Former Funimation Script Writer Jamie Marchi Doubles Down On Her Infamous Anti-Patriarchy Localization Of ‘Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid’: “This Is What Happens When A Script Is Dubbed Into A Different Language”
As the discourse against the Western localization industry’s absolute butchering of Japanese media rages on into 2024, former Funimation script writer Jamie Marchi has kicked off her New Year by doubling down on her intentional and now infamous botching of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid‘s English language dub.
This latest round of localizer discourse arose after Bushiroad Works’ announced that, in order to circumvent piracy, they would begin using a hybrid of AI technology and human editors to provide in-house, English simulpubs for their manga series The Ancient Magus‘ Bride.
Following this announcement, some fans admitted that while not ideal, the use of AI would potentially allow them to receive more accurate translations of their favorite works.
However, Western localizers took the news as an insult, many of them ironically upset that their work – which is often riddled with sociopolitical screeds and tired memes – was not being respected.
As with every such round of localization discourse, this battle over the West’s handling of Japanese works led to the aforementioned and controversial 2017 English dub of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid to once again be thrust back into the spotlight.
As per the course with every localization discourse, the controversial 2017 Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid English dub – otherwise known as the ‘defining moment’ of the entire botched Japanese-to-English localization phenomena – was put back into the spotlight.
The moment in question occurs in the 12th episode of the series’ first season, ‘Tohru and Kobayashi’s Impactful Meeting! (We’re Raising the Bar on Ourselves)’, and is based on the scene in the likewise numbered chapter of Coolkyousinnjya’s original manga wherein the good natured and well endowed former Aztec dragon goddess Quetzalcoatl – better known as Lucoa – makes a conscious decision to cover up her voluptuous body following a comment towards the fact made by the aforementioned Tohru.
Per a fan translation of the manga, after taking Tohru’s comment to heart, Lucoa attempts to cover herself up with a sweater, informing her friend during a later surprise visit, “Look at these clothes. I made sure to tone down the body exposure.”
Taking note of the Aztec Dragon God’s impossible-to-hide-bust, an unimpressed Tohru responds to the change by requesting, “It would be nice if you could change the body next time.”
Even the notorious Seven Seas, whose recent manga localizations have been among the most controversial across the entire medium, kept the playful spirit of the dragons’ interactions in their version of the story.
Therein, Lucoa declares, “Check it out! After that party, I got some less revealing clothes!”, to which Tohru comments, “I really don’t think the clothes are the main problem here.”
Likewise, despite not being 1:1 to the manga, this interaction was kept relatively similar in Kyoto Animation’s animated adaptation.
Per the studio’s official English subtitling of the relevant episode, upon arriving at Tohru’s front door, Lucoa explains of her new sweater-clad appearance, “Everyone was always saying something to me, so I tried toning down the exposure.”
Ending her reveal by asking “How is it?”, Lucoa is then met by her friend’s declaration that “You should change your body next.”
However, when it came to the series’ English dub, Marchi used her former role as a Funimation script writer – her filmography does not list any script credits past her work on Miss Koabayashi’s Dragon Maid – to replace the original story with her own flavor of feminist virtue signaling.
Here, when asked by Tohru why she changed her outfit, Lucoa asserts, “Oh those pesky patriarchal societal demands were getting on my nerves, so I changed clothes.”
In turn, Tohru’s similarly-altered dialogue sees her respond, “Give it a week, they’ll be begging you to change back.”
And to the surprise of no one, when later called out on her poor work during a 2018 appearance on the Summer SacAnime Convention’s ‘Women of My Hero Academia’ panel, rather than show even the slightest ounce of humility, Marchi responded by blaming the entire backlash on nothing more than fans’ own inherent misogyny.
Pressed by a panel attendee on what she would tell critics of her script work if given the chance, the Mount Lady voice actress declared, “I have a vagina. Deal with it.”
“Honestly, that’s the truth,” she added. “I am a woman. I am a funny woman. We are all talented, funny, powerful women. We are out here. It is going to happen. Deal with it. I’m sorry you’re not getting laid, it’s not about you, move on.”
With this infamous moment in anime history once again resurfacing, Marchi subsequently found her work facing a renewed wave of criticism.
Yet, rather than genuinely listen to their concerns, the voice actress responded to her critics by lashing out and doubling down on her injection of anti-patriarchial activism into Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
In service of documenting the larger ongoing debate surrounding Japanese-to-English localizations, Bounding Into Comics has documented four such interactions between Marchi and her critics below.
And while admittedly lengthy, each respective interaction was catalogued in order to paint a proper picture of the voice actress’ current approach to handling criticism.
One of the first such critics to draw her ire was @Coppelia_Vtuber, who tweeted, “I honestly do think you’re a good voice actor but rewriting someone else’s work to fit your agenda and the way you’re treating the people who ask why really makes you look bad as a person?”
