Friday, May 11, 2007

The Moonlanguage and Me

Or at least Nipponese (Nihongo, or... y'know, Japanese) and myself. I feel... equal parts frustrated and satisfied with my mastery of the language of the land of the rising sun, middle school serial killers and tasty raw fish.

I recently got a script back on a V-cinema horror film I translated "officially". Well... there were about 80 lines that needed to be corrected, out of something like 450 lines of dialog. Eyeballing that, I got between 75-80% of the dialog accurate. When you consider that I've never actually taken a Japanese course in my life... that ain't half bad.

Another thing to factor in is that the translation I submitted to the distributors was an early draft, and when I compare it to that second version, I come up with something closer to 85% right, and if we exclude one scene I told everyone involved in "I have no clue what he's saying, I'm sorry"... well, that's probably a good 90% right. Did I also mention at the time I was using a sub-par pair of damaged headphones, and thus making out stuff like names was a total bitch? And that my requests for a script (a common tool provided to professional translators) from the distributor were met with a shrug? Yeah... all things considered, I think this non-fluent, non-professional, cheap-as-hell services weren't a total waste to my employer (particularly when I got semi-screwed and paid less than promised).

Now, here's the thing: the scenes I knew were wrong? They were wrong as hell. Scenes I thought were okay? Were not. I'm not fluent, nor have I ever claimed to be... but I thought I was better than that, y'know?

The worst part is that I should realize a lot of the stupid little things that trip me up while translating low-budget gore movies with shitty audio and no script (which are anything but ideal conditions, you have to admit). It makes me want to not mention "translation" as a life skill, which is a damned shame, as subtitling Japanese smut is, in many ways, my strongest skill. If I'm not any good at that... what the hell do I have left?

But enough of that. Last thing I need to do is start crying about how I'm a crap translator when I got well over 4/5ths of a movie with no available script. I'm not any worse than the old bootleggers working with S. Baldric and Video Mayhem of Florida, and I'll be damned if I ever get compared to assholes like Anime Labs. (If you know who all 3 of these people are, high five!) I'd be the ultimate fansubber. I just happen to work with a legit studio.

If there's any reason for me to question the size of my metaphorical translating penis, it would be the fact that I was informed that the writer/director, upon hearing that several of his films were licensed for a US release, decided to get involved and make sure the translations were up to snuff. He flipped out, said I sucked and that they would be re-done completely.

If Yamanouchi was so goddamn concerned, why didn't he translate it himself first and save me the 2 weeks pouring over a hot gore film? Dick. Oh well, he's probably too busy making some feature about a lesbian shit-vampire who decapitates kittens. Or so I can hope... I can't wait 'till the well runs so dry and my boss is so desparate for shock titles that he licenses Niku Daruma or something. 70 minutes of porno and dismemberment I could translate in a heartbeat.

Anyway, I'm rambling at this point. (No, not you Kentai!) I'm angry and dissapointed in myself, I'm frustrated that I wasn't given the proper tools to do my job with from the start, I'm frustrated that the title I did translate properly almost from the start I got financially screwed on, and I'm frustrated that I'm probably only going to get my editing fee for this last film. I can't honestly say I deserve the full ammount I bargained for... but I'd be getting less anyway, and I doubt I'll get that, either. But maybe I will. My boss is cool, if unreliable as all hell... which makes getting paid endlessly interesting. In the words of The Boondocks, "that nigga owe me 5 dollars!" But, naturally, I digress.

I also got fucked ordering my wife a Birthday present. If I wanted a used copy I'd have saved $1.50 and ordered one. Hopefully I'll get a refund soon enough that it'll all balance out. Somehow.

Anyway, I think I'm finally past that self-hating stage that kicks in randomly and keeps me from caring enough to subtitle movies nobody's actually watching enough to start working on crap again. German and Japanese B-movies don't subtitle themselves, and if I could get some cash before my wife's birthday that'd be pretty awesome. I'm not holding my breath though. The Big Boss paid me in January, so technically I'm good for 10 months or so according to the way our relationship seems to work. Work continues on the underground (ie: my webstore), and I'm not going to let me get myself down on that. The site goes up, sales start, and then I'll quietly start replacing the Kentai Films collection with "Version X.1" editions. Same menus, same transfers, same subtitles (in most cases), but some minor bugs will be worked out. The Ai no Kusabi language menus will now WORK, and some general tackyness - including info pages and "this DVD was presented by Kentai Films" - will be dropped. Fans (hahaa!) will know where to find me, and the menus/linernotes will let you know who put the damn thing together. You don't need
me slapping my name on the credits, now do you? Sure, it's better than watermarking, but none of these practices keep pirates from stealing my pirated goods. So I'm... like a hard working and heroic pirate. I'm... Johnny Depp? Awesome.

Maybe I'll get bored and speak at-length about the monstrosity of unprecedented proportions that was Anime on Demand's launch title,
Nanase Ren tomorrow. It's been a loooooong time since I put me up some dirty pictures on this blog.

1 comment:

Josh Hechinger said...

Oi, Ken.

Since I never see you on AIM, and I think I lost your email, I'm giving this a shot.

Have you seen this?:

Anyway, don't be a stranger,

- Chou/Spike/etc. Pretty much just going by "Josh" now.