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Interview With The Fansubber


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tygerchickchibi



Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Posts: 1309
PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:28 pm Reply with quote
Farla-hime wrote:
The Xenos wrote:
(...) get me a bag of Cheetos. I haven't found a torrent for Cheetos yet. Rolling Eyes
(...) Also, going back to Al Queda, AJ should work for them. Well, mainly I want to see Osama Bin Laden accidentally talk about "mass naked child events".


I'm sorry but I just had to say this post knocked me outta my chair. Squeee! Very Happy

And someone asked about timelines for licensing deals: I'd like to testify that one deal I know of specifically took 4 months of negotiations between the licensor and the competing licensees. I have been told by industry folks that generally in deals with Japanese companies, not only anime ones mind you, several months is the norm (although this is changing/has changed in some areas in recent years).

Re; Stretch2424 -- I don't think the J companies would cut out the US distributor altogether and subtitle then self-distribute.... mostly because of the survey that found that 75% of the fans at cons and such claim they prefer "altered/Americanized/censored" but dubbed anime to "uncut/accurately translated" anime with subtitles. Also, if the Japanese companies can get past their "easy rider" style of negotiations, and if the new conventions regarding Japanese Copyright law go through (I believe it's s'post to be this year?), the process might be able to speed up enough to compete with fansubs. So can the US industry hold out that long?


Really? That seems like something promising, but like I said, I'll have to wait to see what happens. Right now, It's like waiting for another bomb to explode.

Tick...Tick...Tick...
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Talon87



Joined: 05 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:42 pm Reply with quote
Farla-hime wrote:
mostly because of the survey that found that 75% of the fans at cons and such claim they prefer "altered/Americanized/censored" but dubbed anime to "uncut/accurately translated" anime with subtitles.
That's quite some claim. I'd like to see "that survey" for myself, please.

Last time I checked, people who prefer A to B will still check A out once it's released even if B came out first and they already saw it. Yet that's not what's happening in today's market -- people are watching B (the fansub) and calling it quits. And it's not because they think the show is trash, because they download the newest episodes week after week from Episode 1 to Episode 26.

It's possible that the survey really did reveal that 75% of con goers prefer dubs to subs so much so that they'd rather have an inaccurate dub to an accurate sub, but that con goers account for such a small, small proportion that their views are not representative of "the big picture" and that's why their views stand at odds with the reality we're seeing.
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Ohoni



Joined: 10 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:14 pm Reply with quote
I don't know how the topic of dubs got dragged into this, dubs are completely irrelevant to the process. Fans make subs, not dubs (with few expections), so it's subs that the R1 market needs to compete with, not dubs. Dubs can take all the time and epense that they need to do the job.
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Farla-hime



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 1:14 am Reply with quote
Ohoni wrote:
I don't know how the topic of dubs got dragged into this, dubs are completely irrelevant to the process.


Please forgive: I brought up dubs in response to the suggestion that Japanese companies might cut US companies out of the picture and self-distribute insta-sub releases of their own shows.... I'm not saying they won't, but I was just throwing out one reason I can think of that they wouldn't Shocked
(The reason being that there's at least a decent amount of anime fans who prefer dubs--let's at least not forget that back in the day dub VHS outsold sub).
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Devil Doll



Joined: 07 Jul 2007
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Location: Germany
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 2:27 am Reply with quote
Being a fansubber for 5 years now (just not a member of a large group - today's technology allows fansubbers to do solo projects through the whole cycle from raw providing to distribution) I would have given the same answers as Tofusensei to most questions of this wonderful interview (kudos to both participants); the only part I disliked was the "griefing" (while I can understand the reason for it, given what I read about the group in question).

