I Expected Better, Genshiken Omnibus

Though it seems to be old news at this point, I thought I’d express my own disappointment at the fact that the re-release ofGenshiken(in massive omnibus) format.

Given the number of big re-releases of manga in English as of late, from Sailor Moon to Cardcaptor Sakura, I had originally bought Kodansha Comics’ Genshiken release with the expectation that, like those other revised editions, that it would come with a newer, more accurate translation. Instead, what we’re left with is a direct reprinting of the old translation which, while serviceable, not only made mistakes which are somewhat less significant to the story (like messing up the names of Mobile Suits from Gundam), but also changed characters’ dialogues to mean entirely different things (Ogiue’s introduction goes from her asking why girl otaku like yaoi so much to accusing the guys of being “queers”).

I don’t need to buy Genshiken over again. I have it a million times over, in anime form, in manga form, in Japanese and in English to differing degrees. I even own all of the special edition Japanese releases of the manga and their accompanying paraphernalia. The reason I bought the first omnibus was simply because I wanted to be able to share Genshiken with my friends who can’t read Japanese while treating them to a more accurate translation, but if that’s not the case then I have a problem.

If anything can be done to revise the later omnibus volumes I would like to know, as I think having a truly solid edition of Genshiken would only be for the best.

The Society for the Study of Ogiue Dialogue 2: “Come Here, My Dear”

Though my first experience with Genshiken came as a result of watching the first series fansubbed, my first impression of Ogiue comes from the Japanese version of the manga. And in the original Japanese language version, Ogiue speaks in a way that I can only describe as “polite bluntness.” In a normal situation where she is not flustered to the point of switching back to her native dialect, Ogiue uses a standard polite form of Japanese, but does so in a very terse manner, like she’s telling people to back off, or that she wants to say as little as possible and end the conversation quickly. The content of her words also speaks towards this, as exemplified in her legendary introduction, translated officially as “My name is Ogiue and I hate otaku.”

When you look at the original Japanese however, the structure of the sentence is different. To clarify what I mean, I’m providing not only the original image along with the original Japanese, but also the romanization of the Japanese, as well as a more literal translation.

「オタクが嫌いな荻上です。」

“Otaku ga kirai na Ogiue desu.”

“I am the otaku-hating Ogiue.”

You can sort of see how much is changed here. Now, keep in mind that the official translation, the “My name is Ogiue and I hate otaku,” is very much how I prefer to translate that very line. The overly literal translation doesn’t sound like good English, and the grammatical differences between English and Japanese, let alone the cultural ones, mean that you cannot achieve the same effect through a strict translation. But at the same time, I began to wonder just how much Ogiue’s manner of speaking was able to translate from the original releases in Monthly Afternoon to the Del Rey Manga English versions. I’ve read a good deal of the English version, and often times I felt like the many of the subtleties of the dialogue were being lost in translation. There was a problem, however.  The Del Rey version was not designed for people who knew Japanese, and I was in a sense “tainted” by my exposure to the original Japanese.

This potential problem with dialogue didn’t apply to just Ogiue, and in fact I noticed it possibly moreso with the rest of the cast, but I decided to use Ogiue as a metric. So a week ago, I asked people via this blog, what do you think of Ogiue’s dialogue? I asked it without explaining my experiment, as I was worried that I would influence the people responding with my own doubts, though looking back, I think by asking them specifically about the “English” version, I already planted that seed. In spite of that, however, I managed to get some good responses which had me re-evaluate my own thoughts on the accuracy of the “spirit” of the translation.

Chaostangent felt that Ogiue’s dialogue “never seems too polite or too brash,” which in a way is how Ogiue talks, or is at least a compromise. Paul said that Ogiue “always sounded angry when she talked,” which is also quite accurate. And digital boy even claims that in reading the English version, he could “hear” the Japanese voices in his head. So, at least according to people who weren’t looking at it from the perspective of having read it in its original language, Ogiue’s character comes across in her dialogue. Though it might not be to the extent that it captures 100% of everything there, it still works and works well, enough to turn people into fans of Ogiue.

And I also think I focused too much on the dialogue itself. Ogiue as well as all the other characters don’t show their personality just through their usage of Japanese, but through their facial expressions, their mannerisms, and not just how they speak but when they choose to speak and why.

So, I know I’m going to regret explaining the background on this, but I am once again going to ask people how they feel about not just Ogiue’s, but the dialogue in Genshiken in general. Let’s not even limit it to the manga translation, but the anime as well. For those of you who’ve seen the dub, how does the translation fare? I found it unusually stilted, but again, maybe I’m just biased.

The Society for the Study of Ogiue Dialogue

Today, I want to try something out with anyone who reads this post and has read the official English-translated Genshiken manga from Del Rey. It’s a simple question whose answer from a great many I would like to see.

What do you think of the way Ogiue talks in the English version of the manga?

I don’t want to reveal the entirety of my intentions quite yet (though they may be somewhat obvious), but do know that I plan on doing a follow-up post once I have gathered responses.

What’s old is new again with extras

The Genshiken Official Data Book is due December 16 in English, providing profile details, side stories, and even an interview with Love Hina and Negima creator Akamatsu Ken. I already have the book in Japanese, so I was a little on the fence about re-buying it in English, but then I went to Del Rey’s site and it mentions that this book will come with a free poster. The Japanese version did not come with anything of the sort.

So it’s tempting…very tempting…to have something Ogiue-related on my wall.