Monday, April 9, 2007

Translucent Silver Hair (Page 6)

//Panel 1//
Charles' Narration:
Amongst the roses of an overgrown garden, the conversation ebbs and flows…
With our cheeks flushed and our chests nearly bursting…
//Panel 2//
Did you know a family moved into that old mansion on the outskirts of town?
//Panel 3//
Baron Portsnell…supposed to be rather eccentric. He hardly bothered making acquaintances [Note 1] and there was not one maid within the household, I heard.
Fallen gentry, I suppose.
//Panel 4//
But that girl wore a pretty Greek-style dress [Note 2]. It shimmered in the wind like a haze of heat. [Note 3]
//Panel 5//
Charles, you are applying yourself to your studies, aren’t you?
Yes, Father.
//Panel 6//
//Panel 7//
But then, the next afternoon…
We didn’t hear my sister’s horrid piano playing.
Tutor (SFX):

[Note 1] Original text reads "あいさつはおざなり" , meaning "the greetings were just formality." In Japan, you are supposed to pay visits to your new neighbors with simple gifts when you move in to a new house.
[Note 2] There is no direct clue to tie this episode to a specific time, but the fashion indicates 1795-1820. Moto Hagio was studying Fashion Design before her debut as manga-ka. In "Marmalade-Chan" (Weekly Shojo Komikku April 1972), the main character, a fashion designer, says "A dress from 1801 - for the woman the high waist line dress is the most feminine. I like the silhouette from this era best." It seems like Hagio's own opinion, too.
[Note 3] The original text reads "かげろうが風のように見えたよ", which literally means "mirage looks like wind."
[Note 4] "いらいら" - this is an onomatopoeia, describing someone losing patience and becoming irritable. Those onomatopoeia make the Japanese language very rich, but they also make life as a translator very difficult.

I happened to translate the family name "ポーツネル" as "Portsnell." Portnell is an actual family name, but it would be "ポートネル" in Katakana.

You will see this consistently throughout this work, but another remarkable quality in the illustration--besides the physical perspectives of some of the panels, with their unusual angles and shapes to emphasize a building's height above ground or open space, for example--is the amazing attention to detail as well as historical accuracy of physical objects such as clothing, furniture and architecture. Everything seems to have been accurately researched to fit in the time period--for example, the tutor's china coffee cup in Panels 5 and 6, and the ornate room furnishings. Fabrics are depicted in painstaking, minute detail. And the time Hagio has spent drawing dozens and dozens of roses! Many illustrators employ "shorthand" to tell the reader, "You are supposed to be seeing a field full of flowers here," but Hagio presents a visual feast of rich, loving detail.

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