Follow TV Tropes


Untranslated Title

Go To

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 and manga 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 (the main character's name) or Ros Na Rún (the name of the village in which the show is set).
  2. The title is nonsense or a made-up word, such as Azumanga Daioh (a Portmantitle/Work Info Title meaning "Azuma's manga for Dengeki Daioh magazine").
  3. The title was a Foreign Language Title in the first place, such as "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" (written in English and given a French title).
  4. The title is translated when localized, but fans insist on using the original title anyway. For example, English-speaking fans of Ceres, Celestial Legend still tend to refer to the show as Ayashi no Ceres.

Sub-trope to Gratuitous Foreign Language.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Aharen-san wa Hakarenai
  • Ai Yori Aoshi (literally "Bluer Than Indigo"; occasionally with the slogan "True Blue Love" — see Meaningful Name for why).
  • Akame ga Kill!
  • GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class's creators already have a 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.
  • Gakuen Alice, though the aborted Animax Asia English dub translated it as Alice Academy.
  • Gintama, which can either be read as "Silver Soul" or as "Silver Balls" (since the pronunciation is similar to "kintama", which means "golden balls", a slang term for testicles).
  • 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").
  • Haikyuu!!, which means "Volleyball!!" in Japanese.
  • Hikaru no Go ("Hikaru's Go").
  • Hitoribocchi no OO Seikatsu
  • Ikki Tousen (literally, "The Strength of a Thousand in a Single Breath").
  • Kagewani ("Shadow Crocodile")
  • Kannazuki no Miko note  (The original Geneon release; the Sentai Filmworks re-release used the English title Destiny of the Shrine Maiden)
  • Kiniro Mosaic ("Golden Mosaic")
  • 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 & My-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.
  • Nabari no Ou ("King of Nabari")
  • Natsu no Arashi! ("Summer Storm!")
  • Otogi Zoshi
  • Rurouni Kenshin (although the OVAs and The Movie were released in the US as Samurai X under Sony and ADV Films. Aniplex of America has re-released the OVA under the Rurouni Kenshin name.).
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei ("Goodbye, Mr. [Teacher] Despair"), 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").
  • Tsuritama ("Fishing Ball")
  • Urusei Yatsura, though this is 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 ("The One Being Sung") 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 ("Yami, the Hat, and the Book Travellers")
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ("Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip")
  • 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"), which is untranslated partially because the main character's name ("Yugi") plays on it.
  • Yuri Kuma Arashi roughly translates as "Lesbian Bear Storm" can probably see why this was unchanged in the English localization.
  • Pokémon is Pocket Monsters. There was already a game in the US with a similar name ("Monster in My Pocket"note ), so they decided to not go ahead and translate it.
  • I Want to Eat Your Pancreas: While the title was indeed translated in the English release, on the other hand, some foreign dubs, like the Latin American ones, used the English name instead due to the already narmy title would sound even more narmier in either Spanish or Portuguese.

    Asian Animation 
  • Chhota Bheem keeps its original name in the English dub, even though it could easily have been translated to Little Bheem.
  • The Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf season Man Jing Tou appears to be the only season that doesn't even have an English title. This is because it's a Pun-Based Title that's hard to translate. "Manjingtou" means "slow-motion", but the first-word "màn" (slow) is changed into the word "màn" as in "manhua".

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Acción Mutante.
  • L'Age d'Or.
  • Amarcord (a Romagnol neologism for "I Remember").
  • Amores Perros (IMDB lists Love's a Bitch as an international alternate title, but that was only given in trailers).
  • Amour.
  • Army of the Dead has been left untouched in France. The reason is that Zack Snyder's previous zombie movie, Dawn of the Dead, was already locally titled L'armée des morts ("Army of the Dead" in French). The two movies are not related in any way.
  • Au revoir les enfants.
  • Baise Moi (the English release added "Rape Me" as a subtitle, which is a Bowdlerised translation).
  • Belle de Jour.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody was not translated in most foreign releases (not even in Spanish, where song titles were commonly translated until the early 1990s). Averted in Hungary, Israel, and most Slavic countries, where they get a literal translation.
  • Caché.
  • La Cage aux folles; the translation of this title, The Birdcage, was used by the American remake.
  • Cría Cuervos. The title in Spanish stems from the phrase "Raise ravens and they'll pluck out your eyes". The equivalent phrase in English would be "you reap what you sow".
  • Les Dames Du Bois De Boulogne.
  • Das Boot: The original (dubbed) release to theaters and pay-TV used the translated title "The Boat". Video releases of the longer and subtitled versions use the title untranslated (not that it's terribly hard to figure out).
  • Desparus.
  • La Dolce Vita.
  • Dodes'ka-den.
  • Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!: Many non-English speaking countries where the film got a release have simply not bothered attempting to translate the title and leave it in English. Examples of where this happened include France, Norway, Finland, Italy and Spain.
  • La Haine.
  • Ikiru.
  • I Vitelloni: "I Vitelloni" ("The slabs of veal") was an insulting term for slackers in the dialect of Federico Fellini's home region of Romagna. The original American release retitled it The Young and the Passionate, but it's gone by the original title since then. Interestingly, this trope also applied for I Vitelloni in most regions of Italy, where they'd never heard that bit of slang before.
  • Kagemusha ("Shadow Warrior").
  • Kanał (Polish for "Sewer").
  • Kontroll
  • Kwaidan
  • Mädchen in Uniform. The play it was based on was presented on the New York stage as Girls in Uniform.
  • Nostalghia.
  • Nearly every film made in a language other than the official is left with an untranslated title in some European countries.
  • The original Japanese versions of The Ring and Ju-on were released with untranslated titles in America (Ringu and Ju-on) in order to distinguish them from their American remakes.
  • Ran.
  • Santa Sangre.
  • La Strada (Italian for "The Road").
  • Almost all Indian films are untranslated. Occasionally both names are used in different sources, as with Apur Sansar / The World Of Apu or Meghe Dhaka Tara / The Cloud-Capped Star. Note that this is only applied to English exclusively, as other countries did translate the titles, mostly for legal reasons.
  • El Topo.
  • Ugetsu Monogatari ("Rain-Moon Story"), sometimes just shortened to Ugetsu. Interestingly, despite the fact that the film is much better known in the English-speaking world than the 18th-century Japanese book on which it's based, English translations of the book tend to use a translated title (like Tales of Moonlight and Rain).
  • Un Chien Andalou (French for "An Andalusian Dog").
  • Vivre sa vie.
  • Volver.
  • Y tu mamá también (Spanish for "And Your Mama Too").
  • Zus & Zo, a Dutch expression meaning "this and that"

