Shinobigami Translation Problems

As I get ready to do the next draft of the Shinobigami translation, I’m still trying to figure out how exactly I want to go about it.  There are certain words, such as Ougi, that lack a perfect translation in English.  Other words, such as Ninpo, I feel simply work better in Japanese, lending the game a bit more of an asian flavor.  Others, such as 行為判定, sound a bit awkward as Action Resolution, but using something like Skill Check instead brings a connotation to other games that I’d rather avoid.

Other problem words: 流派; ninja ‘school’?  I’m thinking that ‘clan’ might be better.  ‘Ninja tool’ also sounds a bit strange.  Device?  Gadget?  ‘Plot’ also stops making sense once brought back over to English.  I wonder if there would be a better word to use, or if it should be replaced at all.

And then, there are all 66 skills.  In a way, I keep wishing I was translating this game for people who knew Japanese.  It’s not because these words sound better in Japanese, or sound cooler or because I’m a pompous asshole.  I wish I could keep them all in hiragana because when I translate 水術 as Hydromancy, there are lots of letters that must fit inside the little box in the character sheet.  The character sheet that, in addition to the various character details, must also contain all 66 skills.

I went through all the skills with a friend, trying to come up with translations for each skill that both worked and were kept as short as I felt I could get away with.  Maybe someone else can come up with better choices for some of these.  In that hope, I present all 66 skills in romaji, their translation, followed by their effects.  (I think some quite a few are still a bit wonky and need some work).  Comments and suggestions are welcome.

[kijutsu] Tool Arts

Using tools effectively.  A ninja using kijutsu is able to put a tool in his possession to use in almost any situation.  The Hasuba Ningun school specializes in kijutsu.
-[karakurijutsu]  Engineering:  proficient use of machines or electronic devices
-[kajutsu]  Pyromancy: Proficient use of fire, flames, and flame-producing effects or items.
-[suijutsu]  Hydromancy: Proficient use of water, walking on water, anything related to water.
-[shinjutsu]  Needle Arts (Acupuncture?  Stabbery?): Proficient use of long, thin items.
-[shikomi] Weapon Concealment:  Training in the use of clothing or everyday items to hide weapons.
-[ishoujutsu]  Clothing Use: Using clothing to conceal your background or store things.
-[joujutsu]  Rope Use: Proficient use of ropes; throwing, tying, etc.
-[toujutsu]  Climbing:  Climbing
-[goumonjutsu]  Torture
-[kaikijutsu]  Demolition: Proficient use of tools of demolition
-[kussakujutsu]  Digging.

[taijutsu]  Body Arts
Exerting control over your own body.  A ninja using taijutsu is capable of incredible movement and combat abilities.  The Kuramashinryu school specializes in taijutsu.
[kijoujutsu]  Riding:  Mastery at riding vehicles or animals.
[houjutsu]  Ballistics: Mastery over guns or cannons.  Ballistics.
[shurikenjutsu]  Shuriken: Mastery over the use of the various shuriken.
[shuren]  ??? (Dextrous fingers? Nimbleness)  Used in precise movements of the hands and detailed writing.
[shintaisoujutsu]  Contortionism (gymnastics?): The ability to move and stretch your body, being able to dislocate bones, etc.
[hohou]  Walking:  Walking silently or for long distances.
[souhou]  Running/Super speed.
[hijutsu]  Jumping: Jumping incredibly high or far.
[koppoujutsu]  Brawling: Hand-to-hand fighting.  Karate.
[toujutsu]  Sword proficiency.
[kairiki]  Weightlifting: Carrying and lifting heavy things.

