An Analysis of NDA’s 1st Diagnostic Passage

Hey guys, Sora here.

The applications for ND Academy are currently being processed by Nano and the panel of administrators at NanoDesu Translations. Meanwhile, I’d like to take the time to give everyone an in-depth analysis of the diagnostic passage in appreciation for everyone who took the time to attempt the diagnostic.

Firstly, credits to the following content creators whose works have been referenced in the creation of the diagnostic. Passage 1 was inspired by Mili’s Nine Point Eight, while passage 2 is an excerpt from the Light Novel, Qualia the Purple. Do check them out if you enjoyed them!

Now, let’s look at the first passage!


The passage is broken down into smaller segments, and I have picked the best/most befitting translations from the submissions and compiled them here. Do note that the factors considered in picking translations for showcasing is DIFFERENT from what we use to shortlist applicants. We believe that these lines work well with each other, and were phrased a little more creatively than others. Let’s start!


“Please, don’t go and leave me behind! Don’t leave me on my own!” I screamed, weeping bitterly. –Anthi (and also about 80% of all applicants)

Most applicants were able to tell that this segment’s と was a quote marker and translated accordingly. A minority of applicants directly translated “どうか” as “somehow”, which didn’t really work well with the English translation. どうか in cases like this, is used as a way to urge people to do something, as well as to propose an opinion, etc. Rather than translating it directly, it is usually better to phrase the translation in another way that incorporates this nuance. (In this case, “Please,” was used.)


But even then, you held my hand, only able to tell me that I’d be alright.  –Donald Triumph

This was a hit-or-miss for many applicants. A small number of applicants confused the subject and the object in あなたが手を抱きしめて, translating it as “I held your hand”, which is wrong.

Another trap was しか, which is often used as a “apart from” equivalent in Japanese. We were looking for something along the lines of “only able to say __” or “unable to say anything but __”. However, quite a handful of applicants missed that out.

One more thing:  君なら大丈夫 roughly translates to “If it’s you, you’ll be alright.” However, this does not really sound normal in English. Normally, we just say “You’ll be alright” or “You’ll be just fine,” omitting the 君なら (if it’s you). Of course, we won’t penalize applicants for failing to recognize this, but it’s definitely a plus for any applicant who phrased it in any English-compatible way.

IMPORTANT NOTE: At this point, applicants are expected to already be aware of the genders of these two people. The writer’s use of 私 and あなた (instead of 俺/僕 and お前/君) suggests that she’s a female. The two sentences should also strike off as a couple’s breakup (or something along those lines). At the very least, even if an applicant isn’t 100% sure, they should already have a rough idea on what’s going on.)


Petals danced to the tempo of your dying heartbeat, signifying our parting. –SilentScream

This segment should trigger an alarm for applicants. We already know the story has something to do with the separation of a couple. This sentence confirms it. What’s interesting is that evidence points towards a person’s death rather than a normal lover’s quarrel. Applicants who could infer this gave the best translations.

MANY MANY applicants directly translated ように into “as if to” or “just like”. And while it isn’t wrong per se, it’s usually non-ideal. Many translations went along the lines of “As if to announce our parting, as if to match your frozen pulse, petals danced.” While this is technically correct, it is very literal, and doesn’t read very nicely in English. The staff at NanoDesu Translations encourages its translators to take a more liberal approach at phrasing lines like this. As you can see, a non-literal approach like the one showcased above sacrificed a little bit of raw accuracy in exchange for conveying its nuance in a more natural way. Once again, we do not penalize applicants who went with the literal approach, though applicants who were able to phrase their translation in a coherent way were given a bonus.


Sparkling ashes flickered with your flame, and became one with the sky.  –Furun (And also about 80% of applicants)

A very straightforward sentence. Applicants who knew about noun-modifying clauses could translate this near-flawlessly.


Hey, please take me with you…to that place where your soul can be at peace, to where a person’s final destination is. –Red

Once again, a small number of applicants translated どうか as “somehow”, which doesn’t flow very well. Many applicants translate ねえ as “hey” though we accepted a wide range of responses, such as “say”, etc.

Many applicants submitted translations that are very similar to the one above, so it was very hard to pick one to be showcased. In the end, I went with the submissions that translated 人が最後に辿り着くところ as “man’s final destination”. That doesn’t mean that any other response is wrong, though.


Drawn by the allure of the lily flower, I constructed a map to seek your whereabouts. –Rainy

This sentence was deliberately added to test the applicant’s ability/willingness to do their research. At a glance, ユリ might seem to be ‘Yuri’, which could be a woman’s name, or lesbianism. From the earlier segments, we already know that this was likely not the case, since the passage was written in the perspective of the girl.

If the applicant did their research, they’d eventually realize that ユリ referred to the Lily flower. That was the minimum expectation of applicants, but those who went a step further did the best. Reading more about the Lily flower, one will eventually learn that it is a flower of death, often used in funerals to symbolize innocence and purity.

Putting that into context, it becomes clear that at this point, our writer wants to die. Applicants who realized this gave really creative answers, and I regret that I could only pick one for showcasing. I chose this applicant’s translation because of his peculiar phrasing of the earlier segment. Normally, the literal translation would have been “Pulled in by the scent/aroma of lily flowers”. This applicant replaced “aroma/scent” by “allure”, which created a strangely dark atmosphere befitting its implicit message. Ultimately, though, I feel that the applicant was able to phrase this in a way that was mysterious enough to entice readers, without spoon-feeding too much information.


