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Seven Seas Addresses Mushoku Tensei, Classroom of the Elite Light Novel Localization Changes (Updated)

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Publisher to reissue Classroom of the Elite #7, is 're-evaluating' choices for Mushoku Tensei after complaints of omitted/rewritten text

Seven Seas Entertainment confirmed with ANN that it will release a new version of the Classroom of the Elite volume 7 light novel, and that it is "re-evaluating" its editorial choices on Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation after complaints surfaced around omitted or rewritten text in the English releases.

According to text comparisons posted on Reddit, the Seven Seas release of Classroom of the Elite volume 7 omitted entire paragraphs of descriptive prose and dialogue from the original Japanese novel. Readers complained that the changes made it harder to understand what was happening in the story. Seven Seas will reissue the volume in both print and digital form.

Similar cases of omissions were also noted for the first two volumes of Mushoku Tensei. Several controversial changes also involve rewritten characterization. In chapter 3 of volume 2, a scene which depicted the protagonist Rudeus groping and attempting to pull off the panties of a sleeping girl was replaced with him trying to pull her shirt over her stomach to prevent her from catching a cold. The scene in its original form was depicted in episode 6 of the television anime adaptation.

Another notable change from volume 1 involved removing references to rape. When Lilia described her past sexual history with Paul to Rudeus in chapter 9, he mentally referred to Paul's actions as "rape and adultery." This was changed in English to "cheater and womanizer." In another section earlier in the same chapter, Lilia recalls an incident where Paul snuck into her bedroom at night for sex, describing the initial act as "forced." The reference to force was removed in the English version.

ANN has personally confirmed the changes highlighted regarding Mushoku Tensei volumes 1 and 2.

Seven Seas' full statement regarding the localization changes is published below:

The localization process, especially with novels, involves multiple stages of editing after we receive the raw translation. The process of creating smooth and readable English language prose often involves condensing or rearranging text, so line-by-line translation comparisons are not always 1:1. Seven Seas' goal is to provide accurate translations that reflect the author's intent, yet at the same time, we pride ourselves on providing polished English versions that are commercially viable and enjoyable to read. Our accomplished editors, many of whom are critically acclaimed writers as well as diehard manga and light novel fans, are tasked with carefully threading the needle and balancing word-for-word accuracy with fluidity. In most cases, we are quite pleased with the results, and are confident that our translations stack up with our competitors' translations and other professional prose novels in English.

That said, the localization process is always a judgement call. In the case of Classroom of the Elite Vol. 7, fans rightly drew our attention to a heavy-handed editorial approach in certain portions of the text. We appreciate this criticism and have taken it to heart. As a result, we have now re-edited the book and will release a new version shortly (both digital and print) that strikes a more carefully considered balance. As for Mushoku Tensei, we are currently re-evaluating our editorial choices, and will be making necessary adjustments on some volumes soon.

We thank fans for their invaluable feedback. Localization is not a science; it is an art form. We will continue to refine our in-house editorial standards to ensure that our localizations remain faithful, yet artful.

Seven Seas Entertainment licensed Rifujin na Magonote's Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation and Syougo Kinugasa's Classroom of the Elite novels in 2018. The 7th volume of Classroom of the Elite had an early digital release on October 29, and its print release shipped on January 19. The 9th volume of Mushoku Tensei had an early digital release on January 21, and the print release will ship on March 30.

Update (2/19): Mushoku Tensei translator Alyssa Orton-Niioka stated on Twitter that she was not made aware of the translation changes beforehand. "For what it's worth, I was completely blindsided by the changes to the MT LN. I knew about volume 2's issue and was under the impression it was a layout issue, not an editorial change. It seems that was not the case. Please understand those were editorial choices, and I was not included in that process. I didn't learn about these changes until all of you did. Many translators turn in their scripts and don't see the final product until it's published. If it wasn't already clear enough, my policy on translation is to translate faithfully regardless of whether I agree with the content itself. I think it should be for the readers to decide how they feel about it."

Fellow translator on the series Paul Cuneo tweeted: "FWIW I view it as my job as a translator to convey the author's intent as best I can, warts and all. But as freelancers and one person in a multi-step process we often don't have that much control over the end result. I do feel editing should be a two-way process, with translators looped in to help keep that connection to the original text / intent as solid as possible. I'll try to advocate for process changes with my clients toward that goal."

Source: Email correspondence

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