Monday, March 24, 2008

The Darkness Comes...(Part 1)

Looks like I've managed to convince myself to do what I had been planning, and secretly dreading, for quite some time now. I'll be writing a companion essay to my recently completed Goemon fanfiction, "A Vengeful Darkness". Why waste my time? After all, it's clear few people actually read the story, and an even smaller number told me what they thought about it. Well, there are several reasons I'm doing this rather than jumping right into my next translation project:

1. I want to put these thoughts into writing while they're still somewhat fresh in my mind.
2. I believe that this will be less stressful than a translation.
3. I was emotionally invested in this story to an unbelievable degree.
4. Perhaps writing about the process of making this story will help me come up with more ideas for fiction. It's a long shot, but it's worth a try. I'm obviously completely void of good ideas at the moment.
5. Goemon International has apparently reached its monthly download limit, so I can't get the Ganbare Goemon 4 ROM from there (Yes, that's right. I've decided to listen to the fans and work on that next instead of Ganbare Goemon 2. But I can't download that one right now, either...).

So, now that you know why I'm doing this, and what I'm doing next, let's get started. Part 1 will deal with the inspirations for the general story, as well as the characters. Of course, I'll also discuss my somewhat twisted, perhaps (at times) inaccurate characterizations. WARNING! THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR "A VENGEFUL DARKNESS", "GOEMON'S GREAT ADVENTURE", AND OTHER GAMES IN THE SERIES! DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ MY STORY AND/OR DON'T WANT OTHER GOEMON GAMES TO BE SPOILED!

Before I begin, I'd like to make something very clear. I suffer from crippling feelings of inferiority with everything I do. This is no exception. I seriously can't remember the last time I was genuinely proud of myself or anything I did. Heh, sorry for sounding so overly dramatic; some people tell me I'm kinda emo, if they want to put it nicely. I just don't want people to think that I'm writing this out of pride or to promote my work.

By the way, just for fun, I'm going to make the title of every section, as well as the title of the essay itself, a reference to a movie, TV show, song, or video game. Kudos to anybody who can figure out where they come from. Now, let's see if this will really turn out to be as long as I had originally feared.

I'll Shake You From Your Sleep - The Beginning

If you read one of the first posts in this blog, you can see how I got back into the Goemon series. As you may have concluded, I became obsessed with the series before long. The characters were fun. The humor was unique. The story made almost no sense, but it still managed to suck me into this unbelievably modern and hilarious version of Feudal Japan.

Now, I don't remember the exact sequence of events for a while, but I'll try my best to explain anyway. All of these things happened, but the order may be incorrect.

One night, I had one of my usual bizarre dreams. As you may have guessed, this one involved Goemon. I don't quite remember the exact circumstances in the dream, but it involved a parasitic alien race that infected human hosts for some reason and had the power to manipulate them after doing so. Victims seemed normal in most respects, but there were some telltale signs that they had been infected. The biggest one that comes to mind right away is that the eyes of a host had the ability to emit an eerie yellow glow, at any seemingly random time and for only a split second, if necessary.

The one scene I remember from this dream involves Omitsu in a room, lying on a bed. She had, more likely than not, just been rescued by Goemon, who comes in to check in on her and talk to her for a while before exiting the room to attend to some other matter. You guessed it. As soon as Goemon leaves, Omitsu's eyes glow yellow.

Omitsu being the victim of some thing that had the ability to control her every move and change her physiology and/or anatomy was the only idea from this dream that survived to the end, and that's why I still remember it. I ended up toning down this original idea. Not only did I change the villain(s) from an alien race (which would have given the potential for multiple victims) to a single demon that had this power, I also imagine that my early concept of this story was quite violent and...intense. Basically, I went from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (a film which I've never seen, by the way) to "The Exorcist". The only thing missing was Goemon and his friends yelling "The power of Christ compels you!" during one of the final battles. Of course, anybody who's read this fic will (hopefully) agree that the final result is relatively tame compared to something like that.

Anyway, I added fanfiction reading to my list of activities to increase my knowledge of the Goemon series. I had an account on that still didn't have any stories under it, so I thought that now might be a good time to revive an old and long dormant interest of mine. I was frustrated to find that Goemon fanfics were few in number, and even among them, the quality wasn't very good overall. There were a few gems, however, and I tried to use them to figure out what would work and what wouldn't.

And so, Goemon awoke me from my long slumber as a writer...

It Took Me Years To Write, Won't You Take A Look? - The Story

Well, not years, literally. But a great deal of time and care went into trying to prevent the writer's block that I had suffered from during some of my previous attempts at writing fanfiction.

The first thing I did was write some notes on the main characters and major conflicts (both internal and external) in the story, as well as a very specific plot outline (beginning in early August, 2007). After all, I was forced to scrap my second fanfiction after I got writer's block in the middle of writing it, and my third idea never came to fruition because I could never write a good outline for the story. If this was going to fail, it would be better if it happened before I published anything.

Fortunately, it didn't fail, as I completed the outline and it was satisfactory. It's worth mentioning that several changes were made to it while I was writing this fic. Don't worry, I'll mention as many as I can remember at the appropriate times (oh, joy...).

As I mentioned before, Omitsu's possession was the very first element of the story that was conceived. But how does this happen? I thought for some time about enemies that Goemon and his friends had faced in the past, and which ones would potentially have the ability to do this. There was only one real solution I could think of: Dochuki.

I had finished Goemon's Great Adventure not too long before this, so this was a natural choice that was still fresh in my mind. But wasn't Dochuki soundly defeated at the end of the game? Well, in my mind, not quite. True, Ebisumaru's noxious bodily fumes mixed with his spirit, but remember that, soon afterwards, Ebisumaru turned his back to the demon and everybody else passed out. Dochuki would have had ample time to escape.

But would he be free, and does he have the power to possess people? This was where I didn't want to make any erroneous assumptions about Dochuki's powers. So, I created original characters, namely four jealous siblings of Dochuki and an evil father who has the power to possess humans and plans to rescue his favorite son, who has been imprisoned by the inhabitants of the Underworld after returning there in his weakened state.

