? The story is roughly the same, actually. Although the translator has essentially the same goals as the editor in this case, the skill sets required are quite different, and thus differentiating the two roles is not uncommon and frequently beneficial to the project, for the same reasons as it is with original writing and editing.
    I'll also add that an original writer is usually considered "too close" to the original text to make a good editor. Even a writer who is also a great editor will benefit from having someone else edit their manuscript. I haven't heard the same thing said of translators, though, so that might not be relevant to this special case. But the skill set differentiation point still stands in the case of translation.
    Assuming you're satisfied with that explanation for Why, let's move on to What.
    Professional manuscript editing typically distinguishes four kinds of editing: developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Those are ordered based on both the scope of changes they make, and also the chronological order in which you should do them: developmental editing is very macroscopic and happens first, while proofreading is very microscopic and happens last. Let's drill into each:
    Developmental Editing
    Developmental editing is, first, the act of identifying all of those authorial goals I mentioned, and second the act of cutting, rearranging, and adding large chunks (think: add this whole new scene, cut that whole character) in order to advance the author's goals.
    Obviously, that second half isn't applicable to VN translation. You're not going to cut whole scenes or change how characters behave. Those decisions have already long since been made by the original writers, hopefully with the help of an editor of their own ;).
    But the first half is essential, and is quite a bit harder in VN translation, since you generally can't actually talk to the writer. Read it all, understand the authorial goals, and build a strong, consistent interpretation of the plot, the characters, the motifs, the setting, the tone, everything you can think of. If you don't form an interpretation while translating/editing, you're liable to thwart the author's goals as part of your translation, and as a result accidentally obscure or entirely lose key points of the original intent. Of course, you'll occasionally make mistakes in your interpretation, resulting in mistakes in translation. But if you don't even form an interpretation, the result will actually be worse: you'll still make mistakes in the translation, and the resulting translation will certainly be internally inconsistent, but you won't notice those internal inconsistencies because you have no guiding interpretation. If you form a consistent interpretation and let it guide your translation, when the text goes against your interpretation, the resulting inconsistency means you'll notice it, correct your interpretation, and then go back and modify your translation to fit the corrected interpretation.
    Line Editing
    Line editing is about assessing and fixing the flow of a scene and the flow of a line. It's about logic, language, word choice, rhythm, the mechanics of a sentence, and the sound of human speech. It is not concerned with grammatical errors, punctuation, and spelling, but more with higher-level ideas like tone, emotion, and atmosphere. A line editor worries whether a sentence ought to be punchy or loquacious, not whether it has all the commas in all the right places.
    "Logic" probably seemed a bit out of place there, so let me give an example for that one in particular, since it's essential. For example, unless you're editing the VN equivalent of a Beckett play (and if you are, please point me to that VN, because I'm interested), one dialog line should generally be a logical response to the previous one. A canny line editor will ensure the logical flow from event to event, line to line, and even scene to scene, ensuring consistency of the narration.
    This is also where all that authorial intent mentioned above comes into play: an editor in this capacity should also be ensuring consistency of a line with those overarching goals. A good line editor will help ensure that characterization is consistent, for instance, or that a motif is not buried inappropriately. An editor, in their avatar as the keeper of consistency, is crucial to achieving those authorial goals.
    The prose side of line editing is also key simply because stilted speech, unnatural utterances, redundant repetition, awkward alliteration, and their ilk all kick you out of the immersion. Your brain wants to keep reading something when it flows well. And nothing hits softer than shitty prose.
    Line editing is the meat of VN editing. It's what most existing VN editing blogs are about, not coincidentally. If you're an editor for a VN, line editing is what you should be thinking about constantly.
    In addition to recommending other VN editing blogs, notably Darbury's blog (mostly about line editing, though all the punctuation ones are more about copy editing) and Moogy's now-ancient blog post (basically all about line editing), I'll also suggest you go read up on line editing in a general setting. A quick search for "what is line editing" will lead you to mountains of useful links. As a random example, this is one such useful link, and it's hilarious, well-written, and edifying: http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/short-course-line-editing. There is a veritable sea of such articles on the internet. Read them.
    Copy Editing
    Copy editing is about the nuts and bolts of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It's not the same as proofreading, but it's getting close. The copy editor typically should select and enforce an appropriate style manual (AP, Chicago, MLA, take your pick). The copy editor is the person who gets mad when you write "I baked 7 blackbirds into that pie." instead of "I baked seven blackbirds into that pie.", and who calmly, patiently replaces all your misused hyphens in the middle of sentences with em-dashes.
    You're unlikely to have a dedicated copy editor on a VN project; if you've got the "editor" role, you're probably it. I think this is along the lines of what most people think of already when they hear "editing" anyway, but really the line editing is the most important to the enjoyment of the text. Still, the picky people among us can get awfully uppity if you start putting in stuff like ellipses with four dots and inconsistent use of the Oxford comma (sidebar for the attentive: I'm for it, as you've already noticed). Copy editing is a particularly thankless job, since it's not like you can do an exceptional job of copy editing and really salvage a bad manuscript, but poor copy editing can certainly hurt an otherwise-good manuscript. So it's worth investing the time in doing it carefully.
    One important recommendation for copy editing: take notes and build up a style document and glossary for your VN as you go. Are honorifics being used? What about name order? If you're going to romanize some words, is your romanization consistent? Do you 1) always write "senpai", 2) always write "sempai", or 3) mix and match? I don't care if it's 1 or 2, but it better not be 3. Write conventions like this in a shared document and make sure everybody knows about the conventions and the document.
    Proofreading is the final stage of this pipeline. The role includes checking for grammatical errors, spelling errors, punctuation errors, typos, and perhaps some more exotic things like incorrect English dialect. It's straightforward and mechanical. Like copy editing, it is essentially thankless. It is, nonetheless, important. While you're making big sweeping edits doing all the stuff above, you're going to create tons of errors at this level. They need to be fixed. Make sure you have someone (preferably not the "editor", because they're too close to the text) do a proofreading sweep. You can lump it into QC if you like, but make sure that whoever is assigned to do this is looking at it carefully. Check. Every. Single. Word. There are errors in there, I guarantee you, and they're embarrassing. Getting the number of errors down to near-zero before you release your translation is going to make both you and your audience happier.
    In Summary
    There's not one editor; there are four. In an ideal world, with original fiction, you'd actually have someone separate filling each role. For a translation you don't need a developmental editor, leaving you needing three editors. In the non-ideal world you live in, you've probably got at least two of those roles to yourself. Push for someone else to handle proofreading, at least (call it "QC" if you have to), and make sure said person has the necessary ability and attention to detail. If you're the "editor", then you're almost certainly doing both line editing and copy editing. When that happens, make sure you keep a balance amongst all the things you need to do: for instance, spend 10% of your effort trying to understand what the author is trying to achieve, 88% of your effort on line editing (it's the meat, after all), and 2% on copy editing the little details like punctuation, romanization, etc.
    And If You Can Only Remember One Thing
    Focus on line editing.
  4. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Random VNs: Tayutama Kiss on My Deity (edit: and the FD)   
    First, let me say that this was the very first non-violent VN I played after jumping into Japanese-language (untranslated) VNs.  I should also say that it was the one that taught me that even a VN of this type (what I later came to call a charage) could have a truly solid story.  This VN is the reason I'm frequently willing to give charage the benefit of the doubt, and it is also the reason why I became somewhat obsessed with ojousama heroines.  Mifuyu is still one of the better ojousama heroines I've seen, both setting-wise and as a character. 
    My second playthrough of this game gave me an even greater appreciation for what makes it stand out... and made me once again dust off my hopes that one day LoS will stop making kusoge (three kusoge in five years is a bit much).
    There are points of this VN that I found irritating both now and the first time I played it.  Those points haven't really changed, though.  The biggest one is that the story is set up so that the bulk of the events don't change, until after the prologue>3 common story arcs are over.  While this can be called a common route... the fact is that the order in which they occur is altered by which heroine you chose, but you still have to go through the same events (with a mixture of unread and read text) three times after your first, with only minor changes.  This is a mild irritation but still an irritation.
