Untranslated Title

Some works of fiction do not have their names translated when released in a foreign market. This seem to be particularly common with French and German films, for some reason. For anime series, this is rampant in fan-translations, which can be quite frustrating for those lacking a smattering of Gratuitous Japanese.

Just to be clear, this trope does not apply in the following cases:
  1. The title is a proper noun, such as Amélie or Ros Na Run.
  2. The title is nonsense or a made-up word, such as Azumanga Daioh.
  3. The title is already in a foreign language, such as "La Belle Dame Sans Merci".
  4. The title is translated, but fans use the original title anyway; for example, fans of Ceres Celestial Legend tend to refer to the show as Ayashi no Ceres.


Examples:

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     Anime & Manga 
  • Ai Yori Aoshi (literally "Bluer Than Indigo"; occasionally with the slogan "True Blue Love" — see Meaningful Name for why).
  • GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class's creators already has an directly translated English title for the series, GA: Art Department Art Design Class. Yen Press, however, prefers the untranslated title, and the translated title can only be seen in some pages in the manga.
  • Gurren Lagann, which literally means "Crimson Lotus Spiral Face" so it's no wonder it wasn't translated. It was shortened from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann ("Heaven Piercing Crimson Lotus Spiral Face").
  • Hikaru no Go ("Hikaru's Go").
  • Ikki Tousen (literally, "The Strength of a Thousand in a Single Breath").
  • Kannazuki no Miko ("Shrine Maiden of the Godless Month [October]"; the original Geneon release sometimes added the very loosely equivalent subtitle "Destiny of the Shrine Maiden", though the Sentai re-release used the English title.)
  • Kodocha'' (left as the shortened form of the Japanese title "Kodomo no Omocha," rather than using a translation like "Child's Toy").
  • Koi Kaze ("Love Wind").
  • Kyo Kara Maoh! ("Demon King as of Today")
  • Mai-HiME & Mai-Otome are partial cases of this. While the "Mai" parts of the title are changed to the English "My" (which may have been intended puns to begin with), the words Hime (princess) and Otome (maiden) are left alone.
  • Mushishi — while "mushi" is a proper term in the context of the series, the "shi" part meaning "user" or "master" is left untranslated.
  • Otogi Zoshi.
  • Rurouni Kenshin (although the OVAs and The Movie were released in the US as Samurai X).
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, with the subtitle The Power of Negative Thinking added by Del Ray to explain the concept to readers of the manga.
  • Shakugan no Shana ("Burning-Eyes Shana").
  • Tenchi Muyo! (sometimes rendered as "No Need for Tenchi," though apparently has an alternate meaning of "This End Up," as on boxes and such.)
  • Tenjho Tenge ("Heaven and Earth").
  • Tsukihime (this word [meaning "Moon Princess"] is always left alone, but the anime adds the descriptor Shingetsutan, which gets translated as "Lunar Legend").
  • Urusei Yatsura, though this probably due to confusion on how to translate it. One short-lived attempt at an English dub called it Those Obnoxious Aliens, and another called it Lum the Invader Girl.
  • Utawarerumono (an interesting case, as ADV was originally planning on re-titling it "Shadow Warrior Chronicles," until fandom/Internet outcry caused them to reverse the decision).
  • Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito.
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou.
  • YuYu Hakusho — The Central Park Media dub of the first movie used the title Poltergeist Report, while the FUNimation dub of the series was subtitled Ghost Files, both which are approximations of the original Japanese title.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! (Literally, "King of Games").
  • Pokémon is Pocket Monsters. There was already a game in the US with that title, so they decided to not go ahead and translate it.