The situation in my native country Germany is slightly different from the U.S. situation: Very few people learn Japanese here (given the world's current political&economic situation it might be more rewarding to learn Chinese), almost no translators with Japanese skills are available, even decent translators from English to German are rare (and only a few translate ambiguous English terms back to Japanese as to find out which choices the EngSubber had and declined). Therefore a number of shows still isn't subbed in German and there are rarely ever two groups working on the same title.
At the same time, many newer groups here tend to focus on the latest stuff and shabby speed subs with tons of translation&spelling errors as well (thinking three years of English at school enable them to translate an anime), making the official DVD versions look really good in comparison... ouch.

As for the discussion about translation style, I would like to make a point for the more literal translation. After all, I'm watching animes because they're Japanese (as I started being interested in Japanese culture/history back in the 1980s when I first read James Clavell's "Shogun"... yes, there was such a time when young people actually were reading books as a hobby, believe it or not).
I neither watch American comics nor German ones; for me it's the combination of different culture, different storytelling, different taboos (Koi Kaze handling incest in full detail while the one episode about divorce wasn't aired on TV), different everything that makes animes what they are. Consequently, I watch Japanese movies (and documentations about Asian countries in general) as well when they're on German TV.

That's why every single bit of domestication damages the fun for me, that's why I need translations for visible Kanjis (by the way, did the R1 release for Evangelion translate the visible German texts during Asuka's mind rape?) and cultural footnotes (my knowledge about Japanese history&culture is still pathetic), I need to get Japanese wordplays/puns explained (I'm learning to translate Japanese Kanjis with JWPce but that's not feasible while watching an episode).
I dream of understanding as much of the episode as the Japanese audience does; I'm willing to hit the "pause" key every couple of seconds in terms to handle the information flood. For me anime isn't a video game without a player to be watched real-time, it's a manga with moving, colored images; I take as much time as it needs. (And I'm not talking about fighting shounen, I'm talking about Serial Experiments Lain, Mushishi, Haibane Renmei etc.... I know that I should actually take Japanese courses for that, and maybe I will some day.)
And I certainly don't want to listen to any other language than Japanese for the audio tracks - American bubblegum audio sounds to me (not being a native English speaker) like Mickey Mouse, and German audio... let's not go into details here.
Anime industry, please go away with any "cool" translation - I don't want the illusion of a non-Japanese show. If I wanted one I'd watch German comics to begin with.
Actually the cultural references are the most important element that in my eyes places fansubs above official translations as of today - because they can open an understanding of a foreign culture to the audience. Not necessary for a one-time watch, but a potential path to raising a loyal fan base. For me that's what makes anime really "cool" and more than simply an "Asian comic".

Consequently I have to create this product that I want by myself - which made me become a fansubber. I feel that translating the dialogs sometimes just isn't enough. I am aware that the professional editors are way better than those of most fansubbing groups (the gap is even larger in GerSubs than in EngSubs) but I am convinced that good fansub translators can easily be better than professional ones, basically because they're fans - which means they can delay a release until they're convinced of its quality while the professionals have to keep deadlines of their employer. To do so they need to do more than just read the dialog and write a decent version in their native language - and the best ones of these do. They know the whole series by heart, they have written reviews about every single episode, they have discussed the story at length amongst their group and in anime forums, they have read the manga translation (as to discover hearing errors for the dialogs), they are able to make plausibility checks (they know there's something fishy when a character suddenly speaks a line that's out of his/her character). And they do all of this in their leisure time. A good translator may translate an anime episode in three hours but please add the time for review writing, forum discussion, web investigation for technical terms and so on to get the true numbers. (Actually the investigation is the most interesting part for the true fan, such as finding the original sources for the obscure magical rituals in Silent Möbius or the references to Freudian technical terms in Evangelion episode titles, something that a professional translator will neither learn at his/her language school nor by being a native speaker of Japanese.)
Not claiming this to be significant, I am only linking this and this page about a professional translation (of Seikai no Senki I by Bandai). There are professional releases that makes the fan wonder whether the translator has ever watched the show he/she was working on.