[ninjutsu]  Ninja Arts
Ninjutsu covers basic ninja skills such as concealing your presence or pretending to be someone else.  A ninja using ninjutsu is a master of the 5 senses.  Haguremono are said to specialize in ninjutsu.
[seizonjutsu]  Endurance: The ability to survive in harsh weather, underwater, etc.
[senpukujitsu] Infiltration: Infiltrating an enemy’s area.
[tonsoujutsu]  Escape.
[touchoujutsu]  Interception; listening through walls, hacking, etc.
[fukuwajutsu]  Ventriloquism; making your voice sound as though it were coming from somewhere else.
[ongyoujutsu]  Invisibility: Making one’s body invisible.
[hensoujutsu]  Disguise: Becoming someone else through disguise.
[koujutsu]  Olfaction (maybe my favorite skill) Eliminating your scent; picking up other’s smells.
[bunshinjutsu]  Multiplicity: As though your body splits into multiple copies, taking multiple actions.
[inpeijutsu]  Cover up: Concealing people, items or informatin.
[dairokkanjutsu]  ESP:  A sixth sense; percieving things strictly out of experience, etc.

[boujutsu]  Scheming Arts
Boujutsu are the ninja skills that are used to bring everything together in the way the user wishes.  A ninja using boujutsu is a master at deception and trickery, as well as conversation and guile.  The Hirasakakikan school specializes in boujutsu.
[ijutsu]  First Aid: Skills related to the medical treatment of illness or injury.
[dokujutsu]  Envenomation: Skilled use and administration of poison.
[minjutsu]  Sleep: Putting people to sleep.
[chousajutsu]  Investigation: Investigation of things or people.
[sajutsu]  Bluff: Hiding your true feelings; tricking people.
[taijinjutsu]  Inception: Leaving particular impressions on strangers.
[yuugei]  Performance: Performance arts.
[kunoichijutsu]  Seduction: Seducing people using charm.
[kugutsunojutsu]  Manipulation: Making people act the way you want.
[ryuugenjutsu]  Subterfuge: The art of spreading and creating lies and fabrications.
[keizairyoku]  Finance: Financial skills and money-making ability.

[senjutsu]  Art of War
Senjutsu covers all the skills required in war and battle.  A ninja using senjutsu are said to have incredible fighting capacity and are skilled at plotting stratagems.  The ShiritsuOtogiGakuen school specializes in senjutsu.
[hyouryoujutsu]  Cooking: The creation of balanced and healthy meals.
[choujuujutsu]  Creatture Mastery: The control of insects and wildlife.
[yasenjutsu]  Survival: Being able to live in the mountainside.
[chinori]  Guerrilla Tactics: Being able to make proficient use of any battlefield; whether water, man-made buildings or the wilds.
[iki]  Force of will.  Used when it seems you might panic or lose control.
[youheijutsu]  Strategy: Tactics and strategy; used to improve chances of military success.
[kiokujutsu]  Memory: Being able to remember everything.
[kentekijutsu]  Analysis: Spotting the enemy and seeing how their attacks work.
[angoujutsu]  Encryption: Writing and reading in ciphers; decoding ciphers and secret codes.
[dentatsujutsu]  Writing: Proficiency in expressing yourself through any sort of written word.
[jinmyaku]  Contacts: Having personal connections in the underworld and/or normal society.

[youjutsu]  Sorcerous Arts
Youjutsu are the supernatural arts that call upon ghosts, demons and spirits.  A ninja utilizing youjutsu would be skilled in calling things forth from the spirit realm and using magic.  The Oni no Kettou school specializes in youjutsu.
[igyouka]  Transformation: Transforming the whole or part of your body.
[shyoukanjutsu]  Summoning: Summoning a creature from another world.
[shiryoujutsu]  Necromancy: Controlling the spirit or body of a dead person.
[kekkaijutsu]  ??? (Barrier mastery? Kekkai arts? Mystical area creation?): Creating a protective barrier that can keep certain things or beings out.
[fuujutsu]  Sealing(??): The ability to seal supernatural abilities.
[kotodamajutsu]  Word Magic: Utilizing the inherent power in words themselves; word magic.
[genjutsu]  Illusion: Creation of illusions that deceive people.
[doujutsu]  Visual ControL: Control over the things your eyes are seeing or have seen.
[senrikannojutsu]  Clairvoyance; seeing past, future and the present from far away.
[hyouijutsu]  Possession: The possession of another body using your own spirit.
[jujutsu]  Curse: The ability to curse others.

