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The Fall 2023 Anime Preview Guide
The Yuzuki Family's Four Sons

How would you rate episode 1 of
The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons ?
Community score: 3.4

What is this?


The story follows four brothers — from oldest to youngest, the family's breadwinner and school teacher Hayato, the aloof Mikoto, who dotes on Minato perhaps too much; the meek Minato, and the confident first-grader Gakuto.

The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons is based on the Yuzuki-san Chi no Yon-Kyōdai manga by Shizuki Fujisawa. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Thursdays.

How was the first episode?

Richard Eisenbeis
Rating: 4 (The actual anime)
Rating: 0.5 (These subtitles)

It can be hard to understand what the middle child has to go through. You're expected to be self-reliant enough to take care of yourself but not considered responsible enough to do anything more. No one needs to do anything for you yet no one needs you either. In the end, it can seem like you're just there—just existing.

For Minato, this hurts doubly because he knows his family is struggling. His parents are dead and his oldest brother is trying to feed, clothe, and raise the rest of them on a single teacher's salary. Minato is dying to step up and help his family but his eagerness to help is hampered by his inexperience and impatience. All he wants is to do good and be recognized for that.

And the fact of the matter is his older brothers give him no chances to grow. They see only the immediate: what needs to get done now and in the fastest way possible. Teaching Minato is a hassle they both avoid and they don't want to waste time redoing his work. So Minato tries to be responsible for his youngest brother—to take care of him and do something fun to show his brothers they don't have to worry.

Of course, Gakuto gets lost and the older pair of brothers have to drop everything to come help find the two youngest. But luckily, through all this, the older two realize what they've been doing—that they've been focused only on physical survival and not emotional well-being. Minato, for his part, sees that he needs to be taught to do things properly—even if it hurts his pride. And Gakuto, well, he learns that fireworks are pretty: especially when seeing them with those you love.

Now for the elephant in the room: the subtitles. Translation is a part of my current job here at ANN and I've previously done both translating and translation checking for a major Japanese company. So let me tell you something, I know machine translation when I see it. And knowing what I know about Japanese corporate bureaucracy, I suspect what happened here was one of the following: 1) either the production committee/licensor decided that machine translation would be good enough and no one would notice (a surprisingly common misconception among Japanese companies these days) or 2) whoever the production committee outsourced the translation to used machine translation and knew that no one on the production committee would likely be good enough at English to notice. Either way, once a translation is approved by the Japanese side of things, it can be incredibly hard and time consuming to get things changed—which I suspect leaves us with this abomination.

I can't rant enough about how much an unnatural translation can hurt a work—it makes you focus on the words on the screen and not the story you're being told. It takes the emotions you're supposed to be feeling and turns them into annoyance or bafflement. Bad subtitles can ruin an anime—and in this case that's exactly what is happening. A story as heartfelt and poignant as The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons deserves far better than this.

Rebecca Silverman
Rating: 4 (manga version)
Rating: 1.5 (with these subtitles)

Hopefully, it will have been corrected by the time you watch it, but there's one big elephant in the room here: the subtitles are decidedly sub-par. I don't like calling that out because simulcasting is a challenging process, and we need to be at least a little understanding about occasional mistakes. But the issues here go beyond that – from bizarre moments like “Yuzuki-sensei” translated as “Sir Yuzuki” (yes, in a school setting) and Hayato's name is translated in the subtitles (“Falcon brother”) to Uta's name is misspelled as “Udo” every time after the first occurrence to one stretch where lines are doubled-up on the screen as if someone is repeating themselves or two people are talking at once, this is not what I expect of a professional site. The sentence fragments and Japanese phrase order issues (as opposed to English) aren't great, but they're the least of the problems here.

That is a major shame because this is, thus far, a faithful adaptation of the manga. The story follows four siblings ranging in age from twenty-three to six; they were orphaned a few years before the start of the series, and eldest brother Hayato has become the de facto parent. The third brother, Minato, mentions at one point that Hayato was in college around the time of their parents' deaths, so we can guess how much he voluntarily gave up to take care of the younger boys. He now teaches at the same school Minato and second son Mikoto attend, which doesn't seem like a coincidence. He's doing his best, but we can see how it's taking its toll on him. Even if his colleagues didn't remark upon his forty-year-old dad level of exhaustion, the way that he's trying to juggle everything is apparent even before Minato finds him asleep on his desk.

Minato gets the narration for this episode, and if the anime continues to follow the manga closely, that should change with each new storyline, giving us each brother's voice. He's exhibiting some classic middle-child syndrome, made even worse because he and Mikoto are only eleven months apart and in the same grade. He feels like Hayato depends on Mikoto much more than him, and that hurts Minato's feelings in ways he can't quite express. There's an honesty to the way his emotions are portrayed that makes him feel like a real person rather than a character; he knows how hard things are and that he's not as good at any number of things as Mikoto and Hayato are, but he still desperately wants to take the pressure off for them. We see glimpses of how Mikoto feels – he seems to be in a similar position and tries to help Minato, with mixed results on the part of the younger brother – and Gakuto is keenly aware of being the baby and attempting not to add more pressure to the older boys' lives. Everyone is, quite simply, trying their best, and that looks different for everyone, which is a major strength of this episode. Hopefully, the subtitles get sorted out because this story deserves to find an audience, as this episode hopefully shows.

