Friday, July 31, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 36, Page 8

The rest of page 8.


あんた が たんとう なら はなし は はやい

anta - casual for of "you"
ga - subject marker
tantou - in charge
nara - as for / (conditional)
hanashi - speech
wa - topic marker
hayai - fast

you . (subject) . in charge . if . speech . (topic) . fast

"If it's talking about you being in charge, it's too fast."

"hayai" is often used in Japanese to indicate that someone is not prepared for some challenge, such as the typical line, "It's 100 years too fast for you to beat me", which translates to "It's 100 years too soon for you to be fighting me if you expect to beat me".

So, I used, "It's too early to be saying that you're in charge."


見くびって。もらっちゃ困るな。これは単なる殺人事件なんだ。農水省 の 出る 幕 じゃ

みくびって。もらっちゃ こまる な。これ は たんなる さつじん じけん なん だ。のう
すいしょう の でる まく じゃあない

mikubitte moratcha komaru na - A casual version of a set phrase that has no direct equivalent in English. The closest translation would be "Don't mess with our case"
kore wa - this is
tannaru - simple
satsujin jiken - murder case
nan da - can say with confidence
nousuishou - MAFF
no - possessive
deru - come out
maku - act
jaanai - is not (again, drawled out)

Don't mess with our case
this is . simple . murder case . can say with confidence
MAFF's . come out . act . is not

"Don't mess with our case . This is a simple murder case. No reason for MAFF to get involved."

I wanted to get a literal breakdown of "mikubitte moratcha komaru na", but my Japanese expert couldn't do it for me. In essence, "mikubitte" is used to express the feeling that someone is looking down on you. "Moratcha" is a contraction of "morau", the polite version of "to give", which elevates the relative standing of the other person. "komaru" is "trouble" and "na" is "ja nai". The overall sense is of someone swaggering and saying "you don't belong here."

My original translation was wrong. Because Balloon is trying to be a tough guy, what I should have used is: "You don't belong here. This is a simple murder case. Nothing here for the Ag Min."



たんなる じゃない だろう。ころされた の は けいかん だ そう じゃないか。しかも。。。

tannaru - simple
ja nai - is not
darou - rhetorical question for "isn't it?"
korosareta - killed
no - nominalizer
wa - topic marker
keikan - policeman
da - desu
sou - looks like
ja nai ka - rhetorical question again
shika mo - moreover
ite - ouch

simple . is not . right?
the killed . is . a policeman . is . looks like . right?

The "no" in "korosareta no" turns the past tense verb form of "koroseru" (passive form of "to kill") into a noun, giving us "the killed", or "the guy who was killed".

"Darou" is an expression meaning "I think" or "don't you agree". In Japanese it is used to soften a direct statement to avoid sounding too rude. (Japanese is big on trying to avoid direct statements.) Adding "ja nai" after "darou" turns it into a rhetorical question like "right?"

I went with "It's not so simple, right? The victim is a cop. Further.. [ouch]"

To be continued.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 35, Page 8

Then on to translating the dialog on page 8.


のうりんすいさんしょう の れいしょく そうさかん だ。この げんば の せきに
んしゃ は?

nourin suisan shou - Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF)
no - possessive
reishoku - frozen food
sousakan - agent
da - masculine form of "desu"
kono - here
genba - crime scene
no - possessive
seki nin sha - person responsible
wa - is

MAFF's . frozen food agent . am.
here . crime scene's . person responsible . is?

"I'm the MAFF's Frozen Food Agent. Who is responsible for this scene?"

Nothing really special here, outside of "wa dare ka? (is who/where question) being shortened to just "wa?"

To get the line to fit the word balloon, I went with "Ministry of Agriculture Frozen Food Agent. Who's in charge here?"


来る所をまちがってんじゃねえか? ツララ野郎

くる ところ を まちがってん じゃねえ か? ツララ やろう

kuru - to come
tokoro - place
wo - object marker
machigatten - shortened past form of "to mistake"
jaa nee - is not
ka - question marker
tsurara - icicle
yarou - you / guy

to come . place . to have made a mistake . is not . ?
icicle . guy

"Haven't you come to the wrong place? Icicle guy."

The "-gatten" ending is a contraction of "gatta dewa nai" or "to not do". In the above line, "ja nai" is a rhetorical question, drawn out and slurred to become "jaa nee". This works out as "Aren't you in the wrong place?"

One of the interesting things about Japanese is that tags (a person's name or title) are usually added to the end of a sentence to show who you are talking to or about. In English, these tags are usually the last part of the complete sentence. So, instead of having two separate sentences here, I combined them into one and moved the question mark to be after "Icicle Boy".

Now, "yarou" can just be a rude way of saying "you", or be treated as saying "that guy" or "that rascal". In this case, the Inspector is calling the agent a rude name along the lines of "you icicle guy". Many fan translators would use "bastard" here, but I consider it to be out of place. That is, "rascal" is too old-fashioned, and "bastard" is too-strongly worded. The inspector just wants to be demeaning without actually starting a fight.

This is why I went with "Aren't you in the wrong place, Icicle Boy?"


[くる ところ を] バルーン けいぶ!

kuru tokoro wo - a repeat of "to come . place . object"

baruun - balloon
keibu - inspector

balloon . keibu

"Inspector Balloon!"

Note that the job or management title is appended to the end of the person's name. We have to flip this around to put it into English.

Also, the joke here is that Inspector Balloon is himself a word balloon. So, when he talks, the words are displayed on his face. In this panel, the words from the previous panel are scrolling off his face. To make this work in English, I chose to use the last couple of words from his sentence, rather than the first few, to make it look like the sentence is scrolling off from left to right.

I went with "[wrong place] Inspector Balloon!"

To be continued.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 34, Page 7

Here's the rest of the dialog from page 7.


Uuuun - Hmmm.

This is just a straight sound effect made by someone concentrating and can be used as-is. (The joke here is that the artist is Tori Miki himself, and he's doing another sight gag 4-panel comic similar to his "Anywhere but Here" strip.)


にらんだ。 いつものことだ

げんば に つく と しょかつ の けいかん は まるで はすいぐち に たまった かみのけ を みる ような め で おれ を にらんだ。 いつものことだ

genba - scene of the crime
ni - at
tsuku - arrive at
to - and
shokatsu - jurisdiction
no - possessive
keikan - policeman
wa - topic marker
maru de - completely / as if
hasui guchi - drainage mouth
ni - towards
tamatta - past form of "to gather"
kami no ke - hair
wo - object marker
miru - to look
you na - such as
me - eye
de - of
ore - me
wo - object marker
niran da - past of "to look at"
itsumo no - usual
koto - thing
da - masculine form of "desu"

scene of the crime . at . arrives at . jurisdiction's . policeman . (topic) . as if . drainage mouth . towards . gather . hair . (object) . to look . such as . eye . of . me . (object) . to look at.
usual . thing . is

"The police working the scene of the crime make the look of their eyes at me as if I am the hair that gathers at the mouth of the drain. It is a usual thing."

Lots of object markers here, meaning that several actions are taking place. First that the "to look such as eye of" really means "to make their eye look like they are looking at". Then "police make this look looking at me" gives us "the police look at me with the look of 'hey, it's the hair at the bottom of the bathtub'".

"genba ni tsukuto shokatsu no" works as "of the arrived at crime scene's jurisdiction", followed by "keikan wa", or "policeman (topic)". In other words, the "policemen working the crime scene do some action". The action being that of looking at me as if I am the hair at the mouth of the drain.

I decided to use the more conventional form "When I get to the scene, the cops stare at me like I'm the slimy hair that gathers in a sink drain. Never fails."

To be continued.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 33, Page 7 and 8

Here's the dialog from pages 7 and 8 together, because page 7 is so short.