Next, I had to come up with some sort of excuse as to why Omitsu had to be the victim, and not somebody else. I made up the whole "innocence and clean past" thing, adding the second part when I realized that Goemon would fit the righteous bill pretty easily. Of course, I still felt that Yae would fit that profile, as well, but I found a way for her to avoid being taken.

Speaking of Yae, her career dilemma was another really early idea that stayed throughout the whole thing. Honestly, I still find it a bit strange and...well, stupid when I think about it. I wanted there to be some conflict between her and Goemon, which would ultimately lead to their conversation in Zazen (this was later expanded, obviously, as it was something that came up more often than originally intended).

I suppose it would make SOME sense for Yae's strict, "by-the-book" boss to disapprove of Goemon's vigilante ways. But to threaten Yae with demotion, and for Yae to take this threat seriously and be frightened of it enough that she would choose not to accompany her friends...I think that's a bit hard to swallow.

So, once things finally got would Goemon and co. defeat this new enemy? I don't know whether I came up with the idea of Dochuki having four siblings first, or whether the thought of fighting enemies who represent the four elements (Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire) preceded it. But, eventually, I decided that these four would protect the weapons necessary for them to fight. And thus, the Jewels of Light were conceived.

There was also the issue of when this story would take place. It didn't take long for me to realize that it would be to my benefit to set it a few years after the events of GGA, for several reasons. First, it was vital that Goemon and Omitsu be in a serious relationship during the story, and I just didn't see that during any of the games. Second, I thought I could have more flexibility in terms of characterization this way. After all, time changes everything, especially people. Third, Goemon had to be especially reckless, and I thought him having nothing to do for a while would be a good way for him to get that way. Thus, I threw canon out the window and claimed that the gang had no adventures after facing Dochuki. At that point, GGA was the latest game in the series that I had played, so I justified it for myself that way. Ignorance was my excuse.

There were, of course, other ideas that have been around since the beginning and made it into the story in some way, shape, or form. I'll discuss these when the time is right. Let's move on to the next section of the essay: characters, both familiar (or so you think) and not. Note that I will not be discussing every character I outlined; that would just take too long. In the order that they're presented in my outline:

Through Fire, Justice Is Served! - Goemon

Even though Yae had a great deal of character development and many scenes revolved around her, I still consider Goemon to be the main character of the story. He's the self-declared (and generally accepted) leader of the group, and he's just itching for the thrill of an adventure.

Everybody knows that Goemon is a courageous, headstrong fellow with a short temper who tends to act without thinking things through, but I wanted to explore more aspects of his personality (as was the case with other characters, as well). However, I'm afraid some other fundamental characteristics may have been altered in doing this (again, as was the case with other characters). One such example is his openness, and how he encourages Yae to express herself more often. True, time changes people. But I don't know if it could change him this much. I thought attributing this (gradual) change to spending too much time with Ebisumaru might be a possible way to explain this. Whether it's an acceptable solution is to be decided by the reader.

In general, I don't think I based the specifics of Goemon's character on anybody I know in real life or from a fictional source (well, besides the Goemon games, of course). I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Just for kicks, Sarahsuke and I proposed hypotheses as to what the characters' blood types and zodiac signs are, based on their personalities. We agreed pretty much right off the bat that Goemon is a Leo. Right now, I'm looking specifically at (from Wikipedia): Proud, Risk-taking, Passionate, Ambitious, Loves attention, Very strong, Noble, Leader, Powerful, Protective, Bossy, Egotistical, Boastful, Pompous, Over-aggressive, Argumentative, and Arrogant. He likes the spotlight and luxurious living, but not doing things safely, and probably not pointlessness. Of course, these are debatable, and I feel like I missed the mark on some of them in my story, but I guess nobody's perfect. Now if only I can remember which blood type he was...

The Jewel of Light that "chooses" Goemon is the last one obtained: The Ruby of Courage. This was probably the easiest one to come up with a name for. After all, fire is usually associated with courage (at least in my mind). And both of them are associated with Goemon. So, that one wasn't too tough.

As stated above, Goemon is the main character of this story. He goes through a lot of emotional turmoil (almost as much as Yae, though that statement is certainly up for debate), but usually lands on his feet again in the end. His brashness gets him in a lot of trouble this time, but what can you say? That's just who he is.

He Just Couldn't Appreciate The Beauty In...ME! - Ebisumaru

Yes, the above quote is attributed to the Ninja of Justice himself. And yes, his infamous Hypnotic Dance is back in full force. All right!

Ebisumaru is probably my favorite character in Ganbare Goemon, and this story has a lot to do with that. He was, by far, the most fun to write for. There were so many dumb gags involving Ebisumaru, and chances are I couldn't include all the ones I thought of, for one reason or another. Of course, almost all of said gags involve food in some way, so Ebisumaru is a bit of a one-trick pony in that regard. That was the basis of his conversation with Sasuke on the ship (discussed later, hopefully).

Like many aspects of this story, thinking of funny lines and situations for Ebisumaru in particular usually kept my mind racing at night. I would lie in bed thinking about what to write and how to write it, and I would inevitably think of something for Ebisumaru to do. If it wasn't a new idea, it was either a particular gag that I was looking forward to writing, or one that I had just written and that stood out in my mind.

Ebisumaru, as I have portrayed him here, is proud to call himself the Ninja of Justice, as he deals it out in his own unique way. Fortunately for his allies, this unique brand of fighting turns out to be very useful at various points in the story. In addition, he is, undeniably, a glutton, indulging himself in his love of food constantly. Not only is it all he can talk about, but when it's there, he makes every effort he can to eat it.

Ebisumaru has been friends with Goemon for several years by the time this story takes place, and they're fiercely loyal to each other, even if it seems like Goemon doesn't always treat Ebisumaru very well. Goemon may yell a lot, even going so far as to insult Ebisumaru, but their friendship is more than strong enough to survive that. Heh, of course, this has gone a bit beyond "friendship" in some of the games and the manga, but I didn't know much about any of that before writing this.

I would often refer to Ebisumaru as "the Ninja of Justice" instead of by his actual name. This was just an attempt to break up the monotony a bit, and a similar technique was also used with Sasuke ("The Clockwork Ninja" or something similar) and Yae ("The kunoichi").

