A Look at the Title: Alchemist or Cultivator?
A short while ago, hiyono pointed out to me that:
After reading the latest chapters, I think I’m starting to think that “Alchemist God” is a bit too limiting of a translation of this title. In full, the series is 煉神領域, which is more like “The Refining God’s Domain”.
If we look at the author’s description of the series, it includes the following lines: “炼制极品灵药、炼化终极武魂、觉醒旷世绝学，天下震惊!” Notice the two distinct usages of 煉. Furthermore, while early on, the series focused on alchemy (煉藥), more recently, we find that he is mastering many more crafts than just alchemy, again implied by the intro (觉醒旷世绝学).
If we factor in that refining (炼器术) is one of the three skills that he was unable to delete, then I think it’s meant to imply that our protagonist is a “god” of far more than just alchemy – he’s basically a god of crafting.
In hindsight, the name Alchemist God was undoubtedly a rash decision, but that is no one’s fault.
The character 煉/炼 has many definitions depending on context:
The first points to the usage of fire or heat to refine a material’s purity, hardness, and concentration. IE: Smelting steel, refining oil, hammering metals into shape.
The second has a few specific meanings that are similar in idea.
- 提炼: to extract (using a physical or chemical process to remove a certain material from compounds or mixtures.)
- 精炼: to purify (as in extracting the essence of medicinal herbs: medicine cores)
- 炼金: Alchemy (as in concocting mystical items. IE Immortality pills) Also, FMA = 鋼之鍊金術師 or Steel Alchemist
The third is 修炼, which refers to the cultivation and tempering of the human body and mind. This is the definition when I use words like practitioner, cultivation, refining (spirits), and training.
- In this case, refining beast spirits and spirit stones is considered a process to better oneself. Thus, it is part of the cultivation aspect instead of using the smelting definition.
The next one is 炼性, which refers the tempering of one’s nature or temperament as it was taught in Daoism.
The last one I’ll mention is 炼养. It means to cultivate and maintain a good health.
From this much, it would be fairly easy to see how the title of Alchemist God is somewhat lacking as a cover-all name for what it represents. However, due to the precedents set by the original translator and the familiarity that most readers have with the current title, I feel as though it would be negatively received if I change it now (RIP Ascension of TAG). I will put up a poll regardless and see what you guys think.
Next up, some small clarifications and explanations that readers might have overlooked:
- To those wondering why and how Lin Mu Yu or anyone else is able to tell the age of wild spirit beasts, I must remind you that there are visual ques on the animals that denote their age. For example, some beasts might have lines similar to the ones in the measurement crystal that denote their age numerically. In contrast, with the swift wolf, its eight tails marked its 800 years of existence.
- Because one’s martial spirit is linked to one’s mind and body, cultivation affects both sides equally. Think of it this way: Heaven Sealed Physique is what the Shattered Cauldron World (TAG’s world) labels someone who lacks an innate martial spirit like Lin Mu Yu. It highlights the fact that Lin Mu Yu was still a normal human, thus lacked something so very common in the SC World.
- The “Refining Skill” from the prologue is what I presume to be the Refining Cauldron. The cauldron itself had only been shown to have one use so far, that is to house beast spirits to be refined by the Cauldron’s Smelting Flames. (/spoiler) However, in the future, it will enable much more in terms of crafting (/spoiler end).
- More to come. Please ask in the comments any story-related questions you might have. (No spoilers or spoiler-related questions)