I'll be a fifth year senior at the Ohio State University in the fall, majoring in English. Where did I pick up my Japanese, you ask? I taught myself. Well, I taught myself for about three years, before deciding that I needed some actual schooling, and when I graduate in June of 2005, I will have earned a Japanese minor. Before I took any classes, though, I started on a Record of Lodoss War book by Ryou Mizuno, and got pretty far. I had to look up a lot of words that first time through, but it was definitely worth it. I've got the first chapter of the book up in my examples pages. Kokui no Kishi is the title - The Black Knight. For those of you familiar with the series, it's a book all about Lord Ashram. The first chapter is the Marmo's departure from Lodoss Island at the end of the Chronicles of the Heroic Knight animated series, and follows Lord Ashram and Pirotess all the way until they land on Crystania. I'll put up more once I get them to a place where I feel comfortable with their readability. :)
I got started in Japanese after I started watching Record of Lodoss War, the OAV on video. That started me on that beautiful addiction known as anime, and heightened my already-started addiction to gaming. After learning the Lodoss's creator, Ryou Mizuno, had in fact written about eight-bazillion novels about the series, none of which had been translated, I knew my purpose - translate! It started out mostly for my own enjoyment of learning more about the series, but then I figured out that I could make money from my skills.
As for my translation philosophy, I try to find a balance between strict literal meaning and readability. Because of differences between Japanese and English, it's not always possible to translate the exact meaning into English; it doesn't always make sense in English. In these cases, I try to find the basic meaning of the Japanese and put that in English, taking into account the context and style of the sentence. Hopefully, that will eliminate any serious "westernization" that I know you all hate so much, while still allowing the text to be readable for those of us who don't care about "westernization."
If you have any questions, concerns, or if you'd like your translation job done in a certain style - western or not - simply e-mail me with "translation question" in the subject line and I'll be happy to talk to you.