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Westernization
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Posted 11/4/12 , edited 11/4/12
So I was just looking at the comments for Mazui's Little Busters subs (yes, yes I know, evil fansubbers blah blah), and I came to a comment complaining about how they had reworked a Japanese joke into a terrible attempt as an English equivalent. And it made me think, I really dislike westernization.

Some westernization is good though, I won't knock it all, such as translating the text of menus and street signs and stuff like that (goes for games too).

BUT what I hate is switching names around to last-name last not so much if I am reading the story or something, but its really distracting when you see it the western way and they say it the asian way.

Another thing I really dislike is when they change the wordplay or jokes or attempt to make the dialogue intelligible to non-Japanese-speaking folk. By this I don't mean rewording it so that it's not barely understandable Engrish; but changing a joke that English speakers wouldn't get into some lame approximation.

I do not watch anime so I can listen to the characters spout english one-liners and bad puns... If I wanted that, I would watch something on Cartoon Network. >.>

This is especially bad in Korean games that are translated to English... or translated into Chinese and then poorly translated into Engrish lol. Just let me see what the characters were really talking about, I don't want to have stupid pop culture American references in the game if there are going to be any. I want the Korean pop culture references.

Back to anime... one of the things I loved about Mazui's fansubs or Hyouka was that they took the time to translate all the little notes and intermission sayings, everything written in Japanese was crammed on the screen for the reading. They didn't try to turn it into something only English speakers would get either. In their defense, they are partnering with some other group for Little Busters...

Anyways, what do you think about westernization?

Edit: I also get that some things are not translatable at all, and in that case I accept that a bad english version has to replace it.
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Posted 11/4/12 , edited 11/4/12
I am a naughty young woman who shouldn't be using such language in this wonderful community.
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Posted 11/4/12 , edited 11/4/12
I have been studying Japanese for six years so I can avoid the westernizations. I hate, Hate, HATE it when they change things. They change more than is required. And they change things all the time. I wish they made them more literal.

I originally became interested in learning Japanese because my local comic book store had a copy of the first tankobon of Battle Angel Alita / Ganmu in Japanese for some reason. Someone must have special ordered it and never picked it up because there was never Japanese stuff in the store aside from subbed anime on VHS. I bought it because at the time they flipped manga so it could be read from left to right which made a bad photocopy out of the artwork and made everyone left handed; I thought it was cool to see the unadulterated artwork. But beyond that, they had writing in the English version where there was no writing in the Japanese version. This really bothered me. This made me find out that Alita wasn't even her name. She had been named after a male cat on page nine of the first volume. It was even a joke they had left in the English version though it really made no sense as Alita sounds like a girls name to me. Gally was her name originally in Japanese which is usually translated as Gary which is a boys name but that would have made more sense for a boy cat. And the city in the sky was called Zalem but they thought that was too close to Salem and people would think the manga was about witches... So they called it Tipheres from Hebrew instead... As if that doesn't bring other things to mind. So I was angry at how much they had westernized and that made me want to learn Japanese. But now I'm glad as I enjoy reading and listening to the original Japanese.

Edit: Funny and true, Wreck-it-Ralph is called Sugar Rush in Japan instead, I guess they couldn't translate the original title literally. The Sugar Rush song is Japanese and they left that in the English movie. I wonder how many other people in the theatre even realized it...
Posted 11/4/12 , edited 11/4/12
In terms of cultural references, it works when an audience not from the origin of a production views it. Not very many from the U.S. will know about various pop idols from Japan. They will also not likely know much about customs outside their own. They would have question marks over their heads when various formalities are constantly used. Adaptations make something foreign easier to digest, though some prefer their interests as raw as possible.


FallenYmir wrote:

You sound like a weeboo.

So learn Japanese so you won't have to deal with bad translation.

But then you won't get the jokes, so move to Japan!

Wr-wr-wr-wr-WRECK IT RALPH!


