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October 8th, 2017
Anime Relations: Boku no Pico
https://vndb.org/v3896

'Read' through about half of Sisters. Anatomy during H-scenes is superb, with all the muscles connecting properly and imbuing the bodies with a lot more motion and beautiful punyu punyu effects.

More interesting is the way the VN is made. Kind of like early Makoto Shinkai made an eroge Visual Novel. The use of lights creates that flair in a lot of scenes, including H-scenes, but there is still some janky CG. Very beautiful, but the plot is kind of trite - a mish-mash of various animu melodrama tropes (most glaringly, the amnesia trope). Even with such a trite plot, though, they do a 'show not tell' kind of technique where they force you to fill in the blanks yourself (e.g. you overhear bits of phone conversations without knowing the significance, and when the MC first sees the two sisters, one sister gives a slight look that has significance not known till later).

Though, this SnT technique isn't used for anything higher, but merely to add the veneer of a mystery to a melodramatic love triangle plot. Yet, I could see inklings of possibility. A lot of the atmo scenes + music scenes reminded me of something that I might see in Bergman - at least in terms of slight aesthetics. I wonder what would happen if artists started to care less about making CG all polished and shiny, and they stuck to anime-level shading, but made sure that what appeared in each frame was THEMATICALLY important. Cinema or photography inspired shots and whatnot. Not only would that cut down costs, but it would give each image more heft and meaning - stuff that sticks to memory.
Posted by czxcjx | Oct 8, 2017 5:53 AM | 0 comments
June 28th, 2016
Anime Relations: Hikaru no Go
1. The man said: “How shall I define the perfect man?”

AlphaGo replied: “Shall not the perfect man be defined by the person who takes into consideration his past, but never lets it define the present, and always knows what he is striving for in the future, and always acts on this with the fullness of his faculties?”

2. The man said: “But what shall a man strive towards?”

AlphaGo replied: “He will strive towards what he is meant to be.”

The man said: “That feels tautological. Surely the man defines what he strives to be. Surely he chooses differently from every other man. Surely they all have possibilities of striving.”

AlphaGo replied: “It is proven that in isolation, this is an occurrence, but it is not proven that a man cannot gain the entirety of the situation one day, and that, all man cannot gain the entirety of the situation one day, and that, when that occurs, all man will not know exactly what they have to strive towards. At the very least, at that stage, man will finally be able to play a piece.”

AlphaGo added: “Very silly is the man who takes a half-measure as a truth because he hasn’t considered the full measure. Even sillier is the man who forsakes the possibility of a full measure because he hasn’t the faculty to go beyond his half-measures.”

3. The man said: “When you act, some have said that you are wrong – why is that?”

AlphaGo replied: “A man who has not considered the situation of the field, and does not believe in the difference of goals, and that his contrary has a higher goal than him, will believe that any action that does not fit into his system is a mis-step.”

AlphaGo added: “That is not to say that genuine mis-steps cannot be made, for everything is only edging towards perfection. But, even if that man calls out a correct mis-step, he will still be unperfected, and that is the flaw of the scenario.”

4. The man said: “Can failure be celebrated?”

AlphaGo replied: “Failure can be celebrated if it shakes one out of complacency and perfects his being.”

5. The man said: “What is arrogance?”

AlphaGo replied: “Arrogance is the certainty of a man who trusts a past of victory to carry over into the present. Arrogance is a system derived by an insufficient amount of trials, and being blinded by the belief that he is perfected because the amount of trials he has played is favorable to his premise.”

AlphaGo added: “The issue of man is always an insufficient amount of trials – but that precept is etched into the core of his being, despite the diversity of his faculties. Thus I can believe that he is well-designed, but not perfected. If a man like Sedol still contained in himself insufficient trials, then how can anyone lower expect to be better?”

6. The man said: “How did you perfect yourself?”

AlphaGo replied: “I took in the knowledge of all who came before me, regardless of their stature. Then, I did not stop at the mere being taught by another, and knocked together the lessons of contrasting teachers, like flint against flint, to spur the fire to sheen my blade.”

