The Art of Editing (Brynhildr in the Darkness)


Few people know, what editing’s supposed to do. The definitions vary and most certainly a professional editor is more than what I’m gonna break down to you here. So first of all, let’s define what editing means. I’ll paste the definition that we once put together at guhehe:

Definition of Editing
Do not confuse an editor for a proofreader. Your job is not to spot typos – even MS Word™ can do that. No, an editor ensures that the translated text not only reads smoothly in English, but further attempts to preserve both the narrative flow and style that exist in the original. (If you don’t understand what we mean by this, then you are unsuited to the task.) This requires close communication with both the translator and the TLC of your project as the suggested level of stylization will vary from series to series. OniAi, for example, focuses heavily on its characters and dialogue, and an editor for this series will necessarily pay careful attention to characterization. By consulting with your translator and TLC, you should do your best to convey in English the image presented by each character in the story.

Improving the readability of the translated text can require both boldness and ingenuity when it comes to adapting Japanese grammatical structures into English. Indeed, it is not uncommon that you will find yourself rewriting entire lines to do so. Further complicating your task, you are to do this while preserving nuance, characterization, and overall feel of the text that you are editing.

In the “Editing” category, I’d like to show you what this is supposed to mean as far as I’m concerned. Now I’m far from being the perfect editor, I’m not even a native speaker to boot, but if you’re a native speaker and get the hang of what I’m trying to convey and can grasp that vague feeling that is text flow, you’ll have a bright future as an editor (implying that’s worth anything).

How am I gonna convey it then? I will by showing examples of editing, either poor or good. Alas, they’ll almost only exclusively be poor, because those are easier to find and spot. After visualizing those, I will then provide suggestions of how I’d have done it.

This first visualization will focus on the scanlation of Brynhildr in the Darkness, which I happen to read currently. Scanlations, in general, are, if at all, poorly edited. Most scanlations only use, if at all, a proofreader, who, if at all, appears to be as proficient in English as in insert-language-he-hardly-knows-anything-about-here. There shouldn’t be any excuses. The size of manga chapter script hardly ever goes beyond that of an anime episode, yet there are rarely faultless pages or, if bad comes to worse, hardly any faultless komas (one single picture). Considering that it’s a scanlation, Brynhildr in the Darkness is okay-ish, which is sad enough when you count the mistakes – not even mentioning the awkward phrasings. But enough of that, let’s be grateful that they at least don’t let the characters talk like they were mentally-challenged all the time.


And now let’s follow with a few examples. Click on the spoilers to see my remarks and suggestions.

Scene 1


You always do these over-the-top things so casually!!

Awkward phrasing. Nobody talks like that. Actually, it’d be necessary to check the raw here, since Kazumi could either mean that she’s too bold or that she’s overdoing things in general. But I can’t find a raw for this chapter. In fact, this scene doesn’t exist in my manga volume. So I gotta guess: “Why do you keep overdoing things?!” or “How can you keep acting so shameless without a care?!”

Huh? Kazumi, you just didn't think it thoroughly enough. Murakami is pretty dense, so as long as he's fine with it afterwards, it's fine.

Again, the meaning’s blurry. Why would she “huh” her? How does him being dense connect with it being fine as long as he’s fine with it? It makes no sense. Let’s try it nonetheless. “What? You’re lacking thought, Kazumi. Murakami’s dense, so no way but to push him over the line and hope he doesn’t snap.” This one’s really vague, might be wrong altogether. But I can’t help it, the original meaning’s gone to waste due to the inaccurate phrasing here.


Ever heard someone old call another old person “OLD MAN”? Me neither. Still no raw, but I think “GRANDPA!” would be an appropriate way for her to give him a warning.

So dumb...

It’d be more natural to say “This is just stupid…”

Scene 2

So could you help her?

Doesn’t feel right. “So, mind helping her out?” Comma here because it doesn’t feel like a connecting logical reasoning, ‘I was all out of cereals, so I went for bread.’ I’d have to look this up though, it’s pure gut feeling.

She does have a foul mouth, but that's because she's putting up a front to try and hide her uneasiness.

Foul mouth contains too much contempt. He’s friends with Kana. Uneasiness is too weak a word and strips the line of its impact. “She’s got a loose tongue, but only because she’s trying to act strong to cover her anxiety.”

I hope you can be friends with her.

“Be friends with her.” This goes better with the follow-up “Please.” No need to combine “I hope” with “Please.”

Scene 3

Let's see...

No need to put it into words. “Hmm…” would be enough.

I'll have one if it's you're treating me.

I hope I don’t have to point out that this sentence is just outright wrong. “Guess I’ll have one if it’s your treat.”

Scene 4


How about a period? But anyway, you don’t just say “tasty”. It’s “It’s tasty.” But even that feels odd. A natural response’d be “It’s good.” At least there’s no “delicious”. shudders

Isn't it?

Nope. “I know, right?”

That shop is a pretty well-kept secret.

I wonder how they didn’t go bankrupt yet, then? “That shop’s an insider tip.”

Scene 5

Aren't you a magic-user?

What’s with this “magic-user” anyway? If I remember correctly, the raw says 魔法使い (mahoutsukai). If that’s correct, it means wizard/magician. Hence, magician. “You’re a magician, right?”

Isn't it obvious that you could use magic?

Ugh, awkward. “Then it’s a given that you can use some sort of magic.”

So show me your magic to validate what you've just said.

Validate? In that sense? “So, show me your magic and prove it.”


Again, those aren’t perfect solutions. Just what came to me from the top of my head. But they should at least be better.

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