Posts Tagged ‘psy-s


A Blog Post about Translation

EDIT 2/1/2020: I guess that this is going to be my way to ensure that, no matter the to-the-minute aspect of getting a post out, I… get that post out technically on-time. By posting a placeholder, it’s me saying, “BY ACKNOWLEDGING I NEED TO DO A THING, I DID IT WHEN I SAID I WOULD.” Hey, it’s a step!

As you can see from this Blog Post title, I’m-a makin’ this an official trilogy right here. … Honestly, possibly more. It’s a really funny, unassuming name for this kind of factoid-splurge.

From probably a much earlier age than most, I’ve fantasized about translating pieces of media. I think this stems from falling in love with playing random Super Nintendo games in 1st Grade. I’d download, like, hundreds at a time and boot them up one after another and see what captivated me. And I NEVER discriminated based on if it had been localized or not. And through that, I fell in love with some really good games that I just so happened to not be able to understand in the slightest. I’d even write up walkthroughs for these, which I would come up with through sheer brute force-ing the game and doing every possible combination of events until I triggered something. It felt great! :  D It felt mysterious. |(0/\0)| It felt like I was learning things, even though I probably wasn’t. Maybe, at the core, I was learning what gaming language is, when textual cues are taken away?

So the cool thing is, even though I don’t really know how to speak, read or write any other languages besides English, I HAVE been able to already do three translation projects! And it feels great, mysterious, AND like I was learning things! … Although now, I kind of hope I am learning things, hahaha.

Back in early 2014, I got REALLY into PaRappa the Rapper, due to Lottie sending me a video of her driving and singing the Driving Rap. As someone who’s still struggling to get a driver’s license, it was something that instantly caught my interest, hahaha. And I also love rhythm games. That’s a great Venn diagram– someone who has a tough time driving and loves rhythm games. I suppose what makes PaRappa, UmJammer Lammy, and PaRappa 2 so resonant for me is that they’re surrealist takes on the process of navigating growing up in a confusing world. But that’s beside the point. Which is why I’m placing this phrase BESIDE THE POINT.

The point is I started to research Masaya Matsuura, the creator of PaRappa, and through this, I found about his other rhythmic-gamic innovation-revelation, VIB-RIBBON. It was then I decided that I was going to go ahead and fall in love with everything Masaya was involved in. BUT– there was a bit of a stumbling block: The first game he ever worked on wasn’t documented. All I had was a name to go off of– The Seven Colors. And that’s not a very Google-able name. The full title, as I luckily stumbled onto, is The Seven Colors: The Legend of PSY•S City. Which sounds like complete gibberish, but so do all of these titles, if I’m going to be honest. I found out that PSY•S was a huge part of Masaya’s story. He was in one of the best bands I have personally ever listened to– a duo with him & an incredible vocalist named CHAKA. Definitely in my top ten favourite bands. I’ve done everything I could on my second channel to upload every video of theirs that I find, but here’s the first one I found & uploaded, just to help you see what I see in them.

So, this game was a Mac point-and-click adventure (along the same lines as Garage: Bad Dream Adventure & Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou) which took place in a world inspired by the music & art PSY•S had been known for, made in conjunction with their 11th album, WINDOW, and an upcoming 1994 Fantasia-esque video project called Music in your Eyes. (Which I have since tracked down my own personal copy of on VCD– that search ended up taking until 2018.) From what I can see, it released on April 23rd, 1993– which precedes Myst by five months and comes after The Journeyman Project by three. All of these factors while researching made me realize I not only wanted to play this game– I NEEDED TO PLAY THIS GAME.

It took until 2015 for me to track down an active bidding for it on Buyee– and even then, I had to purchase it through a secondary service that purchases things from Japan and sends them to you after that, hahaha. And then– here’s the real clincher: When it arrived, despite having the best in old Macintosh emulation on my computer, it refused to run on inauthentic Mac hardware, due to its use of Audio CD partitioning. … AND, as could be expected (well, actually, no— not entirely– PaRappa & UmJammer are both in English if you buy it in Japan, hahaha), it was all in Japanese.

