May 31, 2007

Melancholy DVD

Got my SE Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya DVD 1 box on Tuesday, and while I don't have the time to do a full review of it at the moment, I will mention a few things:

1) The dub is, quite possibly, the worst professional job I've ever heard. see below for updated information.
2) Creditless OP/ED for Episode 00? Gosh, thanks Bandai!
3) Goodbye, "time travellers" and "sliders," hello "future men." I swear, why don't they just hire fansubbers?
4) It feels wrong to be watching the shows in chronological order. The series makes more sense that way, I'll admit, but it just isn't right.
5) The video quality is stunningly good. The Pond's tv isn't the greatest, but there wasn't the slightest hint of color bleed, pixel crawl, or anything like that. I know it's computer animated, digital master and all that, but it still surprised the heck out of me how good it was.
6) The box is great!
7) The hairband made me chuckle.

More later, perhaps with photos.

UPDATE: Okay, I've watched the first two episodes (not episode 00) using the dub, and have changed my opinion somewhat. Only half of the cast is miserable... hey, it's a start.

Kyon, voiced by Crispin Freeman (who's done so many VA roles that it's impossible to list them all), is... acceptable enough. A little more snark would go a long way, though.

Wendee Lee's Haruhi comes off more than a little stilted; she sounds like a cross between a valley girl and a Brooklyn taxi driver.

It's when you get to Mikuru (Stephanie Shea) and Yuki (Michelle Ruff) that everything goes ass over teakettle. Mikuru's voice is even more annoying than the original, so incredibly high-pitched that my neighbor's dog started whining in pain. Yuki, on the other hand, comes off as a Hot Topix-wannabe punk; "whatever" should not be passing through her lips, but there it is.

Special mention should be made of Bridget Hoffman's rendition of Asakura... it's the perfect example of someone mailing in their performance. Yeesh... if she was a major character, the pain would be too much to bear. Learn to act. Please.

On the plus side, the dub script is much better than the sub. Time travellers is here, and while many of the jokes and one-liners are 'Americanized', they do work. I didn't want to gouge my eardrums out with a pencil... that's more than I can say about most of the dubs I've heard. Change the grade from a low 'F' to a middlin' 'C'.

Would have been nice if Haruhi's VA actually sounded like, y'know, a teenager (or something close!), instead of a 52 year old woman trying to act teenagerish.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 03:36 PM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
Post contains 454 words, total size 3 kb.

1 So, wait... all that money and you get crap subtitles? Or is "future men" the dub lingo?

I'm starting to wonder if I'm ever going to want to shell out for these things.

Posted by: GreyDuck at May 31, 2007 05:11 PM (CdXfx)

2 The official subs are probably more correct than the fansubs. But they don't "sound" right, if that makes sense. The literal translation probably IS 'future men', but we're more used to 'time traveller'... not just from the fansubs, but IN GENERAL.

It's a good term, time traveller. Makes perfect sense to any science fiction reader... but the translator may not be a SF fan.

If someone who knows Japanese (Jeff, you out there?) heard it, they'd probably be better able to confirm my guess.

And, to be fair, AFK's subber has a knack for taking correct and making it good.

Posted by: Wonderduck at May 31, 2007 05:47 PM (2nDll)

3 I'd bet that they had miraibito and went for the literal. What's it sound like?

Posted by: HC at June 01, 2007 04:30 AM (V+5Zy)

4 I honestly don't recall what Japanese term was used for "sliders" and "time travelers" in the show, so I can't say. Was "future men" used in place of only one or was it used for both combined?

Posted by: Jeff Lawson at June 01, 2007 06:20 AM (VgF1Y)

5 異世界人 (isekaijin) is the Japanese word rendered as "sliders" (a.f.k.) and "otherworlders" (Bandai subs). I'd always thought it was "risekaijin", but luckily I have the original novel to check against.

未来人 (miraijin) is the word translated as "time travelers" (a.f.k., Bandai dub) and "future men" (Bandai sub). HC is almost right, but 人 is read as "jin", not "bito".

So who's correct? Others may differ, but IMHO this is a fine object lesson on the perils of overly literal translation. In both cases, the Bandai subs are more correct, if you equate "correct" with "literal". Isekaijin, broken into its component characters, does mean other-world-people, just as miraijin is a compound of the words for "future" (mirai) and "person" (hito, read as jin here). "Otherworlders" does have the advantage of being more comprehensible to the general viewing population than "sliders", but "future men"? When the only miraijin in the entire show is, um, a woman?

Posted by: Andrew F. at June 01, 2007 11:22 AM (46297)

6 Jeff, "Future Men" was used for both sliders and time travellers.

"When the only miraijin in the entire show is, um, a woman?"

But when it's first used in the show, we've not yet met Mikuru... I actually don't have a problem with using the term to include Mikuru, since she didn't exist yet... that we, or Haruhi, knew.


It's looking more and more like my guess of "overly literal" is right...