おれ には いかい できない


にらんだ。 いつものことだ
げんば につく と しょかつ のけいかん はまるで はすいぐち にたまった かみ
のけ をみるようなめ で おれ をにらんだ。 いつものことだ

--- Page 8 ---

のうりんすいさんしょう の れいしょく そうさかん だ。この げんば のせきにんしゃ は?

来る所をまちがってんじゃねえか?  ツララ野郎
くる ところ をまちがってんじゃねえか?  ツララやろう

[くる ところ を] バルーン けいぶ!

あんたがたんとう なら はなし は はやい

みくびって。もらっちゃこまるな。これはたんなるさつじんじけん なんだ。のうすいしょう の でる まく じゃあない

たんなるじゃないだろう。さされたのはけいかん だそうじゃないか。しかも。。。

れいしょく シンジケートと ないつしてるんじゃいかというウワザのあった おとこだ

もちろん。用心深い連中のことだ。警官を組織に深入りさせたりはしない。 大き
もちろん。ようじんぶかい のことだ。けいぶん をそしき にふかいり させたり
はしない。 おおきな しょうばい をみのがしてもらうかわりまったん ももいい
ところのチンケなみつばい のじょうほうをたまにリークしてただけだろうひがい
しゃ はそれをじぶん のてがら にしたりときにはよこどりにしたり こづかいを
かせいで たそこで おれ かでばって きたというわけさ

To be continued. Learning Japanese - Part 33, Page 7 and 8

Monday, July 27, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 32, Page 6

This is the last of page 6.


おせんぶっしつ だらけ の せいぶつ の しがい の こおりづけ を きょがく のかね
と ち をとして まで くおう と する れんちゅう が あとをたたないにのだ

Osenbusshitsu darake - full of contamination
no - possessive
seibutsu - living thing
no - possessive
shigai - corpse
no - possessive
koori zuke - packed in ice
wo - object marker
kyogaku - great sum
no - possessive
kane - money
to - and
chi - blood
toshite - to gamble
made - until
kuou to suru - vulgar form of "try to eat"
renchuu - those guys
ga - subject marker
ato wo tatai nai - continuously / keep springing up
no - nominalizer
da - masculine form of desu

full of contamination's . living thing's . corpse's . packed in ice . (object) . great sum's . money . and . blood . to gamble . until . try to eat . those guys . (subject) . keep springing up . (turn into a phrase) . is

"These people keep springing up, that are willing to gamble large sums of money and blood in order to eat the contaminated corpses of previously living things packed in ice."

The kanji "生物" can be read as either "namamono" (raw food) or "seibutsu" (living things). In combination with "shigai" (corpse), it makes more sense to use the "seibutsu" reading.

"ato wo tatai nai" has the nuance of trying to suppress bugs. As soon as you eradicate one, two more show up. The sense here then is that while the AgMin is trying to arrest frozen food addicts and get them off the streets, it's an endless, futile task.

Instead of what I actually used in the manga, I should have gone with "These people, who are willing to gamble large sums of money and blood in order to eat the contaminated corpses of previously living things packed in ice, just keep springing up."


And I'll put the first panel from page 7 here, because it's short.


おれ には いかい できない

ore - me
niwa - in regard to
ikai - understanding
dekinai - negative of "able to do"

me . in regard to . understanding . can not do

"I can't understand it."

This is very straightforward. "ikai dekiru" would be "able to do the act of understanding". "ikai dekinai" is therefore "unable to do the act of understanding", or "unable to understand."

I went with the more conversational "I just don't get it."

To be continued.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 31, Page 6

More of page 6 of Frozen Food Agent.


だが き に いらない ヤツ も よ の なか に は そんざい する らしい

daga - but
ki - spirit
ni - towards
iranai - not need
yatsu - person
mo - also
yo no naka - in this world
ni - towards
wa - topic marker
sonzai - exist
suru - to do
rashi - it seems

But . spirit . towards . not need . person . also . in this world . towards . (topic) . exists . to do . it seems

"But it seems that there are people in the world that don't feel this way."

I wrote way back when that there are two ways of interpreting "ki ni iranai" - "people that don't like something" and "I don't like those kinds of people". Both nuances are embedded in the sentence here, but it's almost impossible to show that in an English phrase that is both readable and short. So, I decided to focus on the first nuance instead, which is the more important one, anyway.

Note the "sonzai suru" phrase, which says "to do sonzai" or "to do exist". This turns into "exists".

I went with "However, this world includes people that feel otherwise."

Note: There's a joke hidden in this panel. The Agent is coming out of a subway at the "Gemba station". "Gemba" means "spot, location or scene". Given what happens on the next page, we can assume that this station's name is "Crime Scene Station".



しょくりょう とうせい いぜんに ぞうられ ちか の ちょぞうこ に ねむっていた。
たいりょう の れいとうしょくひん が ブラックマーケットで とりひき されてい

shokuryou - food
tousei - regulation
izen ni - since
sourare - to make
chika - underground
no - possessive
chozouko - storehouse
ni - towards
nemutte - to sleep
ita - the state of having existed
tairyou - large quantity
no - possessive
reitoushokuhin - frozen food
ga - subject marker
burakkumaaketto - black market
de - from
torihiki - business
sareteiru - Passive form of "suru" - to do

food . regulation . since . to make . underground's . storehouse . towards . to sleep. was.
large quantity's . frozen food . (subject) . black market . from . business . did

"From before the passing of the food regulations, there's been an underground warehouse sleeping. A large quantity of food business has happened on the black market."

"Sareteiru" kind of doesn't fit here, since the hero has been fairly casual in his speech up to this point. Then all of a sudden he uses the passive voice. According to, passive form is the more common form for normal conversation, but there aren't that many examples of it in this manga that I've been able to pick up on.

Also, "nemutte" (to sleep) is kind of vague. Is it the storehouse that's "sleeping", or the frozen food that's inside it? Actually, the two sentences work together. Something is sleeping (not being used) in the storehouse. And, in the second sentence, we're told that that something is frozen food that's now making its way into the black market.

I went with "Since before the passing of the Food Laws, there's been something sleeping in the underground warehouses. A large quantity of frozen foods that have appeared on the black market." because it's a little more picturesque.

To be continued.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 30, Page 6

More of page 6:

訂正しよう20 世紀だって味だけで勝負できる店はほとんどなかったのかもしれな

ていせいしよう 20 せいき だって あじ だけで しょうぶ できる みせ はほとんど なかった の かもしれない

teiseishiyou - correction to do
20seiki - 20th century
datte - even though
aji - taste
dake de - only
shoubu - compete
dekiru - able to
mise - shop
wa - topic marker
hotondo - almost all
nakatta - disappear
no - nominalizer
kamoshirenai - possibility

correction to do . 20th century . even though . taste . only . compete . able to . shop . (topic) . almost all . disappear . (is) . possibility

"Correction. It seemed that all 20th century shops that competed only on taste had disappeared."

I'm still weak on the "no" normalizer here, but my understanding is that it turns the entire preceding phrase into a noun. Further, the "wa" marker says that the portion "almost all disappeared" acts on the entire section of "20th century shops that competed only on taste".

The translated phrase here is pretty much usable as-is. To keep with the rest of the "voice" of the story, I decided to go with "Correction, almost all of the shops from the 20th century that competed only on taste went out of business."



ただ すくなくとも しょくざい は ほんもの だった そこ が おおきな ちがい だ

tada - But
sukunakutomo - at least
shokuzai - ingredient
wa - topic marker
honmono - real thing
datta - was
soko - there
ga - subject marker
ookina - big
chigai - difference
da - was

But . at least . ingredient . (topic) . real thing . was . there . (subject) . big . difference . was

"But, while the ingredients were real, the differences were huge."

