Spice Up the Subtitles
What happens when subbers get bored. The original line was, "Found you!"
Sometimes, a fansubber
will insert dirty jokes and language, Double Entendre
, or any number of "inappropriate" things into the script in an attempt to "improve" the show, or to cover up the fact that they're not as fluent in Japanese as they want us to think. Of course, when official translations are brought over, many fans who were used to the aforementioned sub script often are left wondering where all of the adult situations and dialogue (that never existed to begin with) went, and blame the series' Western distributors
for having the gall to release such a horrible Macekre
This also happens frequently to official releases that want to get out of the Animation Age Ghetto
as fast as possible by adding as much family-unfriendly material as they can to the subtitles.
Much of this confusion is caused especially by the Japanese expletive kuso
. This word is an all-purpose expletive, and, despite being really not all
that offensive, can be translated as literally any and every word to ever cross the English profanity spectrum, including but not limited to "shit", "oh shit
", "dammit", "damn", "damn you", "God dammit", "crisse de tabarnak
", "rats", "darn", "crap", "drat", "crud"
, "not good", "this is bad", "oh no", or even, in some cases, "help" (when you don't actually expect it). Literally speaking it means "excrement", so perhaps "crap" would be the closest English equivalent. Fansubbers
generally understand that kuso
is supposed to be a swear word but don't know how inoffensive it actually is, and - naturally - almost always skew heavily towards the more offensive translations regardless of whether or not it fits the tone of the series, makes sense in context, or makes the characters who use it sound like 12-year-olds. (In addition, lightening up on swear words for something obviously aimed at an older audience can sometimes give off a Gosh Dang It to Heck!
feeling.) Dubs tend to lean on the tamer side; generally speaking, the more experience a translator has, the better the profanity is handled.
See also: Obligatory Swearing
, Rated M for Money
, Avoid the Dreaded G Rating
, Animation Age Ghetto
. Occasionally a form of Hotter and Sexier
. May cause Mis-blamed
. Related to Fun with Subtitles
and Gag Sub
- Early Dragonball Z fansubs dropped almost hilarious rivers of Obligatory Swearing into dialogue that had about one-twentieth that much originally.
- DeJap's Tales of Phantasia. While Arche wasn't exactly an innocent little flower in the original script, the translation made her so horny that she was practically the Dirty Old Man of the party (although she was neither old nor a man). The much, much, MUCH tamer official translation was one of the (numerous) problems that players of the Fan Translation had with the GBA version.
- DeJap's translation of the boat scene (in)famously punched up Claus's Japanese line "Mint may be clean and composed, and that's good, but Arche is Arche. There's something charming about her, you have to admit" into "Mint has that quiet elegance about her, but I bet Arche fucks like a tiger". There's also the near memetic line from the kid listening to the band in Alvanista. The original has him say "These guys aren't that good, I kind of feel bad for them" while DeJap had him say "These guys suck ASS!!!"
- Manga Entertainment, particularly their UK branch, was notorious for this as well in their earlier days. This sort of translation even gained the nickname "fifteening", for the age rating that resulted.
- There's at least one Bleach fansub out there that gives Nnoitra constant F-Bombs.
- This also happens in some manga scanlations.
- Shinsengumi Fansubs added quite a bit of cursing to its fansubs of Flame of Recca and Rurouni Kenshin.
- Spanish Fansub AnimeUnderground seems to work by the following rule: "If there's the chance of using slang/swearwords instead of a normal word, then do so, no matter the context or who's saying it. (Unless it's a very polite character. Emphasis on very.) They especially are fond of using the word "joder" (Spanish for "fuck"), which they seem to find a way to work into just about every circumstance, even if the Japanese word is something like the rather mild "shimatta", or isn't even swearing (Like "Impossible!" or "This is bad!"). Fortunately, other than that and translating Lolicon as a word that means "Child Molester", their translations are alright... Too bad they release series when they feel like it and incur some Narm when leaving some perfectly translatable words untranslated.
- An unusual example from an official release - Disney's dub of Princess Mononoke took a harmless line ("This soup tastes like water!") and punched it up ("This soup tastes like donkey piss!"). This was later admitted to have been an error in attempting to determine how "rude" the choice of phrasing originally was. The subtitles use the original phrase.
- A group called "Your-Mom" fansubs took some liberties with their Code Geass translation. In addition to the gem pictured above, there was also the wonderful spectacle of Viletta Nu angsting about "having wild sex with that Eleven," and contemptuously sneering "why would I have wondrous sex with you, Eleven?"
