Explanation of the Commentary Pages
Okay, so that wasn't in the form of a question… But you probably do have a few questions about the commentary pages (i.e., the framework onto which our comments are laid), which I will hopefully address here. The headers should hopefully help you locate the answer to your specific inquiry.
Creating these pages is a labor-intensive process comprised of many steps. I begin by typing up the original Japanese script for the episode in question. (These were provided as extras, sans the storyboards meant to accompany them, on the Renewal DVD BOX-SET; many kudos to thekillingmantra for the JPEGs.) These are exceptionally useful, as they break each episode down into individually numbered cuts (each one usually encompassing a single continous “camera” shot), which, suffice to say, serve as a concise system for referencing specific parts of a particular episode. The scripts also provide text descriptions for each scene (which can range from the thoroughly enlightening to the thoroughly useless), dialogue (in its original Japanese glory), and sound effects (courtesy of the Japanese language's mindbogglingly extensive onomatopoeia system).
The “Description/Dialogue” column from the commentary pages combines the description and dialogue/SE (“SE” standing for “sound effect”) columns of the original script — and tries to include as much of the information from the script as possible. My Japanese skills are fairly rudimentary, but, fortunately, most of the language used for describing scenes is within my ability to grasp. Hence, I have been able to include a “pseudo-translation” of the script descriptions (sometimes with a little assistance from these fellows) — it's simplified in places, and sometimes rephrased/rewritten (due to changes that can occur from storyboard to screen), but on the whole the information should be accurate. As my knowledge of Japanese improves, the quality of the material translated from the scripts should improve, as well.
…is another matter. Fortunately, most of NGE's dialogue has been translated multiple times. In deciding which translations to use, I check the original Japanese dialogue with the translations by
- The Literal Translation Project (original TV series only).
- ADV, responsible for bringing the NGE TV series to the Western world. Upon the DVD release, they updated their original VHS subtitles, and with the “Director's Cut” and “Platinum” releases, the subtitles are being revised yet again. Although their subtitles initially had many problems, ADV's most recent efforts are exceptionally accurate and are, by and large, preferable to the LTP translation.
- bochan_bird, responsible for translating the New Production Cut (or Video Release Version, a.k.a. “Director's Cut”) scenes and The End of Evangelion, and well-regarded within the NGE fan community.
- Manga Entertainment, responsible for the domestic release of the movies (Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion). Although their subtitles for End of Evangelion have in some instances elicited outrage from us geeky fans, their translation is nonetheless useful for comparison purposes.
In some cases, I had to translate dialogue completely on my own, but this is almost solely the supplemental dialogue with which subtitlers tend not to bother, due to either screen space or audibility issues. Neither is a real problem here, as the scripts provide virtually all the supplemental dialogue, including, I am happy to say, the dialogue added to the 5.1 channel audio track for Renewal. To my knowledge, none of this has been translated before, with the exception of a few clearly audible lines ADV decided to subtitle for Platinum. (Most of the 5.1 dialogue plays while other characters are talking or serves as background “noise”, and is thus virtually impossible to hear. It contains some interesting techno-babble, nonetheless.) In other cases, the script designated certain lines as “ad-libbed”, or, in the case of the Next Episode Previews, they do not provide the dialogue at all. Being as my ability to transcribe spoken (as opposed to written) Japanese is pretty goddam awful, here I have to rely more or less blindly on what previous translators have done. Which kind of sucks, but what can ya do.
Sound Effects & Music
Sound effects, by and large, I do not bother with. Japanese onomatopoeia is so bloody complicated and tends to translate so poorly (if at all), this is probably for the best. However, if the sound effects are not actually given in onomatopoeia form (e.g., “the sound of breaking glass” or “the voices of cicadas”) or are exceptionally obvious to this ignorant n00b (e.g., “PI´” and its variations = “BEEP”), they are included. Aside from scene descriptions, dialogue, and sound effects, I also include within the Dialogue/Description column the BGM start/end cues. Music is, after all, as important to film as dialogue and sound effects, and is thus as important to take note of in a non-audio presentation such as this. Not to mention it helps remind the commentators to discuss a particular BGM, either on its own merits or within the context of a particular episode. On a side note, the BGM cues correspond to the Renewal version of the show; to see where they differ in the original, go here.
The final process of getting each page ready for comments is, of course, thumbnails. Small though they are, hundreds are needed for a single episode and, as such, they make these pages a bandwidth nightmare. Regardless, I feel they are necessary to include, considering visuals are such an important part of this show and are referenced constantly in the commentary itself. Taking and processing all of the screenshots necessary to represent an entire episode is, as might be suspected, a pain in the ass, especially when dealing with action sequences or, one of Anno's favorite gimmicks, tons of images being flashed in rapid succession. In cases of the latter, we will attempt to compile mini-guides to each such sequence, to which links will be provided at the appropriate times. In addition, thumbnails of important or noteworthy images will have colored borders and be linked to larger versions, which will open in a separate window.
Here, I elaborate on matters of formatting and script terminology.
This is used to designate certain types of text, as follows:
- Something that is quoted from an external source.
- “Regular” supplemental dialogue
- Supplemental dialogue exclusive to the 5.1 audio channel in Renewal.
- Music start/end cues.
- Something that we need to research properly (or otherwise confirm)!
These all come from the original Japanese scripts. Due to my lack of knowledge in the realm of Western script writing, some of my ‘translations’ may not reflect equivalent terminology used officially over here. In such cases, feel free to inform me as to the proper terms. For more info on some of these terms, please consult this great page about anime camera work.
- bleed (from koboshi or kobosu) = Indicates that the dialogue “bleeds” into the subsequent cut.
- conc. (from douji ni) = Concurrent. Two characters speaking at the same time.
- EYECATCH = The short sequences seen at the midway point of anime, meant to precede and follow the commercial break when the episode originally aired. Normally, these include the title of the show and, in NGE's case, the episode's second title (the one in English). Eyecatches are also used sometimes in OVA or theatrical releases.
- MONO = (Inner) Monologue. In other words, a character is thinking to him/herself.
- OFF = Off-Camera. Sometimes the speaker may be on-screen, but his/her face is not visible.
- ON = On-Camera. This is only indicated if someone speaking continous dialogue was previously MONO or OFF.
- pre. = Preemptive (from sankou) = Indicates that the sound effect or dialogue occurs before we actually see the source of the sound or speaker.
- p.d. = Preemptive Dialogue (from sankou serifu) = See above.
- SE = Sound Effect
- SUBTITLE = Not “subtitles” as we normally think of them. This refers to the first of the two titles provided for a given episode, presented as a telop sometime during Part A; and, unlike the second title, this one is in Japanese. Although the term “subtitle” seems to imply “secondary title”, the Japanese titles seem to be treated as the primary ones.
- T.U / T.B = Track Up and Track Back. The camera moves in to focus on a smaller area, or moves back to focus on a larger one. In NGE, anyway, these don't seem any different than Zoom In and Zoom Out.
- UP = Closeup