Room 208

Elaborate Burn

Posts from #translation

The Artistic World of Bakemonogatari

Someone posted scans (well, photos) of the Bakemonogatari Key Animation Note on /r/anime the other day, mentioning that “There’s an afterword by the visual director, Nobuyuki Takeuchi, at the end if anyone wants to translate it.”

Well, here we are. Let’s do this.

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The Artistic World of Bakemonogatari

Bakemonogatari Visual Director Nobuyuki Takeuchi

On the subject of creating the artistic world of Bakemonogatari, I had some reference material in mind when I asked Ryubido’s Mr. Hisaharu Iijima to create the very first storyboards. It was just a book that I happened to own myself, a photo collection called Under Construction: The Nippori Toneri Line, 13 March 2001 by Sadahiro Koizumi (pub. Little Gallery, 2001). The atmosphere of the photos printed there matched my image of the town that Bakemonogatari’s characters lived in. I had a meeting in the stairwell where I showed the book to Director [Akiyuki] Shinbou and Mr. [Tatsuya] Oishi, and they both liked it as well, so I asked Mr. Iijima for a few storyboards based on the photos.

Mr. Nisio Isin’s original novel doesn’t describe the town where Araragi and the other characters live in very much detail, so I was anxious about how to depict it on screen. Araragi mentions that it’s in the “countryside,” but I wondered if that couldn’t mean less of a vast pastoral landscape, and more of an emotional “countryside.” Araragi is a bit oblique, so I thought that he might have been looking at the town he lives in from a more interpretive angle, and seeing it with all its modern buildings as having the features of an emotional “countryside.”

Thinking of it that way, we no longer had to depict a literal country town, so I tried to visualize the kind of scenery that you can see in every city in Japan, no matter the region. The one common point that I thought of was the sight of something under construction, and I felt that this photobook overlapped with the world that Araragi lives in.

I thought a contrast with large buildings under construction, and the cold inhumanity of concrete, would emphasize the feeling of alienation that leads Araragi to dismiss the town where he lives as “countryside.” Back in the old days, I went on bicycle tours, and I’d spend nights camping out in places like the old National Railway terminal and Sapporo’s office district. There were always so many people passing by, but I had no connection to them, and I had a strong feeling of being alone, which I think came from that contrast with all the huge, artificial concrete buildings. Looking at Mr. Koizumi’s photobook was like a flashback to that time.

From that overlap between Mr. Koizumi’s photobook and the world of the work, I asked for the storyboards using the photos as a reference, and had Mr. Iijima fill in the details of textures and so forth. I made him pledge to stick closely to the photos when drawing the boards to preserve realism in the contrast. When I laid out each cut, I made calculations to bring out that realism by deepening the difference between the characters and the contrasting objects. One technique I used was to place electric poles, posts, and such around the screen to use as an easy basis for comparison.

Moreover, although the buildings under construction shown on-screen don’t have any meaning in themselves, I wanted to use their size and inhuman feeling as a substitute for the mob characters (the people passing by in the background). Ordinarily, there would be secondary characters in the background serving as the mob, but in Bakemonogatari that role is taken by the buildings.

Although I proposed using the photographs as a basis for the entire world in this way, I left their translation onto the storyboards to Mr. Iijima. The interesting things that Mr. Iijima thought up, like the colorings of the sky, probably set a direction for the rest of the work. I think it’s thanks to him that we were able to create an artistic world that doesn’t exist in any other work, something different from any anime up to this point.

My transcription of the original text follows.





そう考えれば、いわゆる田舎町の表現にとらわれる必要はなくなり、では日本全国どこへ行っても同じような地方都市の風景ってどういうものだろうとイメージしていった結果、何かが建築途中の風景というのが一つ共通のものになるのではないかと思い当たって、この写真集の世界が彼らが住む世界に重なるように感じました。\ 自分の住む町を「田舎」と突き放すような阿良々木君の疎外感、吸血鬼という存在としての孤独感についても、大きい建築物との対比やコンクリートの無機質さでそうした感じを浮き彫りにできるのではないかと。自分が昔、自転車旅行をしていたとき、旧国鉄のターミナル駅や札幌のオフィス街で野宿したときに、行き交う人は沢山いるのに自分とまったく関わりがなくて孤独さを強く感じたものでした。その感覚は人工的なコンクリートの大きい建築物と対比されてより強く引き起こされていたように思います。小泉さんの写真集を見たときそうした感覚をフラッシュバックのように思い出したのです。

そうした作品世界と小泉さんの写真集とのイメージの重なりをもとに、写真を参考に美術ボードをお願いするにあたっては、質感などのディティール〔ママ〕などは潰してもらっています。また写真を参考にボードを描くと対比がしっかりしてリアルさが最初から担保されるのですが、実際に自分が各カットのレイアウトを作るに当たっても、キャラクターと対比物との大きさの違いを奥行きある描き方でコントロールして、リアルさが出るよう計算しています。手法としては、電柱やポストなど、わかりやすく自分たちの身近にあるものを画面に配置することで大きさの基準がしっかりして表現がしやすくなります。\ また、画面に映る建築物それ自体に意味はありませんが、その大きさや無機質感で、モブ(背景に描かれる通行人などの群衆)の代わりに、建物で描写をしたいと考えました。普通は背景の上に脇役としてモブを描いてそうした表現をしますが、化物語ではその脇役の役割自体を建物にさせています。


@mnxmnkmnd writes:

incidentally, the other scanlators’ translation of this bugs me out.

