Mad Father and Misao Translation Notes
Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Translated Two Games by the Same Guy in Considerably Different Ways
(There's also a bunch of stuff about how the two games are connected in this post, so...)
Who needs names?
According to Sen: not Dio, Alfred, or any of the subjects besides
The blond youth was indeed only called "Blond Youth" in the Japanese version. But I knew he would get so, so much attention from the fandom, so I figured he needed a name. Well, Nico commenters had pretty much named him Dio after the Jojo character, so... My compromise was saying it's just what people call him (accurate in a way!), but it seems not many cared much about that disclaimer.
Mom's name (Monika) was always given in the letter she wrote (though was not originally mentioned in the gallery). However, dad had no name, and that seemed pretty... unbalanced. So I just made one up that sounded appropriate. Come on, the titular character can't be unnamed!
I'm not sure how I would introduce names for the other subjects even if I wanted to, but them not having names is likely intentional due to the whole "we were forgotten" thing.
And while we're talking about names, I'm still not particularly sure of how "Dorevisu" is meant to be romanized, but Drevis sounds alright to me. ("Dorebisu" seems to be Drevis, so I would think it's the same.)
And here's something I noticed about the names that was totally unintentional:
Maria, MonikaAya, AlfredDio, Drevis
When I was translating the game, I was in a... mindset. I felt like this game was just too silly/corny/etc. when put up against Ib or The Witch's House, and that's why I spent like a month flip-flopping on translating it.
Finally, I decided I would post it anonymously on PewDiePie's forums and let chaos reign.
Except when I was closer to finishing, I didn't want to go quite that far, so I posted it on Tumblr claiming it was someone else's translation.
I eventually realized - yes, a day or two AFTER translating it - that it wasn't really as bad as I thought. So I decided to just give up on that trickery. But how did all this affect the translation?
Well. In some places, I made distinct decisions to try to set this imaginary translator apart from myself. Typically it was doing slightly amateurish things, though let's be real, your average amateur translator is a lot worse than the worst I would be willing to put out. (The inconsistency in the descriptions of certain objects is part of this, but really, I was just too lazy to keep track of consistent translations.)
Sometimes I would intentionally go with translations that could be misread or sounded silly out of context. I broke up "father" as "fat... her..." so it might sound like Aya is calling her mom fat. I translated in ways that conflicted with past translations; the song that was "Old Puppet" in Ib is called "Old Doll" in Mad Father. And who could forget "It tastes like mom..."? (Though it can kinda sorta be read that way in Japanese, so yeah.)
But would I change these things now that I've admitted to it being me? No way. I think it suits the game.
Forget it... This is way too gross. Who would even think of doing something so disgusting?
Yeah, it's a Silent Hill 3 reference. Exact wordings tend to be. The original was something like "It's so dirty! I'm not touching it...", and the situation seemed so familiar to me (and others) that I took it all the way in my translation.
But here's the best part: in both Silent Hill 3 and Mad Father, the protagonist of the previous game is that "who"!
Der Übersetzer Ist Richtig
So Aya's family is supposed to be German. This doesn't affect all that much in either version of the game. The German on the floor in blood was always like that, I spelled Monika that way because German, and Alraune is the German name for mandrakes (spelled that way in Japanese too), but that's about it.
Oh, and Aya can't quite read the Code Memo because it's in Japanese/English, which she's only learned a little of. Except in the end dad goes "Where are yooou?" in Japanese because uhhh.
There is the "New Text On Anatomy," however. It's a German text originally, famously translated from Dutch into Japanese as "Kaitai Shinsho," and "New Text On Anatomy" is a translation of the Japanese title. Given its origins and the context, it may have made a little more sense to go with the German title, Anatomische Tabellen, but on the other hand it might have been confusing for players as to what it was.
Okay, we'll take this one seriously.
So Mad Father was translated in a rather jokey manner suited to how silly it seemed to me. Misao is also silly - but it gets much darker. Seeing those warnings about the content, I knew I wanted to translate Misao more seriously.
More than just my change in attitude, though, I felt like Misao gave me a lot more freedom to write good dialogue. Conversations between high-schoolers and with Best Character Library can be a lot more fun than flashbacks with mom and dad and exposition, basically. I also loved how honest Sen was about the game in the bonus room (it's very Chrono Trigger like that), so I could thus translate that stuff a lot more casually.
