Post Reply A Tanuki is not a Raccoon
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Posted 10/25/15
First of all, thanks for doing Folktales from Japan in the first place. I'm a big fan.

Now there's a tendency on Crunchyroll to overtranslate, and I'm okay with that. Crunchy has a broad audience who may be baffled by words like dango, onigiri, kimono, typhoon and sushi; and not everyone has the aptitude to use Google, so overtranslating is a necessary evil. That's not what I'm complaining about.

What I am complaining about is the taxonomically inaccurate translation of Tanuki as simply 'Raccoon' without appending dog to the end. It's wrong morphologically, linguistically and laographically. It should always be translated either as Raccoon-Dog or left as Tanuki.
Indeed Tanuki is actually the official English name of the Japanese subspecies, and is found in english dictionaries like Merriam Websters; http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tanuki

Furthermore Tanuki are canids, related to foxes, wolves and your poodle, which range from Germany to Japan. Raccoons on the other hand, are procyonids, related to coatis and kinkajous, and are only native to North America. Cladistically Tanuki are as closely related to Walrus as Raccoons.
Like it's fellow canids, the fox in Europe and the coyote in North America, the tanuki is portrayed laographically as a trickster, while the raccoon is not. The use of 'raccoon' then in Folktales from Japan translations is particularly egregious, as the raccoon never had the same folkloric connotations in English usage.

So who cares? Why is this important? Folktales from Japan isn't some futuristic mecha show, where accurately translating Japanese cultural minutiae has no real bearing on the story and plot. Folktales from Japan is Japanese cultural minutiae incarnate. Over-Americanizing and forcibly equivilating Japanese fauna and concepts here has a huge impact on the story and it's meaning, when Japanese culture and it's artifacts are the entire point.
By leaving it as simply Raccoon, important folkloric and cultural connotations are missed.



Sorry that this was so wordy, but I love Folktales from Japan and really wanted to get the point about cultural accuracy across.
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Posted 11/11/15
I hate the Americanized translations.
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Posted 11/11/15

jetah wrote:

I hate the Americanized translations.

My "favorite" mistrans ever was the title of Kimi ga Nozomu Eien ("The Eternity You Desire"), renamed "Rumbling Hearts". (O_o) I've read that it had its own fair share of "creative" dialogue translations as well, to dumb down the story for Americans.

My "favorite" here (I think; I can't swear that it was CR rather than some other site) was "Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!". Thankfully, it's now called "Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions". (It's probably best known as simply "Chuunibyou", or "Chūnibyō".)

The only one I'm actually fond of, because it was the first I was able to catch myself, was in Outlaw Star. A joke got dubtitled as a bounty hunter calling himself "Death Rob" and Gene mockingly asking "Deaf Rob?", but you could clearly hear the now commonly-known word "Shinigami Robbu" followed by "Hanagami* Robbu?".

It could be a lot worse, though. I'm glad my exposure was minimal to the "good old days" of Macek (and those he set the trend for) Americanizing the holy heck out of translations (especially dubs). This isn't a mistranslation, but it still might give you an indication of how bad it used to be: In a Ranma 1/2 dub, I once heard the now-familiar "Sasuke" (i.e. "Sah-s'-kay") pronounced "Suh-sue-key"). (>_<)

Anyone else have "favorite" stories?

* - "Flower god", or "tissue" (i.e. a Kleenex). Neither is especially complimentary. (^_~)
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Posted 11/12/15 , edited 11/12/15

arimareiji wrote:


jetah wrote:

I hate the Americanized translations.

My "favorite" mistrans ever was the title of 'Kimi ga Nozomu Eien' ("The Eternity You Desire"), renamed 'Rumbling Hearts'.


"Rumbling Hearts" first appeared as a subtitle to the PS2 port of the original visual novel http://www.oaks-soft.co.jp/princess-soft/rumbling/. The use of it as the English anime title was dictated to FUNimation by the licensor, as are a lot of titles. The goofy script and horribly over-acted dub are another story... Another example is "Mahō Shōjo Tai Arusu" (Magical Girl Squad Arusu), a personal favorite of mine. Unfortunately, Studio 4°C forced their English title of "Tweeny Witches" on it. You have to aware that often times the groups that hold the rights in Japan dictate certain translations or changes. Since these are often times put in as contractual obligations and subject to nondisclosure agreements, you'll never hear it mentioned.

Now back to tanuki. Translation is not transliteration and sometimes you need to balance out what is technically accurate to what the audience will easily understand. That said, I'm inclined to agree with the OP that in this case, tanuki or racoon-dog would be much more appropriate since the stories focus is on cultural and mythological themes. If the story hinged around critters getting into the trash, racoon would be an acceptable trade-off. "Folktales from Japan" seems like it's intended for a younger audience so I'd probably use racoon-dog myself. Also keep in mind translation services are expensive and time is money in this business. I'd be willing to bet that to keep within budget and on schedule, nitpicking and editing are kept pretty minimal.

Honestly, in most cases I'm more put off by not italicizing Japanese terms that are left untranslated. Unless a foreign word is a proper noun or a loanword it should be italicized. I don't think tanuki has passed the threshold to be considered a loanword. Failing to stick to one or another standard of romanization is another issue that bugs the crap out of me. And I won't even get into the handling of honorifics!
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Posted 11/12/15 , edited 11/12/15

DigitalDeviant wrote:"Rumbling Hearts" first appeared as a subtitle to the PS2 port of the original visual novel http://www.oaks-soft.co.jp/princess-soft/rumbling/. The use of it as the English anime title was dictated to FUNimation by the licensor, as are a lot of titles. The goofy script and horribly over-acted dub are another story... Another example is "Mahō Shōjo Tai Arusu" (Magical Girl Squad Arusu), a personal favorite of mine. Unfortunately, Studio 4°C forced their English title of "Tweeny Witches" on it. You have to aware that often times the groups that hold the rights in Japan dictate certain translations or changes. Since these are often times put in as contractual obligations and subject to nondisclosure agreements, you'll never hear it mentioned.