You sound like a troll, so t-t-t-troll someone else.
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Posted 11/4/12
The only westernisation I like is the translated text.
I can live without the rest, it annoys me most when they change the names of characters or places but then again that sort of thing is rarely done now.
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Posted 11/4/12
In response to hpulley... renaming things completely irks me as well. I had such a nerd-rage when I came across the manga Karin in the bookstore and they had for some stupid reason, called it Chibi-vampire... If the name of something doesn't cause a lot of cross-cultural weirdness, I think it should be left alone. Dont give a character a different name because you dont like the way it sounds, or rename a city because you have a grudge against it or something.

In that matter, I think my biggest irritation comes from instances like the early Sailor Moon hatchet job; taking the yuri out of the series, as if kissing cousins was more acceptable. lol

Blackguitar, I know there reasoning for some things, but too much westernization is completely unnecessary.
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Posted 11/4/12 , edited 11/4/12
seems like people who think that if others peoples opinions are not the same and or not helpful it is trolling

then society we live in are full of trolls

I have nothing positive to contribute to this thread in which that makes me a troll except for:

What fansubbers to with their subs is up to their digression, if you don't like it don't watch it, if you do watch it and don't like it go to their site and say how shitty they are.

I'd like to conclude that all fansubbers have a "about us" tab on the site saying, "if you don't like our subs good for you gtfo".
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Posted 11/4/12

blackguitar wrote:

In terms of cultural references, it works when an audience not from the origin of a production views it. Not very many from the U.S. will know about various pop idols from Japan. They will also not likely know much about customs outside their own. They would have question marks over their heads when various formalities are constantly used. Adaptations make something foreign easier to digest, though some prefer their interests as raw as possible.


FallenYmir wrote:

You sound like a weeboo.

So learn Japanese so you won't have to deal with bad translation.

But then you won't get the jokes, so move to Japan!

Wr-wr-wr-wr-WRECK IT RALPH!


You sound like a troll, so t-t-t-troll someone else.


If I sound like a troll you must sound like one too, since you basically said the same thing.

And just so you don't make the mistake again, It's not trolling if it's true (for teh most parts)

The thing about TC's complaint is that those were translated back when it was appropriate to change things in order to not alienate casual viewers/readers. hickey1992 knows what's up since major publishers (at least for anime) don't change much nowadays.
The only change that they still do that I can name from the top of my head are crosses but it's to not offend sensibilities.
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Posted 11/4/12 , edited 11/4/12

AnimeKami wrote:

seems like people who think that if others peoples opinions are not the same and or not helpful it is trolling

then society we live in are full of trolls

I have nothing positive to contribute to this thread in which that makes me a troll except for:

What fansubbers to with their subs is up to their digression, if you don't like it don't watch it, if you do watch it and don't like it go to their site and say how shitty they are.

I'd like to conclude that all fansubbers have a "about us" tab on the site saying, "if you don't like our subs good for you gtfo".


This wasn't a complaint about fansubbers... it was a discussion topic in general about westernization.

Also, I don't have a problem with difference of opinion, (her) calling me a weeabo because I made this post is not a difference of opinion.. its just trolling.

If you like all westernization has to offer, good for you, enjoy it. I'm not going to call you names or say you are stupid for liking it though.
Posted 11/4/12
Isn't the more correct term "localization"? Westernization seems more like a negative term, imo, so I might be mistaking the points of the thread.

The only problems I have with localizations is when it reaches 4kids level in which they alter just about everything in the show (i.e. Shaman King). I personally dislike it when subs use terms like "onii-chan" or leave in honorifics when it can be translated reasonably well -- I don't mind honorifics if they play an important role for the show and its context (i.e. Bakemongatari).