- There's also an infamous scene with Shirley Fenette being particularly explicit when it was really out of character for her...
- The official subtitles of Hellsing are significantly more subdued than the dub; the dub has its share of Cluster F Bombs, while the subtitles are generally profanity-free. Yet the dub is the more faithful of the two translations— as those who viewed the series in fansubs will know, Jan Valentine's dialogue was vulgar enough in the original Japanese to get Sound Effect Bleeps in the first Fuji TV airing.
- Evident in fansubs of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, where the main characters would yell out "Who the fuck do you think we are?!" The line is more accurately "Who the hell do you think I am?"
- Also, the BSS fansub group had Kamina call Viral a "fucking furry". The original was more along the lines of "cocky bastard."
- One Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo scanlation changed "underwear" into "gay pants". Yeah, we don't know either.
- Fansub group gg has a history of this, especially when they start to get bored with the show they are working on. Their Axis Powers Hetalia and Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts subs are the most extreme examples.
- Example: Hetalia episode 48 - Italy (after "growing up" from Chibitalia) says "Koe hen na no" or "My voice sounds weird." Subs read "I sound like a fag."
- Funnily enough, Funimation's official dub isn't much better; their dub of the above scene is almost identical, except with "fag" replaced with the slightly more PC "homo".
- Another Hetalia one: "These rumors are spreading like AIDS!"
- Don't forget this Baka & Test line: "There are people dying in Haiti, you know?" Also "Damn you liberal America"... on a show set in Japan.
- Much like gg above, CoalGuys is... uh... like this trope. Especially apparent on their B Gata H Kei subs, though not the only ones. (Ironically, the English release of that series took even greater liberties — even choosing a totally different title, Yamada's First Time.)
- The fansub group Commie is another one for the list. Like gg and Coalguys, they have become notorious in the anime fandom for (for better or worse) filling their subs with punched-up "witty" dialogue and memes, often to the point of being distracting.
- In Dead or Alive before Dimensions and the 5th main title in the series all non-japanese speaking fans had were subtitles to understand what the characters were saying, and these translations were heavily localized, ranging from the english text being a mere different reading of what the characters were saying to some other lines being almost completely different, as in it made some characters sound more rude and agressive than they really were.
Tina's intro dialogue in Dead or Alive 3:
Japanese: "Honki de iku wa yo!" [in a playful tone, fitting of her personality]
Literal translation: "I’m going serious!"
Official localization: "I’m gonna open a can of whop-ass on you!"
- TV-Nihon's Samurai Sentai Shinkenger subs often offer us some "bastard"s and "bitch"s... in what is very clearly a children's show. One of the most particularly jarring examples is seeing Mako reacting to a striking revelation with "This is bullshit".
- They did that in Zoids: Genesis too...
- They might have passed that in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. When Yuki Gai confronts him in the middle of the night he says "Fuzaken na" (ふざけんな), a phrase which literally means "quit joking" and is considered fairly strong language, but it was rendered as "Fuck off."
- Over Time's first run of Kamen Rider OOO subs had a few hilarious moments in which Ankh would yell "MOTHERFUCKER!"; while Ankh swearing was actually pretty believable given his personality, it was still a little out-of-place given Kamen Rider is a kids' show.
- Here's a fun game to try. Look around for a fan-translated item - anime, manga, video games, anything will do. Check to see if it doesn't translate any Japanese interjection, even a mild one like kuso (Japanese is notoriously low on "dirty language"), as "damn" or "shit" at least once. This is perhaps most noticeable with fansubs of children's shows; by translating every instance of kuso! as "Dammit!" or "Shit!" (and many fansubbers do), even Pokémon or My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic would be rated TV-PG-L at least.
- Ayako's fansubs for NEEDLESS are known for doing this. As well as adding swearing, they also added ridiculously long "TL notes" which explain the "science" behind the techniques used in Needless.
- Scanlations of Naruto were pretty inconsistent with the series' level of swearing over the years.note One character in particular got a lot of this: scan groups often had Killer Bee drop the f-bomb, probably because he fancies himself an rapper and rappers are expected to swear worse than the cliché demands it from Marines. In particular, his catchphrase kono yaro, baka yaro is often fan-translated as "mother fucker," though the actual meaning is closer to "man, you're stupid, man." (The Viz manga translates is as "fool, ya fool".)
