By: Vrai Kaiser December 12, 20170 Comments

My experience with localization is that it hasn't always been restricted to a few kids' franchises, but the arrival of legal simulcasting largely put an end to that. Good riddance. I understand the marketing reasons, but I can't bring myself to approve of it. I feel that "accurate" vs. "natural" is a false dichotomy. The majority of English-speaking anime fandom seems to think that a literal word-for-word dictionary translation is the ideal, but a mechanical translation which loses the overall sense of what a character is trying to communicate is not accurate. I've fallen out of practice speaking Japanese, but still understand enough to have opinions about the translation of subtitled shows. I disagree with translations from time to time, but usually it's a matter of personal preference rather than something outright incorrect. In translation, there are often multiple right answers. Since you're saving positive examples for next week, here is the oddest localization decision I've ever encountered: Once in a college class, our reading assignment was a translation of Night on the Galactic Railroad. Now, if you've seen the anime, you've seen that the main characters all have European names (though you also think they are anthropomorphic cats, which is not true in the book). In this translation, they were all replaced by common Japanese names. The translator's note explained that he thought it would be too weird for people to pick up a book from a Japanese author and encounter non-Japanese names!

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