The Sunred Translation

Sunred was forsaken by the fansubbing community for a while after it hit, which is why I am thankful towards ANBU for being heroic enough to make this comedic gem available for English speakers. But along with praising their work, I do have a few bones to pick. Because that’s just how I roll.

But let’s start with the good. The translation they’ve stuck onto this show nearly perfect. While not 100% accurate, it captures the feel of the dialogue wonderfully. This is important, since Sunred derives a lot of its humour from just how conversational the script is, so a translation that reads exactly like normal English does wonders in helping the humour cross that often-difficult-to-breach linguistic boundary. It really is a shame that professional DVD translations don’t often reach this level of quality.

However, I think their translation localizes too much. Another thing that makes Sunred funny is how deep it plunges its heroes and villains into the stereotypically mundane Japanese lifestyle. As such, making the characters pay for things in dollars, as well as citing American brands as opposed to Japanese ones robs the show of its cultural flavour. Sunred thrives on references to local and nationally known things. This is a show that has three songs devoted to the city in which it takes place in, Mizonokuchi. I appreciate that they’re trying to communicate this same level of familiarity to American viewers by switching in American references, but it’s pushing things too far. They also make the characters swear too much. This is what I meant by “nearly perfect.”

Also, if they’re really shooting for professional quality on these things, why are they still doing ugly hardsubbed karaoke? Even the most newbie of new groups have gone to 100% soft subs.

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13 Responses to The Sunred Translation

  1. Landon says:

    Yeah, I’d love to see a translation that’s “perfect,” but when it comes to deciding between “being literal” and “making sense in English,” I’ll always prefer a translation that’s the latter. I doubt I’d be enjoying Sunred as much as I am if the translators didn’t take a few liberties to adapt the script rather than just translate it straight-up.

  2. Topspin says:

    I think it’s the hardsubs that bother me the most. I generally prefer more literal subs as well, but in this case ANBU are trying quite hard to ensure they carry over earlier in-jokes and running gags, and I’ve actually caught myself smiling at some of their choices for localizing.

    The swearing also doesn’t bother me much because it brings a sense of intimacy. Drinking buddies and friends don’t exactly speak the Queen’s English among each other, especially when they’re as irritable as Red is. This is probably a point of taste, though, so I can see why it would bother others.

  3. dood says:

    Never really bothered me that much I’m enjoying Sunred to its fullest and its goooooood.

  4. Yeah. ANBU’s karaoke bothers me too. Wish they’d stop doing that. :|

  5. Dokuro-chan says:

    I generally prefer minimally localized translations myself, but at this point, I’ve watched enough anime that I can usually just listen for the things localizations take out, anyway.
    This works fine for things like suffixes or common phrases, but really specific jokes involving Japanese puns or cultural references are harder to pick up on, because they don’t get repeated constantly.

    That being said, a not-quite-perfect translation is better than no translation at all, and a fansub in decent English is better than one in broken, poorly written English, and most R1 official translations as well, for that matter.

  6. 2DT says:

    I haven’t been watching Sunred, and up till now I haven’t had much interest (sorry!). But a localized translation from fansubbers is interesting. It’s awfully rare from our crowd– Most of the time we seem to favor hard-line literalism.

  7. Actar says:

    Indeed, that’s taking things a little too far.
    That being said, as fans, we do tend to nitpick (in cruder terms, bitch and complain). Like many fans would agree, ideally, subtitles should be able to convey whatever is being said in one language, to another, while being as close to the original as possible.

    The whole Liberal Versus Literal subtitling debate is an exceedingly complicated, convoluted issue that is filled with personal preference and bias. With subtitling and translating, it seems that you can not satisfy everyone.

    Some common questions that are brought up include:

    – Do you use honorifics like -chan, -san, -kun?
    – Do you Americanize ‘Onii-san’, ‘Senpai’?
    – Do you keep the last name/first name naming system of the Japanese?
    – Do you whitewash jokes that have to do with a play on Japanese words?

