How to fansub: an example

I’ve been watching Kanon lately. Despite what Anime World Order may tell you, it’s a beautifully rendered comedy anime, only held down by how it becomes an incredibly stupidly written drama anime when it’s forced to pay attention to its own plot.

The other good thing about it is the fansubs. As everyone who saw The melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya knows, a.f.k totally has the best translations ever.



The right way to fansub, from Kanon ep. 20. (sorry about squinty text)

If you know your Japanese first-person pronouns, you might notice that this isn’t a literal translation at all, but it’s still perfect and carries the meaning very well. If you don’t know anything about the language, well, you wouldn’t gain anything from having it explained, except being distracted from the actual show.

Unfortunately, fansub groups tend to…. not do this. Here’s one of my favorite examples:



The wrong way to fansub, from Welcome to the NHK episode I forget.

I realized when writing this that we put a translation note in Gakuen Alice 20 the other day; I’ll have to try harder.

This completely ignores other problems, like the dreaded song karaoke, or how about four or five other groups all do different bad jobs at the same time on popular shows, but I’ll leave those for later.

As for no-karaoke and low-drama sources, I recommend a.f.k, Triad, our own S. ADTRW, and our good e-friends at iitran.

(Seriously, what is up with that anison image?)

10 Responses to “How to fansub: an example”

  1. e71 says:

    It’s kind of funny how professional translators never seem to need to add “translators notes”.

  2. wildarmsheero says:

    I’m quite indifferent on the “boku” thing with Ayu. On one hand, afk’s way does get the general idea across, but it seems kind of… vague? I don’t know, for some reason I find the “talking like a boy” bit and the changes of font to be a little weak. On the other hand, doing it Eclipse’s way is just overly complicated and distracts from the interaction between the two characters. I already knew about the different forms of “I” in Japanese so it didn’t really bother me at all, but it’d be kind of a pain for someone who doesn’t already know. However, I feel the more litteral translation is a bit stronger in this case because the words used are actually different and have different ideas and such associated with them (such as ore for men, atashi for women, etc)

    But yeah, the anison thing is plain stupid.

  3. astrange says:

    > It’s kind of funny how professional translators never seem to need to add “translators notes”.

    There’s those vid-notes in Excel Saga, but it needs it.

    And of course, I wrote http://astrange.ithinksw.net/gunbuster/gunbuster3.html but I think it’s defensible.

  4. Daryl Surat says:

    If Kanon sprung to life and spirited me away to the Kyoto Animation Vault, I would ask it in complete sincerity “you’re supposed to be FUNNY?”

    Seriously, I’ve read my share of UGUU HARDER threads and they aren’t exactly overflowing with comment after comment regarding how side-splittingly hilarious the show is. Comedies, last I checked, contain jokes. Not like Kevin Smith/Family Guy jokes, I mean things with actual setups and punchlines. Kanon has a lot of people who are functionally retarded, like the “whoops, I peed on the floor” type of retarded that people find so endearing for their 2D girlfriend to have (see: Elfen Lied). Only it’s, you know, for story purposes!

    I’m with you on the unnecessary use of liner notes in favor of actually translating terms (it’s idiotic that One Piece fansubbers consider “nakama” untranslatable), but the REAL “how to fansub” isn’t necessarily a matter of typesetting, font styles, karaoke effects, and all that. That’s all important (except for karaoke effects, which is just dumb), but for my money’s worth, choosing projects is the big one.

    That’s why THIS is how to fansub: http://tinyurl.com/3dyeaf

    (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/buried-treasure/2007-03-15 for the full deal)

  5. astrange says:

    The real “how to fansub” involves not doing any of those things. I’m sure you agree with me there, though.
    I’ll write about it, but I haven’t finished my maneuvering to become sufficiently internet-famous enough; expect it by next month.

    Kanon’s humor is entirely stuff the animators added to make fun of the retarded-girls concept. It’s sort of scattered in there randomly.
    (I’ll admit to seriously liking one of the arcs in the middle, because it was just about someone with a fatal disease, and not someone with a fatal stupid plot device, but the beginning and the end were both quite bad)

  6. astrange says:

    PS it’s not our fault we never did To-Y. You try finding a copy of that!

    We did actually want to, though.

  7. Saoshyant says:

    > I’ll admit to seriously liking one of the arcs in the middle, because it was just about someone with a fatal disease

    Oh, you mean that girl Shiori, or whatever, who’s going to die in a week, but goes around playing on the snow all day and eating ice cream and go on a date with whatshisname and so on without ever faint, cough or look sick? Lovely concept.

    What’s funnier, is that besides Full Moon, I can’t remember a single instance where the-girl-has-terminal-disease plot actually mentions what disease we are talking about. After all, that would involve research and that’s bothersome.

  8. astrange says:

    It was an excellent example of natural selection, and also it had Kyon’s bag in one scene.

  9. Fadamor says:

    If I had to comment on how NOT to fansub, I guess #1 on the list is “Translate the f-ing words. Don’t put your own in because you think you’re funnier.” Coalguys likes doing their own schtick over the actual words used. To top it off, they’re just not that funny, either.

  10. film anime terbaru says:

    The real “how to fansub” involves not doing any of those things. I’m sure you agree with me there, though.

    I’ll write about it, but I haven’t finished my maneuvering to become sufficiently internet-famous enough; expect it by next month.

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