TRANSLATION: Macross Delta Vol. 1, Chapter 2

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Well, this, the translation of Chapter Two of Ukyou Kodachi’s Macross Delta novel, The Girl of Al Shahal, look a little longer than I thought… for me, writing (and ESPECIALLY translating) is a lot like going to the gym… if I overdo it one day, it takes a few days to recover. And boy, did I ever overdo it in trying to get this done by the time the final episode aired.

So yeah, I didn’t make my self-imposed deadline, but it’s done now, and might help you to recover a bit from Post-Delta-Depression.

I literally finished the chapter about half an hour ago, so I haven’t proofread it or anything. I’m sure there are tons of typos that I’ll find as I go over it more over the next few days. They should corrected by the time I finish Chapter Three, whenever that may be (I’m guessing sometime in November).

Anyway, enjoy!

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A More Considered (and Spoiler-Free) Reaction to Delta Ep. 26

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And yes, everyone indeed seems to be excited and confused, with a large dollop of anger thrown in.

Okay, that’s not QUITE accurate… If you want to find anger, it’s there. If you want to find people who enjoyed the show and enjoyed the ending, you can do that, too.

Still, the negativity has really started to affect me, in that I’m beginning to wonder “Am I crazy…? Is there something wrong with me that I don’t despise this series?” I mean, I’ve been enjoying the show throughout, even when it really started slowing down about three-quarters of the way through. While I don’t think it’s been a truly excellent show, it’s been sometimes great, and rarely less than good. And certainly not deserving of the scorn that some viewers have been pouring on it.

If I’m left somewhat unsatisfied, it’s due mostly to the fact that I really don’t want it to end yet. The settings are fascinating, and the characters are likable and fun, and it feels much too early to say goodbye to them. If episode 26 had ended with a huge cliffhanger and the promise of more, I think I would’ve been happier.

All this said, I think the negativity need not concern us too much. Reactions to the final episode of Frontier were similar. I think t just goes with the territory. People are really emotional at first, but that fades a few weeks or months. Opinions and sometimes memories are revised, and I’m sure when the next Macross comes out, the majority will be looking back fondly on Delta.

And of course, a lot of those people will not be oldtaku like myself who got into Macross in previous decades (has it really been over THIRTY-TWO years since I first saw that ad for the Macross videotape in Starlog magazine…?), but people, probably in their teens, for whom Delta is the first Macross series they’ve ever seen. And a number of those fans have most likely been bitten by the Macross bug, and, in the months ahead, will go on to devour EVERYTHING from SDF Macross to Frontier, and every stop in between.

And don’t you kind of envy them? I mean, think about it… as you’re reading this, there’s probably some fifteen-year-old kid getting his or her mind blown by Do You Remember Love for the first time. And some other whose new favorite band is Fire Bomber. And another who’s already mentally working out a Ranka cosplay. Heck, I’m sure there’s some middle-schooler falling in love with Macross right now who in years to come will end up WORKING on it. Doesn’t all that strike you as pretty important…? Or at least pretty cool?

So yeah, Delta Ep. 26. Not quite what I was expecting, but a quality series with a quality ending. And I want MORE!!

COUNTDOWN TO THE END!! (Delta Ep. 25) – And a Note About Fansubs

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Well, that’s one major plot point out of the way… At least now we know that Hayate’s dad was actually a good guy. We also know that he’s the one that found the genetic material that became Mikumo, thus making her, in a way sort of like Hayate’s sister. And he gave Freyja her mp3 player. We also get some STRONG hints about the identity of Lady M (but see the PS below).

And it really does feel like we’re at the climax now, although it seems like twenty-three or so more minutes really isn’t enough time to bring it all to a satisfying conclusion. As always, we’ll see. I will say, though, that the final sequence in this episode literally made me gasp.

And I dunno, more and more people seem to be bashing this series, but I have to admit that I’m still really enjoying it. But again, it seems like a certain anxiety takes over (and I admit I’m not immune) when a show like this is coming to an end. There was this kind of hand-wringing over Frontier, too, and many other series I’ve watched (I think Shirobako alone may have been exempt… or maybe it was just because I wasn’t really checking to see what anyone else was saying about it).