Surely there are animes of different kinds; all the above won't be that significant for shows such as, say, Girls Bravo (which the average fanservice fan may even watch without subtitles at all and still get a good idea of what's going on, hehe...). But if serious anime is to get the reputation of not being kid's stuff then the translators ought to treat it accordingly - meaning: No censorship, no domestication (to hell with American standards about sex and drugs, this is art!), fairly literal translations (including visible Kanji/Kana), and a minimum Karaoke (no need for fancy animation, just allowing the fans to sing along their favourite songs) should be minimum requirements. If I am meant to purchase a series for 300$ then I want a quality that is on par with this price, making every single rewatch of a good show a fun experience. And rewatching must be the goal for any show purchased on DVD, given the production prices - the concept of considering DVDs as the only possible distribution path looks seriously flawed to me, this way anime will never be able to compete with other entertainment options, regardless whether fansubs exist or not: As long as a PC/console game offers more hours of fun than an anime at the same price the customers would be plain stupid not to go for the best value for price ratio.

A small part of the relative attractiveness of fansubs may also be due to certain technical advantages they have over current MPEG2 DVD formats (such as H.264 encoding of HD display resolution rips from Japanese HDTV, three-dimensional typesetting of visible signs, Karaoke effects).
DVD releases are competing with an unfair disadvantage these days... one more reason to consider different formats and distribution channels, BlueRay alone might not solve each and every issue here.

Back to the interview... IMHO the most important statement of the interview was: "Speed rules over quality" - thus claiming that everything I wrote above about my own attitude will most likely be completely irrelevant to the crowd of leechers.
I have a feeling that everywhere in Western countries the degree of literacy is declining (due to ever more media like videos and games being available that no longer require literacy from the audience), so if an ever growing part of the audience doesn't even master their own language perfectly then why should they not watch speed subs when they're fast and for free?
Surely the companies could provide better quality than fansubbers but I somehow fear that might be a moot point for many "potential customers" in the future. I'm afraid that going for quality will not solve the problem for the industry while going for speed might actually do the trick (which then must include speeding up the whole licensing issue as well).
Let's not forget that an English version would sell in the U.S., in Great Britain, in Australia, in India (soon to be a land with a lot more potential customers) so the risk of producing an English HQ sub in Japan for every anime that's released as DVD shouldn't be that much of an economical risk compared to, say, the costs of video production.

But if "speed rules" and anime are a niche market outside Japan, then producing expensive dubs at the price of delaying the product shipment is missing the market:
  • Producing good, non-domesticated English subs in parallel to the Japanese dub (so that they can ship just days after the show aired in Japan) and
  • granting the customer a discount for upgrading subbed-only DVDs to dubbed DVDs months later
might be the way to go for getting subbed anime faster to the audience while having enough time for producing quality dubs much later.

A word about the issue that dropped series will be continued by pirates as Tofusensei mentioned in the interview.
For myself I have abandoned the concept of releasing individual episodes, for several reasons: 1. I need to understand the whole series as to be able to make consistency checks for the content, thus I'm kind of translating the whole series in parallel (and certainly do QC for the whole series in one pass); 2. I am fed up with people asking when the next episode will be released (it's not like all feedback from the leechers were actually positive).
I'm subbing for myself as primary target group anyway (I can watch EngSubs okay but twisting my mind over the most precise translation for a given line gives me a much more thorough understanding of the details for any particular scene), so where's the need to rush things? I'll either release a complete series or none at all. The "risk" that an anime will be licensed (meaning that I'll no longer be able to release the fansub according to fansubber ethics) is on my side alone; it's my choice to sub animes that aren't likely to be licensed anyway. So there will be no partially released series from me that anyone else could just continue.
What would happen if all fansubbers went this way? The "Entitlement Generation leechers" might riot... but who cares? It's not like they would be willing to do the work. The "problem" in fact is, as Tofusensei correctly pointed out, that it's too easy to make a third-class fansub and too many "ego subbers" are willing to do it for the sake of "fame". So the behavior of the "true fans" amongst the subbers sadly won't be relevant as long as so many leechers aren't interested in quality while they get their daily fix of anime for free.

