Translation

exist†trace – VANGUARD

One of the challenges of translating poetry versus prose is that when an artist takes poetic license in a unique way, the translator might not be able to figure out what the artist meant without asking the artist directly. In this case, the line “Burn that trembling voice” left me scratching my head. Though that is an accurate translation of the words in the line and I’m pretty sure this is an alteration of a standard idiom, I can’t help but feel unconvinced with leaving the line as “Burn that trembling voice.” I wrote out my interpretation in the translation notes, but if “Burn that trembling voice” makes sense to someone as is, well, that’s great. Songs are meant to mean different things to different people.

Lyrics in Japanese can be found here on Rock Lyric. Interestingly, embeds for this particular music video have been disabled—you’ll be instructed to go to YouTube if you click on the preview below —and the comments on YouTube have been turned off. I could’ve sworn they were there last week when I started working on this. I wonder if I’ll get hit with a cease and desist in a minute? (^o^;)

VANGUARD

kiri moya no naka shizuka ni nagareru dareka no uta sotto
shizuku no you ni kirameku neiro wa kanaderu kodou no fu wo

kiba wo muki kamikudake hitomi ga hiraku mae ni
furueru sono koe wo ima sotto kikasete

yuumoya no naka tsuyameku kyouki to kunou no uta hibiku

kiba wo muki kamikudake hitomi ga hiraku mae ni
furueru sono koe wo kogashite

kagirinaku aoku fukaku sukitooru sora no moto e
itsuka kaereru no nara
kagiri aru sekai ni hitori kizutsuite taoreyou to mo
mada kodou wa meguri kizu wo iyasu

asamoya no you ni irozuku neiro wa kanaderu souzou no fu wo

kiba wo muki kamikudake hitomi ga hiraku mae ni
furueru sono koe wo kogashite

kagirinaku takaku tooku kimagurena kumo no you ni
itsuka jiyuu ni naru nara
kagiri aru toki no naka ni mayoikomi kowaresou demo1
mada kodou wa nemuru kimi wo sagasu

kagiri naku aoku fukaku sukitooru sora no moto e
itsuka kaereru no nara
kagiri aru sekai ni hitori kizutsuite taoreyou to mo
mada kodou wa meguri kizu wo iyasu

kiba wo muki kamikudake hitomi ga hiraku mae ni
furueru sono koe wo kogashite
kiba wo muki kamikudake risei ga mezameru mae ni2
togireta kankaku wo kogashite

VANGUARD

Someone’s song quietly carries through the foggy mist, gently
Its timbre sparkles like a droplet, playing from the sheet music of a heartbeat

Bare your fangs and bite down hard, before those eyes open
Now, let me hear just that trembling voice

An alluring song of rapture and agony reverberates in the evening mist3

Bare your fangs and bite down hard, before those eyes open
Burn that trembling voice4

If someday we can return
to the limitless clear blue sky
Then even if I’m all alone in the limiting world, wounded to the verge of collapsing,
My circulating pulse will heal my wounds once more

The timbre turning red like the morning mist plays from the sheet music of imagination

Bare your fangs and bite down hard, before those eyes open
Burn that trembling voice

If one day we can be free
Like a careless cloud up limitlessly high
Then even if I’m lost within this limited time, on the verge of breaking,
My heartbeat will still search for you as you sleep

If someday we can return
to the limitless clear blue sky
Then even if I’m all alone in the limiting world, wounded to the verge of collapsing,
My circulating pulse will heal my wounds once more

Bare your fangs and bite down hard, before those eyes open
Burn that trembling voice
Bare your fangs and bite down hard, before logic takes over
Burn those dulled senses


1. Here Jyou sings 時 (toki) for the written lyric 時間 (jikan). Both mean “time.” The difference is that toki can refer to all time, whereas jikan refers to a specific point in time or span of time. In this line, toki is preceded by 限りある (kagiri aru) meaning “limited”; usually it would make more sense to speak of jikan as being limited so saying that toki is limited makes me think we’re meant to understand it as meaning “lifespan” (which is how I understood jikan in this line too).

