COUNTDOWN TO THE END!! Delta Episode 22

Delta Ep.22

“So yeah… no REAL complaints here, although I hope the pace picks up a bit as we enter the final stretch. Fingers crossed…”

That’s where I left off in my last Delta (series, as opposed to novel) post, after Episode 19, and I honestly thought it would be my final one before the end… but I eventually got to thinking, “how often is it that I can comment about a Macross series in real time?” I’d guess that another series will come eventually, but who knows when?

So anyway, my fingers were crossed in vain, as both episodes 20 and 21 were rather slow and talky, with very little action. Neither of them were, y’know, BAD or anything (I think most people would agree), but they seemed perilously close to wheel-spinning at a time when the show seemed like it SHOULD be moving into overdrive.

To put it another way, while nothing was wrong with the episodes in and of themselves, it felt to me as though the clock was really running out, with MANY plot threads to be cleared up. I began to worry if the staff could pull off a satisfying ending or if it was too late (“giri giri mai,” indeed…). And I know that others shared the same concern.

Then, a few days ago, some info came to light that pretty much set all my fears to rest. In an interview included with the second BD/DVD of the series, —— ——–, in charge of series composition, mentions that the show was originally meant to be one “cour,” followed by a movie. Then, during the time they were working on the script for Episode 4, it got expanded into a two-cour series.

So, if everything that’s happening in the last thirteen episodes was originally meant to happen in a two-hour movie, then yes, we can afford some wheel-spinning.

(I have no idea, I should add, whether or not the second cour is the same story as the movie would’ve been. I assume eventually there will be some interview that clarifies the creative process.)

And not only THAT, but then Episode 22 comes along and makes me wonder how the show will even LAST four more episodes. Seriously, it feel like we’re right at the end, now that Walküre and Delta Flight have infiltrated Windermere itself.

Still, among western fans at least, the dragginess of the last few episodes seems to have been a major miscalculation, with much more negativity coming out on forums and on places like Twitter. Now, as always, some of this is just the Robotech crowd or the “No good anime was ever made after the 1980s” crowd, both of which we can ignore, but it also seems as though some younger fans are also losing interest. At this point, I think, everything depends on what ending they’re building towards.

That said, I remember PLENTY of fans hating the ending of Frontier, and yet that show seems to be the standard by which Delta is measured among many fans.

(As an example, I distinctly recall many fans calling Frontier’s character design “generic,” and lamenting that Haruhiko Mikimoto didn’t do them… and yet now, the Risa Ebata Walküre illustrations are praised to the skies, and many fans who got into Macross with Frontier wish that she were more directly involved with the show. This isn’t a case of lowered expectations, this is genuine love for those Frontier designs and for Ebata’s style.)

Anyway, yeah… It’s good to see some decisive forward movement in the story. Let’s hope it continues.

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TRANSLATION: Macross Delta Vol. 1 Chapter 1

Girl of Al Shahal Chapter 1

At the end of the Delta novel, there’s an interview with Minori Suzuki (which I might translate when I get to it) in which the interviewer asks her what she thought of the novel. She says that she enjoyed reading it, because she kept having revelations like, “Oh, THAT’S why Hayate did that…” or “So THAT’S what Mirage was thinking then!” At the end of the interview, she exhorts the reader to keep reading the books, saying, “Let’s all become ‘Delta Masters’ together!” The good news here is that you can begin your journey towards Delta Mastery TODAY!

Finally, after two weeks of working on it, here’s the rough draft of Chapter 1 of Macross Delta Volume 1 by Ukyou Kodachi. I could go on and on about the differences between the show and the novelization, but, I mean, the chapter is RIGHT HERE. You can read it and see for yourself.

That said, I think a few explanations are in order: first, you’ll notice immediately that Freyja (whose name, you’ll notice, never gets mentioned in this chapter) talks kinda funny. It only partially comes through in the subtitles (both fansubs and official) but in Japanese, she speaks with an accent. A made-up accent with some similarities to the dialect from the island of Kyushu. By all accounts, this makes her sound like a country bumpkin. To that end, I’ve given her an accent here which is meant to be suggestive of a Southern US accent without actually BEING a Southern US accent. Anyway, I’m no Mark Twain, so trying to write in “full dialect” is beyond my ability. You have to have a diamond ear to catch all the nuances of a real accent, and a diamond pen to be able to transfer them legibly into prose. So yeah, just a few reliable changes (like dropping her “g”s at the end of words), plus some “hick” vocabulary thrown in. I think it turned out okay, but it may be distracting at first, since that aspect of Freyja, as I said, didn’t really make it into the subs much, although I for one think it’s pretty central to who she is as a character.