I really see no wrong with replacing Japanese proverbs with an equivalent western one to establish a more coherent understanding (Joshiraku is a show that comes to mind). But I also like my subs to be as literal as possible so as long as the meanings are retained for the important lines.
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Posted 11/4/12
I'm curious as to how much of Nichijou, Cromartie High and other pop culture based comedy's jokes are "localized" and how much of it simply can't be translated.

I know Sgt Frog has a lot of Japanese wordplay and is given a somewhat western approximation of the joke. Maybe that's why the show is so painful to watch most of the time.
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Posted 11/4/12

AsuraCryin wrote:

Isn't the more correct term "localization"? Westernization seems more like a negative term, imo, so I might be mistaking the points of the thread.


Yeah, that's been bothering me too. The very act of translating an Asian language to English is "westernizing" it. There's no way around that. The more neutral term is localization.

I think the OP's main complaint is really about style. How do you deal with the really tricky issues of translation? What do you do with idioms, puns, jokes, memes, etc. What background knowledge does your target audience have? How literal should you be? These are all a matter of style.

I've had to deal with Italian and French translations. They are easier to translate into English, but you still run into issues. It's just the nature of the beast. Which is something the OP recognizes.

As for me, I like my translations to be faithful, but not literal. I think a good translator should aim for something that closely follows the spirit of the original text. That's harder with anime & movies dubs since there is the added complication of lip-synching.
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Posted 11/4/12

AsuraCryin wrote:

Isn't the more correct term "localization"? Westernization seems more like a negative term, imo, so I might be mistaking the points of the thread.

The only problems I have with localizations is when it reaches 4kids level in which they alter just about everything in the show (i.e. Shaman King). I personally dislike it when subs use terms like "onii-chan" or leave in honorifics when it can be translated reasonably well -- I don't mind honorifics if they play an important role for the show and its context (i.e. Bakemongatari).

I really see no wrong with replacing Japanese proverbs with an equivalent western one to establish a more coherent understanding (Joshiraku is a show that comes to mind). But I also like my subs to be as literal as possible so as long as the meanings are retained for the important lines.


Perhaps localization would have been a better choice.

And see, I don't like it when they change Onii-chan or whatever to "big brother" or stuff like that... they probly aren't intending it like this, but it feels like it's being dumbed-down. I haven't seen any fansubbing groups do this so no problem there. It also just seems like more work as far as writing subtitles goes One word compared to two... ok so I'm lazy. lol Also I guess I'm a bit of purist.

I would feel the same way though, if they translated Mr. Smith into Smith-san or whatever (for English to Japanese).
Posted 11/4/12

FallenYmir wrote:


blackguitar wrote:

In terms of cultural references, it works when an audience not from the origin of a production views it. Not very many from the U.S. will know about various pop idols from Japan. They will also not likely know much about customs outside their own. They would have question marks over their heads when various formalities are constantly used. Adaptations make something foreign easier to digest, though some prefer their interests as raw as possible.


FallenYmir wrote:

You sound like a weeboo.

So learn Japanese so you won't have to deal with bad translation.

But then you won't get the jokes, so move to Japan!

Wr-wr-wr-wr-WRECK IT RALPH!


You sound like a troll, so t-t-t-troll someone else.


If I sound like a troll you must sound like one too, since you basically said the same thing.

And just so you don't make the mistake again, It's not trolling if it's true (for teh most parts)

The thing about TC's complaint is that those were translated back when it was appropriate to change things in order to not alienate casual viewers/readers. hickey1992 knows what's up since major publishers (at least for anime) don't change much nowadays.
The only change that they still do that I can name from the top of my head are crosses but it's to not offend sensibilities.


Uh-huh. What about portrayals of smoking?
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Posted 11/4/12 , edited 11/4/12
It goes both ways. Japanese subtitles on Hollywood movies can be hilarious. Something About Mary did not translate well at all... Frank and beans! Jokes about weight where they are saying $2.50 to mean 250 lbs are difficult as they use kilos and yen. Japanese lacks many swear words so the subs can be more amusing than the movie for R rated stuff.
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