Do Death Note Novels Lose Something Fundamental in Translation?

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mrsj
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Do Death Note Novels Lose Something Fundamental in Translation?

Postby mrsj » February 7th, 2016, 6:52 pm

*In another thread, mentioned the prevalence of Backyard Bottomslashes in LA - can't move for them my sources tell me - then deviated off into this*

On a related note, I saw in How to Read: Death Note 13 that Tsugumi was thrilled with Nisi0isin's writing in Another Note. He (Ohba) was all excited and wishing that Nisi0isin would write lots of stories about L. Presumably that's how L: Change the World ended up being a thing.

Which leads me to the conclusion that either Ohba is a really crap judge of what's makes great literature, which seems unlikely - points at Death Note as exhibit A confirming Ohba's instinct for storyteller - or I am. *checks bookshelves for encroaching Jane Austen novels or other evidence of lessening taste and intelligence* Nope, still all Bronte benchmarked with a side order of Yeats et al.

Am I missing something? I often think this, that something gets lost in the translation between Japanese and English.

Death Note and Another Note alike have fabulous characterisations, to my mind, but only in certain personalities. Mello, Beyond Birthday, Light, L etc - great. Then you get the cardboard cut-out woodenness of the cameos or lesser characters. All of whom are pwnt by Matt's appearance in just 12 panels. But the narratives have plot-holes you could drive a Sherpa tank though; blunt force literary devices; leaps in storytelling logic that are just clumsy; and a propensity to spell out the bloody obvious, while leaving the not-at-all-obvious-coz-they're-fudging-over-that-bit-to-speed-up-the-pace utterly devoid of rationality.

Then I read reviews in Japan which are gushing close to nosebleeds over the genius of the same. And I'm like... O.O Orly? Did we get a copy of the same book? (To be fair, I am mostly talking about L:Change the World here; the shittest novel I've ever read, with no redeeming BBs nor Mellos.) And see the author getting literary awards from independent bodies too.

Are the translations bad? Or is it me missing cultural references that elevate Death Note novels so?
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kinofdragons
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Re: Do Death Note Novels Lose Something Fundamental in Translation?

Postby kinofdragons » February 7th, 2016, 9:36 pm

mrsj wrote:(To be fair, I am mostly talking about L:Change the World here; the shittest novel I've ever read, with no redeeming BBs nor Mellos.)

Oh thank Jeevas. For a second I thought you were really ripping into Another Note (which has flaws but is still the shit for a very big reason *cough* BB *cough*). I started L: Change the WorLd but, like you said, it is shitty. I couldn't even finish it it was that bad. So I had wondered the same thing. *camps out for answer*
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renchan
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Re: Do Death Note Novels Lose Something Fundamental in Translation?

Postby renchan » February 7th, 2016, 11:52 pm

Doesn't it depend on what a country finds important in a novel? The Japanese do a lot of shit for fan-service purposes -- i.e, creating more Death Note-related things. Making cafes that are themed around the most popular anime or video game. Maybe the fans were just excited to hear more about L, to see more Death Note. At least, that's my best guess.
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Re: Do Death Note Novels Lose Something Fundamental in Translation?

Postby amaryllis » February 8th, 2016, 6:30 pm

I honestly haven't read L: Change the World in English, much less attempted it in Japanese. I might peak in a BookOff when I'm (hopefully) in Nagasaki in May and see if I can grab a Japanese copy and give it a go. Otherwise, like renchan said: maybe it's a difference in what people were looking for out of a novel?
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Re: Do Death Note Novels Lose Something Fundamental in Translation?

Postby ChaosAngel2 » May 23rd, 2016, 8:16 pm

I've read Another Note in German as well as in English- I think there gets something lost. In English I liked the novel very much, in German... well it's not as bad as some other stuff I've read so far, but next to the English Version it's crap.

Reason: German does not have to many words for the expression of feelings that distinguish between for example different notions of similar facial expressions related to feeling. One example for that would be blush/flush in English-> in German it's just "erröten".
By cutting down the possibilities of expression of feelings and in some other directions, the linguistic level of the novel becomes... well... too easy to read? I just thought the translation had been made without taking much care of not falling into primary school language level...
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lua
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Re: Do Death Note Novels Lose Something Fundamental in Translation?

Postby lua » May 23rd, 2016, 11:13 pm

i'm going to agree that something gets lost n the translation. in portuguese, a lot changes from one region to another so expressing someone with slang or less formal stuff totally points out where they are coming from and give them an accent.
also the cultural traits get adapted? and the toooone. it's totally lost most of the times. jokes too!

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