  • 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 'naturalized 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 number 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, 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 a 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.
  • The Vita Nuova is rarely ever translated under the title New Life, with most translators preferring to keep Dante's title.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.

  • 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.

    Streaming Services 
Many streaming services, such like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, etc., has a policy of keeping 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 are some exceptions to this rule when any Netflix series is broadcasted in TV networks, but in those cases, this is justified due to legal reasons.

  • Anime examples:

  • 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 elaborate 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 predecessor which was dubbed in Mexico, and the Argentinian dub used their own translation while ignoring whatever translations used in the Mexican one.

  • Western Animation examples:
    • F is for Family: In this case, this is justified because the name is an elaborate pun that only makes sense in English. Oddly averted in the Japanese feed, when it was renamed as "F wa Family no F" (F is Family's F).
    • Averted with Disenchantment in the Latin American and European Spanish feed, when the name was translated as (Des)encanto (literal translation, albeit with brackets in the prefix "Dis-" and (Des)encantados (Lit. "(Dis)enchanted People") in Spain. The same goes in Japan and likely other countries.
    • Super Drags: In this case, this is justified because the title was already in English in the original Brazilian Portuguese version, not to mention the whole thing is about drag queens.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mille Bornes. Original French releases are only slightly differently titled in that they write "1000" as a number.

  • 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 
  • Nintendo game titles tend not to be translated in Korean. Instead, they are only phonetically transliterated into Hangul. Some games don't even bother with transliteration, instead keeping the English title outright.
  • Danganronpa ("Bullet Refutation")
  • Darius Gaiden
  • Yume Nikki ("Dream Diary"), though the 2018 reimagining is titled Yume Nikki: Dream Diary worldwide. This also means that in Japanese, the game is titled "Dream Diary: Dream Diary".
  • Kakuto Chojin ("Fighting Superhuman")
  • Katamari Damacy ("Clump Soul")
  • Onimusha: Warlords - The subtitle for the game, Demon Warlords, is a rough approximation of the main title.
  • Senran Kagura ("Senran" is a made-up word using the kanji for flash/brandish and war. "Kagura" comes from a theatrical Japanese dancing by the same name)
  • 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 in the few international releases due to trademark issues with the unrelated TV show Robot Wars.
  • Makai Kingdom (NIS America titles translate Makai as "The Netherworld")
  • Ninja Gaiden is a semi-aversion of this trope. The series was titled Ninja Ryūkenden ("Ninja Dragon Sword Legend") in Japanese, but the title Ninja Gaiden was actually conceived first as a working title. They kept the provisional name for the American version since it was easier to pronounce, making it an example of Gratuitous Japanese. The newer games in series, starting with the 2004 Xbox revival, used the Ninja Gaiden name worldwide.
  • Kenseiden (which translates loosely as "Sword Master Legend")
  • Ōkami (and by extension Ōkamiden), to keep the Double-Meaning Title ("Ōkami" can mean either "wolf" or "great god").
  • Solatorobo: Red the Hunter ("Solatorobo" meaning "Sky and Robot"), though the original Japanese subtitle was changed from Sora kara CODA e ("And then, to CODA").
  • Ni no Kuni ("Another World"), possibly to avoid confusion with another game titled "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")
  • Suika Game ("suika" meaning "watermelon')
  • 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 Jidaigeki setting)
  • Sakura Wars, since "Sakura" is a noun meaning "cherry blossom".
  • Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Goku Densetsu ("The Distant Legend of Goku"), though the subtitle was shortened to Harukanaru Densetsu in America and Goku Densetsu in Europe.
  • Ikemen Sengoku. What makes this particular example stand out is that the company (Cybird) that made it actually did give their previous games English-translated titles (Midnight Cinderella and Destined to Love), but only gave this one an English subtitle (Romances Across Time) even though that subtitle could have easily worked as the main title itself. The reason behind this might have been Ikemen Sengoku being the most well-known of their games and getting an anime adaptation with the same title like it.

  • Sleepless Domain: The French translation keeps the original title untranslated.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The French translation stuck with the original title. The reason can be seen in the translation of the Title Drop, which was translated to the equivalent of "stay immobile and silent" due to French having no direct equivalent of "standstill". The Alliterative Title would have also been lost if it had been translated.

    Western Animation 
  • VeggieTales: The show's name is untranslated for the Spanish (Latin American), German, and Norwegian dubs. For the Spanish dub, this is because the show's name is a pun on the word "vegetales".
  • Total Drama: In the Castilian Spanish dub, the name of the first season (Total Drama Island) was also the same as the English version.
  • Most foreign language versions of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic do this.