Translation: Friendly Fist – Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome

I was thinking about how to maintain the balance between that kind of witty formality and high whimsy that occurs in Morimi’s prose. Thinking back on how I dealt with the small bit of Tatami Galaxy that I translated – I went into a full Romanticist style tone over there – which doesn’t seem to fit. Too many hardy Latinate words appeared and made it too stiff. There’s that kind of flavor in Morimi, but there’s also the other extent.

So, in order to prepare myself for the translation of this extremely somewhat beautiful, somewhat witty, somewhat kawaii, somewhat whimsical excerpt from YoruMiji – I studied up the prose rhythm of the masters. I flipped through Alice in Wonderland because Alice sounds slightly formal despite being totally childish – and I flipped through God of Lovely Prose Ray Bradbury – especially his story called The April Witch.

“Yes!” cried Cecy. “I’ve never danced. I want to dance. I’ve never worn a long gown, all rustly. I want that. I want to dance all night. I’ve never known what it’s like to be in a woman, dancing; Father and Mother would never permit it. Dogs, cats, locusts, leaves, everything else in the world at one time or another I’ve known, but never a woman in the spring, never on a night like this. Oh, please – we must go to that dance!”

I also poked out some of Harper’s Monologue from Angels in America.

Trying to balance out the formal Romantic style ornate prose, with the less formal whimsical Alice speech, with the even less formal tremendously poetic Ray Bradbury speech was quite a challenge – but I think that the intersection of those voices is where Morimi lies.

By the way, if there’s anyone who knows Chinese & wants to read it before the movie comes out – the Chinese translation is over here.

Reading back on the translation, I realized that if you say おともだちパンチ!! out loud, it sounds like something that you might hear an anime girl scream while waving her fist in the air. And ‘Friendship Fist’ totally doesn’t have the same feeling.

Translation

Perhaps you would know what a “ World Happy Punch! ❤” is?

If – that period comes about where a fine visitation of an iron-fist upon the soft muscular of a near human’s cheek must be realized, we grit our fists. I shall illustrate it for you. Kindly witness the thumb, left on the outside to enclose the fist – namely, the other four fingers… stuck together like metal fittings while locked in by that mechanism. The fact of this thumb is what charges up the fist, ensuring that this fellow’s cheek and pride shall undergo a full pulverization until not an unstained locale is left. There is that ever so important expression left to us in history that “violence begets violence” – and with this thumb as the starting point, may we find the flames of our hate spreading outwardly into the fields of the world, and in that soon forthcoming madness and despair – shall all of our most lovely and beautiful be placed into the gutters without a single exception.

But, witness here – that this fist may be released with the thumb caught within the other four. With this, our fist of manly braggadocio has changed in its character – pealing into the invitingly precious smile of a little kitten, striking out its little paws with lovable fancy. Such a fist is a playful jest, and the charged knuckles of hate are warmed into a state furthest from that meanery. Thus, we are freed from this noxious chain of cause and effect – Peace & Goodwill belongs back to men – and we have protected our loveliness ever more slightly.

“When you hide your thumb in your palm like this… Everything –  all that tightness and brickness – becomes treasure. Do you know what’s inside that thumb? Curled so gently… it’s the smallest thing in the whole big world. It’s LOVE❤.”

She explained it like that.

She a small girl when she was initiated into the ways of the World Happy Punch! ❤ by her big sister – who explained it like this:

“Listen closely. A maiden must NEVER swing an iron fist. But just look here – the world is so large and all saints & gentlemen fit into a space smaller than a thimble! And just look at the stinkroad immoralists and dunderheads that are left behind! And let’s not even talk about the dunderheaded immoralists! So, there may be times when you are just so tempted to sock them a good one… but here’s a secret for those hard pinches. Use it well. A tight bricky fist is a fist without Love, but a World Happy Punch!  is a fist with Love!❤. With this one punch full to the brimming with LOVE❤ – striking out into the big bad world out there – we’ll knock them allone two three back into the prim & proper! We’ll be living with daintiness & elegance – And we’ll open the world – all the way up – up up into Loveliness!”

