Or, I finally found a reason to learn Japanese.
One thing I’ve noticed as I study Japanese is that the translators often aren’t very good. They tend to make choices that seem designed to water down the message the mangaka is trying to send half the time.
For example, one of the first animes I watched was “Sound! Euphonium” which was a great anime, one of the best. At one point there was an interaction between Kumiko and Asuka. Kumiko says something translated correctly as “Welcome back” or some such. Asuka says “Tadaima”, which is translated as “Thanks”.
Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of Japanese knows this really isn’t a correct translation. “I’m back” or “I’m home” is the better translation, and saying “Thanks” just watered that whole thing down. In, I think, that same episode, Kumiko is in a train crying her little eyes out (aww) and she says “sabishii”. That kinda means “sad”, but it really means more “lonely”. I’m not sure it’s directly translatable, but I’m not sure “sad” was the best choice.
And this is just stuff that popped out at me while watching subtitles. That’s not really too bad, though. It’s annoying, but at least if you know even the least bit about Japanese, you can pick up on it.
The dubs are far worse.
Recently there’s been a lot of hubbub about localizers – and some of them are really bad. There’s a particularly egregious example in “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid”, where a bit of dialog is changed from advising a character with large breasts to choose a form with smaller breasts, to talking about the “expectations of the patriarchy” or some such. It’s flagrant, it’s intolerable, they’re unapologetic, and those who consume the dub won’t know any better because not only is the Japanese context completely unavailable without switching to the Japanese language, you don’t even know what you don’t know.
Pardon my French – these localizers are the scum of the earth.
So I have realized that when consuming Japanese media, you absolutely cannot trust the localizers, but you can’t really trust the translators, either. Truth is, even if the translators do their very best, they have a very difficult job that is almost impossible to do right.
For example, in “Kaguya-sama: Love is War”, there’s a scene where one of the girls is talking about her dog’s “chinchin”. “Chinchin” is a word that means both a dog’s begging and a childish name for a male part (think “peepee”). This isn’t translatable. I mean, it simply is not translatable. The way the translators chose to do it was having Chika talk about her dog’s weiner. Which made no sense. In this case, the only thing to do that would have kept the joke intact would be to post a short translator’s note saying “chinchin means these two things”, and then just using chinchin throughout the rest of the translation.
I can fault them for the choice they made, but in this case, they had a bunch of bad options and they just had to pick one.
So what do you do, if you can’t trust the translators, and you can’t trust the localizers?
Get rid of them both.
So I’m going to start studying Japanese seriously again.
I don’t want to ever rely on them again. The translators because they have a very difficult job I’d rather do myself, and the localizers because they’re scum and I want nothing to do with them.