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REVIEW: Durarara!! Novels 1-3




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Knight-Hart



Joined: 27 Mar 2014
Posts: 266
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:00 am Reply with quote
That's always a huge problem with LNs. It doesn't matter how good the story is or how creative the original writing was if it gets a bad translation. And I don't know what it is, but LNs do usually get bad translations.
I remember reading The Isolator and thinking it wasn't bad, but that the translation was totally boring and stiff. It's not usually bad, per se, it's just somewhat lacking. The best novel translation I've ever read is Nisioisin's Death Note: LA BB Murder Cases. They did the right thing and got an actual author who had his own books published.
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Utsuro no Hako



Joined: 18 May 2012
Posts: 874
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:58 am Reply with quote
The books published under Viz's Haikasoru label (only some of which actually qualify as LNs) generally have good translations (unfortunately Legend of the Galactic Heroes is one of the exceptions). I'd recommend the two Rocket Girls novels as examples of it done right.


As for Durarara itself, I actually thought the third volume was the strongest and the biggest improvement on the anime. Yeah, Masaomi was, as always, a pud, but the insights into Kadota's group, Saki and Izaya, and even Namie were great. The scene in Russian Sushi and the confrontation between Simon and Izaya at the end are some of the best in the series.
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Andrew Cunningham



Joined: 01 Feb 2006
Posts: 289
Location: Seattle
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 11:09 am Reply with quote
Knight-Hart wrote:
That's always a huge problem with LNs. It doesn't matter how good the story is or how creative the original writing was if it gets a bad translation. And I don't know what it is, but LNs do usually get bad translations.
I remember reading The Isolator and thinking it wasn't bad, but that the translation was totally boring and stiff. It's not usually bad, per se, it's just somewhat lacking. The best novel translation I've ever read is Nisioisin's Death Note: LA BB Murder Cases. They did the right thing and got an actual author who had his own books published.


As the translator for that novel, thanks!
That was also the best editor I ever worked with, which made a huge difference.
Plus Nisio is a legitimately better writer.

Some of the specific flaws the reviewer pointed out here -- overuse of adjectives and adverbs -- are a trademark of the light novel writing style. They may or may not be considered good writing in Japanese or English, but you can't exactly just cut them all out either.
Japanese literary writing style is very, very, very dry, and I found a lot of 'real' novels flat and lifeless; the punchier writing style in light novels has it's flaws but at its best has more emotion on the page than mainstream Japanese prose, and is therefore much more accesible.
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merr



Joined: 11 Dec 2004
Posts: 209
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 12:57 pm Reply with quote
Agreed about the problem of clunky translations. You'll never see more modifiers than in a light novel! The problem is creeping into manga translations, too. I don't know if it's from low budgets or an editorial choice to appease kids raised on "literal" scanlations, but it's annoying.

Even if the original Japanese is wordy, bad writing is bad writing. There comes a point where the translator needs to step in. Viz knows when to do this, and even tokyopop did a great job with stuff like Slayers 10 years ago. I wish more companies would follow suit.
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st_owly



Joined: 20 May 2008
Posts: 5165
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:01 pm Reply with quote
Andrew Cunningham wrote:
Knight-Hart wrote:
That's always a huge problem with LNs. It doesn't matter how good the story is or how creative the original writing was if it gets a bad translation. And I don't know what it is, but LNs do usually get bad translations.
I remember reading The Isolator and thinking it wasn't bad, but that the translation was totally boring and stiff. It's not usually bad, per se, it's just somewhat lacking. The best novel translation I've ever read is Nisioisin's Death Note: LA BB Murder Cases. They did the right thing and got an actual author who had his own books published.


As the translator for that novel, thanks!
That was also the best editor I ever worked with, which made a huge difference.
Plus Nisio is a legitimately better writer.

Some of the specific flaws the reviewer pointed out here -- overuse of adjectives and adverbs -- are a trademark of the light novel writing style. They may or may not be considered good writing in Japanese or English, but you can't exactly just cut them all out either.
Japanese literary writing style is very, very, very dry, and I found a lot of 'real' novels flat and lifeless; the punchier writing style in light novels has it's flaws but at its best has more emotion on the page than mainstream Japanese prose, and is therefore much more accesible.


