Today on the blog, we have a translator’s corner from Dev! Read vol.1 here.
Hello again! This is Dev, translator for Hashihime of the Old Book Town.
This is my first official translation and I’m so excited to be a part of this project. I’ve learned a lot from this experience, not just about the industry, but also more than I ever wanted to learn about the Taisho Era and its literature.
Personally, I love period pieces. Movies, books, and of course, visual novels. Any game that takes place in the past is going to require a fair amount of research, but Hashihime is unique in that there is a strong focus on literature. Not just the modern Japanese literature of the 1920s, but also well-known titles from the Meiji Era, and classical literature from the West.
I was lucky enough to take both ancient and modern Japanese literature courses in college (a million years ago), but the section on Taisho literature was abysmal. I barely remember it to be honest. So while that class gave me some perspective on Meiji Era literature and the Taisho Era in general, there was so much I didn’t know. Hashihime is full of literary references, most of which I wasn’t familiar with beforehand. So much research was required with this game. Some of it was purely to make sure I was translating the references correctly, but a lot of the time it was my own curiosity and fascination that led to way more research than was necessary.
Don’t get me wrong, any truly important information regarding specific references to a piece of literature will be explained within the story. There’s not an expectation from aDelta for you to be well-versed in every piece of literature she referenced to play the game. But this game is such a treat for bibliophiles, and being familiar with the literature just makes it enjoyable on another level. For instance, when I first played the game, I came across several titles I wasn’t familiar with. As I continued, and an explanation was provided in-game, the synopsis of the story would sound familiar to me. I would stop playing for a moment, do a quick search of the Japanese title, and discover the book was actually a Japanese translation/adaptation of a Western classic I had read before. From there, my research would lead me to Japanese authors who were most well-known for their adaptations of Western literature to the scandals involved with certain authors.
But these were only a handful of titles. A lot of the literature referenced is only available in Japanese. I spent so much time researching Japanese articles on stories I had never heard of before. I read whatever synopses I could find and sometimes the entire story on online archives. I didn’t really expect translating a BL game would be so… involved… but it was definitely a labor of love.
If you would like to get a headstart on your own research, I’ve compiled a list of relevant literature both Western and Japanese (translated into English). Again, reading these books aren’t required to follow what’s going on in the psychedelic world of Hashihime, but if you would like a deeper glimpse into the numerous allusions throughout the game, I highly recommend the following “Rainy Day Reading List”:
- Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
- The Gold Demon by Kōyō Ozaki
- A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
- Sanshirō by Sōseki Natsume
- Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
- The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas
- Strange Tale of Panorama Island by Ranpo Edogawa
- The Traveler with the Pasted Rag Picture by Ranpo Edogawa
And if you’re feeling up to a challenge:
- The Tale of the Heike
- The Kojiki
This is only a fraction of the literature mentioned in Hashihime. Unfortunately, a lot of the titles haven’t been published in English, but I’ve done my best to provide a synopsis for each story in a glossary of sorts in order to provide the best possible experience for the game.
I want to thank everyone that has been waiting patiently and that is still excited for the release of Hashihime of the Old Book Town. I sincerely hope the obscene amount of research both game editor Amber and I have put into this project will make this unique BL game that much more enjoyable. Happy reading!