Robotics; Notes 07 — Becoming a Man with the Right Stuff a.k.a. the Rocket, and Ranting about Translation

After reading Gravity’s Rainbow I will never be able to see rockets the same way again… then again, the comment following the rocket launch pretty much demands that I interpret it that way.

With age comes wisdom. Finally she sees the light of her folly, that giant humanoid “robots” are just pieces of junk. Should’ve used wheels and focused on a worthwhile endeavor like making it drive itself.

On Translation

This series is being translated by Funimation. I’m glad they’re translating it, but to be perfectly honest, I can’t stand their translation. Some things about it are just obnoxious. Fansub groups have been doing better for years, and these people are getting paid for it. Be warned that the rest of this post is a giant rant / picdump.

Why are you italicizing once? This is distracting and adds absolutely nothing. Plus, the font they’re using is crap. Why is there a huge    space    between “once” and the surrounding words?

Funimation-chan, what’s with the italics? Personally, I’d be perfectly happy if you left the honorifics off. But if you’re going to leave them on, why are you italicizing them? Is this some sort of insult? Why is the emphasis on the “chan”?

Is this English? What I assume they meant to say is “You’ve got a long way to go.” If they’re trying to make this slang-like, I could understand saying “You got a long way to go.” But where does the “s” on “ways” come from? It makes no sense as it is.

These translators like to add in slang a lot— it seems like every sentence the main boy says has a “gotta” in there somewhere. I think that’s fine— it is how people talk after all— but people also don’t use sentences which are nearly as verbose as this translation, which I think is more important.

Again with the italics! These people really    do    love italics!

Here’s an example of the awkward, verbose dialogue. “Any other similar stuff”? Why not say “anything similar”?

So does Funimation-chan    think anyone’s going to be able to read this? Use a different font for the signs! And while you’re at it, use a different font for the subtitles too, this font is hideous. Why aren’t the title and the footnote separated, like they are in the original sign? And why is the song center-justified as opposed to left-justified as it is in the original? The combination of all these factors makes this scene incomprehensible at first glance.

Use an em-dash. What the hell is this double dash supposed to be? Maybe this crappy font doesn’t have em-dashes.

The l33t speak is obnoxious. No one in English says “w00t”. You could say “Woot!”, however.

Again     with the italics and huge spacing!

This has got to be the most distracting thing I’ve mentioned so far. They’ve been doing it since episode one, too.

Did anyone proofread this?

It sounds kind of dirty when you say it with italics.

Hi Brother, I’m going to capitalize Brother because it’s a proper name now.

Let’s capitalized proper nouns like powered suit while we’re at it. And let’s abbreviate company as “Co.”, because that’s totally how people actually read it. And again, let’s use the same beautiful formatting for this sign.

This wonderful font we chose doesn’t have directional quotation marks. And the “ambiguous” quotation marks are clearly pointing as if they end a quote.

It was made by     you    ?!!! And do we really have to put everything in all capitals? It’s annoying when you’re reading, even if the series does officially spell things this way. Who cares what they think, Japanese people don’t know how to speak English anyway.

Oh, yeah, Slow-Motion is clearly a proper noun with a dash in between. Never heard of anything called “slow motion” before…

Not only will we use our poor-man’s attempt at an em-dash——we don’t need to put a space after it either. It’s more readable this way.

I was    wondering     when they would use their favorite formatting trick again.

Our quotes were so beautiful last time, let’s use them again! For something that doesn’t need quotation marks at all.

They’ve been trying hard to localize this. But what teenage girl in 2019 is going to know what a Don Juan is, much less mention it in casual conversation?

Games    are all he cares about.

——We didn’t have enough fake em-dashes, let’s put more of them at the beginning of sentences.

——And we definitely can’t put spaces after them. It’s a waste of screen space. We can’t fill more than a third of the bottom of the screen with subtitles after all. No one can read that much text!

But, I love italics! Let’s add them at the start of sentences too!

——Wha——?! Too many fake em-dashes without spacing?!! ——INCONCEIVABLE!!!

It’s an ugly-slash-fat guy-slash-parrot——wait, did we just write out the word “slash”?

——Now    that    formatting style will have impact!

16 thoughts on “Robotics; Notes 07 — Becoming a Man with the Right Stuff a.k.a. the Rocket, and Ranting about Translation

  1. Why is it that fansub groups can do better than “professional” groups with budgets? You’d think that Funimation would just hire a fansub group to do a better job for significantly cheaper. I’m sure they would jump at the chance to get paid for something that they do for free anyway.

  2. THIS. They throw in so much slang and don’t bother to proofread to see if it actually flows well. Try saying some of this stuff out loud, you’ll sound ridiculous. And like you mentioned with Aki’s “Don Juan” comment, they don’t seem to care if the statement fits the character (unless that is actually what she said, idk). I appreciate the subs, but I agree that paid pros should be able to match the fansubbing crowd.

    The font is new though, they’ve used a different subtitle font up until this point. I’m pretty sure they’ve always italicized honorifics though.

    1. Yeah, the slang would be a good thing if it actually sounded like people talking, but it doesn’t. The italicized honorifics I think is worse with their new font choice, which makes the italics very distinct and even changes the spacing for the surrounding words.

      1. The italics are definitely worse here, but they’ve always bugs me. I read italics with emphasis, so every time I watch a subtitled Funimation show, everyone sounds sarcastic in my head.