    The upside is that the common route itself is actually fairly well-written, so that you can get a good idea of what each of the heroines is like in the common story arcs, so you don't feel left behind when things move on to the heroine arc (which is relatively short compared to the main story arcs).   A lot of the reason for the way this game is done is that the canon/true heroine of the game is Masshiro... and her path is emphasized more strongly (and is longer) compared to the others (I really recommend that you play Masshiro's last or Masshiro's only... one or the other).  
    The protagonist, Yuuri, is the only child of the priest of the Yachimata Shrine and a direct descendant of Masshiro's 'progenitor's' former master/ally (the full extent of the relationship isn't revealed, save for on Kikurami no Hime's side).  He is a fairly normal young man (yes, that was already the staple of what I came to call charage by then) with a passion for fixing bikes and a fondness for the shrine he grew up in.  Despite his problems with Ameri, he is actually fairly perceptive, with an intuitive grasp of concepts that some people have to seriously think to get at.  Nonetheless, he is ultimately just a 'normal' guy who happened to get involved with this mess.
    One thing I think a lot of people who read this will be... amused by is the h-scenes.  To be blunt, all the things that can go wrong with a person's first experience with sex can and do go wrong in this VN.  The 'girl has an orgasm the first time' trope that has defined most h-scenes since the beginning of the current decade isn't present in this VN, and that actually has an effect on the heroines' stories at times.  I say it is laugh-worthy because I spent most of my first ten VNs laughing rather than fapping to h-scenes... I literally spewed soda on my monitor during one of the h-scenes in Jingai Makyou, lol. 
    On the other side of things from Masshiro is Ameri... which is in a lot of ways the opposite of Masshiro.  To be honest, having Ameri as a heroine kind of pushes things.  Tsundere osananajimi have never been one of my drugs of choice, and Ameri is one of the worst of those.  She makes a great side-character and semi-antagonist, but as a heroine...?  Her path is also the most... pessimistic of the paths, at least in part because Ameri was also the heroine that had the most difficulty with the Tayutai as a species of being in the first place. 
    Yumina's path is... pleasant.  I like Yumina as a character, as she grows throughout the story when you pick her.  In the later part of the game when you choose her, she has matured immensely, and her ending is one of those ones that just makes you want to smile in pleasure at the characters' happiness and that of those around them.  If you like heroine paths that end up warm and normally happy, this is a good path for you. 
    Mafuyu is in a lot of ways the ideal modern woman (if you ignore her setting).  She is intelligent, capable, wise within the limits of the society she was born into and lives in, and is capable of accepting other people's advice (to some extent) without automatically assuming she is always right... once she trusts them.  Other than Masshiro, her path is the strongest in this VN, and I honestly think her personality is the most interesting.  She has become something of an archetype for a lot of similar characters over the years, but her view on Japanese society was the cause of one of my first post-VN epiphanies that broke part of my weaboo armor.  That said, she isn't perfect... while she is willing to give those she trusts the benefit of the doubt, she can have a tendency to dismiss the opinions of those she doesn't yet trust outright, at times.  Her best quality at times like those is her ability to admit when she was wrong.
    Mashiro is... Mashiro.  She is the enfleshed reincarnation of Kikurami, who sealed herself away along with the other Tayutai some five hundred years before the beginning of the story.  She has a lot of old-fashioned thought patterns, and a somewhat one-track mind when it comes to the things she believes are necessary.  She desires the coexistence of humans and Tayutai above all other things, and her affection for Yuuri is an odd mix of her own personal love, memories of Yachimata Kageharu inherited from Kikurami, and her need for him as an ally to deal with the other escaped Tayutai leaders (in other words, she is complicated).  Some people have trouble with her as a heroine because she is more than a little pushy and is sometimes inconsiderate of others' circumstances... not to mention that her idea of basic training resembles that of a drill sergeant from hell at first, lol.  For all her courteous nature, she is kind of scary when she snaps, though.
    Mashiro's heroine path is my favorite non-tragic immortal heroine path in a charage.  I say this because a lot of immortal heroine paths tend to have... weak endings.  Moege immortal heroines in particular tend to 'lose their immortality' somewhere along the way, which is irritating since I don't see a reason why they should give it up, lol.  A lot of that comes from the Japanese unspoken taboo against exceeding by too much or falling too far below society's norms.  Exceptional individuals tend to end up isolated and the less-capable looked down on as human trash, when societal impulses are left to their own devices over there, lol.  Anyway, I am immensely fond of how they wrap up this path, and I wish all other immortal heroine paths would at least take it as an example of the ideal. 
    Overall, this is a VN that exemplifies what is best in the fantasy charage sub-genre, breathing life into a set of characters that have remained in my heart strongly, even to this day.   I can honestly say that I enjoyed replaying this VN almost as much as I enjoyed playing it the first time, which is rare in my case with a charage.  If there is a downside to having used this VN as my starting point for charage, it is that so few manage to reach the same level, lol.
    PS: The joke story that opens from the main screen when you finish the entire game is hilarious.  The second story that pops up on the bottom is Kikurami's past, and it is a fairly sad story, with a linguistic level that will probably stump most newbies. 
    Edit: Adding It's happy Days fandisc
    Tayutama It's happy Days
    It's Happy Days is the fandisc to Tayutama, providing a side-story and extended after story for Mashiro.
    The side-stories
    The side-stories cover time spent at an onsen ryokan (hot springs inn) where various events occur and you watch a few h-scenes.  For those who wanted to know what it was like for Yuuri immediately after the ending (as opposed to five hundred years later) with Mashiro or Mafuyu, it is a nice treat. 
    The extended After-story
    The extended after-story is just that... an extension of Mashiro's ending that fills in gaps in the conversation and gives you an idea of what happened between the end and the epilogue of the original game through conversation. 
  5. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, Writing more powerful sentences   
    Last time I talked about trade-offs in editing and high-level motifs; macro-scale stuff. This time, I want to talk about a micro-scale topic: how to make an individual line better. As before, I'll be demonstrating this with examples drawn from recent editing experience. Before writing this post, I went around looking for other people talking about similar things, and I found this reference: http://kristensguide.com/Writing/powerful_sentences.asp. Frankly, it's great; probably better than what I have, especially in terms of breadth of topics. Give it a read and get your editing learning on. For this post, I'm going to deep dive into one single topic mentioned there, though, for which I've been saving up examples: putting the first and last words of your sentence to good use.
    The first and last words of a sentence are powerful. They're memorable. Forgetting the middle of a sentence is natural, so put a word at the end of a sentence when you really, really want that one word to be remembered.
    Okay, so what did you get from that last paragraph. I hope it was "first", "powerful", "memorable", "forgetting", and "remembered", because that's the point of this blog post.
    Anyway, let's look at some examples from my recent edits to Majo Koi Nikki, some to the prologue patch we're about to release, and some later. I'll point out other things that I changed as well and why, but this one point is going to be the running theme.
      Looking in the mirror, she pondered for a second and answered with a shy smile on her face.
    Potential problems:
    - "on her face" is extraneous
    - that extraneous phrase is squatting on valuable real estate at the end of the sentence.
      Looking in the mirror, she pondered for a second, and then she answered with a shy smile.
    - drop "on her face" (for both reasons above - it's less verbose, and now I get "smile" as the last word in the sentence, which is great)
    - the comma after "she ponders for a second" is intended to give the reader that same mental pause as "she" has, to better set up the last part
    - "then she" somehow pushes you out of that mental pause and into the most important part: that shy smile, lingering at the end of the sentence.
      Tokeizaka-san irritatedly flips through the book, but her hand stops suddenly.
    Potential problems:
    - With the benefit of spell-check, "irritatedly" => irritably
    - "suddenly" is often overused
    I actually really like the original; if you left it alone, aside from the spell-check correction, I wouldn't fault you for it. The verbs are great, "irritably" is a good use of a modifier, and the sentence communicates multiple events very concisely. But there's always room for improvement.
      Irritated, Tokeizaka-san flips through the book, until her hand suddenly stops.
    - Drop "suddenly." "Stops" is strong enough to carry that feeling of suddenness on its own, so "suddenly" is only making things weaker. I've also noticed a tendency for raw JP translations to overuse "suddenly", which makes me especially biased to remove it. It's the typical problem of overuse: if everything is happening suddenly, it might as well all be happening normally.
    - Move those good words, "irritably" and "stops" to the memorable points of the sentence. "Stops" we got for free, "irritably" requires a small bit of juggling. Unfortunately, Tokeizaka-san's family name is a bit unwieldy at best; better to bury it in the middle of the sentence and let the nice, emotive words take pride of place.
    - Swapping "but" for "until" made for a clearer plot to the sentence, I thought.
    - The colorful beauty article are displayed neatly.
    Potential problems:
    - Engrish
    - Passive voice
    - Not flashy enough
    - Iridescent beauty products dot the shelves, arranged with flawless precision.