I remember it was later speculated that Ebisumaru is a Libra. I'm looking at: Cooperative, Charming, Easy-going, Sociable, Peace loving, Gullible, Pleasure oriented, Cheerful, and Flirty (it says that Libras are loyal in marriage, but it was implied that Ebisumaru cheats on his wife). He likes harmony, beauty, and justice, and dislikes conflict and discord, cruelty, and injustice. I find it a bit funny that "Entertainer" is listed as an ideal career for a Libra. Many people from the region of Japan that Ebisumaru is presumably from are comedians, and the Ninja of Justice can even get a part-time job as an entertainer in one of the games (Ganbare Goemon Gaiden, I believe). Unfortunately, like Goemon, I can't remember which blood type Sarahsuke and I agreed on for Ebisumaru...

Ebisumaru gets the first Jewel of Light, the Topaz of Power. This one was tough to come up with a name for, mostly since I had difficulty finding a yellow jewel. It was a "citrine" for a while, but I changed it to "topaz" because (I thought) it sounded better. The "power" part has to do with the fact that Ebisumaru is usually considered the strongest character of the four, physically.

Ebisumaru is primarily the comic relief of the story. His overly zealous love of food is actually a fun subject to make jokes about. Although usually carefree, he can be serious when the need arises, and he is an indispensable ally in this fight.

By the way, Ebisumaru's wife, Rie, is named after my grandmother. Yes, this is the same grandmother who helps with the translations.

Welcome To The Machine - Sasuke

Ah, Sasuke. Often my favorite character to play as in the games, he's the naive robot created by, and fiercely loyal to, the Wise Man. His mental and emotional capacities go beyond that of what any normal machine can achieve, to the point of Yae insisting that the Clockwork Ninja has a heart and a conscience.

Let's talk about Sasuke's "humanness", his "soul", if you will. Do I believe that machines, even ones that are as complex as Sasuke, are capable of real thought, emotions, and such? The answer is no. There will likely never be a machine like Sasuke, who is able to think for himself and impress his teammates by how he acts less like a robot and more like a person every day. Much of what I wrote regarding Sasuke's abnormally advanced nature goes against what I truly believe. He is the exception, not the rule. Therefore, Yae would be incorrect if she made the same claims about another robot as she did for Sasuke regarding the existence of a heart, and most likely a conscience (I like that definition of conscience I used, by the way, and I'll explain where I got it from it when the time is right).

Again, Sasuke acts less like a machine and more like a human than is really possible. Besides being capable of independent thought, he can feel emotion, comfort, and discomfort, and he requires food to survive like any normal person. Quite advanced.

As we did with Goemon and Ebisumaru, Sarahsuke and I also speculated on the blood type of Sasuke, despite the obvious fact that Sasuke clearly doesn't have any blood. For those of you who aren't familiar with this concept, blood type in Japan is analogous to astrological signs in the West. They believe that a person's blood type dictates their personality and compatibility with others, at least partially. Anyway, we agreed that Sasuke's blood type is AB: Cool, Controlled, Rational, Critical, Indecisive, Unforgiving. It may not describe him perfectly, but neither did the astrological signs for the others (and no, I don't remember assigning a sign to Sasuke). You can also look at this page for more information.

Sasuke is the second ninja to receive a Jewel of Light: the Emerald of Spirit. Unlike Ebisumaru's, this one was easy enough to figure out what kind of a gem it should be, but fairly difficult to assign a quality to it. "Spirit" is a bit...dumb, or cliche, or whatever you'd like to call it. It was probably a sign of my lack of creativity.

I felt like Sasuke was just...there in the story. It seemed to me that he wasn't contributing much, even though he had the radar early on (which was probably a subconscious attempt to give him some purpose). After it was destroyed, his usefulness for the team and in the grand scheme of things declined, in my opinion. Ebisumaru was the comedy, and Goemon and Yae were involved in the huge conflicts, and they all had interesting personalities. Sasuke was just...Sasuke. His naivete leads to a few jokes, but these are few and far between, and some of them may not have been that effective. I don't know.

Foxey Lady - Yae

Of course, a fox in this case refers to a beautiful woman with some spunk, or "bite" (ha ha...OK, dumb joke). That describes Yae as she is presented here fairly well. For whatever reason, I decided to give Yae a very complex personality, at times feminine, but usually very sarcastic. I also wrote "Intelligent, calm, persistent, and famous for her beauty...with a short temper and little tolerance for laziness" in my notes. We'll see just how much of that is true to the games soon enough, but it's worth noting that she's more sensitive than she's willing to admit under much of this toughness, and she cares deeply for her friends (more than she realizes initially), taking the role of the "older sister" to the others (even though, ironically, Yae is the younger of two sisters). It has been mentioned (or at least implied) at some points that Yae is an excellent cook and an appreciator of the arts. Both of these facts were referenced in AVD.

I don't remember when exactly I decided to give Yae a major internal conflict, but it was probably very early on. I knew she should be obsessed with her job, and I thought it would be interesting and create some tension between her and one or more of the other members of the group (particularly Goemon) if they brought it up and how it's affecting her in an adverse manner. Many ideas about how this career situation and other conflicts could manifest themselves between those two were initially devised, but, like most other things, a good number of the ideas couldn't be used for one reason or another. Instead, I decided to include more scenes where they comfort each other and grow closer as friends. Oh, I guess this would be a good time to mention that I never intended to imply any sort of a romance between these two. I'm somewhat hostile towards fics that make Goemon and Yae a romantic couple (with one major exception, which is dramatically different from most of the others), and I even explored the possibility (and questioned its validity) from Goemon's perspective this time around.

That's not to say that I didn't drop hints (and sometimes more than hints) that Goemon and others consider Yae to be very attractive. But, to put it one way, this is definitely NOT manga Yae, who is a completely different entity from game Yae, as far as I'm concerned. I wanted to get the point across that she's a beautiful woman without going totally overboard with sex appeal (even with what little bit you can have in a written story).