Anyway, as I said, we’ll see how next week goes. Either way, it’s been a fun journey so far.

(Oh, and PS: because of throwing in a stupid and uncalled-for “TL note” in this episode, it’s come out that many people seemed to think the fansubs we’ve been getting are somehow official. They’re not. The fansubbers don’t know any more about what’s going to happen next week than you or I. Now, Lady M could indeed be Minmay, or maybe not. We don’t know yet. I’m reluctant to criticize GG Subs too harshly, since one of my good friends has done work for them, and I’m reluctant to throw her under the bus. But GG has never pretended to any standard of excellence, and their work throughout is riddled with errors, made worse by tossing in deliberate jokes and meme references in seemingly every place they can. After I ranted a bit about this in a couple of Facebook groups recently, my friend who had worked with them contacted me, convinced that pretty much everyone knew that the subs weren’t entirely serious… but I don’t share that view. Certainly, a few people expressed some dismay, and one guy even seemed to be challenging me about it. All I can say is, compare GG’s subs to the official ones, or to my translation of the novel.

For me, the most interesting aspect is how times change: when GG was doing Frontier back in 2008, no one expected their work to be terribly good, since it showed up a day or so after airing. Compromises must be made, thorny translations problems have to be plowed through, and the results showed. The most anyone was expecting was a somewhat clearer understanding than one would get watching it raw. But now with official releases showing up on Crunchyroll or Funimation or Daisuki, I think fans are expecting more from speedsubs than any of the amateur speedsub groups can provide. The good news in Delta’s case is that there are excellent official subs on the DVDs and BDs that deserve your cash. The bad news is that it’ll be six more months before the series will have been released in full. But it’s totally worth the wait, and (again) worth the money.

And that brings up another odd wrinkle here… it used to be that a lot of fans shunned official versions in favor of fansubs. Often, the rationale was that the fansubs were, y’know, done by FANS, whereas the official versions were done by “professionals” who had little to no real knowledge of or affinity towards whatever series they were working on. This is an odd wrinkle because here, it’s reversed: my friend who worked for GG (who, as I said, contacted me after my rant) revealed that she stopped working on the Delta subs a couple of episodes ago, and that there wasn’t anyone left in the translation group who really knew or cared anything about Macross. Whereas the official subs are done by hardcore, longtime Macross fans. Again, if you’re a Delta fan, go to Amazon and BUY THE DISCS. You won’t regret it!)

No, Delta was NOT Extended After Epsiode 3 Aired…

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I kinda want to think of this post as, if not a public service announcement, then at least a corrective measure. And I hope it’s widely read.

Fan theories and errors, especially in anime fandom, somehow have a way of becoming fossilized very quickly. Within months, they can become received wisdom, even if they’re completely made up. There’s one that I’ve noticed cropping up this week, and I’d like to nip it in the bud (if I can). Because if no one does, it’s going to be an extremely persistent little bugger that’s going to haunt Macross Delta for decades.

(You think I’m exaggerating? I *still* hear that the missiles added to the tail fins of Max’s Valk in SDF Macross Ep. 10 were an “animation error,” or that Sheryl Nome was slated to die early on in Frontier, but positive fan reaction saved her. Neither has a shred of truth to it.)

In this case, just this last week, I’ve seen several posts saying that any “pacing” or script problems with Delta are due to it getting extended (from thirteen episodes and a movie to twenty-six episodes) after Episode Three was aired. I’ve seen it on Facebook, on Animesuki, on Twitter… all by different people.

You all know what I’m gonna say… It’s not true. It’s completely wrong.

Now, as I said a few posts ago, an interview came out with Vol. 2 of the DVD/BD of Delta, where a staff member mentioned that the show got changed from one-cour-plus-a-movie to two cours (still plus-a-movie…? Damn, I sure HOPE so!).

The thing is, the guy DIDN’T say it happened during the PRODUCTION of Episode 4, he said it happened during the initial SCRIPTING of Episode 4.

It’s an easy mistake to make, I guess (although some of the people talking about it REALLY should’ve known better), but it makes a lot of difference. The SCRIPTING of Episode 4 probably happened over a year or so ago. The PRODUCTION would’ve been (I’m guessing) February or March of this year (maybe later, if they were behind). One narrative gives the staff plenty of time to adjust. One leaves them scrambling.