    On that last potential problem: normally my style is pretty spare. My typical goal is to drop adjectives and adverbs, and make verbs and nouns stronger to carry the weight of description, without going overboard on vocabulary. More often than not, I'm trying to make long sentences shorter and punchier.
    I didn't do that here.
    For context on why, it would help for you to hear the ridiculously high-brow BGM accompanying this scene and see the gorgeous background art. So, here:

    Equally important for context, you need to know about the surrounding narration: basically, the narrator is currently marveling at just how amazing this beauty parlor is.
    One of the benefits of generally being spare with your adjectives and adverbs is that they then work a lot better when you actually do pull them out. A good mental model is that you have a budget: don't spend your nice words if you don't need to. Only pull them out when you're going for the razzle dazzle. The analogy breaks down fast, but basically, if you're constantly using flowery language and overdecorating the ordinary scenes, nobody's going to be impressed when something extraordinary happens, just like the overuse of "suddenly" I mentioned earlier. Since this actually is an extraordinary moment for our narrator, I'm spending a few nice words now.
    And again, I want to call attention to the first and last words of the sentence. Those are strong places in a sentence (or, especially in the case of a VN, a line). Previously there were pretty weak words there ("The colorful" and "neatly"); now we've got "iridescent" and "precision". Good words in good places.
    One last thing to mention. I wrote each of these up in the middle of editing, and then later edited that up into a blog post. I made changes to the edited line itself in the process of writing all this stuff up, which made it better. In fact, I even noticed a problem while writing up this blog post and further refined the line. You'll never know what it was (probably). The point being, simply spending time reflecting on an edit, and especially writing down your observations and motivations for certain choices, will help you do better work. You don't have to be this thorough all the time (I certainly am not), but every time you do an exercise like that, you'll learn from it, and then you can write up your own blog post and teach me something.
  6. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Killing the ellipsis (“...”) in VN translations   
    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 intentional removal of something that once was there, or the pointed absence of something that should have been there.
    That’s it. That’s what the ellipsis is supposed to do. You wouldn’t know this, however, by reading nearly any English translation of a Japanese visual novel. Ellipses are scattered across the text like so many rhinestones on the sweatshirt of a Midwestern mom. They’re at the beginning of sentences, the ends, stuck randomly in the middle — sometimes even chained end to end like a writhing Human Centipede of punctuation, each little dot in the chain crying, “Kill me now!” into the anus of the next.
    It’s an absolute abattoir in there.
    This particular road to hell is paved with good intentions, however. You see, all those ellipses are also present in the original Japanese and, in an attempt at faithful translation, the TL teams have left them all sitting there for you to enjoy. The original writer had a reason for putting them in, the reasoning goes, and it’s our job to offer the purest translation of his/her vision possible.
    This, of course, is bollocks. Punctuation operates differently in different languages. Japanese ellipses are used much more liberally than their Western forbearers, particularly in popular culture (e.g., manga. light novels, etc.) Want to indicate a pause? Ellipsis. Silence? Ellipsis. Passage of time? Ellipsis. Need to fill some empty space? Ellipsis. Is it Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday? Ellipsis, ellipsis, ellipsis. When ported over to English, most of these usages look less like carefully crafted sentences and more like a transcript of a particularly drunken Snapchat session.
    Put simply, what works in one language doesn’t always work in another. When I’m translating a Line of Text from German, for Example, I don’t capitalize all the Nouns because that’s how it was in the Original. I normalize it for English. The same needs to be done in any VN translation.
    My current rule of thumb while editing — I’ll bold it for you in red here — is as follows: Remove/replace all ellipses in a line of Japanese text unless doing so irreparably breaks the sentence or significantly changes its meaning.
    Luckily for us, English has a toolbox full of punctuation to get the job done. Commas, semicolons, periods, dashes — they’re all your friends. So let’s discuss some common situations in VNs and how we might handle them.

    The trailing ellipsis
    You’ll see lots of these littering the ends of sentences and lines, mostly to little effect. More often than not, they indicate a thought closing on anything other than a 100% full and decisive stop. Since they don’t hold the place of omitted text, we can almost always replace these ellipses with periods.
    There are a handful of situations, however, where keeping a trailing ellipsis makes sense. These include:
    The Pregnant Pause: 
    When something’s strongly implied at the end of a sentence/line, but left unsaid for dramatic effect.
    The ellipsis fills the place of the implied content, so it gets to stay. (Fun bonus fact: pauses are the only things that can get pregnant in VNs.)
    The “And So On”:
    When a statement is implied to continue for an unspecified length beyond the end of the sentence/line.
    The ellipsis here indicates there may have been a few more beers after Michelob, but the writer has decided to spare us and jump straight to Bob’s objection. Had this been more interruptive in nature, with Bob cutting Joe off immediately after “Michelob,” the ellipses would have replaced with an em-dash (—).
    The Trail-Off: 
    Similar to the “And So On,” but with the character choosing to let a statement taper off into nothingness, rather than the author.
    The opening ellipsis
    You’ll see these slightly less often, but they’re by no means infrequent. Typically, they indicate some slight hesitation at the beginning of a line of dialogue. But again, the nuance ends up being so slight and the impact so watered down through overuse that you’re almost always better off removing these ungainly beasts. An exception can be made for:
    The Reverse Pregnant Pause: 
    Just like the original Pregnant Pause, but it appears at the beginning of a sentence. Often holds the place of something a character doesn’t want to say.
    Rather than just pausing in passing, Joe is actively not admitting he thinks Joe is a jackass. That makes this line a strong candidate for an ellipsis.
    The mid-sentence ellipsis
    So, so many of these. You’ll close your eyes at night and they’ll haunt you. They’re almost always meant to indicate a slight pause in speech or thought, but trying to the read the resulting text is an exercise in frustration. There are... just so... many unnecessary... gaps. (Full disclosure: When writing scripts for TV, I’ll use ellipses like this a lot. But that’s for a very specific purpose: helping to communicate the particular rhythm of a line to the actor(s). I always avoid this in audience-facing text.)
    In almost all cases, unless there’s a marked pivot in thought, a comma will suffice.
    If the ellipsis is holding together two complete yet interwoven thoughts, a semicolon will do nicely.
    If the ellipsis is holding together two complete and independent thoughts, a period should be used.
    If ellipses are used to indicate an interruptive thought, one that breaks the main flow of the sentence, em-dashes can be used.
    Again, there are a couple situations where these mid-sentence ellipses can remain:
    The Ta-Da:
    When a pause is used for obvious dramatic effect, the ellipsis should be kept.
    The Shatner:
    When halting or stilted speech is intended for dramatic/comedic effect, ellipses may be retained.

