I first found out about the Kagerou Project through the anime, Mekakucity Actors. Like I usually do, I decided to watch it just based on the thumbnail picture on Hulu:
I saw that thumbnail and, if I remember right, thought something along the lines of: “Well, what’s that girl so happy about? And what’s up with those blue lines on her cheeks?” So I got curious and watched it. And that’s basically how I got into the Kagerou Project. A lot of the anime I’ve watched, I got curious about for stupid reasons like that. Like the reason I got into A Certain Magical Index was because I saw the thumbnail on the Funimation website and thought, “What the heck kind of a title is that?!” (Well, technically I saw the title of A Certain Scientific Railgun first, but it’s the same idea.)
After seeing Mekakucity Actors, I tried looking it up on Wikipedia and found out that it’s actually part of this whole multimedia project called the Kagerou Project, which consists of a bunch of music and novels and manga as well as an anime. I thought it just sounded like a lame money-making scheme, so I didn’t bother looking into it any further. But then just a few weeks ago, out of curiosity I tried looking up the songs and actually ended up liking them a lot and buying both the albums. It’s funny because it seems like Jin (the guy who wrote the story and music for the Kagerou Project) wrote exactly the kind of music I like: most of his songs are fast-paced and in a minor key, with plenty of electronic sounds and dissonance; then there are some happy, bouncy songs, a disco-ish song, and a few relaxed songs with nice melodies. They sound earnest, but not sentimental.
Anyways, I just felt like translating a few of my favorite songs in the Project, specifically, “Toumei Answer,” the aforementioned disco-ish song; “Jinzou Enemy” representing the minor key electronics-heavy category; and “Yuukei Yesterday” representing the happy, bouncy category. Of course, there are tons of translations out there already, so if you don’t like mine, go ahead and find another one. Go ahead. See if I care.
I tried to translate literally where possible and non-awkward, but of course, there were plenty of places where I picked less literal, more elegant phrasings. When the lines were cryptic, I translated them cryptically rather than trying to interpret them. Like in “Toumei Answer,” there’s a part where a textbook, uh, talks. And another part where the narrator talks to his alarm. And the grammar doesn’t leave any other interpretation open. So I just left those parts as-is rather than try to layer some interpretation over it. I also generally tried to make my phrasing sound relatively colloquial.
I marked verses and choruses, but Japanese songs always blur the line between verse and chorus; what feels like the chorus never has exactly the same words each time around, and what feel like verses often have recurring phrases. The second verse is also often musically tweaked compared to the first verse.
In this not exactly dizzyingly fast
as if floating in it, I sit down in my seat again and again.
“So how’d you do?”
Again, as if testing me,
the textbook with no numbers in it says something.
If you’re asking about my test results,
well, I guess they’re on the good side.
I’d gotten a piece of recycled paper with a 100% on it.
In the next seat over,
you sit down; your score had been short on digits.
The reason I don’t look for anything outside the window
is because the answer always comes up right away.
“In that case, well, that’s just boring!”
You always look like you’re having fun.
Don’t touch my heart that wants to disappear anymore.
I don’t see any earth or anything anywhere I look today either.
All alone I’m telling the alarm that went off,
“I’m such a cold guy, aren’t I.”
At this point, even if we checked our answers together as if it were a wonder,
for some reason I would understand everything through and through.
So it seems stupid even to whisper,
“Even if I died right now someone else would take my place.”
The days that seemed like they were floating
keep on repeating.
But to think you wouldn’t come to school… I feel some uneasiness.
Well, in any case
the test that comes back tomorrow
probably won’t be getting any better either, huh.
In that not exactly dizzyingly fast
something might already have been off.
Your hair’s color,
Somebody might not remember them anymore.
I wonder, how do things look
from that empty seat on the inside of the window?
It seemed like I knew you,
but I didn’t understand a thing.
Every time I stop my alarm I’m forced to notice
that those days that seemed like they would continue forever
if I had only understood even a little
In the classroom you were laughing as a disguise again and again
while wounding your heart that wanted to disappear.
Now you’ve jumped down from here and gone away.
But I won’t forget your smile tomorrow either.
“There’s no point repeating a routine that has no dream in it anymore.”
Well, now isn’t that sublime.
You, too, say “I love the unreal” or some such thing with your finger,
though with your mouth you can’t say anything.
I can feel that “something” that connects people that have no face or voice.
