Translation work – Every day is happiness

I’ve once again had the privilege of translating a short web manga by Komugi on twitter (previous work here and here). This one was originally published in the Persona 5 ShuTae anthology a few years ago and I happened upon it by complete coincidence while browsing around on twitter about a week ago.

(Click through to see the full thread including the last two pages)

This one took me quite a bit longer than normal; partially because I work full time now and wasn’t able to dedicate much time to it until the weekend, but also because there were quite a few parts which needed special attention in order to convey the intended nuance.

The first part that I struggled with a bit was on page four, where Tae says that Morgana is おとなしくてかわいいよ, which could literally be translated as “he’s well-behaved and cute”. This sounds really bad in English though, especially since Morgana is not really being particularly well-behaved right now (considering that he’s afraid of being used as a lab animal). Since the point is that she’s allaying Joker’s concern that Morgana might scratch her, I came up with “A cute little guy like this would never” to express the fact that she trusts Morgana to behave well even though he isn’t currently.

The next thing that took me a few tries was on page 5, where Joker tells Tae that he was thinking about how cute she is. In the original, he says something like “‘My girlfriend is cute’, I thought to myself while watching you”. The thing that made this difficult was that the latter half of the sentence was a sort of aside, physically outside the last speech bubble. If I wanted to preserve the form, I would have to sacrifice the naturalness of the English sentence. I decided the best move would be to eliminate the side text completely in the final version, and move its content into the middle bubble instead. I generally try to preserve both the form and the content, but this was a clear case where it was best to compromise.

The hardest part by far was definitely Tae’s inner monologue at the end of page 5. It’s a rare glimpse at the emotions she usually hides away and if I wasn’t able to adequately convey the same feelings in English, the impact of the whole piece would be greatly diminished. I was so keen on doing this part justice that I left it for very last (which ended up being a mistake since by that point my brain was pretty fried). Fortunately (thanks in no small part to a friend from the 日本語と英語 discord server) I ultimately came up with something that I could be satisfied with. I also struggled a bit to translate 私がいいんだって on page 1 — a few contenders were “He tells me I’m enough” and “He tells me I’m the one for him”, but I think “He chose me, for some reason” ties in nicely with the monologue at the end.

One more interesting note — the original title, 日々是悦 uses some very unusual grammar which I’d never seen before. I assumed it was a reference to 日々是好日 (a Buddhist koan meaning “every day is a good day”), but after looking into it a little I discovered that this was Chinese grammar using 禅語 (zen pronunciation), where 是 is pronounced これ but actually carries the meaning of “is” — a lot of historical baggage on this one little proverb!

Once again, picking out fonts in order to match the original work was a lot of fun. I’m especially proud of the “ba-bump, ba-bump” of Morgana’s heartbeat at the end of page three (check out the original Japanese comic for comparison!), and the “GUINEA PIG MODE” on the final page, which somehow manages to look practically identical to the original text.

Until next time!