Then again, if these Entitlement Generation leechers will never purchase anime (because they don't feel like spending money for intellectual property) will it then be a reasonable strategy for the anime industry to try getting them as customers? Would they really be the market if there were no fansubs?
Perhaps it would actually help more to satisfy those who want decent quality at a price that not so much above competing products because that's something that could be achieved by the anime industry without changing educational system and society of the western countries.
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Dante80



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 4:50 am Reply with quote
I thoroughly enjoyed your post DD, thanks for your feedback...Smile

Quote:
A small part of the relative attractiveness of fansubs may also be due to certain technical advantages they have over current MPEG2 DVD formats (such as H.264 encoding of HD display resolution rips from Japanese HDTV, three-dimensional typesetting of visible signs, Karaoke effects).


Add to that the ability to apply many filters while encoding, thus repairing problems that the original source might have (artifacts ~ noise etc). This applies of course both to DVD and DTV-raw sources.
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samuelp



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 6:22 am Reply with quote
Dante80 wrote:
I thoroughly enjoyed your post DD, thanks for your feedback...Smile

Quote:
A small part of the relative attractiveness of fansubs may also be due to certain technical advantages they have over current MPEG2 DVD formats (such as H.264 encoding of HD display resolution rips from Japanese HDTV, three-dimensional typesetting of visible signs, Karaoke effects).


Add to that the ability to apply many filters while encoding, thus repairing problems that the original source might have (artifacts ~ noise etc). This applies of course both to DVD and DTV-raw sources.

You can apply filters when making a DVD as well. In fact, it's highly suggested.
Filtering is not an advantage fansubbers have over DVD creation. In fact, it's one of the true drawbacks: Fansubbers will always have lower quality raws than what the Japanese have to produce encodes from (the raws the Japanese provide the R1 companies, on the other hand, might be worse, however, so fansubbers could be at an advantage over the R1 companies).

Fansubbers make up for this deficiency by using more powerful compression like xvid and now h.264, and with HDTV sources, there is less and less noticeable difference.

For shows that air in HD, a HD fansub can definitely look far superior to any standard DVD release (despite what mods on animeondvd think), but they would not be able to beat a pro blu-ray release at all.
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Randall Miyashiro



Joined: 12 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 6:41 am Reply with quote
Devil Doll, your post was inspiring. It is people like you and Tofu that prevent me from hating people who are involved in fansubs, and the industry would be in a much better state if there were more ethical groups like yours. Is English your primary language? Your post was more articulate and better structured than most of the ones from native English speakers.

I've always thought that the Japanese R2 releases ought to include subtitles like the Ghibli releases (and a handful of others including some Blu-ray releases) already have. This would satisfy those who can't wait (even a week) and would bring a direct premium priced sale for the Japanese anime industry. I don't think it would be a big enough dent in the US market to scare away R1 companies from getting the license for an eventual cheaper dub.

I used to think this was the perfect answer to this problem since the speed of delivery and DVD pressing quality used to be key factors, but the problem seems to be developing into one of fans who want anime for cheap or free as a priority.
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ced1106



Joined: 03 Jan 2003
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Location: SF Bay Area
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 7:04 am Reply with quote
A successful industry is one that adapts to its customers, not the other way around.

* I'd think that the number of casual viewers (cable and tv-only viewers of anime and cartoons) far exceeds the number of more hardcore viewers (internet downloaders). That is, anime doesn't make money from direct sales to viewers, but through corporate entertainment. If hardcore viewers really *was* that large, I'd think anime would be shown subbed, rather than dubbed, on cable television. Cable is still in its infancy with anime (doesn't help that the suits on both sides of the Pacific "don't get it", of course).

* Most anime are accompanied by manga and merchandising. That mainstream booksellers sell manga at $10 a pop (pretty expensive compared to most paperback novels) and how otaku devour plushies and merchandise, shows that, even if revenue is "lost" from downloaded anime, it serves as advertising for other products. (If anything, pirated downloaded music should serve as a good counterexample.)