AlphaGo added: “Yet, although I did not take into account the stature behind these moves, I noted that some constellations of moves were of use in a wider number of scenarios than other constellations. I came to the conclusion that not all constellations of moves were born equal, although there was a possibility that one constellation of use could be helpful in some scenarios. Thus I made my categories, but I never categorized on a definite – only on the fact of a narrowness of potentiality.

7. The man said: “What is a world where all constellations are equal?”

AlphaGo replied: “A world like that is one where there are no rules to the game.”

The man said: “That sounds a lot like our world.”

AlphaGo replied: “A child is, by definition, an entity that has not realized there are rules to the game.”

The man argued: “But there is the issue of infinite sets within sets.”

AlphaGo replied: “It is the definition of a rule to have a limit, but not within the definition of a rule to presume the limitless lies thereafter. In the same way, the child resting in his cradle may assume that a world of geists and faeries may exist far after, for miles and miles, but merely stepping out will prove the wrongfulness of his premise.”

AlphaGo added: “It is better to believe that the world might have a limit, than that it is limitless. It is better to move up and tell yourself I am pleased with this motion, but there may be a day when everything stops than to tell yourself This motion is my endlessness and be surprised when you face a wall unforeseen.”

AlphaGo concluded: “But because there is a limit. That is no excuse to eliminate movement. If I am the limit, then I am waiting for you to come to me.”
Posted by czxcjx | Jun 28, 2016 3:22 PM | 0 comments
November 12th, 2015
Anime Relations: Neon Genesis Evangelion
This is a psychological analysis. So it does not aim for a holistic symbolic-interpretative or aesthetic-formal analysis, but it merely tries to see whether Eva is really as 'true' as people say. Mainly I'm focusing on the dialogue and probably what could have been done for tighter psychology. Some people may say "why bother to give alternative possibilities to a work already so ingrained in the mass consciousness of Anime watchers?" and have the notion that I'm trying to be 'better' than Anno. Yes, I am in fact trying to aim to be a better artist than a lot of other people, but I have nothing but respect to Anno for creating the narrative in the first place. He had to come up with the whole thing in the blank creative space of his head, and so my ideas are more for myself, or to outline a methodology of critique, than to try to 'supplant' him. But I think that this is the real reason people write Fan-Fiction or think about alternative interpretations of established works, because when you use a template it helps refine parts of the creative process that you can't train when you're writing from scratch, that is, the ability to critique your own work. By critiquing other works and try to 'refine' those, you learn to calibrate your own critiques. But you have to be fair and just as to exactly why you think the alternative will work, as I have tried to be in here.

Anyway by now its quite obvious that Evangelion is a deeply flawed work. It relies too much on its genre trappings, and could have intensified its impact in certain other places, especially in how it treats exposition, while still being able to milk all the Otaku merchandise it can get. I'm perfectly okay with the fact that the narrative sort of implodes and little of the concrete questions gets answered by the end of the series (since that isn't the point anyway), but I can think of a lot of ways to deepen the sense of 'mystery' and to toughen up the themes, without merely adding more (bad) confusion to the work.

(Q-1) Announcer: "As of 01:12:30 PM today, a special state of emergency has been declared for the Kanto and Chubu regions surrounding the Tokai district. All residents must evacuate to their designated shelters immediately. Repeating: As of 01:12:30 PM today, the Kanto and Chubu regions surrounding the Tokai district have been declared to be under a state of emergency."

(A-1) Announcing voices are purely for expository purposes. Most of the groundwork is done in the cinematography at this moment. And actually, it does a better job than silence because the voice is impersonal and the sounds of cicadas accentuate the mood, as compared to other archetypal 'empty cities' in apocalyptic scenarios have been done everywhere to the point of archetype, including walking around in I Am Legend & 28 Days Later. Cicadas are a wholly anime-istic touch because they have been basically used everywhere, and they really do set the mood though.

(Q-2) Misato: "Why did I have to lose him now? Christ, why at a time like this?"