The password puzzle was probably a bit simpler in Japanese, but I can't imagine people had much more trouble with mine. Each Japanese name was comprised of the kanji for a number, a few random incidental kanji, and the kanji for a color. (There was also a slight implication they were all male, but that would have limited my options greatly.)
Bruno Goldman: "Uno" from Spanish and gold.
Nikki Verde: "Ni" from Japanese and verdant.
Trey Noir: Tres and noir from French.
April Redd: The month and the color. Clearly no connection to the below or any kind of reference.
May White: The month and the color. Clearly no connection to the above or any kind of reference.
June Azure: The month and the color. Not very original, but Kannyou really blame me?
Sephira Ochre: "Sep" and ochre. Really, what other choice did I have besides just changing the color itself? Who names their kid Orange? (Poor Orange.)
Octavian Bronz: "Oct" and bronze.
Novella Violet: "Nov" and violet. No, it isn't Library's full name or anything, I just like the name Novella.
Decca Grey: "Dec" and gray.
The rest is straightforward, really.
Name-wise, most name readings I could be certain of due to filenames with the romanji. (Strangely, only Ayaka is given a concrete reading in her intro - and Misao, technically - but the others are easy enough to figure out.)
As I pointed out in the bonus room, I made Novella the default Library name suggestion because it's a good name; the original didn't have a special default. (You get a few unique reactions for certain names, by the way - including trying to use the same name as the protagonist.)
The two Akis speak a little differently; almost every Aki line has two variations, usually with very minor changes, or sometimes just the same (even in Japanese, where it's easier to imply gender). There are even male lines for some scenes in the true ending, so I'm guessing making it female-only was a somewhat late decision. (EDIT: Of course, version 3 added the male option.)
Oh yeah, and I changed the main font from the plain Azuki font to the bold Azuki font because it looked better for English.
So, without further ado...
I guess it runs in the family!
In Mad Father, we have our bonkers family. Dad is nuts, mom fell for him because he's nuts, and mom wants Aya to be nuts. That old guy mumbling to himself says (after beating the game once) that mom is "going to create a demon." In the true ending, Aya grows up to be like her father, so Maria remarks that it runs in the family. (In Japanese, it's literally like "you can't fight your blood.")
Ogre, the mysterious suit-wearing salesman, introduces himself while wondering if Aya likes books. In the extra scene, Ogre is instead wearing a spiffy vest and has given dad a lab (implied to be in the other world), where he's taken his wife's suggestion and created a replica of Aya in mature form.
In Misao, you meet the vest-wearing Onigawara and a girl not necessarily named Library, but called that because of her hobby. Library, like Onigawara, isn't human, and seems fond of Aki because s/he doesn't seem to be human. (Aki also has one red eye when she loses her contact, and the bonus room suggests Aki being part demon.)
Talking to Library, she brings up her father, who's always locked up in his lab doing experiments, but supposes she's not so different given that she's always locked up in the library reading books. "I guess it runs in the family!"
Note that Library words it differently than Maria in Japanese - more like "It must be hereditary!" - but I think you'll agree it was the right choice to make them the same.
While I'm pointing these things out, here's what I can gather about Onigawara/Ogre, considering Sen doesn't currently plan on continuing the "series."
Clearly, he resides in the other world, which is effectively the afterlife. Misao and mom seemed to end up there after they died, and those who died there in Misao were trapped until Onigawara decided to give their spirits a chance to be reborn. Library also works for him since she was born in the other world. So he definitely has powers over death.
The Red-Eyed Stranger in Mad Father tells us that Ogre can give people the power of curses (typically to get revenge), meaning Misao and Monika very likely consulted with him. He was then present in the school/house to ensure things proceeded as planned. In Misao, he told Aki about the four sacrifices; in Mad Father, he protected Aya as Monika wanted.
However, it's questionable how obedient Ogre is to the people who make requests of him. He did help Misao get revenge, but afterward decided to free the sacrificed spirits (though Misao doesn't ultimately mind you freeing them). He protected Aya like Monika wanted, but also helped her reach Monika, which she didn't seem to want. He even gave Aya the Magic Water to make her mother pass on (or whatever).
So ultimately, he seems to do what he likes. He might be convinced into a deal when it comes to curses, but you never know if he's just doing it to get his hands on more souls to work for him in the other world.
Man, that was a lot of words about silly games.