Nicholas Dupree
Rating: Please hire an actual translator.

We can get to the actual contents of this episode in a minute, but first, I feel duty-bound to talk about the official translation. When I say this is a terrible, supremely unprofessional translation job, I don't mean that I have quibbles with the localization choices or found some typos. The entire episode is nigh-unintelligible thanks to what is almost undoubtedly unedited machine translation. On the lighter end of things, there's almost no proper punctuation. Four out of five sentences end without a period. Later in the episode, there are sections where two versions of a subtitle will appear side by side for reasons I cannot even figure out. I'm pretty sure every line in the subtitle script was fed individually through a translation program – because every line starts with a capitalized letter, regardless of whether it's a new sentence.

Then there's the translation itself, which is so robotic and unedited that it will be impossible for most people to follow what's happening. Sentence structure and grammar is a travesty. There are multiple times where characters' names are just translated literally, like “Hayato-nee-chan” becoming “Brother Falcon” for one line. If you're trying, you can suss out what the characters are trying to say and maybe even mentally substitute lines that would make sense in English. That is a level of work that no viewer should put in just to understand what's happening in this legally licensed and translated work – especially not on a service they're paying for. It's an embarrassing product, a vehemently lousy business decision if it is machine translation, and an insulting state to release this show in.

Because the show itself seems pretty nice. Charming, even! Getting through the subs as best I could, I'm pretty sure this is an adorable and heartfelt story about orphaned brothers trying to keep their family together while struggling with the realities of day-to-day life. I like how Minato is eager to prove he's grown up, wanting to take over tasks around the house to alleviate his adult brother's stress, but he isn't quite ready for all the responsibility as he thinks he is. I like that Hayato, for all that he's stressed supporting and raising his brothers, still makes an effort to be patient and understanding with them. This all seems like a sweet, heartwarming setup that could make for a soothing treat each week – tempered with a bit of sadness without ever getting too dark or saccharine.

Yet I have to say “seems” because the state of this release is straight-up unacceptable. If it's eventually replaced with a proper translation that accurately conveys the material, I'd easily give this 3.5 or 4 stars and recommend it. As-is, all I can tell folks is to read the manga, which, by all accounts, has a perfectly good localization. Also, maybe email Crunchyroll how you feel about this. I know I will.

James Beckett
Rating: …I don't even think I can give this show a rating

Despite how hard-working (and underpaid) most professional translators are, it still isn't uncommon for a wonky localization to pop up now and then. They're mostly not a big deal, no matter how much the armchair experts on social media might want you to believe otherwise when they get all riled up over some anime or other being “faithful” to the original Japanese. However, this is something I don't think I've ever experienced before: The English translation of The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons isn't just bad; it is so fundamentally broken that it makes the show itself unwatchable.

I know that I will not be the only person bringing this up. Still, I absolutely cannot stress enough how gobsmackingly terrible these subtitles are and how they genuinely make it impossible for a non-Japanese-speaking viewer like myself to enjoy or evaluate The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons on its own terms. This is a lighthearted family sitcom, you see, with the four titular brothers all sharing a home, even as they go about their different lives at different ages. It looks decent enough, and what I can glean from the episode's story makes the show seem like a cute enough peek into the lives of these boys. Hayato provides the stability and maturity that the family needs. Mikoto and Minato are going through the ups and downs of middle school life, and Gakuto is the cute little tyke.

It's a shame, then, when the English subtitles' absurd amount of awkward, error-filled, and flat-out nonsensical translations make the entire family sound like a bunch of aliens who are failing miserably at pretending to be normal humans. It ends up giving the entire show a vaguely creepy, uncanny atmosphere that I am sure was not intended by its creators. David Lynch made a series of short films called “Rabbits,” which were little nightmare parodies of family sitcoms starring a clan of eerie humanoid bunnies who speak in haunted, completely disconnected sentence fragments that could only make sense when filtered through a veil of abstract, dreamlike horror. The fact that I can even compare that David Lynch mind-melter and The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons is a sign that something has gone terribly awry.

I don't know if this results from a severe lapse of editorial oversight or if Crunchyroll has stooped to using machine-translated subtitles. Whatever the cause of this blunder, it should be addressed immediately because the show is honestly embarrassing to watch in its current state. If nothing else, take this as a reminder that good localization is a vital component to the ongoing success of the anime industry and that we need to make sure that viewers (and corporate executives) are treating professional translators with the respect that such valuable members of the industry deserve.

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