    While I’m all for literal subtitling, and keeping the Japanese essence of Anime, it seems that there are people who are vehemently opposed to this.

    Such characteristic Japanese words like ’skinship’ (referring to gg’s release of Ookami Kakushi where they replaced it with ‘kinship’) along with aspects and nuances of Japanese Language and culture are unique to Japan and are prevalent in Japan. Anime, being a distinctive, uniquely Japanese product, will undoubtedly contain jokes, phrases and such that are unique to Japanese culture.

    Personally, I don’t agree with the mentality of ‘having literal subs wouldn’t be fair to someone who just started watching Anime’. If one wants to watch Anime, it will only be fair if that person learns or is exposed to Japanese culture. Is it right to say: ‘I want to watch Anime, but don’t care for anything Japanese.’? If so, why turn to Anime? I’m sure that other cartoons can provide the same entertainment value, riveting plots and interesting characters.

    I and many a fan have been at that point where nearly everything about Japanese Culture in Anime seemed alien to us. If a person is truly interested in Anime, he or she should invest time to learn. When first watching Kodomo no Jikan, ’skinship’ was a new word to me.

    Many other things like the meaning of ‘calling each other by the first name’, ‘call me -chan instead of -san’, both important indicators of how close characters are, seemed strange and bizarre to me at first, but as I continued to watch more and more Anime, reading exceedingly useful Translator Notes and looking up the appropriate resources, I began to understand more and can now appreciate Anime better.

    Through Anime, I have learnt a lot about Japanese culture, from the way people communicate with each other to their festivals, traditions and believe it or not, learnt a great deal of the Japanese language as well.

    Is it right to simply white wash all of this?

    I’ve personally never understood converting Yen to USD thing. Not eeryone who watches Fansubs lives in America and might not know how much value the USD has.

    Also, with the fluctuating value of the US currency, the fansubs has thus failed to translate the true value of the products involved. Just leave it in Yen.

  8. wah says:

    I think that skinship/kinship thing was a translation error.

    I think you’re too far in the other direction for me. To me a good translation retains a sufficient amount of cultural flavor while at the same time not feeling completely and totally strange to someone who has no idea about anything.

  9. seriously says:

    What about viewers who aren’t American?
    Their translation gets me so confused at times I just replay the scene and listen only to the Japanese, I often understand more this way, since anime and manga has gotten me somewhat familiar with japan and Japanese brands.

  10. Xelgar says:

    Softsubbed karaoke = professional? lol. Wow someone sure has been drinking the kool-aid. Karaoke has to be the least important element in a fansub. Why is hardsubbing of karaoke such a crime? if you want to see a clean version of any OP/ED ….just download it or heck youtube is just a click away.

    The traditional reason karaoke is ‘hardsubbed’ is to ensure that playback is smooth on all computers Even simple effects can cause lag/stuttering on not so new computers. Add to this the fonts for the karaoke have to be embedded each time causing a slight bump in the file size. Even more so when you need to embed several different fonts for typesetting.

    I’ve just met too many fanboys that attack hardsubbing of karaoke without actually having any reason other than it was ingrained into them that softsub karaoke = better/professional. For real gripes about karaoke see here ( http://tinyurl.com/osz3lz )

  11. wah says:

    >>Softsubbed karaoke = professional?

    No karaoke or op translation at all = excellent.

    Why do people on the internet assume all the time? It’s like they’re dumb, or something.

  12. Xelgar says:

    > Also, if they’re really shooting for professional quality on these things, why are they still
    > doing ugly hardsubbed karaoke? Even the most newbie of new groups have gone to100%
    > soft subs.

    Based on your above statements it was a valid inference. I guess logic escapes some people.

  13. wah says:

    By softsubs I meant softsubs. Like words without dumb flashy effects. Just normal words.

    You know, like on DVDs.