In an act of curious desperation, I downloaded the actual software used to program this game (MacroMind Director, the predecessor to MacroMedia Director, the predecessor to MacroMedia Shockwave) and… learned how it all works?! So I reverse-engineered this whole audio problem, which you can download here. Still haven’t released the translation…

… But it’s pretty much complete. :  D All the text was roughly translated by a very kind soul, Allan Ikesaka, who runs a blog about J-Pop called Kayo Kyoku Plus. I saw he’d released quite a few articles on PSY•S songs– even going so far as to link to some of my video uploads of their work. I was very lucky to be able to commission him for the project, because I don’t think anyone else would’ve gotten how special PSY•S is, and I felt that was a bit integral to getting the translation done right. All of it has been inserted into the game (Lemme tell ya’, it was hilarious having to find out how to play the game without knowing what was happening. I guess my childhood control-flailings helped.)– and a LOT of this text was sung, and so I actually got my sister Sara (who does stellar translations of foreign pop songs on her second channel) to perform them all. This was my first case of translating foreign songs that I loved into English. It’s a really fun musical challenge, and I find it as satisfying as getting lyrics to one’s own songs to a good point.

At any rate, I plan on getting the entire translation released very soon in as accessible a way as possible. I just want to add… maybe one more secret to it? (I programmed in a couple secrets, as a fun non-intrusive aside.) And then compile an era-evocative walkthrough with nice illustrations. Yeah, it’s gonna happen. :  ) … The only problem is that whole… accessible part of it all, you know? Like, an old Macintosh game, no matter how conveniently I package it, will probably not be played by… anyone, if I’m going to be honest. I have this thought in my mind of completely remaking it on a more accessible medium. Like… getting it into OpenGL on Unity so it can just play in-browser. I really feel like it’d resonate with browser-game communities. It has that exciting new-world feeling of, like, playing Samorost. I’d actually even experimented with straight-up converting the files to Shockwave. My tests actually kind of worked! Sadly, I felt like the results were a little unstable, and they took out some of the best visuals in the game. My obsession knows no bounds, though– I’ll find some way to get people to pay attention to this game. It’s a really good game.

I have to say, though, not releasing the translation has been one of the best things I’ve ever done, because it’s gotten some really great people (I mean, if you’re interested in this game, how could you not be?) to message me. One of them even did it by anonymously wiring me money to my iTunes account, and telling me to purchase an anonymous chat app called Underpass to communicate with him. How great, mysterious, and learning-things is that?

I suppose that translating the lyrics to the entire OST of The Seven Colors left a good taste in my mouth, because shortly afterward, in 2016, I felt compelled to translate another Japanese song– one that Sara introduced me to! In her own translation ventures, she’s fallen in love with Kagerou Project, which is a series of songs that tell a complicated, emotionally-charged sci-fi story. I would consider the pairing of art & music in these entries, even sans-lyrics, very powerful, and often able to make me cry. One song in specific grabbed me so much– it’s called Toumei Answer/Transparent Answer. The story, even just the self-contained one told within the confines of this single song, really is a masterclass of storytelling, I feel. Combined with the icy guitar licks and the absolutely relentless drums– it really gets you jamming while sobbing. I felt like the accepted translation was probably fine for most people, but… I was driven to ask myself, “What if, instead of being über-accurate, you just tried to write the story more naturally in lyrical form, like in a Broadway musical?” After listening to, like, an estimated fifty covers of the song and carefully studying about five different translations of it, I came to my conclusions on what sentiments, phrases & words were necessary to include, and produced my personal Broadway-esque translation of it, which you can read here.

I started recording the audio of it, and even made a little concept art for how the video would look– both of which I’ve posted on my Patreon, but it’s honestly probably not something I’m finishing until next year. I think it’d be a really grand thing to get done before Sara gets back from New Zealand, to surprise & delight her. :  D Hopefully. Theoretically. Thanks, Sara!

And since I just love doing things in threes, as my first big completed project back from my mission, I translated a series of brilliant animated short films revolving around a cherubic mystery-animal named Cheburashka (similarly to Tigger, he’s the only one of his kind) and a very gentle-crocodile named Gena. Adapted from a short story, they were a joint effort between Japan & Soviet Russia back in 1969. I was introduced to it by my wonderous friend, Zoë, and it was in searching for birthday presents for her that I started to put together a plan to translate it.

The original four shorts have actually had multiple fan translations over the years, of varying quality. However, after about thirty years, a new Japanese stop-motion auteur named Makoto Nakamura got the original art director, Leonid Shvartsman, to coach him in making a brand new series of Cheburashka shorts. And… MAN, are they good. (His other animated movie, Chieri and Cherry, looks just as good, but five years later and it still appears to be going around in the film festival circuits. :|– ER, ACTUALLY, scratch that, I just checked and it’s coming out officially here in March. I’mma be on that soon.) At the moment, I have it posted exclusively on my Patreon, but I really want to share it with more people– but I want to do so when enough people are paying attention to my uploads that I could explain to them how amazing this series is. I doubt there are many English-speakers who would even care I translated it to begin with, so I think I should set context a bit first.

