Outside of the terminally online, most anime fans who choose to watch a given series with subtitles simply desire to watch the show with a translation accurate to the creator’s original intentions – however, more and more ‘professional’ translators are feeling the need to put their own spins on a given script rather than providing fans with a proper localization.
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And as of late, such translators have felt emboldened enough to not only brag about their botched localizations, but also attack any fan who dares to criticize their work.
In the New Year alone, Bounding Into Comics has already covered two such cases, one concerning Crunchyroll’s translation of ONIMAI: I’m Now Your Sister! and the other HIDIVE’s take on My Life as Inukai-San’s Dog.
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Now, in the latest instance of an intentionally botched anime localization, fans are up in arms over Crunchyroll’s insertion of English memes into the translated subtitles for the second season of Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro.
The suspicious translation in question appears in the second season’s seventh episode, ‘I Figured That’s How You’d Ski Senpai?’, during the scene where Nagatoro is teasing her ‘senpai’ Naoto Hachiouji’s decision to switch from wearing glasses to contacts.
An adaptation of the same scene from Chapter 73 of the manga, in Nanashi’s original work, Nagatoro taunts her Senpai by asking, “Are you tryin’ to change your image? Gonna give up the four-eyes look and try goin’ for a hot guy vibe?”
Likewise, in English fan translations of the scene in the anime, Nagatoro asks, “Are you trying to stop being a four eyed kid and become a hot guy?”
However, in the Crunchyroll’s localization, the iconic brown tsundere embarassingly questions, “Are you trying to stop being a four-eyed dork and become a gigachad?”
It appears that this botch job was provided by returning first season ADR scriptwriter Meli Grant, who directly ahead of the series’ second season premiere bragged via their personal Twitter account to offer “much love” to both Crunchyroll and voice-over production studio Bang Zoom “for letting me run wild with this show.”
Of course, fans were far from happy about finding that yet another series had been butchered by Western memespeak, with many taking to social media to express their frustrations.
On February 12th, Twitter user @politicalawake decried, “The problem when Localizers insert meme culture into their translations is that they end up making the work dated which is egregious when it wasn’t in the Japanese script.”
“Can you imagine watching Death Note & Miss Aname mentioned Rickrolling because it was hot new meme of 2006,” he hypothetically added.
This tweet would soon be found by Grant, who responded to @politicalawake by claiming, “It used to be ‘these English writers are taking too many liberties, just stick to the translation!’ And now it’s ‘oh no, the translators have betrayed us too!'”
Completely exposing the self-aggrandizing and condescending mindsets held by many modern translators, Grant would then assert, “When I write my goal is to honor the spirit of the scene, and make the dialogue pop. I am a storyteller, not a robot.”
“However, I will concede that I think about this too,” she continued. “When I write, I want to make sure it’s timeless and that a bit makes sense even if a topical joke loses relevance.”
“The acknowledged If in 5 years the premise still makes sense, I’ve succeeded,” Grant elaborated. “If people have to stop to Google it, I’ve failed.”
Continuing, the scriptwriter explained, “So for example, in this scene, you may not immediately understand their use of the term ‘chad’ in 2028, but because I’ve adjusted Sakura’s setup to refer to him as ‘that musclehead from the other day’, you should have no problem following the rest.”
“Thanks for attending my talk,” she concluded.
Unsurprisingly, Grant’s staunch defense of her work would only draw further criticism from fans.
Among this sea of subsequent backlash was Japanese Twitter user @KnightX30, who retweeted Grant’s initial response tweet and criticized, “What do you think of scriptwriter Taku Kishimoto’s story? Westerners love to steal from us.”
“I LOVE the source material!!” Grant then claimed in return. “When I write, I rely on two things, the translation provided to me of the show, and any translations of the manga I can find. I do my best to honor the story and make sure the dialogue is organic and feels human. I want our actors to succeed!”
“I think if you take a direct translation and read it in English, the grammar and syntax alone cause issues that need solving,” she continued. “Additionally, we say different things in different numbers of words, so cues are often over or underwritten and need to be filled out or trimmed.”
“Probably the most contentious thing we do, and this comes in frequently with comedy, is in order for a joke to land, or a moment to have the same effect/impact that was probably present in the Japanese script,” she would conclude her response, ultimately admitting that “we do sometimes need to re-work the dialogue from the ground up.”
But once again, rather than quelling the outrage, Grant’s continued explanations only served to fan its flame.
Following three more days of criticism, a frustrated Grant would level one final defense by clarifying, “For whomsoever needs to hear it: I am not a translator. I’m an ADR Scriptwriter.”
“It is my actual job to finesse dialogue so that it sounds great using translations provided to me by my clients as a foundation,” she stated. “If you don’t understand the work I do, maybe don’t come at me over it.”
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