    The empty line ellipsis
    You’ll see a lot of these. Holdovers from manga and light novels, they are explicit indicators of silence, being at a loss for words, holding one’s tongue, etc.
    In English prose, these silences would normally be held with narration — e.g., “Baconator just sat there, dripping ketchup.” You’d never see a sentence such as: ‘Harry Potter said, “...” and continued looking out the window.’ That’s because, unlike most VNs, traditional novels don’t have the crutch of character sprites and name cards appearing alongside dialogue. Due to such VN conventions, along with the technical limitations of translation — it’s frequently impossible to replace character dialogue with unvoiced narration — you should almost always leave these ellipses in place. Based on your best judgement, you can also choose to leave such variants as the questioning silence ("...?") and the excited/alarmed silence ("...!").
    It should be noted that such empty line ellipses can also be used outside of dialogue. Often, these will just indicate time passing. There’s also a long tradition in Japanese art of the “pillow” — a held moment of contemplative emptiness. It’s the bit of formal textual throat-clearing at the start of a poem. It’s the 10-second cutaway to a babbling brook that connects two scenes in a movie. In a VN, this pillow can evidence itself as a single line of narration, empty save for an ellipsis. There’s no good English alternative for this, so it should be kept wherever you encounter it.
    Extra credit: The multi-line ellipsis
    I saved this one for last, because it’s a bit of a special case. Against all my better instincts, it involves adding ellipses in places where the original text has none. It’s painful but it’s for a good cause.
    Sometimes, when editing or translating a VN, you’ll run across sentences that spill over onto two or more lines.
    Unlike in poetry, which uses line breaks to very deliberate effect, these multi-line monsters are almost always the result of the VN writer just running out of highway and choosing to keep on driving. Whenever possible, you should attempt to restructure such sentences so they don’t break across lines. Often, splitting an overly long sentence into two smaller ones will do the trick. If it resists your best efforts, however, maintain the break and indicate it with ellipses — one at the end of the first line, the other at the beginning of the second.
    How many dots? ALL THE DOTS!
    Another peculiarity of ellipses in Japanese VNs is that they don’t always have three dots. Depending on context and the arbitrary whims of the writer, you’ll typically see anywhere from two to six dots at a time. I’ve even seen 27 in a row once. I think it was a sex scene. Or a fight scene. Maybe both.
    Don’t let this worry you. If you’ve been following my advice, you’ve already purged most of the ellipses from the text. Of those that remain, almost all can be reduced down to familiar three-dot English ellipses. But as always, there’s at least one exception.
    Content-bearing pauses: In most cases, it’s of little concern to us whether an ellipsis consists of three, four, five, or even six dots. They’re all slight variations on the standard pause, but since English punctuation doesn’t make any such distinction, neither will we. An exception comes when the length of a pause not only adds flavor, but provides content. Consider the case of an ever-lengthening silence:
    The lengthening of the line suggests the passing of increasing amounts of time; the scene isn’t the same without it. Or consider an explosive outburst after a deafening silence:
    If you opt to stretch out an ellipsis like this, only do so in increments of three. If you’re musically inclined, think of three dots as a quarter note, six dots as a half note, etc., each one holding the silence just a bit longer than the last. Following the rule of threes keeps the text visually streamlined and helps if you ever need to convert a bunch of soft ellipses ( “...”) to hard ellipses (“…”) late in the translation process.
    A quick note about spacing
    I opt to keep things simple. If an ellipsis is at the start of a sentence or line, put one space between it and the first word. If it’s anywhere else, use no space before the ellipsis and one space after. If it’s a string of ellipses, it should be an uninterrupted series of dots with no spaces in between.
    There are also differing schools of thought as to whether an ellipsis at the end of a sentence should also be followed by a period, resulting in four dots total. Again, I opt for simplicity here and advise three dots in all cases.
    The mark of the beast
    It’s easy to tell professional translations from fan projects, it’s said; just count the number of dots. While not always true – plenty of slapdash commercial releases exist in the wild — there’s definitely something to this. More often than not, fewer ellipses are a sign that someone has taken the time to not just translate a text word for word, but thoughtfully localize it.
    Seriously, just dump the dots, folks. Your readers will thank you for it.
  7. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Hataraku Otona no Renai Jijou   
    As the title above indicates, this is a story about the love life of a working adult... to be specific, a twenty-five year old salaryman named Oga Itsuki.  At the beginning of the story Itsuki, who has already begun to settle into the dull exhaustion of the salaryman style of life, is awakened to just how pathetic his life is by his immediate superior, who suggests he try to change himself.  The amazing thing is that he does go through with it, and it changes his fate (makes it interesting).
    First, I should say that this VN won't be for everyone.  It has a lot of h-scenes, and the protagonist seems to attract lonely women (single and otherwise) who are desiring of a one-night-stand.  He even cheats on all of the heroines at least once (though the ones after theyofficially become lovers are optional scenes).  That said, this isn't a nukige... it has a bit too much story and makes too much sense for that (well, except for the fact that he attracts so many women). 
    This VN is pretty short.  I finished all the paths in about ten hours, about the same as a low-level moege.  The fact that comedy and everyday slice-of-life make up only a minority of the story is pretty beneficial here, as the story of each heroine - and the common route - progresses at a good, relatively fast pace that gets down to the meat of things without a lot of side-tracking.  There is no 'endless dating' period like you see with the schoolkids of your average charage, and the protagonist's relationships with the heroines are pretty interesting in and of themselves... well, amusing anyway. 
    I can honestly recommend this to someone who is tired of the endless school romances that plague VNs but doesn't want to head off into the wilds of Chuuniland to escape it.  Overall, this VN is a fun ride that is over quickly enough that it doesn't become boring or trite.  The endings are pleasant and the heroines are interesting enough that it really is worth getting to know them. 
  8. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Preparation H (Getting Ready to Edit VN Sex Scenes)   
    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’re rarely well crafted — you can feel all the hallmarks of the B-team being brought in to write them — and they almost never add plot/characterization that couldn’t have been handled better some other way. (I’ll pause here so you can mention Amane’s route from Grisaia, an exception that helps prove the rule.) Let’s be honest: they’re shoehorned in to help sell product. It’s built into the economics of the eroge genre. And honestly, that’s fine. I try to be sanguine about it and think of H-scenes as banner ads or TV commercials. They’re profit centers that help support the content I’m actually interested in. (I suspect more than a few developers feel the same way.)

    Long story short, H-scenes ain’t going anywhere. So how do we deal with them? Go in with a game plan.

    [Warning, there will be some NSFW language from this point forward. Sorry! It’s all part of seeing how the sausage is made.]

    1. Do your research
    In raw translation, sex scenes from a Japanese visual novel tend to be far from erotic. More often than not, they read like an obsessively detailed transcript of a gynecological exam. That’s not because the Japanese writing team suddenly forgot they were supposed to be penning a passionate sex scene. It’s just that what’s erotic in one culture isn’t always as erotic in another. It’s your job (along with the translator) to help bridge that cultural divide and come up with something that feels faithful to the original, yet still sexy in English.

    Your first stop? Research. Read some English-language erotica so you can get a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. Sites like literotica.com even have stories broken out into fairly specific categories, so if you know you’ll be editing BDSM, threesome, and footjob scripts, you’ll have no problem finding what you need. (If you have all three in a single scene, you still might be in luck.) There’s also a category called “First Time,” which is more broadly useful, given how fixated many VNs are on virgins.

    Read, read, and read some more. Pay attention to the verbs, the nouns, the pacing. Try to quickly form a model of what makes a sex scene successful, then look to carry those techniques over to your VN script.

    2. Pack a box lunch
    If you take nothing else away from this post, remember this: bring a big bag of dicks; you’ll need them. Better pack a few pussies while you’re at it.

    By the time you’ve edited your third or fourth H-script, you’ll find you’ve run dry of good synonyms for the male and female genitalia. In KoiRizo, the raw script mostly used the word "thing" for the protag’s package, which ended up sounding childish and/or ambiguous in English. (I only kept it in a few instances where such a reaction might be appropriate — for example, when the route partner catches her very first glimpse of Lil’ Protag: “Is that your ... thing?”). The remainder of the original script was a mix of the clinical ("my mucous membrane”) and the hilarious (“my soiled meat stick”). As for ladyparts, the original script relied heavy on metaphor and indirect reference — lots of openings, entrances, gates, doors, depths, special places, overflowing pots of nectar, etc.

    So what’s missing from the above? The common English erotica standbys: “dick” and “cock” for men, “pussy” for women. There’s a reason for that. KoiRizo complicated things by using the Japanese equivalents of these very sparingly, reserving them mainly for shock effect in dialogue — “e.g., OMG, she just said ‘cock!’ Things must be getting real.” Moreover, when these words were finally hauled out, the devs bleeped the VO and censored the text string (e.g., “p*ssy”). That meant it was very obvious when those words were being used and when they weren’t.

    All of which presented quite a challenge to the team: if we were to preserve those “shocking” character moments, we couldn’t use the most common English terms 99% of the time. And so, I fell back on a shortlist of alternate references: pole, rod, erection, hard-on, manhood, etc. By the time I was done editing, however, this list felt far too limited; those words were overused pencils worn down to their nubs.