I had to make a few assumptions about Yae's job in this story. Of course, there's the fact that I created a twisted, slimy boss, but the exact nature of her work had to be speculated on a bit, as well. I'm pretty sure this isn't totally accurate, but whatever. I never intended for any of this to become canon anyway.

Yae is the only character where I remember both the zodiac sign and the blood type. Yae is likely a Virgo: Analytical, Critical, Precise, Meticulous, Orderly, Methodical, Practical, Intelligent, Inquiring, Responsible, Perfectionistic, Shrewd, Witty, Polite, Hygienic (Notice that she's the only one of the main four that's seen combing her hair, for example.), Reserved, Cool, and Undemonstrative. As for blood type, she's clearly an A: Earnest, Creative, Sensible, Calm, and Fastidious. As she's portrayed here, she likes hygiene, order, cleanliness, details, and peace, but she dislikes sloppiness, uncleanliness, confusion, and especially narrow-minded people and uncertainty. These qualities are highly debatable, even more so than they are for the other three I've written about so far. I also think it's kind of interesting that the elements of the characters' signs don't correspond to the jewels they get here (for example, Virgo (Yae) is an earth sign and Libra (Ebisumaru) is an air sign), but Virgo is associated with the sapphire.

Yae receives her Jewel of Light, the Sapphire of Wisdom, third among the group. I figured she was the "wisest" of the four, and I thought I could come up with some comparison between her powerful, inquisitive mind and the ocean. Most likely, she was assigned to the specific location where she obtains it earlier than any of the others.

Let's see how the personality of this kunoichi compares to that of her video game incarnation. After all, she is, in my opinion, the most mysterious of the main four. But, from what I have gathered from analyzing the way she talks and what she says in the games(the GG3 and GG4 translations were particularly useful for this purpose), I feel like I missed the mark in terms of her personality. For example, in the games, Yae can be a little sarcastic, but she's usually very polite. In this story, she's really only polite to people who can provide some sort of benefit to the team, whereas she's very hostile towards anybody who's even remotely antagonistic. Although this might make some sense, her game self doesn't appear to be this quick to anger.

In addition, Yae swears quite a bit in this story, second only to Goemon in that department (I haven't done a count of how many times each character cusses, so that's just a guess more than anything else), whereas she rarely does in the games (I was actually surprised to hear her say "shimatta", which means "damn it", at one point in the anime). This was probably an attempt to give her more of an "edge."

It is true that the games portray her as a caring, intelligent, usually calm (though this last one wasn't so true at some points in AVD) person. However, it's difficult to say how short her temper is (definitely not as short as Goemon's), although I imagine, being in the type of job where strict discipline is of the utmost importance, she's usually not a very laid-back person. That was more speculation than anything else.

Honestly, I didn't care too much for Yae until I wrote AVD. That's not to say that I didn't like the character, I just didn't find her as interesting as the other three main ones. Yet, for some reason, I felt compelled to give her a large and important role in the story, even revolving an entire subplot around her. She turned out to be one of my favorite characters to write for (second to Ebisumaru), maybe because I grew fond of this interpretation, as inaccurate as it may be. Her internal conflict, despite its stupidity, kept me thinking throughout the whole thing.

Hey, Look At You. You're A Year Older...And A Year Closer To Death. - Wise Man

The Wise Man, throughout a majority of the story, is probably about 102 years old and still kicking. I used to have him as being in his 90s, but that was changed after I translated the intro to GG4 and found out he was celebrating his 98th birthday there. Unfortunately, I believe that this change wasn't made until the second version of this story was released.

He's a caring old man, but with a fairly short temper, especially when it comes to his robots and other inventions. He's proven to be a valuable asset to Goemon and his friends several times in the past few years, offering them assistance and advice during their times of need. He gladly gives it, though he seems less pleased about it whenever anybody makes any kind of a reference to his age.

The greatest thing about writing for the Wise Man is, of course, his obsession with young, pretty girls. Yae is, much to her displeasure, a victim of this obsession a couple times. In addition, I had to make as many references to his sizable collection of pornographic magazines as I could manage. No problems there. magazines, my ass...

However, the Wise Man's usefulness in the plot is evidenced most by his knowledge of mechanics and mythology. I wanted to imply that Goemon's required the former type of service more times than he cares to count. As for the latter, the Wise Man seems to have access to a great amount of literature on ghosts and the like, so I figured he would be the best person (well, he's the only person, really) to report on the current situation in Oedo Town while the others are gone, and also to give them info about the Jewels of Light.

To Know Her Is To Love Her. Just To See Her Smile Makes My Life Worthwhile. - Omitsu

Omitsu is Goemon's beloved girlfriend, though this wasn't always the case. Sure, she's considered by every man who sees her to be the most beautiful woman in Oedo Town. But most of them, including Goemon, don't have the guts to approach her. And I would imagine she admires Goemon the most out of all the men in the town, even before they officially start dating. My guess is that her love for him would become stronger with each subsequent rescuing, meaning there's been a lot of opportunities for it to grow.

Even though it's suggested in some of the Japanese games that Goemon and Omitsu are a couple (though they may be trying to keep it a secret), I thought it would be interesting to come up with one possible theory as to how exactly they got together in the first place, presumably later than any of the games I'm referring to (right after GGA, actually). When he finally gets to be alone with her after the teahouse closes, he (nervously) makes his move and ends up hooking up with the girl of his dreams. Score!

Waitress at Akindo Teahouse...I don't remember which game(s), if any, that name was mentioned in. I'm pretty sure I actually got it from other fanfics.

So, the main four weren't the only ones who were assigned zodiac signs. Omitsu is a Cancer: Tenacious, Resourceful, Home-loving, Loyal, Intuitive, Generous, Emotional, Loving, Sensitive, Protective, Romantic, Warm, Sympathetic, Sentimental, Caring, Maternal instincts, Moody, Hyper-sensitive, Touchy, Clingy, Insecure, Volatile, and Controlling. Some of these are speculative (as Omitsu's character isn't fleshed out as much in the games) and show up only in this story, and many of these are from the anime. Being prone to jealousy is implied in the faults mentioned here, but I wasn't able to incorporate that into the story as much as I wanted to. I also remember reading something that said that Leo men are highly compatible with Cancer women, which supports the idea of Goemon and Omitsu being a viable couple (if you put any weight on those things, that is).