The second issue is Hayate’s “voice,” which I’m not sure I’ve really captured yet. Although Hayate isn’t the narrator, it is definitely told from his perspective (note, for example, that any scene from the TV episode where he’s NOT present doesn’t appear in the chapter), and the narration has a casual, slightly slangy tone. I’ve tried to reproduce this in English, but again, it doesn’t QUITE “feel” like Hayate to me yet. I mean, “casual but authoritative” is basically my Macross Rewatch blog voice… which isn’t QUITE Hayate. That’s the main reason I’m calling this a rough draft: as I get further in the book, I’m sure I’ll hit upon how Hayate would say certain things if he were speaking in English, and then I can go back and revise. Right now, I think it’s… okay… but I’m hoping to really nail it before I’m done.

Third, there’s the dialogue. Weirdly, at the beginning of the chapter, the dialogue is not the same as the TV episode. Everyone’s saying stuff that MEANS the same things (like the foreman chastising Hayate for slacking off), but using different words. For these conversations, I felt free to translate them however seemed best to me. However, as the chapter continues, the dialogue starts becoming word-for-word the same as the show. For these lines, I simply used the translation from the official subs, changing things only to reflect Freyja’s accent and to smooth things out if there was extra dialogue in the book (and sometimes there is). And taking Sketchley’s oft-said point, I used “emigration fleet” instead of the subtitles’ “immigration fleet.” I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.

Last, as always, I’m pretty sure there are some small flubs in here. At the VERY least, there are some sentences that I didn’t quite understand, and am not confident about in the translation. Mea culpa, and caveat emptor.

So, anyway, here it is. As I said last week, it was fun to do, and I’m happy that it went so quickly, and that it’s getting posted here so soon. I’m currently back to working on the Do You Remember Love novel, but I should be getting to Delta Chapter 2 in the next week or two, depending. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you keep reading to the end! After all, we don’t want to disappoint Minori-chan, do we…?

NEXT WEEK: MORE DO YOU REMEMBER LOVE? (It’s a short chapter, so don’t get too excited…)

TRANSLATION UPDATE: Delta Vol. 1 – The Girl of Al Shahal

Excuses, excuses

Best laid plans, and that that… as of last Sunday, I’d made a bit of headway into the Delta novel. Not much, but it was a start. The first chapter is nearly forty pages, and on books like this, I can generally average a page a day if I keep at it regularly. So I really THOUGHT that I could do ten pages or so, and put them up here today, as a sort of appetizer. Then I would do a little more over the next week, get roughly halfway through the first chapter, go back to DYRL for a bit, then spend a couple of weeks in September finishing up the first Delta chapter.

Well, as you can see, it didn’t work out like that.

A bit of backstory first: the first full translation that I did, the book “My Fair Minmay,” was a little misleading for me, since it was both (relatively) easy and (greatly) rewarding, with something interesting on nearly every page. That is, it was FUN. I always really looked forward to the end of the work day, going to the coffee shop, and hacking away at it for an hour or two. I say it was misleading, though, because everything since then has either not been easy or not been rewarding (the Misa novella, for example, was intensely rewarding, but REALLY hard. “The Lost Two Years” was pretty easy, but not especially interesting – and actively irritating at times. And the Misa drama album was both really hard and really boring).

Until now.

That’s right, for the first time in YEARS, this is a work that I’m finding FUN. And so, no, I didn’t finish those ten pages. I finished more than twenty. If I keep my nose to the grindstone, I can finish Chapter One by next week. So rather than deliver it in installments, I figured I’d wait and put up the whole chapter at once.

Now, maybe it will stay easy, or maybe it will suddenly get difficult. Who knows? Either way, I’ll upload what I have next Sunday.

After I finish Delta Chapter One, it’s back to DYRL.

I still don’t think all of the Delta novel will be finished this year, but if I can do it all this quickly, it’ll definitely be less of a distraction from DYRL than I was fearing. I mean, either way, I was going to spend two weeks here on the Delta book, and if I can do forty pages without breaking (much of) a sweat, when I had expected that I would only, with great effort, be able to do twenty…? This is very good news!