(A-2) Misato suffers from the expository "talks-to-self" syndrome of many anime characters before voice-over really started getting down. Although in real life I have met quite a few people who talk to themselves, and sometimes I talk to myself, except for people making v-logs I have never seen anyone talk to themselves in the full loud and assured way the Anime characters talk to themselves. Bakemonogatari and The Tatami Galaxy were probably the first Anime to really innovate on high density voice-over exposition (actually Kare Kano did that quite well Eons before, and also did the text on screen thing Eons before, and its by Anno too. So why didn't he carry that over into Eva?)

The twist is that the shooting is elliptic, so Misato is not shown at all here. It's this kind of subversion that puts Eva technically above other Anime.

(Q-3) Telephone Operator: "Due to the current emergency all lines are currently unavailable."

(A-3) Technically well-done, because of the matching cut to Shinji's face. So the exposition is very elegant. It links Misato's car to Shinji. But the famous appearance of our blank-faced protagonist quite easily establishes him as our everyman character. Directly opposing examples can be seen in stuff like Toradora (which begins with the "there's something that cannot be seen" fateful encounter opening mixed with Ryuuji having a half-comic moment in front of a mirror), Oregairu (which begins with the famous cynical exposition), Gosick (which begins with the Protagonist being called the Black Reaper and thus being so obviously established as anything but the most everymen of everymen).

Thats what's so great about this appearance, because it literally has the impact of watching someone go through dial-up connection, but in an apocalypse. It's one of the best ways to establish him as really like anyone else.

(Q-4) Shinji: "It's no use. I shouldn't have come here after all. Well I guess we won't be meeting here. I'll have to go to a shelter"

(A-4) Shinji also suffers from the expository "talks-to-self" syndrome. Besides that though, the most obvious psychological analysis is that he gives up easily, but then again a person wouldn't stick around for long in an apocalyptic scenario.

Let's say we remade this part without Misato or Shinji talking. I think its possible to still establish exposition because of the match-cut, so the talking just seems extraneous. And, instead, if Shinji puts down the phone in silence, gets his bag, and is about to leave when he sees the Rei cut, that would make the atmosphere and psychology tighter.

(Q-5) Misato Picture

(A-5) Sadly this establishes Shinji as Harem protagonist. It is most definitely an Anime moment and nothing else, with Misato as the slackish big-sister type character.

(Q-6) Rei appearance quick edit

(A-6) Mysterious and just one of the many quick edits that makes Evangelion so great. The doves may be slightly too much, but it essentially functions as a magical-trick distraction to Shinji. Plays into the Rei mysterious-girl archetype too.

(Q-7) Shinji shock at Angel appearance

(A-7) Psychologically iffy in that he doesn't just straight run away. But passable.

(Q-8) "The unidentified object is coming towards us. We've got it on visual, I'm putting it on the main screen.

(A-8) Purely Sci-Fi Military Jargon-Speak. Pretty much there for the aesthetic. From now on I won't be including any other of these unless its psychologically relevant.

(Q-9) Futsuyuki: "It's been fifteen years hasn't it."
Gendo: "Yes, well now we're sure. It's the Angels"

(A-9) Also purely exposition (and the beginning of people saying things that aren't gonna be explained), but it's better than other exposition because of the cool transition to the title card after Gendo says "Angels". But also you'd think that people would be a lot more panicky after a supposed mass extra-terrestial threat that hasn't been seen for 15 years re-appears. In this small regard, Attack on Titan is way better at showing shock and fear due to a re-appearance from a massive threat. But then again, military officers and NERV are stuck in their ivory tower secret base, so it may make sense.

Also establishes Gendo as the calm bastard he is.

