For some time now, I’ve been thinking of getting into Japanese to English translation more seriously. I’ve just finished the novel “Candy Candy Final Story” by Keiko Nagita, and when I discovered there was no official English translation (and no unofficial one I could find), I realized it was the perfect opportunity for me to try my hand at translation
For starters I did the book’s prologue which lasts only a few pages, but I gave it a serious effort with several iterations of editing to polish it as much as possible. Though there are a few places that I feel are not ideal, overall I’m satisfied with the effort. At some point during this process I felt that translation was my “tenshoku”, which means something like “calling from heaven”. I think it would be great if I could someday making a living doing something like this.
Keep in mind this translation is completely unofficial, and is in no way associated or endorsed by the original work’s author or the publisher for any of the Candy Candy books, manga, or anime. If you enjoyed this, please consider buying these, or write a letter to Keiko Nagita asking to speed up the process of making an official English version (I’ve heard uncomfirmed rumors they are working on one). To avoid getting into trouble with copyright laws, I will not give the original Japanese text, only my English translation.
If you are studying Japanese and think you might enjoy this book, please consider buying the original work here and here. You can read my review of it here which gives some history about the Candy Candy series in general.
This was an extremely fun process, and I learned so much in doing it that I’m eager to find what to work on next. If you have any suggestions or requests please let me know. I’m open to doing more of this novel (and have even started on the next chapter), but realistically I don’t think I would ever translate the entire work, unless by some miracle I was given permission to make an official translation. Corrections or critique on this translation are also welcomed.
Candy Candy Final Story (first book): Prologue (by Nagita Keiko)
– Unofficial translation –
Writing this name on the white stationery paper triggers a warm surge of emotion in my chest, and I lay down the pen.
I exhale deeply, a sigh of relief and gratitude.
Without thinking, my hands fold themselves tightly in prayer.
These last few weeks, all I could do was pray…
… and send my prayers along with the letters I wrote to Miss Pony, day after day.
Pony’s house, as we always called it, is very far from here. I’ve never hated this distance more than I do now, spanning a vast ocean.
My only desire was to be at her side, to care for her, and encourage her back to health.
I leave the page as it is — blank except for Miss Pony’s name — and begin rereading the letter from Miss Lane.
The worst was over for Miss Pony, and she was on the road to recovery, said the small characters of the letter. They seemed to dance on the page, reminiscent of her warm smile.
“Really? Miss Lane, you’re not just saying that to put me at ease?”
I just can hear your voice saying this, so I’ll include a message from Miss Pony. Once she recovers a little more, you’ll surely receive a much longer one from her.
I have reread Miss Pony’s brief letter many times over, and each time brings me to tears.
Candy, I know I’ve worried you terribly.
But I’m fine now.
I still have so many things to do for the children.
I’ve also decided I must see you once more before I die.
Surely, God will listen to my prayers and permit me to do this.
– Paulina Giddings
I trace my fingers gently against her signature.
Without a doubt, the large, rounded characters possessed the warmth of Miss Pony. Although they lacked her usual energy, I could almost hear her voice, smelling of freshly made pancakes.
Mumbling her name, I couldn’t help but smile.
I learned of her real name only after I had become an adult.
“I was called ‘Pony’ ever since I was young. You see, there was a small, chubby horse living on a neighboring farm which looked just like me,“ said Miss Pony with a grin. “Apparently, my physique hasn’t changed much since then.”
Miss Lane gestured in repentance again and again – a funny habit she had whenever the topic of their names came up.
“With a name like ‘Lane Roache’, you can imagine how often Miss Lane was teased. ‘Roache’ made her feel like she was a ‘Roach’ or a ‘Loach’, which bothered her enough to pronounce it incorrectly to hide these similarities. But disrespecting this noble name which was passed down from her ancestors.. what a sinful act!”
I can just picture Miss Lane, looking towards heaven as she prays for forgiveness.
The warm fireplace at Pony’s house. Firewood crackling. Miss Pony, sitting in an old chair. Miss Lane passes me a cup of steaming cocoa.
“It’s hot, be careful Candy.”