  3. Agree with most everything, but I’ll note a couple things:

    “What were you always looking at, Brother?”
    It is correct to capitalize brother in this case, assuming the character is addressing his brother.
    Random examples: “My sister likes pinball.” “Suzuki-san’s sister likes pinball.”
    “Do you like pinball, Sister?” (when talking to your sister)
    “I am not nearly as cool as my mom!” and “I am not nearly as cool as Mom!” are also both correct.

    Regarding em dashes, it perhaps should be noted that if you don’t actually have an em dash in your font (or you’re too lazy to insert each one manually), you would use two hyphens next to each other instead. Also, as far as I’ve been taught, em dashes don’t have a space before or after them.
    Most word processors and things seem to turn two hyphens automatically into an em dash–like this, I’m hoping. (Won’t know for certain until I post this comment.)
    That said, I would still expect Funimation to take the time to employ real em dashes in their official subs. =/

    I’m not sure how I’d go about the “karate girl-slash-island native” bit. If the character is actually saying “slash,” I would probably spell it out too. Having the subs say “karate girl/island native” seems more awkward to me, and would require an extra second or two for me to figure out what’s actually being said there. (I would probably wonder if there was some sort of glitch or mistake made.)

    One thing I really appreciate about many fansubs is their effort to include translations of signs and such, to the point where they actually make the text blend in with the actual sign on-screen (using a similar font to the on-screen Japanese, etc). It’s something I never see in official releases, but I suppose that would require much more effort and would perhaps cause problems.

    1. I see your point about capitalizing Brother, you’re right. But you’ve made me realize that the root problem is even bigger, it’s that in English, no one refers to their brother as “Brother” which is why I didn’t even realize the capitalization was correct. I have a brother and I don’t think I’ve ever called him “Brother” once, I always call him by his name. English speakers refer to people by their name, not by their title like in Japanese. So this line is very weird in English.

      They should seriously just get a font with an em-dash. What century are they living in? Personally I like some space after the em-dash, but I’m not an expert on style or anything. Whatever they’re doing, with their font choice it looks hideous.

      Can’t they just say “karate islander girl” or something like that? Regardless of what they’re saying, inserting a “slash” in spoken English is rather awkward.

      I don’t know what kind of problem putting some effort into the signs would have. Fansub groups seem to do it just fine.

      1. It’s true, English speakers (at least in America) are rarely formal at all with their siblings. I think you may get a “Bro” or “Big Sis” or the like from time to time, but otherwise names (or nicknames) are almost always used.
        It’s certainly a debate just how much translators should change things like this. Suzuki-chan or Suzuki? Little Brother or Ryuto? On one hand I see how people would like things to be true to the setting (which is typically Japan) and to maintain these cultural aspects in translation from one language to the next–but on the other hand, it might not sound very natural in the end. Translators have to make a ton of decisions when they do their work, which ultimately requires them to not only know the languages fluently, but to be decent creative writers as well.

        1. It’s definitely a difficult decision to make. I kind of lean on the side of either localizing it fully or localizing it minimally. If you want to be Japanese-y, you use kun, san, onii-chan, etc. just in Japanese. Most watchers know what these terms mean. If you want to translate it into English, don’t go halfway, calling people Brother which is a term no one uses.

  4. I certainly agree with you about the italicized honorifics (I’ve got a theory as to where that’s coming from, but it’s overridden for me by the fact that it’s ugly and awkward and what the hell were they thinking), but the italics for emphasis just don’t really bug me (I’m thinking mainly of the “you really do” example here; the “once” example I could go either way on). I figure somebody certainly would put a noticeable amount of stress on certain words in speech, and italics ought to reflect that so we can see it in text.

    As for the dashes, I’ve seen people in professionally edited works use unspaced em dashes—like this—or spaced em dashed — like this — or even spaced en dashes – like this – but I have never seen anybody try to use unspaced en dashes–or, for that matter, to try using those abominations they try to pass off as em dashes (except in typewritten rough draft). It looks unprofessional as hell and it makes my skin crawl.

    The really funny thing to me is their font. It might not look horrible normally, but it makes those questionable style decisions of theirs stick out even more than they would otherwise.

    1. Some of the italics do make sense, like the do example and possibly the once. Others, like italicizing wondering and But make no sense to me at all.

      The font does make these poor style decisions stick out even more than they would normally. Especially with the italicized honorifics. Yuck.

      1. Now that I think of it I suppose the font might also be partly responsible for the shitty spacing. Either you italicize a word and it tilts into the next word so there’s no space, or you put in an extra space and suddenly there’s a gap between your words. They need to get half-spaces or a font with better italics or something.

        Or maybe they actually think that italics are supposed to be separated from everything else by a space. Except, of course, when they’re basically part of a word and joined by a hyphen.

        1. Yeah, the font is likely partially responsible for the italicization problems as well. A terrible decision for a font. Looks like they took it from the 80s or something.

  5. What an effort you took to assemble all these translation errors! Is this really worth it? I’m happy to stick w/ fansubs and I must say that imo both speed and quality of fansubbing are often quite impressive. The established fansub groups would be a good case for some business writer on how to manage time critical projects over several time zones.

    1. It pissed me off, so I think it was worth it. Only took a half hour or so. I definitely won’t do this every week though.

      The fansub groups organizational skills are indeed impressive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *