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Dark Blue Intro Scene Translation

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About a year ago I decided to translate the cryptic opening scene to Dark Blue, a short murder mystery VN with netorare elements.  I did this just to show that I could.  After the recent controversy with the Monobeno project, I became curious whether others would consider my work "up to snuff".  I've always assumed that unless a translation was near professional quality it would not be welcomed by the fanbase.  What follows is a mostly unedited translation I wrote relying on the translation suite I typically use while playing Japanese eroge: text hooker, JParser, EDICT, and ATLAS (a machine translator).  I translated this before moving onwards in the game, so it's quite possible I missed foreshadowing or other elements; it reflects my understanding of the scene as I was reading it.

 

A video containing the scene can be found here, if you'd like to watch the scene while reading along.

 

Dark Blue Intro Scene Translation

 

???「私も、最後に君に伝えておこう」

Old man: I have one last thing to tell you.

その男は、革張りの椅子に腰掛けながら、青年へと向けてそう口を開いた。

While sitting in the leather chair facing the young man, the man opened his mouth.

???「なんですか?」

Young man: And that is?

???「確かに呪いなどがあったかどうかはわからん」

Old man: Whether it was a sort of curse or not, I don't know for certain.

???「だが、現に我々は狂い、自分を保つためにあらゆる方法を模索して来た」

Old man: But what I do know is we've been groping in confusion for a way to preserve ourselves.

???「その結果がこれなのだ」

Old man: And the result is this.

何ら恥じることなく、男はそう断言する。

Unashamedly, the man declared so.

正面にいる青年に対して、恥じる様子などひとつとしてなかった。

Facing the young man in front of him, there wasn't a hint of shame in his visage.

???「自分達は最善を尽くしたと?」

Young man: "We did our best", eh?

???「意志が弱いなりに、我々はやれるだけのことをやってきた」

Old man: In our weak-willed way, we did what we could.

???「そういうことだ」

Old man: That is all.

???「……失礼します」

Young man: I've heard enough.

もう話すことはないと言わんばかりに、青年が部屋のドアのほうへと向かう。

With nothing else to say, the young man faced the room's exit.

その表情には嫌悪が浮かんでいて、誰も近づけない刺々しい雰囲気が漂っていた。

A disgusted expression on his face, an aura of inapproachability surrounded the young man.

???「君は運が良かっただけかもしれんぞ」

Old man: It could be you were just lucky.

青年がドアノブに手をかけようとしたとき、男がそんなことを言った。

As the young man reached for the door knob, the man said this.

???「人生など、何がどう転ぶかわからんものだ」

Old man: In our lives, there's no telling when or how the fall will come.

???「君にだって、私達と同じになる可能性はあったはずだ」

Old man: Even you--you could have ended up like us.

???「そのことを覚えておきたまえ」

Old man: Remember that.

そう言って、男は煙草を口に運んだ。

Saying that, the man brought a cigarette to his mouth.

だが、彼の目にはもう青年の姿は映っておらず、どこか遠くを――懐かしい過去を見つめるように双眸を細めていた……。

But in his eyes the figure of the young man was reflected no longer--the pair of eyes narrowed as they looked into the distance, as if gazing into the nostalgic past.

 

[i also posted an edited version of this post on my personal blog]

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???「私も、最後に君に伝えておこう」

Old man: "I have one last thing to tell you."

その男は、革張りの椅子に腰掛けながら、青年へと向けてそう口を開いた。

While sitting in the leather chair, the man faced the young man and opened his mouth. (minor grammar fix)

???「なんですか?」

Young man: "What is it?" (just my stylistic choice)

???「確かに呪いなどがあったかどうかはわからん」

Old man: I don't know if there really was a curse or something. (as above)

???「だが、現に我々は狂い、自分を保つためにあらゆる方法を模索して来た」

Old man: However, we did go mad, and we were groping for any means to protect ourselves. (Bigger fix. It's hard to TL properly without a full context though.)

???「その結果がこれなのだ」

Old man: And the result is this.

何ら恥じることなく、男はそう断言する。

Unashamedly, the man declared so.