I again modified this a little, to be: "Although their ingredients were real, the differences were huge."


あげた。 いわばレプリカだ

げんざい の レストラン で でされる メニュー は ごうせい しょくりょう を、むかし の りょうり に だけ にせてづくり あげた。 いわば レプリカ だ

genzai - Current
no - possessive
resutoran - restaurant
de - of
desareru - to show
menyuu - menu
wa - topic marker
gousei - synthetic
shoryou - food
wo - object marker
mukashi - former, old
no - of
ryouri - cooking
ni - towards
katachi dake - for form's sake only
nisete - to copy
zukuri - making
ageta - to give
iwaba - so to speak
repurika - replica
da - casual male form of desu, is

Current's . restaurant . of . to show . menu . (topic) synthetic . food . (object),
Long ago's . cooking . towards . form's sake . to copy . making . to give.
So to speak . replica . is

"Menus at today's restaurants just use synthetic foods as a copy of the form of long-ago's cooking. That is, it's a replica."

This is a fairly complex sentence, but the meaning is pretty clear: Today's menus just offer replicas of foods that used to be available. I simplified this to be: "Currently, the restaurant menus consist of synthetics that resemble actual old dishes. That is - replica foods."


生まれた時から安全な合成食料だけで育った俺は。 それを不満に思ったことわな

うまれた とき から あんぜんな ごうせい しょくりょう だけ で ぞだった おれ は。
それ を ふまん に おもった ことわない

umareta - Was born
toki - time
kara - from
anzen na - safe
gousei - synthetic
shoryou - food
dake - only
de - of
sodatta - was raised
ore - me
wa - topic marker
sore - that
wo - object marker
fuman - discontent
ni - towards
omotta - thought
koto - thing
wa - topic marker
nai - not

Was born . time . from . safe . synthetic . food . only . was raised. Me . (topic)
That (object) . discontent . towards . thought . thing . (topic) . not

"From when I was born, I was raised on safe synthetic foods. I've never been discontent with that."

"Umareta toki kara" follows a kind of pattern that is used to show the starting or ending point for something. I.e. - From when I was born, or from when I was a child, or until when I entered school. The pattern is "event" + toki + kara/made.

"Omotta koto wa nai" is another pattern. In this case, it is used to say "did not + verb". That is, I have never eaten apples (ringo wa tabetta koto wa nai), or I have never read manga (manga wa yonde koto wa nai). In the above sentence, fuman omotta koto wa nai gives us "never had a discontent thought".

For this paragraph, I used "I've been raised on only safe synthetic foods all my life. And I've never wanted anything else."

To be continued.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 29, Pages 5 & 6

I skipped a panel, so I need to go back.  This is going to have the longest block of vocabulary, so please bear with me.  It's made up of 3 sentences that I'm going to treat as a unit.

た。 しかもフレンチならまだしも合成食のアメリカンダイナーだ

フランス りゅうがく まで した のに。パリのバイト で おぼえた こっち の ほう が ほ
んしょく に なっちまった。 しかも フレンチ なら まだしも ごうせいしょく のア

furansu - France
ryuugaku - study abroad
made - from
shita - past form of "suru", "did"
no ni - in order to
pari - Paris
no - possessive
baito - part time work
de - of
oboeta - thought
kotchi - here
no - possessive
hou - direction
ga - topic marker
honshoku - professional
ni - towards
natchimatta - to become
shika mo - and yet
furenchi - French
nara - in the case
madashimo - rather, better
gousei - synthetic
shoku - food
amerikan dainaa - American diner
da - past form of desu

France . study abroad . from . did.  in order to

Paris' part time work . of . thought . here's . direction . (topic) . professional . towards . to become

And yet . French . in the case . rather . synthetic food . American diner . was

"I went to France to study abroad.  My thought was to get a part-time job in order to turn professional.  Instead of France, I'm now in a synthetic food American-style diner."

Although this is one of the longer sections, it doesn't have any of the really tricky syntax of some of the other panels.  Again though, I needed to trim things down to make it fit in the word balloons.  So, I used:

"I went to Paris to study with the intent to make it professionally.  Instead I ended up selling fake food in an American-style diner."


And, because this section was a little short, here's the dialog for page 6.

訂正しよう20 世紀だって味だけで勝負できる店はほとんどなかったのかもしれない
ていせいしよう20 せいき だって あじ だけで しょうぶ できる みせ はほとん

ただすくなくともしょくざい は ほんもの だったそこが おおきなちがいだ

りあげた。 いわばレプリカだ
げんざい のレストランで でされるメニューは ごうせい しょくりょう を、むか
し のりょうり に かたちだけ にせてづくりあげた。 いわばレプリカだ

生まれた時から安全な合成食料だけで育った俺は。 それを不満に思ったことわな

うまれた とき からあんぜんな ごうせいしょくりょう だけでぞだった おれ は。
それをふまん におもった ことわない

だが き にいらないヤツも よ の なか には そんざいする らしい

しょくりょう とうせい いぜんにぞうられ ちか のちょぞうこ にねむっていた。
たいりょう の れいとうしょくひん が ブラックマーケットで とりひきされてい

おせんぶっしつだらけの せいぶつ のしがい の ひょう つけをきょがく のかね
と ち をとしてまで くおうとするれんちゅう が あとをたたいにのだ

To be continued.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 28, Page 5

It's time to return to the on-going adventures of "Translating Frozen Food Agent Man". When we last left TFFA-man, he was still only on page 5 of Tori Miki's "Frozen Food Agent" manga (buy the manga! Feel the manga!).


それでこの え が かわりって わけ か

sore de - because of that
kono - this
e - painting
ga - subject marker
kawaritte - hung
wake - reason
ka - question particle

because of that . this . painting . (subject) . hung . reason . (?)

"That's why you put up this painting?"


大昔の若気の至りですよ。 これでも画家志望だったんです

おおむかし のわかげ の いたり です よ。 これでも がか しぼう だったんです

oomukashi - long ago
no - possessive
wakage no itari - youthful indiscretion
desu yo - is + emphasis
koredemo - even though things appear this way
kaga - painter
shibou - desire
datta - was
n desu - is the fact

long ago's . youthful indiscretion . is
Despite appearances . painter . desire . was . is the fact

"Even though I work here, the fact is that long ago, I irresponsibly wanted to be a painter."

To fit the word balloon, I shortened this to:

"Long ago, I had the childish wish to become an artist."


I'm going to skip down a bit.


jiken - a case, incident or accident

"A case. A case." Used as-is.



きた ばかり で すまんな

kita - came
bakari - just recently
de - short form of "desu", is
suman - short form of "sorry"
na - sentence softener

"Sorry, this just came in." Used as-is.



しゅっきん だ

shukkin - going to work
da - masculine form of desu

"I've got (to go) to work." Used as-is.



まいど ありがとうごいざます

maido arigatou gozaimasu

This last one is a set phrase that literally translates to "everytime, thank you", but is used to mean "thank you for your continuing patronage". I went with the shorter version of:

"Thanks for your business."

To be continued.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 27, Page 5

This page is mostly pretty simple Japanese, so I'll try to cover as many panels at once as I can.

奥さんの具合はどうだい、 ムッシュ
おくさん の ぐあい は どうだい、 ムッシュ

Okusan - wife
no - possessive
guai - condition
wa - subject marker
dou - how
dai - casual male form of "desu ka?"
Musshu - other guy's name

wife's . condition . (subject) . how . is. (?) . Musshu

"How's the wife, Mushu?"

The only real note here is that I shortened the friend's name to "Mushu" because it's easier to read. "Musshu" in Romaji looks like a spelling mistake.