And hey, if Ukyou Kodachi’s other Macross novels are as easy and breezy (and Japanese-y) as this, I suddenly find myself looking FORWARD to tackling the eight (!!!) volumes of Frontier, rather than slightly dreading it, as I had been.

So yeah, sorry I don’t have anything this week, but if all goes well, I’ll have way more next week than I had planned. Gori-gori!

About Macross Delta Vol. 1 – Girl of Al Shahal

Delta Book 1

So… a nice gift arrived at my place a couple of days ago, the first Macross Delta novel, “Girl of Al Shahal,” by the prolific Ukyou Kodachi. Now, Mr. Kodachi started off as an outside contractor, but incredibly worked his way into the “inner circle,” as it were. His first work with Satelight Animation was his two-volume novelization of Basquash, which I haven’t read. Then, probably on that basis, he was chosen to write the Frontier novelizations. During this project, not only did he end up writing WAY MORE than is in the show (the novels are chock-full of scenes that aren’t in the series, featuring PLENTY of characters who never even show up there, like Max and Exsedol and Kim and Aegis Focker, AND he managed to write not one but TWO books of Frontier-related short stories), but he did it very quickly. As such, he’s been the “go-to” guy for a while when they need a new Macross story (that is, he wrote Macross the Ride and Macross 30), as well as being the continuity expert on Delta and the scriptwriter of Delta Episode 8. Seriously, the guy knows his Macross. Better than you or I.

Now… this book was originally announced for June, so I’m not sure why it didn’t appear until August. Either way, it’s in my hands now, and I’m trying to make my way through it as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Mr. Kodachi has amply demonstrated that he can WRITE much faster than I can TRANSLATE, so we’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, I’ll have a taste of the book for you soon. I refuse to abandon my translation of the Do You Remember Love novel for this, but I really want to do this, too, so I’m left in the uncomfortable position of working on two novels at the same time. Well… uncomfortable for ME, since this isn’t how I generally like to work.

The first Delta novel is roughly the same length, page-wise, as the Do You Remember Love novel, although the Delta font-size is a little bigger, so I think it has fewer words than the earlier book.

I dunno. Either way I go, I know that SOMEONE’s gonna be upset that their favorite novelization isn’t moving fast enough. And I’m really anal about FINISHING projects that I start on (no matter how long it takes). At this point, my solution is to work on Do You Remember Love on the weekdays (and upload each chapter as I finish it) and work on Delta on the weekends (and upload whatever I’ve got in-between DYRL chapters). If you’ve got a better idea, please tell me in the comments. On the one hand, yes, I can only work on the stuff that moves me (if I try to work on something I’m not into, it’s a SERIOUS struggle and takes forever… witness how long it took to finish that damn Misa drama album… and I only finished THAT because I asked a Japanese friend to please write out the remainder of the album when I could literally go no further (which, luckily, was only a few minutes from the end)). On the other, you’re the audience, and should have at least SOME say in what I’m doing.

(Of course, there are a couple of idiot Robotech fans who have insisted that I’m just translating “comics” here but, yeah, that’s not the case. These are novels… y’know, PROSE. Unillustrated (mostly). It takes longer to finish a page. A manga page could take me just a few minutes to translate, but a novel page generally takes me at least half an hour. I think they just don’t realize that, hey, western media isn’t the ONLY one that has novelizations. And I don’t think it has even entered their heads that those novelizations could be worth reading.)

So… if I do both at the same time, is that okay? Even if it means it’ll take a lot longer for either to be finished (if they DO get finished, of course. Not a given…)? Or would you rather I focus on one and screw the other? (If that’s the deal, it’ll still take a bit of time to implement, since I have committed myself to Do You Remember Love Part I (the first five chapters, sixty-some-odd pages) AND Delta Chapter 1 (forty-some-odd pages).

If it makes any difference… at this point, I find Delta somewhat easier, but Do You Remember Love feels more rewarding. At this point…

So, yeah… let me know. If you don’t care about the novels at all, also let me know. Many of my best friends don’t. Thanks!