正面にいる青年に対して、恥じる様子などひとつとしてなかった。

He showed no hint of shame to the young man before him. (Rewritten a bit. That "visage" was a bit weird, but it was more or less okay TL-wise)

???「自分達は最善を尽くしたと?」

Young man: So, you're saying that you did your best? (just style, such quotes don't work too well in ENG)

???「意志が弱いなりに、我々はやれるだけのことをやってきた」

Old man: While our willpower was weak, we did everything we could. (The "weak-willed" part refers to the state they were in, not to the way they performed the action).

???「そういうことだ」

Old man: That's how it was. (previous TL suggested that he pretty much explicitly dismissed the young man, which wasn't the case)

???「……失礼します」

Young man: ...I'll be taking my leave then. (now this is a weird, and quite big screw-up. The TL made the guy sound fed up and rude, while in fact he just says a polite "excuse me", after a brief silence).

もう話すことはないと言わんばかりに、青年が部屋のドアのほうへと向かう。

The young man turned towards the door, as if to say that there was nothing more to discuss. (It just looked like he considered this discussion finished, not that he had nothing more to say)

その表情には嫌悪が浮かんでいて、誰も近づけない刺々しい雰囲気が漂っていた。

A disgusted expression appeared on his face. He had a sharp, unapproachable air about him. (mostly just style)

???「君は運が良かっただけかもしれんぞ」

Old man: It could be you were just lucky.

青年がドアノブに手をかけようとしたとき、男がそんなことを言った。

As the young man reached for the door knob, the man said this.

???「人生など、何がどう転ぶかわからんものだ」

Old man: In our lives, we never know when or how our downfall will come. (just style)

???「君にだって、私達と同じになる可能性はあったはずだ」

Old man: You also could have ended up like us. (that was just weird, he isn't stressing the "you" part).

???「そのことを覚えておきたまえ」

Old man: I want you to remember that. (style, he didn't just throw a casual "remember that" here).

そう言って、男は煙草を口に運んだ。

Saying that, the man brought a cigarette to his mouth.

だが、彼の目にはもう青年の姿は映っておらず、どこか遠くを――懐かしい過去を見つめるように双眸を細めていた……。

However, the figure of the young man wasn't reflected in his eyes anymore. His eyes narrowed and looked somewhere far away - as if he was gazing into the nostalgic past. (just style)

 

After a quick revision, I'd say it's at least 5x better than that Monobeno video. And you are posting it as an unedited, raw translation, not as a demonstration of your team's TL "skills". That makes a huge difference...

 

In my opinion, only those 3 underlined lines contain actually significant errors (unless I missed something due to lack of context).

The first one was confusing and messed up. It's hard to translate without a context, so it's just my guess that they were desperately trying to protect themselves from that "curse". I have some doubts about "going mad" part, though (maybe it's something along the lines of going crazy from fear of the curse?).

The other 2 lines are quite... strange. They are short and should be easy to translate, but you somehow messed them up quite badly. "That is all." sounds like that old guy explicitly dismissed the younger one, which would slightly affect the following lines. "I've heard enough." was far worse - original is a generic, polite expression, while the TL made the younger guy sound rude and fed up. Something like this can turn character's personality upside-down (that's impossible to judge from this brief conversation though). I have no idea where did those 2 errors come from, you handled more difficult lines more or less fine.

 

Other than that, there are only relatively minor mistakes and some stylistic nitpicking on my part. It's a raw translation though, so writing style isn't a problem at this point. Most of that can be fixed by editors.

 

It's hard to judge a TL based on such short and out-of-context fragment, but I'd say it's "almost passable" (for a raw TL, that is). I have no idea how did you manage to mistranslate "...Shitsureishimasu." as "I've heard enough.", hence that "almost". :P

...

And now I feel like reading Dark Blue. If it slows down my pace with KonoSora re-translation, it's officially your fault. :P

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Keep in mind this is the opening scene--all the context a reader will have going into this game is what I've posted here.

 

I had the definite impression that the young man held the old man in contempt.  There's such a thing as "polite dismissal".  I made no particular attempt to literally translate the words, which is why I morphed "Shitsureishimasu" to something more appropriate for English conversation.  The contempt is evidenced by the following line:

その表情には嫌悪が浮かんでいて、誰も近づけない刺々しい雰囲気が漂っていた。

A disgusted expression on his face, an aura of inapproachability surrounded the young man.