あいかわらず です よ オフィサー

なに からだ は どっこも わるくないんですよ

aikawarazu - same as always
desu - polite form of "is"
yo - emphasizer
ofisaa - officer

nani - what
karada - body
wa - subject marker
dokkomo - emphasized version of "everywhere"
warukunai - negative form of "warui", bad
n desu - that is the fact
yo - same yo as above

same as always . is . officer
what . body . (subject) everywhere . not bad . is the fact

"Same as ever, Officer. There's nothing wrong with her body."

The "n desu" contraction is very common in spoken Japanese, but it's not something that I really understand, myself. I can pick up on it if someone else uses it, but I can't figure out how to put it into a sentence when I'm the one talking. Now, the above two sentences work in combination with the next one coming up. Even though Mushu is speaking in polite Japanese, he's still somewhat friendly with our hero. For this reason, I chose the following interpretation.

"Same are ever, Officer. Physically, she's fine."


ただちょっと記憶が。。。 もう年でね
ただ ちょっと きおく が。。。 もう とし でね

tada - but
chotto - little
kioku - memory
ga - topic marker
mou - already
toshi - age
dene - shortened form of "desu ne", is + tag question

but . a little . memory ... already . age . is right?

"but her memory... it's her age, you know?"

"chotto kioku ga" has the implication that there's something wrong with her memory. Coupled with "mou toshi dene", it's pretty obvious what's going on. Also, we have "年" which can either be read as "toshi" or "nen". "toshi" has the closer meaning of "age", but I think that "nen" could also be used here. If anyone can correct me on this, please do so. The version I went with is:

"But, her memory... Her age is catching up to her."

To be continued.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 26, Page 5

This takes us to page 5.  Here's the dialog.

奥さんの具合はどうだい、 ムッシュ
おくさんのぐあいは どうだい、 ムッシュ


なに からだ はどっこも わるくないんですよ

ただちょっと記憶が。。。 もう年でね
ただちょっときおくが。。。 もう とし でね

それでこの え がかわりってわけか

大昔の若気の至りですよ。 これでも画家志望だったんです
おおむかし のわかげ の いたりですよ。 これでもがか しぼう だったんです

まった。 しかもフレンチならまだしも合成食のアメリカンダイナーだ
フランスりゅうがく までしたのに。パリのバイトでおぼえたこっちのほうが ほ
んしょく になっちまった。 しかもフレンチならまだしも ごうせいしょく のア



しゅっきん だ

まいど ありがとうごいざます

To be continued.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 25, Page 4

Next hard-to-decode panel.

そう 本来なら。 だが20世紀後半 に一世 を風靡したという外食チェーンを 模し
たそのレトロな 店 だけは別 だった

そう ほんらいなら。 だが 20せいきこうはん に いっせい を ふうびした という
がいしょく チェーン を もした その レトロな みせ だけ は べつ だった

sou - yes
honrai nara - by all rights
daga - but
20 seiki kouhan - second half of the 20th century
ni - by
issei - lifetime, generation
wo - thing being acted on
fuubi shita- dominate + past tense of verb "to do"
to iu - called thus
gaishoku - eat out
cheen - chain
moshita - past form of "to copy", "to model"
sono - that
retoro-na - retro-ish
mise - shop
dake - only
wa - subject marker
betsu - different
datta - past form of desu, "is"

yes . by all rights.
but . second half of 20th century . by . generation . dominated . called thus . eat out . chain . to copy . that . retro-ish . shop . only . (subject) . different . is

"Well, by rights. But, there's one shop, that copies the retro look of the so-called fast-food chain that had dominated the 20th century, that is different."

To break this down, we have to realize that the hero is talking about three things: first that there was a fast-food chain that dominated the 20th century (presumably McDonald's); second that there's a shop that boasts of its paintings that also copies the retro look of the fast-food chain; and third that the author considers this one shop to be worth entering.

Which gives us:
"a so-called fast-food chain that dominated the 20th century"
"a shop that copies the retro look of the chain"
"But, I consider this one shop to be different".

Put them together, and this is what I went with, "By rights, yes. But, there's one shop, copying the retro look of the fast-food chain that had dominated the 20th century, that is different."

It's still a bit long and awkward, but it has both the intent and feel of the original Japanese (which is also long and awkward for most native speakers.

To be continued.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 24a, Page 4

I messed up on the part numbering. Technically, this should be Part 25, but what the heck.

Continuation of the longer dialog on page 4.

しかしいくら 味以外のなにかを売りにせざるをえないとはいえ店主の描いた絵を

しかし いくら あじ いがい の なにか を うり に せざるをえない とは いえてんしゅの
かいた えをじまんげに しょくってあるような みせ にはわざわざ いりたくはな

shikashi - however
ikura - how many
aji - taste
igai - not including
no - possessive
nani-ka - something
wo - verb marker
uri - verb, to sell
ni - towards
sezaru wo enai - can not help but do
tohaie - nonetheless
tenshu - shopkeeper
no - possessive
kaita - past tense of "to paint"
e - painting
wo - marker of thing being acted on
jiman - pride
geni - to boast
kazatte - decorate
aru - to exist
you-na - use, direction
mise - shop
niwa - regarding
wazawaza - expressly
hairitaku wa nai - to not enter

however . how many . taste . not including's . something . to sell . can not help but do . nonetheless . shopkeeper's . paintings . of pride . boast . decorate . exists . towards shop . regarding . expressly not to enter

Ok, this looks like a mess. Fortunately, we do have the context - we're talking about shops that now have to compete against each other on everything else but taste. So, some shops start boasting of their paintings. Further, the "shikashi" part at the beginning indicates that the speaker's opinion is at odds with the gourmets, and that he is speaking about himself. So, the "wazawaza hairitaku wa nai" part tells us that he doesn't want to enter the described shops.

The first pass at a clean up gives us:

"However, shopkeepers have no choice but to compete using everything else but taste. This gave rise to shops that boast of their paintings. I don't want to enter those shops."

I'm limited by the space of the word balloons, so I'm going to keep the translation a little terse, and go with "However, the shopkeepers still competed on everything but taste. I don't like going to those shops that boast of their paintings."

To be continued.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 24, Page 4

Now we're getting into the really tricky Japanese that caused me to start this entire Learning Japanese thread. Just to help you out, the cop here is discussing the history that led up to the present-day state of this city. He doesn't actually come out and say it, but the setting is a future Japan, maybe 50-some years from now. We know it's Japan at least because of the station name on the subway exit on a later page (Gemba Station, which seems to be on the western coast). As for the cop himself - this is one of Tori Miki's most-used recurring characters, and the featured character in "Anywhere but Here". This character doesn't have a name that I'm aware of, and he's not given one in this story.

First panel:

今世紀始めの食料統制以来味で勝負できる店はなくなった ある通人はコラムでそ

こんせいき はじめの しょくりょう とうせい いらい あじ で しょうぶ できる
みせ はなくなった あるつうじん はコラムでそうなげ いていた

kon seiki - this century
hajime no - at the beginning
shokuryuo - food
tousei - regulation
irai - since
aji - taste
de - from
shoubu - match, compete
dekiru - be able to
mise - shop
wa - subject marker
nakunatta - past tense of "to disappear"

aru - to exist
tsuujin - well-informed person
wa - subject marker
koramu - column
de - of, from
sou - that
nageite ita - past verb form of nageki - sorrow, despair

this century . at the beginning . food . regulation . since . taste . from . compete . able to . shop . (subject) disappeared

"After the passing of the food regulations at the beginning of the century, shops that could only compete on taste disappeared."

This is a really big leap from the literal Japanese to the basic English version. The keys are "irai" (since) that is setting a timeline for the sentence, and "wa" (subject marker) that states that the author is talking about shops that competed on taste.

Then we get:

to exist . well-informed person . (subject) . column . of . that . sorrow

"There were well-informed people that complained about this in their (written) columns."