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 01, 2007 12:09 PM (A5s0y)

7 Strange how they combined the two. Or skipped over "isekaijin" all together.

Anyway, it does indeed look like a case of "too literal" a translation. Technically speaking, it's correct... but it's definitely weird.

Posted by: Jeff Lawson at June 01, 2007 03:17 PM (VgF1Y)

8 When I finally got impatient and wanted to watch all the rest of Shakugan no Shana, I downloaded the last 8 episodes as fansubs, then watched the four DVDs I had followed by those fansubs.

At the point where I transitioned to the fansubs, I immediately noticed a significant difference in the translations. One thing in particular was that the fansubs used the Japanese words for certain things, such as "fuzetsu". But that wasn't all there was to it.

When my DVD 5 arrives next week, I think I might try comparing some of the subtitles between the two to see.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 01, 2007 03:30 PM (+rSRq)

9 Check out the subtitle geometry. Sub's full, too full to fit "time traveler" or "people from the future". I'm told "future men" is the only thing that would fit. (Honestly, I'd rather change the rest of the wording to shoehorn it in, but meh, judgment call.)

One of the biggest constraints on a professional sub is space - you need to stay inside the "title safe" area, more or less, because you're playing the darned thing on an NTSC TV. I've had to re-word stuff before because what I really wanted to say couldn't be made to fit on two lines (and time kept me from breaking up the sub).

I've actually worked for this guy, and his font's just fat - 'bout 20% less space/line than what I'm used to working with, maybe 30% from ADV's latest font. Readable, very, but it forces compromises in the actual subtitles, like this one.

Anyway, classic example of it being really hard to tell from a finished product where something in particular went off the rails...

Posted by: Avatar at June 01, 2007 04:19 PM (dlP4b)

10 Avatar, I noticed that the subs were larger than normal... in that I could comfortably read them without my glasses.

It became glaringly obvious, though, during the 'Yuki explains it all to you' segment, when there's subtitles both at the top and bottom of the screen. There's frightfully little space in between for, y'know, anime.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 01, 2007 05:10 PM (A5s0y)

11 Heh, you ought to have seen some of the scenes in Gasaraki... three separate two-line subtitle streams, six total lines up there, for a period. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Yes, yes, carrying interesting information, but you get to a point of information saturation - nobody can read all that.

But my major point was that, well, you're always striking a balance between legibility and having enough room to subtitle the dialogue; when the subs get too big, sure, they're plenty easy to read, but suddenly they're not matching what's being said so well, which means pretty directly that they're not doing their -job- that well. For some shows, you can get away with that, because they're written pretty colloquially; Haruhi is not that show.

I don't generally like comparing fansubs to professional subs, because -usually- the first one you see "sounds" right even when it turns out to be really wrong, no matter which one it was. But then again, sometimes the "professional" sub is terrible too...

Posted by: Avatar at June 01, 2007 05:36 PM (dlP4b)

12 Generally bandai does a competent job with their subs, translation wise. Most of the professional companies do. Fansub translations are generally unspeakably horrible, and if you don't know Japanese you'll never know what you're missing.

That said, "Future Men" is a bit of a stretch.

Posted by: Adam at June 02, 2007 04:11 AM (ff/q8)

13 Adam, I'm not denying that most professional translators do a decent job (though the Read or Die OVA leaps to mind as a contrary example... yeesh!).

I will disagree with you on fansubbers, though. The well-established groups, like AFK or Eclipse, seem to know their stuff. While I don't understand Japanese (other than what I've picked up via anime and some casual self-taught stuff), I do know this: most fansubbers do a BETTER job of making a translation that 'sounds' better. As mentioned before, it may not be literally correct, but they sure feel right.

Probably something to do with doing it because they love what they're doing.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 02, 2007 04:45 AM (A5s0y)

14 Fansub translation quality is, as you'd expect, all over the map. The -best- fansubs are as good as anything a commercial company might put out (and quite a lot better than some things that have gone out commercially...) The average fansub is generally marginal - sometimes it's just a missed reference or two, or some kind of mistranslated technical term which is more or less impossible to catch without a script. There's plenty of fansubs that are way below that level, where you're missing major plot points because the translator didn't follow (or they're working from a Chinese translation that was totally wrong to start with). Sometimes I get the impression I could do a better job myself, and folks, I am -not- a translator nor fluent in Japanese. ;p

I won't deny that Bandai generally does a good job, but hey, I've been doing a bit of contract work for them lately. And I can't -really- complain about Haruhi, because (a) Haruhi is a hard case, and (b) I got some other work sent my way because other people were busy working on it.

As far as the love goes, nobody subtitles anime for the money. ^^ One downside to working off a good translation is that, well, sometimes the original dialogue is lousy or stupid. If you have low confidence in your translation of a particular line, but you have to subtitle it anyway, you're definitely going to make sure it sounds good, no matter what it was supposed to be saying...

Posted by: Avatar at June 02, 2007 06:47 AM (PyY3O)

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