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~ by mattgsanchez on November 2, 2010.

4 Responses to “Shinobigami Translation Problems”

  1. My thoughts, on what I’ve done:
    Ninpou, Ougi: leave as is as these words are starting to get used in martial arts manga, with a sidebar or quick paragraph explaining what they are, what it means, how it’s said (Ninja Art, Secret Art, etc)

    Ryuha: I’d go with “Ninja Order”, “Ninja Clan”. School even works, as we understand that there are “schools” of martial arts. But yeah, Clan/Order is prob better.

    Ninja Gear? I alternated between ‘ninja gear’, ‘ninja tools’ in Tenra.

    What I’m doing with the seekrit DX3 translation re your skills (Effects) is translating them in whatever form, but then putting the italicized and all-lowercase Japanese/Romanization underneath. For the flavor, and also so I clearly remember which is which if I have to look up the rules.

    As for the six orders, I’m half thinking “leave entirely in Japanese”, and half in the camp of “translate parts into English”.

    Like: Haseba Ninja Army. Kuramashin Clan. Outsiders/Lost Ones. Hirasaka Agency. Otogi Private Academy. The Oni Blodline (or keep this as Oni no Kettou?).

    Hope that helps. I didn’t go through the 66 skills yet, might not have a lot of time to do that, but good luck!

    – “Diamond Sutra” Andy K

  2. [Shinjutsu]: Poniard elegance? Needlework?
    [Ishoujutsu]: Flexible weapons? Chain weapons? Cloth weapons? Deadly silk?
    [Shikomi]: Weapon Legerdemain? Weapon Smuggling? Trickery?
    [Shuren]: Digital Legerdemain? Legerdemain (If you choose not to have classes of [legerdemain], which I think is an excellent word). Sleight of hand?
    [shintaisojutsu]: Contortionism is fine!
    [seizonjutsu]: Survival
    [inpeijutsu]: Concealment, cloaking
    [dokujutsu]: Poison lore, envenonment
    [ryuugenjutsu]: disinformation, rumourmongering
    [yasenjutsu]: nature lore
    [kekkaijutsu]: Abjuration
    [fuujutsu]: Binding
    [doujutsu]: Phantasmagoria
    [hyouijutsu]: Domination, enchantment

    A lot of these are based on the description not the Japanese-English translation, and taken from D&D-style language. Maybe not suitable?

  3. Thanks for the helpful input guys!
    Andy: I think ‘Ninja Gear’ is exactly what I was trying to think of. I also really like the half-translating the clan names. I think I’m going to use Bloodline of Oni, as that suitably expresses the feel of the order, I think. Because I’m making the PDF the same size page as the Japanese book, I don’t know if I’ll have room to put the romanized version of each skill name, but I really would like to. I’ll definitely put them both in the character sheet.

    Faustus: Thanks for the suggestions. I was tempted to use Needlework, but I keep thinking of sewing or cross-stitching. I really like the word Legerdemain! These skills are awfully specific, and Shuren is specifically digital legerdemain. But that’s two long words that have to fit inside the little box. Maybe sleight of hand is best? I screwed up the translation of Ishoujutsu, which is using clothing to hide your background/origin and storing various things. I’m not sure how this differs from Concealment, Shikomi or Disguise, though. I think when I translated it, I thought it’d be more awesome if it was about using clothing as a weapon, heh.

    The rest are way awesome and I’ll probably use them (I love rumourmongering). Thanks!

  4. Thanks!

    People at my convention were playing shinobigami yesterday, I’m glad I didn’t join in because 66 skills I can’t read without a dictionary would have killed me. But it looks fun, so maybe next time I’ll give it a go!

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