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Utawarerumono Volume 1

Posted Feb 17, 10:08 PM by zalas to Anime (アニメ)

Today, I will take a look at ADV Film’s release of Utawarerumono, namely the first volume. The following are my impressions of the quality of the translation from watching the first five episodes of the series:

Style

ADV’s translation style is a general style, adopted by many in the commercial translation industry. Honorifics are not used verbatim at all, and are sometimes inserted into the script, like “Lady” or “Lord” for the さま honorific. Overall, the script reads pretty well and is not choppy. In particular, Nuwangi’s way of speaking in the translation really brings out his character. Major parts of the script that weren’t in English include Tuskuru’s prayer, which was not in Japanese, anyway.

In fact, there were entries in the Glossary section of the DVD that were not present in the subtitle script. Things like tamuya (small shrine) in the glossary were replaced by their English equivalents in the script.

Due to the very bizarre names sometimes used in the series, I think it would be useful if I wrote down some of the names here, both in Japanese and in English:

Issues

There are a few issues with this translation, in my opinion. The most serious ones show up in Episode 3, starting with the title of the episode.

The original Japanese for the title was 紫琥珀, which ADV translated as “Violet and Amber.” Besides making the episode title sound like the name of two girls, this is not what the title means. In the game upon which this show was based upon, 紫琥珀 had an indicated reading of ムィ・コゥーハ. In fact, this word is present in the dialogue of the show, which in turn was translated as “Mui Kowha” in the subtitles. So yes, this episode title is referring to the purple amber that Tuskuru uses and not talking about two separate entities.

The second major issue was a particular line which seemed way off the mark from what was actually said. The line is as follows, with Japanese first, then the reading, then the English translation in the subtitle track:

Using “hothead” to refer to Himukami/God of Fire (as given in the Glossary on the same disc) is a bit of a stretch. In fact, the line should read something like “The God of Fire seems to be in a foul mood.” So yes, she’s talking about Yuzuha’s sickness and noticing the start of something instead of talking about Oboro, which the line could mislead a viewer to believe.

Other than these major issues, there were a few other issues, such as slightly changing the meaning of a line by replacing words with something not equivalent. For example, when Tuskuru was explaining to Oboro why Hakuoro should be taken along, she used the line:

This does not mean “This man is a friend of mine.” In fact, 身内 in this case refers to a family member, and not just any friend.

When Nuwangi gets bitten by his woptar, he shouts out:

which was translated as “Sonnuva bitch, how dare you bite your master?!” While the general meaning is the same, Nuwangi merely says “How dare you turn on your master” instead of specifically mentioning the biting part.

Another type of issue that cropped up in the first episode that sort of detracted from the meaning was related to timing of the spoken dialogue. When Sopoku checks out Hakuoro, she says:

There was a specific pause right after 男, which should leave the viewer thinking “oh, she’s praising him,” as that particular sentence fragment does sound that way. However, the line turns for the comedic when she completes the sentence, which ends up showing that she wasn’t actually sure about whether he was a good man or not. The translation in the subtitle track was:

which misses this timing nuance.

When Nuwangi introduces himself as “the son of the local feudal lord, Sasante, who is the younger brother of this country’s king,” the English order is reversed from the Japanese order. Normally, this would be okay and much easier to read. However, this does remove the comedic nature of his line. In the original Japanese, due to the timing, it first sounds like he’s saying that he’s the country’s king. But wait! He adds some words and now he’s the country’s king’s brother, who happens to be the local feudal lord. But wait! He adds even more words and now he’s the son of the local feudal lord.

Lastly, there were a few bits of the English that were strange. For example, there’s “It’s because I made you to overdo it.” in the first episode and “At first, I also said it to forget it” in the fifth episode, both looking like typos. The translation of the title of the fourth episode was “One-Way Path” for 戻れぬ道, while “Path of No Return” or “Road of No Return” should’ve been the more idiomatic expression here.

Summary

Overall, the translation reads well, but there were a few major issues that could mislead the viewer. Therefore, I give this translation a C.


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