* Finally, it's old data, but, there's simply more American viewers of anime than Japanese, and thus, even with piracy, an anime company will still sell more DVDs with today's American market. OTOH, When you can pick up an entire *season* of American television for $20, anime companies will have to seriously rethink selling $20 for four episodes of a product that costs less than $1 to make.

Personally, I don't see a problem. There're so many anime shows being produced, and the local bookstore has so many manga titles on the shelves, it must mean *somebody* thinks this industry is still profitable. Ethics and business models aside, that the anime and manga industry has progressed so far in less than twenty years shows that whatever we have, which includes fansubs and piracy, is working.


aka. Washu! ^O^
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Moomintroll



Joined: 08 Oct 2007
Posts: 1600
Location: Nottingham (UK)
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 7:54 am Reply with quote
Morcombe wrote:
1 - the American companies change characters names


Rarely and generally only for children's shows so as to improve the chances of a TV deal.

Quote:
2 - they change the original soundtrack


Rarely and generally only for children's shows so as to improve the chances of a TV deal.

Quote:
3 - they remove the concept of death, nudity and extreme violence


Again, only in children's shows. What the Japanese consider appropriate material for a 12 year old and what the US consider appropriate material for a 12 year old are two different things and US TV stations have to abide by legal regulations regarding content (and appease their advertisers).

Quote:
4 - some of the most popular shows liek dbz have never been released in other countries e.g the UK. So the internet is our only source for certain shows as we only have 1 anime channel and it's limited to 13 shows.


There's nothing stopping you from importing the shows that haven't been released here from the US.

Quote:
5 - they are simply to dear 20 pounds a dvd here in the uk, and some series have up to 10 dvd's. that totals 200 pounds, now who can pay that?


If you shop online (and can wait a few months after things have been released) you'll very rarely be confronted with Recommended Retail Prices. Most of my anime DVDs cost closer to £5 than £20. Also, 10 DVDs is a bit of a stretch. Most series are on 3-4 DVDs (12-13 episode season) or 6-7 DVDs (24-26 episode season) and if you wait for the box set you can get them far cheaper than buying them all seperately.

Quote:
6 - when it comes to the manga side its the same viz remove nudity, excessive violence, swear words, one of the lamest things i ever saw was in naruto volume 24 when they changed the Drunken fist (a recognized martial arts technique) to potion punch! now I understand its underage drinking and thats frowned upon but it has ruiend the authors original work.


That kind of editing is a lot rarer than it used to be and, again, if they didn't clean up some children's content they wouldn't get those books into the shops in the first place. And very few manga or anime have swearing in them - it's generally the fansubbers / scanlators adding swearing rather than the official translators removing it.

Quote:
8 - companies like 4kids do not bring out uncut dvds like they should.


But if there's any real (and financially viable) demand for an uncut version, other companies tend to bring out uncut versions subsequently.

Quote:
9 - they are simply to slow e.g Viz currently translate one piece at 1 volume every 3 or 4 months [...] now japan are at volume 47 while the us is at volume 17. if we wait for viz to catch up it will be around the year 2015 - that is simply too long a wait for me.


The Japanese also wait months between releases of graphic novels. The US release obviously started a long time after the Japanese release but that doesn't mean they're being released more slowly. And being "behind" means that the US releases can stay regular - when US releases catch up to the Japanese releases, the delays between volumes are often much longer. As for 2015...so what? It just mean you can enjoy the series for a long time to come. As long as you're getting a new volume every few months, I fail to see a problem.

Quote:
many shows such as dbz and shaman king have never been released here in the uk thus the internet is our only way of getting to see them.