2. I am 99.9% sure that Jyou does not sing 理性 (risei, meaning “logic” or “reason”) in this line, but I’m not sure what she is saying. I’m pretty sure that whatever it is, it ends in the sound “ki,” and I’m leaning heavily towards 息吹 (ibuki, breath). At first I thought that couldn’t be right because I’d never heard that word used with the verb 目覚める (mezameru, meaning “awaken” both literally and figuratively), but a Google search for “息吹が目覚め” yields a not too bad 1,670 results that seem to be using this phrase in a poetic way to mean “come to life.” (Side note: I particularly appreciate that one of those results is someone’s blog post reviewing a Manic Street Preachers album.) I’ve just stuck to risei in the translation since I can’t be sure what she’s actually singing.

3. 艶めく (tsuyameku) can mean “shiny” or “glossy” but also “sexy.” I’m totally interpreting this song as being sung from the point of view of someone (a vampire?) watching a/another vampire turn people, hence why I went with “alluring.” Also because even if we say “a glossy song,” doesn’t that also imply that it’s alluring? To say nothing of the “rapture and agony” bit.

4. その声を焦がして (sono koe wo kogashite) literally means “burn that voice.” The word 焦がす (kogasu) is used to mean “burn” or “scorch” in a literal sense and in a semi-figurative sense i.e. 花火が空を焦がした would mean “fireworks burned the sky”—in this example there really is something (fireworks) which is capable of burning things but we know that the sky isn’t actually burning; a more graceful translation would be something like “fireworks set the sky ablaze.” Kogasu can also be used figuratively to mean “burning with love,” but in that case, the noun is usually 身、心、or 胸 (body, heart, or chest), not 声 (koe, “voice”). Plus, those parts belong to the person who is consumed with love. Since this voice is trembling, and in a previous line the character singing instructs the one biting to “let me hear that trembling voice,” and this line is also in te-form, the trembling voice most logically belongs to the bitee, not the biter.

At such an impasse, my next step is to seek out other examples of the phrase in question. A Google search revealed the only other use of koe with kogasu that I could find to be from a song called “Emblem” for some sort of arcade game called Osu! Banchou 3; in the context of those lyrics koe wo kogasu would seem to mean something like “scream until you’re hoarse,” but that doesn’t make sense to me in this song. The biggest native Japanese corpus that I know of had not a single instance of koe wo kogasu out of the 248 examples of __ wo kogasu; and ALC’s Eijirou on the Web likewise didn’t provide anything other than the most common usages relating to actual burning or figurative burning love placed in the body, chest, or heart.

I can only conclude after mulling all this over that the line means either:

  • Burn your trembling voice [=get rid of your hesitation over biting people]
  • Burn that trembling voice [=the voice of the bitee]; how exactly you burn a voice I don’t get—making the person scream?
  • Be consumed by love/passion [=where “trembling voice” is being used as a substitute for the the usual “heart” or “body” just because Artistic License]; I find this the least convincing interpretation
  • Fill yourself with that trembling voice [=enjoy the scared voice of your prey], this based on the general concept of being consumed with love that the usual modern figurative use of kogasu represents, combined with an old figurative use of kogasu, “to impregnate clothes with perfume by burning incense.” Personally, I like the vibe of this last interpretation best.

Near the end of the song we find the similarly elusive line 途切れた感覚焦がして (togireta kankaku kogashite). My first instinct is to translate it as “Burn your dulled senses,” as in the biter is being told to burn their dulled senses…however it is that you burn something incorporeal. Perhaps the ecstasy of the vampiric kiss makes the biter’s senses dull in the moment? My second instinct is to interpret it as “Burn the dulled senses of the person you’re biting,” as in the bite makes the bitee lose themselves, which seems to fit better with the general prevailing vampire rules.

3 thoughts on “exist†trace – VANGUARD

  1. Wow, you really bit into this one! 😉
    Some light, airy lyrics about a Vampire doing a ride-along with a new recruit for a little OJT? What’s not to like?
    I’m reading “someone’s song” as referring to a heartbeat (or lifeforce) which is the “trembling voice” that’s burned/consumed… As you stated above, “Songs are meant to mean different things to different people” and this is just my kneejerk reaction to Miko’s Poetic Rorschach Test, based entirely on your excellent translation and notes.
    “general prevailing vampire rules” cracked me up.
    Thank you for posting another translation that didn’t suck!

    …sorry for the vampire puns – this entire comment may’ve been a mis-stake. 😐

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