    This is one of those areas where, in hindsight, I feel like I could have done a better job with KoiRizo. The takeaway: If I ever tackle a VN this H-heavy again — doubtful — I’ll come packing a much longer list of euphemisms.

    3. Bring a raincoat
    Compared to its English counterpart, Japanese erotica seems downright obsessed with fluids: saliva, vaginal secretions, semen, urine — you name it. The look, the sound, the feel, the taste, the smell, the volume. You’ll be describing a lot of liquids in a lot of ways, so get ready to break out the thesaurus. And an umbrella.

    4. Embrace the improbable
    Let’s admit it: VN sex is over-the-top ridiculous. In a matter of seconds, sheepish virgins turn into seasoned pornstars, cramming 20 orgasms and 40 positions into a quickie broom closet hookup. (Oh so much cramming.) This is the nature of the genre, so don’t fight it; embrace it. Trying to force realism onto a typical H-scene would be like trying to force realism onto a Dragon Ball Z fight: everyone still looks constipated, but no one’s having any fun. If you’re that desperate to edit sadly mundane sex scenes, wait for the VN version of Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs to come out. Till then, work with what you have.

    I remember a tiny dustup a while back when another TL team supposedly wrote lubricant into an H-scene because they felt the acts described would be difficult or painful without it. It’s a minor thing, but if the original writer left the lube out, I’m inclined to do so too. These portions of the script are wish fulfillment at their best/worst, so just leave them be.

    Except ...

    5. Reject the impossible
    ... Except when the improbable becomes the impossible. More often than not, this is either the result of a mistranslation or an error by the original writers. (As an example of the latter, KoiRizo was haunted by an entity we dubbed “phantom Riho.” A couple of times, the devs would forget they were writing another girl’s scene and use Riho’s name for a line or two instead. We fixed this in our version, but still ...)

    Anyway, as editor, it’s your job to keep an eye out for the impossible. Is the protag’s penis simultaneously in someone’s vagina, anus, mouth, and ear? Did the heroine’s hymen suddenly regenerate? (Starfish Girl is mah waifu!) Did a corded vibrator suddenly become a battery-operated one? Ask to have the TL double-checked and, if that still doesn’t resolve the issue, use your best judgement to fix the error while causing minimal disruption to the surrounding lines.

    6. Set your limits
    This is important. Know what you’re comfortable with going into a project and make those boundaries abundantly clear. Some VNs can venture into very unpleasant territory — rape, abuse, gore, catgirls, etc. — and it’s best to ask yourself up front if you could, in good conscience, commit to editing that sort of content. Set your limits early on, then make sure your team’s fully aware of them.

    7. Have a sense of humor
    At the end of the day, VNs are entertainment. Unless you’re editing Saya no Uta 2: Vom Harder, it’s probably okay to approach your H-scripts with a subtle sense of play. A decent chunk of your audience will either be fast-forwarding through these scenes outright, or paying far more attention to the visuals than the script.

    So think of these times as exhibition games in your script editing schedule. They’re opportunities to spread your wings a little bit, try a few stylistic experiments — maybe even slip in a sly joke or two. And even if everything doesn’t quite work, we’ll still respect you in the morning.
  9. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Oh, The (Tricky) Editing Mistakes I Have Made (Part 2 of ∞)   
    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.
    Umi, the main heroine, falls back on this word a lot to describe the protagonist. She uses it when he’s being nice. And when he’s being a jerk. And when he’s chewing food. And any other opportunity she can think of. Basically, I think she gets paid 100 yen every time she manages to work that word into a sentence. And let me tell you: girl is pulling down bank.
    Of course, this is a translation, so she’s not actually saying “tricky.” She’s saying something similar in Japanese. And therein lies a tale of woe and sorrow.
    The backstory
    But let’s rewind a bit first.
    When I came aboard the KoiRizo team, it was to edit a single route: Nagisa’s. Makes sense — I was a first-time VN editor, and Nagisa’s route was the shortest in the game. Moreover, it was an unlockable, which meant that comparatively few people would end up reading it. Other editors were already hacking away at most of the remaining routes anyway, so that was all fine by me.
    As I worked my way through Nagisa’s scripts, I saw the word “tricky” pop up once or twice in Umi’s dialogue as a personal insult and it just seemed ... odd to me. Tough math problems are tricky. Opening a stubborn jar of peanut butter is tricky. People? Less so. I’m an editor, though, not a translator, so I did what I was supposed to do: flagged it for TLC review, left a comment with my concerns, edited the line as best I could, then moved along. The translator on the project had made it clear he wouldn’t be reviewing any edits until all the routes were finished being edited, so that’s about all I could do at the time.
    When I finished cleaning up Nagisa’s route, I was asked if I wouldn’t mind tackling Shiori’s scripts as well, which no other editor had gotten around to yet. “Sure,” I said, and set about tidying that up as well. The word “tricky” popped up a couple more times, so I did the same thing: flagged it, reiterated my concerns, then kept on editing.
    I finished Shiori, and was asked if I’d pick up the common route and Umi’s route; the editing on both of these had apparently stalled. Okay, what had started out as a quickie project for me was slowly turning into something much more time-consuming. I could see that. But I was still having fun, so I agreed. I started with the common route, where Umi has more screen time, which meant I started seeing the word “tricky” a little more often.
    And I started to worry.
    I flagged it, left a comment along the lines of “See my earlier notes on tricky,” and kept editing. I was determined not to get hung up on one silly word. It was becoming clear that this was sort of a catchphrase word for Umi, and I didn’t want to change the translation in my scripts if all the other editors’ scripts were keeping it as is. It’d be like if a screenwriter on The Simpsons decided that “D’oh!” sounded dumb, so Homer should say “Ooops!” instead — but only on the episodes he/she worked on.
    Anyway, I finished the common route and moved onto Umi’s. And lo, I gazed into a bottomless abyss of trickiness.

    You sly dumbass, you.
    Now let’s talk about the actual word. In Japanese, it’s “ずるい” — “zurui.” And, true to its definition, zurui’s a tricky word to pin down.
    It’s often translated as “unfair.” (Or so I’ve been told. Again, I’m an editor, not a translator. I took a Japanese class or two a few years back, so I have a basic familiarity with the rudiments of grammar and vocabulary. I’m good for: “Hello, I only speak a little Japanese. Sorry! What time is it? Where is the train? I am a very cute peach.” And that’s about it.) But there’s a little more nuance to it than that. Getting cancer is unfair. Having your advisor take credit for your thesis is unfair. “Zurui” implies a level of deviousness, impishness, slyness, craftiness, and yes, even trickiness. Someone who’s being “zurui” knows they’re getting away with something — and they’re okay with that.
    Moreover, it has a secondary meaning of being miserly, which is something that definitely applies to Soutarou, the protagonist of KoiRizo. I have to imagine that wordplay was not lost on the writers ... or the characters.
    There’s no one good English word to capture all those layers of meaning. When Umi uses this word to describe the protagonist in KoiRizo, it’s clear from context that her emotional shading varies from line to line. Sometimes she’s straight-up pissed at him and is telling him off: “You jackass.” Other times, she’s more of a late-game tsundere and says it playfully, even affectionately: “You sly dog you.” But she uses the same Japanese word every single time. Sometimes she’ll even say it six or seven times in a row without taking a breath.
    “Zurui. Zurui. Zurui. Zurui. Zurui. ZURUI!”
    It was her catchphrase. And in pretty much every instance, it had been translated as “tricky.”
    If the word only appeared once or twice in KoiRizo, I could have swapped in the contextually appropriate English replacements and been done with it. (I actually did this in a handful of places throughout the VN, usually when it was clear she was at one extreme of the word or the other.) But given how often it showed up, I felt somehow obligated to honor authorial intent. This was Umi’s pet phrase for this guy she’d fallen in love with. At one point, I think she even uses it as all the parts of speech in a single sentence. If I started changing “zurui” to different words every time, she’d lose a fairly important character quirk.
    After looking at all the options, the translator’s choice of “tricky” started seeming like it wasn’t a half-bad compromise after all. It got across that Umi thought the protag was dealing from the bottom of the emotional deck, but it also had a playful, teasing quality. It was never the best word in any particular instance, but it seemed like it might be flexible enough to be just sorta kinda okay in all instances.
    That argument makes sense, right? I thought so at the time, anyway. And so I left “tricky” as it was.
    Boy, was I wrong.