Thanks for your input! It's always interesting to hear from people who've actually worked on things and can blow misconceptions away.
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danpmss



Joined: 30 May 2015
Posts: 473
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:56 pm Reply with quote
Andrew Cunningham wrote:
Knight-Hart wrote:
That's always a huge problem with LNs. It doesn't matter how good the story is or how creative the original writing was if it gets a bad translation. And I don't know what it is, but LNs do usually get bad translations.
I remember reading The Isolator and thinking it wasn't bad, but that the translation was totally boring and stiff. It's not usually bad, per se, it's just somewhat lacking. The best novel translation I've ever read is Nisioisin's Death Note: LA BB Murder Cases. They did the right thing and got an actual author who had his own books published.


As the translator for that novel, thanks!
That was also the best editor I ever worked with, which made a huge difference.
Plus Nisio is a legitimately better writer.

Some of the specific flaws the reviewer pointed out here -- overuse of adjectives and adverbs -- are a trademark of the light novel writing style. They may or may not be considered good writing in Japanese or English, but you can't exactly just cut them all out either.
Japanese literary writing style is very, very, very dry, and I found a lot of 'real' novels flat and lifeless; the punchier writing style in light novels has it's flaws but at its best has more emotion on the page than mainstream Japanese prose, and is therefore much more accesible.


I also loved your work in the translation of several other titles (particularly in Boogiepop and Kino no Tabi), great job, sir!

And talking about Boogiepop, was the project completely dropped? I'm actually enjoying a lot the series (to the point it was one of the first book series I tried hard to complete - still on-going by the way - in japanese after starting to learn the good old nihongo at my college).

Keep the good work, I'm gonna follow your steps and translate some good books one day!

PS:
Give a try in another author's work, also doing some stories at Faust, called Ryukishi07, who wrote the "When They Cry" series.

Starting from Umineko no Naku Koro ni, there's an incomparably well written - and extremely tricky, for being so purposely unreliable in many instances - narrative I would declare to be one of the best I've read in a Japanese book so far (especially when, only many books later, you discover what was that all about, and re-reading from the start with that knowledge in mind changes your perspective of the things completely).
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Gabbomatic



Joined: 21 Aug 2014
Posts: 74
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 3:49 pm Reply with quote
Andrew Cunningham wrote:
Knight-Hart wrote:
That's always a huge problem with LNs. It doesn't matter how good the story is or how creative the original writing was if it gets a bad translation. And I don't know what it is, but LNs do usually get bad translations.
I remember reading The Isolator and thinking it wasn't bad, but that the translation was totally boring and stiff. It's not usually bad, per se, it's just somewhat lacking. The best novel translation I've ever read is Nisioisin's Death Note: LA BB Murder Cases. They did the right thing and got an actual author who had his own books published.


As the translator for that novel, thanks!
That was also the best editor I ever worked with, which made a huge difference.
Plus Nisio is a legitimately better writer.

Some of the specific flaws the reviewer pointed out here -- overuse of adjectives and adverbs -- are a trademark of the light novel writing style. They may or may not be considered good writing in Japanese or English, but you can't exactly just cut them all out either.
Japanese literary writing style is very, very, very dry, and I found a lot of 'real' novels flat and lifeless; the punchier writing style in light novels has it's flaws but at its best has more emotion on the page than mainstream Japanese prose, and is therefore much more accesible.


Thanks for the comment! This is good to know.
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tintor2



Joined: 11 Aug 2010
Posts: 443
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:35 pm Reply with quote
I haven't read the novels but the manga is also too violent like spoiler[Anri's backstory]
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Tanteikingdomkey
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Joined: 03 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:33 pm Reply with quote
If I may ask, about how much content do people who read the books think got cut from the anime. I already decided I would like to go through the novel for the x2 content since it really has no spark to it unlike the original
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Knight-Hart



Joined: 27 Mar 2014
Posts: 266
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:10 pm Reply with quote
Andrew Cunningham wrote:

As the translator for that novel, thanks!
That was also the best editor I ever worked with, which made a huge difference.
Plus Nisio is a legitimately better writer.