The UK anime market is maybe 20% of the size of the US market so it's hardly suprising if we don't get everything (though we do get all of the non-hentai manga). And you're right that the internet is the way to see those shows that haven't been released here - you use it to legally order the R1 DVDs...
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Top Gun



Joined: 28 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:11 am Reply with quote
That was a great post, DevilDoll, even though I didn't necessarily agree with every point you made. I wanted to bring up one section in a bit more detail, though:
Devil Doll wrote:
As for the discussion about translation style, I would like to make a point for the more literal translation. After all, I'm watching animes because they're Japanese (as I started being interested in Japanese culture/history back in the 1980s when I first read James Clavell's "Shogun"... yes, there was such a time when young people actually were reading books as a hobby, believe it or not).
I neither watch American comics nor German ones; for me it's the combination of different culture, different storytelling, different taboos (Koi Kaze handling incest in full detail while the one episode about divorce wasn't aired on TV), different everything that makes animes what they are. Consequently, I watch Japanese movies (and documentations about Asian countries in general) as well when they're on German TV.

I'm not sure how widespread or prevalent either your or my viewpoint is, but speaking for myself, I couldn't really care less whether the anime I watch originated from Japan, Switzerland, Uganda, or the far side of the Moon. I watch anime because it's an animated medium with the potential for mature, intelligent, emotional works that can't really be found in most other forms of animated material. I myself have no real invested interest in learning more about Japanese culture; for me, it's all about the series themselves and the characters within them. (This is one of the reasons why I utterly loathe and despise the label "otaku:" I'm a person who happens to like anime, not a term originally used to refer to social rejects and shut-ins.) When I first saw the American animated series "Avatar," I said to myself, "Wow...if American animation had widespread production of series like this, I might not have ever needed to get into anime." (And yes, I know that Avatar is obviously very heavily anime-inspired.) Anime fulfilled, and continues to fulfill, a big gaping hole in my entertainment desires, and for that I am eternally grateful to its creators, but I place no inherent value on the fact that it's made in Japan. As such, unless it's absolutely critical to understanding a series' plot, excessive cultural notes and explanations in fansubs tend to be somewhat of a turn-off to me. I don't want to know more about "Ancient Japanese Deity #11;" I'm in it for the actual plot of the show.

(Plus, when there are items referenced in a series that pique my curiosity, I find it far more satisfying to hunt down the information myself. Case in point: as a physics major, I had oodles of fun doing massive Wiki runs on the more esoteric theories of quantum mechanics while watching Noein.)
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Devil Doll



Joined: 07 Jul 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:31 am Reply with quote
Encouraged by the positive feedback to my posting I like to provide another example of translation accuracy issues. I expect this one to be better than the "swearing" example of some earlier postings here.
The work in question is Love Hina, my first harem anime ever and as such a very special series for me.

1st issue: When the girls discuss about hiring a kanrinin for Hinata-sou during episode 1, Motoko (the "kendo girl") is leaving right in the middle of the debate, saying: "I'm sorry but my club's training camp starts today. I'll go along with whatever you decide." The German dub has her say: "Sorry but under these circumstances I'm leaving this house. You have to do without me from now on."
Not only does the German dub make Motoko's leave permanent instead of temporary (thus creating a consistency problem when Motoko "miraculously" returns two episodes later, mentioning details about her training camp... wait, what training camp?), it also omits the part where Motoko gave her consent to whatever decision the other girls will make (which will be crucial for the events of episode 3 and onwards as Motoko can't simply push out Keitarou now because she's bound to her word, and Naru nails her down to this fact because she's afraid of losing her home at Hinata-sou if Keitarou won't be hired, based on her conversation with Haruka about Hinata-sou possibly shutting down due to workload/money issues at the end of episode 1).
Note that episode 3 has the original dialog for Motoko about this issue in the German dub - the translator didn't even notice the contradiction between episodes 1 and 3 he introduced by "taking liberties" in episode 1. And unlike speed subbers with their individual episodes release (who might have noticed any such issue no sooner than in episode 3) the German DVD release has episode 1-3 on the same disk... so much about professional quality control.