    Mea culpa
    I overthought it, plain and simple. I forgot my personal rule of writing and editing: Make the journey as frictionless for the readers as possible. Don’t let them get snagged on odd phrasings or slightly off words. Keep them immersed in the story.
    I’d forgotten how jarring that “tricky” word seemed those first few times I saw it in translation. As the months passed, some sort of editing Stockholm Syndrome set in and I actually started thinking it might be an acceptable option.
    In short, I messed up.
    When I read Umineko for the first time, Battler’s use (and abuse) of the word “useless” seemed so ill-fitting to me in English prose that I almost gave up reading the VN right then and there. But now, I sort of understand how the Witch Hunt team might have, over time, come to see this ungainly adjective as the best compromise for their main character’s catchphrase. It doesn’t make me like it much more, but I can see how they ended up there. (But don’t get me started on “turn the chessboard over” vs. “turn the chessboard around.” The latter works; the former leaves you with a bunch of chess pieces on the ground.)
    So here's the deal: It doesn’t matter that I had to make literally hundreds of judgment calls like this over the course of editing KoiRizo — what to do with Yuuhi’s numerous nicknames for the protagonist, as just one example — and 99% of them turned out okay (I hope).
    What matters is there’s a big lump of tricky sitting in the middle of the visual novel. And it doesn't work.
    I signed off on it. And I take full responsibility for that.
    So what to do? Not much, to be honest. It’s one of those things I’d love to revisit if given the chance, but a 2.0 KoiRizo patch seems unlikely at this time. MDZ keeps his own counsel, but he seems to have moved onto other pursuits.
    And that, as they say, is that.
    As I mentioned, the original intent of this blog was to put a spotlight on my many missteps as a first-time VN editor. That hasn’t changed. I might also try to throw in some helpful life advice from time to time, but I’m mainly happy to let my blunders serve as good object lessons for other aspiring editors.
    That means you should feel free to discuss any boneheaded decisions you think I might have made. Odds are I’ll own up to them. I've got a very thick skin, after all. I just ask two things:
    1. This blog is about editing. If you have issues with someone’s translation choices, I kindly ask that you take it elsewhere. I hear Fuwa has really nice forums for that sort of thing, y'know? But if you have issues with how I edited someone's translation, then bring it on.
    2. Please don’t be a giant pixelated dick about it. No one likes a pixel pick.

  10. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Save the Visual Novels! Eat the Whales!   
    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-fangled Windows Pee-Cee. No demos, no one-route partial patches. The whole damned VN in English, finished on schedule and out there in the world.
    The project didn’t stall. It didn’t wind up in no-updates-in-six-months-but-we-think-they’re-still-working-on-it hell. It didn’t climb into that white panel van with Little Busters EX, never to be heard from again. The nice man was lying to you, Little Busters EX — there were no cute little puppies in the back. What were you thinking?!
    The KoiRizo team did nothing particularly special to make this happen. We just ate the whale one bite at a time.
    The rhythm method
    By his own account, MDZ worked very methodically on the project, spending an average of 30 minutes every day translating scripts into English. Not when he felt like it. Not when inspiration struck. Not when enough people harassed him with all-caps emails asking why the HELL hadn’t there been any progress updates on the KoiRizo tracker lately. He made it an expected part of his routine, like brushing his teeth or eating dinner. He scheduled regular translation sessions between classes or before heading out in the morning.
    He did a little bit. Every. Single. Day.
    There’s a word for that: consistency. That’s what gets things done in the real world, not 48-hour marathons every random.randint(1,6) weekends fueled by Red Bull, Hot Pockets, and intense self-loathing. Consistency keeps you from getting burned out. Consistency lets you make reasonable schedules and estimates, then stick to them. Consistency is like goddamned black magic.
    Over the course of the project, MDZ had consistency in spades. If he can maintain that approach to life, I have a feeling he’ll be successful at whatever he puts his mind to after college.
    When I came on board as an editor, I kept a somewhat similar schedule. I resolved to set aside my commuting time each workday for editing. And so for 40 minutes in the morning and 40 minutes in the evening, Monday through Friday, I’d park my butt in a train seat, break out my laptop, and just edit.
    Weekdays were reserved for my family. If you’re married with kids, you know there is no such thing as free time on weekends. If you’re not married and don’t have kids, please tell me what the outside world is like. I hear they came out with a PlayStation 2? That’s gotta be pretty awesome.
    Anyway, that’s what I ended up doing. Edit every single workday. For six months. Until it was done.
    (Six months? That long to edit a medium-length visual novel? Yeah, that long. KoiRizo weighs in at 36,000+ lines. Over six months, that works out to about 1,400 lines a week, or 210 lines per hour. That’s an edited line every 17 seconds or so, with most of the lines needing substantial polishing/rewriting. I have no idea what pace other VN editors work at, but I felt like this was one I could maintain over the long haul. Call it the distance runner’s lope.)

    Special topics in calamity physics
    So why all this rambling about whales and consistency? Because I just got back from vacation a few days ago and I’ve been surprised at how long it’s taken me to get my head back into the various projects I’ve been working on (or even writing this blog). And then I got to wondering how often something small like that snowballs into a stalled or even failed project. A missed day turns into a skipped week turns into a skipped month turns into a dead translation.
    Which then got me thinking about the coefficient of friction.
    It’s basic physics, which I excelled at (failing repeatedly). In layman’s terms, it’s a ratio (μ) that gives you a sense how much force two surfaces exert on each other and, therefore, how much force you need to exert to get something moving from a dead stop. Wooden block on ice? Low coefficient of friction. Wooden block on shag carpet? High coefficient of friction ... and a senseless crime against tasteful décor. Once you overcome that initial friction, it takes comparatively little force to keep an object in motion.
    I can easily imagine there’s a coefficient of friction between us and our work, some quantifiable level of resistance that needs be overcome before we get our asses in gear and be productive. And unlike the one in Physics 101, which is constant for any two materials, this one is different every single day. It depends on a bunch of different factors: how interested we are in our projects, how appreciated we feel, what other projects we’ve got going on at the same time, how much sleep we’ve gotten, what else is going on in our lives, whether or not the Mets are currently in the World Series, etc.
    Let’s call it the coefficient of slackitude.
    Once we get started on a project and make it part of our everyday routine, we can largely ignore this number. We’ve overcome the initial slackitude and, with moderate effort, can keep things rolling along fairly smoothly. But each time we let things coast to a stop, even for a few days, we’ve got to overcome the slackitude all over again. And since that value is variable, it might be much harder the second time around. In fact, it probably will be.
    Eventually, we’ll fail to do so. And our project will die.
    The takeaway
    So other than the fact that I had no business being anywhere near a physics classroom, what can we take away from my incoherent ramblings? A couple things:
    The easiest way to make sure your project gets finished is to stick to a regular schedule. Eat the whale a little at a time — every day if you can. Minimize the gaps. Avoid having to face off against that nasty coefficient of slackitude more than once. The easiest way to make sure your project gets started at all is to pick a time when that coefficient of slackitude is low — when you’re excited by the prospect, when you’re well-rested, when you have relatively few competing interests. When you can focus. Use that time to build your momentum, so when your interest wanes or real life intrudes — it always does and it always will — the project is so embedded in your routine that you can just ride it out. We need more finished translations in the world. So pull up a chair and eat your whale. Do it for your team. Do it for yourself. Do it for poor Little Busters EX, drugged and ball-gagged in a basement somewhere, forever wondering when it’ll finally get to see the puppies.
  11. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Oh, The Jokes I Have Broke (Part 1 of ∞)   
    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 patients pull through. Sometimes they die on the operating table. These are their stories.
    Joke 1: Pearls before swine
    In this scene from KoiRizo, Soutarou has just finished giving one of the girls a bit of helpful advice passed down to him by his grandfather. The raw translation is below:
    Soutarou: “... That's the motto that they followed back then, I think. Well you know, according to my grandfather.”
    Riho: “Your grandfather's ball bag?”
    Soutarou: “A-Although I think that he got it from my grandmother...”
    Riho: “Ha ...?!”
    Soutarou: “...”
    Riho: “I just said a really strange thing ―!”
    Get it? Get it? No, of course you don’t. KoiRizo was intended as a literal translation, and read literally, this makes zero sense. At this point in my editing, the only choice I had was to go back to the original script, break out the Japanese > English dictionaries, and see if I could figure out what the hell was going on here.
    As near as I could figure, Riho meant to use the word “chiebukuro” — literally, “sack of wisdom.” She intended to say something about Soutarou’s pop-pop being a pretty smart guy, chock full of good advice. Instead, she uses “tamafukuro” — literally, “ball sack.” You can understand Soutarou’s confusion when Riho starts talking about his grandfather’s wrinkly old nuts. Nice guy that he is, however, Souatrou tries to give her a graceful out, suggesting it was actually his grandmother who provided the advice. Riho realizes her error and is appropriately mortified.
    Great. We’ve puzzled it out ... but at this point, the joke still doesn’t work in translation. “Sack of wisdom” isn’t a common English phrase, so the reader won’t catch the intended meaning behind Riho’s mistake. It just sounds like a plain old non sequitur right now. So our next task is to change her line to something that (1) works as a Freudian slip, (2) comes out of the blue, and (3) is sexually shocking enough to catch Soutarou off guard.
    The version I eventually settled on ran something like this:
    Soutarou: “... That was the common advice back then, I think. Well, you know, according to my grandfather.”
    Riho: “Your grandfather must have really liked giving you pearl necklaces, huh?”
    Soutarou: “A-Actually, it might have been my grandmother who liked giving out pearls of wisdom ...”
    Riho: “Ha ...?!”
    Soutarou: “...”
    Riho: “I can’t believe I just said that ―!”
    Here, we’ve keep the same basic structure, but rather than “sack of wisdom,” Riho tries (and fails) to say “pearls of wisdom,” a much more common English idiom. And now, rather than Grandpa’s gnarly ballsack, we have the even more shocking image of the old guy giving his grandson pearl necklaces on a regular basis. Soutarou still gets to save the day by pivoting to his grandmother, and then the rest of the joke plays out pretty much as originally written.
    Does it work? I hope so, but one could just as easily argue that I broke it. It’s a different gag; there’s no doubting that. But at the end of the day, I’d rather have a joke that works and maintains the original’s spirit than one that’s accurate to a fault.

