enchanter: Tenpou/Kenren (10k FTW)
[personal profile] enchanter

...because I have too much time, apparently. Reposted from Tumblr.

You could spend ten years analyzing the symbolism in Saiyuki, much of which has been done over the years better than I could ever hope to do it, so I'm not even going there. But! There's a whole 'nother level of it when you go to the bottom of it - the language. English translations are awesome except when they don't do justice to the amount of meaning in some of those lines.

So if you'll pardon me, I'll be taking a leaf out of overanalyzingsaiyuki's book, because I'm still hung up on Kenren's death scene like OMG. The feels. My heart should be dead by now except I know it isn't because ow owowowww.


(my own manga scan for the purpose of this post)

Disclaimer: I'm not complaining about anyone's translation and I don't claim I could do better! This is not the point. I'm a Saiyuki obsessed linguistics nerd with a penchant for overanalyzing things, is all. Also, both English and Japanese are foreign languages to me, so.

One of many Gaiden things I'm hung up on is this one:

誇りを抱いて散るその日まで。(approx. romaji: Hokori o daite chiru sono hi made) With a sense of pride, until the day I fall. (listen here)

The interesting word choice here is 散る [chiru] - which means to fall or scatter as in, leaves or petals (oh the ever-present reference to cherry blossoms, which is very apt - the thing that falls at the peak of its beauty) but also 'to die a noble death' - which, in the context of Kenren's death... let's see: he clears the way for Tenpou, Konzen and Goku, saves Goujun's life and essentially sacrifices himself for Nataku (not that he has much choice at that point) - yeah, I'd say he fits in the definition all right.

This always makes me wonder about the translator's choice of wording in the OVA (and also in the scanlations I've seen): "With a proud heart, until you've completely withered".  Far as I know (and my knowledge of Japanese is seriously limited, but I'm a diligent student and an obsessed linguist) the word one would use for 'wither' would probably be 枯れる [kareru] to run with the flower metaphor, but that's not really what it means. 'Withering' suggests a slow process without purpose, rather just an inevitable consequence of the impermanence of life in general. While the feel of just about every death in Gaiden is the opposite - it's sudden, violent, and it's for something.

The English translation is great in the sense of being very poetic, but somehow to me it doesn't come off as strong as the original Japanese. Right now I'm reading the manga in Japanese (slowly! argh!) to find things like these, and they're all over the place, and they make the heartbreak even worse IF THAT'S EVEN POSSIBLE MEH and the story even more beautifully told.

Side note: the 'scattering' word 散る as a metaphor for dying is especially interesting in that it kind of foreshadows the manner of Konzen's death, especially since it can also mean to disappear or dissolve.

Oh. Minekura, you genius. *thud*

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