Liar: So chapter three was 15,000 words. What’s that like to slog through?
Chewy: Heh every time I finish a chapter and look back, exhausted, I feel as proud as if I had just translated an entire novel. Then I flip to the next chapter and all relief pretty much drains from me. It’s such a time-consuming project that I’m curious how long it will take people to only read through it.
Liar: Luckily for us, we don’t have to read it in two languages. A lot has started to happen in the novel, now that Ness is moving from city to city and Paula has shown up, and for me, reading your rough drafts, the book is starting to get more exciting as a result. Do you feel the same way?
Chewy: Absolutely. There are scenes in the book where I actually translate faster because it’s so suspenseful that I can’t wait to see what happens. I start plowing through it so I can hurry up and get the English out and see it.
Liar: I joked about Pokey not being a matinee idol in the last excerpt post, but he’s actually kind of creepy in the book—Kumi kind of brings out the sociopath in him, doesn’t she?
Chewy: Yeah, as a child I was always a little disturbed by Pokey’s behavior, but I can see that Kumi went to town with him—it’s almost like the nonexistent narrator hates him personally. To tell the truth though, even though some of the characters seem to depart a little from how they were in the game, I really think Pokey is consistent with what Itoi was aiming for in Earthbound. Now that I think about it, though, it’s interesting that Kumi, who was 35 years old when the game came out, was also affected by his twistedness. I was young and impressionable when I experienced it, so having that insight in retrospect tells me that Itoi did a good job with Pokey.
Liar: Then, of course, there’s Ness and Paula
Chewy: I was always a loyal Ness+Paula shipper.
Liar: Oh, definitely, Ness and Paula forever. After all, I named Ness after myself.
Chewy: But I gotta be honest, I prefer a more passive romance. Like, the Jim+Pam effect—gotta make them work for it! For now I’ll just be relieved that they haven’t acted outside of their age group yet.
Liar: Chapter four focuses on Jeff, and while I don’t want to give the whole thing away, in case you figure out how to distribute this, it’s one of Saori Kumi’s biggest divergences from the source. Talk a little about it.
Chewy: As you’ll read in the afterword, I think Kumi decided to focus on Jeff particularly closely for a few reasons. For one, he was her favorite character, and from what I understand (having not yet read the MOTHER novel) she wrote the heck out of Loid in the MOTHER novel and didn’t want any overlap between the two books.
At first, I was a little put off by Kumi’s decision to add such a wild element to the story—his backstory is enough to actually establish that this book is not “officially canon” with the game—but as I read on, all the pieces began to fall into place in a way that only truly talented writers can pull off. By the end of the chapter, I was thoroughly impressed when such a random addition led to another seemingly random addition, and by the time you get through it, everything between Jeff and his father—something that seems intensely deep in the game in an ineffable way—is finally completely explained. And I personally feel she made some excellent decisions.
Liar: I like EarthBound’s way of suggesting a lot of what it doesn’t want to say, but I agree that Kumi’s way of explaining things was also very interesting. Okay, that seems like enough teasing for tonight. Any last words before you return to your translating chamber?
Chewy: I just wanna thank everyone for the nice comments, and for following the blog. It feels really good to have a group of people with me as I work through the project.