    Joke 2: Deflowering the girls
    Here’s a joke I know I broke during editing. Smashed it to the ground and danced on the pieces. In my defense, it was looking at me funny.
    In the raw translation of this scene, resort manager Nagisa has just asked the staff to gather in their swimsuits for a big announcement:
    Nagisa: “I have a reason for calling you all here like this today.”
    Nagisa: “I'd like everyone to become the 'detergent' of the facilities.”
    Sango: “Detergent? Us?”
    Nagisa: “Oh, sorry. By detergent, I was referring more to advertising material.... In other words, I need you guys to photograph for an advertisement.”
    Again, another joke that makes no sense when read literally. And the only TL note I had to go on said, “This translation won't work in English.” Agreed. So I hauled out the J>E dictionary again, but had much less luck this time. At best, I came away with a wisp of a shred of a guess. My hunch was that Nagisa was using one very specific meaning of the word “senzai”— the foremost part of a garden, the loveliest flowers intended to set the stage and entice visitors in deeper — and Sango interpreted it as another more common meaning of “senzai” — namely, detergent. Nagisa clarifies her meaning, everyone has a chuckle, and the scene continues.
    I wasn’t sure if I was right — I’m an editor, not a translator — but lacking any better options, I decided to go with it. And I promptly flailed about like a clown being drowned in a bathtub. Right off the bat, I knew there weren’t any good English sound-alikes that would work here. So instead, I wrote about a dozen variations on garden and flower puns, but none of them managed to weave plausible misunderstanding with Nagisa’s actual meaning. Worse yet, they just weren’t funny.
    Next, I tried a few bawdier versions, but quickly abandoned those as well. This scene is going to get more risqué in a minute, but throwing in a sex joke right now would be tipping our hand too soon. (In one draft, I had Nagisa say she wants the girls to be the hook that lures visitors to the island. Sango replies, “What?! You want us to hook for you?” — i.e., she thought her boss wanted to pimp them out as resort hookers.)
    Having hit brick wall after brick wall, I decided to strip the joke down to its essence. What’s the basic structure here? Nagisa says she wants to use the girls to help sell the resort. Sango suffers a comic misunderstanding. Nagisa corrects her. The end. So that’s what I wrote:
    Nagisa: “There’s a reason why I’ve called everyone here like this today.”
    Nagisa: “I've decided to sell you.”
    Sango: “Sell us? Is that even legal?”
    Nagisa: “Oh, sorry. By ‘sell,’ I meant using you to help advertise the resort ... In layman’s terms, I need you guys to model for some publicity photos.”
    We lose the poeticism of the original — that image of the girls as flowers drawing visitors in — but in exchange, we get something that actually works as wordplay in English while still delivering the necessary plot info (Nagisa’s marketing brainstorm). It’s still not a particularly hilarious gag, but then again, neither was the original.
    In both examples, I ended up completely rewriting large chunks of each joke. And while I'm not entirely satisfied — I wish I could have kept more of the original language — I'm okay with the result. Editing is a balancing act. You want to remain as faithful to the original text as possible while maintaining the audience’s immersion in the work. If the reader suddenly comes across a joke that clearly doesn’t parse in English, that immersion is broken. They stop. They scroll back and re-read it a few times, trying to make sense of it. They wonder if they’re missing something, or if the TL team just messed it up. BAM. They’re now completely out of the world of the visual novel. The magic is broken.
    Because magic is only magic until you notice the strings. Or that dead clown in the bathtub.
  12. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Ojousamas for All! (AKA, The First Reference Rule)   
    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?
    In the case of KoiRizo, I ended up relying on a journalistic standard commonly called “the first reference rule.” Here’s how it works.
    Visual novels for all!
    Let’s say you’re a journalist writing an article about efforts to improve educational standards in underdeveloped nations. At some point, you might find yourself needing to refer to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, aka UNESCO. But if just you dropped the acronym “UNESCO” in there, most people wouldn’t know what the bloody hell you were talking about. And if you went with “The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization” every time, your prose would be about as ungainly as me at my prom. So a compromise gets struck: you explain the term on your first reference to it, then use the shorter form thereafter.
    An example first reference:
    “The director-general of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), pledged to make visual novels part of the global curriculum by 2025.”
    “The director-general of UNESCO, the UN agency focused on international education efforts, pledged to make visual novels part of the global curriculum by 2025.”
    At this point, you’d be free to use “UNESCO” in any future references, since you’ve already explained the term. Everyone wins: the reader understands what you’re talking about, and you only have to use one word instead of eight.

    Ojousamas for all!
    The same holds true for visual novels. Let’s say an untranslated term like “ojousama” shows up in your script. if the reader has consumed a fair number of anime/manga/VNs, they might know this describes a young woman of certain means and refinement. It’s a common VN archetype, after all. But a relative newcomer to these genres would have no way of knowing that. They’d be lost if you just started dropping O-bombs out of the blue.
    So the first thing to do is determine context. Is this a one-off reference? If so, you can probably just fully translate the line and be done with it. (“She takes a limo to school? She must be an ojousama” becomes, “She takes a limo to school? She must come from money.”)
    In the case of KoiRizo, however, the word “ojousama” is used several dozen times. In fact, a character’s ojousama-ness becomes the focal point of an entire route. It would be a fool’s errand to try and excise it, particularly when there’s no one English word to replace it. So we apply the first reference rule.
    The initial mention in the translated KoiRizo script reads:
    “Because she's an ojousama, it'd be a given that she wouldn't worry about matters like money.”
    It hints at the meaning, but doesn't quite go far enough. So applying our rule, we update it to:
    “She's a proper young lady of means — an ojousama — so you'd expect her not to worry about things like money.”
    We’ve now defined the word “ojousama” in context and set the stage for its future use. This will make the rest of the VN flow much more smoothly for both new readers and purists who prefer their tropey terms untranslated. If several hours go by without us using the word again, it’s common courtesy to provide a reminder of its definition, but otherwise we should be good to go.

