Manga: Lost in Translation Liveblog

This is a panel about translation issues in manga, starring Paul Starr, Stephen Paul, William Flanagan, Jonathan Tarbox, and Mari Morimoto.

19.29

Panel’s over. That’s it!

19.27

Paull Starr: a translator has much more power with a novel than a manga. Bill Flanagan: in anime subtitle translation you have 2 lines of 32 characters each, and you gotta put a phrase or sentence in it.

19.24

Dialect is a love/hate thing. Mari says that she’s from Osaka, and even she thinks of Osaka-ben as being like a Southern drawl.

19.23

Stephen Paul: he got the chance to redo Azumanga Daioh for Yen Press. When it came to the Osaka character, the anime version had a Southern drawl, the manga has a Brooklyn accent…and that’s a problem. Paul invented something in between and wrote a long translator note…but then the editor wrote him back saying, “So this is in Southern style, right?” That’s how they ended up doing it, not Paul’s version.

19.21

Mari: in Naruto, there have been some differences in various terms. There are differences between the way the anime does it and the manga. It’s a huge spreadsheet…

19.18

Jonathan Tarball: I’ve never had a fight with a translator. As a rewriter I want to do as little translation as possible, in a way.

19.17

Bill Flanagan: whenever there is an offer, I say yes.

19.16

Jonathan: “you named a character what?

19.12

Paul Starr: sometimes it depends on how high up or influential you are as far as title selection requests.

19.11

Q: are there any titles that you wanted but didn’t get? A: Mari didn’t get Ranma 1/2, or Rin Ne.

19.06

Tarbox: sometimes thinks that it’s hard to read a manga in the original Japanese and do it justice in translation. Mari Morimoto is talking about “Cat’s Eye.”

19.04

Couldn’t catch most of the titles they’re talking about b/c of site slowness. Sorry.

19.01

Q: are there untranslated works out there that you, personally, would like to see translated? A: “There is an ocean of manga material, only a bucketful of which has made it into the American market” (Tarbox)

18.58

Jonathan Tarbox: Translating is sometimes like trying to explain Star Trek to your grandmother.

18.52

Stephen Paul: learning Japanese in college is very different from learning it to be able to read a manga comfortably. Learning to translate is in itself a different skill.

18.51

Paull Starr: if you have a lot of criticisms about translation, become a translator, which is an incredibly lucrative field! :)

18.50

Bill Flanagan: there is a range of what people, even purists, think are acceptable or unacceptable. Jonathan Tarbox: If you have four fanboys in a room you have five opinions.

18.47

Mari Morimoto: most people in this room are probably manga purists who want more literal translations. But that doesn’t always work with the flow. Viz’s mission is to also include non-fanatics and those who are new. No one pretends it’s a literal translation; difference between translation and adaptation.

18.44

Stephen Paul: Apparently Tokyopop hired an American comic writer to do the rewriting for Battle Royale and tried to “punch it up.”

18.44

Paul Starr: Changes are never made out of malice, but usually out of best intentions to present the creator in a good light. But fans sometimes have different expectations than translators.

18.43

Bill Flanagan: Negima went through a lot of translator turnover. There was a rewriter who wasn’t sensitive to fan needs and took creative license, combined with an editor who didn’t know how to stop it.

18.40

Q: For more colloquial translations, how do they make decisions to translate? A: Decisions are made by the translators. Problem is that editors aren’t necessarily bilingual now, so they have to trust translator decisions.

18.38

These people have definitely done some pretty cool manga and light novels: Haruhi, Spice and Wolf, the new Sailor Moon…

18.33

The panelists are doing their introductions now.

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