音楽生活 ~ carry me away on a rainbow melody ~

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Mulan - Reflection (Japanese version)

I recently rediscovered my love for Disney songs, particularly the Japanese versions of Disney songs. While surfing around YouTube, I came across a partially mistranslated video for the Japanese version of Reflection (from Mulan) and decided to translate it myself (and record it XD). In any case, here are the lyrics with translator notes in typical Alicia-style, color coding and all.

リフレクション

ダメね
何のために生まれてきたの私
役に立たない娘
わかる ありのままの自分をごまかせないの
水に映る派手な姿 知らない人に見えるわ
隠せないわ 自分らしさ
本当の私 いつの日か
必ず映る いつの日か

Dame ne
Nan no tame ni umaretekita no watashi
Yaku ni tatanai musume
Wakaru, ari no mama no jibun wo gomakasenai
Mizu ni utsuru hade na sugata shiranai hito ni mieru wa
Kakusenai wa jibun rashisa
Hontou no watashi itsu no hi ka
Kanarazu utsuru itsu no hi ka

There's no point to this...
For what purpose was I born?
To be a good-for- nothing daughter?
I know that I can't pretend to be someone I'm not
The made-up person reflected in the water seems to me a stranger
I can't hide my true self
And one day, I'll see the real me...
Surely someday, I'll see me in my reflection

ダメね (dame ne) makes perfect sense when I hear it because I think in this case, it's almost more of a feeling than a line to be translated. It's meaning can vary, but the general idea is "there's no point" or "there's no use." The idea here is that she can't go on pretending just to please her family. I considered translating it as "I can't keep on pretending" but then I figured people watching it on YouTube with some knowledge of Japanese would revolt... so I didn't ^^;;

役に立たない (yaku ni tatanai) can be translated quite a few ways. Primarily, I'd go with "useless" or "worthless." I felt in this case, both of those feelings were needed and chose "good-for-nothing" for that reason. I felt that not only does she feel useless in the eyes of her parents because she doesn't meet their expectations, but she doesn't have much self-worth either because she's lying even to herself.

I chose to go the more interpretive route here, versus literal translation. More literally, this would be "I understand that I can't misrepresent my true self." Quite frankly, it's very awkward when taken too literally. I felt that treating it as her pretending to be someone she isn't had the same feeling and came across better in English. It's also more poetic, in my opinion, which is pretty much required of Disney songs.

水に派手な姿知らない人に見えるわ (Mizu ni utsuru hade na sugata shiranai hito ni mieru wa) I took a slightly more interpretive route here as well. The reason being that 派手な姿 reeaaally doesn't translate into English well. Actually, that isn't 100% true. It does translate into perfectly acceptable English, but it sounds odd, especially in a Disney song. Literally, it would be something to the effect of "gaudy appearance/figure." The idea behind 派手な is one of excess, something overdone to the point that it becomes unappealing. In this case, she's seeing herself, but not as she would recognize. She's in fancy clothes, wearing a lot of makeup, and has an elaborate hairstyle, none of which are things she would choose for herself. So when she sees that as her reflection, all that she sees staring back at her from the water is someone she doesn't know. I translated it thus.

隠せないわ 自分らしさ (Kakusenai wa jibun rashisa) And yet again, I took creative liberties. To my credit, jibun-rashisa can be a pain in the butt to translate. It's another one of those things that makes perfect sense when I hear it, but just doesn't have a nice sounding, simple, English language alternative. rashii is attached to nouns and adjectives to add 'seems' or an '-ish' feeling. rashisa is the noun form, so it makes the meaning change to 'like__'; basically becoming 'characteristic of ___.' Since jibun means 'oneself/myself', when rashisa is added, it comes to mean 'me-like' or 'something characteristic of me/myself.' If it wasn't so long-winded and somewhat ambiguous, I would have translated this line as "I can't hide what it is that makes me me." I may have stretched it a little bit to get the 'true to myself' meaning, but at the same time, I think that feeling is encompassed in the word already. *shrugs* If anyone is a native speaker or has a better translation, please comment and let me know. I'm always curious how other people translate things.

And the last two lines, where once again I take some creative liberties. Literally, this would be "The real me, one/someday... surely it will be reflected, one/someday.' Not the prettiest couple of lines. Really, the most accurate-but-still-sensical translation would probably be something along the lines of "One day, the real me... surely someday, it will be reflected.' In any case, I felt it was justifiable to make it a bit more poetic for the sake of feeling the song. ^^

1 comment:

kelseyinjapan said...

first of all, since there's already an English version of this song, I don't think you should get too caught up in trying to make it sound pretty or song-like. poetic is fine, and literal may be the best tack for song translating (it has been for me) -- i have a japanese lyric translation blog as well, btw, at kelseyinjapan.tumblr.com :) feel free to take a look and offer your advice

There's no point to this...
-I think "It's/This is hopeless" or something to that effect might be more succinct/poetic
For what purpose was I born?
-Why was I even born?
To be a good-for- nothing daughter?
-I'm a useless daughter (you said you chose good-for-nothing because you felt it was the most expressive of her feelings, but if you really want to get interpretative you could go with something like "a daughter with no role to play for/in her family," since that's getting into some word play -- she feels like she's pretending/playing a role but playing a role or a part can also be a good thing like playing a useful part of her family)
I know that I can't pretend to be someone I'm not
-I understand I must show myself to the world as I am (this is pretty interpretative of me, and you can go other routes to get rid of the double negative if you don't like it, but I think your lyric is perfectly fine, just offering an alternative)
The made-up person reflected in the water seems to me a stranger
-This/My gaudy appearance reflected in the water, looks like someone I don't know ("the made-up person" sounds like a person who isn't there, it reads a little confusing and takes a second to untangle. i would stick with the more literal gaudy/showy meaning of 派手 instead. Also, without the video to see her looking at this figure, it could be anyone -- you can, after all, see the reflections of people besides yourself in water -- so i think throwing that ever-neccessary clarification of "this" or "my" in front, while taking some liberties, might be a good idea for clarity's sake)
I can't hide my true self
-I can't hide my individuality (this doesn't sound as good as true self, i think, in that it doesn't sound very disney, but there are a few words that are one-word summations of 自分らしさ -- personality, individuality, and i'm sure there are more, don't be afraid to consult multiple sources in japanese and english when translating -- you need a rich vocab in both languages after all haha)
And one day, I'll see the real me...
Surely someday, I'll see me in my reflection
-Someday, my true self will certainly be reflected back to me

so basically my translation of the same thing goes a little something like this:

This is hopeless
Why was I even born?
A daughter with no role to play
I understand I must show myself to the world as I am
My gaudy appearance reflected in the water
Looks like someone I don't know
I cannot hide my personality
Someday, my true self will certainly be reflected back to me

what do you think?