I’m sure it isn’t love, though.
And so today, another day ends, but
you just pretend to live, pretend, pretend, and then go to bed.
Though you try saying, “Ah, so boring” and turning your eyes away,–
but you can’t close them–
Say, for someone who doesn’t acknowledge that at all,
today again you’re looking at me inside this screen with quite an unpleasant expression.
I’m sure you know that that isn’t the best choice.
Wallowing in this withered, dark routine must be smothering, right?
If you don’t understand what a reality that isn’t a lie is,
then how about living with me in a world created by people?
There’s no point being in the kind of place that would deny you, is there?
Just say “no” to everything else and look at nothing but me.
Though you try saying “Ah, sublime isn’t it” and clapping your hands,
everything is a lie, and outside it’s littered with trash.
Say, after you’ve buried yourself in all of that so much that it hurts,
why are you looking at me out of the corner of your eye, wearing a cold expression?
I’m sure you know too that that isn’t the best choice.
What lies beyond that is a bottomless loneliness.
In the room where you were repeating this routine that no light reached,
the noise of me starting to fall apart resounds.
To my shout of, “I don’t understand this at all,”
you replied, “I’m bored of this toy that does nothing but blabber.”
This one came out a little rough around the edges. The words in the original Japanese have way more syllables, so a lot of the lines that sound rhythmically complete in the Japanese sound short and blunt in English. The original Japanese also has a lot of stammering in the choruses–e.g., instead of “mitsuketa taiyou niramitsukete,” they say, “mitsuketa-ta-ta-ta-taiyou niramitsukete”. I thought of writing out the stammering in the translation, but it looked kind of weird–the verses are all normal text, and then all of a sudden you get to the chorus and see, “I g-g-g-g-glare at the sun that I found.” So I took that out. Just know that when you hear the stammering in the Japanese, that’s the chorus. Try filling in your own stammering as you read the English if you want. Anyways…
The faces of people horsing around happily
bathing in the sunlight pouring down–
I cut across while glaring at them all
the morning after pulling an all-nighter.
Past all the people who dodge my frustrated, depressed eyes,
stands that guy, saying “Good morning!”
with his long bedhead
Before I notice, I get the feeling our eyes have met.
I’m not interested in any sappy love or whatever.
But why could it be? I can’t look him in the face.
No, that has nothing to do with it, I mean… Augh, so frustrating!
I glare at the sun that I found.
Though I try to put a lid on my beating heart,
I can’t push down this emotion–so uncomfortable
What can it be? Such a weird feeling.
Whoa, whoa, whoa–My attitude shows up on my face.
I get mysteriously tense and my voice cracks.
I don’t get this situation anymore! It makes me so mad!
You know, I’m kind of an idiot.
Today the classroom is quiet again. I yawn.
Alone with him at a table by the window,
I can’t help feeling self-conscious,
even as I listen to the radio acting bored.
Standing up, I let down my guard
and let my secret out into the open.
The headphones I had been pretending to listen to
had never been plugged in anywhere to begin with.
“As time passed, I feel like I must have forgotten;
that must be it!” (A bit stubborn, maybe.)
But why…? I can’t get the words out of my mouth.
I get frustrated, but not a word comes out.
I decide, “I’ll get it across with my behavior.”
Closing words off, I spun my wheels again today.
You know, if this went on that wouldn’t be too bad…
Pretty lukewarm, huh.
Whoa, whoa, whoa–“You seem like you’re in a good mood today!”
“Don’t you see I’m mad?!” I pinch his face.
I can’t stand that dense attitude of yours.
What’ll I do? Today’s already going to end.
One more time!–I glare at the sun that I found.
“Wait, don’t set yet!” I take a deep breath.
My pounding heart hurts.
This is kind of a bizarre feeling.
“I want to get it across!” I break out running.
I don’t get this feeling anymore; it feels like I’m going to explode,
because before the sun goes down,
somehow, I want to get it across.
Do something, God!
I used to think that music should be able to stand on its own, and music that goes with a story is somehow not as good as stand-alone music. But the Kagerou Project has made me rethink that. When I was first listening through the songs on the Mekakucity Days album, I didn’t really like “Toumei Answer” all that much. I mean, the disco-ish-ness was kinda cool, but it didn’t really stand out. Then I watched the video and found out what the song was about, and all of a sudden it was 100 times more interesting. Similarly with “Jinzou Enemy.”