So (and let me make this plain): anyone who says the series was extended AFTER the show had started airing is simply WRONG. They’re either mistaken, or they’re lying. If anyone says this in your presence, feel free to scoff. Link to this post if you wish (PLEASE).

In a way, if you don’t like the second cour, I guess this makes the staff look worse, since they still had a lot of time to create a satisfying series, and (for you) couldn’t pull it off. I couldn’t care less, really. As long as we’re all clear on the facts, what you make of those facts is up to you.

Here’s the photo that caused all the ruckus. Translate it yourself.

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See…?

In other news, I’m about halfway done with Chapter 2 (“Fire and Wings”) of the Delta novel, so if I continue to bear down on it, I should be able to have it up by the time the final episode of the show airs. And that’s cool, right? (And, as always (for the time being), the next chapter of the Do You Remember Love novelization will be up the first Sunday of the month. October’s chapter is quite a bit longer than September’s was, so check it out! You’ll find out quite a bit about young Hikaru’s love life!).

COUNTDOWN TO THE END!! Delta Ep. 24)

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Well, definitely a lot more is happening here, although (as they said on the Macross SpeakerPODcast) the “trial” seemed to take a little too long.

Whatever. At this point, with plenty of plot threads seeming no closer to being resolved than they were last week, I’m guessing that the end of this series will NOT be the last we’ll see of Delta. I don’t have any special insider knowledge (I haven’t even heard any hints) but I’m guessing that after the final episode we’ll be getting SOME kind of announcement of a follow-up (movie? Second series? Who knows?). Indeed, I think I’d prefer it if the series ended on a massive cliffhanger with the promise that more will be coming in a year or so.

As always, I could very easily be wrong and maybe they CAN wrap all of this up in the next forty-five or fifty minutes, but that seems less and less likely.

That said, it does seem like perhaps the lines are drawn for a big battle. On the one side, you have Xaos with a drastically weakened Walküre. On the other, you have Roid with a very powerful Mikumo, and presumably the Aerial Knights, although I’m not sure they’re going to STAY on Roid’s side (does anyone else think that Roid might just go “MAD! MAD WITH POWER!!” and Heinz is actually going to have to try to stop Mikumo…?).

The most interesting aspect, to me, is Walküre. Just as Delta Flight entered Episode 13’s battle of Ragna without their MVP, Messer, we have an analogous situation her with the Tactical Sound Unit. We’ve heard plenty of times (and saw, in the flashback episode) that Walküre without Mikumo is not terribly effective. The fact that Makina is also (temporarily, I’m sure) out of the picture just hammers the message home: unless Freyja can tap her full potential, Walküre is next to useless. But Freyja tapping her full potential could kill her, or at least considerably shorten her life.

So yeah, I really have no clue how many of the loose ends will be tied up by the end, or which ones, but one thing that I really AM expecting is a lot of action. The most recent episodes haven’t been skimpy on animation quality, exactly (I can’t think of a single episode of this show where the animation has been BAD, although 19 certainly had its share of still shots), but they have been rather low-key, which I always assume means a big, big, battle is coming up. It may start next episode, or it may be delayed until the final one, but I’m pretty sure it’s coming. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking? We’ll know soon.

COUNTDOWN TO THE END!! Delta Ep. 23

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And with Episode 23, the second cour of Macross Delta continues to seem somewhat aimless and leisurely, although it also seems to be at least TRYING to find a direction. I think I understand what they’re trying to do, but I’m not sure it’s working. At the end of each of the last few episodes, it seems like some major revelation is JUST around the corner… and then, in the following episode, that corner isn’t turned. And it’s the same here: the truth about Hayate’s father seems like it HAS to come in Episode 24, but it may or may not. We’ve got more info on Mikumo than we’ve ever had previously (as many have suspected, she seems to be connected to the “Star Singer”), but that still leaves many questions to be answered (namely “how” and “why”). By not revealing to anyone that he has Mikumo, Roid may be committing a serious betrayal. Or maybe not.