- Done in the subs provided by Kirby's Rainbow Resort for Kirby of the Stars, which often contain words like "bullshit". Especially jarring in that A. the games the show is based on are explicitly aimed at a young audience and B. the show is fairly family friendly aside from the occasional horror and the Fumu-tan segment (which, it should be noted, made it into the official dub mostly unedited). On the sillier side of things, during an episode where everyone is reading an obvious Harry Potter parody, they briefly (it only lasts about half a second) had the subtitles say "SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE." during a scene transition.
- Whoever did the subtitles for Limbo of the Lost was a bit cracked. The subtitles are peppered with demented laughter, regardless of the fact that the dialog contains none whatsoever. This is actually a Verbal Tic — well, Textual Tic; Do We Have This One? — of one of the developers, as observed in some of his responses to reviewers on forums. Yeah...
- The CSCentrl sub of Hikari Sentai Maskman takes a Okelampa, a "character" whose only role is to Make My Monster Grow and then say "Good grief!" (Yare, yare!) Once an Episode and makes him a Deadpan Snarker of a Punch-Clock Villain. It got straight translated (and then different acceptable translations for the same term) a few times, but once CS got bored, yare, yare could become "I need a raise!" or "Why don't the Maskmen shoot me first?" or even "Baraba's mom is Rita Repulsa!" It was something different every week and part of what you waited for.
- Unusual live-action and official example: the official English subtitles for the first season of Forbrydelsen on The BBC caused complaints from Danes, as whether down to ignorance or laziness every Danish profanity from mild to extreme was translated as some form of "fuck", giving a misleading impression of the dialogue and characters.
- The subtitles of REDLINE contain many instances of the word "fuck", even when what's actually being said is a good deal milder. Bear in mind this is not a fansub, it's the official DVD release. (And oddly enough, the fansub was actually cleaner!)
- Horrible Subs' version of AKB0048 translates dialogue into Image Board memes wherever it can, and adds some slurs that the script wasn't even remotely implying.
- Final Fantasy:
- J2e's Fan Translation of Final Fantasy IV purports to be more faithful than the original SNES version's translation, and it is... in some places. In others, it cribs liberally from the SNES script (including the Spoony Bard line) and inserts swear words and pop culture references that were never in the original. This is perhaps most noticeable in the encounter with (C/K)ain after the Cagnazzo battle; not only does Kain refer to Rosa as a "whore", something the original script wasn't even implying, but Yang, ordinarily a polite and honorable man, breaks character entirely to call Kain a "son of a bitch".
- The swearing that Final Fantasy VII's localisation is notorious for was pretty much invented by the translators, with the Japanese version being about what you would expect for a mainstream game aimed at young teenagers. This even applies to the Symbol Swearing - for instance, one of the rooms Cloud can visit in the brothel is called a "&$#% Room" in the English, when it's just a "Love Room" in Japanese. Previous English FF translations (especially Final Fantasy VI) had been damaged by Nintendo's strict censorship rules, so Squaresoft NA may have been pushing hard in the opposite direction to shake the stigma off.
- For the North American release of Hakuouki, the Aksys Games translators opted to convey Hijikata Toshizo's aggressive manner of speech by peppering his dialogue liberally with profanity and crude idioms, including quite a few f-bombs. The Sentai Filmworks translation of The Anime of the Game - which in the original Japanese lifts a lot of dialogue directly from the game - is much milder.
- With very few exceptions, the Fan Translation of MOTHER 3 is very good about profanity, generally only using it where it appears in the original script. (Having a professional translator on the team helped.) Why does it belong here? Word of God is that, for the most part, lead translator Clyde "Tomato" Mandelin tried to do what he thought an official Nintendo translation would have gone with, and "this stance on including swearing is [one] thing where I’m certain I strayed from what an official localization would’ve done".
- The original dub of Ghost Stories was notorious for adding adult jokes and references in what was originally intended to be a kids show. This was because the translators were told to do whatever they thought would get the show popular.
- The official release of High School Of The Dead follows both the "added cursing" ("WHAT THE FUCK'S GOING ON?!", for one) and "pop culture references that weren't in the original" phenomena associated with this trope.
- The European Spanish fansub of Ninja Nonsense is pretty infamous for this because EVERYONE (even the protagonist Shinobu and her little sister Miyabi, who is an elementary-grade age pre-teen, who don't swear at all in the original Japanese version) swears like sailors:
Miyabi: ¡QUE PUTO ASCO! (That's FUCKING DISGUSTING!)note
- In a similar way, the European Spanish fansub of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, when Lord Djibril plans to fire the Requiem, he utters an Atomic F-Bomb that it wasn't even implied in the original Japanese version:
Djibril: Gilbert Durandal, ¡Ahora voy a tocar un Requiem para ti y tu PUTA especie! (And now, Gilbert Durandal, I will play a Requiem for you and all your FUCKING kind!)