The insecurity that's mentioned above is especially important. It's based almost directly on my own feelings of inferiority, but Omitsu gets it from the belief that she's not only useless, but a burden to Goemon and the others. After all, in her mind, they always have to rescue her because it seems like she's too helpless to take care of herself. This goes against the traditionally accepted notion of Omitsu being the eternal optimist after being kidnapped and rescued multiple times. I thought this would be a more realistic approach, and that's the direction I tried to go in with many of my characters.

Omitsu's been through some pretty difficult experiences, but I wanted this one to top them all. I emphasized over and over again the anguish of being possessed by a demon. In addition, she's bringing pain to Goemon and the others, and I thought it might be interesting to see what happens when they realize that their dear, timid friend is now one of their most powerful enemies. Of course, she really beats herself up over all of that. As Yae says towards the end, Omitsu really goes through hell this time around.

It's interesting to note that Omitsu is easily the most despised character of the series, but I can't figure out why that is exactly. Sure, she's a ditzy, possessive...well, word that starts with a "b" and rhymes with "witch," in the anime. But she doesn't deserve to have that much hatred directed towards her...And even though she's definitely not my favorite character in the series, I still had some unconscious desire to give her an important role. Must be the underdog effect or something.

Speaking of which, this might be a good time to mention that I'm currently in the pre-pre-planning stages for my next fic. Nothing too well-defined yet, but it does involve Omitsu again. Hopefully, this idea will actually go somewhere. (5/2/08)

Ghost Gulping - Suzaku

A cat-like ghost from the "Underworld". Her personality isn't very well-developed in Goemon's Great Adventure, and it gets a small chance to do so this time around. That being said, the story portrays her as being knowledgeable, impatient, and a bit sarcastic, but still possessing a kind heart.

When I first wrote the outline for AVD, I had her name as "Suzaku", which is what it is in GGA. Later, when it came time to include her in the story, I began to have doubts about the name and checked the Mystical Website. They had it as "Suzuka", and that's what I used until I returned home for Christmas break and saw for myself that I was right the first time. I changed it in all chapters that were published from that point forward, but everything before that remained the same until I published the revision. So, her name changed all of a sudden, which must've been a bit confusing, and added a new layer of complexity to the running gag of Ebisumaru calling her "Suzuki".

Suzaku needed to be able to fight in this story, but we never got a chance in GGA to see just what she could do. So, I decided that, since she's a supernatural being, it would make sense for her to have a few magic spells. We only see a few of these, and they're very generic. But they get the job done, I suppose.

The Darkness Shall Prevail - Makurayami

Here he is, the big, evil villain himself. The master of the darkness, who haunts nightmares and instills fear in all who behold him. Yeah, really clever (not).

I gave Makurayami and his four children names that reflect their appearance and/or abilities. In actuality, "Makurayami" isn't a name at all, but rather a Japanese term used to describe complete and total darkness. It seems to be a fairly obscure term. I actually originally named him "Ankoku", which has a similar meaning, but I concluded that it sounded too stupid, so I changed it to something that sounded slightly less stupid.

Besides his main ability of being able to possess people, it was difficult coming up with exactly what else he could do. After all, he's apparently got a reputation for being quite powerful. I debated with myself about what exactly they should be up to the point where they actually fought him.

Oh, I don't believe I've mentioned how I went about writing battles...Well, there really wasn't a whole lot of pre-planning involved. Besides a few key events in each battle sequence, I pretty much made them up as I went along. Probably not the smartest thing, but I was having a really difficult time thinking of how to fill in the gaps beforehand. Something about writing the actual scenes helped me come up with ideas. I didn't want to do this with the last three battles (Possessed Omitsu, Makurayami, and Dochuki, respectively), but after giving myself at least a full day to plan it out before actually writing, I still didn't have clear and specific directions in my mind. So, I just winged it on those like I did with all the others.

To be continued...

Friday, March 21, 2008

And I will hang my head, hang my head low...

Yes! Since it wasn't likely that Ganbare Goemon 3 would contain any references to July, Los Angeles, or "chimbley sweeps", I never got to make a good reference to any songs by the Decemberists in the scene titles. (Let's face it, "Baby Needs a New and Shiny Prize" is kind of dumb.) Now, I was able to name one of my blog posts after the refrain from one of my favorite non-Beatles songs, "The Crane Wife 3."

Anyway, my plan is to basically put any errors (or possible errors) I made while translating GG3 here. Some of these have been mentioned before, and many of them come from Sarahsuke. You may want to refer to those old posts while reading this. Let's start from the beginning:

