I had a crazy weekend that I never imagined would happen.
A few months ago my friend Stacey messaged me asking if I wanted to join her interpreting at a Dragon Ball event in Texas. This was the first ever Dragon Ball convention, Kameha Con. She is a huge fan in the community and they asked her because of her translating experience. However, she didn’t have interpreting experience and invited me along to help.
As a first time convention a part of me didn’t think it was going to happen. I had heard many horror stories about conventions failing at the last minute. Long story short, I was anxious but excited when I found out we were interpreting for Ryo Horikawa. Then we finally got on the plane from Portland to Texas and it was real!
Photograph by Fletchnaut
I have been training in interpreting since January 2018 at Bellevue College, WA. But I had never done a real interpreting gig before.
SIDE NOTE: Interpreting is translating between spoken languages. Translating involves written texts.
(This may be obvious to some but I know there are people who don’t realize there’s a difference.)
To prepare for this job I found previous conventions Horikawa had attended. I used these to get an idea of the types of questions people would ask and to practice interpreting and help me build a vocabulary list. I also looked up his previous roles and most recent news.
Stacey and I also arranged that I would interpret English to Japanese and she would do Japanese to English. She was more familiar with the Dragon Ball terms in Japanese and English. I was better at speaking Japanese and knew more about the anime industry in general. But we both took notes to step in when the other got stuck. (More on that later…)
Horikawa arrived with his manager and both of them spoke very good English! When they wanted to talk to Stacey or I they would speak in English but used really strong Kansai-ben with each other.
As it was my first interpreting gig and their English was so good, I wasn’t sure what they wanted me to interpret. They seemed to understand questions and basic conversation/statements. But the moment someone talked fast or talked for a long time about a topic they were unsure of, it was harder for them. (The same for anyone communicating in their second language!)
So it took a while to work out when I should step in and when I shouldn’t.
There were 3 large panels and a few small personal Q&A sessions where I assisted with the interpreting in front of audiences of about 50-2900 people.
It was for these panels that Stacey and I had arranged who would interpret what. But even with Stacey focusing on interpreting into English and me focusing on Japanese, we still had moments where we had to step in for each other.
Stacey’s expertise of Dragon Ball meant she could interpret the Dragon Ball specific questions and answers. But there were a few about voice acting and the anime industry in general where I stepped in.
We managed to work out a good system to determine who would translate what after a few hiccups and were able to interpret to the best of our ability.
There was one instance, however, during the Three Vegeta Panel (with Ryo Horikawa, Christopher Sabat, Brian Drummond and Danny aka Geekdom101 acting as MC). I had to try to simultaneously interpret what was being said to Horikawa while also trying to pay attention to any questions.
On top of that there was one point where a question about Copy Vegeta (Drummond made a return to the show with this role in the dub). But Horikawa didn’t remember this character from the show. Stacey and I frantically tried to explain it to him, she even brought the character up on her phone, but he couldn’t remember! We had to drop it, but because we were trying to explain we weren’t paying attention. So we missed a question being asked and looked up to see everyone staring at us. Very embarrassing…
But as the weekend progressed we all felt more comfortable with each other and our roles. Stacey and I turned into interpreters / handlers and we spent pretty much the whole weekend with Horikawa and his manager.
There was one point at dinner when we were joined by one of the volunteers. Horikawa and his manager were discussing English language in Kansai-ben and I was able to simultaneously interpret their conversation to the volunteer.
An Amazing Weekend
I had an AMAZING weekend! I know the Dragon Ball story and characters but must admit I’ve not seen that much. But this weekend made me want to watch everything.
Specifically it was the fans that made me want to be a fan! They were all so incredibly kind and friendly. They had a great time and loved every minute of it.
Needless to say I’ve borrowed all 42 volumes of Stacey’s Dragon Ball manga in Japanese. I’m looking forward to reading and watching the story from start to finish by this time next year.
Some things I noticed that I need to improve:
- Explaining myself better, better and shorter (aka more fluently) in Japanese.
- Better knowledge of the subject and JP/EN terms.
- Improve Japanese accent and pronunciation (especially with katakana words.
- Improve projection and clarity of voice in English and Japanese
- Need to be able to summon a more varied vocabulary (especially adjectives, times and dates etc.)
I’m looking forward to Kameha Con 2 in 2019!!!