Translation and localization missteps

By: Anime Feminist December 11, 20172 Comments
chest-up shot of a silver-haired man, looking conspiratorial. caption: do you have a girlfriend?

Anime translation and localization has had something of a learning curve over the years. Sometimes that meant changing character names in an attempt to appeal to a young English-speaking audience (see: Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh), and sometimes it meant more problematic translation choices that misconstrued meaning (see our recent Tokyo Godfathers podcast).

Translation is an art form in and of itself, and we certainly don’t mean to belittle the hard work translators put into a job that can oftentimes seem thankless; however, like all art forms, it’s also worth discussing with a critical eye. So this week, let’s talk about the pitfalls of translation and localization—and don’t worry, we’ll talk about positive examples next week.

  • What changes have you seen in localization choices over the years? Do you think there’s been improvement in feminist-relevant areas, such as handling gender ambiguity?
  • In dubs, do you prefer a looser translation with a more natural sound, or a more accurate but potentially stiffer script?
  • How do you learn about translation errors? Are you fluent, or do you discuss it with other fans?

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