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Alethea & Athena
17th-Oct-2015 10:52 pm
So we just finished watching some episodes of Noragami Aragoto, and we have so much to say! So much to say, in fact, that we decided not to wait until tomorrow to post about it, partially because Gaston and Alice will be coming so we're not sure if we'll have time, and partially because we're whiners and we're uppity, and we don't think whining or being uppity are appropriate Sabbath Day activities. They're probably not appropriate anytime activities, but what is the internet for if not drama? I'll try to keep it positive. We have good things to say, too! I think!

Anyway, after all our adventures of the previous week, it was finally time to watch the first episode of Noragami Aragoto, which should be available to non-FUNimation-subscribers after the two-week exclusive period. So we went to Hulu to watch the episode...and found three! Woohoo! We don't know what the deal is with that--whether they had a change of heart, or if maybe it was a glitch that means we'll have to wait extra time between episodes (which might be a very clever marketing ploy if they insert the wait time after just the right episode), or maybe everyone who was subscribing to FUNimation had read the manga already and they were like, "What the? Why isn't this as good?" But the point is, there were three episodes, and who are we to say no to extra episodes of Noragami when we don't have anything else to do anyway? Other than play one of the zillion video games we're in the middle or of read one of the zillion volumes of manga we have to read or do family history research or practice music...no, it was too late to practice music. Don't want to disturb the neighbors too much.

Let's just get to the review, shall we?

So what happened? Oh right, Yukine just reminded us (we're listening to his song), they're translating jaaji to tracksuit now. Athena remembers watching the first season and seeing that they translated it to jersey, and we were like, "Come on, guys! Jersey means sweats in Japanese!" So that was one of our first clues into the translator's personality, which of course is pure speculation on our part, but we suspect that the translator's attitude is a lot like ours! Uppity! Which of course is why we still like our translations better.

We came up with a scenario (remember: this is pure speculation). It went something like this:
Other translator: *reads manga* Oh. Sweatsuit, eh? Well technically, that's a tracksuit, okay?
Us: Whatevs, man. It's a regional variation. We looked up sweatsuits on Amazon and we found clothes that looked enough like Yato's that we're not wrong, so there.

Similar imaginary scenarios played out in our heads for pretty much the duration of the three episodes. There were a couple of translations that we thought might actually be better! So of course we wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Not really die. We have to read the rest of Noragami first. But anyway, they translate michishirube as "exemplar", which seems like a pretty good way to go, since the idea is that they set the standard for pretty much everything. I still don't think our translation (guide) is wrong, but that doesn't mean it's the best.

The other translation that had me unsure of myself was shin'i as holy garment (or it might have been divine, but I don't remember) instead of garb. I happen to know for a fact that there are religions that call sacred clothing "garments", and since we belong to one of those religions, it has me going, "Argh! I'm a failure as a Latter-Day Saint for not thinking of that!" On the other hand, the purposes of the sacred clothing are different, so maybe it's okay? I just don't know if there's some linguistic reason that garment would be holier than garb! And I'm too lazy to look it up right now.

They translated blessed vessel the same way we did, including without capital letters, which we thought was interesting because if Regalia is a proper noun... The other interesting translation that was different was that they translated the kokkogusa as just doodle-doo instead of doodle-doo flowers. That one really had me wondering if they were deliberately trying to be different. I can't blame them for that, though, because we always gave a grudging sigh when we decided to use the same translation as FUNimation (storm, blight, ablution). Not that we didn't look everything up first to make sure it was all good.

Another interesting translation similarity! Remember back when we were agonizing about whether or not it would be appropriate to have Bishamon say "for all I care"? Guess what they had her say for that very same line! We came up with that based on the flow of the dialogue and our perception of her attitude--there's only one word in that sentence that could by any stretch of the imagination be translated to "for all I care", and we're not sure what the odds are that another translator would come up with that all on their own. It's not impossible, but it seems unlikely.