 

I translated the underlying contempt rather than the words themselves to arrive at a more natural phrase that English readers would recognize and understand.

 

You're right about "That's how it was."  I missed the tone on that one.

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thx sanathlig for your job done.
its one of the better titles from the blue series & definitely way better than its anime adaption.
wish someone would pick it up...*sigh

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thx sanathlig for your job done.

its one of the better titles from the blue series & definitely way better than its anime adaption.

wish someone would pick it up...*sigh

All I did was translate a scene, which isn't much good to anyone who can't read Japanese.  At best, it distracted pabloc from doing something useful. :P

 

But yeah, I've seen the Dark Blue H-OVA and like most ero-anime it's terrible.  The VN's common route is interesting, though from what I've seen the heroine routes and the optional netorare are pretty mediocre.

 

You've played almost 500 VNs, most of them Japanese.  Aren't you like... fluent?  Why would it matter to you whether a game gets translated?

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yeah i know that, BUT as unimpressive as it may occur, it might get some other guys interested in the game (series) itself & eventually leading to a future translation attempt. already given up on an official release by western publishers

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it does matter to me, because i´m often travelling by train, with only my netbook (10,1") keeping my company. in case you dont want to ruin your eyes, reading kanjis is quite difficult on such a small display.
thats my personal reason no1, but apart from me its always cool seeing good work beeing brought to a wider audience. another reason is that recommending games to my friends/acquaintances would also become much easier, as not everyone of them has the time or dedication to learn japanese, but are showing great interest in the medium itself. last reason would be, that it might improve the outward appearance of visual novels in the public, got those cold stares thrown at me bit too often in my life.

edit: on my list are also lots of vn´s, which i didnt complete 100%, beacause of reasons, like when heroine x annoyed me as fuck.
read most of them during my 3years working on a ship, without television & stuff.
downloaded as much as i could find & always read them when the other ones were too loud for me to sleep (4man cabin)

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last reason would be, that it might improve the outward appearance of visual novels in the public, got those cold stares thrown at me bit too often in my life.

I'm fairly confident that a rising tide of netorare games would not improve the public image of VNs.  I've been known to be wrong on occasion, however.

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hahaha touche. yeah ntr titles might be abit counterproductive, as much as i love them (only counting good ones like those from elf etc., not your everyday hetare-kun weeping in the corner ones)
but my statement was meant for the whole medium of visual novelsin generall, as it is mostly viewed as a quick (and perverted) way to jack off.

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Keep in mind this is the opening scene--all the context a reader will have going into this game is what I've posted here.

 

I had the definite impression that the young man held the old man in contempt.  There's such a thing as "polite dismissal".  I made no particular attempt to literally translate the words, which is why I morphed "Shitsureishimasu" to something more appropriate for English conversation.  The contempt is evidenced by the following line:

その表情には嫌悪が浮かんでいて、誰も近づけない刺々しい雰囲気が漂っていた。

A disgusted expression on his face, an aura of inapproachability surrounded the young man.

 

I translated the underlying contempt rather than the words themselves to arrive at a more natural phrase that English readers would recognize and understand.

 

You're right about "That's how it was."  I missed the tone on that one.

 

Yeah, the "そういうことだ" line was a little bit off, but everything else in your tl seems perfectly fine (looking without context, that is).

 

The "……失礼します" line seems to be Pabloc's own misinterpretation of the JP text.

We don't have enough context for 「だが、現に我々は狂い、自分を保つためにあらゆる方法を模索して来た」 but unless the curse itself explicitly makes you mad, this line probably means that the potential of being cursed made them lose their minds (not literally) in their search for a way to preserve themselves (I imagine these guys were doing something really terrible using "lifting the curse" as an excuse). 自分を保つ can mean both preserve oneself, and preserve one's sanity which makes the whole thing even more confusing without proper context. But the way this line hits me is closer to your interpretation, as it was probably not they who were literally mad / confused, but the way they approached the situation and their actions thereafter. I can't really tell without reading the actual VN, though. xD

 

The non-underlined lines are just more literal interpretations of the, more or less, same thing you wrote. So you could just use whichever you think flows better. And your style, in general, reads a lot better than most of his suggestions to me.