… Now that I know that I can purchase it, maybe it’s going to have something to do with Chieri and Cherry– after all, Leonid worked on that, too.

[EDIT JULY 2021: I’ve acquired a copy of Chieri and Cherry with English subs, feel free to e-mail me for more information about these subtitles!]

The awesome discovery I made that helped me to translate Cheburashka was a website called Upwork. (This blog post is sponsored by Skillshare. :  )… Nope.) It’s a great site for hiring all kind of freelancers, but I found it to be especially excellent for finding willing translators. Maybe it was just the power of Cheburashka (I mean, I don’t know how you can deny a face like Cheburashka’s.), but EVERYONE jumped on it. In only about a week’s time, I received 24 proposals to translate. I ended up hiring a cool dude named Usevalad Auramenka, who I asked to give me a rough approximation of all the dialogue by translating as he watched and sending me audio of him speaking it all out into a microphone. In the end, I translated it all by using his translation combined with automatic-captioning the whole thing in Russian through YouTube, then feeding that translation through Google Translate (often in tiny chunks, since you had a likelier chance of getting important words right that way). Sometimes, I even spoke specific lines of Russian dialogue phonetically into my microphone, trying to get Google Translate to pick it up correctly. Or, weirder still, I’d hook up my microphone to my system audio and play bits of the dialogue to fool Google Translate, hahaha. GOOGLETRANSLATEHELPME.

All the subtitles were made in the newest version of Final Cut Pro X– a process I taught myself while working on this. Before this, I’d subtitled once before, in a program called Aegisub, while trying to subtitle a bootleg of Der Glöckner von Notre Dame for my buddy Rachael. (Aegisub is pretty rad, too! I’d probably use it again, for certain subtitular tasks.) Similarly to my other two projects, I got to do some lyrically-economical translations of the amazing tunes of Cheburashka. S’all about the music. Cheburashka’s songscape has this bittersweet wonkiness to them often peppered with romanticism & optimism that really resonates with me. I actually recorded myself singing one of them using the perfectly separated Blu-Ray surround channels, which has brought me to the far-reaching goal of someday completely dubbing the first four shorts.

And so far, here’s where my translation ventures have taken me! Outside of the small opportunity I had to be a part of the beta-testing scene of the now-defunct fan translation of Moon: Remix RPG Adventure. Man, can you believe we’re getting an official Switch translation? (Also, this movie is fully translated, but no one’s ever posted the subs– I re-heally wanna find a copy of the English subtitles for the Italian remake of Groundhog Day called È già ieri. [EDIT 08/26/2020: I have found the subtitles, thanks to the kindness of Robert E.G. Black. Some of the stuff in it feels like an extended cut of Groundhog Day. While it’s honestly not a classic like Groundhog Day at all, it was incredibly worth the wait to watch and extremely educational in storywriting for temporal loops.] On the subject of Italian works, I’d also love some subtitles for the full two-and-a-half hour cut of Non ci resta che piangere.) Now, in similar fashion to A Blog Post About Fan Edits, here’s where I talk about potential translation projects for the future…


… Which, I guess, more succinctly translates in English to Vib-Ribbook? Something like that. It’s a rare picture-book/flip-book starring the main character from Vib-Ribbon, and it helps to expand the lore quite a bit. At least, I’d assume this by just a casual perusal of the illustrations. It seems to be kind of a dictionary explaining words & situations common in the world of Vibri, and they tend to be puns. Which makes them just WONDERFUL FOR TRANSLATING, I’m sure. (One time, my friend Dustin got one of his friends to help me translate one of them. She started laughing when she read it, & said, “It’s funny!” Took her a moment to remember she was supposed to translate it.) You can view the untranslated scans here.


Once again, this is another venture spurred on by my deep-dive into Masaya Matsuura’s work. At the moment, the only video posted on his official YouTube channel is a video of him expertly playing one of his original compositions on acoustic guitar. And it is very good. In trying to understand why he named it what he did, I realized he’d written it for a Japanese short based on the book series called The Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer. (A different version of the song was also released on their 1991 album, HOLIDAY.) I actually was lucky enough to locate a copy of it by chance on nicovideo, but I still haven’t bit the bullet to translate what little narration there is in this. But boy– the songs are magical PSY•S stuff, and the animation is just stellar.

