Just ask any fans whether they prefer the official translation or the fan translation. The answer that you’ll get is pretty divided.
Sure, there are many who prefer the fan translation. But there are many who prefer the official translation as well.
And that includes me.
Just to let you know that I used to prefer the fan translation simply because I find the official one feels stiff.
It feels like the cultural aspect and the beauty of the Japanese language are lost as it goes through the translation grinder.
In fact, the translation feels as if the manga is originally in Malay.
Of course, that also applies to the English manga, not just the Malay version of the manga.
Even Justin shares the same sentiment as I am when it comes to official translation in one of the Answerman columns on Anime News Network.
He’ll opt for the official translation if it’s available, he says.
What makes the official translation a winner, hands down
It doesn’t matter whether you prefer the fan translation or the official one. You care about the accuracy of the translation just as much as everyone else.
You want the translation to be as close to the original meaning without losing the original context.
But here’s the thing about the Japanese language. It’s not an easy language to translate into.
What you can sum up in a few words in Japanese may take a large chunk of explanation in English.
You can say the same for other languages as well.
Forget about the play words and idioms that only make sense in Japanese. Even a simple sentence can sound odd if you attempt to do a direct translation.
It’s because of this reason that professional translators excel in this department.
Sure, there’s no doubt that you need to be fluent in both languages.
But you also need to be sure that the cultural references, jargons, and slangs remain intact in the translated version.
And it needs to sound natural in the translated version too. The last thing you want is the translation sounds like it’s coming out of Google Translate back in the early days.
That’s what makes a good translation. Not only that the translation is accurate. But it also needs to be easy to understand and entertaining too, all without losing any original meaning and context in the process.
Sad to say, it’s not an easy thing to achieve unless you have a professional background in linguistics and translation.
This is what most people get wrong when it comes to translation. Just because you’re fluent in both languages, it doesn’t mean that you have a full grasp of the language itself.
It’s pointless to be fluent in both languages when you can’t even convey the original meaning in a proper sentence.
It takes skills and experience to be able to put a proper translation, sentence-wise.
But that’s not what I experience with the official translation
If you’re referring to anime with English subtitles, manga, and light novels that are licensed in English, then yes, the official translation is top-notch.
But the video games that come with a Japanese voice and English subtitles?
Sad to say, they’re au contraire.
Rather than seeing the subtitles reflecting the translation of the original Japanese voice, what you’re seeing is a mismatch instead.
It looks like the subtitle has a mind of its own.
Well, here’s the thing when it comes to the English subtitle that you see in video games.
The subtitle that you see in the game is based on the subtitle for the English dub, not the Japanese voice.
It’s because of this reason that you’re seeing a mismatch between the Japanese voice and the English subtitle.
Does it mean that the translation that you see is never based on the original context?
Of course, the answer is no. The subtitle that you see isn’t that far off from the original context in Japanese.
It’s just that they’re putting localization into consideration.
Rather than seeing a direct translation as a subtitle, what you’re seeing is a translation mixed with the cultural aspect.
So, don’t be surprised to see the same context in the Japanese version ended up becoming vulgar in the English version.
That seems to be the case with one of the scenes in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.
The epic moment in Stranger of Paradise
If you’ve already played the game or at least the demo, I’m sure that you’re already familiar with the scene where Neon told Jack and the others the reason why she decided to become Chaos.
And guess what Jack says after the conversation?
He utters the word bullshit and leaves as he turns on his MP3 player, listening to a song that resembles Limp Bizkit.
Or I should say the song that resembles the visual-kei band, Gazette if you’re looking for the Japanese equivalent.
Well, here’s the kicker. What Jack said during the scene in the Japanese version is kudaran, which means stupid or ridiculous.
Sure, they can go with the original meaning for accuracy’s sake.
But when you put Jack’s personality and image into consideration, it doesn’t seem fitting for someone like him to utter ridiculous or stupid when he’s responding to that kind of situation.
Thus, he utters bullshit instead. That sounds hardcore and befitting for him.
Sure, it’s certainly far-off from the original context. But it sure does fit how someone will respond if they’re in the same situation as Jack.
I’m sure that you’ll respond the same way as him especially after feeling disappointed that the real Chaos isn’t even there.
The exception to the rules
I don’t blame you if you prefer the fan translation over the official one only because of the translation you see in the game.
Even I admit that the game localization isn’t that good, especially for the game that has a strong Japanese culture such as Persona 5.
But for those who are playing the game in English dub and with the English subtitle, they don’t see anything inherently bad with the localization.
It’s only when you play the game in Japanese voice and with the English subtitle that you see the big gap in the translation accuracy.
But does it mean that you’re better off with the fan translation at this point?
Of course, the answer is no.
I still believe that the official one is far superior to the fan translation. In the case of anime with English subtitles and manga licensed in English, then yes.
But the localized version of the game? Not so much.
P.S While I admit that the original light novels aren’t that much different from the localized version of the video games, it can be disheartening when most of the light novels are mainly the isekai types.
It feels like that’s the only thing that people are interested in, not so much in any other genres.
If you’re the sort of person who enjoys reading a thriller novel with a mixture of sci-fi elements, then you may enjoy reading my Trigger Locked series.
Interested in giving the light novel a try? You can take a look at the first book from the series on my Payhip store.
Don’t forget to use the coupon code SEKINAMAYUBLOG to receive 25% off on your purchase.
Just to let you know that my books are also available in print and other stores such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple Books.
But you can only get a discount when you buy directly from me, though.
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