Category Kindai Manga Translation
In the end, the point of all this is to say that copyright is a legal and not a moral framework, and as such its principles are fundamentally mutable in accordance with what we want our culture of knowledge and creative exchange to be. If that goal is, as those who first envisioned copyright wanted, to facilitate exchange rather than stifle it, it is high time we acknowledged that copyright as it stands now not only isn’t working but is actively impeding that goal. To that end, scanlation could be one means to push back and reassert very real rights that have been lost along the way, though much of what falls under that heading is rather hard to defend in its current form.
In the spirit of translative promiscuity, letting no one way of doing things become an ossified norm, I thought this week I might make use of a selection of translated single page manga from Rakuten’s oeuvre to illustrate an argument in that way that used to be my weekly habit not so long ago.
It is, perhaps, a bit unfair, even if useful and necessary sometimes, to pick apart someone else’s translation, to linger creepily over its supposed faults, and generally slap it about with the sloppy phallus of your smug superiority. I myself only started to eschew these bouts of accusatory dick-waving once I had spent a considerable […]
There is quite a bit to unpack in this week’s offerings, so I’ll leave my commentary for next week. For now, I hope you enjoy the [comic]!
When thinking about how to approach this translation, it occurred to me that I am somewhat blessed in having Rakuten’s own tri- and bi-lingual manga to work from, to see how he works multiple sets of text into his [comics] (often haphazardly), so as to free myself, as he does, from a slavish devotion to sense in order to work from the perspective of effect. The original of this text is, of course, entirely in Japanese, yet its translation by my own hand would not be out of place with any of Rakuten’s bilingual manga.
On their surface, Ippei’s film stories might be read as quaint domestic comedies, fodder for the much maligned and quite often stereotyped pedestrian predilections of bored housewives, and a superficial understanding of women’s magazines in prewar Japan would certainly buttress that reading. However, the historical print milieu in which Ippei’s manga quite often found itself was neither decidedly middle brow nor exclusively for women, even if the print matter where they appeared was a woman’s magazine. In fact, given what is readily apparent about the kinds of stories regularly published in newspapers and magazines, it is entirely possible that Ippei’s manga aspired to a certain high literary status.
It became clear that what I needed to do was not replicate Ippei’s text in one of its extant forms nor one purely of my own invention but rather relate to it in a manner analogous to how his own eiga shōsetsu do not quite resemble other contemporaneous examples of the “form.” I had to remember for myself and, more importantly, show how Ippei’s manga represent an aesthetic attitude, not just a visual format, an orientation that has as much to say about how we might approach translation as how we might regard [comic] form.