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Manga Answerman - Is Translating 'Lolicon' as 'Pedophile' Accurate?


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John Thacker
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:51 pm Reply with quote
While in Japanese they do use a direct loan word of pedophile as well, I don't think that "one simple reason" is sufficient as an explanation in this and other cases. Languages don't always have perfectly corresponding words that the same sorts of distinctions. Japan makes a distinction between pedophile and lolicon, yes, but it's simply not accurate to claim that in English pedophile is restricted to only people who prey on children, rather than also encompassing people who have sexual attraction to children but don't act on it. The word has different meanings in the two different technical worlds of legal use versus a psychological DSM setting, even apart from its use in common everyday language which encompasses many meanings with unclear distinction. (Compare similar examples like how "rape" or "murder" may be used for crimes that are technically or legally "sexual assault short of rape" or "manslaughter" in various jurisdictions.)

Someone can be a pedophile in English in the psychological sense but not the legal sense and then be, as the commenter said, "merely" gross instead of doing something illegal. See for example this article in a scientific journal about "non-offending pedophiles" who "despite common misperceptions, have neither had sexual contact with a child nor have accessed illegal child sexual exploitation material." (Similarly, while people do wish to make a distinction, it is unambiguously the case that many Japanese native speakers would interepret "lolicon" as meaning the same thing as pedophile. That is indeed part of why it would not be spoken in public or in polite company. Similarly, someone struggling to translate a term that best translated to ephebophilia in Engllish would find that common use in English of pedophilia covers it, even though some prefer to make a technical distinction. Depends on the audience what word one would use.)

It is one accurate translation (in that the English word does contain that meaning), and in the context of a translation aimed at an audience less familiar with Japanese terms, it could be the most correct choice. In the case of an audience quite familiar with the Japanese usage, leaving it as "lolicon" is indeed probably the correct choice. But like so many other translation issues, the best translation depends on the audience.
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FilthyCasual



Joined: 01 Jun 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:02 pm Reply with quote
I can't believe that ANN just got canceled by Twitter.
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Яeverse



Joined: 16 Jun 2014
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:02 pm Reply with quote
Questionable subtitle word choice that has brought negativity on an authors precious work and a companies precious product that probably turned people off from supporting it officially.

Also questionable word choice based on context, would the character really have said the p word in a joking manner? for reals, would anyone?
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GATSU



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:24 pm Reply with quote
Someone needs to get the story behind Kodomo no Jikan being published here. I mean how it landed at DMP, when it's currently the Media Blasters of manga acquisitions. Also, almost every time thus topic comes up, the elephant in the room, Ecchi Attack, gets ignored.

Last edited by GATSU on Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:32 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Andrew Cunningham



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:47 pm Reply with quote
As with any word, the context in which it is used must be considered. The responses given in the article seem to be about an academic understanding of the word in otaku culture rather than the full range of use on display in anime and manga.

I worry that this oversimplification will be used to justify attacks on translators who are trying to convey the implications accurately.

The technical difference between lolicon and pedophile absolutely does exist, and in an academic or legal context, or among otaku characters making specific use of the term, it is definitely better to leave it as lolicon.

But lolicon is also used colloquially by non-otaku characters who aren't even aware that such a distinction exists. Someone finding a collection of even non-porn manga with vaguely suggestive drawings of kids on the covers could well jump to the conclusion that the owner was interested in real children. This may not be a fair conclusion to jump to, but neither is it an uncommon reaction. Someone making that assumption is not going to be splitting hairs over the connotations of words, and it would be strange to write them as if they were.

In that kind of everyday use situation, the connotations of lolicon and pedophile are functionally equivalent. If the character speaking IS accusing someone of being a pedophile, softening that to lolicon would be an inaccurate translation.

