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Active Topical Banter - Localization Woes

Fowl SorcerousFowl Sorcerous Dread News EditorRPGamer Staff
The panel tackles the nature of localization and the methods behind it.
Present
Future
Past

Talking Points:
-Schools of localization: Carl Macek, Victor Ireland, Ted Woosley and mid-naughties naruto fansub.
-Honorifics
-How much of the idea of japaneseness is in the appeal
-WJT-ry
-Pre chewed food analogy
-Names are a way too big deal
-‘Censorship’ and nintendo examples
-How far is too far for changes see vic ireland and carl macek

Next Time: Pre-order Problems

Comments

  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    A few favorite translation highlights / low points:

    Robotrek - the haunted house level is inhabited by the spooky Count Polinki. Or Porinki. Or Plinky. Or whatever, because it's spelled four different ways, often in the middle of the same conversation.

    Metal Saga - the source material on this one was pretty bland, take it from me, but some of the stuff I've seen of the Atlus English translation makes me want to play that sometime. Especially the Muscle Cathedral level, where Father Muscle (JP: Saint Muscle) gives his sermons. In Japanese, he's full of vaguely Christian pronouncements, but in the English... bravo to whoever came up with the Gospel of St. Arnold and the Blessed Turboflex.

    I thought Macek might be responsible for the Warriors of the Wind (Nausicaa translation) fiasco, but that appears to be a different company. Same mindset though. I know there's a specific term for when a producer takes the entirety of a foreign work, cuts it apart, and then makes a film out of the rearranged bits, but I can't seem to recall it right now. Thought it was "blue film", but apparently not.

    In at least one of the Lunar translations, the flying cat thing makes what I think is a Red Green reference when he says that someone's got the (fish-related) situation "bass-ackwards". That's a perfect example of including the reference and still carrying the humor, for me.


    And something that might be harder to work with:

    Recently I played HamaTora: Look at Smoking World, which has a character who specializes in bad puns. Like, he literally powers his mutant ability over ice by cracking jokes so bad that it leaves the audience cold. There is pretty much no way to translate these puns properly, except maybe by changing one of them into an "I scream for ice cream" reference. One of the other lead characters even makes his own joke at one point that is a pop culture reference to this long running (2500 episodes and counting!) TV comedy show, and I was so tickled that I understood the reference, but the only real way of translating it would be to imitate something from Whose Line Is It Anyway?

    If I had to work on the translation for this thing, I'd probably end up saying "screw it" and remake the character as a wannabe hip-hop singer (which actually are not uncommon in Japan) and would fit him about as well -- which is to say, he'd be just as awful at it, but it'd be easier to write for. It might make one or two side-missions a little tricky to work with, but nothing as impossible as direct, comprehensible translation of awful Japanese puns.
  • ShayminShaymin The Gratitude Pokemon Halifax, New SealandFull Members
    edited June 2016
    In retrospect I'm kind of glad that the "doge meme" got into TriForce Heroes, because it's not meant to be taken seriously - the plot centers around a princess for whom wearing a jumpsuit is the worst possible thing that could happen to her. And Ra knows that game needed something to be known for besides having a terrible beta.

    I'm not sure how the preorder thing is going to shake out, but seeing that as the topic and getting an email almost immediately after from Best Buy (Canada) reminding me of E3 preorder season afterwards was kind of odd. (For those who aren't familiar, Best Buy and Amazon in Canada, as well as the late, lamented Shop of the Future, gave ~30% discounts on any game preordered during E3 for the last few years. Right now, it's the only way to get a fair price on games here.)
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  • Strawberry EggsStrawberry Eggs Hands off the parfait! Administrators
    edited June 2016
    I don't mind mind memes and references if it's in a game, or a section of the game, that isn't meant to be taken seriously. Subtlety counts for a lot as well. In Fire Emblem Fates, if Felicia cooks in the Mess Hall, she'll grumble over having messed up something and says "you had one job!" It fits in this context, and if the "you had one job" meme gets forgotten, it won't be out of place. Besides, many things in "My Castle" can hardly be taken seriously.

    For an example of an awkward reference, I'll point to the DS version of Devil Survivor 2. IN one instance, a Septentrione causes the ground to quake and Joe says that it "brings all the earth shakes to the yard." I'm guessing this a reference to the song "Milkshake" by Kelis. Even back in 2011, this came off as awkward and out of place. Joe's line was changed completely in Record Breaker, the 3DS port.
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  • jscarpejscarpe Member Full Members
    Interesting discussion as always, it's nice to hear a discussion about localization that isn't someone screaming censorship at the slightest change (the loudest people on Twitter) or saying that you can't criticize a localization unless you speak Japanese so you can fully understand the changes (I've run into a few of those as well). I'm personally in the middle ground with Mac, I don't like changes from the Japanese original, but I just can't get that riled up about and extra 10cm of fabric added to some clothing.

    As to the spectrum of literal translation vs punchy dialogue, I prefer when localizers err on the side of interesting dialogue even if it comes at the expense of the literal meaning. I mean, what good is the exact translation if I'm bored to death and don't get through the story anyway. It reminds me of Adventure Bar Story, which was a cute, fun little game that was hamstrung by a very literal script that stripped the life and character out of what should have been a lighthearted fun game. There weren't any glaring errors or hideous mistranslations, but what should have been fun and lighthearted was plain and boring.

