Wild adapters

I was reading Yuu Asami’s A.I. Revolution (Go! Comi) yesterday, and it’s a very nice book. I’ll probably write about it in more detail later, but one of the things that really struck me was the sense that the translation and adaptation made for a very fluid, appropriate reading experience. Some scripts come off as inadvertently clunky from beginning to end, but translator Christine Schilling and adapter Brynne Chandler actually employ clunkiness in ways that serve the story. (Several of the characters are humanoid robots, so it makes sense that their evolving use of language would be stiff or inelegant, and Schilling and Chandler seem to consciously play with the counterpoint between robot and human speech.)

Anyway, that’s a long, inelegant introduction to a question: has anyone put together a web-based resource that lists translator/adapter credits? I think it would be useful. Maybe I should do it if there isn’t one already out there.

12 Responses to Wild adapters

  1. jakeforbes says:

    Anime News Network’s Encyclopedia is fully equipped to deal with this, and very helpful once it’s updated, but adaptation credits aren’t super well maintained. It’s a wiki and easy to add things if you feel so inclined.

  2. David Wise says:

    David, if I may be permitted to crow about our superb GoCo team for a moment, the quality you so rightly noticed comes from the talent and experience of the people involved. Brynne has been writer/story editor on such TV series as Disney’s Gargoyles and Batman: The Animated Series, and brings more talent and experience to her work than any other adaptor I can think of. (And the fact that she’s our senior editor insures that all of our books’ scripts are of similar quality.) And Chrissy has quickly become one of the top translators around (she not only translates most of our books, but many other companies’ as well, including all the current Yen Press titles).

    Bottom line: talent will out.

  3. I think that would be a great project–fans are always quick to heap abuse on publishers when the text is unintentionally awkward or wildly different from the original Japanese, but I almost never see anyone praise the adaptors and/or translators for a job well done.

    BTW, I was also pleasantly surprised by A.I. Revolution: great art, great characters, and yes, great script.

  4. davidpwelsh says:

    While I’d love to be able to read Japanese so I could read stuff that might not be licensed any time soon, I’m kind of glad that I don’t have that comparison running through my head. It’s probably intellectually lazy of me, but if the scripts is fluid and specific and readable, I’m happy.

    And I definitely agree about A.I., Kate. The preview in Otaku USA didn’t make a huge impression on me, but the whole volume really went from strength to strength, and I think it’s just going to get more interesting as it goes along.

  5. […] Welsh notices a good translation and wonders if there is an index of translators and adaptors on the […]

  6. Ryan says:

    Here here for giving recognition when due for really great adaptations and translations. My favorites in the past few years have been on Octopus Girl (Kumar Sivasubramanian) and whoever does Cromartie :)

  7. Ryan says:

    Oh, I just checked and found it— Brendan Fayne has been doing Cromartie :)

  8. Chloe says:

    “I almost never see anyone praise the adaptors and/or translators for a job well done.

    Therein lies the problem; a job well done equates to a translation so natural, you don’t even notice it (and thus don’t even think about who’s behind it.)

  9. JennyN says:

    Definitely Yes re: bestowing credit where it’s due for a smooth-flowing read. On the other hand, I for one *do* notice when a translation is ungrammatical, clunky, or gets speech registers wrong. Not to mention those cases where neither translator, adaptor or editor has bothered to check up on any requisite background – an early volume of SWAN (which I otherwise love) was ruined for me owing to the frequent references to “Margaret” Fonteyn and “Waldorf” Nureyev. Get the basics right and the rest will largely follow.

  10. John Thomas says:

    As a translator, you hit the nail on the head, and I couldn’t agree more.

    “No news is good news” in the translation biz. You do a good job, and often never hear about it again. You do a bad job, and boy, everyone lets you know.

    I agree with the Kumar Sivasubramanian comment. He is doing MPD Psycho right now. If someone could have a “favorite translator” he would be mine, followed closely by Camellia Nieh (MW, Apollo’s Song, Blood+ manga).

    As much as I appreciate the attention you bring to the quiet role of the translator, keep in mind that a “bad translation” isn’t always the fault of the translator. A text goes through many hands both before and after the translation process.

    I worked on one project in the middle of series. I was told I wouldn’t need any reference material. I later talked to another translator that happened to work on a different section of the same manga series, and we compared notes to find we used very different terms and names. Neither of us heard from the client again.

    Licensors often get final approval on English translations, and some employ native English speakers to approve the final translation. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes these individuals are basically employed to find mistakes, whether there are mistakes or not. I have seen good translations go bad when seemingly innocuous changes are thrown and inadvertantly ruin the rhythm and flow of an otherwise good translation just so some gaijin in Tokyo can justify keeping his job. (There is never any benefit for the American Licensee to fight those changes if they ever intend to bid on that publisher’s titles again).

    Lots to think about, and I appreciate you opening the window as bringing attention to the translations of the works we read. I think the levels of translations have jumped by leaps and bounds over the last 15 years, and there are some incredibly talented people out there I can only dream of matching the levels of one day.

  11. Leigh Walton says:

    Echoing the love for the translation/adaption on CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL. That would be such an easy book to ruin, but its English scripts are consistently incredible.

  12. […] hilarious after-word makes me hope she’s done a flat-out comedy that’s waiting to be licensed. I’ve praised the script previously, and it certainly bears repeating: Translator Christine Schilling and adapter/editor Brynne […]

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