It reminds us of a story we heard about Pat Carroll, the voice of Ursula in Disney's The Little Mermaid. She told once of how she recording "Poor Unfortunate Souls" and she stole some ad-libs from the demo that was recorded by lyricist Howard Ashman. She asked him if it was okay for her to steal those lines and he told her, "Darling, I was hoping you would." That's how we feel about the other translator using "for all I care" in that Bishamon line. On the other hand, if s/he came up with it without our help...I'm not sure how I would feel about that.

As for the translation overall, it was fine. On the better side, as far as subtitles go, I'd say, but our evaluation may be skewed because we were more focused on comparing it to our translation than looking at overall quality. (Of course, we didn't remember most of our translations, so we went back and checked them afterward. How vain can you be?) I know! You should go check it out and see! And then read our brilliant(?) translations of volumes four and five.

As for the anime...it's so rushed. So very rushed. It's like, they have all the scenes in the manga that lead up to the big stuff that's going to go down when things get real, but they shortened them and cut out the bits they felt weren't as important. And it's true that those parts aren't as important to understanding what is happening, but they're very good for understanding why it's happening, and more importantly, why we should care. So Kugaha just seems like some random badguy doing bad stuff because he's bad. ...Which he kind of is, but it seems less random in the manga. (Also, the subtitles misspell Kugaha as Kuguha for the first two episodes, causing us both to question our ability to read hiragana, but we were pretty darn sure we were right.)

And then there was the exile scene! Guys, they totally ruined it! ...Okay, maybe not totally, but here's the thing. In the manga, Bishamon is clearly about to shoot Yukine and Kazuma defends him. In the anime, Bishamon is questioning Kazuma (very severely) about his actions when she raises the gun and fires. It's not clear whether she's aiming at Kazuma or Yukine, because they show her pointing the gun, but they don't show them in the frame so you don't know who she's pointing it at. And then they have the look of shock on Kazuma's face, which was soooo great in the manga, because you can see his look of, "Oh my goodness, what did I just do?" But in the anime it could just as easily be, "Did Veena really just shoot at me?" It's muddling up all the emotions.

So when we went back to read our translations after watching the anime (so vain), there were so many more lines of dialogue that made everything make so much more sense. We're now restaging the entire scene where Hiyori finds Yato in the trash can: "It would be so much better if they did it like..." We take our comedy very seriously. Also, and maybe it was because I was too busy comparing translations to notice, since I had forgotten that Yato was simultaneously ignoring and stalking Hiyori, I was a little confused about what was going on between those two. A better script could have made that clearer.

And speaking of the word "clearer"! Curer? Really? You might as well leave it in Japanese--it would be just as easy to say. (We translated it to healer.) (<--Stop being a jerk.) All I'm saying is R is one of the hardest letters to pronounce in English, and when you put two in the same word without making them the same R sound (like in curry, for example), the word is really hard to say. Did you know "rural" is one of the most difficult English words to pronounce?

But anyway! The important thing is that Koto is in the opening sequence, which means someone will be voicing him! ...And if experience has taught us anything, it will be Hiro Shimono, because he seems to voice all the characters that we really want to hear voiced. We're still hoping for Miyu Irino or Koki Uchiyama, to keep up the Type-0 connection.

And the more important thing is that we really love to hear Yuuki Kaji saying all of Yukine's lines out loud. Unfortunately, the anime didn't have the line that we translated to, "Don't you have a girl to stalk?" Still, the Deliciastick scene was great.

And that concludes our review of Noragami Aragoto episodes 1-3.
21st-Oct-2015 11:30 pm (UTC)
Somehow I wasn't expecting this to be mostly about translation differences, but hey, that's interesting to me too! (and your note on the actual content of the episodes, that they condensed things and eliminated minor moments that were IMPORTANT!!!, isn't really surprising.)

I would probably say tracksuit over sweatsuit, but I'll accept it as a regional variation. Jersey seems like one of those English-words-that-mean-something-else-in-Japan (I know there's a word for that...).

I do for sure like guide better than exemplar because it sounds more active than passive, and I feel like that's how the role should be carried out. And like, a guide can still be lower in rank than the one it's guiding, while an exemplar sounds like it's already at the top.

