September 9th, 2020


Noting the notes

Today we got into a discussion about translation notes. It was one of those moments where you realize that, oh yeah, people do have different opinions. In this case, the different opinion is that translation notes don't belong in manga. The person holding that opinion has their reasons, but it still just seems odd. Not to disparage their opinion, I will respectfully disagree and talk about it here because now it's on my mind.

I think that there's a lot of manga that doesn't really require that many translation notes. We've turned in more than a few volumes that didn't need any, or that only needed one or two. And sometimes we write translation notes more because we found some interesting factoid while doing our research and we wanted to share it even though it's not necessary to an understanding of the story. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with that, and thankfully, we've had more than a few people reach out to us to let us know they really appreciate the translation notes, so we don't have to question all our life's choices.

But anyway, there are also times where we feel like the translation note, while hopefully not necessary to avoid confusion, really does need to be there. Like when we localize a pun (or non-pun joke (see the five yen thing in Noragami 1)), we like to let readers know what the original joke was. Or sometimes there's a cultural thing that needs to be explained. As translators, it's our job to ideally make sure the average English-speaking reader has roughly the same amount of information as the Japanese-speaking reader, so they can enjoy a series in the same context.

Some might say that that kind of explanation belongs on a blog or somewhere outside of the book, but as a reader, I'd rather have the information right there so I don't have to go out of my way to access it. And that's my two cents.

Today I'm thankful for getting our simulpub finished, getting to celebrate Pinkie's birthday, friendly Facebook messages, getting to talk to Grawp on the phone today, and getting to watch Gamer 2.0.