Miss Lane tries to warn me, but it’s already too late – I’ve just put my mouth to the cup, mumbling “ouch” as I pucker my lips.It’s a scene from one of my most treasured memories of winter.
“After all these years, you haven’t changed a bit, Candy!”
Miss Pony, now smiling at me. The taste of marshmallows roasted in the hearth. Outside, it’s snowing.
The adjacent building where the children were was quiet, but I knew the truth – not a single one of them was sleeping. They were waiting eagerly for the snow to pile up.
Once we were fast asleep, the children would probably sneak outside and build a giant snowman, hoping to surprise us in the morning.
After all, I did the same when I was their age. Annie, Tom, and I would wait for enough snow to fall, late into the night. We’d do anything to keep from falling asleep, even pinch one another.
I’m very grateful to my parents, who abandoned me at Pony’s house when I was young.
Thanks to them, there is a place where I can always return to, a place to call home.
I stood up from my desk and slowly approached the cabinet.
There stood oil painting “#10”, enclosed within a handmade frame. My love had placed it so it could be seen from anywhere in the house.
Several years back, he had found the painting in a London flea market.
Oh, what a wonderful gift it was.
With only a quick glance, he had picked #10 from a pile of old paintings, knowing immediately it depicted Pony’s house.
It wasn’t just any picture – it was a complete view of Pony’s house drawn from the perspective of the large hill nearby.
I stood before the painting, gazing into it’s depths.
In one of the corners was an unobtrusive signature, barely visible.
When I first discovered that name, I felt my heart would burst.
Slim was half Caucasian and half African American, with grey eyes that reflected an inner sadness. Without fail, he would begin to cry when the sun went down.
“Maybe Slim cries every evening because he remembers being abandoned as a newborn at this same time of day?”
I remember Miss Lane – the one who decided on the name “Slim” – saying this with a touch of sadness in her voice.
Slim was extremely shy around most people, but became quickly attached to me. When the morning came, he would softly nudge me and purse his lips in a silent admittance of guilt. Slim had a habit of bed-wetting, and even though he did his best to clean things up, apparently the Mothers all knew what was going on.
Slim, always skinny and looking frail. Slim, who did nothing but draw pictures.
“That boy… I always wanted to teach him to draw.”
Suddenly, a vivid memory of Miss Pony whispering this came to me.
When I had returned to Pony’s house, Slim was no longer there.
The word was that he got adopted by a blacksmith in a distant city. Slim ended up in a life where art had no place – something the Sisters deeply regretted.
(Slim, after all these years you never forgot how to draw!)
With a fine, delicate touch, Slim was the only person who could paint Pony’s house in a way so real that you felt you were almost there.
Since then, the house has developed and become much larger.
To this day, I still don’t understand how a boy adopted by a blacksmith had painted a picture that somehow ended up in London, thousands of miles from America.
All I knew about Slim’s life was that it was a very bumpy road. Just like mine.
Candy, this coincidence is surely a miracle from God, sent to cheer you up. Take great care of this picture. All of us are within in it. Candy, we’re always watching over you. I’m sure that Slim and the others are somewhere in the picture too.
Please keep this with you wherever you go.
This was Miss Pony’s encouraging response when I told her about discovering Slim’s painting. For some time I had been considering sending it to the Mothers (?), who had spent so much time worrying for Slim.
I think the Sisters had somehow knew it – I was the one who truly needed this painting, needed a place I could always return to.
Even though we are so far apart, Pony’s house is always in my living room.
Still, I can’t help but feel that Slim had painted the picture especially for me.
It was a lovely day in May.
Buttercups and white clovers covered Pony’s hill.
Anyone who climbed it was greeted with a spectacular view of Pony’s house, surrounded by a lush, green forest that dazzled the eyes. Long, soft grasses swaying in the wind. Lupines and sunflowers in many bright colors adorning the yard.
It’s as if at any moment, the wooden door will open with a creak, mischievous Tom bolting out with Miss Lane close behind.
We we’re there too – Annie and I…
On the day my life completely changed.
The day that Annie was adopted by the Brighton family.
Time winds backward in a flash.
I close my eyes and…
[end of prologue]
Thanks for reading!