Liar: What do you think about chapter one? I’m sure in the course of attempting to translate it you’ve read it more than any other chapter in the book.
Chewy: Haha, that’s quite true. I actually had mixed feelings even by the time I finished chapter one. She seems to have a really strange writing style. I don’t exactly have a big collection of Japanese novels that I’ve read before, but this is the first time I’ve seen an entire book narrated in “masu” (polite) form.
Liar: What’s that mean for the Japanese-impaired? Or the actual English of the translation, I guess. Is she really apologetic about writing the whole thing, or just for intruding on the narration, or what?
Chewy: Well the norm for writing is what is usually referred to as the “plain form”, which is also the style people use when speaking casually. The fact that she’s using the polite form brings in this weird feeling of a first-person narrator more than just a story written in third person. The “narrator” is never given an identity or anything and doesn’t exist in the story, but there are still times in the book where she breaks that wall and interjects into the narrative itself. It’s kind of colloquially told.
Liar: The big reveal in chapter one—I don’t think this is much of a stretch—is probably that Ness’s dad is the owner-operator of a fast food chain that’s in hock to the Minches, and that his mom is an ex-supermodel (apparently all Western women are models or ex-models?) What did you think about all that?
Chewy: I thought it was pretty funny at first, but I’m around chapter three right now and, well, spoiler alert, all these Western women are apparently model-tier.
Liar: Wow. I’m not sure I’m ready for Hot Paula’s Mom.
Chewy: Well, to balance her out, apparently her dad looks like Abraham Lincoln? But I’m just getting ahead of myself here.
Liar: That makes Paula the Ultimate American Stereotype Chimera. One-half Abraham Lincoln, one-half blonde-haired, blue-eyed supermodel vapidness.
Chewy: Ness’s dad being gone because of his running a fast food chain was, in my opinion, a flawless explanation to fill that gap in a game like Earthbound.
Liar: Yeah, it’s as American as supermodels and really old dogs. In general do you think Saori Kumi’s changes work? They’re unique, if nothing else.
Chewy: Honestly, I think most of them work. Some parts of the story read like some kind of overwritten fanfiction, especially when it comes to relationships. I’m sure there are some fans that will enjoy it. I personally am loving the heck out of the way she portrays major events in the story and takes advantage of the freedom in the writing medium, describing aspects that could never be portrayed in a 16-bit game. I particularly like Ness’s confrontation with Frank, and when he has to go up against Carpainter. There’s a lot of energy to these scenes that give it even more power than when we played it in the game.
Liar: That’s good to hear. So chapter two is next on the blog agenda—tease it.
Chewy: Think screwball comedy movie meets early 90′s action movie. You’ve got your wacky cops and your gang members, both of which are inherently wacky after having met them in the SNES game first, but suddenly the prospect of blood showing up in these fights is quite real.
Liar: Yeah, there’s a difference between pressing the bash button and actually writing “Ness hit a shark-outfitted boy in the face with a baseball bat.”
Chewy: Yeah. Luckily the weapons of choice for the Sharks remains the same, but for the first time I was actually terrified by the thought of being pounded on by a guy on a pogo stick.
Liar: It’s kind of nightmarish, when you think about it. Anyway, before I release you to translating—how’s it going so far? I hear the weather in Japan is perfect for forcing yourself to look at a book all day in your apartment.
Chewy: Unfortunately it’s going a lot slower than I anticipated. At the rate I’m at now, I probably won’t be able to make it through all 500 pages by the end of the 11 days (I know it’s crazy anyway) but I’m doing all I can. Even if I run out of “time,” I’ll still keep working on it until it’s completely finished, but for now all I can do is stick to my goal. All I can say is: to all those people who complain about how little time it takes to beat Earthbound, please, write a novel about it. This sucker is LONG.
Liar: I’d hate to read the part where I try to get the Sword of Kings for four hours and then turn off my Super Nintendo and sulk about it.
Liar: Anyway, you are offically released. Good luck.
Chewy: Thank you. Tell the sun I said hi.