Thank you for the history, and I don't doubt it for a second. CR has taken on their fair share of counterproductive contractual obligations as well, like the Squeenix manga translations that are sometimes a bit odd and always well behind the Japanese releases. (One of the ones I follow is now a full year behind.) Or the second season of Chuunibyou, which finally got bad enough that I regretfully started watching the fansubs instead.

I find it really sad that when the US has for the most part finally gotten over itself and learned to accept Japanese culture without trying to turn it into "jelly donuts", it seems like some of the worst offenders for poor translation choices, attempts at localization, and "cool"-sounding English are... the Japanese producers.

Maybe it's their revenge for the "yowie" and "kawaii desu" fans... if so, I couldn't blame them. (^_~)
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Posted 11/12/15

arimareiji Thank you for the history, and I don't doubt it for a second. CR has taken on their fair share of counterproductive contractual obligations as well, like the Squeenix manga translations that are sometimes a bit odd and always well behind the Japanese releases. (One of the ones I follow is now a full year behind.) Or the second season of Chuunibyou, which finally got bad enough that I regretfully started watching the fansubs instead.

I find it really sad that when the US has for the most part finally gotten over itself and learned to accept Japanese culture without trying to turn it into "jelly donuts", it seems like some of the worst offenders for poor translation choices, attempts at localization, and "cool"-sounding English are... the Japanese producers.

Maybe it's their revenge for the "yowie" and "kawaii desu" fans... if so, I couldn't blame them. (^_~)


Again, it's a balancing act and more art than science. Anpan or Manjū might very easily be a jelly doughnut depending on the moment. I'll probably catch hell for saying this, but the majority of anime is not meant to convey major cultural nuances. If someone is coming back from a vacation and bringing back a specialized, local delicacy say oni manjū from Nagoya, you would want to leave it as such but if someone is just goes to Lawsons for some quick snacks, I don't see any issue with localizing it.

I can't comment much on Chūnibyō as a show, I only saw a few episodes of season 1 and the rest is pretty far down my list of things to catch up on. However, just the term chūnibyō is a translation nightmare. Most westerners aren't going to have any inkling as to what it means, there is no quick and dirty English equivalent, a literal translation would sound awkward and still be confusing, and an explanation would take a lot of room in a subtitle line. An onscreen note might be useful but can also be distracting from the dialog and animation.

And as anime and Japanese culture becomes more mainstream to the West, the more the Japanese creator, producers and rights holders want to shape the perception of their works. Again, often they're not even intending it as a cultural export as much as a consumer goods export. They will do what they think will make it accessible or acceptable. A lot of times they completely miss the mark but then again, so do domestic companies. Rarely is there a perfect solution.

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Posted 11/12/15

DigitalDeviant wrote:Again, it's a balancing act and more art than science. Anpan or Manjū might very easily be a jelly doughnut depending on the moment. I'll probably catch hell for saying this, but the majority of anime is not meant to convey major cultural nuances. If someone is coming back from a vacation and bringing back a specialized, local delicacy say oni manjū from Nagoya, you would want to leave it as such but if someone is just goes to Lawsons for some quick snacks, I don't see any issue with localizing it.

Sorry, I even thought about adding an explanatory link... but instead I incorrectly assumed that story was universally known. Mea culpa. Please set your drink down before watching this quick snippet, I don't want to be responsible for replacing your monitor and keyboard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXiHAqP5Ihk
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Posted 11/12/15

arimareiji wrote:
Sorry, I even thought about adding an explanatory link... but instead I incorrectly assumed that story was universally known. Mea culpa. Please set your drink down before watching this quick snippet, I don't want to be responsible for replacing your monitor and keyboard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXiHAqP5Ihk


But... those are... riceballs. Actually, in the grand scheme of things is that as bad as name changes? I missed the whole Pokemon phenomena but I do know that's no his Japanese name. Considering the franchise was packaged for an international audience by that time, I don't know how much of this I would really give a lot of thought to. As they say, don't sweat the small stuff.

And is this a 4Kids dub? I could start a whole book on things they did wrong outside of horrible localizations, though I'm sure that has been discussed ad nauseam.

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Posted 11/13/15

DigitalDeviant wrote:But... those are... riceballs.

That was pretty much my reaction as well, once I managed to close my mouth and blink.

Seriously, it took me a good few seconds to recover from that massive jaw-drop... and a few more to accept it as reality, followed by a facepalm while shaking my head.


Actually, in the grand scheme of things is that as bad as name changes? I missed the whole Pokemon phenomena but I do know that's no his Japanese name.

I guess it depends on your perspective. They are both pretty bad, but to me "jelly donuts" are a lot more sad than even "Ash Ketchum", horrible as that is when you think about it.


Considering the franchise was packaged for an international audience by that time, I don't know how much of this I would really give a lot of thought to. As they say, don't sweat the small stuff.

No worries, I'm not planning on starting any crusades... but I do think it merits a sad head-shake and a bit of laughter.


And is this a 4Kids dub? I could start a whole book on things they did wrong outside of horrible localizations, though I'm sure that has been discussed ad nauseam.

In Soviet 4Kids, shark jump you. (^_~)
Posted 11/25/15
Everyone: Is that a raccoon
Me: No.
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