    The only part the cast didn't get to is the context of who the localization is for and how that should affect the way a game is localized. Like Pokemon and Neptunia are aimed at different audiences and will be localized in totally different ways. Something with mass appeal probably should carefully consider Japanese references. However, I think it's okay for niche titles to stray closer to the "mid-90's naruto fan sub" and even leave some honorifics and words untranslated. It really bugs me when I see Senpai translated as senior; no one says senior to an older classmate in English. Leave it as Senpai or just use the character's name, but don't translate it as senior.

    It's weird to hear your own name dropped on a podcast unexpectedly. Good to know some people are enjoying my adventures in awkward English with Summon Night 5. Honest, the script isn't as bad as my selective screenshots make it out to be. Every once in a while, there is just a line out of nowhere that obviously didn't get a second pass from an editor. Actually, I think I've been enjoying it more because of those awkward moments in a MST3K sort of way. Not sure what that says about me though...

  • Winter9Winter9 NorwayFull Members
    Another great episode, thank you! :) Thought you might have quit, but then I remembered it was once a month podcast. Seemed like a long time this time, listened to most of the backlog on my favorite podcasts :/ Awesome podcasts are hard to find because it's not just to have knowledge of the games, chemistry between podcasters are equal important.

    The itunes review system is sort of crappy apparently. Don't know quite what good it would do for only Norwegians to see my review. Or how someone would know to look for a Norwegian review lol.

    Enjoy your discussions a lot. It's interesting themes. I haven't really given localisations a lot of though before.

    Has been a busy May, calming down now and been enjoying Rom SaGa 2 for the last days. Also started FFIX on ios. It's a great port! (Wish all of them got that treatment).
  • VictarVictar Member Full Members
    R.I.P. Carl Macek. I know in my heart he was just trying to earn an honest living, same as anyone else. But...

    I remember when Carl Macek was a hated name among anime fandom. Fans used to regard his localization work in the same manner that video game movies by Uwe Boll are perceived today.

    Macek is particularly infamous for taking a sci-fi anime TV series that was completely unrelated to Robotech, and completely rewriting it in order to focibly shoehorn it into the Robotech continuity.

    I will take any of the other options, including localization with tons of honorifics and untranslated Japanese phrases, over the Macek style of severe censorship and flat-out rewrites anytime.

    Today, I think Macek's make-it-into-something-else localization style lives on most prominently in certain fan projects, especially gag or parody fan translations.
  • TheAnimeManTheAnimeMan Member Full Members
    Victar wrote: »
    R.I.P. Carl Macek. I know in my heart he was just trying to earn an honest living, same as anyone else. But...

    I remember when Carl Macek was a hated name among anime fandom. Fans used to regard his localization work in the same manner that video game movies by Uwe Boll are perceived today.

    Macek is particularly infamous for taking a sci-fi anime TV series that was completely unrelated to Robotech, and completely rewriting it in order to focibly shoehorn it into the Robotech continuity.

    I will take any of the other options, including localization with tons of honorifics and untranslated Japanese phrases, over the Macek style of severe censorship and flat-out rewrites anytime.

    Today, I think Macek's make-it-into-something-else localization style lives on most prominently in certain fan projects, especially gag or parody fan translations.

    Yeah but him doing that had nothing to do with wanting to do it but needing to do it.

    At the time US TV law stated that in order for a show to be aired on TV a series had to have so many episodes. Robotech was just under that episode count so in order to get it to air they had to shoehorn in other series to make it a possibility.
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  • Fowl SorcerousFowl Sorcerous Dread News Editor RPGamer Staff
    the crazy part was that they were willing to go video only and just do macross...if they could get the toy rights as well. Those toy rights were with Revell who were releasing Macross, Dougram, Crusher Joe, Mospeada and Southern Cross kits under the name Robotech Defenders and a brilliant awful idea of smashing a bunch of shows together for a syndication deal. and never letting me buy dougram on dvd. bastards.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    And to this day, I've never actually watched the Robotech series, in original form or macekred US version. However, I read nineteen volumes of the series novelization, which probably held together a bit better than the video format did.
  • flamethrowerflamethrower Member Full Members
    Translation tropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TranslationTropes
    You guys hit all of the important ones.

    Loved the "I'm Sam and I'm a member of the Shining Force!"
    It's funny because:
    -The narrator is supposed to say that
    -Also the Shining Force reference
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    The issues definitely go both ways. I found the Japanese translation of the first Harry Potter novel to be almost unreadable -- not because the Japanese was bad, as my wife confirmed, but because the translator decided to preserve the longer sentence structures common to English, and those lead to overly complicated grammar in Japanese. Generally, by the time I got to the end of a sentence, I'd forgotten how it had started, because there was so much junk between the topic section (at the start) and the action section (at the end).

    A different funny thing I recall... There used to be this Japanese indie games site that I would check from time to time, and once they had an article about the game Recettear getting an English translation via Carpe Fulgur. There was one long paragraph dedicated to the question: How does one get "Capitalism, ho!" out of a simple "Hai!"?
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