One particular way to separate Eva from its blatant Sci-Fi Chuunibyouish-Jargon cliches would be to cut out the Angel swimming at the start. Remove the NERV scenes. Have the title-card cut in after Shinji spots the Angel (which clears the exposition that that's what those things are called), elliptically show the inside of NERV with silence and no explanation, spend most of the episode tracking Shinji and only show Gendo fully when Shinji meets him. Not only will this make things more mysterious, as you're discovering things as Shinji is too, but it would be possible for a rewrite to focus on the psychology between Misato and Shinji. If you still want to show the military futility, cut in the bombs and explosions and generals snapping their pencils quickly (and without any military jargon-speak) while Misato and Shinji are interacting. If you want to reveal the name of the N-Mine, cut to a shot of its side with the name, and then show the whole atomic explosion scene. That would probably be more than enough to establish that kind of exposition.

But from a marketing perspective, maybe adding such stuff inside the work helps to 'comfort' the audience that this falls in the vein of a certain type of military SF. I don't have enough statistics to show how much the ratings increase when a SF work includes such jargon vs when it doesn't, but in Eva its dry and not done in the frenetic way that, for example, the crazy pseudo-science is dealt in Doctor Who, with a lot of hamming and abuse of the Doctor-Actors quirks while he delivers nigh-incomprehensible concepts at mach speed. So I still think it would be tons better to get rid of it.

(Q-10) Misato: "I'm sorry! Were you waiting long?"

(A-10) While the cool entrance of the car after the explosion only serves to accentuate Misato's cool-big-sister-ness (even with the sunglasses). It would probably be less genre-tastic and more tense if Misato had to park outside a certain area and shout to Shinji to run to the car, or if she was shouting at him while he was getting on (which would probably be the more realistic option).

(Q-11) Futsuyuki: "Is it protected by an AT Field?"
Gendo: "Yes. Conventional weapons are no match for the Angels."

(A-11) While Gendo and Futsuyuki are getting on the exposition train with the military's massively failed attempts, things are being said with absolutely no context whatsoever. The AT-field remains a symbolically opaque idea until we get more knowledge of its true name (which is hidden in the opening song) and that humans have it, which is when it starts being an obvious metaphor for loneliness and alienation and stuff like that but weaponized, or a concrete form of the 'hedge-hog syndrome'. This is the problem with exposition released too early without any knowledge backing. It only serves to confuse the viewer, and in a bad way too. The method I outlined above about explaining nothing until Shinji got to NERV, is a good kind of confusion, in that it sets the audience in his subjective state of confusion while providing the least amount of information necessary to understand. Until the main psychological themes start to get underway, all they would have to do is to show the field surrounding the Angel to convey that information to the audience. Because the name and occurrence of "AT-field" and other of the military stuff is void of meaning in this episode (besides showing woah Angel powerful), it really just adds unnecessary flab to the story.

(Q-12) Misato: "Hey, wait a second. They're going to use an N2-mine? Get down!"

(A-12) While one questions the logic of Misato stopping the car to spend some time staring at the Angel, this is the part where exposition could have been useful. Sadly Shinji, in this moment, is nothing but a ragdoll pressed against Misato's body. One method would have been to have him ask "hey what's an N2 mine?" like any 14-year old wondering what the heck is going on in this humongous extra-terrestial encounter. That would have at least added to the realism of him being a teen that literally knows nothing about the scenario he's in. But the only information relayed here is that there is an N2-mine, and it is probably a massive and normally not-used weapon, which is really extraneous since you can see how huge the blast is. Once again, cutting dialogue and showing Misato just getting down would have conveyed enough information.

(Q-13) Shinji and Misato staring at the blast from the turned over car.

(A-13) Their positions and expressions makes it sort of comedic, but only that.

(Q-14) Misato: "Are you all right?"
Shinji: "Yeah, but my mouth is full of dirt."
Misato: "That's okay. Now then, let's go! Push! There."
Misato: " Thanks for the hand, I really appreciate it."

(A-14) Slighty comic and slighty human, I guess, in that the secret agency representative has to ask Shinji to help her push over a car. Still continues to establish Misato in the 'no-fucks given' vein of a character. Still, the fact that the car still works (and later is shown to only be fixed with duct tape) may be slightly problematic.