To get to proper English, we have to make another huge leap. First, that the "well-informed people" are the ones that understand the taste of shops that serve food - either food critics, or gourmets. Second, that the complaining was about the loss of places with tasty food, and the complaining was done in written media (i.e. - in newspaper columns). To keep the informal nature of the cop's speech, as well as to keep it understandable, I went with:

"At the turn of this century, since the food laws were passed, shops that only competed on taste closed up. Gourmets wrote up reams of columns about it."

This is almost nothing like the original literal Japanese, but it is exactly the same in terms of the author's intent. So, I had to face the translator's choice of form versus content, and I chose "content" this time.

To be continued.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 23, Page 4

Page 4 dialog:

今世紀始めの食料統制以来味で勝負できる店はなくなった  ある通人はコラムでそ
こんせいき はじめのしょくりょう とうせい いらい あじ で  しょうぶ できる
みせ はなくなった  あるつうじん はコラムでそうなげ いていた

しかしいくら 味以外のなにかを売りにせざるをえないとはいえ店主の描いた絵を
しかしいくら あじ いがい のなにかをうりにせざるをえないとはいえてんしゅの
かいた えをじまんげに しょくってあるような みせ にはわざわざ いりたくはな

そう 本来なら。 だが20世紀後半 に一世 を風靡したという外食チェーンを 模し
たそのレトロな 店 だけは別 だった
そう ほんらいなら。 だが20せいき こうはん にいっせい をふうびしたというが
いしょくチェーンを もしたそのレトロな みせ だけはべつ だった

わたし はそのふるい え が き にいっていた

Again, this is a short blog entry, so I'll take the opportunity to discuss the final panel (because the dialog in it is easy).

私はその古い絵が, 気にいっていた

わたし は その ふるい え が き に いってい た

watashi - me, I
wa - subject marker
sono - that
furui - old
e - painting
ga - topic marker
ki - spirit, mind, feeling
ni - towards
itte - -te form of iru, to enter
itta - past tense of imasu - state of being

I . (subject) . that . old . painting . (topic) . feeling . towards . to enter . in this state

"I've entered the state of feeling towards that old painting."

"ki ni itte" is a phrase that gets featured later when the hero talks about people that break the ban on frozen foods.  In the current usage, it means "to take a liking to", or "I like (something)".  Because he's describing the artwork of other shops, and then discussing this one painting in particular, I decided to use the phrase "I've taken a liking to this old painting."

The only really interesting part of this sentence is the "itta".  "itta" is used here to show that the speaker is in the "current state of" liking this painting.  "itta" is used heavily in Japanese, when someone is in the state of feeling lonely, of being hungry, etc.  The regular English equivalent is "in the process of".  But, "in the state of" tends to be redundant in English ("I'm in the state of being hungry" is a lot more awkward that just saying "I'm hungry")  so I'll drop it from the final translation in most cases.

To be continued.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 22, Page 3

We need to backtrack to the panel showing the woman in the passenger seat. The cop has noticed that she hasn't moved in all this time, and is apparently unable to bring her arm around to her back as if to zip up her dress. He says,

さっき から ピクリ とも しない おじょうさん、あんた も だ

sakki - Before
kara - from
pikuri - twitch
to mo - even if
shinai - did not do
o-jousan - Very polite form of "young lady"
anta - you
mo - also
da - a form of "desu", "is"

before . from . twitch . even if . did not do . young lady , you . also . is

You too, young lady that has not even twitched from the beginning.

ファスナーに て が まわらない ん なら てつだってやろうか

Fasunaa - fastener
ni - towards
te - hand
ga - topic marker
mawaranai - negative form of "mararu", "to turn", "to revolve"
n nara - conditional meaning "if"
tetsudatte - to help, to assist
yarou - to do
ka - rhetorical question marker

fastener . towards . hand . (topic marker) . can not twist around . if . help . do . why not?

If you can't twist your hand around to the fastener (on your back), why not let me help?

"te ga mawaru" in this context refers to the ability to pull up the zipper on the back of your dress. "te ga mawaranai n nara", including the -nara conditional, then means "since you can not reach the zipper at your back". But, it's not so much a zipper this time, so I'm keeping the original word, "fastener".

Then, I streamlined the entire panel to be "You too, little lady that hasn't even twitched once through this... You can't reach the fastener at your back, so let me help you."

To be continued.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 21, Page 3

First, just to get the easier dialog out of the way:

Hiekkushoi - Sneeze

Sate - Well now; let's get down to business.

なるほど、、、 こちらは 人の 形 をした 保冷 バッグってわけか
なるほど、、、 こちらは ひとの かたち を した ほれい バッグってわけか

Naruhodo - I see
Kochira - Polite form of "this".
ha - subject marker
hito no - person's; human's
katachi - shape, form
wo - verb marker
shita - past tense of "suru", "to do"
horei baggu - freezer bag; thermos bottle
tte - coud be said to be
wake - reason
ka - question marker

I see ... this . (subject marker) . human's . shape . done
freezer bag . said to be . reason . (?)

I see... Could this be said to be a human-shaped thermos bottle?

For space considerations, and to maintain the cop's personality, I used "I see, a human-shaped freezer bag."


In the next panel, we have:

ほう バッグにしちゃ よく作りこんであるな
ほう. バッグ に しちゃ, よく つくりこんで ある な

hou - Hoh.
baggu - bag
ni - towards
shicha - contraction of "shite na", or "to do"
yoku - skillfully
tsukuri konde - really well-made
aru - "arimasu", polite form of "to exist".

Hoh. bag . towards . to do . skillfully made . exists

Hoh, this bag was really well-made.

This sentence is a little tricky. "Konde" is an emphasizer that is often used as part of a set phrase with "tsukuri" (to make), to mean "exquisite work", "really well-made". The "ni shicha" is hard for me to figure out. It's a contraction of a longer phrase, but works out to be "(bag) towards did", or "made something bag-like". The implication of the entire panel is "it'd be a shame if anything happened to it" (ala Monty Python). I went with "Hoh. Would you look at this *really* well-made bag".

To be continued.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 20, Page 3

No, you're not wrong, there is no part 19.  It's just that originally I used part 19 to put all of the page scans into one blog entry and this time I figured that wasn't necessary.
This is the dialog for page 3 of Frozen Food Agent.



さっきからピクリともしないお嬢さん、あんたもだ  ファスナーに手がまわらな
さっきからピクリともしないおじょうさん、あんたもだ  ファスナーに て がま
わらないんなら てつだってやろうか

なるほど、、、 こちらは 人の 形 をした 保冷 バッグってわけか
なるほど、、、 こちらは ひとの かたちをした ほれい バッグってわけか

ほうバッグにしちゃよく 作りこんであるな
ほうバッグにしちゃよく つくりこんであるな


This is a shorter page, so I'll take this moment to talk about Japanese sound effects.  In manga, a sound effect can be used for 3 reasons: first, obviously as the sound for something when it happens, such as when someone gets hit on the head.  Second, to emphasize a physical action, such as someone pointing a finger.  Third, to establish someone's emotions or mental attitude.

The second and third cases exemplify the Japanese use of onomatopoeia, or words that sound like what they mean.  While English does this as well, as in "meow" and "bark", Japanese goes several steps further.  In Japanese, a dog's bark sounds like "wan".  And, the Japanese version of "come here, doggy", is "wan-wan", or "wan-chan, kochi, kochi".  That is, come here, little bark bark".  The phrase "niko niko wo yamette" translates as "quit smiling so much", but "niko" by itself is the sound of someone smiling.

I mention this here because we've got one or two sound effects on this page.  Since the effect often gets included into the background art, it's not always practical to replace it with the English version, and I'll leave it as either hiragana or katakana.