- Scene 2: The error comes in Ebisumaru's thought regarding Yae. Actually, I'm not even sure if this is really an error, but it's worth mentioning. I can't tell if "Gu hoo hoo hoo..." is supposed to be him chuckling or crying. Apparently, Ebisumaru has made comments about Yae's attractiveness in the past (Gaiden, for example), so he could be excited at the possibility of "borrowing Yae's body", to reference a later scene. Or, my previous interpretation could be correct, and he might feel that Yae's seriousness will keep him from being as laid-back as he likes to be. I'm really not sure about this one.
- Scene 3: The "bragging"/"conch shell" mixup. I think I went into enough detail in the post where I first mentioned it, but this is basically the one pun in the whole game that was horribly mishandled. A possible correction to the dialogue is also given.
- Scene 21: The name "Nekokichi." Is it just his name, or does it actually translate to some sort of title (like I had it)? Actually, I guess I could've called him "Fanatical Cat" or something like that, seeing as how the suffix "-kichi" means "maniac" or "fanatic."
- Scene 23: This is another pun. The word for "cold" and "wind" is the same ("kaze"). He could've been talking about how the wind carried his kite up to the roof, and then been reminded that he had some extra cold medicine to give to Goemon and co. After all, it seems kind of random that he would just start talking about his health all of a sudden. This pun would've been easier to deal with than the one in Scene 3. I would've had him say something about how the wind is picking up, it's getting cold, and he would be giving them the medicine so they wouldn't get sick. Easy, right? I may or may not have been right in the video. Once again, I'm not entirely sure.
- Scene 29: Who exactly is Chukichi talking about when he mentions the hot spring? Do the Omikuji Siblings go there to avoid being beaten, and the memories of their abusive leader are flooding back to Chukichi at that moment? (The part I translated as "Remember that!" really just means "remembering.") Or was I right? We'll never know...
- Scene 34: Sarahsuke suggested that "Karakuri Paaku" should be translated as "Mechanical Park," which makes more sense than "Mechanical Pack" (I guess I tried to tell myself that that was the name of the group including the Omikuji Siblings, Bismaru, and Jurokubei). The Mechanical Park is the area where the last dungeon and the door are located.
- Ending: The phrase I translated as "Manji Fortification" at the beginning should actually be "Manji Hold." Apparently, a Manji Hold is some sort of wrestling move. Ha, the fact that Jurokubei thought he could get Impact in a wrestling hold seems quite ludicrous to me. Also, I think I've come up with a halfway decent explanation for the very last part. The Wise Man managed to regain control of his time machine in the future, and he wanted to come back to the Edo period before he originally went to the future, so it would be as if none of this ever happened. However, he made a mistake and arrived a day too late. So, Omitsu, Goemon, and Ebisumaru, understandably, freak out when the Wise Man suddenly appears out of thin air. This is my best attempt to come up with a good explanation for this confusing issue.

And that officially wraps up Ganbare Goemon 3 in English. I've been lazy, it's been five days since I started writing this stupid thing.

Anyway, I've finally got an idea for what to work on next for the translation project (but I still can't come up with any good ideas for fiction...ugh). Look out for that soon.

Friday, March 7, 2008

GG3 - Part 9

Ganbare Goemon 3 (English) - Part 9

Excitement! Crazy, crazy excitement! (By the way, before I get sued or something, I should probably say that that particular quote comes from Dominic Monaghan.) I've accomplished my goal of getting all the major cutscenes of Ganbare Goemon 3 translated by the time I go on Spring/Easter Break, (with almost a week to spare) and I was able to release the final video on March 6, 2008. This week was hell, but at least I was able to finish these last two videos so I would have time to suffer in my room, the library, and the classroom without also worrying about making videos. Let's move on to GG3 scene analysis and scripts, one last time.

Scene 44: The Downside of a Great Mind

Goemon: What a strange room...
Wise Man: Hya hya hya hya! I am a genius, a great genius!
Goemon: W-Wise Man! Damn it, it seems like you’re being manipulated somehow! What happened to you?
Sasuke: Wise Man, are you all right?
Yae: It seems like the brainwashing mechanism made him that way...
Goemon: He’s not gonna wake up for a while.
Yae: Sasuke and I will take the Wise Man to a safe place in the town. Let’s go, Sasuke!
Sasuke: Wise Man...
Goemon: We should go further inside! Huh? Ebisumaru, what’s wrong?
Ebisumaru: I’ve got a bad feeling about this...(Shudder)
Goemon: Stop complaining! We have to defeat Shishi Jurokubei, no matter what!

You hear that, kids? If you're too smart, you'll get captured by a strange man wearing a nun's habit and forced to build evil robots for him. Recall from the opening to this game and a previous scene (Scene 20) that Bismaru stated that the Wise Man would be working for them from now on, and Sasuke mentions that he overheard the enemy saying that the Wise Man was working on a new model of the walker.

You may notice that the scene started with me playing as Goemon and ended with me playing as Sasuke. Just a free tip from me: the surge from Sasuke's surge kunai makes him the best character to fight against the Wise Man, IMO (even though I did lose 9 hearts during the battle...hey, I never said it was an easy fight). How ironic, eh?

Scene 45: The Giant God's Revival

Goemon: Wow! We’re really high up!
Ebisumaru: Goemon, that guy’s clothes are really loud...
Goemon: Ha! Loud clothes! What are you, scared? Huh?! I-Isn’t that Omitsu over there? And there...Ah! You’re the head of the mechanical bandits, Shishi Jurokubei!
Jurokubei: Indeed! Now, hand over the conch shell!
Goemon: What?! You’ve gotta be kidding! You should give me back Omitsu!
Jurokubei: Hoo...I’m acting like a gentleman, and you’re taking advantage of me.
Ebisumaru: (Goemon, we should exchange the conch shell for Omitsu.)
Goemon: Good thinking, Ebisumaru! Oy! Jurokubei, we’ll give you the conch shell if you give us Omitsu!
Jurokubei: I understand. On my signal, we’ll exchange at the same time! Ready...Go!
Ebisumaru: Ah! Goemon! Jurokubei--!
Goemon: Over here, Omitsu! Wha-Wha-Wha-Wha-What?!
Bismaru: Thank you! I knew you would help me!
Goemon: What the hell are you talking about?! Pest!
Ebisumaru: Goemon, did you really give up the conch shell?!
Goemon: Sorry! It slipped out of my hands! What could he want with the conch shell, anyway?
Ebisumaru: I wonder if this has anything to do with the Giant’s Revival that the hooded halfwits were talking about.
Jurokubei: Bwa ha ha ha! Fools! The real Omitsu is right here! I’ve got good news for you, though! Omitsu will be added to my collection of beautiful women! And you, you can have Bismaru! Take good care of him! And now, at last, my great plan for the Giant God’s Revival will become a reality! Omitsu, get ready to board the Giant of Legend! I will smash the rest of you and become history’s champioooon!
Goemon: Damn it! What’s gonna happen now?!
Ebisumaru: It won’t be good to stay here! Let’s use Impact to go back!
Goemon: But Impact’s all the way on the opposite side!
Ebisumaru: This isn’t good...
Sasuke: Goemon! Ebisumaru! Get in, quickly!
Yae: Now we’re even for what you did for me at the prison!
Jurokubei: I’m surprised that the Legendary Giant God is the splitting image of your robot! The appearance may be tacky, but I’ll show you proof of true strength! Hold on tight, Omitsu! Let’s go! Yaaaaaah!
Goemon: W-What’s going on?! I don’t understand what’s happening!
Ebisumaru: It looks like another time warp!
Sasuke: A rejection in Impact’s time machine circuit must have caused some sort of an accident!
Yae: This is gonna hurt...