With my mouth tightly shut, I ascended. Towards the sky’s peak, I continued to climb. After all, I knew that you were just above.      –Enigmator

This is where the first onomatopoeia was introduced in the passage. Literally everyone got that right, though. Maybe I should have picked something a little harder lol.

Moving on, へと and すぐ were the common pitfalls in this sentence. へと is an equivalent to the に particle for indicating direction/destination. One of the “English meanings” of すぐ, given by dictionaries, is “soon”, but in this case it refers to “just/right” above. It is understandable for people to mistake the “immediacy” of すぐ to be chronological rather than positional, but in this case the latter is true.


Hey, look! I’ve made to the top of your world, at long last. –Happyy

Translating this literally was easy for nearly all applicants. We wanted to see how the applicant modified the structure/words to make it sound coherent in English.

Literal-ish translation: “Hey, look! Right now, I’ve reached the very top of your world. Finally, I made it.”

Firstly, it is very clear that the same meaning can be conveyed with fewer sentences. It feels like the last sentence is reiterating what was previously said. Also, whether or not the 今 should be eliminated is entirely up to the applicant, we will not penalize them for that.

Of course, it could be argued that cutting the number of sentences would disrupt the poetic feel of this passage. We understand this concern, and as such no penalty was given to applicants who stuck with the 3-sentence structure.

Nine Point Eight


“Hey darling, here I come!” I yelled and leapt into the depths of hell.  –Kanade

There are many variations for 今そっちに行くからね. All answers are accepted as long as the から was not literally translated. The から here was used as means of telling her dead lover to wait for her, <BECAUSE> she’ll be joining him soon. Notice the implicit message there. We gave full credit to applicants as long as they were able to incorporate that nuance into their translation.

Perhaps the biggest reason I picked this applicant’s translation for showcasing was because of the usage of “hell”. Traditionally, people who committed suicide were said to “burn in hell”. I felt this was a suitably liberal take for what the writer was trying to do. I believe the applicant feels that way too.


The tumultuous winds sang to bless our reunion, welcoming me to the other side. –Jasdf

Once again, two ように’s, too many “as ifs”. Not like that’s wrong, but it has become clear that there are many other ways to convey Japanese grammar/nuances without using a one-to-one, one-size-fits-all translation every time. Other similar habits are やっぱり -> “As expected”, and らしい -> “That’s just like __”.

Also, a large proportion of applicants began their translation with “Noisily,”. While technically correct, do realize that it is not a must for a translator to fully adhere to the original line. There will be time where a translator needs to restructure sentences, rearrange lines, or even reverse the order of certain paragraphs.

Always remember that the Japanese language is inherently different in terms of structure. From the first few lessons in any beginner textbook, one would learn that Japanese uses the Subject-Object-Verb order instead of English’s Subject-Verb-Object, so there really isn’t any need to follow the Japanese order when translating into English.

Going back to 騒然, applicants who did better were the ones who fused 騒然’s meaning into 吹きすさぶ風 or 歌った. Something like “roaring/raging winds” would suffice.


And with 9.8 as my acceleration, I headed for the place where the two of us could be in peace. –Fukase

The most common mistake was 二人で. Some applicants translated this line as “We headed for”. Rather, the 二人で was referring to いられる場所, not 向かった. After all, her lover’s dead. He couldn’t be with her in the jump.


I, whom you once treasured so dearly, was cut loose from my tattered body and became one with the sky. –Zeoks

A variety of mistakes were seen from the various submissions. Some mistakenly translated かつて as “Once upon a time”, others forgot the passive 切り離され and translated it with an active voice (I, ____, separated from___) instead of (*was* separated from).

I will admit, this sentence comes off as rather gory. So I chose to showcase one that didn’t portray it as much.


We meet again. –40% of applicants

Technically, the literal translation would be “We were able to meet again”, but normally in English, you’d say “We meet again” instead, and hence I picked this.

Ultimately, though, these translations have been selected based on a personal opinion, and by no means does it imply that they are 100% correct, and likewise, having a translation different from the ones chosen does NOT mean that you are wrong.

More importantly though, I’ve picked some really interesting takes on the various segments of the passage, and I believe that analyzing these lines can help everyone to improve.

So, there you have it, an analysis of the 2nd ND Academy intake’s first diagnostic passage! Applicants, feel free to drop me an email via with any questions related to this passage, and I will do my best to help you out. I might do an analysis for the 2nd passage depending on the demand and my availability, but at any rate, stay tuned for updates!


This entry was posted by SoraSky.

8 thoughts on “An Analysis of NDA’s 1st Diagnostic Passage

    • I wrote the text drawing inspiration from the original song.

      I wouldn’t call it a translation of the original per se, considering that this was written with the intent of testing the applicant. You’ll spot many inconsistencies here.

  1. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but…You intend to release “Qualia the Purple”? I already knew you folks were amazing, but you indeed demonstrate it time and time again. Aah, I wish I’d applied for the school as well, but then again, looking at the quality of the selected translations (and my free time for the next two months), I probably did the right thing ( – not to, that is). <: )
    Please tell me, though, that you plan to repeat this academy next year? It really *is* a splendid idea. Thank you for that. I'm interested in the progress of it and will eagerly follow your updates of this school.

  2. I hope you’re still here! Where does the image in the article come from?

    P.S. This was such a great read, even as someone who doesn’t know the language. Congratulations to everyone who made a submission!

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