     Film 

     Literature 

  • Das Kapital, though it is known as Le Capital in French editions.
    • Considering the only thing to translate is 'das' to 'the' (or just drop it) and Xtreme Kool Letterz, does it really count? Some English sources do call it just "Capital", though.
  • Jorge Luis Borges' Ficciones.
  • Mein Kampf. In a few other languages, it does change, however.
  • Les Misérables. It just has too many connotations to succinctly and accurately translate, since it could variously mean "Miserable People," "The Wretched," "The Poor," "The Downtrodden," "The Poor Children" — in other words, it applies to all its characters in a way no translation could imitate.
  • Strictly speaking, The Iliad means 'A Tale of Ilium (Troy)' and is only one of many stories woven around The Trojan War.
    • This frequently occurs to works above a certain age, though it may be difficult to draw the line between 'untranslated title' and 'naturalised title.' Ovid's Heroides, Amores, and Metamorphoses stand as a case in point. Others, such as Xenophon's Anabasis are known by multiple titles, including 'The Persian Expedition', 'The March of the Ten Thousand', and 'The March Upcountry'.
  • Similarly, the Nibelungenlied is 'The Song of the Nibelungs'.
  • Natsume Soseki's Kokoro usually has the title left as-is in modern English printings, though it has occasionally been given the (somewhat clunky) translation of "The Heart of Things".
    • Bonus points for the fact that the novel opens with the sentence, "I always called him Sensei." Considering the amount of times the word appears in the novel, it's a damn good thing sensei is one of the few Japanese words the average English-speaker can recognize.
  • A la recherche du temps perdu is often given untranslated. Partly because it was translated as Remembrance Of Things Past instead of In Search Of Lost Time for a while, and partly because if you're going to read Marcel Proust, you might as well be pretentious about it.
  • Emile Zola's novel of poverty and alcoholism L Assommoir is most often known by its original title, which is an untranslatable French play on words. Assommoir was an old slang term for a low-class bar, derived from assommer, to knock out or stun; the nearest rendition in English might be "place to get hammered."
  • Works by certain ancient Greek philosophers are frequently translated to Latin but no further. For example, Creator/Aristotle's Peri Psyches is usually referred to by English speakers as De Anima (the English would be something like "About the Soul").
  • Snorri Sturluson's history of the kings of Norway is frequently called Heimskringla, never "The Circle of the Earth".
  • The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun is almost always given that title when translated into a European language, as the original Arabic title means "The Introduction". The book is actually a sophisticated early (14th century) work on sociology, political science, and the theory of history; it gets its title because it is supposed to be an introduction to a very long history of North Africa (or rather history of the world, with a special focus on North Africa). Since this history, while very good, is only of interest to Arab historians and Arabists, the use of the foreign title is presumably because people would get very confused by a book simply called The Introduction ("If this is the introduction, where's the rest of it?").
    • As an aside, Arabic avoids the problem through Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Everyone's heard of Ibn Khaldun's Introduction, so they just publish it with that title.
  • Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note literally means The Case Notebook of Detective Team KZ.

     Live Action TV 

  • Series/Seacht — The title is Irish for seven, but when it was shown on The BBC, they kept the original title (and pronounced it horribly).
  • The American TV adaptation of La Femme Nikita kept the French title in its first run (syndicated reruns were retitled, simply, Nikita).
  • Borgen in the UK. "Borgen" means "the castle" in Danish, but is commonly used in Denmark to refer to the government, which is based in Cristiansborg ("Christian's Castle") Palace in Copenhagen.
  • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight — well, the "Kamen Rider" part anyway. "Dragon Knight" is translated from its original version, "Ryuki". Done partly by producer preference and partly to distance it from the failure of another franchise adaptation that did translate the title, Masked Rider.

     Music 

  • Some popular songs translated into English left an Untranslated Title in their lyrics:
    • "Bei Mir Bistu Shein" (Aka "Bei mir bist du schön").
    • "Bésame Mucho".
    • "La Vie en rose".
  • The original (German) version of Nena's "99 Red Balloons" is left untranslated as "99 Luftballons" to distinguish it from the English-language version.

