WHAT!?! NOOOOOO! Thats not what they said!

WHAT!?! NOOOOOO! Thats not what they said!

Translation and re-wrights going too far?

It's hard to not notice at times when a scene in an anime, or in an English ( inserts other languages here) printing of a manga series that the dialog and overall text, or even imagery can be utterly utterly redone and quite different than what is presented in the original. Is this done by greedy money grabbing evil corporations winging half of the work without bothering to understand what the original work is? Or is it perhaps something entirely different.

 

It may not be well known, but I too am a Mangaka ( Manga creator/artist/writer) and have run into similar issues that can pose a issue with wide distribution. Language, and cultural understanding. While most Otaku who read our work do in fact understand many of the cultural overtones and references placed into a series the general consensus of distributors and over sea editors is different. Their aim is to sell a copy to a broader audience and in doing so feel it is imperative to alter the language and sometime context to fit in with a wider audience who may, or may not be ignorant of the original meanings or uses of certain words or imagery.

 

It's fairly obvious that “ pop culture references “ are instantly flagged as one to alter, A simple example of this comes from some of the more witty shows that made it across the Pacific such as Shin-Chan. While some may be shocked to learn that very very little of that series has been edited for a western audience, most of the pop culture references have been. Other times the choice in editing a name may be little more than for brand recognition, an example here would be the term “ shinigami“ which translates into death god- or more accurately a Grim Reaper type of character type. The word is fairly common for a group in more than one series. Most famously the Series Bleach, and Deathnote feature two very different types of Shinigami. This is not an issue in the native Japanese markets, however once you hit the U.S the Shinigami of Bleach became soul reapers, while the Shinigami of Deathnote retained their naming to sound more exotic and fitting to their demon like appearance. This in the end leads to less consumer confusion.

 

Love it or hate it it's impossible to avoid these alterations. The same holds true going in the other direction as well. For the purist of experiences the options are limited to finding fan made scans and subs of a series – these are usually done by native speakers or someone at least fluent in Japanese and are rarely ever edited to the point of altering what the original was aiming for