Post Reply Does Netflix play fast and loose with their translations?
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Posted 10/8/17 , edited 10/9/17
I've been studying Japanese, slowly, for a while now. I'd call myself an advanced beginner with a long way to go. That said, I do have a grasp on simpler sentences and a number of words. Enough so that I noticed while watching Little Witch Academia on Netflix that a number of times the subtitles did not match at all with what was said by the characters. For example, something like "wakarimashita" would be translated to a character's name or a character's name would be translated to something like "why".

It makes me wonder how much of the dialogue that I don't understand is Netflix's translators changing from the source. Has anyone else noticed this? Or maybe it was just a one off with the translator for LWA?
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Posted 10/8/17 , edited 10/9/17
I don't know much Japanese, but have you ever watched Closed Captions (for hearing impaired?) it's slightly simplified for ease of reading, and that's the same language. Add in all the cultural differences and you've got a lot to consider (a pet peeve is western name order.)
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Posted 10/8/17 , edited 10/9/17
Yeah I'll catch that too on anime from there, when I dare watch it on Netflix. I know just enough Japanese (which isn't a lot) to be like "That's so not what they said."

It's like those old machine translators that I would find for VNs that would do literal translations of names, so you'd oddly phrased sentences with names like Moon Snowpeach lol.


MadeDragon wrote: (a pet peeve is western name order.)


That drives me bonkers when - even on CR - the character says a name, and the translators reverse it.
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Posted 10/8/17 , edited 10/9/17

kitsuneshoujo wrote:


MadeDragon wrote: (a pet peeve is western name order.)


That drives me bonkers when - even on CR - the character says a name, and the translators reverse it.


I don't really know any Japanese; my ears can only pick up on names and also a handful of words. It does bother me when they reverse it, but I get a much larger dose of cognitive dissonance when a character refers to another character by their surname and the translator uses that character's given name instead.
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Posted 10/8/17 , edited 10/9/17

domvina wrote:..or a character's name would be translated to something like "why".


This one is likely contextual. Even in English you might say "Stephen?" when what you mean is "What's wrong?" or "Have you lost your mind?" etc.
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Posted 10/8/17 , edited 10/9/17

MadeDragon wrote:


domvina wrote:..or a character's name would be translated to something like "why".


This one is likely contextual. Even in English you might say "Stephen?" when what you mean is "What's wrong?" or "Have you lost your mind?" etc.


bingo lol, you nailed it.. You will start to understand as you progress with the language.

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Posted 10/9/17 , edited 10/9/17

Unmei_no_Valkyrie wrote:


MadeDragon wrote:


domvina wrote:..or a character's name would be translated to something like "why".


This one is likely contextual. Even in English you might say "Stephen?" when what you mean is "What's wrong?" or "Have you lost your mind?" etc.


bingo lol, you nailed it.. You will start to understand as you progress with the language.



Oh, I understand that.

But why do the translators feel the need to spoon feed information that is clear in the context? To "dumb it down"?

I don't notice CR or Funi or HDive doing that. Why does Netflix feel that need?

It just gives me bad vibes of how anime in the 80's that was broadcast on TV in the US was translated to make it "kid friendly".
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Posted 10/9/17 , edited 10/9/17

domvina wrote:


Unmei_no_Valkyrie wrote:


MadeDragon wrote:


bingo lol, you nailed it.. You will start to understand as you progress with the language.



Oh, I understand that.

But why do the translators feel the need to spoon feed information that is clear in the context? To "dumb it down"?

I don't notice CR or Funi or HDive doing that. Why does Netflix feel that need?

It just gives me bad vibes of how anime in the 80's that was broadcast on TV in the US was translated to make it "kid friendly".


Netflix is trying to sell anime to a general audience, so they're not assuming any familiarity with Japanese culture and conventions.

That said, CR does do the same thing occasionally. E.g., they cut out a lot of the third person references, unless it's a character tic.
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Posted 10/10/17 , edited 10/10/17
regarding little witch academia netflix ran with kid friendly, thus the language and other more adult stuff had to be changed into something else. when I watched the original version elsewhere I noticed the change. could be why I'm ahead of the curve regarding netflix anime, I've found other places to stream things, like here for example. but yes, that's nothing new, I have noticed this for more than just netflix translations, but they are the worst for it. after all, Hulu is the worst to censor things, from language to actual story itself because of whatever laws/rules they had going for them. and they probably hope no one will notice. netflix, like most, are there for the money, the fans will come, that's how it is. struggling to make money and the likes. I would imagine they try to do it remotely right, but once it becomes licensed it becomes their baby, they can almost do with it how they want.
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Posted 10/10/17 , edited 10/10/17
When I first started watching anime I streamed it from Netflix. I go on CR now to watch anime but since you mentioned it I did get a bit confused with them mixing it up and all. Maybe it was to give people a better understanding or sense of what the characters are saying in English. Remember the Japanese break up there sentences to shorter ones but English speaking people don't.
Don't know if that makes any sense, sorry if it doesn't, heh.
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Posted 10/10/17 , edited 10/10/17

domvina wrote:

I've been studying Japanese, slowly, for a while now. I'd call myself an advanced beginner with a long way to go. That said, I do have a grasp on simpler sentences and a number of words. Enough so that I noticed while watching Little Witch Academia on Netflix that a number of times the subtitles did not match at all with what was said by the characters. For example, something like "wakarimashita" would be translated to a character's name or a character's name would be translated to something like "why".

It makes me wonder how much of the dialogue that I don't understand is Netflix's translators changing from the source. Has anyone else noticed this? Or maybe it was just a one off with the translator for LWA?


So I actually like to think that I am fairly fluent in the language (I've been living in Japan for about 5 years now). To some extent all translations take liberties. I know that CR some times will take some liberties based on the context of the actual words being said. This very often happens with very small statements. Like a character screaming "oh no", "why" etc for instance, might be changed to give a little more context to the scene.

It makes sense if you really think about it because spoken Japanese is very context sensitive (much more so then written Japanese). There are times when you are speaking when you will leave out the subject and the object of the sentence because it is implied by what you were talking about or looking at.

As far as Netflix goes, I would imagine that they might be a little looser then some of the other companies because they probably have a smaller team of translators or their translators are not as experienced. Or perhaps like the others said, they are trying to appeal to a more general audience. I've done translation work in the past, and you can't really assume much about your audience because it tends to get your into trouble. (aka you provide too little context and people don't understand.) I've seen fan subbers who do the opposite and that can be just as annoying. They add little inside jokes and English slang terms which can be infuriating.
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Posted 10/10/17 , edited 10/10/17
I've been meaning to start a list of all the different ways I've seen "hai" translated (not including "yes.")
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Posted 10/10/17 , edited 10/11/17
Netflix's subs are often a closed caption of the dub, rather than a hard translation.
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