Baccano! 1934 Alice in Jails - Streets Episode - Chapter 1, Part 2 of 3 (10/29)
Gonensei Chapter 1 (10/37)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mistranslation: It Could Happen to You!

Mangastream's recent translations of Genshiken have been bugging me and though I'll refrain from bitching about their version (I could go on and on--honestly, "the guy with the chonmage"? Seriously?), I thought I'd take a moment to show how a few mistranslated lines can completely change the atmosphere of an entire work.

Slight spoilers for the latest chapter along with the rambling.

For the example I'm using the Del Rey translation of Genshiken, specifically the last page. I've seen a lot of English speaking fans complaining that Genshiken's original ending was very, well, flat, and that it seemed to end on an off note. I had no idea what they were talking about, until I saw the page in question...

Yeah, that does look really weird. What the hell are they talking about? Hell if I know. I couldn't tell you.

Anyway, take a look at the raw...

Saki: くぅ~
Keiko: 超~地雷 踏みてェ~
Ohno: ダメですよ|爆発するのはアナタじゃないんですから
Keiko: わかってっけどさァ・・・
Ogiue: あの・・・前から思ってたんですけど・・・
Ogiue: 春日部先輩 本当に気付いてないと思います?この手の話 敏感ですよね
Saki: ん?


Saki: Grr...
Keiko: Man, I really wanna watch this all blow up.
Ohno: You mustn't. You wouldn't be the one taking the fall here.
Keiko: I know, but...
Ogiue: Umm... I've been thinking this for a while, but...
Ogiue: Do you really believe that Kasukabe-senpai doesn't know? She's sensitive to things like this.
Saki: Hmm?

Oh man, what a difference, right? The ending is still ambiguous, but it's a "Does she?! Does she not?!" sort instead of a "Wait, what?" sort. In other words, right in line with the observations that Keiko made in chapter 59, with Madarame's crush on Saki being an open secret, perhaps even to Saki herself. In fact, Keiko actually went through with wanting to "watch this all blow up" in the latest chapter, directly confronting Madarame on his unrequited crush, so you can see why she was so pissed when he continued to deny something that had been obvious to everyone for a very, very long time.

So, uh, yeah. I've just seen a lot of people saying that they don't really care about the quality of the translations as long as they're in English and more or less readable (granted, there are just as many people who say they don't care about the editing in scanlations and official translations either, which--having edited before--I find equally miffing) and I thought I'd show an example where just a few lines done wrong had a hell of a lot of impact. Actually, just Ogiue's line fixed would have been enough to change the entire mood of the chapter.

Food for thought, huh?


  1. I agree with you. I also find excessive localization off-putting, especially in anime. You're watching a foreign show, why not try and understand what they're literally saying? You can hear it all anyway and when I hear one thing and read something substantially different in the subs it breaks the flow. I suppose I should just go ahead and learn japanese at this point, but I'm lazy.

  2. I don't think these translations' issues are "excessive localization," particularly with Mangastream's usage of terms like "Cabaret Girl."

    Like Spore, I've found myself never quite satisfied with any Genshiken translation, and I'm beginning to wonder if it's kind of a difficult series to translate and to still keep the same feel.

    That said, I made mistakes on my own Genshiken translation, so perhaps I'm no better.

  3. Yup!
    It's really interesting.
    This is the same page of the italian version of Genshiken:

    Your translation fits perfectly like the Jap-Italian one that i read few years ago.

    I don't know anything about Del Rey's way of translating (I'm italian, I don't care about american publishers), but that page seems to be (is) an epic fail, really.

  4. It would be interesting to retranslate some of those, or release scripts for them. I felt a lot missing within delray's translations and it'd be interesting to get another translation as a second opinion on them.

    1. In a perfect world, I would. But it's a lot of time and effort and I've got a lot of other things I want to do. Sorry.

  5. This is my favorite post on your blog. I first read it some time last year, but I keep coming back to this post every time I go on one of my Genshiken binges because it completely clears up the "what hell are they talking about?" confusion I had after Genshiken ended. I adore this post. Many thanks for clearing that up. I wonder if Del Rey ever released a revised version of volume 9... If not, it's sad to think that there are probably thousands (hundreds? >_>) of Genshiken fans who are still confused to this day about the way the first part ended.

  6. such a great post to come back to after chapter 79. thanks again for clearing this mistranslation up.