Opening the world back up into Loveliness. That idea stuck deep inside her heart.

And she held the power – the World Happy Punch! ❤ – in the palm of her hand.

Original

「おともだちパンチ」を御存知であろうか。

たとえば手近な人間のほっぺたへ、やむを得ず鉄拳《てっけん》をお見舞する必要が生じた時、人は拳《こぶし》を堅く握りしめる。その拳をよく見て頂きたい。親指は拳を外からくるみ込み、いわばほかの四本の指を締める金具のごとき役割を果たしている。その親指こそが我らの鉄拳を鉄拳たらしめ、相手のほっぺたと誇りを完膚《かんぷ》なきまでに粉砕する。行使された暴力がさらなる暴力を招くのは歴史の教える必然であり、親指を土台として生まれた憎しみは燎原《りょうげん》の火のように世界へ広がり、やがて来たる混乱と悲惨の中で、我々は守るべき美しきものたちを残らず便器に流すであろう。

しかしここで、いったんその拳を解いて、親指をほかの四本の指でくるみ込むように握り直してみよう。こうすると、男っぽいごつごつとした拳が、一転して自信なげな、まるで招き猫の手のような愛らしさを湛《たた》える。こんな拳ではちゃんちゃら可笑《おか》しくて、満腔《まんこう》の憎しみを拳にこめることができようはずもない。かくして暴力の連鎖は未然に防がれ、世界に調和がもたらされ、我々は今少しだけ美しきものを保ち得る。

「親指をひっそりと内に隠して、堅く握ろうにも握られない。そのそっとひそませる親指こそが愛なのです」

彼女はそう語った。

幼い頃、彼女は姉からおともだちパンチを伝授された。姉は次のように語った。

「よろしいですか。女たるもの、のべつまくなし鉄拳をふるってはいけません。けれどもこの広い世の中、聖人君子などはほんの一握り、残るは腐れ外道《げどう》かド阿呆《あほう》か、そうでなければ腐れ外道でありかつド阿呆です。ですから、ふるいたくない鉄拳を敢えてふるわねばならぬ時もある。そんなときは私の教えたおともだちパンチをお使いなさい。堅く握った拳には愛がないけれども、おともだちパンチには愛がある。愛に満ちたおともだちパンチを駆使して優雅に世を渡ってこそ、美しく調和のある人生が開けるのです」

美しく調和のある人生。その言葉がいたく彼女の心を打った。

それゆえに、彼女は「おともだちパンチ」という奥の手を持つ。

Extra

For fun, I tried to translate over the first paragraph of the April Witch. Although I have less trust in my ability to write Japanese vs my ability to read it. And I don’t have that much trust in the latter already.

Into the air, over the valleys, under the stars, above a river, a pond, a road, flew Cecy. Invisible as new spring winds, fresh as the breath of clover rising from twilight fields, she flew. She soared in doves as soft as white ermine, stopped in trees and lived in blossoms, showering away in petals when the breeze blew. She perched in a limegreen frog, cool as mint by a shining pool. She trotted in a brambly dog and barked to hear echoes from the sides of distant barns. She lived in new April grasses, in sweet clear liquids rising from the musky earth.

風に浮かぶ、谷の上、星の下、川.池.道.過ぎる地上、セーシは浮かぶ。インビジブル春風、生々しいクローバーの息のような黄昏明るい草原から上がる、浮かぶ、飛ばす。彼女は白、アーミンの柔らかいのような潜る、そして舞い上がって飛翔しています。木々に休むの花弁生活がありますと、フワフワに、落下を散らして浴びるセーシは飛ばす。青蛙に、うらうらポールの冷ややかに、もしゃもしゃ犬の唸って響きに、セーシが宿る。新し四月草(しがっくさ)に宿る。ムスクを発しろ甘い地水(つちみず)に宿る。

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