Not long ago I finished season 2 of a French cartoon called “Wakfu”. I originally discovered it when looking for artwork of characters I might be able to model with pipecleaners, and I sought to learn more about it because I studied French in high school and still retain interest in the country and culture even though I’ve forgotten most of the vocabulary by now.
It’s an animesque show, a genre I am very selective about. Some shows, like Teen Titans, allow anime influence to completely overtake them, resulting in a show with a lot of ugly lazy animation that turns me away, while other shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Wakfu know how to ration that influence and keep their characters on-model most of the time, so I can easily forgive the moments when the animation devolves into kindergarten doodles for the sake of exaggeration or expressing emotion. That Wakfu is animated with flash vectors probably helps it a lot; it’s gotta take more time and money to get the characters off-model that way, so it’s easier and more practical to keep them looking their best. Better yet, it has bonus episodes and specials animated by the likes of MADHOUSE and Studio Ghibli.
It’s an impressive cross-media franchise, such that I’m a little surprised that it hasn’t spread further into other countries. It’s a reconstruction of fantasy and adventure stories, with a tasty dash of video game influence thanks to the world originally spawning from a MMORPG. In-universe vernacular even includes “dungeons” scattered throughout the land in which live “bosses” that can be defeated or slain for all kinds of treasure.
The theme song in particular grabbed me. It’s an orchestral metal piece, emphasizing grandiose scale and full of abstract imagery to remind us of why we all love fantasies and legends in the first place. Naturally, I had to adapt it from French to English.
Thus, here it is! And this time, I want to provide some insight into what goes into this sort of writing. Straight translations from one language to another almost NEVER work because of differences in grammar, slang, cultural expressions, and so on. For example, the English expression “You’re a pain in the neck!” means nothing in French. Instead the French say, “You’re breaking my feet!” It can get especially difficult with songs as you try to match the rhymes and syllable counts in the language you’re translating from.
So this time, I am providing three versions of this song: the original French lyrics, their straight translation, and my English adaptation. By comparing them, you should get an idea not only of my person thought processes but of the challenges that go into these sorts of things.
Sur Tes Pas (Theme of Wakfu)
Entends-tu le chant des Héros résonner
Enfant de lumière,
J’entends la rumeur,
A chaque héros son pouvoir,
Do you hear the heroes’ song, resonating
Child of light,
I hear a rumor,
To each hero, his power!
Do you hear the song of heroes resonate
Little one of light
I hear a rumor
To each hero, vitality