“Why do you rewrite with an agenda? Why are you forcing politics into your writing? Why do you hate men? Why are you racist? Why do you hate the work you do?’,” the English language voice actress behind Panty in Panty & Stocky with Garterbelt mockingly retorted. “Bad faith questions don’t deserve my respect. If you think they do, then I don’t care if you think I’m a bad person.”
Refusing to let Marchi’s tantrum control the conversation, @Coppelia_Vtuber then countered, “I only asked the first one and I don’t think it’s a ‘bad faith question’ to ask why you think a busty dragon who spends all her time trying to seduce a shota would care about the patriarchy, especially when the author didn’t?” @Coppelia_Vtuber then countered.
“How do you know what the author intended?,” Marchi deflected, to which @Coppelia_Vtuber shared an image detailing the above changes between the anime’s English subtitles and dub script and asserted, “Because it’s in the original version.”
“You haven’t even watched the show, have you?,” the localizer deflected.
Still refusing to let Marchi dodge their questions, @Coppelia_Vtuber responded, “I have and none of this changes the fact that you changed the lines in someone else’s story”.
Finding herself at a loss for further disingenuous methods of shutting down the conversation, Marchi then claimed, “That is what happens when a script is dubbed into a different language. All the lines change.”
To this end, @Coppelia_Vtuber then reiterated the main questions fans have been asking since 2017, “So why doesn’t your dub follow the sub?”
“Well, subtitles are never going to be as close to the Japanese as the translation due to subtitle rules,” the Dangonronpa: The Animation voice actress replied in defense of her work. “My dub does follow the translation. It’s not a stilted word for word replica, but the essence of the story is the same.”
“Aside from the god wanting to stick it to the patriarchy,” @Coppelia_Vtuber countered.
“Why do you think she says stick it to the patriarchy,” Marchi pushed back. “I neither wrote nor said that line, so I’m not sure where you picked that up.”
“I summarized the line but you said ‘those patriarchal standards were getting on my nerves’,” @Coppelia_Vtuber acknowledged.
“She never says ‘stick it to the patriarchy,'” the former Funimation localizer noted. “If she had, it wouldn’t make sense since she she did, in fact, cover up. She is annoyed by it, though.”
“Again that only lasted for a minute before going back to how she was in season two, so the patriarchal standards must not have bothered her that much,” said @Coppelia_Vtuber.
“Correct,” Marchi stated. “She tried to play the game, but she decided to do what she wanted instead. I know a lot of women who have felt the exact same way.”
“Were any of them anime gods living in Japan?,” @Copellia_Vtuber pressed.
“Are any anime gods living in Japan?,” Marchi snarked back.
“In the world of Dragon Maid there are,” said @Coppelia_Vtuber. “You know the anime you were supposed to giving a direct translation of.”
“Dubs cannot be a direct translation ever, no matter the language,” Marchi argued. “I am also not a translator. I adapted the script. In the world of Dragon Maid, Lucoa is an Aztec god. You may not think a god would be aware of how societies work, but I think they would.”
The next fan that challenged Marchi was @Nothinburger12, who opened their interaction with the That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime voice actress by questioning, “So why did YOU put anything about patriarchy in the [Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid] lines? Stick to the source material and stay as close to it as possible. You’re not supposed to just insert some shit not even half the country believes. But you felt it was necessary why?”
“I did,” the localizer argued in turn. “She disapproves of people telling her to cover up in both the Japanese and the dub. It’s exactly the same as the source material. If you don’t like the word choice, that’s fine. But the context is the same.”
“Omg no it’s not,” protested the fan. “Yo you can’t be serious? This is truly astounding and bizarre seriously. I’m glad they’re getting rid of ppl like you. It’s sad ppl will lose work but I think it’s for the best. You’re so far left you can’t even see what your saying is ludicrous.”
“The context is the same,” Marchi once again doubled-down. “You’ve been so enraged by a video that you can’t comprehend what I’m saying. You’ll never get it, so let it go. I’m not going to change my stance. You can keep attacking me, but it’s just going to become clearer that your goal was only ever to attack.”
“Ok so why didn’t you say ‘I just wanted to wear something different’ but you went straight to patriarchy tho?” @Nothinburger12 asked. “Lol we’re not buying it. You’re trying to justify tampering with ppls work from a different culture and part of the world. You thought it was a joke but jokes on you.”
“I had a lot of [mouth animation] flaps to fill, and pesky patriarchal society filled up the flaps,” Marchi recalled. “I know you don’t like the word; you’ve made that abundantly clear. Your line would have changed the context. She disapproved of the people telling her to change. It’s indicated in the Japanese.”
Marchi’s next New Year dance partner was @LunarArchivist, who took direct aim with Marchi’s “flaps” argument.
Playing by the syllable restrictions present in the original animation – seven for Tohru’s first question, 24 for Lucoa’s response, and 13 for the former’s subsequent push back – and asserted, “Based on the subtitles, there’s no indication Lucoa ‘disapproves of those people. That’s just you filtering her words through your feminist lens. She took note of feedback and adapted her dress code accordingly.