EDIT DEC 2020: Happy to say a translation is now available, thanks to the work of my friend Dustin! Might add translation for the song at a later time.

EDIT APR 2021: Just bought a copy of the short that actually preceded this, with music by Tomoko Tane. Will hopefully get a translation done at some point very soon!

Now for a tentative project not brought onto my mind by Masaya…


… I’ve wanted to translate this game since the stuff I was talking about in that beefy opening paragraph near the top. It’s a Super Nintendo point-and-click adventure with gorgeous sprite work based around Disney’s Alice in Wonderland– there’s a storybook mode that follows the original movie perfectly, but there’s also the main mode that seems to act as a bit of a pseudo-sequel to the original film. It’s made by the same team that made the impeccable Donald Duck no Mahou no Boushi, which I played for a full decade before it ever got translated, hahaha. (S’really good– it’s super-innovative– and it’s got one of my favourite plot twists in gaming ever.) So– yes– I’d have to learn how to translate SNES games before anything like that ever happened. And lemme tell ya’, the process is going to be not-so-far-flung from the days of yore. And perhaps that’s just how things always will be. And with that, here’s to accomplishing things you don’t know how to do, ad infinitum.

* Mystery emoticon is the intellectual property of Nova.

9/1/15 – A Little Fuzzy

It’s been a tough respite. A respite from dreams. I have to say that I depend on my dreams to keep me sane, or at the very least I depend on being able to find sanity through decryption of them here on this blog. Through dreaming, I find where I’m at emotionally and mentally, I find what kinds of problems I’m facing in an actualized sort of way, and I also discover what sort of things (visually, philosophically, musically or otherwise) that really make me tick and cause my creative innards to get going.

But after having finished writing something five years in the making that was really ALL about dreams, I’ve found myself in a bit of a pickle. Maybe it’s been something about my overall sleeping sh-edule recently, but I find it nearly impossible to remember more than fleeting remnants of dreams recently. And oftentimes, I don’t remember anything at all. It’s deeply frustrating and actually makes my morning very unpleasant. Remembering my dreams is the thing that often gives me context for the day– allows me to gain my bearings by bringing what I’ve been thinking rather elaborately about for the past few hours into my waking time.

But more or less nothin’. I think the strongest memories I can muster from this time are as follows:

• I dreamt that Rhett & Link were secretly Matt & Mike Chapman this whole time. Like, Matt & Mike wore elaborate costumes and make-up to pretend to be these North Carolinian viral video experts– when in actuality they were just playing characters this whole time. (Matt was Rhett–Link was Mike, which comes as a surprise[s] to no one.) I mean, Rhett & Link are practically brothers, anyhow, but… the question remains: why? Why would they spend all these years doing this when they could’ve made all of these videos without playing these two unassuming fellows. I guess they just think big.

• I dreamt that Double Fine was making a game that also had an ARG element of there being an actual Broadway musical connected to the game (starring the voice actors) that you could go watch to understand more elaborate plot details and also to unlock secret side-adventure portions and such. And there was an interviewer asking Mr. Tim Schafer if there were any plans to just end the musical’s run if not enough people are coming to watch it. Schafer said that when he gets an idea, he sticks to it and that even if they lost money doing it, the play would do a solid one-year run because he believes in the idea so much. And I was so moved by this statement– and moved by the musical itself, which I was so lucky to see for myself. The title was “Swift Has Sleep”, but some of my old highschool teachers (who were around for whatever reason) kept saying really complimentary things about it but referring to it as “Swift Has Slept”. And that made me irate and made it clear to me that these dudes have literally no idea what they’re talking about and just want to sound cultured. Anyway, it starred Masasa Moyo (of course, from Broken Age) and Jason Alexander in the main roles. If you don’t know me, let me make it clear: I love Jason Alexander in EVERY thing he does. And he was, hands down, my favorite part of the musical. He was the greatest leading man in ages, and was captivating like nothing else. As far as I can remember, plot-wise, Swift was the name of the kingdom, and they were fighting for Sleep. Literally, the ability to Sleep was being taken away from them. The number I remember hearing sounded a bit like The Frogs’ Invocation, except way more sincere. It was, like, a warrior’s prayer before going into a battle with, of course, the refrain being a triumphant belted “Swift has sleep… swift HAS SLEEP… SWIFT – HAS – SLEEEEEP!!–” This is the most of any dream in the past 4-ish months that I’ve been able to remember.