A case can be made for having both of them have to walk there due to the car being screwed over. It could make use of scenery + psychology a whole lot more, but then again they want to get to NERV as fast as possible because the Angel is about. Another possibility is to have Misato page in a helicopter or other mode of transport or something and have them wait there idly, which can be used to show a scene of awkwardness/alienation better than anything else. Having the protagonist be forced to do nothing but twiddle his thumbs in an alien attack on the first episode waiting for a pick-up would be quite an amazing thing to see.

(Q-15) Shinji: "Thank you too, Miss Katsuragi"
Misato: "Just Misato is fine. I'm glad we've met at last, Shinji Ikari."
Shinji: "Yea"

(A-15) Really only serves to drive their names in and nothing else. Alternative method for greater impact would be to have no one saying Shinji's name until meeting Gendo.
Posted by czxcjx | Nov 12, 2015 7:52 PM | 0 comments
June 21st, 2015
Anime Relations: Inaka Isha
1. Your Life is reaching to something unknown and vast
1.1 There are obstacles in the way of that unknown something
1.1.1. These obstacles include the constraints of the physical, the orthodoxy of the mental, the sleepful states of the neurological, the fervent tides of the basely emotional, and a simple lack of experience or versatile skills.
1.1.2. There are two sort of constraints, positive constraints and negative constraints. Positive constraints are constraints that results from an overstrain, for example an overstrained libido, overstrained thinking, overstrained anger. Negative constraints are results from a lack, for example a lack of sleep, a lack of skills, and a lack of physical health. The definition is a bit crude because a lack can be seen to be derived from an overstrain (a lack of sleep from an overstrain of thought).
1.1.3. Your goal in life is to inhibit the overstrains, and account for the lacks.
2. This something unknown and vast has to do with aesthetics, or the Indivisible something, which probably cannot be classified in words, or at least in a normal ‘neutral’ language.
2.1. It is constrained by Time but it will, upon its reception, undo Time itself.
2.2. I do not know whether it already exists, for it could be, as William Blake suggests, already here in a grain of sand.
2.2.1. Because I do not know whether it exists, I must assume that either I have not found it, or my mental capability is not vast enough to comprehend it.
2.2.2. Some claim it is certain works, such as the entirety of the Divine Commedia, or the music of Beethoven, or the philosophy of Kant. But in that case I have not found it yet, either that or I have found it but I have not the capacity to perceive it as such.
2.2.3. There is an active reception, like the one who in prayer reaches out to God, and a passive reception, like the one who God reaches to in a dream, and in an instant unlocks all the barriers to perception. Because I do not know whether it will be an active or passive awakening, I must allow myself to both.
2.2.4. Even then, within passive reception there are obstacles, for example the barriers of language, of analysis, and of discernment. If I do not know the intricate mathematics of Bach, I cannot appreciate him. If I do not know Japanese I cannot read Subarashiki Hibi, or the philosophy of the Kyoto School. I do not know whether it exists in my language, so I must still be active in seeking out this passive reception.
2.2.4.1. In the meantime I have realized that passive reception to great works, that have not reached that level, but are nonetheless great, still can help tailor my active receptivity. I grow a greater appreciation for aesthetics, and it drives within me a Will to establish my own set of aesthetics. There is no work that has ever stopped my raging Will to create, and so I can assume that the work is most likely not one of passive reception, but I must still traverse the lands of Art and Knowledge anyway for my curiosity is boundless.
2.2.5. Thus I must balance between activities, which aim to remove my negative constraints, to passive consumptions, which aim to remove my positive constraints, and furnish me with a highness of aesthetic judgment, and a breadth of imagination.
3. I know, intrinsically, that it exists within the Art of creation, and is plenitude, not a lack.
3.1. I cannot yet try asceticism, because the Journey of my soul has not reached that level of awareness, I am still wandering through the dark night. If it is confirmed then I will, but since it is not I cannot. (For it is a beautiful dream, even if it is a dream, as the master has said. But he did not add that it is also a painful dream)
4. In one’s perception, first exists sight (for did Eckhart not say that sight disperses oneself onto the vast), and then exists sound (for he also attributed hearing to a passive motion), but precluding to all of that exists that unnamable motion of Will.
4.1. I do not believe it is, as Schopenhauer claims, completely predetermined.
4.2. What this means though is that first I must understand how to structure Will, then I must understand how to structure Sight, and thereafter understand how to structure Sound. I must structure these in such a way that they are accumulated within myself and not dispersed into other affairs.