Still, there’s a lot to like here. This is another talky episode, but it’s not lacking in drama (although my favorite part was seeing Mikumo fly in and kick some serious ass). Certainly, Freyja, Hayate, and Mikumo seem about to face some big personal crises. And Hermann seemed poised to take Kassim’s role as the Aerial Knight that the good guys can trust to be honorable.

All this said, I have no clue where the story will take us in the next three episodes. I assume that Roid’s going to use Mikumo in some (probably heinous and self-serving) way, and I imagine that Hayate’s father will be exonerated, but other than that…

I dunno, I’ve seen plenty of people saying that they think the show is “predictable.” Weirdly, they never ACTUALLY predict where it’s going to go (or, in the one case where someone did, he got it wrong), they just say it’s predictable and leave it at that. Which, naturally, seems to me like it’s not quite playing fair.

Again, the ending could end up being great, or it could end up a total mess. I will point out that the first cour seemed somewhat meandering watching it week by week, but reveals itself as rather tightly focused when watching it again. It could turn out to be the same for the second cour…? I mean, I doubt it, but it’s not impossible.

Anyway, yeah… my first impression is that this was a good-but-not-great episode at a time when the show REALLY needs great episodes.

(Oh, a correction: last week, I said that perhaps the second cour was what would have been the movie, and thus some wheel-spinning was forgivable. According to Adrian on last week’s Macross SpeakerPODcast, that is not the case. He didn’t elaborate or explain how the one-cour-plus-movie was hammered into two cours, but if he says that the second cour doesn’t correspond to the intended movie, then it must be true. If any non-staff would know, Adrian would.)

Forget Everything You Know About “Do You Remember Love”!! (Translation: Chapter 2)

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As I said last week, this is a short chapter (not the shortest in the book, but close). However, it’s also the one that will give you an idea of just how different the book is from the movie. I’ll leave the surprises for you to discover, and just point out again that the book’s author, Sukehiro Tomita, was also the movie’s scriptwriter, so any differences here must be deliberate on his part.

And again, for me, seeing these differences is one of the most interesting things about a book like this. So far, it’s almost like it’s the same story, but re-worked from the ground up. And although the book was initially published in September of 1984 (September Eleventh, no less), it’s a re-working that has, until now, been pretty much unavailable to monolingual English-speaking fans. That’s kind of exciting, right?

As I write this, I’m over halfway through Chapter 4, so I’m a little bit ahead of you, but not by much (fair warning: I may take a month or so off from uploading – not translating – the chapters after I put up Chapter 5, just to get myself a little more breathing room), and yeah… the re-working continues. Not a single line of dialogue is the same, and while some of the same events happen (like here, where Skull Team launches), they happen in a totally different way.

So yeah, exciting!

Also interesting (maybe): visits to this blog took a sudden huge jump a couple of days ago, as someone (and I swear it wasn’t me) posted a link to the Delta novel translation on 4chan. According to the discussion there, it seems like a lot of people found Hayate to be rather creepy, which I’m not sure is the novel’s intent… I mean, sure, he’s ATTRACTED to Freyja, but I don’t think it’s meant to be in a “weird” way. I’m not sure there’s any way to tweak the translation to convey that, though… I dunno. People will read into it what they want to, and I think that my job as the translator is not to editorialize, but just to produce a clear, readable, and most of all faithful version of the book.

One thing that DID kinda bother me, though, was in some discussion on Animesuki, where one person said that I had said that Chapter 2 would be uploaded in two weeks. Not true. What I actually said was that I’ll probably be GETTING TO Chapter 2 in two weeks… that is, I’ll probably be STARTING translating it then. I don’t think it’ll be DONE until the end of this month, and that’s at the VERY EARLIEST. If I can finish it before the series ends, I’ll be (happily) surprised. My goal is to get it uploaded before Macross Con in October, but I’m not totally confident I’ll make it. We’ll see.

Anyway, I’d again like to thank everyone who read it, and especially the people who commented about it, either here or elsewhere. One Anon in particular had some pretty funny observations about certain lines (“Wow, ok. Control your boner, Hayate”), whereas another was certain that translation was fake, because it said that Mirage was beautiful and that her hair was the color of fire. And yeah, that line kinda seemed odd to me, too, but that is indeed what it says.

So yeah, thanks again to all of you, and now I’m heading back to DYRL Chapter 4…