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Do you know the reason I first started translating the novels? 

Well, I'm going to tell you. Slash/yaoi haters and people who will lose respect for me knowing I ship slash pairings, avert ye eyes or forever hold your peace. 
 
 
ANYWAY.

I got into KH just before I went to Japan on exchange a few years ago, and I desperately wanted to read the manga which I had a lot of trouble finding online at that time. So when I went to Japan, one of the first things I did when I was given a little freedom was raid the book shop at the train station for anything related to KH. I did find the manga! But then, I saw something else.

To most people it would look like this:

blah

To me it looked like this:

blah

Being in the middle of the honeymoon phase in my relationship with Akuroku, you can imagine my burning need to own this book. Despite it being a novel, not a comic. Despite my Japanese being nowhere near good enough to make much sense of any of it.

I bought it, of course.

Staring at the lines of basically illegible text made me I feel like all my dreams could come true and all the secrets of the universe would be revealed to me, like I was staring at sentences of subtext that would make my fangirl heart explode... if only I could figure out what it said.
 
I began work trying to decipher the book with the use of three huge dictionaries, including a kanji dictionary, until my host mother took pity on me and let me borrow a little electronic dictionary that had belonged to her son. Being both old and designed for Japanese people, the dictionary was incredibly hard to use. I had to use a paper dictionary just to use the electronic dictionary, at first. Then I learned how to use the 'jump' function, which made life a whole lot easier. But still, it had no kanji (Chinese-based logographic character) input panel which meant that if I wanted to look up an unfamiliar kanji word with no furigana (pronunciation guide lettering), I had to count the strokes, browse painstakingly through the ginormous paper kanji dictionary until I found it, then play a game of trial and error until I figured out which reading was used for the particular word I was trying to look up... 
 
All in all, it was very difficult. I thought it was amazing. When I was a kid I loved keeping records of random things and compiling notes and folders and making projects for myself. This was like that, except with the reward of EPIC BEAUTIFUL GAYNESS.
 
And so that's how I worked through my first absolutely terrible translation of Axel--Seven Days. I wrote my 'translation' (I use this word loosely) above the Japanese in the actual book, which means I am forced to see it every time I read the book. This means being subjected to lines like 
 
this breeze is always blowing together, and everyone was thinking. why did Hayner say that thing.
should be: You'd think we'd all be thinking how great it would be to stay together like this forever, so why would Hayner go and say something like that?
 
The words from Hayner's heart shocked everyone, and Roxas dropped his eyes slightly.
should be: Roxas felt his heart give a thud at Hayner's words, and he lowered his gaze just a little.

a memory--that, yesterday he terribly lost that memory. memory--to do with himself, all those memories were completely lost. somehow. 
do i really need to explain this

 
hgrfvgrehjfdgf. This almost physically hurts to look at. And you know what? The 'better' translation I did a year later, which you can find here on my journal as well as on Heartstation is probably riddled with a lot of the same mistaken grammar and colloquialisms etc. I really should go back and re-do them, but I can't be bothered to at this point think they should stand as a testament to my growth. 8D Besides, I bet the stuff I did just this year will look embarrassingly awful in a year or so. I hope so, anyway!! I never want to stop getting better...    /tangent
 
Anyway. Things got a lot easier once I purchased my baby, my beloved, my darling casio ex-word (XD-SP6600), which I then never went anywhere without while in Japan. (Even now I take it to all my classes because of the English-English dictionary that helps me understand complicated words and fake being smart like a boss.)
 
The translations didn't really get better, though, for a very very long time. I chipped away at the novel on and off over the year I was over there, alternating between that and translating manga into cheap cute exercise books. It got to the point where I'd be doing this in class instead of studying for the JLPT (which I was supposed to do on my own at my desk, the actual classes going waaay over my head), until I got caught and chewed out over it. But it was around then that I started to realise I didn't really want to be an English teacher in Japan, and that translating was an awesome hobby. I didn't realise that I wouldn't mind pursuing a career in it til a lot later, and I didn't decide on it for a fact until even longer after that, but this was when the seeds for my plan for the future were sown, I guess.
 
When I got back to Australia, I didn't touch any of it again until I saw a post over on KHInsider forums lamenting the fact that the novels never made it overseas, and I realised, I have the exact novel they're talking about! I already translated most of it! I could just type it up, let's see how--OH GOD HOW DID I EVER THINK ANYTHING
 
...So I basically had to re-translate as I typed it up, beset by many new obstacles, including my absolute lack of experience and skill regarding posting on the internet. Looking at the formatting of my older LJ posts is one of those laugh or cry things, and considering how I'm so basic even now, that's really saying something. But at the time I was on a rush of confidence and power thanks to owning my own computer for the first time in my life (a laptop I could bring into my own room and privacy and ge;fjkd), as well as the heady new experience of posting things on a forum and having people reply back. 
 
Holy crap! So many people are reading it!! Thank you so much!!
I really posted this. After eight people replied. wgltjfkdwglfd

This also began my love-hate-addiction to KHInsider forums, but that's a whole other story. 
 
In any case, the confidence in myself didn't last long, but my stubbornness not to give up did. 

And it rewarded me greatly. My Japanese has gotten better, I've found a way to justify my existence in the KH fandom, I've met some fucking awesome people. All these things make the time and effort I spend on the novels worth it, and are what drive me on when it's hard or boring. 
 
But I'll never pretend that the first reason I ever considered buying a novel in the first place isn't still relevant.
 
THE SUBTEXT YOU GUYS
 
SERIOUSLY
 
Sometimes I had to actually put the book down and breathe properly because the subtext fills me with overpowering glee. For example basically the entire way through somewhere in time.
 
Except, the overpowering glee I feel backhands me with crushing pressure, because I know that it's my job to be impartial and leave my own slashy bias out of it (same for my endless hatred for Xion). And I do my absolute best, I promise. I think very carefully about each word, trying to make sure it reflects what was meant by the original. And I still have a lot to learn about translating, and I know I come off as stiff and awkward a lot of time time, but I'd like to think my translations are at least unbiased. 

And then I find that there's someone out there who notices every single thing I had a fit over and makes the sort of comments I made in my own head when I read the Japanese except funnier and with gifs and I feel so joyous I want to roll and dither around on my bed forever.

lahgejfkhgbdv I cannot even explain how awesome this is to me!! I was already following this hilarious blog when they posted the first novel jibe, and I was so floored, I wanted to scream something like THIS IS THE REASON I EXIST (in fact I think I did capslock something along those lines at [livejournal.com profile] onthecount 's offline msn window, why she puts up with me is a mystery)
 
So I guess what I want to say now is, thank you to everyone who's stuck with me and supported me so far. Even though there's no real end to the journey, I've really come a long way, and thinking about it today got me all nostalgic (also embarrassed but mainly nostalgic). I know I haven't posted new translations for a while, and I have no idea how important anyone else thinks it is, but I still feel vaguely guilty about it. I promise I will translate the BBS novel, when I'm feeling more motivated and have more time.
 
Besides, what kind of subtext will there be?? Aqua/Terra? Terra/Ven? Ven/Vani? Eraqus/Xehanort??? Lea/young children *salivates at the possibilities*
 
Thank you for reading this giant tl;dr ♥ stay safe and happy, and may gay subtext abound in all your media.
 
 

 
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Sam

December 2011

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