In the past, Japan was only divided into “this” and “that” realm. However at one point in time, “yomi”, the name of “that” realm, was engulfed in chaos due to the dead.

that’s just so unnatural. what does that quote thing even correspond to in japanese? it’s ridiculous in english.

It’s common for Japanese text to use quotation marks for emphasis or to indicate idiosyncratic usage, which isn’t considered improper to the degree that it is with English. Incidentally, the construction “the name of ‘that’ realm” also probably arises from translating the set phrase XというY too literally; a direct translation would be “the Y named/called X,” but nine times out of ten this sounds redundant or out of place in English, and a simple appositive would suffice instead.

The more you know.

Spring and the Flower Possessions

This is a quick-and-dirty English translation of a contemporary fantasy setting idea originally posted to Pixiv in Japanese by @thykgn. I’m doing this because it’s necessary background for a separate Pixiv comic that I’m looking to do a translation of on Danbooru.

I do apologize in advance for how stupid some of the phrasings sound; that’s entirely my fault, not the original author’s.

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– under the cherry tree, a dead body lay buried.


Contemporary fantasy.

The world has a little more greenery than it does now. This is a story of the flowers who seek the best fertilizer, so that flowers more beautiful than any other may blossom; and the people who abandon their remaining lives in order to obtain something greater.

After tree-planting was instituted into law, “enhanced” plants began to appear, and competition for survival among the various flowers turned fierce. At that point, the powerful abilities that the flowers held inside them began to manifest – the flowers tempted humans in despair with this exchange: In return for allowing one’s remaining human life and body to be taken, they would receive the power to satisfy one final wish through their connection to the flowers. The world’s flowers became ever more brilliant and beautiful, but people thought of it as merely the result of the earlier “enhancements.” Nor did anyone realize what was causing the increased number of human disappearances.

The title mentions “spring,” but this setting can be used in any place or season.

If you upload drawings or other images to Pixiv, I’d be happy if you could tag them with “Spring and the Flower Possessions” (春と花憑き).

Please send anything else to @thykgn.

The logo’s not all that fancy, but feel free to use it as you wish.

I got some questions about this: I don’t plan on doing further work on this on Pixiv for the time being (neither for a project, nor for the characters and setting), so feel free to put up character and setting drafts and contributions!

Character types

  • Possessed: Those who have been taken by the flowers. In exchange for offering their remaining lives and their bodies, they have been given one exceptional ability. Their bodies crumble like ash after their sacrifice, and become nourishment for the flowers, while the possessed themselves become like ghosts. A flower either grows from, or replaces a part of, their body. The flower starts out as something foreign, but after a short time can become like part of the body. The possessed cannot stray more than a few meters from the plant that has power over them, and should the plant wither they too will die. Flowers of annuals are short-lived, and therefore grant extraordinarily strong powers; if the possessor is a perennial, the possessed may hibernate during the winter, thereby extending their lives. Flowers of trees are longer-lived, and therefore only grant weaker powers.

  • Protectors: Those who protect flowers. Each has his or her own reason for doing so. There is no penalty for allowing a flower under one’s protection to die. On the other hand, there is no real benefit to protectors, even if they accompany a possessed person until his or her wish can be granted. They may borrow powers from possessed people with deeply-rooted greenery. Unlike the possessed, they may separate from their plants, and can even still use their powers; however, their powers grow weaker with distance. When using their powers, tattoos in the form of flowers appear on their bodies.

  • Devourers: Those who eat flowers. Each has his or her own reason for doing so. There are those who use methods of defoliation with the aim of destroying all of the possessed, and who are opposed by those who side with the possessed and become protectors. Others want to see a particular possessed person gone. Devourers do not literally eat flowers. There are fellowship-like organizations for devourers, but since there are many lone actors, membership is not high.

  • Researchers: Those who do the research to “enhance” flowers. Their numbers include those who wish to support flowers and become protectors, those who fall to despair and become possessed, and those who see the dangers of flowers and become devourers, as well as others. There are many who love flowers from the heart, and set their minds on research.


[All of the following pages are in Japanese, sorry. Maybe you can break out Google Translate or something.]