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The "……失礼します" line seems to be Pabloc's own misinterpretation of the JP text.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%A4%B1%E7%A4%BC%E3%81%97%E3%81%BE%E3%81%99

 

This is a typical expression used when you don't want to come off as rude. Because, for example, the older guy is above you in status (as seems to be the case here) and you don't want to openly show your hostility. That's how I see that scene - young dude does hold the old guy in contempt, but doesn't lose his cool and keeps the minimum level of courtesy. Leaving with "I've heard enough." makes the younger guy sound impolite even by western standards - that's precisely the opposite of what that line was supposed to mean. I don't know what is the relation between those two, but TL this line like that can screw it quite a lot. It can also twist the younger guy's personality (he doesn't seem like the type to openly express his emotions in general, but that's just my guess since I don't know the full context).

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http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%A4%B1%E7%A4%BC%E3%81%97%E3%81%BE%E3%81%99

 

This is a typical expression used when you don't want to come off as rude. Because, for example, the older guy is above you in status (as seems to be the case here) and you don't want to openly show your hostility. That's how I see that scene - young dude does hold the old guy in contempt, but doesn't lose his cool and keeps the minimum level of courtesy. Leaving with "I've heard enough." makes the younger guy sound impolite even by western standards - that's precisely the opposite of what that line was supposed to mean. I don't know what is the relation between those two, but TL this line like that can screw it quite a lot. It can also twist the younger guy's personality (he doesn't seem like the type to openly express his emotions in general, but that's just my guess since I don't know the full context).

 

Yeah, I know what you mean, and your interpretation could still be correct if the excerpt he posted is somehow misleading, but 失礼します has many uses, one of which is to forcefully interrupt the other party mid-conversation to demonstrate that you don't want to hear anything from them anymore and are leaving (it's literally like saying "I'm leaving." mid convo). The もう話すことはないと言わんばかりに and the fact that the old dude calls after him gives me the impression that it's the case here. But, yeah, it depends on the guy's personality, it kinda gave me the impression that he has a grudge on the old dude and his use of "politeness / 敬語" is sarcastic (自分達は最善を尽くしたと? sounds way too aggressive for someone trying to be genuinely polite, and なんですか? while 敬語 usually comes off as quite condescending in most situations actually, unless you're a teacher and talking to your student or something).

sanahtlig seems to have read the VN, so I'm just more inclined to believe his interpretation of the character / scene.

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I've always assumed that unless a translation was near professional quality it would not be welcomed by the fanbase.

 

I don't know what kind of VNs you've been reading but from what I've seen only Koestl ever came anywhere close to what I'd dare call "professional" quality in a fan-tl, and Sekai Project still had to spend months editing the thing. And if this excerpt is an indication of your skills I'd say you're not that far behind him since you actually seem to know how English creative writing works. If anything, your work is not only up to snuff, but probably way above most other attempts at fan-tl around here, and you'd probably make a lot of people happy if you actually translated something in full.

Is this the VN where they sew two halves of twin sisters to each other? I was actually meaning to read this one, but its title totally slipped my mind. xD

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I have confidence in my (English) writing skills, but not so much in my translation skills.  Anyone who's seen my writing in the Japanese chat game thread will realize my knowledge of Japanese grammar is actually pretty terrible.  A Japanese sentence to me is essentially a puzzle of words that I painstakingly piece back together to arrive at an overall picture that makes sense.  The basis for my translations is logical reasoning rather than understanding of the language.  When I have no context to reason from, I'm essentially screwed (which thankfully doesn't happen much in VNs).  This translation turned out pretty well (which is why I posted it), but any real project would definitely require a translation checker.

 

I have mixed feelings about the "value" of fan translation projects (as a creator rather than as a consumer).  For one, there's too many highly critical people around who judge fan translations based on professional standards and use this as justification to belittle people's effort.  As I see it, once you're at the level to satisfy such people, there's no reason to translate anymore because the main impetus to translate is personal development.  Trying to satisfy such people invokes stress and anxiety I associate with a job, not a hobby.  Second, translations lack creative value.  Translation is a form of mimicry; the result will necessarily mirror the original, and therefore a translation never truly belongs to the translator.  Those who can, create; those who can't, translate.  If I'm going to devote a ridiculous amount of time to a writing project, I might as well write my own original story, which no one will ever complain about (if made available for free) and which I have full rights to sell somewhere down the line.