Even Yet More Thoughts on Delta (The First Three-Quarters)

Delta Post 4

And here we are, now roughly three-quarters of the way through Delta. The first DVD/blu-ray is out, as is the first Walküre album. The second single is due out this week. The Bandai transformable kit of Hayate’s late, lamented VF-31J is out, and the Hasegawa kit of the VF-1EX will be out soon. The merchandising machine is cooking along nicely.

The show? Well, that’s something of a different story. After the spectacle of Episode 13, which could very well rank among the greatest Macross TV episodes of all time, I suppose nearly anything would be a let down. But the following six episodes have been especially slow and talky, yet without solving many of the mysteries that still hover over the series.

Now, of course, it’s too early to tell if this is going to be a problem or a wrong direction or anything. I mean, if we don’t yet know the destination, we can’t very well say that they’re taking the wrong route to get there, can we? On the other hand, while I’m still definitely enjoying the show, I’m not enjoying the second half (so far) as much as I enjoyed the first half. But for all I know, this could all be necessary set-up, and everything from here on out is going to bring it all together brilliantly. Or it could end up being a huge mess. We’ll find out over the next six or seven weeks, won’t we?

Anyway, it’s clear that everything is leading back to the Windermerian War of Independence seven years prior, and Hayate’s father’s role in it. We’ll see where it goes…

In the show’s favor, the music remains great (I was a little iffy about the second opening at first, but it’s grown on me), and the characters remain endearing. You can see all of this most clearly, I think, in Episode 16, about Freyja’s birthday. It’s a fun, utterly charming episode, with some serious undertones. And even the most recent episode, despite being mostly an info-dump/slideshow, has a good time revisiting previous Macross series.

The sales of the Walküre album (reaching Number One on the daily charts and Number Two on the weekly) are promising, as are the DVD/BD sales. Sales aren’t as great as they were for Frontier, but that was an anomaly. Two things really nice about the DVD: first, there are official subtitles on it, and unlike the main fansubs, they’re actually REALLY GOOD. Second, we finally get a complete version of Episode 1. No real surprises with it, if you’ve seen both Mission 0.89 and Mission 1, you know what to expect. Still, I would STRENUOUSLY recommend fans (especially fans outside of Japan) to buy it. Putting the subs on it is something we want to REWARD them for, and we want them to keep doing so, yes? Big sales are the best way to make sure that that happens.

The show still has its detractors, but they seem to be dwindling in number. I think most of them have simply stopped watching the show, although a few are still continuing to, heaven knows why. I really don’t want to paint the issue as a generational thing, but it does seem like most of the haters are somewhat older than most of the fans (i.e., they’re around my age). Again, a few are clearly just overenthusiastic Robotech fans bitter that Macross is healthier than Robotech right now, and who seem to think that they can actually convince people not to like it. A few others are definitely of the “I hate every new anime” school. Anyway, there’s no way to please either of these groups, so it’s probably best to just acknowledge their biases and then move on. The show is clearly thriving, despite the efforts of some to tear it down (or, at least complain about it loudly and often).

Delta Haters
PICTURED: Your average Delta hater.

So yeah… no REAL complaints here, although I hope the pace picks up a bit as we enter the final stretch. Fingers crossed…

Do You Remember Love – The Novelization (Chapter 1)

DYRL Ch.1

Okay… so here’s my translation of the first chapter of the Do You Remember Love novelization, by movie scriptwriter Sukehiro Tomita. You’ll note that nothing that is related here actually happens in the movie, which is one of the main things that I like about the book. I finished Chapter 3 last week, and so far, NOTHING in the book is a scene from the movie. It’s almost like Tomita used deleted and unused scenes to tell the same story as the film. So far, at least.

And yeah, as I said, I’m only up to Chapter 3. There are twenty-two chapters total in the book, and they vary widely in the length. The shortest is three pages, the longest is twenty-five pages. I will TRY to upload one chapter per month, and more if I get well ahead of the game, but no promises. For one reason or another, I also might not be able to finish the book, so it would probably be best if you viewed each uploaded chapter as my final one. All I can say is that so far, it’s turning out to be a pretty interesting read, and I think it’s worthwhile to do the whole book.

That said, the first Macross Delta novel should be arriving at my place soon, and I’m going to be translating chapters of that between chapters of this. So yeah… this book will take AT LEAST two years to finish, if I even finish it. Me, I’m trying not to look that far ahead. I’m dancing as fast as I can. Really.