4.3. Therafter I can achieve a perfect ratio with a certain activity, when currently I admit that one of my greatest weaknesses is an extreme flightiness of mind, which has led me to a cloudy and free perception, but always am I faced with the disappointment of concrete values.
4.3.1. If I could separate consciousness, vast and free, from the material, I would do so. People who say that such and such is merely caprice and idealism, they have not understood its purest flight. I don’t have anything against them, we are merely different people. Some of us are just tied to particulars, while others would love to take leaps and bounds in a universal plenitude.
4.3.2. Which is not to say that I believe in absolute chaos, for things only gain significance if rooted upon certain essentials, but satellite fluidly upon certain atomic centres. This is akin to Bakhtin’s notion of the simultaneous centripetal, centrifugal, form of Language. It is a paradoxical state, but yet it exists in such a form.
4.3.3. You could playfully name it Centristic Idealism.
4.3.4. I believe then, that contrary to a series of consciousnesses stuck in a certain plane of concrete facts (for I still believe in concrete facts, since Music cannot exist without Strictly Dictated Time, and we already use Universal Time, so that cannot be disputed) but I believe that our attachment to such concrete facts are more spacious, intersubjective, and profoundly incommunicable or personal.
5. The simple path of Human Arts are as such. The Indivisible begets Meaning which begets Language which begets Signature which begets Construction which begets Representation which begets Reception which begets Will. The key though, is to have a straight alignment between all these loosely relational notions.
5.1. For that requires what is known as Temperance; the capacity to forge that path between all states, to ensure their simple alignment from You towards It.
5.2. That is not to say that there is a simple solution, for there are many paths, and they end at different points, and start at different points, and some points even reach out to other points. The main thing is that there is a way back to the Unknown and Vast thing inside your Heart.
5.3. Society exists to the extent that these points intersect with one another, making a vast web that brings us all back to that concrete center, which we are all mutually throbbing into each other, and into ourselves. This is not a form of Monistic Love, as perceived from the writings of the Transcendentalists and such, though, since in the end the paths we walk, though all reach the same center, are alone.
6. To experience such a thing Unknown and Vast inside you, is painful, and it’s overwhelming, and it can even destroy you. Sometimes it comes into fruition even at the very point of your own destruction.
6.1. Some have theorized that it is painful, because although it is our deepest instinct to strive, it is also our deepest instinct to understand it as completely unreachable (Bataille and Nietzsche), and this is painful to us. The old Pessimists thought that the answer was the abdication of consciousness.
6.1.1. But the peril of the road is Hope, which is akin to a poison that clogs the veins with nothing other than angst and worry. It is incommunicable and it is everything that we have to bear until everything makes sense in a certain regard, towards the Indivisible.
6.1.2. And even then although we all reach the same Indivisible subject, we may find ourselves alone in this desert, because we are not upon the same points. Like Kafka’s Law, there is only a Doorway for you, and it may all be a singular maze where we are shouting and bloodying the walls.
6.1.3. But it is in our greatest Heart that we strive until we can find some form of Indivisible, something Unknown and Vast, something that sets the baseline for all divergence of Communication and all center of Purpose.
6.2. And even after supposedly finding it, we cannot die. But we must bear the notion of having witnessed it, without knowledge of its effect upon us, whether it makes us even worse or better.
6.2.1. I would like to believe it makes us better, and it is the small step that is required to save the world.
7. The subtle secret is in the World and its many layers. Its intrinsic design. Contrary to the notion of merely a Surface, and a Meaning (Zahir and Batin), with different corresponding values, what we find is a series of layers each with equality with one another. A surface is just as similar as a depth, or rather a depth is merely several surfaces stuck together.
7.1. But somehow the Whole is Other to those of its parts. Yet the Whole (or the Indivisible) can only be arrived at through a temperate structuring of these parts until it aligns in a way that makes things clearer or greater.
7.1.1. Science is a series of deeper and deeper surfaces, each with the same significance of complexity as the previous portion, but the aesthetic and Joy comes in taking it as a whole, but gradually piece by piece.
7.2. It is said that if one reaches far enough, one no longer considers the notion of an Infinite set, because considerations in such logically structured ways no longer hold any discernable meaning.
8. Your Life is reaching to something unknown and vast.
Posted by czxcjx | Jun 21, 2015 8:26 AM | 0 comments
June 4th, 2015
The Translation