I'm not sure you could make a strong case for the specifically uncapitalized "blessed vessel" being borrowed from your translation, since the manga has it all-caps because of the font (the translation notes are mixed case, but Blessed is at the beginning of the line in its v6 note so it's a capital there anyway). But "for all I care" does seem like a stronger connection. Hmmmmm. Well, if the existing translation is a good one (and we all know it is!!), it's not a bad thing to match terminology and make things consistent for viewers/readers. It doesn't have to be a competition :) (but I can relate, haha.) (this got me thinking, when you translate manga based on games or the like, you look for lines that match up so you can match the translation. but it seems like there's a different attitude for anime (not just you but in general with translations) and i wonder why... because anime translations aren't always as reliable? because there are so many different companies and house-styles? because a given anime series has a good chance of getting multiple translations from different licensing companies (or between the streaming and dvd release) as it is?)

Your paragraph on curer, hahahahah!! I agree, healer is much easier to say.
22nd-Oct-2015 02:32 am (UTC)
Haha, I'm not sure I expected it to be mostly about translation differences, either, when I first started writing about it. But, language geek that I am, I got carried away on that subject and the stuff about the actual content kind of got pushed aside. It was like, "What did I have to say about that again? Oh yeah." Also, agreed--not surprised that they're taking out important information, but still annoyed. Come on; isn't this series popular enough that you can just have more episodes? And then! they go and make a reference to Yukine's as-yet (as far as we've translated) unrevealed past, and I was like, "RAR!!!"

We're sticking with sweatsuit, because tracksuit has a modicum of respectability. (And to be consistent, I guess.)

You make an excellent point about guide versus exemplar. It does sound like an exemplar would be setting the example for the god as well. He's supposed to guide her, not be a role model. And when you consider Yukine and Daikoku, who are "exemplars" by default...it seems to fit less.

It's true; the capital letters or lack thereof are not a good case for blessed vessel. Our self-importance does, though! ...I mean...actually, when you Kazuma wrote the kanji for "blessed" on Yukine's face, we looked into it in a little more detail so we could write that note, and we thought, "Hm. Maybe it doesn't really mean 'blessed', per se," so that might be stronger evidence, but if we came up with blessed anyway (and we can justify it! (or we could as of when we wrote that note; not really in a good state of mind to remember our reasoning just now)), it stands to reason that another translator could come up with it independently as well. Same with "for all I care", but it does seem like an unlikely coincidence.

That is a fascinating question about matching video game translations versus anime translations. I think the simple answer is sadly a pretty superficial one, but I think it's the real reason as far as we're concerned. First, there was a time when we assumed video game translators had a better idea of what they were doing (or at least of writing natural sounding English). They were kind of in a different league, while anime translators...we never really trusted them that much, possibly because of Sailor Moon fansubs. We watched a lot of other fansubs, too, and then when we got really serious about supporting the anime companies, we were watching Saiyuki. We kind of got the impression that anyone translating anime professionally back then did know what they were doing, because we assumed they had a better screening process than fansub groups, but after what ADV did with the Saiyuki dub (probably not fair, but there it is), we were like, "Whatever, who cares what anybody else has to say?"

On the other hand, we played Kingdom Hearts at least three times in English before we had access to the Japanese version, so there were certain lines that we knew and quoted, and we didn't want those to get left out (at least one of them did get left out of the Yen Press version, though, through no fault of our own). So I think another part of it is that we assume people who play video games are going to know the English version better, whereas with anime, we think anyone whose opinion matters is watching the Japanese version and not really remembering the subtitle translations. We're snobs like that.

And of course, there's always the fact that when we play a video game in English, we don't have anything to compare it to, but when we watch a subtitled anime, we're always sitting there thinking about how we would have translated it better. (Not that we don't also rewrite video game translations in our heads. There are also some video games that we played and disliked the translation enough that we mostly only worry about matching key terms.)

And we can easily justify it by saying if it's based on a video game, the video game came first so it's the authority. If there's an anime, odds are the manga came first anyway, so the manga wins. Then there are cases like Chaika, where there's an anime and a manga that are both based on a novel, and the adaptations are different enough from each other that there's not much point in trying to make them match.
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