A Note on Universities

First, a full disclosure. In the manga Kakifly does not provide the full names for any of the universities. Instead, abbreviations are used:  N??? for the university Mugi chose, K? for the university Nodoka chose, and R?? for the university Yui takes entrance exams to just in case. These abbreviations are more ambiguous than usual Japanese abbreviations because the first kanji is replaced with an English letter.

When I translated vol.3 ch.6 (where universities were introduced for the first time), I honestly believed that Kakifly used abbreviations because there was no room in the text bubbles for the full names and I did my best to find out which universities he meant. With N??? (N… Women’s U) it was pretty easy: there are only 3 women’s universities in Japan with names that start with N and only one that would warrant Mio’s remark (about how prestigious it is): Nihon Joushi Daigaku (Japan Women’s University). With Nodoka’s choice it was not as clear, but I figured that Kakifly would only abbreviate a name if it was really well known. Considering Nodoka’s remark (that she may be way over her head), Kyoto University seemed likely. I also read quite a few threads on Japanese boards where people discussed the girls’ university choices and their conclusions generally agreed with mine. So I released the chapter, confident that I got it right. 
When vol.4 ch.7 and 8 came out and the abbreviation was used everywhere, including test forms and books (where you would normally see the full official name), I started to suspect that Kakifly intentionally abbreviated the name to keep it ambiguous (for legal or some other reasons). At that point the proper thing for a translator to do would be to go back and change the names to “N… Women’s University” and “K… University” in keeping with mangaka’s wishes. I didn’t do it, because I believed that I guessed the names right (I still do) and because with this series being so “realistic” (real brand names, real dates, etc) I didn’t think “university X” would fit.

Now to the reason why I went into trouble of typing up all this tl;dr.

In vol.4 ch.12 Ui says that Yui is taking entrance exams to another university in case she fails the JWU exam. Without any additional clues abbreviation R?? can stand for any one of many universities that start with R. I figured it was too late to go with “R… University” at this point and applied the same logic as before (only widely known, household name would be abbreviated) and arrived at Ritsumeikan University, but I am not completely confident about this choice.

Granted, specific names are not used anywhere in the plot (only the fact that the girls are following Mugi to a women’s university is important), but at the end of the day, spelling out the full names is saying more than mangaka wanted (was allowed?) to say and strictly speaking that makes it an improper translation. Which is why when I release complete volume 4 there will be two versions: one with full names (as it is right now) and one with “university X” (and my guesses about the full names in TL notes) and I will also release the “university X” version of volume 3 at that time.

3 comments for “A Note on Universities

  1. Andreas
    19 August 2011 at 9:37

    wow, translating truly needs vast knowledge of the country’s info huh?

    • saerdnA
      6 September 2011 at 11:44

      generally no if you just wants to basically show the story. but if you really wants to detail sometimes yes. and what happened here… is technically a “bonus”. Most translator would just put “University X” or such, it’s just show that this scanlator is obsessive compulsive, or too much into K-on, or simply too diligent.

      • shinkage
        14 January 2012 at 1:22

        You forgot “All of the above”. lol

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