Common Japanese sound effects include:
jin - The sound of silence
sha - whoosh
goro goro - rumbling
ga - konk
don - boom
da-don - ba-whump
niko - The sound of someone smiling
poi - the sound of someone throwing something
ja - The sound of falling rain
ge - The sound of surprise, or sickness

Now, the really important thing, from a translator's point of view, is in trying to decide how to handle the sound effects for cases 2 and 3, since there's no equivalents in western comics, or English.  That is, in a western comic, if a character stands and smiles at you, normally there's no accompanying sound effect.  So, what's a translator to do?  We can either erase the Japanese sound effect and leave it at that; we can turn it into the "romaji" equivalent (i.e. - spell it out using the English alphabet) and maybe add a footnote explaining the more arcane sounds; or we can try to create a reasonable English translation, like turning "jiiiin" into "si--lence".  Hardcore manga fans will object to the first choice, and the third choice just looks stupid on paper.  So, naturally, I fall back on the second choice, and try to maintain the original Japanese sound as much as possible.  Although, when the smuggler sneezes, I do turn it from "hiekkushoi" to "hek-shuu". which sounds more like a sneeze to me.

To be continued.

Learning Japanese - Part 20, Page 3

Monday, July 13, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 18, Page 2

We now get another one of the more complex panels. That's why I put it in its own entry.

いやだというなら 今すぐ冷却用のコンプレッサーを止めてやろうか?
いや だ と いう なら いますぐ れいきゃくよう の コンプレッサー を とめて やろう か?

iya - no/don't want to
da - short form of desu
to iu - to say
nara - if conditional
ima sugu - soon
reikyakuyou - refrigeration
no - of
conpuressaa - compressor
wo - verb marker
tomete - verb to stop
yarou - to do

don't want to . is . to say . if
soon . refrigeration . compressor . stop . to do (question marker)

If you say you don't want to, the refrigerator compressor will stop soon.

その かわり しょうひん は だいなし に なる ぜ

sono kawari - instead
shouhin - goods
wa - subject marker
dai nashi ni naru - to become spoiled
ze - emphasis marker

instead . goods . (subject marker) . to become spoiled

Then your goods will spoil.

A couple of interesting things here. First, "dai nashi ni naru" (big nothing will turn into) is a set phrase for food that can spoil, or "things that come to nothing". The implication is that the goods are valuable, and most Japanese translators would probably treat this as "then your precious goods will be damaged."

Second, the portion "the refrigerator compressor will stop soon" could be read as either "the car will stop the compressor", or "I will stop the compressor". The verb "yarou" when used to mean "to do" implies someone taking a physical action. So, it may be safe to assume that the cop will be the one to turn off the compressor. But, this is yet another example of how we need to obtain some of the meaning from the context. I decided on the below version, in part because it makes the cop sound more reckless.

"If you say no, I'll stop your chiller compressor. Aren't you worried that your precious goods might get damaged?"

To be continued.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 17, Page 2

The cop is now reacting to the driver's feigned ignorance to the demand to remove his fake skin.

とぼけるな。おおかたぼうかん ふく が わり だろう

tobokeru-na - Playing dumb
ookata - almost all
boukan fuku - arctic clothing
ga - topic marker
wari - percentage
darou - don't you agree?

playing dumb. almost all . arctic clothing . (topic marker) . percentage . isn't that right?

(your fake skin) Is almost all arctic clothing, right?

Rather than say "You're playing dumb", it's more natural to reverse it as "don't play dumb". And, rather than treat the skin as clothing, which isn't what it looks like, (it looks like skin) I decided to treat it as insulation. So, I chose to use:

Don't play dumb. You're mostly arctic-level insulation.

I'm going to treat the next sentence as it's own blog entry and skip to the last panel on the page.

Then, to emphasize the cop's words, the car says:

しゃない の おんど が じょうしょう しています ドア を しめてください

shanai - car interior
no - of
ondo - temperature
ga - topic marker
joushou - rising
shite imasu - is in the process of
doa - door
wo - verb marker
shimete kudasai - please close

car interior . temperature . (topic marker) . is rising.
door . close please.

Interior temperature rising. Please close door.

This sentence can be used as-is. The only catch is that Tori Miki used katakana to indicate that the car is speaking in a mechanical voice. So, I changed fonts for the same reason.

Also, you may recognize the "shite imasu" form of the verb "suru". "suru" (to do) becomes "shite", and by adding "imasu" we get "is in the process of doing". That is, "in the process of rising".

To be continued.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 16, Page 2

Ok, this is what the cop was about to refer to from the last panel, when the driver says that he needs to keep the car cold as a result of "being weak against the heat".

ふしぜんな にく じゅばん を ぬいだら どーだ?

fushizen-na - fake looking
niku - meat / skin
juban - undershirt / singlet
wo - verb marker
nuidara - conditional form of "take off"
dou - how about
da - past form of "desu"

fake looking . skin . shirt . if take off . how about . is

How about if you take off that fake-looking skin.

There are all kinds of grammar points here in this one sentence, such as the "-dara" conditional, and the "-na" adjective that I'm not qualified to talk about. But, I especially like the "niku juban", or skin undershirt. This could also be viewed as "skin tunic". The thing the cop is talking about becomes clear on the next page. But right here, trying to translate this sentence without knowing what's going on is very difficult. For me, translating manga is a matter of moving back and forth through the story to see how a sentence on one page relates to the rest of the story later on, then coming back to figure out exactly what is being said at that point. That is, I don't view translation as a cut-and-dried process of analyzing one sentence at a time independent of the rest of the dialog.

I decided to settle on "How about removing your fake-looking skin?" as sounding a little more natural.


na - a stuttered part of "nani"
nani - what
no - of
koto - thing
da - past tense of "desu"
ka - question marker

wh- . what's . thing . is?

Wh-, what do you mean?

This is probably one of the best examples in this story of how Japanese works in terms of vagueness. "Take off your fake-looking skin" - "what skin?" becomes "what thing is?" A literal translation makes no sense, so we have to pull the meaning out from the context and add it to the English version.

However, "nan no koto da ka?" is very natural Japanese, and the nearest equivalent natural-sounding English is "Wh, what are you talking about?" So, that's what I used.

To be continued.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 15, Page 2

After being questioned about the air conditioning, the driver says,

ふとってる もん でね。あつさ に よわい ざんす

futteru - fat
mon - short for "mono", thing
de - short for desu, used when connecting two sentences
ne - particle asking for agreement
atsusa - heat, warmth
ni - towards
yowai - weak
sansu - accented version of desu

fat . thing . is . right? . heat . towards . weak . is

I'm fat, right? I'm weak against the heat.

Or, I'm fat, so I can't stand the heat.

I decided to keep a little closer to the Japanese sense of "weak against", which is in keeping with the effeminate "zansu" accent the driver is using.

Then, the cop says,


dattara - if that's the case
sono - that

If that's the case . that

This is a bit redundant in English. But, the cop is commenting on the fact that the driver claims to need to stay cold, while leading into the sentence in the next panel, where he notices that the driver is really wearing a warm outfit. So, I decided to use "Speaking of which.", which has a different meaning, but the same overall feeling.

To be continued.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 14, Page 2

演出が派手すぎるじゃねえか イリュージョニストでも出てくるのかと思ったぜ.
えんしゅつ が はで すぎる じゃねえ か イリュージョニスト でも でてくる のか と

This dialog threw me the first time I read it, and I needed help from a native speaker to be told how to translate this.

enshutsu - Performance
ga - topic marker
hade - gaudy, flashy
sugiru - too much
ja ne ka - isn't it?

iryuujonisuto - illusionist
demo - or something like it
dete kuru - come out
no ka - makes previous phrase into a noun
to omotta - I thought
ze - particle indicating emphasis

performance . gaudy . too much . isn't it?
illusionist . or something like it . come out . I thought . (emphasis)

Isn't this performance too flashy? I thought an illusionist would come out.