     Netflix 

Netflix has a policy of keep the original name in their original language of any of their original or exclusive productions (and in the case of Anime, their Japanese names as well) in other countries outside the U.S. This is especially egregious in some regions like Latin America, when even the voice-overs simply read the original name in their original language rather than translate it. There's some exceptions on this rule when any Netflix series is broadcasted in TV networks, but in those cases this is justified due to legal reasons.

  • Anime examples:
    • Little Witch Academia and it sequel The Enchanted Parade. This is especially egregious in the Latin America Spanish version, since the name can be easily translated.
    • Diabolik Lovers. Even more egregious than the previous case, since the voice-over simply read aloud the English name, despite having a valid translation.
    • Oddly averted with The Seven Deadly Sins, since the Latin American dub translates the title without problems.

  • Live-Action TV examples:
    • The Expanse: Justified in this case because the original name has no valid translation in many languages.
    • Stranger Things: A subversion in Latin America in this case: While the original name is kept in the Latin American Netflix feed, the name is translated in Latin American TV networks.
    • Fuller House is a more elaborated case here: The original English name is kept in the Latin American and Japanese feeds, but not in the European Spanish feed. In the Latin American case this is also justified due to the fact the series was dubbed in Argentina, unlike its prequel who was dubbed in Mexico, and the Argentinian dub used their own translation, while ignoring whatever translations used in the Mexican one.

     Theater  

  • This is almost more common than not for operas, at least the ones not named after a character. About half of these still refer to a character in some way. Some of the least often translated titles include:

     Video Games 

  • Dangan Ronpa ("Bullet Refutation")
  • Darius Gaiden
  • Yume Nikki ("Dream Diary")
  • Kakuto Chojin ("Fighting Superhuman")
  • Katamari Damacy ("Clump Soul")
  • Onimusha - The subtitle for the first game, Demon Warlords, is a rough approximation of the main title.
  • Shin Megami Tensei, which means True Goddess Reincarnation, though the subtitle is usually translated
  • Shinobi, which is a less-used term for a special class of spy-ninja in feudal Japan.
  • Super Robot Taisen - The word "Taisen" means "Wars," and many Japanese releases adopt that as an Alternate Character Reading, but was left untranslated due to trademark issues with the unrelated TV show Robot Wars.
  • Makai Kingdom (NISAmerica titles translate Makai as "The Netherworld")
  • Ninja Gaiden is a semi-aversion of this trope, as the series was originally titled Ninja Ryukenden ("Ninja Dragon Sword Legend") in Japan. The American title of Ninja Gaiden is actually an example of Gratuitous Japanese, although the newer Xbox games in the series were released under the Ninja Gaiden name in Japan.
  • Kenseiden (which translates loosely as "Sword Master Legend")
  • Ōkami (and by extention Ōkamiden), to keep the Double Meaning Title ("Ōkami" can mean either "wolf" or "great god").
  • Solatorobo ("Sky and Robot"), though the subtitle was changed from Sora kara CODA e to Red the Hunter.
  • Ni no Kuni ("Another World")
  • Sokoban ("warehouse keeper"), though a few 1980s and 1990s releases used Completely Different Titles.
  • Burai Fighter (except for the Game Boy Color version, which was retitled Space Marauder)
  • Cho Aniki ("Super Big Bro")
  • Tomodachi Life ("tomodachi" meaning "friend")
  • Onechanbara - A portmanteau of "onee-chan" (literally meaning "big sister" but also colloquially "young woman") and "chanbara" (meaning "sword fighting")
  • Heiankyo Alien ("Heiankyo," though technically a proper noun, is an unusual and archaic name for Kyoto; the Game Boy version was the only international release to keep the title and not disguise the Jidai Geki setting)
  • Sakura Wars, as the "Sakura" part has technically never been translated.
    • Depending on which piece of the franchise you're talking about and which company is localizing it, the "Wars" part is sometimes left as "Taisen".
  • Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu
  • Nintendo game titles tend not to be translated in Korea. Instead, they are only phonetically transliterated into Hangul. Some games don't even bother with transliteration, instead keeping the English title outright.

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