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Mar 20

In Your Footsteps

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.

Enjoy!

 

Wakfu Zaap Portal Travel

 

 

Sur Tes Pas (Theme of Wakfu)

French Lyrics

Entends-tu le chant des Héros résonner
Vois tu les ombres sur ton passage s’effacer

Enfant de lumière,
Je veux être des tiens,
Pour écrire ensemble,
D’autres lendemains.
Au delà des doutes,
Je rejoins ton combat,
Quelque soit ta route,
Je marche sur tes pas.

Sois!
Le feu et la terre,
L’eau et la poussière,
Héros malgré toi,
Vois!
La légende s’écrire,
L’histoire se construire,
L’avenir est notre aventure
Fais!
Vivre la lumière,
Parler les éclairs,
La magie entre tes mains
Pars!
Suivre ton chemin
Et regarde
Tu peux voir au loin
l’amitié guider ton destin

J’entends la rumeur,
Me souffler les mots,
D’un nouveau refrain,
D’un nouveau héros!
Le cri du soleil,
Quand le ciel te réclame,
Là où ton étoile,
qui nous appelle.

Sois!
Le feu et la terre,
L’eau et la poussière,
Héros malgré toi,
Vois!
La légende s’écrire,
L’histoire se construire,
L’avenir est notre aventure
Fais!
Vivre la lumière,
Parler les éclairs,
La magie entre tes mains
Pars!
Suivre ton chemin
Tu peux voir au loin
l’amitié guider ton destin.

A chaque héros son pouvoir,
(Je suis l’espace, je suis le temps)
A chaque quête son histoire

Sois!
Le feu et la terre,
L’eau et la poussière,
Héros malgré toi,
Vois!
La légende s’écrire,
L’histoire se construire,
L’avenir est notre aventure
Fais!
Vivre la lumière,
Parler les éclairs,
La magie entre tes mains
Pars!
Suivre ton chemin
Et regarde
Ton futur,
L’aventure,
Ta lumière guider ton destin!

Literal Translation

Do you hear the heroes’ song, resonating
Do you see the shadows in your path, erasing themselves

Child of light,
I want to be yours,
To write together,
About the days ahead.
Beyond my doubts,
I join you in battle,
Whatever your path is,
I walk in your footsteps.

Be!
The fire and the earth,
The water and the dust,
Unwilling hero.
See!
The legend write itself,
The story build itself,
The future is our adventure.
Make!
Live the light,
Speak the lightning,
Magic is within your grasp.
Go!
Follow your path,
And watch:
In the distance you can see
friendship guiding your destiny.

I hear a rumor,
Whispering words to me,
A new refrain,
A new hero!
The cry of the sun,
When the sky reclaims you,
From where your star,
calls to us.

Be!
The fire and the earth,
The water and the dust,
Unwilling hero.
See!
The legend write itself,
The story build itself,
The future is our adventure.
Make!
Live the light,
Speak the lightning,
Magic is within your grasp.
Go!
Follow your path,
In the distance you can see
friendship guiding your destiny.

To each hero, his power!
(I am space, I am time!)
To each quest, its story!

Be!
The fire and the earth,
The water and the dust,
Unwilling hero.
See!
The legend write itself,
The story build itself,
The future is our adventure.
Make!
Live the light,
Speak the lightning,
Magic is within your grasp.
Go!
Follow your path,
And watch:
Your future,
Adventure,
Your light guiding your destiny!

English Adaptation

Do you hear the song of heroes resonate
And see the shadows on your path fade away?

Little one of light
I want to rove with you
So that we may pen
A great odyssey
Whatever my doubts
I’ll still join your battles
Wherever you go
I’ll walk in your footsteps

You!
Of the earth and fire
The dust and water
Unwilling hero
See!
Your legend bolster
Your story mature
The future is our adventure
Bring!
Life to the sunlight
Voice to the storm’s might
With the magic in your hands
Go!
Journey down your path
And behold:
In the distance see
Friendship guiding your destiny

I hear a rumor
Whispering to me
Of a new refrain
Of a new hero
The cry of the sun
As you’re hailed by the sky
From where your bright star
Is calling down to us

Be!
The earth and fire
The dust and water
Reluctant hero
See!
Our legend bolster
Our story mature
The future is our adventure
Bring!
Life to the sunlight
Voice to the storm’s might
With the magic in your hands
Go!
Journey down your path
In the distance see
Friendship guiding your destiny

To each hero, vitality
(I am space and chronology)
To every quest its history

Be!
The earth and fire
The dust and water
Reluctant hero
See!
The legend bolster
The story mature
The future is our adventure
Bring!
Life to the sunlight
Voice to the storm’s might
With the magic in your hands
Go!
The journey awaits
And behold:
Your future
Adventure
Your light guiding your destiny!

14 comments

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  1. Izmar

    Thank you for posting these lyrics and this review! We are currently holding a Kickstarter to produce an English dub for Wakfu’s seasons 1 and 2 in order to offer it for broadcasting on English networks or VOD streaming services. If you’re interested, it’s here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1836563008/wakfu-the-animated-series

    1. The Creature Keeper

      I wish I had the money to contribute! Alas, I’ve been without a job for nearly a year now, and I’m still working on becoming a successful author. I’ll just have to buy the whole series when it comes out whenever I am able to.

      1. Izmar

        Sorry to hear that, but good luck with your journey to becoming an author. =)

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  5. Anonymous

    Aww, the video isn’t up any more. I was looking forward to the english version of the song

  6. Anonymous

    thank you for those translations, however, i prefer the french version, it just sounds epic even if i cant understand a word they are saying

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  8. Ricku28

    Hey, I love your adaptation, and I was wondering if you knew that some of your adaptation made it in for an episode in season 2 called The Voice Thief. It made me happy to hear it included.

    1. The Creature Keeper

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll look forward to seeing that.

  9. Roci

    How can I put this…politely..?
    The English “Adaptation” is unnecessary.
    Why is it that everyone who comes into contact with something not done by Americans has to become a mixture of Rachmaninoff and Tim Rice? It happens to Japanese Anime imports far too often as well.
    The French lyrics are poetry, first of all.

    The English adaptation lyrics talk down to the audience. Good translation sometimes requires the communication of ideas, idiomatic and otherwise, and not just “words that fit.” Too much of the imagery and idea behind the French lyrics get lost in your “adaptation.”
    Just stick with the Fair job that you seem to have done with the English translation. It is better than the AWFUL theme song that was used on the crowd-funded English version of Wakfu. I can’t bring myself to listen to more than ten seconds or so of that mess, without a paper bag close at hand.
    Just for the record, I grew up in a French speaking home, and have worked in Animation for several decades.

    1. The Creature Keeper

      That’s pretty nonsensical criticism, seeing as my adaptation sticks as close to the hard translation as is possible. As I explained at the start, translating anything is never a 1 to 1 affair either. The first step is obtaining a literal translation, then the second step is modifying that translation so it sounds fluent in the language you’re translating it too. Getting a literal translation and then stopping there would just result in a song that sounds severely autistic and more than a little confusing.

      The official English version of the theme I find acceptable. It gets the job done. It didn’t need to be changed THAT much from the original French, I feel, but I guess it is more distinct that way. The line, “Watch… the legend unfold… as history foretold” I especially like, except for how the singers stretch the word “legend”. That part sounds quite amateurish indeed.

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