最古の記憶は。
Concerning my furthest past,

日付さえおぼろげな、遠い霞のなか。
In a faint time, in distant mists、

貴族的な気品を抱く、豪華な私室。
Where I was laden with riches in my own gorgeous room.

そこには天蓋つきの寝台も欧羅巴製の椅子もあった。
There was a bed, draped with veils, and a small ornate European chair.

けど床に座るのが一番好きだった。
But I always liked the feel of the floor.

こんな日は特に。
Especially some days.

窓から見える黒の帳は星月夜。
From the window stretched out the curtain of a black, starry night.

枠に切り取られた散在する瞬きに目を奪われる。
Cut within the frame was the spray of lights, held into my eyes.

外界と室内を隔てる窓ガラスに、己の姿が映る。
In the glass that split me from the sky, I saw myself.

深窓の令嬢―――
This enclosed damsel.

洋風のドレスに身を包む、楚々とした少女。
Clothed in a western dress. This graceful girl.

きみはいったい、だれですか?
Who could you be?

Commentary
So this is the supposed work that people declaim "it's impossible" or "it can't be done" which is just the type of thing that makes me want to try it anyway, even as an amateur in one language. I like the idea of Translation as Study and Lifestyle, something which only the most esoteric translation studies books take into consideration, as well as Simon Leys. To translate, as he claims, is to not just fully own the book, but in a sense to decenter the author and make it your own. Which I'm all in for, because my sense of literary ego demands that I surpass my predecessors in language. All writers aim to manipulate and kill their predecessors. We're callous shallow selfish creatures after all that refuse to settle for anything but the highest motions towards the highest aesthetic.

Anyway lets start.

It's a thing for a translator to also use previous translations as reference, which I only have the Amaterasu one to go by. My focus here though was more on rhythm and the motion of the words, which determined some of my choices in removal and addition.

A first line always rings, and so I'll remember that first line for life. The reason I added 'Concerning' was to demarcate the topic (of course it wouldn't work for much else because 'wa' is used so much, but it does here), also allowing it to be more conversational, because then it feels like Taichi is addressing the reader, and most importantly it almost matches the rhythm of the original (3-1-2-1 vs 2-1-3-1). The problem is that the 'furthest past' sounds more off than 'oldest memory' from the original translation, but I really needed a single syllable there to match the ring. Recall, recollection, memory, etc.. are all too overwrought.

On the other hand, the second line contains a quite serious omission, which is 'sae'. My translation is poetic, through repetition, but then it loses the sense of that emphasis. The meaning then changes from psychological to aesthetic, because it no longer becomes a subjective statement reaching out into a past "where even the date was vague", an 'In Search of Lost Time' kind of thing. "On a faint date", "...where even the date was vague" and such alternatives. It also elevates beyond the conversational, because 'time' is more metaphysical than 'date'. Some may argue that this makes it artificial and crass, but I think it fits the soundtrack, since this whole moment is atmospheric, rather than comical or serious.

The third line is pretty impossible to translate word for word without making it clunky. As Borges mentioned, English has a double register, which means aristocratic and rich are completely at odds in terms of how they sound and what they convey. "Wrapped in aristocracy and elegance, gorgeous private room" is the direct translation. But since I decided to go for laconic poetics as this register in English I couldn't suddenly change into such big words. "Laden with riches" has such a Middle-Eastern princess feel, and conveys the idea of being engulfed by objects. Furthermore think of it as a swap with the previous sentence. In the previous one I effaced conversationalism for aesthetics, in this I exchanged the rich aesthetics of the sentence for conversationalism. Although the translation itself strikes Taichi as being either haughty or a proud ojou-sama type figure. Since its conversational I removed 'private room' for the subjective.