 

As I see it, there's only two reasons to fan translate a VN: personal development (of one's Japanese abilities) and social recognition / status.  In the current high-scrutiny / low-recognition environment, I just don't see the value in committing time and effort into a project that could take years.  It'd be nice to do something useful to others while working on my Japanese, but any VN longer than a couple of hours would simply be too much work for too little benefit.

 

 

Is this the VN where they sew two halves of twin sisters to each other? I was actually meaning to read this one, but its title totally slipped my mind. xD

Yes.

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@Conjueror

Errr, no. There's really only one way to TL 失礼します in this context. He isn't interrupting anything, the old guy finished talking. Note that there's even a pause before the young dude says that (the line looks like this: 「……失礼します」, when you want to interrupt a conversation you don't use a bunch of dots :P).

Also, when it comes to interruptions, 失礼 is used much more often in such cases (I don't remember seeing an interruption with "-masu" form).

 

No, I can't see it as anything other than a pointless over-interpretation that turns what he said upside-down.

 

@Sanahtlig

Actually, I'd like to see those "highly critical people who judge fan translations based on professional standards". Because, for some mysterious reason, I don't see them complaining about F/SN, Muv-Luv, Umineko or [insert almost any fan-TL present in VNDB]. Ixrec's TLs are the only ones that cause some controversies on a regular basis (and the scale of such complaints is relatively minimal).

 

People were complaining about Eustia-TL (which was abhorrent), previous Monobeno-TL (which was awful), current one (which is also horrible, at least so far), first AstralAir attempt, plus such bad jokes as Flyable Heart & co. But, that's not "demanding professional quality". Heck, that's not even "demanding passable quality". It's asking utterly incompetent people to stop ruining VNs people care about. And you can count such cases on your fingers.

 

So, I repeat my question - where are those people who judge fan-TLs on professional standards? On 4chan? Show me one case where a TL-project was heavily bashed despite a somewhat passable TL-quality.

Something tells me that this whole myth of "highly critical community" was spawned by some of those incompetent translator-wannabes who got flamed by their attempts to butcher some VNs... :P

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I have confidence in my (English) writing skills, but not so much in my translation skills.  Anyone who's seen my writing in the Japanese chat game thread will realize my knowledge of Japanese grammar is actually pretty terrible.  A Japanese sentence to me is essentially a puzzle of words that I painstakingly piece back together to arrive at an overall picture that makes sense.  The basis for my translations is logical reasoning rather than understanding of the language.  When I have no context to reason from, I'm essentially screwed (which thankfully doesn't happen much in VNs).  This translation turned out pretty well (which is why I posted it), but any real project would definitely require a translation checker.

 

I have mixed feelings about the "value" of fan translation projects (as a creator rather than as a consumer).  For one, there's too many highly critical people around who judge fan translations based on professional standards and use this as justification to belittle people's effort.  As I see it, once you're at the level to satisfy such people, there's no reason to translate anymore because the main impetus to translate is personal development.  Trying to satisfy such people invokes stress and anxiety I associate with a job, not a hobby.  Second, translations lack creative value.  Translation is a form of mimicry; the result will necessarily mirror the original, and therefore a translation never truly belongs to the translator.  Those who can, create; those who can't, translate.  If I'm going to devote a ridiculous amount of time to a writing project, I might as well write my own original story, which no one will ever complain about (if made available for free) and which I have full rights to sell somewhere down the line.

 

As I see it, there's only two reasons to fan translate a VN: personal development (of one's Japanese abilities) and social recognition / status.  In the current high-scrutiny / low-recognition environment, I just don't see the value in committing time and effort into a project that could take years.  It'd be nice to do something useful to others while working on my Japanese, but any VN longer than a couple of hours would simply be too much work for too little benefit.

 

 

Yes.

 

Haha, it seems our situations are pretty much reverse. I've been living with the JP language for about fifteen years now so I rarely have trouble interprenting the text; it's putting it into effective English that actually flows well that's giving me sleepless nights. A skill that's sadly sorely lacking in the gaming industry in general.

