2023 has been off to a stormy start for the Western anime industry, as not only are cases of botched localizations continuing to rise, but now the localizers responsible for these messes are becoming so emboldened as to brag about their intentional mistranslations on social media.
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One recent victim of these self-important localizers is the anime adaptation of My Life as Inukai-san’s Dog.
Based on the ecchi-rom-com manga by Itsutsuse, the series follows the hijinks of an unnamed protagonist, a high school boy, who one day finds himself waking up as Pochita, the pet Aikta Inu dog of his crush, the titular Karen Inukai.
On January 13th, Twitter user @BadAnimeTLs took notice of some very questionable translations present in Sentai Filmworks’ English-language subtitles to the series’ second episode, ‘Walkies.’
In a scene wherein the protagonist is thwarted in his attempts to return to his actual home due to being leashed up by Karen, @BadAnimeTLs observed that the English subtitles read, “Sure I had to pee outside…but what was I gonna do she had me on a leash?”.
However, according to them, a more accurate translation of the original Japanese – 「外には出られたけど、首輪につながれて何もできなかった」- would have been more akin to, “I managed to get outside, but she had me on a leash so I couldn’t do anything.”
As noted by @BadAnimeTLs, Sentai Filmworks’ subtitles incorrect translation make it seem that Pochita is complaining over being forced to go pee outside, rather than expressing dismay at having his escape attempt stopped by Karen’s responsible dog ownership.
In another scene wherein Pochita is introduced to Karen’s friend Mike Nekotani, @BadAnimeTLs noted that the English subs had the protagonist appraising, “How is Inukai-san friends with that gyaru bimbo?”, whereas in Japanese he less judgementally asserts, “I never expected Inukai-san to be friends with a gyaru.”
Its name derived from the transliteration of the English term ‘gal’, gyaru refers to a Japanese subculture whose adherents, typically young women, reject the typical Japanese beauty standards – timid, pale-skinned, and dark-haired – by dressing in loud, often American-influenced attire.
As explained by @BadAnimeTLs, since the original Japanese script had Pochita commenting on Mike’s appearance – and partially on her irrational fear of dogs – rather than making any statement about her personality, “[Karen] calling [Mike] a bimbo is completely uncalled for.
While the identity of the culprit behind these mistranslations was initially unknown, on January 16th, notorious ‘professional’ anime, manga, and video game localizer Katrina Leonoudakis – who many may remember as having made herself the central defender of Seven Seas Entertainment’s changing the feminine male Hiura Mihate to a transgender female in their English localization of I Think I Turned My Childhood Friend Into a Girl – confessed to the botched subtitles.
“I’m not sorry for what i did to inukai 3,” she tweeted.
On January 20th, the infamous “professional” localizer QRT the aforementioned tweet not only bragging about deliberately butchering the localization of My Life as Inukai-san’s Dog but also insulted the anime while describing her localization as her “finest work yet.”
Following up on her brief statement a few days later, Leonoudakis bragged, “I am (unfortunately) doing some of my finest localization work on the anime about the high school girl who is legitimately sexually attracted to a corgi”.
As an example of her ‘finest work’, the localizer shared four instances of English-slang-ridden dialogue she inserted into a discussion between Karen and Mike featured in episode three, “Scaredy-Cat.”
These include Mike apologizing “I-I’m sorry I yeeted you okay?” to Pochita, Pochita opining that “[Mike] Nekotani looks like she needs eye bleach” and that “any other time, I’d love to be all up in [Karen’s] dress!”, and Mike jabbing Karen, “And here I thought you’d have resting b—-h face for the rest of your life.”
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In light of Leonoudakis’ boasting of her questionable localization practices, fellow translator @Ainiwaffles responded by inquiring, “I’m honestly curious, so you are transforming the translation because you don’t like the material given to you? On an officially published project? Why not take on another project instead?”
In response, Leonoudakis confirmed that her work – and thus presumably all of her work – was explicitly not for fans who wanted accurate translations.
“This may surprise you, but I love the material,” said the localizer. “The translation is not for you. (Translation: You are not the intended audience).”
Proceeding to condescendingly lecture her critics on “a core tenet of translation theory”, Leonoudakios explained that her goal in localizing was to “identify the target audience and translate with them in mind,” – in this case, according to her, “‘people who will be watching this short about a high school girl sexually attracted to her dog, who is weirded out by it, uncensored on HIDIVE.'”
“If you’re not part of that audience, then this translation isn’t for you!” she then exclaimed, before justifying her mistranslations by arguing that “there’s another audience that’s unironically enjoying the idea of a high school girl being sexually attracted to her dog, and they’re watching the illegal uncensored rip with MTL subs”
“All translation — whether it’s a TV show, medical text, patent, or court document — is ‘bent’ to its target audience,” she further justified of her work. “To properly ‘convey the original’ (in translation theory, we call this ‘equivalent experience’!), we need to keep in mind both the source and target audience!”
New episodes of My Life as Inukai-san’s Dog can be caught via simulcast every Thursday afternoon on HIDIVE.
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