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Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

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  • Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

    Widgets Magazine
    Bad. Really, does anything else need to be said? Okay. For those that don’t know, dubtitles are the result of a couple of different things. When a dub script is created, it’s working off of the subtitled script (which is often what is provided by the Japanese licensor, which is then re-translated by the licensee). […]

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  • #2
    Re: Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

    There was the odd title, like the original Dragon Ball, and I think Fruits Basket, which got both translated subtitles and dubtitles, which in my mind is the ideal solution, so that when a hard of hearing dub fan needs a little assistance, the correct subtitle track is there. In the UK that proves to be an extra pain, as the BBFC charges extra for the second subtitle track. Some dubtitles weren't bad. Not everyone appreciated Akira's Pioneer dub, as it was comparatively dry, as it was a closer translation. That meant the dubtitles derived from it didn't immediately ring alarm bells for the average anime fan (except when they did a compare). Because it was an HOH track, and the first thing you saw was wind howls, people automatically thought it was crap, when it was nothing of the sort. But when you're talking dubtitles as in the original Appleseed OVA, with the dub notoriously fifteened by Manga, then you wind up hanging your head in despair.

    It is worth noting which dubs are close translations and which aren't when discussing the merits and perils of dubtitles.

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    • #3
      Re: Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

      I have no problem with dubtitles if literal subtitles are also present, but if they're the only subtitled track, then that's a big problem. There's nothing that will keep me from buying a title I really want, but I'm happy this doesn't really come up often these days except from larger companies that don't care. I pay attention to the dialogue more than I used to, and knowing a few Japanese words, I can sometimes tell when the script is off. It can take me out of the experience for a bit when I happen to notice. Even over-localized literal subtitles can annoy me, one example of that being when they adapt character's names ("oniichan" being replaced by the character's name rather than a proper translation, family name being said but subtitled as their given name, etc.).

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      • #4
        Re: Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

        There's nothing good about dubtitles if it is the only option there. If it were available in addition to literal subtitles, then there's no problem with that. But there's a good reason why dubs are not a complete literal translation, and subs should stick to exactly what is being said in Japanese without question.
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        • #5
          Re: Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

          Originally posted by Buckeye View Post
          and subs should stick to exactly what is being said in Japanese without question.
          Except that they don't, and quite rightly so. There has to be a degree of localisation to make translations work, as puns and wordplay in particular don't translate, idioms don't translate, and cultural specificity doesn't translate. One example is that in Western culture, an owl is considered a wise bird, in Indian culture it's considered a foolish animal. Those kind of cultural differences crop up in all cultures and need to be accounted for in translation.

          Otherwise all that is left is transliteration, and that is utter gibberish. You should see what Manga Entertainment have done to the subtitles for Ghost in the Shell Arise! Their translation is incomprehensible as they've stuck far too closely to the Japanese script, and haven't taken the context of the story into account. They did the same with the One Piece movie collections, as extensively documented in the review on this site. Even on good subtitle tracks, I'm so used to US subtitles now, that when Manga do create their own subtitles and throw in a Britishism, it can throw me out of the experience. Someone calling someone a 'twit' in Attack on Titan, or 'chum' in The Devil is a Part Timer are like little landmines.

          A good subtitle translation is art in itself, a fine balance between accurate translation and localisation for the audience.

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          • #6
            Re: Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

            Originally posted by Just Passing Through View Post
            Originally posted by Buckeye View Post
            and subs should stick to exactly what is being said in Japanese without question.
            Except that they don't, and quite rightly so. There has to be a degree of localisation to make translations work, as puns and wordplay in particular don't translate, idioms don't translate, and cultural specificity doesn't translate. One example is that in Western culture, an owl is considered a wise bird, in Indian culture it's considered a foolish animal. Those kind of cultural differences crop up in all cultures and need to be accounted for in translation. ... A good subtitle translation is art in itself, a fine balance between accurate translation and localisation for the audience.
            Absolutely. That always gets lost in these discussions: the subtitle script is (or should be) an adaptation as well.