I should mention the "no ka" part. I'm still trying to learn how this works, but generally adding "no" at the end of a verb or phrase turns it into a noun (it's called a normalizer). So, the "no" gives us something like: ""illusionist steps out" I thought". And the "ka" makes ""an illusionist is stepping out?" I thought".

This is actually a fairly straight-forward pair of sentences, It's just that I didn't understand how "enshutsu ga hade sugiru" linked to the rest of the panel. Once I had it explained to me, I decided that the best English version from a translation sense should be:

"All this mist makes it look like a gaudy illusionist is about to step out."

The mist is implied in the Japanese version. I added the word "mist" in the English version to make it more clear.

This is a general problem in translation. Sometimes, what's clear but not spoken in one language needs to be spoken outright in the other language or it won't be clear. As an alternative, I guess I could have gone with something like "Isn't this performance a bit too much? I'm expecting a stage magician to step out." But, this would have clashed with the sentence that follows below.

れいぼう の きかせ すぎ じゃあ ない の か?

reibou - air conditioning
no - of
kikase - setting
sugi - too much
jaa nai no ka? - rhetorical form of "isn't it?"

air conditioning . set . too much . isn't it?

Isn't your air conditioner set too low?

Normally "ja nai ka" uses a short "ja". But, our cop is drawing out the sound to emphasize it. And, he uses "ja nai no ka" which adds to the rhythm of the sentence. In normal usage, "ja nai ka" and "ja nai no ka" have the same meaning, but "ja nai ka" is a little more abrupt.

To be continued.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 13, Page 2

We're finally making it to page 2.  Here's the full dialog.

演出が派手すぎるじゃねえか  イリュージョニストでも出てくるのかと思ったぜ
えんしゅつ が はですぎるじゃねえか  イリュージョニストでもでてくるのかと
おもったぜ   れいぼう のきかせすぎじゃあないのか?






いやだというなら  今すぐ冷却用のコンプレッサーを止めてやろうか?そのかわり
いやだというなら  いますぐれいきゃくようのコンプレッサーをとめてやろうか
?そのかわり しょうひん はだいなしになるぜ

しゃない の おんど がじょうしょう していますドアをしめてください

Learning Japanese - Part 13, Page 2

To be continued.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 12, Page 1

This is the first really complex sentence in the manga, but it's narrative, not actual dialog. So, while it's useful to analyze, it may not really help us for daily conversations.

きんせい の れいとう しょくひん を めぐり シンジケート が あんやくする きんみらい。

kinsei - prohibition or ban
no - possessive
reitou shokuhin - frozen food
wo - verb marker
meguri - preposition form of about, around
shinjikeeto - syndicate
ga - topic marker
anyaku - secret maneuvering
suru - verb for "to do"
kinmirai - near future

This gives us:

Banned (of) frozen food . around . syndicate . secret maneuvering . to do . near future


"In the near future, a syndicate that traffics in banned frozen foods."

I didn't really have to do anything with this line to make it fit. A more proper version could have been "In the near future, *there is* a syndicate that traffics in banned frozen foods", but the first version sounds better as the lead-in to a movie or story.

The only really interesting part of this sentence is "meguri", which is a form of "meguru", meaning "to go about", "to go around" or "concerning". "meguri tour" means "to take a tour around and through an area", as in "a tour of London". In the above sentence "meguri shinjikeeto" gives us "everything regarding a syndicate", or "a syndicate that is involved in all elements of the frozen food black market".

The second part of the narration is:

たいきん が うごき、とき には ち なまぐさい じけん へと はってん。

taikin - big money
ugoki - present tense form of ugoku, to move
toki - time
ni wa - during is
chi nama gusai - stench of raw blood
jiken - incident, case, plot
he - towards
to - and
hatten - development, growth

big money . moves , time . during . blood stench . case . towards . growth

Big money moves as time of growing case of raw blood stench

If you've ever taken formal Japanese lessons, you've probably encountered "ugoki". This is part of the process of connecting two sentences into one, as in, "I ran. I ate food." becomes "I ran, and ate food." "taikin ga ugokimasu" would be the correct polite verb form of "ugoku" as a stand-alone sentence. But, the author is connecting the two sentences together, giving us "big money moves, during the time/case of the growing smell of raw blood".

To build on the sense that this is a movie voice-over, I set the final phrasing as:

"The growing case of big money and the smell of raw blood!"

To be continued.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 11 - Page 1

When the driver says that the checkpoint isn't on his GPS, the cop replies:

検問情報 をナビに流す警察がどこにあんだよ いいから開けろ
けんもん じょうほう を ナビ に ながす けいさつ が どこ に あん だ よ いい から

We have to assume that there are two sentences here. The clues are the "an da yo", which usually comes at the end of a sentence, and the fact that "ii kara" starts on a new line.

kenmon = checkpoint
jouhou = information
wo = particle that comes before a verb
nabi = GPS
ni = from
nagasu = distribute (over a radio)
keisatsu = police
ga = subject marker
doko ni = from where
an da yo = what is + emphasis
ii kara = because it's good
arakero = open (imperative)

checkpoint . information . GPS . from . transmit . police . from where . rhetorical question . Good . because . open.

Now, a nuance that is obvious to native Japanese speakers is the "an da yo". It could be treated as "wa nan da yo", which is literally "subject marker . what . is . emphasis", but has the usage of "what are you thinking" or "what's up with that"? Along with "ga doko ni" (topic marker + from where), it turns the entire preceding sentence into a rhetorical question.

The literal translation is:

"Which police would transmit checkpoint information to GPS?" "Because good, open."

Or, "Police would transmit checkpoint information to GPS?" "Because good, open."

Turned into slightly more natural English: "You think the police would broadcast checkpoint info over the GPS? Because it's ok, open up." I'm taking the cop's attitude and business-like behavior into account when deciding on the final version of the sentence to use. Note that the version I actually do use is "You think the police would publicize check points on your GPS units?" I'm treating "your GPS units" as meaning "to the GPS systems of the public in general".

Note also that "ii kara" is a special case that was already discussed. It can't remain in its current form as-is.

To be continued.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 10 - Page 1

I'm going to skip around a little, going from stuff that's obviously simple, to much more complicated dialog. First, the title.


rei = cold
shoku = food
sousakan = investigator

Tori Miki chose to call this series "Frozen Food Agent" in English. The "French Connection" subtitle already in English is in part a reference to the movie of the same name, as well as being a pun on the materials being smuggled.


In the first panel, the cop says -

すまんな けんもん だ

suman-na = A casual version of sumimasen - "sorry", or "excuse me"
kenmon = Inspection
da = A casual version of "desu", meaning "is".

There are any number of ways of translating this. I originally wanted to use, "Excuse me, this is a checkpoint", but it didn't fit in the balloon easily. Then I figured that "Sorry, checkpoint" worked just as well, while also conveying the sense that the cop is being business-like and is not really that sorry.

The driver replies -

えーっ!? ナビには全然出てなかったざんすよ
えーっ!? ナビ には ぜんぜん でてなかった ざんす よ

Eh = what?
nabi = navigator, the Japanese version of GPS
ni wa = from + topic marker
zenzen = nothing
detenakatta = polite version of "came out"
zansu = see below note.
yo = emphasizing particle.

Eh!? GPS . from . nothing . came out (!)

Literally, "What! Nothing came out from GPS."
I chose to render this as "Ehh? My GPS didn't say anything about a checkpoint!"

