Secret secrets

March 15, 2008

There are plenty of reasons to be happy that Tokyopop has rescued Ai Morinaga’s Your and My Secret from the licensing limbo to which it was consigned after ADV published a single volume in 2004. Among them is a glorious new opportunity to nitpick. I can’t read Japanese, so I can’t comment on the quality of a translation, but now I can look at two English versions of the same script side by side and be a great big nerd about it.

On the whole, I marginally prefer Tokyopop’s version, translated by Yuya Otake and adapted by Jay Antani, edited by Paul Morrissey with assistance from Jessica Chavez and Shannon Watters. (ADV’s was translated by Kay Bertrand with supervision by Javier Lopez. I can’t really pick out any specific credits for editing and adaptation.) Both are solid, but Tokyopop’s script seems slightly more conversational; it flows just a little bit better.

Tokyopop’s reproduction of the art is cleaner on the whole, and I think the lighter paper helps as well. Tokyopop’s lettering is a bit easier on the eyes, though ADV’s use of varied type weights does a better job of communicating the emotional content of scenes. On the flip side, I prefer the simplicity of ADV’s cover and logo design. ADV also gets points for providing translation notes.

There are a couple of pages in particular where it’s really fascinating to look at them side by side and compare choices, tone, and other elements. ADV fairly consistently translates sound effects and keeps the kanji in place with a few exceptions. One example in particular helps to communicate a sight gag, and it looks like it would have been impossible to leave both kanji and English in place and still be able to read it. Tokyopop’s approach is inconsistent. Sometimes, they leave kanji untranslated, and thy replace it entirely with English at others. I appreciate the added nuance of ADV’s amendments, but I like the less cluttered visuals of the Tokyopop pages.

The sequence contains a fairly major plot development that communicates a lot about the characters, and it’s such a funny reversal that I’m reluctant to spoil it. But at some point, after my scanning skills improve, I’ll definitely try and post scans of both sets of pages, because I’m a big nerd and think it’s really interesting.

(As an aside, it would be great if publishers supplemental translation materials on cultural references and alternate readings on the web. If they don’t feel like popping for the extra pages in a print version, and many don’t, it would be a nice extra feature and would drive more traffic to their web sites.)

(As another aside, hey, who’s publishing Morinaga’s The Gorgeous Life of Strawberry Chan?)