To be fair, if you are good enough, you can also use your fan-translation as a bargaining chip to get a job at professionally translating things, or, if the stars align, even sell it. I personally find it great for researching the writing techniques of the writers I like, and improving my own English sentences -- skills I one day hope to utilize to write something of my own.

Actually, I'd like to see those "highly critical around who judge fan translations based on professional standards". Because, for some mysterious reason, I don't see them complaining about F/SN, Muv-Luv, Umineko or [insert almost any fan-TL present in VNDB]. Ixrec's TLs are the only ones that cause some controversies on a regular basis (and the scale of such complaints is relatively minimal).

 

People were complaining about Eustia-TL (which was abhorrent), previous Monobeno-TL (which was awful), current one (which is also horrible, at least so far), first AstralAir attempt, plus such bad jokes as Flyable Heart & co. But, that's not "demanding professional quality". Heck, that's not even "demanding passable quality". It's asking utterly incompetent people to stop ruining VNs people care about. And you can count such cases on your fingers.

And I wholeheartedly agree with this. If anything, the standards of fan-tls, and heck, translation of vns and games in general should be heightened. I mean, just try opening any of Haruki Murakami's books in English, and then compare it to how Moenovel raped Oozora. Most good Japanese VNs read just as well as books do in Japanese, and there's no reason why their translations shouldn't. I'm actually rather surprised by how low the standards / expectations of western VNs fans are. I only see them complaining when the translation outright destroys the original work.

With people like Koestl and Makoto/Moogy, however, the standard seems to be rising lately (at least for the professional tl), and I can only hope it will continue to do so.

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I'm curious how the two of you rate translations (although anyone can feel free to participate in this exercise).  I'm going to create some "translation tiers".  Fill in a few VN translations that you feel would fit each tier.  Include at least one fan translated and one professional release in each tier when possible.  Also feel free to establish different standards for fan and professional releases, but do try to also compare them directly using the same scale.

 

Unacceptable (include at least one borderline case and label it as such)

Passable (below expectations)

Satisfactory (meet expectations)

Excellent (surpassing expectations)

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Unacceptable:

KonoSora (obviously), Divi-Dead (TL occasionally ruins the mood and makes the mystery quite hard to follow), Gin'iro (I don't think it even counts as translation...), all troll machine translations and some nukiges I don't remember.

Borderline - Cross+Channel. Now that's a rather special case. The TL is definitely readable and sounds more or less fine, but from what I heard it still butchered quite a lot (since the original is apparently untranslatable). I still haven't given the JP version a try though, so I can't say for sure.

 

Passable: Phoenix Wright (not exactly a VN, but it's worth mentioning), HoshiMemo, Otoboku, Rewrite. One important thing must be noted here - I have read the majority of translated titles before I learned JP, so I could only spot obviously bad stuff back then. There's a good chance I wouldn't have found anything in Otoboku and Rewrite if I have read them earlier (I don't remember what exactly, but there were some details and mistranslations that annoyed me there). I probably bumped into a few more such titles, but they weren't bad enough to remember.

Phoenix Wright is a special case, since it's a localization, not a translation. It's done more or less right, but some clues that relied on kanji and puns were butchered, and in some cases American setting just doesn't work and some things seem completely out of place.

 

Satisfactory:

I'd place the vast majority of translated VNs I have read here. That might be because I have rather low expectations when it comes to translations in general, but in most cases there's really nothing terribly wrong with them. I'm somewhat forgiving when it comes to writing quality though, so I'm not too bothered by some awkward expressions as long as the TL is accurate.

Anyway, people who really care about details and nuances, probably will learn Japanese sooner or later (like I did). For others, most translations should be acceptable.

 

Excellent:

There's no such thing. :P

Translation is always different then the original, and I want to experience stories exactly how the author wrote them (if possible). That's why I dislike TLs by default. Needless to say, I hate all localizations with passion (especially Americanizations).

 

I don't have different standards for Fan and commercial TLs, mainly because they generally are on a very similar level. Actually, Fan-TLs tend to be a bit more accurate, while commercial ones tend to be written a little better English-wise (at least most of the time).

