Jan 27, 2011


VillainVillain by Shuichi Yoshida

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I decided to read this book because it was reviewed in the New Yorker and it had enjoyed nice comments. However, I have to say this won't deserve to be introduced such highly, especially when the translation fails to convey fully the voice of the original.

I'm a native speaker of Japanese and I used to live in the very area which the story takes place.

There are many kind of dialects spoken in that area and the original novel skillfully let each character tell stories with their own language. That's one of the elements which gives this novel distinctive atmosphere. But I don't think the voice of English has any difference between the characters.

I'm kind of disappointed that the unique aspect of Japanese language has completely been neglected here...

View all my reviews


Clarissa (Readable Blog/Talk to the Clouds) said...

I wonder if there are any books where dialects of Japanese have been conveyed well. It seems to be a real challenge. (For example, in the manga "Azumanga Daioh," the character Osaka speaks with a Texas drawl, which sounds weird and also kills a main joke about her character.) If so, I'd like to read them.

Mrs. Malone said...

Hi Clarissa,

What a funny story. I wonder what they have in common, Osaka and Texas... hehe
I'm afraid it's not yet wildly acknowledged that Japanese, of course it's not just for Japanese, have colorful variations from one place to another.

I'm originally from Kansai area and I used to speak sort of kansai-ben, but when I moved to Kyushu, the south-est part, I'm seriously not able to understand the conversation done between older people. It took me several years before I can manage to chat smoothly with them.

Then after I moved to Tokyo, it's a pity that I lost the rhythm of the speaking in Kyushu area, needless to say, no more Kansai-ben.

Today, I took up another manga and checked the translation with the original and English version and... OH! MY, I'm just appalled with the number of mistakes I detected. Within only one chapter, in about forty pages, I collected about thirty mistakes and about 10 of them are totally wrong...

For example, the most hilarious one was that we Japanese say TOMODACHI for friends, you might laready know. Then one young guy in the manga said "DACHI NO IE NI IKU." In this case, DACHI is the shorten way of saying "TOMODACHI," so the translation should be something like, "I'm going to visit my friend." But the translation in the commercial manga is "I'm going to Dachi's house," as if the guy has a friend called "Dachi."

I don't mind if this is done by volunteer translators, but it's a work of professionals. Isn't this simply outrageous???

Somebody stop me ranting... ^^;

Ann Holt said...

I meant to tell you that I read Villain after seeing the review in the New Yorker too!

Mrs. Malone said...

Hi Ann,

It was a nice surprise to have met you there ^^. I guess you might have noticed big differences between the Japanese spoken over TV and which among people in that region in Japan.
I'm looking forward to reading new entries in your blog!