I Am Now Translating Hentai Ouji For Nano Desu (+ What Am I Even Doing Translating a Light Novel?)

frog3

Click any of the banners in this post to open the translation in a new window!

A month ago or so, I announced I would be translating Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko independently and posted up the first chapter on my blog. I have not given up the project. Instead, I will be posting the updates from now on with Nano Desu, a light novel translation group. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1) My translation will hopefully reach a wider audience. I will also be able to connect to readers who are specifically interested in reading light novels.

2) I have been receiving valuable feedback on my translations from the editing staff on Nano Desu. I think that by working with them, I will produce a better translation.

So, if you enjoy reading light novels or if you were impressed by the sample posted on my blog, hop on over to the Henneko translation page and read the first two chapters, with regular updates to come.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t been updating my blog quite as often lately, yes, it has a lot to do with this project. Translation is a very slow and often very tedious process. I’m also the first to admit that I’m a perfectionist and that for me editing takes up far more of my time than producing the raw translation.

I love blogging, of course, so you’ll still get an update on here every week or so. I just won’t won’t clutter up the space with Henneko stuff in future. (Thank God.)

“But Froggy, why are you even translating a light novel? Don’t light novels suck?”

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The idea that light novels don’t count as “real” literature is something that’s often bandied about by bloggers. I’ve expressed some ambivalence towards light novels in the past, but on the whole, they’ve done a lot to challenge my ideas about literature. Thanks to them, I wouldn’t call myself a literary snob anymore.

But they have done more in changing my worldview than that. Before I knew it, light novels captured a part of my imagination and wouldn’t let go. I wrote my own light novel and a guide telling others how to write one. I saw the close ties between light novels and fanfiction (another form of writing I’m intimately familiar with) and embraced light novels for all their kinks and oddities.

It’s gotten to the stage where I am seriously considering writing my thesis about them. I want to become an academic who specialises in otaku literature.

Translation is an interpretation of art, and so I wanted my translation to show my distinct interpretation of Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko. I wanted the prose to flow like any young adult novel that is written in English, and I also wanted it to feel like something only the anime subculture could produce. I wanted it to be able to speak for itself, not as a supplementary experience to the anime. I know that not many will read it like that, but that’s okay. I hope they can at least discover some of the joys of reading.

These are all very lofty ambitions, but actually, they’re the ones shared by Nano Desu, which is why I fully endorse them as a translation group. In case the thought ever crossed your mind that light novel fans don’t care about literary composition, Nano Desu is living proof of the contrary.

“What Are Your Qualifications in Translation?”

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I’m currently doing a course in translation and I’m also planning to take the JLPT N2 exam this year. That should give you a vague idea of my actual Japanese ability. Basically, it means that I’m able to understand conversational Japanese and that, with the occasional help of a dictionary, I can read a light novel like a normal novel.

I still need to work a lot harder to become entirely literate in Japanese, of course. I’ve never been satisfied with simply being able to speak the language. To me, that writing barrier is what separates me from the Japanese academic sphere, and since this is kinda directly related to what I want to do for a living, kanji is a really big deal for me. But where a year ago, I would have thought learning  kanji is impossible for a foreigner who doesn’t live in Japan, I’m now starting to honestly believe I can do it. 

This all might make me sound like I’d be okay at translating, but actually this is my first attempt at translating a novel… derp.

Oh well, wish me luck, huh? And feel free to bash me leave me some constructive criticism if you ever do take the time to read my translation work for Henneko. I do appreciate it!

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Posted on March 5, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Good luck with that dood. That is all I have to say because I’m not a Henneko fan but I’m sure millions of others are.

  2. Awesome :) … good luck! Will definitely be there to honor your efforts!

  3. Good luck with that. Hopefully your work gets appreciated.

  4. Hey, that’s great! Translation is a daunting task, so it’s good to have people available to cover your back. I’ve briefly been under the hood of another ongoing translation project (a visual novel), so I have an idea of the amount of work and time commitment required, which is something I don’t have at the moment. 頑張って!

    Speaking of light novels, I’m reading No Game No Life (another Nano Desu project), and man! Brocon imouto, glorified NEETs, groping and fanservice scenes, meta references… It’s hitting all the trashy light novel stereotypes, and I’m having a blast! Looking forward to the anime next month. By the way, it has the same director as Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. And the sibling protags Sora/Shiro have the same voice actors as Sorata/Mashiro… Wait a sec. SORA-ta and Ma-SHIRO… Holy shit, I just noticed that. Piqued your interest, perhaps?

    • Oh yeah, I heard that No Game No Life does have the Sakurasou director and the same voice actor pairing. It sure does pique my interest! Am looking forward to the next season of anime, although I wonder how much of it I’ll actually have time to watch :’)

  5. The Kenosha Kid

    I don’t know any other languages (except for tiny snippets of Spanish and ancient Greek (think around 400-0 BC)), but translation has always sorta sounded like fun to me (probably because I figure it involves a very exacting sort of interpretation, which appeals to me). Glad to see you’re taking the approach to it that you are! Even if you ‘fail’ (whatever the hell that would mean), you’re at least working at the right thing.

    Anyway, I’ve sorta skimmed through what you’ve done so far and I’ll say that while it definitely does read like YA fiction (sorry, my inner snob just came out!), it reads way, way more smoothly than any other LN translation I’ve tried looking at (as well as, for comparison, most of the visual novel translations I’ve read—don’t get me started on that!). Of course, it’s disappointing to not have as many blog posts from you, but I suppose it just can’t be helped.

    • You can speak ancient Greek? Legit!

      Translation really is a lot of fun and (as I’ve discovered) requires a really different set of skills than mere language competency. For instance, in the course I’m taking, my Japanese is at a lower level than pretty much everyone else in the class, but I got my translations done just as quickly and accurately. I find I draw really heavily from my writing background. LNs hits my sweet spot in a number of ways, since I’m translating the kind of Japanese I’m most familiar with into the kind of English I’m most familiar with. I’d find something like Genji Monogatari, for instance, nearly impossible to translate. And don’t even get me started on English -> Japanese translations!

  6. I know this is an old post, but by the time of this message , I am currently watching The Hentai Prince and The Stony Cat on my local anime cable. I am not sure what to feel about all this.

    Perhaps your next post should be on how which LN/manga gets adapted into an anime. IF that’s even possible.

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