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It seems like you place much more emphasis on literal accuracy rather than how well the text reads in English.  I feel that if someone can quickly glance at the text and tell that it was originally written in another language, the translator / editor have failed their audience.  With an excellent translation, the text flows so clearly that you would never know it was a translation in the first place.  I feel that writing quality of the English is far more important than accuracy to the original Japanese for most readers, and not just because most readers can't tell the difference.

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Can I participate as a representative of your average VN reader? My Japanese is basic at best, so I can't adequately judge accuracy. I would rate stuff based on how well they read in english, to a native english reader.

 

edit: I'll take sanahtlig liking this post as acceptance of my unlearned self participating in this discussion.

 

I've been outspoken about bad translations before, much to the chagrin of some other posters. I like to call it as I see it, so I may be a little harsh, these are just my own unfiltered opinions. I mean nothing personal by any of it, it's a purely objective look at their quality.
 
Unacceptable (the translation is so bad it is difficult to understand at times and makes you want to stop reading entirely): 
Konosora - Really bad translation in all respects. Seems to be wildly inaccurate, on top of reading like complete crap. 
Koitate - Large portions of this translation are written incredibly poorly, making it difficult to read and understand at times. 
To Heart 2 - Well, about a third or more of the current partial patch can be considered unacceptable, while the rest could be considered passable or even satisfactory. It's clear the translator has been working on it for years and has gotten better at both Japanese and English over that period of time. The routes he translated first, however, are very rough.
Yosuga no Sora - The Sora and Common routes are okay, the rest is borderline incomprehensible.
Flyable Hearts - Or any other obvious machine translation. Unreadably bad, even if you try to edit it into something better.
 
Passable (They will deliver the story, but the writing itself may not be particularly entertaining):
Cross Channel - Apparently misses a lot of the subtext, but you know what they say, ignorance is bliss. At times I found myself rereading a few lines in order to figure out what was going on, but apparently it's also difficult to understand in Japanese, too, so it's hard to say whose fault that is (if anyone's).
Sekien no Inganock - Ixrec's attempt at translating the prose was mostly a failure and it feels pretty amateurish as a result.
Fate/Stay Night - Well, I could just list everything translated by TakaJun here. He's a Japanese native and obviously understand that language, but his command of the english language is not adequate for writing compelling fiction. Stiff and unnatural sentences are prevalent throughout all of his translations.
SakuSaku - Akerou runs into the same problem TakaJun did when writing sentences, and the same kind of stiff and awkward writing is present here. And he most probably isn't as good as him at Japanese.
Higurashi - Littered with typos and grammatical errors, it's borderline between unacceptable and passable, but ultimately the story can be understood well enough. 
 
Satisfactory (Easily understandable and strong, natural-sounding writing):
Phoenix Wright - Yes, it obviously deviated from the Japanese script by quite a bit due to its westernization, but the translated script was written very well and it delivered the intended comedic tone of the game perfectly in a way all americans and europeans could understand.
Cartagra - It went through years of TLC and editing hell but it came out a solid product, with a pretty good english script. 
Ayakashibito - The funny scenes are funny for all the right reasons, the intense action scenes are described in a detailed yet easy to understand manner.
 
Excellent (Not perfect, but you would barely even know it's a translation if you weren't looking VERY closely)
DanganRonpa (fan translation) - Black Dragon Hunt is a skilled translator and Ritobito is probably the best editor currently working in the scene. A good, eclectic script that was a joy to read. 
Grisaia no Kajitsu - Koestl is a very funny person, he has a strong understanding of Japanese, and his writing is excellent. Every character had their distinct flavor come across perfectly and the english script was absolutely hilarious. 
Saya no Uta - Makoto is easily the most talented translator in the scene, and that can't be more evident here. Extremely creepy, emotionally impactful, and disturbing in all of the spots it is meant to be. 
 
-------------------
 
I want to make some observations from these evaluations. Depending on the VN, it is possible to translate humor well despite not being a very good english writer. Majikoi may be an example of this. TakaJun's Majikoi script still felt pretty stiff, but it was still funny because Majikoi relies heavily on situational comedy. You're still able to understand the humorous situations the characters get themselves into, or the absurdity of a character's actions, and that's still funny. On the other hand, Grisaia relies heavily on the actual writing. I shudder to think what a Grisaia no Kajitsu translation by TakaJun would look like, but it most probably wouldn't be very funny. You need a strong talent for writing in order to translate that kind of humor well.
 