Wow...this scene is long. Too long, if you ask me. And there's a lot of talking. On top of that, the game is controlling the message speed, so pausing at each new subtitle is recommended when you're watching the video, especially if you're not a very fast reader.

It turns out that "kyoshin" is better translated as "Giant God" rather than just "giant." Makes it seem more threatening and imposing, making it a proper noun and adding "god" to the title. So, I guess you could say that I made a mistake when I translated "kyoshin fukkatsu" as "Giant's Revival" in the past, or you could look at it in light of the excuse that I'm about to give now, which is that Jurokubei, being the arrogant bastard he is, feels like he is the only person worthy of the privilege of calling Dark Impact the "Giant God" instead of just the "Giant." The Omikuji don't have that right, and thus Ebisumaru doesn't know any better when he, too, says "Giant." Wait...does that even make sense?

This is the first direct mention of Jurokubei's beautiful women collection, although it is indirectly referenced when Koronda says he was going to donate Yae to him.

Speaking of Jurokubei, he uses a lot of slang that requires more research than usual to translate. I should thank Sarahsuke for helping me find some of these words/phrases for this and other scenes.

To be honest, I haven't watched the video in its entirety yet, but I imagine the lag is a real problem here, especially with the subtitles and the lightning. Stupid lag.

The last line in this scene used to be something like "I-It's so painful..." That makes very little sense, frankly. Even though the only word Yae says there is "Kurushii" ("painful"), I thought there would be a better translation for it. So, since Japanese doesn't really have a "future tense", per se, I decided that this would still work. Not sure which one is more accurate, but this one makes more sense, I think.

Scene 46: Be Careful What You Wish For

Lord: Every day is so peaceful. I’m getting sick of it!
Princess Yuki: Oh, father, you’re so imprudent. Hey, Kurobei!
Kurobei: (Meow, meow.)
Lord: Why does something like this always happen?!

Poor Lord and Princess Yuki. Naturally, they're always there when Oedo Castle gets smashed...or goes up in flames...or starts flying away...or gets transformed after getting hit by a strange beam from a peach-shaped flying saucer. Basically, besides the whole "royalty thing", they've got some really rotten luck.

The reason I didn't write anything right before Impact lands on the castle (when everybody's expression suddenly changes) is basically the same reason I never wrote anything whenever Goemon blew into the conch shell. The characters that go across the screen are essentially a sound effect that represents a loud rumbling.

By the way, I don't remember if it's ever explicitly stated that the Lord and Princess Yuki know that Kurobei is a ninja cat. Does anybody know whether this is true?

Scene 47: One Last Battle

Jurokubei: What the--?! This place! My aspiration to see the Edo period has been fulfilled! If you want to destroy such a magnificent castle, you’re just not normal! Hoo...So be it! After I destroy you, I will claim the castle for myself and return home! You will know the real strength of the Great Jurokubei!

I never knew Jurokubei wanted to see the Edo period so badly. Or that he wanted to own a castle from that period. See, you learn something new everyday.

And that wraps up the last Ganbare Goemon 3 scene analysis! I hope you guys enjoyed watching these videos/reading this thing and learning the true story. What's coming next? Umm...who knows? I certainly don't. Does anybody have any ideas?

But if anybody wants to help with a future project (if there are any), let me know ASAP. I'm looking for people to help with the actual translations, in particular, but if you've got some other skill that you think can help this project, talk to me and I'll see if I can find something for you to do. Instant messaging is probably the fastest way to communicate, but emails and messages on other sites work well, too.

So, I couldn't have done this without a little help from my friends. First, I owe a lot to Sarahsuke for helping me translate some of the more obscure words and phrases, and for pointing out my mistakes. Oh, and for reading the first versions of all my scripts and giving me her feedback that way. Also, thanks to everyone who commented, especially a friend of mine known as mysticalninjaduelist on YouTube. I know you were probably busy this past week, but I really looked forward to reading your comments every time I posted a new video. You rock! And, finally, thanks to all the members of Goemon International for being an overall great group of people and supporting me throughout this whole project.

Keep checking back here periodically. I'll be posting Goemon-related stuff here whenever I think of something. That stuff may or may not be related to the Goemon in English project, but barring any unforeseen circumstances, there will be more stuff to come soon.

Monday, March 3, 2008

GG3 - Part 8

Ganbare Goemon 3 (English) - Part 8

And now, I bring you Part 8 of Ganbare Goemon 3, released on March 3, 2008. This is another one that actually has less dialogue than you might think, and (for the most part), I left myself too much time for subtitles again. Oh well. The good news is that it didn't take long to get translated, and this has one of my favorite scenes in the entire game in it. Let's just move on to scene analysis, shall we?

Scene 39: The Continuing Story of the Omikuji Siblings

Kyo: Argh! Your strength is the real deal!
Kichi: Until now, we’ve always been the allies of justice!
Shokichi: But we have to trust Lord Jurokubei to take care of that now!
Chukichi: We are retiring, naturally.
Daikichi: We will return to being the Poor Storytelling Siblings! If you’d like to see us, you’re all invited. Well, that’s it from us!

"The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" was changed to "The Continuing Story of the Omikuji Siblings" for the purposes of Ganbare Goemon. Yep, another Beatles song.

Who would've guessed that the Omikuji Siblings used to be "Poor Storytellers"? Wonder what kind of stories they used to tell. Well, they probably weren't any good anyway. Of course, we all know what kinds of stories they're going to tell after this fight. All about how Mean Mr. Goemon (Hey, there's another Beatles reference!) beat them up and constantly made fun of them while doing it.

And if you want to know which color corresponds to each of the Omikuji Siblings, refer to the end of my post for Part 7.

Scene 40: The Door

Goemon: Phew...I’m surprised that they were so hard to handle!
Yae: The base’s door must be towards the north!
Ebisumaru: We have all 8 of the code plates here...
Sasuke: Now we just have to set them in the door correctly!
Goemon: Okay, let’s go give it our best effort!