            Another small caveat to the idea that subtitles should match what is being said--putting aside that necessary adaptation--is that, in rare cases, even an official translation script from the licencor, from which a subtitle script is made, may not still match perfectly with what someone who understands Japanese (a little or a lot) hears if there was any improvisation during recording. (This came to mind watching the behind the scenes on A Letter to Momo recently where director Hiroyuki Okiura observed how Iwa's actor, Toshiyuki Ishida, happily did just this.) Unless the effort was made, on either side of the license, to make a literal translation of what is said, not just what is originally written--and not suggesting that this does not happen; I do recall a translator interview or two that mentions the necessity--it can make the case of a "dubtitle" all the less clear.

            Otherwise, ha, closest to a stats piece on the site, making the very fair argument that, in the belief of abstaining from domestic releases because of a fear of rampant dubtitles, the incidence is over the past 20 years statistically insignificant. Yes, indeed.
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            • #7
              Re: Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

              Dubtitles = Bad. I remember Pilot Candidate and it was beyond bad. being as how I love learning about other cultures, I prefer my subtitles to be as accurate as possible, although I certainly understand the need for the occasional localization as certain things just don't translate well, as humor or content. Even here, with the amount of space available on DVDs & especially Blu Ray, I wish they'd put in explanations as used to sometimes happen with certain manga translations.

              But sometimes a localization doesn't work, with the most common example being the attempts at translation of the Japanese honorific system. So many subtleties are lost by the failure to keep with the Japanese version.
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              • #8
                Re: Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

                Originally posted by General Hentai View Post
                Dubtitles = Bad. I remember Pilot Candidate and it was beyond bad. being as how I love learning about other cultures, I prefer my subtitles to be as accurate as possible, although I certainly understand the need for the occasional localization as certain things just don't translate well, as humor or content. Even here, with the amount of space available on DVDs & especially Blu Ray, I wish they'd put in explanations as used to sometimes happen with certain manga translations.
                Sentai actually does, in more situations than I'd actually expect them to. Sometimes you'll get several different lines of notes as subtitles, appearing in succession, in order to explain a cultural reference or aspect that someone decided was important to the story.

                FUNimation couldn't even be bothered to fully and properly notate all of the (relatively few) chalkboard gags in the early episodes of Negima!? when they included static screens with text as extras, so I wouldn't count on them deciding to do the same.

                Anyway, it's not the space that's the concern, but rather the time and money to have someone look things up and then add the notes. Sure, it's not an incredibly laborious task in and of itself, but not doing so is an easy way to trim costs, as well as to avoid the delays associated with having to have an entirely new and additional release aspect sent over to Japan for approval, and for them to drag their heels on signing off on.

                Far moreso, for obvious reasons, when it comes to an additional CC track, even if that has significantly more benefit. FUNimation was doing it for everything when they started releasing DVDs, but stopped likely for cost reasons, but also because the multiple tracks were confusing some people (so, yes, the finger can be at least partially pointed at fellow fans).
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                • #9
                  Re: Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

                  Originally posted by Just Passing Through View Post
                  It is worth noting which dubs are close translations and which aren't when discussing the merits and perils of dubtitles.
                  ^ This, very much.

                  Titles that Ocean has worked on tend to really trip people up because their dub scripts often hew very closely to their subtitle scripts, which in turn (and to Ocean's credit) are then accurate representations of the Japanese dialogue. To pick a couple of examples, I've watched My-HiME and Gundam 00 with someone who prefers dubs but likes to have subtitles on as a stand-in for a CC track, even knowing that the two may not really line up. I know the subtitle scripts are fine relative to the Japanese audio, because I had originally watched the shows myself that way. But it was interesting to see just how closely the dub script still matched the subtitles for both shows, without the resulting dub being awkward or stilted, or with the odd padding that tends to characterize numerous dubs out there (we've all encountered it: dubs where lines will end with an extra, redundant word or two as the most expeditious way of filling mouth flaps).
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                  • #10
                    Re: Questioned By Fandom: Dubtitles – Good Or Bad?

                    Originally posted by Hayate Kurogane View Post
                    (we've all encountered it: dubs where lines will end with an extra, redundant word or two as the most expeditious way of filling mouth flaps).
                    "Anyway" is my favorite. And too many adaptation writers', as well. Can kill two flaps with that one.
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