Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Translation Corner: Twitter Edition 1

I've previously mentioned that the director of Symphogear, Mr. Tatsufumi Itoh, has an active Twitter account. He uses it to talk about various things and promote his current work. For some time he's been tweeting a series he likes to call: "Symphogear Reflections," where he talks about parts of the production. I've decided to start translating these before they disappear from Twitterland, so here is the first installment.

First some background, the official Symphogear account originally tweeted this brief story:

"An inside story. One day, late at night around 1am, there was a phone call from animation production. They asked: 'What should we do about the color of Miku's underwear?' This was something that had to be asked officially at the next production meeting. 'Please use a pastel color.' That was the only answer they gave to the production company."

The week after, the director talked about the decision behind Hibiki's underwear color:

"Miku's underwear has been talked about before, so here's a lecture on Hibiki's underwear (laughs). It was established that Hibiki had two sets of underwear, one orange and one purple. The people who decided that were myself and the color designer, Mayu Saitou. 'What's up with the purple-!' is what people have asked me! So I would ask them, considering Hibiki's type of personality could you actually determine the color of underwear that suits her!"

"In the first place, it's doubtful that Hibiki has a sense of 'wearing clothes that match me'. Is she really the type of girl that would pick out panties while worrying something like: 'if the wind blows someone might see them'? The answer is no. Would she really say something like: 'I was invited to go with ____! I might stay overnight, so I'll wear my lucky underwear today'? The answer is no."

"If it was to save someone, she would act without hesitation and even dive into a river regardless of whether she got dirty or not. For a girl like Hibiki who acts without worrying or giving a thought to her surroundings, how much consideration would she give to fashionable underwear? If she was shopping together with Miku, then Miku would help her pick clothes with a good fashion sense. That was definitely what happened in the date episode."

"The most likely scenario is that Hibiki casually went shopping by herself, found a set of purple underwear in the bargain bin and then bought them simply because they were cheap. When Miku told her that she had 'bad taste' Hibiki responded by saying 'I don't really have a special person to show them to, plus they were cheap so it's okay.' This is the origin of Hibiki's purple panties."

"And that is roughly how the decision on the color of Hibiki's underwear was reached (laughs). The truth is I briefly considered that wearing tacky-colored underwear might expand the appeal of the character, but from the beginning after it was explained to the color designer Miss Saitou that 'Because there are also real kids just like her, it only seems appropriate' they became purple (laughs)."

I was on Twitter at the time he posted these and I noticed he was replying to a few people who had commented on the story when he was finished. So I decided to throw him a brief reply:

"Wow, to think that the color of Hibiki's underwear had a such a story behind it...the staff must have really thought hard about it. Well, personally I don't think purple underwear are in bad taste. Because in that scene, Hibiki had a bit of a mature look. Thanks for the explanation!" 

To my surprise he actually replied back to me with this gem:

"We actually discussed a considerable amount of various things (laughs). When we got to the more erotic topics Mr. Kaneko (in charge of series composition) gave up and left and then Mr. Agematsu (the series creator) became the person in charge (laughs)."

Overall I found this whole story to be rather funny, and oddly detailed. The staff really did give a lot of thought to the color of the character's underwear, much to their credit. It's interesting because during the series it never occurred to me that the color of Hibiki and Miku's underwear could be considered odd. In hindsight though, usually in anime you see girls with white, pink, blue or green panties and rarely do you see the more mature or unusual colors like red, purple, black or peach. In the end it seems like they were trying to give the characters more personality through their clothing choices, which comes across pretty well if you think about it. However I do find this whole thing very funny because at the end of the first chapter of the manga, Hibiki has a brief line where she debates about what she should wear to the concert with Miku. This line shows that Hibiki really does rely on Miku for fashion advice (since she was on the phone with her at the time), but it also shows that 2 years ago Hibiki had a slightly different outlook on life - she was a more normal girl. But after she gets saved by Zwei Wing Hibiki takes on the hobby of saving/helping people and that becomes her primary focus. This is brought up in the series by Genjuuro after Hibiki brazenly decides to accept the task of becoming a Symphogear user despite having zero training, he remarks that she might be just as strange as they are. That's a scene that really demonstrates Hibiki's strong will and personality, which is different in comparison to her more innocent and less motivated personality from 2 years ago.

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