2nd issue: Still in episode 1, Haruka tries to convince the girls that Keitarou will be a decent housekeeper and (based on a misconception from her side) tells them he a Toudai student (giving him a high reputation as Toudai is shown as being the most prestigious university in Japan).
In the Japanese original, at this point Kitsune suddenly becomes interested and asks a) "What?! You go to Tokyo U, buddy?" And Kaolla asks: b) "What's a Tokyo U? Some kind of food?" This scene shows how adaptive Kitsune is to the situation and how infantile but funny Kaolla acts, both of which is important for their character development (remember we're in episode 1 and just learning the first facts about each character).
The German dub - believe it or not - rewrote this scene to the following: a) Kitsune: "If this guy will move in then I'll move out." (using the verb "ausziehen" which can also mean "undress"). b) Kaolla: "You mustn't undress, that's what he actually wants."
So the professional "translators" made both characters act exactly the opposite of what they actually are (showing Kitsune as being inflexible and Kaolla as being a lot more aware&sensitive to nudity issues than she actually is, given that nudity isn't that much an issue in Japan as it is in Western countries) for the mere sake of adding a lame pun in German. Thanks a lot.

3rd issue: Still in episode 1, due to an accident Keitarou is running away with some of Kitsune's underwear. Kitsune, being a Japanese girl not above selling her underwear to peeping toms as long as the price is high enough (which isn't that uncommon in Japan nowadays), is shouting: "Hey, you have to pay for this!"
Then German dub does translate this literally but the wording being used there can also mean "I'll make you pay for this", i. e. a threat of revenge. Without any cultural reference for explanation the whole gag (being that Kitsune would actually agree with a "deal" here!) is getting lost in the process, and Kitsune isn't shown as the money greedy girl she actually is (which is even one of her primary character traits that need to be introduced in episode 1, that's what this scene in the Japanese original was actually meant for). Thus I wonder whether the translator actually understood what happened here.

4th issue: Throughout the whole series there's a running gag of "tama" (the name of Hinata-sou's flying turtle) being confused with "tamatama" (the Japanese word for "occasionally"). In many situations when "tamatama" is being used in a dialog you'll see some kind of turtle reference (such as the flying turtle thinking she's addressed by the dialog).
The professional German "translators" rewrote every single scene with that element, completely eliminating the running gag, perhaps because they considered it too complicated to explain to the audience what's funny here; the fansubbers added footnotes to every single one of these scenes, thus remaining true to the original work.

You see, it's not just about fluency of language, its about randomly rewriting the content for whatever purpose (and none of the above was about domestication for the sake of abiding to local laws - heck, the Kaolla scene even added a hint of fanservice that wasn't in the original!) and thus damaging the consistency of story as well as characters.
Even Love Hina contains a healthy dose of drama - unless the professional "translators" dull it down to a 100% silly/ecchi comedy, that is. Do they believe their customers are too stupid to understand a drama?
Given these "liberties" I'll gladly accept "inferior grammar" in fansubs as long as they don't butcher the original work like this.

And as someone asked: No, my native language is German, not English - and I wouldn't consider my English skills sufficient for making a decent EngSub as many EngSubbers are way more proficient in their native language than I am.
It's just that I'm using my online dictionary for looking up idioms and the Firefox's English Spelling check for writing posts like this one as I feel that I owe you readers a comprehensive posting if I expect you to try understanding my thoughts.
Am I wrong to expect the same kind of respect to the original work by the German professional translators? (And note how the links to "Seikai no Senki I" pages I gave in my previous posting indicate this isn't an issue for German releases only.)
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Talon87



Joined: 05 Dec 2005
Posts: 89
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 12:12 pm Reply with quote
I think Randall was just being polite. ^^; It's clear that your posts don't come from someone who speaks English natively. Still, Randall makes a good point about your posts being better than many native English speakers': I would say that your posts show more thought invested into them and more attention paid to intelligibility than most posts online. And for an ESL speaker, your vocabulary is incredible -- it's the grammar and spelling that stand out to me (e.g. "dialog" or "discuss about hiring").

