Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Monday, October 24, 2005

"Non-flipped" manga are BAD translations

Over the past few years, I've been saving a great deal of money on English-language reprints of Japanese comics (or "manga" as marketing departments and geeky fans tell us they should be called).

I haven't been saving the money because of cheaper prices, I've been saving that money because of badly done translations. In other words, there are plently of manga I'd be buying if the English-language publishers could be bothered to do decent translations. As it is, I'm not parting with my cash.

English is meant to be read left to right. I really, truly don't care that Japanese is read right to left, and the cheap-ass, non-flipped translations don't impress me. These shoddy efforts tick me off even more that the laziness reflected in the way many publishers aren't even bothering to translate (and in some cases not even bothering to footnote) the sound effects, which sometimes are sometimes necessary to fully get what is happening in a sceneIt might give hardcore geeks a warm and fuzzy feeling as they delude themselves into thinking that they are reading the comics as "they were intended" while all they're doing is helping the bottom line of the importers. If they really wanted to read the comics as they were intended, they would learn to read Japanese. (To her credit, the daughter of a co-worker is actually doing just that.)

I swallowed my disgust and annoyance to buy "Kindiachi Mysteries" (and I'm sure there will be others) but I would have enjoyed them alot more if Tokyo Pop could have been bothered to do a decent translation of them.

Dark Horse and Studio Proteus used to do top-notch translations. They would mirror ('flip" the artwork, except in cases where the panel needed to say in its original format, and then they would translate the sound effects and retouch the art. Now, Dark Horse has jumped on the cost-cutting, bad translation bandwagon. The "Oh, My Goddess!" series will now longer be presented in accordance with how English-language books are supposed to be read.

I think this is a tremendous shame. I think it's an even bigger shame that comic book readers are willing to let themselves get ripped off because they've bought into the myth that "manga" is more than Japanese for "comics."

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