Tala's backstory (smoothed-out translation)

The backstory of Tala (Yuri Ivanov) from the original Beyblade trilogy was published online a while back by Aoki Takao, the writer behind the manga. The first translation into English was a little rough in grammar and structure, so here's a smoothed-out version ^_^

First, here is Takao's preface:

Quote:Yuri Ivanov (Tala) appeared in the first series of Beyblade as the strongest and final opponent of the main character, Kinomiya Takao (Tyson Granger). From the point of character creation (in the summer of 2000) he was one of the characters I liked, so I immediately came up with his upbringing and his sad past, along with other ideas. I was thinking of eventually including it in the manga, but I was unable to make that come true.

I thought of putting this piece at the end of volume 12. In the fall of 2003 I brought my images and ideas to the novelist Tachimori Megumi, and had it novelized.

Unfortunately, due to various reasons it didn’t make it into volume 12. But I’m happy to be able to publish it here.

The illustrations [on his website] are what I drew at the time.

I would be delighted if you are able to enjoy the slightly different perspective on the world than that found in the manga.

Winter of 1999

With a fierce sound of impact, the beyblade that shot up into the air started to crumble into pieces. The beybattle field became quiet, as if all the boys who were training, not less than a hundred, held their breath in unison. What broke the silence was the scream of a boy who had lost his battle, and whose beyblade was completely destroyed. That scream was soon drowned out by the voices of the other boys.

The boy was hunched over on the ground, and when I passed him to pick up the pieces of his beyblade, he looked up at me. His eyes contained not just the look of defeat, but a strong will to fight. He stood up once more, and returned to his training. There was no other choice but to continue to fight, and to win. That applied to all of us, including myself.

"What are you looking at, Yuri?" Boris asked with diffidence.[1] I knew he was behind me.

"The snow," I replied, taking the question at face value.

"I see," said Boris, before falling silent. Our ears were filled with the roaring sound of spinning beyblades, and the panting from rigorous exercise on training machines. Ever since I had accepted Volkov's invitation, there wasn't a day when this ceased.

Under my eyes spread the harbour of Severodvinsk.[2] Beyond the shoreline the White Sea was completely covered in ice, and the snow kept falling unforgivingly. It would be a long time before the snow cleared enough to see the earth.

No, it would be better if the earth had never shown. I was entranced by the white snow. I liked this scenery.

"Snow is nice," were the words that naturally dropped from my mouth. Boris walked up from behind, and he nodded slightly. We were not the only ones who felt this way; most of the boys at the centre were probably partial to a world enveloped by snow.

It buried everything, and the cold chilled the whole body. But it was impartial. Without differentiating between the rich and the poor, nor the happy and unhappy, it continued to fall. The boys who knew of poverty and unhappiness, who came here to escape from a hard life, couldn't dislike the snow. They knew more than anybody that the snow could bury away their unpleasant memories.

Happy memories were not unknown to me. My father was a proud soldier, and my mother was kind, cheerful and a great cook. Deep within my memories there was a warm household and, inside there, scenes of laughter. But that was a faint memory.

When the country’s system changed,[3] my father lost his job as a soldier, and with it his pride and ambition. The only things left for him to hold on to was the glory of the past, and reminiscence of the better days. Once a proud soldier, a wonderful husband and father, he immediately drowned himself in alcohol. He would often raise his hand against his wife and son without reason, and idled in self-pity.

And my mother, who had once always smiled, would look extremely saddened and held a shadow of fear inside her eyes. Half a year later she even resigned from her duties as a mother. She left by herself, abandoning both me and father.

After mother's disappearance my father's violence became worse. Even so, I stayed by his side. Mother would someday return. Father would eventually become the proud and kind man he used to be. I held those hopes within my heart.

That's why I stayed with a father who abused me while demanding I bring him food and alcohol. To live I had to steal. It was at this time that  I met Boris.

He came from a similar environment. That's why we met on the streets, and from one look we had a mutual understanding.

The both of us tricked and stole from people. We were saved by one another's company even if there were no signs of improvement during those harsh days. At times my smile returned, but that smile was nothing more than an illusion brought about by a false living.

Knowing of our continuous stealing, people kept an eye out for Boris and myself, and on one occasion we were caught in a trap set up by the owner of the butcher shop. We could not escape. Of course, in a poor town the law did not function. When caught you did not get handed over to the police, but were trapped in a terrible situation.

This seemed to be the end.

But when I had given up, Volkov held out a helping hand.

Volkov was scouring Russia's land for children who had great athletic abilities, to achieve some guy's ambition.[4] I was initially unsure about Volkov's invitation. His purpose was a mystery to me. Meanwhile, my head was fixated on the man who was both depraved and abusive, but was still my father, and of my mother whom I still hoped would return.

I held onto the faint yet happy memories. But what appeared when I opened my eyes was the dingy stone paving and shoes that had holes, revealing long and filthy toenails—this was reality.

Now, both Boris and I are here. To become stronger. To acquire the world through beyblading, we're here in this centre founded by Volkov.

"What are you looking at, Yuri?" Boris asks the same question once again. With a glance I examined his face. It was muted but there was a look of worry. I knew this time that his question wasn’t literal.

What was going to happen to us from here on out? That was what he wanted to ask, most likely. If we remained here we wouldn't starve or shiver from the cold. We could sleep peacefully. Compared to all that had happened, this was heaven. But that was if we could remain strong. Just under a thousand children were training to become the world’s strongest blader. Once they lost, it was over. Every day, we saw those who had lost being evicted from the centre.

Boris was worried, not knowing when the days of fighting and training would end. The days of training, and the pressure to win.

But I didn’t share this uncertainty. I knew losing was impossible, because I was stronger than anyone.

So what was I looking at? “The future,” I smiled.

To control the world through beyblading. That was the bright path that stood ahead of me.

"--isn't that right?"

Boris nodded. The trace of uncertainty vanished from his face.

[1] ‘Boris’ is the character known as Bryan Kuznetsov in the English translation of Beyblade.
[2] A port city in Arkhangelsk Oblast, north-west Russia.
[3] The USSR was dissolved in 1991, and Russia underwent a rapid transformation from communism to capitalism.
[4] 'Some guy' is Voltaire, grandfather to Kai and puppet-master behind Volkov.
Now I feel like I can remember Yuri's backstory a lot better with this translation! Yeah, I'll admit that the first translation was rough, agree with you on that.
The first time I read a translated version of the story was very young, then I only could give it a superficial reading. When I read BSR chapter 4 I want to read the "novel". Thank you very much for this new translation.
"[4] 'Some guy' is Voltaire, grandfather to Kai and puppet-master behind Volkov."

In the Anime it is Volkov, but in the Manga it is Dr. Zaggart, isn't it?