Dragon Half

I can’t even remember the name of the fanzine. I do remember that back in 1995 when Schoolgirl Milky Crisis wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye, they interviewed me about translating Japanese animation, and in passing, someone said that the closing theme of Dragon Half was “untranslatable”. I said that nothing was truly untranslatable, although a faithful rendition of the song “Watashi no Tamagoyaki” would inevitably sound as odd in English as it did in the original Japanese.

“All right,” they said. “Prove it.” So I got a pen and a Wordtank, and got stuck into the song: a mad sequence presenting a girl crazily trying to cook a meal for a boy she is trying to impress. After a brief monologue about the state of her cooking and her feelings for her prospective man, we get to hear her side of the disastrous dinner conversation, before she’s agonising once more in the kitchen, then back at the table, then finally winning his approval. But then, in the final lines, she watches in terror as he reaches for one of the dodgy eggs.

Oh yes, and you have to leave in asides in Chinese and Korean, along with some la-la-la nonsense words, and make it rhyme and scan with the original, which is sung to the tune of a Beethoven medley played at triple speed, belted out by the sublime Kotono Mitsuishi at a thousand miles an hour.

I was pretty pleased with the results. As was the nameless fanzine, which went on to print my translation without bothering to include the interview that was supposed to go alongside it. Fifteen years on, I could probably do a little better… but not much. I’d probably leave out the deliberate British slang (it was a UK publication) and I’d think twice about “bloody”, but otherwise it’s as good a crack as anyone’s had at performing the impossible.

Altogether now…

Pit-patter time is rushing, Pit-patter quicker-quicker

Pit-patter time is rushing, bloody egg!

Pit-patter time is rushing, Pit-patter quicker-quicker

Look at the grill, it’s turned to smeg!

Pit-patter time is rushing, Pit-patter quicker-quicker

Pit-patter time is rushing, spuds are cursed!

Pit-patter time is rushing, Pit-patter quicker-quicker

Don’t try to boil them or it’s worse!

Oh, he’s a wonder, he’s a dream, mustn’t blunder

I’m a wreck, I’m a nutter, but I want him bad

Heart can’t stop rushing as I’m cooking while I’m gushing

Gotta be the best meal that he’s ever had!

Outside the sun is shining, we could be somewhere dining

Let’s hope he gets the hint and asks me out

Just say you will and we can trash all this swill and have a

Good decent meal without a doubt, RAN RARARAN

RAN RARARAN YAN YAYAYAN YAN YAYAYAN

North East South West Full Empty Up Down RAN RARARAN

RAN RARARAN YAN YAYAYAN YAN YAYAYAN

One Two Three Four, Yi Er San Si

“Don’t eat the tomato!

It’s mine and I should know!

Try octopus, yes do!

I made it just for you!”

Pit-patter time is rushing, Pit-patter quicker-quicker

Pit-patter didn’t know he’d want some more!

Pit-patter time is rushing, Pit-patter quicker-quicker

No more boiled eggs so now they’re raw!

Pit-patter time is rushing, Pit-patter quicker-quicker

Pit-patter time is rushing, lager too!

Pit-patter time is rushing, Pit-patter quicker-quicker

It’s far too cold but that’ll do!

Wow! Think it’s working! So what now? No more shirking! So…

“Ahem! Did I tell you you’ve got pretty eyes?”

Oh! This is lovely, is it time to get snuggly?

Do I wait or do I take him by surprise?

Don’t think I’m surly, I’m a silly little girlie

But I want you to tell me what you think. Confess!

Ah that’s more like it, he’s so cool, what a poet

I was starting to think I had to guess RARARAN

RAN RARARAN YAN YAYAYAN YAN YAYAYAN

Kamsa Hamnida, I am sorry

RAN RARARAN RAN RARARAN YAN YAYAYAN YAN YAYAYAN

Gambei, Takeaway, School’s Over Hooray!

Toughest meal I ever had, 95% ain’t bad

Jungle law my hand was forced, why not try the special course? Ow!

The egg! It’s all for naught!

I’m done and it’s my fault!

Damn! Bloody eggs! Bloody eggs!

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8 thoughts on “Dragon Half

  1. The impossible you do at once, miracles take a little longer: Well done for adding to sum total of human knowledge, well be sure and consider it for your epitaph ^_-

    Wow, even crazier in English. I still have my copy and I actually quite like it for it’s wackiness. Dammit, I can’t get the tune out my head now I’ve read your translation >.<

  2. I think song translations should scan at very least, and rhyme if at all possible. Although that’s quite a controversial issue — some translators are taught not to do it, as it is a semantic drift too far from the original.

  3. ‘Look at the grill, it’s turned to smeg!’ – Love it!

    I still hold onto my subbed VHS copy of Dragon Half dearly, despite having bought the DVD later. Kind of glad that more episodes weren’t made before it outstayed its welcome.

  4. Just for the halibut I plugged these lyrics into a fansub. Except for the translator credit I added at the beginning, the timing is that of the original sub, and is a little erratic. But I hope you enjoy.

  5. The fanzine was ‘Animace’ and the lyrics you so graciously provided were printed in issue #6p8-9 (at that time edited by the delectable Mel Hyland.

    Animace started as a group magazine for the regular meeting s set up by Colchester’s own Ace Comics and had a short but illustrious run featuring the talents of Mel Hyland, Ed Grey, Paul cook, Simon Dominguez, Steve Holland, Stephen Rushbrook (hello:D) and even some of the earliest works of one Laura Watton.

    We won’t several awards including being named best English language ‘zine ’94 by anime uk and manga mania. And I won ‘best fan artist’ at DeconTanimeted that same year. I think I also picked up the gong for best cover art for issue 5′ Tenchi cover.

    For a short while we even had an official Samurai Pizza Cats comic (we gained written permission from Saban International to do it :D)

    BTW hi Jonathan, long time no chat 😛

  6. A quick question to anyone who happens to know:

    I recognize that the Beethoven Medley is the fourth movement of Beethoven’s 7th with four small spots where distinctive bits of other Beethoven compositions were inserted, but I can only identify three of them (Ode to Joy, Pastoral, 5th). What’s the remaining one?

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