Japanese does not change vowel sounds, just the length so that o with a line is a long O I believe. In Osaka the O is long while it is short in otaku. In English long oo becomes a different sound like boot compared to bottom. Italian vowels are actually fairly close to Japanese. Japanese is almost completely phonetic with very few exceptions.
I wish I had the original of 1Q84 too. Also difficult to find online.
BTW, being annoyed with translations is what made me want to learn Japanese in the first place.
Last edited by hpulley; 01-27-2012 at 07:38 AM.