    All for gruel!
    You can even apply the rule in reverse. Here, two characters are about to spend 50 or so lines talking about a certain home-cooked dish. Original translation below:
    A: “Okay ... What's in the pot?”
    B: “Rice gruel with egg broth.”
    We don’t want to spend the next 50 lines saying “Rice gruel with egg broth.” Nor do we want to just say “gruel,” which sounds like something ladled out in a Depression-era orphanage. In fact, this is a steaming bowl of Japanese comfort food deliciousness. So we apply the rule in reverse, and bring back the untranslated term from the original script:
    A: “Okay ... What's in the pot?”
    B: “Ojiya — rice end egg porridge.”
    Now we can safely use the term “ojiya” for the next 50 lines. This ends up working better on several levels: it makes the dish sound more traditionally Japanese, it strikes the right emotional tone, and it helps us shave extra words from our lines.
    P.S. - If anyone knows where I can get a really good bowl of ojiya in New York City, I’m all ears.
  13. Like
    Funnerific reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah (Editing Onomatopoeia in VNs)   
    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, resembles, or suggests the source of the sound it describes — i.e, it sounds like what it is. Like clink, yip, kaboom, swish, meow, oink. (That’s the verbatim transcript of my bachelor party, in case anyone’s wondering.) This is different from a word that describes a sound or action, but doesn’t actually imitate it — e.g., sneeze vs. achoo, punch vs. kapow, close vs. slam. The latter are onomatopoeia; the former, I call ononotopoeia.
    For the sake of brevity, let’s refer to these O and not-O.
    The Japanese language is rich in O. There’s a sound effect for everything. There’s probably a sound effect for there being a sound effect for everything. (If there isn’t, I’d like to propose one now: darubu.) There are even sound effects for things that don’t actually make sound — e.g., “jii” for staring. While it’s woven into the fabric of the modern Japanese language, O is especially prevalent in manga and, to a somewhat lesser extent, anime. Since visual novels draw heavily from these two worlds, they too feature lots and lots of these words.
    English is relatively impoverished in O by comparison, and therein lies the challenge for VN translators and editors. Do you leave these essentially untranslatable sound effects as they are? Or do you try to translate them, losing some of their immediacy and, for lack of a better word, oomph?

    Across the great divide
    The VN community seems to be fairly split on that question. In one camp, we have the purists. By and large, these are readers who are already comfortable with Japanese O through manga and anime. They consider it part and parcel of the VN experience. Learning and appreciating such terms is simply part of becoming an accomplished reader. It’d be like going to a fine dining restaurant and, instead of the chef presenting you with “the amuse-bouche,” he just came out and said, “Here’s this small appetizer thingy I made. Hope you like it.” The vocabulary is part of the experience.
    In the other camp, we have the reformists. To them, leaving O untouched isn’t translation; it’s mere transliteration. It denies meaningful content to the uninitiated English reader — e.g., if you don’t know "munyu" means to grope someone, you’ll be clueless when the best girl hauls off and smacks the protagonist in the very next line. To extend the fine dining metaphor, it’d be like going to the same restaurant, being handed a menu that was all in French, and having the waitstaff snootily refuse to tell you what anything meant. Hope you like thymus glands, mon ami, because that’s what you just ordered.
    When it came to KoiRizo, I was a reformist editor on a purist project. I joined the team after the translation had been completed and a lot of the big up-front decisions had already been made: Will this be a literal translation or liberal? (Literal.) Will we keep all the honorifics? (Yes.) Will we keep all the onomatopoeia? (Yes.) MDZ, the KoiRizo project lead, was very up-front about all this. And that was fine. The job of a VN editor is to facilitate and execute on the project lead’s vision. It’s great if you’re involved early enough to shape that vision, but it’s ultimately his/her show, not yours. (If you’re not okay with that, go start your own TL project.) So with that in mind, I did the best purist editing job I could.
    But what if I had carte blanche in how I approached O? What would I do differently? As luck would have it, I’ve given that some thought.

    Onomatopoeia in standard scripts
    For the majority of scripts, it helps to separate O-words into two groups: content-light ad content-heavy. The content-light group tends to consist of interjections, exclamations, grunts, groans, laughs, etc. These are mostly self-explanatory terms, communicating very little other than the fact that they’re a familiar sound. Some examples include:
    Ho E A Heh Uuu At most, I’ll clean these up to make them friendlier to Western eyes — “A! A sea cucumber!” becomes “Ah! A sea cucumber!” (In this case, it’d be too easy to mistake the “A” sound for a stammering repetition of the indefinite article “a.”) Otherwise, I’m happy to leave them be.
    On the other side, we have the content-heavy O-words. These are either (1) terms that have a very specific meaning you’d never be able to guess at without prior knowledge, or (2) common sounds that are rendered much differently in English than Japanese. These are the words that, if you ignore them, will result in meaningful content being lost in translation. Some examples include:
    Kakkun = the “sound” of hitting someone in the back of the knees. Based on a kids’ game. Su = the sound of something suddenly appearing (among other meanings) Gusu = the sound of a whimpering sob Hakushon = the sound of sneezing Chikutaku = the sound a clock makes Our first line of attack is to see if there’s any suitable English onomatopoeia we can swap in. It’s rare that it works out so neatly, but it does happen. So "hakushon" becomes “achoo,” "chikutaku" becomes “tick tock,” etc. If this doesn’t work, we fall back on another common approach: turning not-O English words into O by enclosing them in asterisks. So:
    “Gusu. Why won’t you return any of my calls?"
    *whimper* “Why won’t you return any of my calls?”
    As your final line of defense, you might consider abandoning O altogether, instead relying on some explanatory text to flesh out the intended meaning. So:
    “Where do you think you’re going, jerk?”
    She appeared out of nowhere.
    “Where do you think you’re going, jerk?”
    I’d recommend turning to this as a last resort, however, since you can see a certain staccato elegance gets lost in translation.
    As for where you can find out what all these untranslated O-words mean, there are all sorts of online resources to be had out there. I tend to use the Japanese > English SFX dictionary over at The JADED Network, but I’m sure there are plenty of others just as good.

    Onomatopoeia in H-scenes
    Sex scenes are something of a special case. You’ll find there are large blocks of text that are nothing but wall-to-wall O. (I see what you did there, you sly dog you ...) Here are some sample lines from KoiRizo:
    Sango: “Nafufu. Fumu, Juru, Zuzuzu."
    Sango: "Rero, Chu, Chuu ..."
    Sango: "Hamu, Chuu, Chuu ... Rero, Juupu, Zuzu."
    Sango: "Jupo, Gupo, Zu."
    Sango: "Juzuzuzuzu."
    Sango: "Fumu? Fua ..."
    During editing, I liked to call these sections “word salad.” They’re an unholy mishmash of content-heavy O, content-light O, and nonsensical fuck-grunts. It’s a tangled mess of syllables that can make even the bravest editor or translator turn tail and run. In my earlier post on editing H-scenes, one of the commenters — smile for the camera, Ittaku! — suggested it might just be better to replace these sections with ellipses and let the VO do all the heavy lifting. It’s a tempting thought. But despite all appearances, there’s content to be had there — content the Japanese reader would have understood, and which the English reader will miss out on ... unless you take action.
    Let’s see what happens if we (somewhat liberally) run it through the techniques we’ve discussed so far.
    Sango: "Ummph. Umm." *slurp* *sluuurp*
    Sango: “Mmm.” *suuuck*
    Sango: *nibble* *suck* “Mmmm ...” *bob* *sluuurp*
    Sango: *sucksuck* *slurp*
    Sango: *slurpslurpslurpsluuurp*
    Sango: "Mmmph? Ahhh ..."
    Okay, it ain’t poetry, but at least we’ve transformed our tossed salad it into something with actual meaning. Even without having read the rest of the scene, you can guess that Sango is vigorously polishing the protagonist’s knob. Or is trapped in a vat of ramen and eating her way to freedom. It can be improved upon, of course; all those asterisks start getting visually distracting, so if the VN engine supports it, italics might be a better choice here. But I’d argue it’s much better than what we started with.
    Feeling more confident? Good. Go forth and sploosh.
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