Wow, awesome! Yeah, I really like your translation of the book! Thanks again for your work! I think it's quite difficult for any author (and later, translator) to write a book based on an existing franchise. The book did quite a nice job of capturing the Death Note tone and characters - particularly L, who made me smile - while also having that surreal, Monogatari-esque flare that I imagine is indicative of NISIOISN.
I would also love to see his Katanagatari novels licensed and released stateside. I agree that he's one of the better light novelists and it pains me to see his work made a mess of, like in the translation of Zaregoto.
I think the reason why the translation of some light novels can seem clunky or awkward to Western audiences is because how books are here and how English compares to Japanese. In most English language books, it's rare to see the same adjective or verb used in the same paragraph, or even the same page, whereas it's used to more often in Japanese literature simply because Japanese doesn't have as many varied adjectives and verbs as English does. That makes translating hard; some people want total purity of the literature, even if that makes it ungainly.
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LightYapper



Joined: 05 Apr 2016
Posts: 131
Location: Somewhere on Earth
PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2016 12:28 am Reply with quote
Overuse of adjectives and adverbs in light novels can actually be considered a common thing, especially in eastern counrries like Japan. I hardly have any problems with them when reading the novel (I started reading Book 1 recently), but some can be a little less important than others. Despite that, the light novel is a really good read, and extends on many details well, like the parallel between Mikado and Izaya.
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killjoy_the



Joined: 30 May 2015
Posts: 1798
PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2016 6:26 am Reply with quote
Knight-Hart wrote:
I agree that he's one of the better light novelists and it pains me to see his work made a mess of, like in the translation of Zaregoto.


Do you mean the translation for it or the fact that it got dropped off the Earth from the English publishers? I thought the flow of the text was really good and you could see Nisio's style really clearly from it, so, not knowing any Japanese, it looked like one of the best translated novels I've read. Which made it quite jarring when I had to continue with a really subpar fan-translation of the next volume.

As for DRRR, I've read fan translations of most of the novels (except the last three), and even there I could agree that Narita's style is very personal and POV-centric. Especially in the x2 seasons, most of it was cut or just directly read aloud, and it really weakened the final product. The first season though, with its several liberties and more careful pacing, managed to recreate that feeling well enough.
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Knight-Hart



Joined: 27 Mar 2014
Posts: 266
PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:02 am Reply with quote
killjoy_the wrote:
Knight-Hart wrote:
I agree that he's one of the better light novelists and it pains me to see his work made a mess of, like in the translation of Zaregoto.


Do you mean the translation for it or the fact that it got dropped off the Earth from the English publishers? I thought the flow of the text was really good and you could see Nisio's style really clearly from it, so, not knowing any Japanese, it looked like one of the best translated novels I've read. Which made it quite jarring when I had to continue with a really subpar fan-translation of the next volume.


I mean the actual translation. I don't have the book with me, or I'd quote it. I just finished it a few days ago and found it quite awkward. Whole paragraphs where the sentences started with "I", over usage of the same words, and what I found to be generally unimaginative prose.
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Snomaster1
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Joined: 31 Aug 2011
Posts: 2068
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 7:28 am Reply with quote
For me,"Durarara!!" is a pretty weird thing. And,for me at least,the illegal immigrants to Japan are among them. Unlike America,Japan has very little tolerance for foreigners living among them. In America,it's possible to become a naturalized citizen of this country. In Japan,it's a pretty rare thing. There's a lot of illegal immigration into America. Japan,not so much. Could the author have at least have put some American solders in there,with a Russian immigrant soldier among them? It would have been interesting to see,about how America and Japanese attitudes toward immigrants. Unlike Japan,America is a nation of immigrants and it would have been a fascinating contrast. I hope that the same author does another light novel,this one set in contemporary America. That would be interesting,too.
There's something else I'm wondering. I'm wondering if there will ever be American light novels. Hey. Someone could do that someday. I wonder how it'll do.
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killjoy_the



Joined: 30 May 2015
Posts: 1798
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 8:53 am Reply with quote
Snomaster1 wrote:
I hope that the same author does another light novel,this one set in contemporary America. That would be interesting,too.


Baccano! has a bunch of foreigners both in the stories set in the '30s and the ones set in the 2000's.
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