Interview with a Translator Returns!

Give a hearty Earthian welcome to The Space Alien by Ranpo Edogawa, translated by Eugene Woodbury! A new translation of a classic, The Space Alien is now available on Amazon. An introduction to Edogawa begins the book. These upcoming posts deal (mostly) with the translator and the art of translation.

The posts will cover the following: An Introduction to Edogawa & His Translator, The Genre, Boys' Adventure Stories, The Plot, and Language.

Kate: Where/when did you first come across Ranpo Edogawa’s works?
Eugene: Like Arthur Conan Doyle, Ranpo Edogawa is part of the zeitgeist. More people know of him than have read him. (At the other end of the literary spectrum, also true of Kenji Miyazawa.) He is referenced everywhere on Japanese television, from Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia's Case Files to Bungo Stray Dogs to the hugely popular Detective Conan.

Incidentally, Arthur Conan Doyle is no less a metaphysical presence. The titular character in Detective Conan goes by the pseudonym “Conan Edogawa.” Recent manga and anime titles include Holmes of Kyoto and the upcoming Kabukicho Sherlock.
Kate: What attracted you to this book specifically?
Eugene: Aozora Bunko (the Blue Sky public domain library, the Japanese version of Project Gutenberg) has all of his novels online. After reading Natsume Soseki’s Kokoro on Aozora Bunko, I was looking for lighter fare that’d be fun to translate. Edogawa’s young adult novels seemed a good place to begin and The Space Alien had an intriguing title.
Kate: What is Edogawa’s influence in media? 
Eugene: I compiled the following list of derived work from the Japanese Wikipedia entry for “Boy Detectives Club.” As with Sherlock Holmes, there’s always room for another adaptation.

A 1956 radio drama. Eleven movies released between 1954 and 1959. A television series from 1958 to 1960 (81 episodes). A television series from 1960 to 1963 (152 episodes). A 1968 anime series (35 episodes). A 1975 television series (26 episodes). A 1977 television series (26 episodes). A television series from 1983 to 1984 (47 episodes). A 2015 television series (11 episodes). A 2016 anime series (no end date).

Recent editions of the books were published by Poplar Books, in 26 volumes featuring original and revised covers, plus five volumes of stories by contemporary authors.

Kogoro Akechi brings to mind a less flamboyant version of Joe Shishido’s hard-nosed private eye in Detective Bureau 2-3. But the entire story structure of the Boy Detectives Club series is largely reflected in the Detective Conan series (ongoing since 1994, spinning off both animated and live-action series and movies), in which it is called the “Junior Detective League.”

It is easy to make one-to-one associations between the two series. The names of the Conan Edogawa and private detective Kogoro Mori are homages to Edogawa. One big difference is that Conan solves most of the cases but gives the credit to Mori, who functions as a kind of well-intentioned Lestrade. The “Black Organization” is more malevolent than the “Fiend,” their crimes are more violent and felonious.
Kate: Are you planning to translate more of Edogawa’s works? If so, which ones?
Eugene: I’ve started The Bronze Devil.
Kate: What other translations are you planning? 
Eugene: Fuyumi Ono’s massive new Twelve Kingdoms novel is scheduled for release this October and November in four volumes. Even after it’s published, I won’t be doing anything other than reading it for a while. But I plan to get around to it at some point.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

I've read a few of Ranpo's works since my brother and sister-in-law gave me a collection of his. I really enjoyed The Black Lizard. I'll probably pick this up sometime.