I didn't list Rewrite because I wouldn't know where to put it. Maybe Satisfactory, even though it's probably not all that better than the other Ixrec translations listed at passable. Again, this goes back to the style of the original writing. Rewrite relies much less on the strength of its writing than Cross Channel and Sekien no Inganock, instead relying on the characters and the overall storyline. This means that you don't necessarily need to be as strong of a writer in order to translate the work. On the other hand, if you're working on something that does rely heavily on the quality of its writing, then "it allows you to understand the story" simply isn't good enough. This is the main problem I run into when I see people advocating machine translations. There's much more to a written work than the story.
 
I also want to strongly disagree that there are "too many highly critical people around". I think in general Fuwanovel is a very soft community, terrified of making criticisms and biting the hands that feed them. This is actually a detriment to the community, Fuwanovel is too soft. I'm sure a lot of people will disagree, but I think people can afford to speak their minds a bit more, and translators should be more receptive to cricism. I'm not saying we should become 4chan, because that place has the complete opposite problem where literally everything is shit and everyone should kill themselves for trying. If you really are translating purely for personal reasons, then you're free to keep your translation to yourself. But if you release it for public consumption and plan to continue translating, then you're going to have to deal with the public, and the public have the right to express their opinions. I'm also not saying that we should be catered to, but I would at least like to be able to express my opinion without being lambasted for doing so. I could probably rant about this particular subject for days, but I'll refrain. :P

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The only VNs I've read in English in their entirety are JAST's old games, like X-Change 2, Brave Soul, and Figures of Happiness, back in early 2000s, so I'm not really an expert on later fan/professional translations, and can only comment on short excerpts I saw around on youtube. I mostly agree with a much more in-depth Decay's assessement up above which I found both very enlightening and a pleasure to read.

Unacceptable (the translation is so bad it ruins the original work (terribly inaccurate or so poorly written it makes you want to gouge your eyes out):

Konosora, Kira Kira, Aiyoku no Eustia, machine translations.

Passable (writing feels stiff and there are minor tl errors but it delivers the story):

Most fan-tls (TakaJun, Ixrec) and even many professional tls (Princess Evangile).

Satisfactory (strong, competent English + more or less accurate translation)
Cartagra, your excerpt possibly

 

*Borderline Excellent

Koestl

Moogy/Makoto (Hanachirasu, Saya no Uta)

 

Excellent (you can barely tell it's a translation and it's a pleasure to read; the text conveys the same nuance JP is brimming with in beautiful and accurate liberal takes rather than literal interpretations of words)

Lost Odyssey

Haruki Murakami and many other literary Japanese novels (Kokoro, Snow Country etc.)

(Final Fantasy XII, Fire Emblem: Awakening)

Some stuff on GareJei's blog if he'd undergo an in-depth tlcheck

 

-------------------

 

I personally don't mind a few minor tl errors if they don't screw the overall nuance of the scene. Once you're past being able to correctly transcribe Japanese and produce "passable" translations, your English writing skill is all that matters; and what I respect the most are liberal takes which don't use any of the same words the original text had but somehow convey the same feeling / information it did a lot better than any literal transcribing of words would ever had. You usually have to be as good a writer in English as the person you are translating was in Japanese to pull that off though.

 

 

 

Ayakashibito - The funny scenes are funny for all the right reasons, the intense action scenes are described in a detailed yet easy to understand manner.

 

I haven't read the English version, but this one is one of my favorite games. Do you think it would pass your standard of a professional translation, as in, would you be still satisfied if you actually had to pay your $ on it?

 

 

 

Borderline - Cross+Channel. Now that's a rather special case. The TL is definitely readable and sounds more or less fine, but from what I heard it still butchered quite a lot (since the original is apparently untranslatable).

 

That game has "author's notes" explaining every second sentence to Japanese *native* speakers. I haven't seen the translation, but unless half of its script are tl notes on author notes on the actual text, then it probably doesn't convey the original very well. xD

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