• I dreamt I met one of my old classmates and he was starring in a show. And something about it being possible to float on the stage that had been built specifically for this show. … That’s it.

• There’s so many obligatory “I’m-in-a-musical-but-I-haven’t-been-to-practice-at-all”, “I-can-fly-by-swimming-in-mid-air” and “I’m-back-in-highschool-and-haven’t-gone-to-class-for-months-because-I-forgot-this-class-existed-and-getting-a-good-grade-on-the-finals-are-the-only-thing-keeping-me-from-flunking-and-staying-back-a-year” dreams in the middle (or… “in-the-middle”) of all of this, but there weren’t any details to grasp at.

• On the topic, though, I think one of my most interesting flying dreams was when I grabbed this really heavy-duty über-helium balloon (it felt tough like a basketball) and balanced it on my back. I leaned backward and then just rolled along a foot off the ground like I was riding a hoverboard. I maneuvered by paddling with my hands and kicking with my feet. This was probably some time in 2013. But– yeah, make it happen. I’m talking to you, Nike.

• While staying with Lottie & Jesse, I dreamt I kept going up and down in these giant dual elevators. It was really confusing because I couldn’t go up to go forward, but I had to go down in the elevator to go to the place I was trying to get to. Whenever I went up a level, it’d take me right back to where I was before. Or sometimes when the elevator was simply GOING up before I got into it, that would also make me go back to the level I had been at before. Confused? Yeah. That’s some Willy Wonka mischief going on right there. Also, I have no idea how many buttons there were in this. … Basically, what I’m saying is that it was the Wonkavator 2.0. And it also looked like something out of Machinarium.

• Another Lottie-Jesse dream: I had somehow accidentally gotten off my highschool campus and ended up somewhere at the bottom of the huge hill it’s on, and I ended up in some weird downtown-y Chinatown-y (looked more like New York-y) area with no way to get back up to campus. Some truant officer was going to stop me and ask me what I was doing out on a school day, and then some lady came up in a school bus and said I was with her and she was taking me back to school. Then she told me she wasn’t the actual bus driver but she thought she should help me out. Yay, question mark?

• I dreamt I was an elementary school student who kissed my teacher on accident, and then my teacher didn’t realize that “the secret” I was keeping from people was related to that and tried to get me to “be honest”. Thankfully, I was smart enough to realize I shouldn’t.

• I went sledding down all the staircases at my highschool in an empty plastic bin that had been filled with homework. Calvin and Hobbes it up, yo. A teacher also kissed me in this, too. …

• Uh… … gosh, and this is the frustrating respite area. Seriously, all that stuff back there? That was May/June. July-September? That’s right now. In this bullet. … Potential dream guest stars: Rachael, Lottie, Angelica, Athrylis, Amanda? I mean– I don’t know if this example was a dream or a re-purposed memory, but I really thought I was IN this hotel shooting this video by Angelica. I have never been in a hotel like this one. Besides this weird speculation of “Whatsa Dream?”, I have got a severe case of no-things. Yet I KNOW I had LOTS of something, it’s just completely ungraspable.

• Until right now.

• I’m working on one of the hugest projects I’ve ever undertaken– making a translated game– and I’m organizing music by this band named PSY・S that inspired the game, and I hit play on one of the songs I just added to my iTunes, and BAM, I get a memory. A really clear memory of my dream from last night. ABOUT this song, of all random things to dream about. I dreamt that I had been given this visual plug-in for Final Cut Pro that is actually a controlled computer virus. (Datamoshing, anyone?) Like… it’s supposedly a code that simulates the effects of having, like, a fever dream. Like, seriously, it’s a fever– on a computer. And if the code were used with less discretion, my computer would overheat and break. But it was apparently used to create THIS music video with THIS song. Just reading the description I wrote when I uploaded this shows you it was ripe for my imagination to permutate on. It’s also kind of funny because, you know, the song’s called Fuzzy Pain, and I just watched a film that was SUPPOSED to be called Peachfuzz. But I bet I’m reading into that even more than my subconscious was. So… I started to use it! And blam, end of drea-memory.

It might not seem like much, but it’s a huge relief and revelation to me that I have enough clarity again to remember things. And the power of remembering is a huge one, lemme tell ya’! I need my dreams more than they need me. Onward.

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