Normally, in polite speech the last part would be "detenakatta desu yo". However, Tori Miki decided to give the character an accent to emphasize his being French, changing "desu" to "zan-su", resulting in the character coming across as being really effeminate. I could have treated the character as having a lisp, ("my GPeth didn't thay anything...") but, it wouldn't have been the same thing. Instead, I just left the "su" at the end as-is.

To be continued.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 9 - Page 1

I'll put the text here for anyone that wants to practice their translation skills.  (This is where NJStar and it's automatic pop-up dictionary comes in really handy).

To see the full image, just click on it.


たんきしゅうちゅうれんさい ー ファイナル!

禁制の冷凍食品をめぐりシンジケートが暗躍する近未来。 大金が動き、時には血
きんせい の れいとうしょくひん をめぐりシンジケートが あんやくするきんみ
らい。  たいきんが うごき、ときにはちなまぐさい じけん へとはってん。


すまんな けんもん だ

えーっ!?  ナビには全然出てなかったざんすよ
えーっ!?  ナビにはぜんぜん でてなかったざんすよ

検問情報 をナビに流す警察がどこにあんだよ   いいから開けろ
けんもん じょうほう を ナビにながす けいさつ がどこにあんだよ   いいから

おまわりさん一人検問? ゾクに狙われるざんすよかえって危険ざんすよ
おまわりさんひとい けんもん? ゾクに ねらわれる ざんすよかえって きけんざ


Friday, July 3, 2009

Learning Japanese - ii kara

I want to talk about "ii kara" a little bit more. In Learning Japanese, Part 11, we'll have Tori Miki's cop saying, "いいから開けろ", "because it's good, open".

Just by looking at this sentence, it's easy to think that it should be used literally, as in "because it's good, open your door". However, "ii kara" is used fairly heavily in regular speech, and the nuance is deeper than this.

The other night, I was walking home from the train station, and there was an older couple standing on the street corner. The husband was obviously drunk, holding himself up against a street sign, and pulling away from his wife in order to head to another bar. The wife was pulling him in the opposite direction, saying "ii kara, okairi nasai" ("because it's good, return"). The nuance here is much more obvious now - "it's better that you stop drinking, making a fool of yourself and wasting money, and come home already".

Another common situation is with two people arguing loudly at each other, and a third interrupting them with "ii kara, ii kara". In this case, the third person is trying to placate the other two by talking quietly and apologetically. But, the real nuance of the words is "look you two, you're making asses of yourselves and disturbing the rest of us so settle down".

The English equivalent of the intended usage is: "because you should, do *something*". "Because you should stop drinking, go home", "because you're yelling, stop arguing" or "because I want to look in your car, open the door". But, an American would drop the "because" part and just go with the instruction "open up already".

Ii kara, tsuzuke.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 8 - Vagueness

The Japanese consider directness in speech to be rude, so they'll dance around the subject for a while in order to gauge the listener's reactions before getting to the point. To most westerners, this can be very irritating because the speech will come across as meandering or evasive. This is an important point when talking in Japanese, because a westerner is generally going to get the timing wrong and give the impression of being too direct and "in your face".

It's an even more important point when trying to translate manga, because the writer wants to be vague in his dialog or narrations, and the reader is also expecting this vagueness and won't question plot holes that arise as a result. But for me, it becomes very difficult to translate a story that leaves out a lot of things that a western writer considers vital.

A case in point in Frozen Food Agent is the scene where the agent starts telling us about the future and what happened when the food laws were passed. He says that with synthetic foods everything tastes the same, and he dislikes restaurants in general because they all try to compete by changing the appearances of their shops. But, there's one place he likes because of a specific painting that hangs on the wall. The hero asks the owner about his wife, and the owner answers that the wife is losing her memory because of age, so he put up that painting as a reminder of how she looked when she was younger.

Here's the problem: If the painting was put up recently, the hero disliked this restaurant as well up to the point that the painting was hung up a few weeks ago. If the painting was always on the wall, it implies that the wife started losing her memory when she was 20 (she's about 70 now). The thing is that the writer is deliberately vague on this point and doesn't say when the painting was hung, or when the hero started liking this particular restaurant (however, the writer implies that hero has been coming to this shop for a long time and has apparently liked this place all along). So, if I translate the narration as-is, the reader is likely to ask, "well, how long has the hero liked coming to this restaurant?" and Tori Miki never told us that out-right.

This becomes relevant in the following sentences: "Synthetic food all tastes the same and restaurants now compete by doing things like putting up pictures in their shops. I hate those places. But, I've come to like this painting. Hey, Mushu, how's the wife?" Mushu answers "Physically she's fine, but her memory is going, I guess that's just her age." The hero replies, "That's why you put up this painting?" So, did the hero dislike Mushu's place before the painting was put up? - we don't know. We do know that the hero knows Mushu by name, and therefore has probably been coming here for a while, at least.

Keep this in mind when you read translated manga, especially the fan translations. If the story seems choppy and hard to follow, it's because the translator translated literally and missed all kinds of stuff that's just implied. If the story seems really smooth and flows well, the translator probably added a lot of stuff that didn't actually exist in the original (implied or stated outright). This can be even more of an issue if the translator works from a Korean or Chinese version of the story - because then we're getting a translation of a translation, and that's never reliable.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 7 - Getting Started

I'll start out easy, assuming that you either don't care about what I'm writing here and are just using this blog to kill time at work, or that you're already slightly familiar with the Japanese that is used in manga so I don't have to explain "this is a pencil"-level stuff. The hero is talking about the world now that the food laws have been passed and natural frozen foods have been banned. Law-abiding citizens only eat synthetic fast foods. However...


だが 気 に いらない ヤツ も 世 の 中 に は 存在する らしい (with spaces)

Daga ki ni iranai yatsu mo yo no naka ni wa sonzai-suru rashii

Daga = but
ki ni iranai = spirit not entered
yatsu = person
mo = also
yo no naka ni = in this world
wa = topic marker
sonzai = exist
suru = to do
rashii = it seems

Two points. First, "sonzai suru" literally translates to "exist do", or "does the act of existing". We can simplify this to "exists".

Second, "ki ni iranai yatsu" can translate to either "a person that doesn't care (about something)" (in this case, doesn't care about being a law-abiding citizen), or "someone that I don't like". In fact, both meanings are implied, in that frozen food junkies don't care about the law, and our hero is a cop that dislikes frozen food junkies. But, since he's in the middle of telling us how the future world works now, the first translation is more reasonable for us to pick.

So, the literal conversion to English is:
But, not like, people, also, in this world, exist do, it seems.

Now, there's a constraint being imposed on us when we translate manga - the size of the word balloons. If the text is too long it won't fit, and if you shrink the font too much it would be unreadable. Meaning that we may be forced to shorten the text for the word balloon, but we still want to be true to the original dialog.

Original statement: "It seems that there are also people in this world that don't care about it (the law)."
Translation 1: "There are people in this world that don't see it that way."
Translation 2: "There are people that don't care about the law.
Short version 1: "There are people that don't see it that way."
Short version 2: "Some people don't see it that way."
Short version 3: "Not everyone sees it that way."
Short version 4: "With exceptions."

The choice of which version to use now depends on which is the longest sentence that will fit and not be so tiny as to be hard to read. The meaning is still the same in all cases, but the feeling is starting to change, and the implied sense that the cop dislikes lawbreakers has been pretty much lost. There's also a challenge in deciding to use Translation 1 or Translation 2. 2 is closer to the original Japanese phrase, but is kind of stiff and boring in English. 1 is a little "peppier" in English but has drifted away from the Japanese original phrase a bit. The point, though, is that the speaker is a dedicated cop, and his speech is a bit casual and natural-sounding. I picked translation 1 to start with because it's closer to the way the hero talks in Japanese. The short version that I'll use will depend on the size of the word balloon.

To be continued...