Blah. I'm in a bit of a creative slump. Give me a break.

I can't think of anything to say about this one. Let's move on.

Scene 41: A Bee Stinging a Crying Face

Yae: Do you suppose this is the door to the base that the hooded halfwits were talking about?
Goemon: Well, this is just a glass ornament!
Sasuke: No, I’m guessing this is a very complicated device.
Ebisumaru: Eh? You think so?
Goemon: Well, if you say so, I guess I have to agree with you.
Sasuke: I’m guessing we have to set the code plates in those dents correctly.
Goemon: Oh, that’s too much trouble! Let’s just destroy it!
Yae: Wait! Attacking recklessly could be dangerous!
Sasuke: Insert the code plates!
Narrator: The green (yellow) button places the code plate. If you think you made a mistake, press the red button to remove it. And press the blue button if you want to stop. Well, try it and do your best!
Ebisumaru: I don’t think anything’s happening...
Goemon: Son of a bitch! We’re in a real crisis here!

When you put the code plates in, they read "Nakittsura ni hachi", which is a Japanese proverb that translates to "A bee stinging your crying face." Basically, it means that misfortune strikes when you're least prepared for it. When one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong. Sounds like the story of my life...err, anyway, my thanks go to Sarahsuke for figuring that out.

This is one of those times where the game controls the message speed, so pausing at each new line is highly recommended. Especially the first one. I was forced to put the English onto two lines, because it's there for less than two seconds.

Does anybody else find it strange that the characters fall in the order of Ebisumaru, Yae, Goemon, and Sasuke right after putting the plates in, but when they're actually plummeting it's Yae, Sasuke, Ebisumaru, then Goemon? I don't know, it seems strange to me.

Oh, and I should probably explain what the colors of the Super Famicom buttons correspond to on the Super Nintendo. In the order that they are mentioned:

Green = Y
Yellow = B
Red = A
Blue = X

Scene 42: March of the Impact

Ebisumaru: Whew! Just in the nick of time.
Goemon: This conch, Impact, saved us!
Yae: It seems like the code plates were a trap set up by the Omikuji Siblings.
Sasuke: I never would’ve expected those idiots to put that much thought into something like this!
Goemon: All right, enough talk! We have to hurry and march into the base of the enemy to rescue Omitsu and the Wise Man from their clutches!
Sasuke: Let’s go, let’s go!

Not much to say here. Umm... Sasuke doesn't really say "let's go" twice, he just says something at the beginning of his sentence that indicates intensity. Yeah, that's about it. Moving on.

Scene 43: Pride, in the Name of Love

Jurokubei: You’ve come at last! But we’ve only been fooling around until now! Now, we start getting serious! Do you honestly expect to be victorious against the Great Jurokubei? Mechanical Formation 16! Go!
Jurokubei: Ack! That was too easy for you! I should give you a prize! Time for a different formation: Shishi Jurokubei’s Dangerous Special! There! I’m so sharp and handsome, it’s terrifying, don’t you think? Shishi Jurokubei should win now! Here I go! Agh! Bismaru, you’re getting in the way of my coolness and interfering with my big scene!
Bismaru: L-Lord Jurokubei! How can you say such things? This is a union of love! See! We will proceed by the power of two people’s faithful love!
Jurokubei: Agh! My big scene!
Owowowow! Ah! Ah! Yowch! Aaaah!
Jurokubei: Damn it! Bismaru! If you hadn’t come, I would have won!
Bismaru: Lord Jurokubei! Talking about the past like that isn’t going to change anything! First of all, the old man is still a hostage in the building...
Jurokubei: Oh! That’s a good idea!
Goemon: What?! The Wise Man?! Get ready for one more punch! Upper cut! This must be the building they were talking about.
Ebisumaru: Wow, that’s a huge building!
Sasuke: I can’t even guess where the Wise Man would be in there...
Yae: Leave it to me! I’ve got a plan! Get Impact’s arm in there!
Goemon: If we used Impact’s arm, we could all go in there...
Yae: Wait! Trust a woman’s intuition! Aaaaah!

Pride, in the Name of Love...derived from "Pride (In the Name Of Love)" by U2. Simply put, that song kicks ass. Anyway, Jurokubei brings the pride, Bismaru brings the love, and they've both got a ton of it.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite scenes in the entire game. I think Bismaru's sudden appearance makes this scene hilarious. Heh, "union of love" makes it sound like he and Jurokubei are getting married. Sorry, buddy, I know that would probably be a dream come true for you, but it ain't happening.

A lot of Jurokubei's dialogue is really awkward, but that's because it can be difficult to translate all the slang he's using. I think it's all there, though, maybe with a little more, unfortunately.

Notice how Jurokubei refers to himself in the third person a lot. I guess he's so arrogant, he loves hearing the sound of his own name. I don't know if I've mentioned this before or not, but he also constantly adds the honorific suffix "sama" to the end of his name (Goemon does, too, so maybe it runs in the family or something). Sama is a suffix of great respect, so it's just another sign of how full of himself he really is. I like to put "The Great Jurokubei" as much as possible. Something like "ore-sama" (which just means I or me) is a bit tougher to do something like that. If somebody wants to do me a favor, could they see if "ore-sama" was what was translated as Dochuki's "my illustrious self" in the English version of Goemon's Great Adventure?

I'm pretty sure when Bismaru talks about the Wise Man being their hostage, he's talking about using the time machine to go back to the beginning of the fight and try again. Then you'd get something like what happened in a few episodes of Red vs. Blue, where Jurokubei would go back in time over and over again and keep trying until he finally wins.

So, that's it, I suppose. Just one more video. I'm currently swamped in schoolwork (damn you, midterm exams and reports!), so it'll probably be a while before it's released, unfortunately. The script is ready, but it's gonna be tough to get it up by the weekend. Sorry!

Still no idea what to do next. The likelihood of me writing the companion essay to "AVD" is becoming greater everyday. I'll talk to you guys again later.

(By the way, I think I've got the blog set up so that anybody can leave comments here, even anonymous users. In case anybody's interested.)