- The word "shit" has been known to appear in fansubs of Tokyo Mew Mew, of all shows.
- Resolve's fan translations of Tsukihime and Melty Blood often use language much harsher and more vulgar than what the original text would suggest.
- In the Mexican Spanish dub of The Familiar of Zero, Saito insults Guiche when he meets him for first time. While in the original version, Saito calls hims an idiot, in the Mexican dub, he calls him arrogant dumbass instead.note
- Pokémon fansubs are quite susceptible to this, with Satoshi/Ash going so far as the S word in some translations.
- An unusual case of de-bowdlerising in-canon bowdlerisation: in the Doctor Who story "Battlefield", the character Brigadier Bambera has a habit of exclaiming "Sh...ame!" in moments of stress. Despite still being shown in a family timeslot, the German dub reportedly had her simply say "Scheiße!".
- Four letter words, up to and including "fuck", are all over the place in the fan translation of Fate/stay night. Many of them aren't even Precision F Strikes, they're just... there.
- The Swedish (cinematic) subitles of The Avengers spice up Loki's infamous "You mewling quim" to Black Widow by rendering as "Din fega fitta" ("cowardly cunt"). Well, it's technically correct...
- Even present in Yume Nikki manga scanslations, of all things. Whatever Madotsuki said after Uboa stole her effects, it probably wasn't "I'll fucking kill it!"
- The Mexican Spanish dubs of the Ted films raises this Up to Eleven: While the original English dialogue is already profane enough, the Mexican dub even uses strong profanity in scenes when the characters only uses mild swearing, like when John says "Damn!" in the first half of the film, but the Mexican dub translated this as "¡Puta madre!" (literally "whore mother", idiomatically something like "Fucking hell!") instead.
- Continuing with Mexican dubs, the dubs of Diabolik Lovers, Bayonetta: Bloody Fate and The Seven Deadly Sins, of all things, had profanity, being the first anime dubs in Mexico featuring strong profanity, possibly in an attempt to avoiding the Animation Age Ghetto trope really hard, albeit in the former case this is somewhat understandable because it was intended for more mature audiences compared with the latter.
- The Venezuelan Spanish dubs of Excel Saga and Superman: The Animated Series features strong profanity as well. The weirdest and baffling part of this is, while the dub of Excel Saga was dubbed from the English dub and the English dub has some profanity, the Spanish dub added even more profanity not featured in either the original Japanese or even in the proxy English translation. Superman: The Animated Series is a downplayed example, as the only character who swears in the whole dub is Lobo and using profane language is quite fitting for him.
- Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note, despite being a family-friendly anime, the Crunchyroll subs have the characters swear on some lines.
- Fictosophy's sketch "Translating Minnesota Nice." When a line goes "Oh. Okay den" and reads "Oh!... This is a pickle," you know the subtitler had a little too much fun.
- The official English translation of the Batman manga has Batman refer to the astronomy-themed villain Planet King as "a pain in the... asteroids", a rather crude pun that seems out of sync with the rest of the manga.
- Sgt. Frog: Funimation's subtitled version does this to both Giroro and "the other" Momoka, but especially the latter, whose (translated) dialogue almost entirely has swearing in it, especially in the second seasonnote
- One of the various fan translations of Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 has the notorious "IN AMERICA!" line. (America doesn't even exist in that game's fantasy universe!)
- One fan translation of Fire Emblem Gaiden had a lot of Obligatory Swearing, including Desaix calling Mycen a "fucking traitor".
- TomSka adds in extra jokes in the subtitles of all his videos (listed as British English to avoid confusion with those meant for the Ho H or deaf)
- Marc Laidlaw's (No, not that one) translation of Policenauts added in some homophobic and transphobic slurs that weren't in Hideo Kojima's script in the name of 'realism'. After receiving a lot of criticism for it, he has said that he regrets it.
- A few fansubbers had fun covering Yu Gi Oh ARCV. One seen, in which a Brainwashed and Crazy Ruri brushes off her brothers pleas, is translated as "cool story bro."
- Another instance has Nico Smiley (a character with a toothbrush mustache and resemblance to Adolf Hitler) brings Yuya to a cooking school, and Yuya wonders what the smell is and why Smiley brought him there. Subbers translated Yuya's question as "Are you trying to take me to the gas chambers?"