Translation Notes: Heartbeat/Clock Tower

As might be apparent by the fact that I'm translating Japanese works, I'm (generally) capable of dealing with both Japanese and English. Feel free to use either language in addressing concerns with the translation. Read the notes first, because I might have answered your question/comment already. Oh, and the following Japanese is merely this, repeated.


I suspect that will become a standard addition to my translation notes. I mean, my blog isn't exactly receiving a lot of traffic from Japan, but better to be prepared for it in any case. Moving on...

Anyone else going to Otakon 2011 this year? Because I am. Better yet, I plan on cosplaying. The fact that I'm mentioning this in this particular post should tell you who I plan on cosplaying as, but just to be clear: Kaito, one of the Vocaloids and the one singing this particular song.

That right there is really why I wanted to translate it - if I end up cosplaying as Kaito, I'm pretty much forced to go to the karaoke room and sing a few songs, right? It'd be nice to know what I'm singing when that time comes. Besides, I often end up valuing the lyrics and the message of a song more than its music, whether I end up singing along to it or not.

And so Heartbeat/Clock Tower now has a translation that I wrote. (I rather suspect it already had at least one translation, but I admit I did not bother looking for another one before writing mine.)

First, I suppose I should talk about the title. I'm sure I could have done "Heartbeat Clock Tower" without the slash, and I rather suspect that most (if not all) initial reactions to the Japanese ハートビート・クロックタワー would be for the latter, rather than the translation that I went with in the end. My own initial reaction certainly was.

There are, effectively, two reasons why I chose to ignore that first impression and add in the slash. First of all, "Clock Tower" is clearly two words, yet there was no need for a dot to separate those. In that sense, my addition of the slash serves as a way to justify the dot's presence in the title in the first place.

Second, the last stanza of the song. To me, the lyrics there imply a connection between the two halves of the title that's a little different from what "Heartbeat Clock Tower" would. In that case, "Heartbeat" could merely be the tower's name. The slash connects them in a slightly different manner, essentially, in a way that I think fits with the song slightly better.

Anyway, like the rest of the Evils Kingdom songs, there's a story here. As the last in the Evils Kingdom cycle, this song sets up the small movie theater in which this entire story is theoretically being told. For his sins, Kaito gets to be the one to do this... a task which in the end seems to claim his very life, leaving only the "clockwork doll" that runs the theater.

Some of the stanzas don't seem to fit so cleanly into that explanation of the song, especially 3, 5, and the first line of 7. Part of that has to do with the question of subject... this song is actually better than Japanese usually is in defining subjects (the "kanojo" throughout, the "houmonsha/karera" of 4, the "onna no ko" of 5, the "boku/onore" self-references throughout), but the constant use of pronouns doesn't tell me who any of these people actually are, and that's something that affects the translation.

The other people in the Evils Kingdom stories? Perhaps. Maybe when I start really bearing down on this CD and translate more of its connected material, I'll understand to a greater degree the references in this last song. Really, I should have done the rest before now, at least to the point of understanding basic ideas... if I had done so, I might not be confused now.

It is, of course, also possible that my entire interpretation of this song is off base. I think that to be somewhat unlikely (considering I'm posting what I do have to the Internet...) but given that I am not yet perfectly fluent in Japanese, the possibility does exist.

... Well, honestly I can't think of any other major issues that I wanted to talk about. And I suspect I've gone on long enough already. Feel free to bring up any problems or questions in the comments.

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