Half the time the subs are off as well. There are instances in almost every anime where something could have been translated more naturally or the translation in just plain wrong. That is the curse of studying Japanese. You start to notice all the quirks in the subbing. That being said Subbed > Dubbed.
Literal translations are bad. Localized translations are good.
The best translations are translated for the target audience. You mostly see this when it comes to jokes as many Japanese jokes can not be translated into other languages. If what was actually said was translated, it would not make any sense at all for the viewer.
Some of the mistakes I find on Crunchyroll subs don't have to do with translations, but rather their "interpretation" of what was said. Their "interpretation" may not make any more sense than if the Japanese was translated word for word.
IE, a character says a joke involving money (usually puns). Since puns rely on words sounding the same, it is almost impossible to translate this joke word for word because the English words do not sound the same and thus the pun is no longer a pun. What Crunchyroll and fansubbers have to do is come up with English words that still fit in the money joke, but also sound similar so that the viewer understands that it is a pun. Sometimes Crunchyroll, and fansubbing groups, are not able to come up with an English pun joke that makes sense or is funny, which then turns into a bad "translation".
Crunchyroll has vastly improved their translations over the past two years. They use to have a huge quality difference between shows, like as if they have an A team, B team, and a C team. Now, the quality does not vary as much (there are a few occasions where I go "wtf?"). Crunchyroll has improved their translations to the point where a lot of the fansubbing groups don't even bother to completely translate a show anymore. What they do now is download the Crunchyroll script, and then make small changes to it (usually changing the jokes to ones they like better, or adding honorifics if CR did not include them)
They still make mistakes, but it isn't "half the time". I can't think of anything recently that really stuck out as being totally off, or not sounding right. As long as the meaning gets across, then all is good.
Ok, half the time may be an exaggeration. Half the time was a turn of phrase anyway. I speak Japanese, and am in the final semester of getting my B.A. in East Asian Studies with a concentration in Japanese. Once you study a language to any significant degree you lose tolerance for translations that are not as accurate or as natural as they could be. There are times when there are factual errors such as translating Yōkai as Demon. As well as outright censorship to allow importation to the US. I guess my complaint is centered around the fact that once you speak a language and do not need subtitles you are annoyed when the subtitles do not give the native language justice. And I never said "literal translation" in m original post. I said "more naturally" meaning it could have been localized better than it was at no point was the word literal used or implied.
I never said that you said the word literal, but your post did imply that. Your example of the word Yokai further implies that as well. My post was trying to explain that your criticism is misplaced, as Crunchyroll is not trying to write subtitles for people who speak Japanese, but for those who do not speak Japanese and know very little about Japanese culture or customs.
Demon is the most appropriate (not to be confused with saying it is the closest meaning) translation for most Yokai that show up in Japanese culture because in the English language, the only words that can adequately reflect the meaning of Yokai are not widely known or are only known for their other meaning, and thus would not make sense to most viewers.
I understand what you are saying though. I speak some Japanese as well, although probably not as much as you, and I often times can understand the spoken meaning, even when it is different than the localized subtitles. Because of this, I understand why subtitles have to be localized. There are several times where I get tongue tied trying to explain to someone a Japanese sentence or joke because I can't think of an equivalent English meaning, so I have to come up with an association.
I'm sorry my initial post was not clear on the matter. Also, I was not clear that Crunchyroll is not the sole target of my criticism but subtitles in general. Subbed is always superior to dubbed and raw is superior to both.
Spirit, ghost, monster, apparition, one these would be more appropriate than demon for most creatures that are in anime. In western culture "Demon" has ties to religion and more specifically hell or Jigoku. We in the west have specific ideas abut what makes a demon a demon. Akuma or perhaps Mara would be better translated as demon although Mara is a specific demon. There are many Youkai in anime that would not fit the bill. For most creatures seen in anime kappa, nekomata, nure onna, nopperabo to name a few seem to fit better with monster as a translation. The namahage and the oni I'd translate as ogre although the Namahage are harbingers of good fortune so ogre still does not fit well with them. Many of the Youkai are even farther from demons the zashiki warashi, and the tanuki, are as far from demons as you are likely to get. The ones I'd have no problem translating as demon would be Wanyudo, onibaba, maybe o-dokoro and the hashi hime come immediately to mind. One must take into account the nature of the creature when attempting a translation. One I would not mind meeting would be the Seto Taisho just for the entertainment value. I have the same issue as you though attempting to translate a joke for friends that are not speakers. It's true it is difficult to do localized translations well, and the ones on CR are better than most. But, I guess I'm a little OCD when it comes to language. I'll leave off for now with this. アルミ缶の上にあるミカン.
Oh Look, a Squirrel.