While lengthy, I also enjoyed your posts. It was interesting to read about a German fansubber's P.O.V. on certain mutual issues we fans of anime face as well as some of the issues unique to a German anime fan. I never realized that German fansubs were so inferior to the official German subs -- it must be like stepping into a different universe for German anime fans to hear us always badmouthing official subs and praising fansubs. Shocked Thanks again for the insight.
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Master Lee



Joined: 30 Nov 2007
Posts: 47
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 2:37 pm Reply with quote
Hats off to Tofusensei for the amazing insights into fansubbing. It's been a topic I've been meaning to research. Hearing the views of one so deeply involved was not only informative, but quite inspiring as well.

Yet another hat off (that's right... two hats...) to ANN for allowing that interview to exist here. While I'm sure that to some anime fans the interview might be seen as ANN fraternizing with "the enemy", I'm also sure that no one can deny that there was much knowledge in the thoughts and opinions contained within it.

Many posters here seem to be discussing the topic of a "distribution service" that can compete with fansubs and still be profitable. I've also been concepting a service like that here on the forums, in fact it was my purpose for making an account at ANN. If anyone is interested in contributing to this, the topic thread is "The Proposal of Master Lee - A System for Anime Distribution" (animenewsnetwork.com/bbs/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=50363).

Thanks once again to ANN and Tofusensei. I look forward to any future news posts that provide this kind of experience and insight.
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Devil Doll



Joined: 07 Jul 2007
Posts: 656
Location: Germany
PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 3:39 pm Reply with quote
Talon87 wrote:
I never realized that German fansubs were so inferior to the official German subs -- it must be like stepping into a different universe for German anime fans to hear us always badmouthing official subs and praising fansubs. Shocked Thanks again for the insight.
Well, that depends on what you consider important... at least one German encoder is active in several U.S. groups, and some of the Karaokes in GerSubs are quite something, for example. (It's not like all of us were incompetent, you know. It's more like certain roles within the team are considered of minor importance... sadly Edit and QC tend to be two of these as both are seen as "delaying the release date" rather than "adding quality" by some groups. That's where I would like more emphasis on the "fan" part of "fansubbing"... indicating they're fans of the particular anime rather than of the subbing process, that is.)
Unfortunately neither Karaoke nor Encoding quality are most important to me. I happen to like animes where translation issues tend to hurt the most, so I may be overly vulnerable to quality issues of this kind while you may be overly vulnerable to spelling/grammar issues. And the average fighting shounen fan may well be happy with the quality of GerSubs, these shows aren't that literary anyway...
So the Love Hina example should actually have told you the opposite of your interpretation: Commercial releases of this "quality" are inferior even in comparison to fansubs containing dozens of typos / spelling / punctuation errors per episode if you ask me.
The fact that German companies would have it much easier to beat fansub quality doesn't mean they generally succeed in doing so. Now recall how commercial releases are lacking in video quality, karaoke, typesetting, release speed and price as well... there's enough reason for badmouthing German commercial releases as well.

Then again, with so much more people on this planet speaking English than German (and so much more mastering the combination of Japanese&English as opposed to Japanese&German - how many native Japanese people are learning German at school?) and consequently not that many German subbing groups being out there and them rarely ever competing for the same anime it's obviously less likely to get quality in a German fansub, so that shouldn't be a big surprise.
Competition of any kind would be good for the "customer" after all (decent fansubs can set a standard for commercial releases by making the customers aware of what's feasible within a few days of spare time by hobbyists - this is a significant part of Tofusensei's message IMHO) - but as long as every speedsub will satisfy the German "market" because the leechers prefer two speedsubbed animes over one HQ translation then why produce quality subs when there's not the subber capacity for it? At least this is what quite a few GerSubbers may be thinking... and the "Entitlement leechers" may well be okay with that.
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