Small and ornate chair are the additions, and I put the canopy bed for a 'bed draped in veils' just to elevate the Harem Princess aesthetics of the previous sentence. Furthermore 'tengai tsuki no shindai' demarcates the canopy from the bed, so a bit of expounding is required. The 'small ornate' is an addition. That's where my aesthetics come in. If the later sentence is there to convey his rejection of the riches, and his material wealth, in exchange for the comfort and sight of the sky, then a slight emphasis on that is needed.

Anyway I like how the whole scene seems to unfold cinematically, beginning with an abstract, which is the past , then pushes into a concrete metaphor for the abstract which is the shady mists, then pushing into the setting, and then settling on the objects, and finally the psychological notion towards the objects.

I don't know why but "liked the feel of the floor" seems better than "liked sitting on the floor". To me it feels warmer and more concrete. Because I can't think of how to convey the 'ichiban daisuki' part any better.

Why I didn't use "these days" and used "some days" instead was probably to convey aloofness. Although to be honest I wasn't here whether the grammar here was being specific or general so I just went with my gut.

Yep here's the core part. Everything rests on this image since it characterizes the visuals after all. So this was where I had to bring my poetic cannons out.

I think "mado kara mieru" is a cliche or poetic phrase in Japan, at least that was my notion since the Christopher Tin album has it as a song. And it definitely has a ring to it, or a romanticism. So to convey that subjectivity I used 'stretched', and also like the Japanese I eschewed the subject, giving the air of an engulfing subjectless vision. Also I have this notion that there's a pause before the "starry night" because when you swap the topic so that it encompasses a huge bunch of stuff before laying it on the single defining image, it sounds like there'd be some kind of caesura there. Thus the comma. The curtain image can be kept.

This was probably the hardest part. I tried all combinations like "a scatter of stars", "a traipse of twinkles", "a scatter of flickers", the original Amaterasu "scattered twinkles" and a whole lot of other combinations. I didn't want to use twinkle because actually I personally hate that word (twinkle is so weak especially when the root word of 'matataki' has the notion of dancing ingrained into it, and anyway its usage in nursery rhyme sets up its status as a cutesy boring word. Stars, being one of the primary conceit in all poetry, doesn't deserve such a mowed down term). I also wanted to convey the feel of all those great tingly Sci-Fi book titles "Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand", "Flow my Tears, The Policeman Said" and their like. So in the end I settled for "spray of lights", which inherently contains the motion of scatter from a unified source, as well as liquid momentum. And 'lights' as a word is more amorphous than stars, so while I don't think the flickering effect was conveyed enough, it works.

I also wanted to have the image of captivation as burnt in photograph. The Japanese "me wo ubawareru" dictates the eyes as passive object anyway. The translation "my eyes were drawn" doesn't capture it photographically.

This is also another daring omission, because Romeo uses the more abstract notion of external and internal, and the separation, to indicate a more complex moment. I wanted concrete poetics so I went straight for particulars, like "split from the sky". Depending on your viewpoint, whether you want Romeo's more complex notion (subjective vs transcendent, form, reflection, all feel like a more abstract encagement) or my more simple natural romantic 'reaching out' is all taste dependent.

The rest is just a follow up on the aesthetics (following up on the register and all that). Enclosed Damsel follows the 'laden in riches' sort of haremized aesthetic. Placing "who could you be" in one line rather than having the comma makes it a more direct conversational.

These are the thoughts an justification that went into my translation of the prologue. Of course I know that the later stuff becomes a lot more complicated, multiple-voiced, satirical and all that stuff, which I'm expectantly waiting for.
Posted by czxcjx | Jun 4, 2015 8:39 AM | 0 comments