What happens when subbers get bored. He wasn't actually even saying anything here.
So your favorite anime is coming over from Japan. You've followed this show almost religiously using fansubs
and are interested in how the localizers will handle it.
What's this? The Double Entendre
dialogue and UST
has been replaced with No Hugging, No Kissing
! That one character who
always launched a Cluster F-Bomb
is using Unusual Euphemisms
and Gosh Dangit To Heck
instead! Surely the American distributors are to blame for this Macekre
They aren't. The show is a more-or-less faithful translation of the original. The dirty jokes and language of the fansub were added by the fansubber 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. Looks like the fansubbers wanted to Spice Up the Subtitles
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. 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
, Avoid the Dreaded G Rating
, Animation Age Ghetto
. May cause Mis-blamed
. Related to Fun with Subtitles
and Gag Sub
- Early Dragon Ball 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 be bleeped out in the original 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 to Test to Shoukanjuu 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 Bakates 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... Huh... Like this trope. Especially apparent on their B Gata H Kei subs, though not the only ones.
- 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. I'm not sure what Marvelous was saying to Yuki Gai when he confronted him in the middle of the night, but I'm fairly positive it wasn't "Fuck off."
- Actually, what he said was "Fuzaken na" (ふざけんな), a phrase which literally means "quit joking" but tends to get rendered (by everyone, official and fansubs) as things like "quit screwing around" or "you're full of shit", so TVN isn't quite as far off-base as it might seem. Apparently how strong it is changes with context... but some subbers will make it an F-bomb even when the situation (or as with Mako, the character) makes "quit playing around" was more like it. While it does always mean the person didn't like what they just heard, if you turn every "fuzaken na" into "bullshit!" "Go to hell" and "Fuck off!" you can turn Sesame Street into South Park.
- 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.
- Polish fan-translations of webcomics and Newspaper Comics do that sometimes, changing generic lines in the original by spicing them up with wacky slang and Polish memetic references.
- Some scanlations of Naruto have Killer Bee often dropping 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."
- 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.
- Another rare official example, the subtitles of Red Line 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.
- 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 fairly polite and honorable man, calls Kain a "son of a bitch".
- For the North American release of Hakuōki, 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.
- Inverted in the Italian release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, which is only in English with subs... and then, when Denzel calls Bahamut a "son of a bitch" the subs say instead "You're dead!"