June 23rd, 2021

mondainai

A bad influence

I think the French dub of Seven Deadly Sins might be a bad influence on us. We keep noticing how the actors keep saying waaaaaay more words than the subtitles, and see, the thing is, Japanese is a language that talks very quickly, but often doesn't convey a lot of information in all the words. If you know how to deal with all the fiddly bits, that's great for getting all the nuance even in manga, where you don't have the benefit of tone of voice. But one thing we keep thinking about when it comes to dubbing things into English is that the Kingdom Hearts dub just sounded so tired when compared to the Japanese audio.

So now that we're hearing a French dub, and hearing all the extra words, we're like, "Oooh, maybe that's how the French dub doesn't sound tired! They add more words so the actors can talk at normal speeds!" And when you know the fiddly bits of the Japanese, it's pretty easy to figure out what words you can add to "get to time," as it were, without changing the meaning of the dialogue. In Japanese poetry, they're called pillow words--words that may or may not really mean anything, and are pretty much there to meet the syllable quota.

And all of that is to say that, when we were working on Fire Force today, I kept wanting to add more words to stuff. We actually have been doing that since before watching Seven Deadly Sins French Version, usually when there's a bubble where we see a lot of Japanese text but then there's only like three words in English. But I feel like it was happening even more frequently today, and I know there was at least one line where I was like, "I really want to add this nuance, which isn't necessarily in any of the written words in Japanese, but totally in the character's attitude, it would sound really cool, and I'm sure there's room in the bubble!"

So...I don't know if this strategy is completely wrong in the manga world, where we know for a fact some people make it their mission to make each line of dialogue as short as humanly possible. But there was one series where we discussed some terminology with an editor, and we were like, "Okay, yeah, that's technically correct, but it's not easy to say," and the editor was like, "Good thing there's not an anime, so nobody has to say it out loud," and we were like, "...Pretty sure there's gonna be an anime of this one," and sure enough, the anime started just recently! So we like to consider that the manga we translate might one day be animated, and we like to think maybe, just maybe, they could use our translations as-is for the English dub...except that we don't actually translate the anime versions of the manga we translate. Still, we can dream.

Today I'm thankful for having plenty of time to watch Seven Deadly Sins today, making good progress on Fire Force, getting to learn from other translators, getting to try some new Italian ice, and having a peppy girl on our Animal Crossing island again.