Today on the blog, we have a translator’s corner from Dev!
Hello, this is Dev, translator for Hashihime of the Old Book Town. This is my first time fully translating a visual novel, and I’m unbelievably happy my first project was a game I already loved. I’ve only played a few doujin BL visual novels, but I’ve played over fifty BL games in general, and Hashihime is one of my favorites.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk about in my blog post, but I happened to see someone ask, “What makes Hashihime different from other BL games?” and felt like it was something I could go on about for hours. I’ll keep it to a few important points, though.
I’ve played plenty of historical fiction VNs (‘cause they’re my fave lol), and Hashihime stands out as unique. Not only does it embody Tokyo in the 1920s but also has a strong focus on literature. The writing style of the game itself reads like a typical novel from the time period. Unfortunately, that makes it a somewhat difficult read compared to most historical VNs that take place around the same time period. It was definitely a challenge trying to research archaic meanings of words and now-obsolete idioms and puns.
Another challenge that gives Hashihime its unique charm is all the literary references. Taisho Era writing is mostly obscure and overlooked compared to the previous Meiji Era and the Showa Era that came after. There’s not a lot of Taisho literature available in English. Sometimes I’d be completely unaware there was even a reference because I wasn’t familiar with the writings. I had to do a lot of outside reading in both English and Japanese to fully understand certain references. Not gonna lie, it was mostly because I live for that kind of thing lol.
Some of the literary references are widely known, like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, H.G. Well’s Time Machine (we’ve all seen the Wishbone episode lol), and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. When you come across the references you’re familiar with, it’s like being in on an inside joke, and makes it even more enjoyable.
Something else that sets Hashihime apart is the unique game play. Unlike most VNs, you don’t make many choices. It’s like reading a book uninterrupted. Each route is like a whole new book. Minakami’s route is the romance novel, Kawase’s is the murder mystery, Hanazawa’s is the adventure story, Professor’s is the sci-fi fantasy, and the last is a Taisho favorite— the bizarre. I’ve never played a visual novel with such a variety of genres between the routes, and it works perfectly with the overall theme of the game. It’s like reading an anthology of short stories where the last story brings you back to the beginning and makes you question everything you know.
With its unique story, very human and fully-voiced characters, beautiful art and music, Hashihime is an extremely high-quality doujin game one wouldn’t expect from a one person team. I really hope once it releases, people will enjoy it as much as I did!