Since I don't watch Hensuki, I can't speak to the character or situation mentioned in the article. But there are plenty of situations where translating lolicon as pedophile conveys the author's intent more accurately than leaving it alone. I clicked on this article expecting the opposite of the conclusion drawn, and I'm surprised to find professional translators taking such an ill-considered position.
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Panino Manino



Joined: 28 Jan 2018
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:00 pm Reply with quote
"Like it or not, outside of Japan, it is not easy to explain nuanced differences between manga and anime with lolicon themes and differentiating it from child pornography,"

It's even harder when enlightened people pretend that the other word don't exist and confuses the listener/reader in an alleged effort to raise awareness.
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writerpatrick



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:11 pm Reply with quote
It reminds me of the way Geishas use to be confused with prostitutes.
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Tuor_of_Gondolin
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:13 pm Reply with quote
As far as I'm concerned, the distinction is simple: Lolicon refers to imaginary drawings (which includes anime in this case). Pedophilia is referring to *actual* prepubescent children. IMO, there is a big difference between the two, not just involving young girls, but involving all forms of drawn characters. No one, for example, confuses Snoopy with an actual dog.

Trying to conflate real and imaginary is, IMO, merely a way to try to control what people think and feel. The reason that child porn is so horrible is not because it is gross (which it is), but because it involves exploiting real, actual children, which is beyond reprehensible. No one is harmed by drawing pictures (often highly unrealistic pictures) based on someone's imagination. But someone *is* harmed by utilizing actual children, and thus such things are rightfully illegal and harshly punished.

To conclude, I don't approve of using "pedophile" as an equivalent to lolicon. It seems like a slippery slope to treating all forms of imaginary drawings as if they were images involving actual people, which can further evolve into large scale thought control.
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capt_bunny



Joined: 31 May 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:26 pm Reply with quote
Oh boy.... I sit here, waiting for the UN (they are also fully against lolicons and shotacons) and those who disagree right away to go about this.
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luffypirate



Joined: 06 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:43 pm Reply with quote
I love Kodomo no Jikan. It’s one of the handful of anime that I watch yearly. Also, it’s my only reason for a region-free DVD player. Still sad about the Blu-ray not becoming a reality. Probably close to a decade ago now.
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Florete



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:44 pm Reply with quote
People are acting like this is the first time 'lolicon' has ever been translated as 'pedophile' in official English subtitles. I don't recall anyone being upset when CrunchyRoll did it in UzaMaid last year. I'm sure there are other examples.

I'm also surprised at the conclusion brought forth in the article. It's not often I question an Answerman response.

Яeverse wrote:
Also questionable word choice based on context, would the character really have said the p word in a joking manner? for reals, would anyone?

Are you asking if anyone would use the word "pedophile" in a joking manner? Because the answer is "Definitely."
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Mr. sickVisionz



Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:03 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
When the main character's younger sister finds a manga in his room, she remarks that she didn't know he was into lolicon. The scene is translated as, “I didn't know you were a pedophile.”


When she says whatever the original word is, is the purpose to shame the other character like ugh, you're a loser because of this? If so, pedophile accomplishes that goal in English way better than lolicon does imo.

I could totally see someone's sister seeing kid porn manga and jokingly being like you're a creeper or ughh, pedo bait or some other joke that wouldn't be funny if it was actually true.
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Dark Absol



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:07 pm Reply with quote
In english dub of Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody, I'm sure the MC just said 'pedophile' when it should have said 'lolicon'...

Blame this on Funimation. :/
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Chrono1000



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:36 pm Reply with quote
Translating lolicon as pedophile was a mistake since that word has a more negative implication and is the type of rhetoric that is being used to push for censorship. Granted there have always been book burners and technology has simply made it easier. I can somewhat understand it when people want censorship for genuine religious reasons but most of the arguments for censorship today boil down to arrogance and the desire to control others. The argument that fiction causes people to commit crimes can be used to argue for the censorship of shows, games, and books. There will be no limit to how far the censorship goes because the basis of the theory is that more censorship is needed until there is no more crime.
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lossthief



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:36 pm Reply with quote
Andrew Cunningham wrote:


In that kind of everyday use situation, the connotations of lolicon and pedophile are functionally equivalent. If the character speaking IS accusing someone of being a pedophile, softening that to lolicon would be an inaccurate translation.


^This

For a recent example, a character introduced in a recent episode of O Maidens in your Savage Season is a straight up pedophile, and one character describes him as a "lolicon" in Japanese. If the translation had left that unchanged it would both miss the point of the original line and possibly muddle the viewer's understanding of the show itself.
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