In support of their argument, @LunarArchivst then provided their own take on a “more accurate translation,” which reads as follows:
Tohru: “What’s with the new outfit?”
Lucoa: “I kept getting comments for showing so much skin, so I tried dressing more modestly any thoughts?”
Tohru: “You might have better luck by changing your body shape”
“Stilted,” Marchi condescendingly dismissed of the attempt. “Try again.”
“If so – and that’s subjective on your part – only because I matched the exact amount of syllables in your original dub script,” @LunarArchivist countered. “Let me know how much wiggle room I have with the mouth flaps and I’ll gladly give it another shot.”
“Every syllable is not the same – take diphthongs [“a sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable”, as defined by the Oxford English dictionary], for example,” the localizer rebutted. “I also don’t know why she’d ask Tohru a question that would just be ignored. That doesn’t make sense.”.
Continuing to make their case against Marchi’s lip flaps, @LunarArchivist noted, “I think Tohru’s response makes perfect sense in this situation, but that can easily be tweaked since she’s facing away from the camera.”
Providing “three other alternatives for you off the top of my head,” they then opined, “They can’t all be more stilted than ‘pesky patriarchal norms’.”
In reply, Marchi rebuffed, “Disagree. The question isn’t being answered. There’s so much more nuance I could get into, but you don’t want to understand. I’m not sure what you want, tbh. You think Crunchy’s going to put your line in there instead? Send them your lines, then.”
“‘Any thoughts?’ being followed by ‘I think…’isn’t an answer?”, said @LunarArchivist. “Personally, I think that you’re so married to the patriarchy line because you believe it’s clever somehow. And the only thing I want is accurate translations. Don’t insert stuff that wasn’t in the original.”
“It is accurate,” Marchi argued. “The context is the same.”
“Where in the original text was “pesky patriarchal societal demands” mentioned?,” @LunarArchivist then demanded. “At best, Lucoa was guilty of violating public decency laws (like with the beach episode). Why not say “Oh, those outdated public decency laws were getting on my nerves” if you wanted to go that route?”
“Do you understand the difference between context and text?” questioned Marchi.
“Yes,” @LunarArchivist shot back. ” Do you? ‘Patriarchy’ wasn’t mentioned in the original. You’re extrapolating that based on your own ideological or personal biases and making a gender-based value judgement where none was originally. ‘Public decency laws’ would be ambiguous when assigning blame, at least.”
“Patriarchy is the text,” an adamant Marchi then affirmed. “That was different, as was most of the text. The context is the same.”
“‘Patriarchy’ isn’t a neutral term,” @LunarArchivist concluded. “Thanks to third wave and modern mainstream feminism, it’s acquired a distinctly negative connotation and the way it’s being used here drags all that ideological baggage in with it. ‘Public decency’ lacks any gendered value judgement.”
And finally, after taking specific note of Marchi’s above claim that “Patriarchy is the text”, @The_RunicKnight then joined the conversation to push back, “‘patriarchy’ was unrelated to the original text, you merely inserted it into there as a projection of your own bias. In doing so you changed the context as well, from it being an air-headed ‘It drew attention so I changed’ to ‘I hated how I dressed before to meet a demand'”.
“And you remain wrong for it,” they added. “You changed the context in order to insert your own political belief overtop someone else’s art. It is disrespectful to begin with, but you could at least have the decency to be honest about it when called out.”
“You’re making assumptions,” Marchi protested. “I told you I disagree with you, and yet you’re still fussing about what you think I did and why and how you’re calling me out. I don’t agree with you. I won’t agree with you. Move on.”
“Assumptions would be made about your motivations to make the change,”@The_RunicKnight refuted. “I’ve tried to avoid delving too deep into that so far. The fact you did make the change and it did change the context of the conversation there is simply undeniable fact. You keep trying to deny a fact.”
“I don’t think it changed the context,” the localizer contended.
“And someone can think the earth is not round, but that does not change reality,” @The_RunicKnight stated. “You changed the context of the conversation when you introduced the patriarchy line. No matter your denial of that fact, it remains the truth of the matter. I wish you would be more honest about it.”
“The earth being round and the context of a scene are not a fair comparison, and you know it,” said Marchi. “I could say the same to you. Instead, I said it was okay for you to have your opinion.”
“No, you said it was an opinion solely so you could pretend that your denial was just a difference of opinion, as opposed to a denial of the objective fact that your choice in making the change did in fact cause a change, in this case to the context of the conversation.”
“If you wanna play ‘accusations’: You don’t care about the translation,” the Dragon Ball Super voice actress then ultimately accused. “Some grifter told you to be mad because the word patriarchal was used, and you always do what Lord Grifter [a reference to YouTuber Asmongold, whose recent coverage of the Western localization industry’s failures has brought mainstream attention to the issue] says. You’re desperate for their approval, which is why you can’t think for yourself or let it go.”