TL Standard 101

As for how We Suck handles titles and Japanese honorifics – the No. 1 guideline that we follow is: location, location, location.We believe that an anime is in Japanese because:

  1. It is set in Japan and is about Japanese people, or set outside Japan but with the setting dominated by Japanese people. Alternatively, the story takes place in a fantasy alternate-universe where the environment or people is supposed to resemble Japan.
  2. It is set in a non-Japanese country and it is predominated by non-Japanese people. Alternatively, it is set in a fantasy setting which is an explicit simulation of a country outside Japan, and features characters that are explicitly not Japanese. (However, it is in Japanese because that is the language spoken by its viewers.)
  3. It is set in a 100% fantasy setting, where it’s not explicitly obvious what real-life country is being simulated.

In Case A, it would make sense to leave in the honorifics, as well as keep certain terms and cultural references untranslated (but explained via translation note). On the other hand, in Case B, the sensible thing to do would be to translate the honorifics and translate any terms originally left in Japanese – because the anime is supposed to simulate non-Japanese culture (as opposed to Japanese culture) to begin with. To hear things like “Integral-sama” in Hellsing or “Emily-chan” in Emily of New Moon would be rather jarring, to say the least. As for Case C, we evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

The majority of the projects that we’ve worked on fall under Case A. (This includes Rocket Girls, because while the anime itself takes place in a space base in Solomon Islands, said space base is occupied by Japanese people.) The only two projects we’ve done which fall under Case B is Survive (for which I wasn’t part of the group) and Saiunkoku. In the case of Saiunkoku, while we’ve taken some flak for translating all titles and honorifics in the series, we believe that it’s the right path to follow because Saiunkoku is supposed to be set in a fantasy world in the style of ancient China – if it was set in a fantasy world in the style of Japan circa the Heian-kyo era, our decision on titles and honorifics would be much different.

As for the original topic: ○○-tachi can easily be rendered as any of:

  • ○○-and the others
  • ○○-and company
  • ○○-et al.
  • ○○-and his/her friends, or even
  • ○○-and (insert names of whichever other specific people are being referred to).

But I suppose there could be worse examples… it could have been “Everything is according to keikaku” for 計画通り, with a translation note explaining what keikaku means. (For the record, keikaku (計画) is Japanese for “plan”).

Indeed. Though I don’t know about where keikaku comes from, I do know of certain groups that just purely follow Case C no matter what (changing common Japanese names to Mary and Joe, for one). And certain groups that leave -tachi and yatsu alone.

You do the math. :)

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2 Responses to TL Standard 101

  1. Espr says:

    The more popular it gets the more ass clowns will show up. Simple as that.

    Just wait till a branch of 4kids does an eroge. Then, nothing will be sacred.

  2. Amoirsp says:

    I already couldn’t imagine 4kids doing ONE OVA.

    I actually haven’t encountered Case C. Well, I only watch a select few anime anyhow.

    Well, fansubbing in a sense, if there is more than one group for the same series, there is indirect versatility. In a localisation of a dub, once a company gets the rights, then only that one will have it. There could be preference issues, but if a series has an alternative and a translation wasn’t liked, switching is entirely possible.

    Of what I usually see, the variability is usually tolerable regardless of what it is. So whether it is completely English or really funny English, I’d prefer the one that is more accurate, but since I wouldn’t know the full context anyway, then it’s fine.

    Or rather I am probably confused, and therefore responded unclearly.