Anyway, I was going to talk more about the whole TokyoPop thing. We're still trying to get our thoughts together on this one, and it really doesn't help that we just watched a tiny marathon of Shugo Chara, after spending two hours indexing names (when we were only planning on one hour).
Let's see... First there's the question of quality. I think everyone who regularly reads our LJ has probably seen us complain about subtitles enough times that it won't come as a surprise that we don't think there's very much quality out there. To be fair, our experience with translated manga is very very limited--just a couple of volumes of Me & My Brothers and all of Negima! (already known for its not-so-great translations), and a few excerpts of whatever manga samplers we've gotten when we're bored at a convention. And Fruits Basket, since we did the fanbook.
Now as for subtitles, we've seen good ones and we've seen bad ones, and we've seen okay ones. This goes for all the anime we've watched subtitled in the last year or so, so actually fansubs aren't really included, because we didn't know enough Japanese to judge before we started watching them raw.
Based on the limited discussion we've seen on the topic, it seems like the fan opinions are varied on quality. When we first got into anime, we always assumed the fan translations were amateur at best (our friend had a fansub of the SailorMoon R movie that translated Jupiter's attack as "Sparkling Vital Pressure," and that's how we knew never to trust fansubs completely), and that the legitimate translations were best because they would make sure to hire people that are good at what they do. I think this is the ideal, and the way the world should be.
On the Honyaku Mailing List, a member actually said that the professional translators produce better quality, but the fan translators care more about the work and are more likely to do the research for obscure facts and things. That had us pretty appalled, after all the research we've been putting in to things like Hockey Club and Negima!. Some professionals care too, you know!!
Lately we've learned that some fans have a fear that the professionals will take liberties with the text, and they trust fans more because they're more likely to stay true to the original. After reading DN Angel volume one (oh yeah, we have that on our list of English manga we've read, too), we can't really blame them for that one, either. Of course, fans aren't exempt from this either. Some Flame of Recca fans may remember Recca calling one guy a Shishio wannabe? Yeah, that wasn't in the original.
The fact of the matter is, quality and liberties taken vary enough from professional to professional and from fan to fan that the variation from fan to professional thing isn't even really a factor. And the problem is, as far as we know, there's no way for fans, who know no Japanese, to tell if a translation is good or not. Okay, they can tell if it's legible or not, which is a start. But as far as accuracy and changing things, there's no way to know unless everyone learns Japanese. And then they might as well all buy their manga straight from Japan (even with shipping costs, it can be much cheaper), and then we'd have to find another job.
Speaking of finding another job, if manga companies start using fans and not paying them, and it actually works and the fans go for it, then those of us who make our living and pay our bills with translation work will be out of a job. Why pay someone for a service you can get free somewhere else? That's the biggest danger of this idea, and why we need to somehow prove that good translators should be rewarded.
So we've been thinking that we need to create a way to let fans know if a translation is accurate. It would be kind of like a review site or something, I think. We sometimes hesitate to call companies out on their translations, because for all we know, their translator worked really hard and did the best they could. Then I thought maybe we could make the review--or grading, I guess--on like a forum or something so the translators (or their supporters) could come on and defend themselves. Still... we're slow enough readers as it is, and having to read a manga twice (once for each language) would be enormously time consuming, so when I think of that, I'm like, "Ugh, never mind!"
But more and more we're thinking it's important to get people more aware of translation quality. The free market is supposed to work by rewarding those who work hard and do well, but since fans don't know who to trust and, let's face it, there are a lot of cheapskates (or poor college students) out there who mostly are just trying to get the most for their money (or no money, in some cases).
On the other hand, it's not like there will be a bunch of different translations of the same series for a fan to choose from. But if they demand quality, then the translators who do their job well will be rewarded with more work, while the ones who aren't so good will have incentive to get better. That's where our other idea comes in, the one and only way to make TokyoPop's use of fan translators not purely evil to those of us translating for a living. If the fan translators are only given really obscure titles, so as to increase interest in things that aren't already super popular like Naruto or Fruits Basket, they can use that opportunity to gain the experience needed to become really awesome translators. (We know from experience that you need experience!) Then when they get to be really good, they can be promoted to official translators and get higher profile work, that they get paid a decent amount for working on.
And that turned out to be kind of long. Hopefully it was at least coherent.
Oh right! One more thing. So we could get our opinions more in the faces of the people to whom it matters, we started a Twitter account. I can't remember why it was important to say that on LJ now, but now it's been said.
Today I'm thankful for Oreo using my wrist as a pillow (even though it does make it harder to type), being all caught up on Shugo Chara! (for about an hour and a half), finding that list of cities in Jalisco, finally finishing that batch of names (without marking all the birthplaces "Unreadable"), and that really funny Shugo Chara! Pucchi Puchi with Temari and Rhythm.