Prelude to My Hyouka Reviews

This post was written by Dark_Sage. He is Dark_Sage.


Commie’s release unequivocally has a better main script than Mazui’s. Some of you are going to bitch about me saying this and I’d rather deal with your faggotry in this thread than in my reviews proper.

Before we begin here, we need to establish some guidelines. Namely, we need to set some ground rules for what a translation should aspire to. (I am going to refer to “translation” in this article as the final script which a group releases for an anime episode — after TL/TLC/Edit/QC — because I only care about anime translations.)

A translation should convey the original meaning of the Japanese script.

A translation should make sense in its new language. It must be natural.

This is going to be a tough pill to swallow for literalfags because they know that when a translation makes sense in English, they’re going to hate it. I know, because I used to be retarded like that and I was a terrible editor. I’m the best one alive now, but it took some major fucking revelations to get here.

u jelly?

Let’s first address the thought process of literalfags. Their core belief is that a translation should be as *accurate* as possible. This makes great sense at a base level. I mean, you have words in Japanese and you want to know what they mean in English. You hear a word you recognize in one context and apply that context to everything. “hai” always means “yes”. “baka” always means “idiot”. “sensei” always means “teacher”.

This is only reinforced by language studies in academia. You learn that “hai” means “yes” and “yes” alone. “hai” does not mean “sure” and “hai” most certainly cannot mean “well”. There are only a certain number of things a word can mean, and while it may depend on context, it is not dependent on context. That is, the typical academic thought process is “You have a word that can be translated in two different standard ways. Determine which of these two translations to use based on a given scenario.”

Why wouldn’t you want this to be the rule of law for translations? I mean, it’s simple and translations would be too hard otherwise.

Yes, it’s simple, but it’s also wrong. Think about your first language. Is it so easy that you could hand someone a translation dictionary and expect them to be able to carry out a meaningful conversation with you? “Oh my god, Dark_Sage. Don’t you know it’s about the grammar too?” Fine. Let’s give them the knowledge to put everything into grammatically-correct sentences. Are they still able to carry out an intelligent conversation with you? Can the language you consider your first language really be so easily mastered by such a robotic process?

I’d wager it’s a little harder than that. Rather than focusing on TL Accuracy, you should be focusing on TL Quality. And how is this quality determined? I already fucking told you.

A translation should convey the original meaning of the Japanese script.

A translation should make sense in its new language. It must be natural.


Speaking of which, let’s talk about this grayte translation.

At first blush, you may think “Wow, what a kawaii translation no desu. They fucking start out with rosy and then — OMG — they continue the theme of colors by saying a student can have a ‘gray’ life. How is this not an amazing translation?”

Well, friend, it’s clever phrasing, but it’s nonsensical. You can tell straight off the bat with the “so to speak” part. Even Mazui’s translators know this doesn’t work in English because no one’s ever going to refer to a life as gray in this sense.

But let’s continue, because this entire opening sequence is fucked beyond all belief. Let’s examine what they actually mean by “gray life”.

Okay, so now we understand from Mazui’s translation that a “gray life” is one devoid of “studying, sports, and romance”. That’s how they define it, but does it make sense? Native English speakers, is there a situation relevant to this context where you would every say “being uninterested in studying, sports, or romance leads to a gray life”? A dull life? Sure, but gray does not carry the same conotations as “dull” does.

Are they unrelated? Not really, but let me get back to what I started out this long-ass article with.

A translation should make sense in its new language. It must be natural.

You’d have to stretch yourself to the very edge to argue this is anything close to being natural. But don’t convince yourself it’s all good just yet. Keep reading because this script just gets further and further from sensical English.

Did an English speaker write this? I posit this is guesslation garbage. Not guesslation as in the translator did not understand the context or meaning. But guesslation in that the translator did not understand how to properly convey the meaning in English so they used language that could kinda sorta maybe fit if you turned your head, closed your eyes, and had brain damage. Coincidentally, this relates to my first fucking tenet of good translations.

A translation should convey the original meaning of the Japanese script.

An editor, taking his translator’s word in good faith, would switch “lonely” to “depressing” to make the line make sense in English. There’s no such thing as a “lonely way to put things”. That’s gibberish. It’s fucking nonsense. But while that would be a good edit, it would be wrong. This whole line is referring to Mr. Boring himself. Mazui Defense Force, you can fuck off. Their translator explained what the line meant after I was bitching about the line last night. Compare this line to:

“Though, I guess that would be a pretty lonely way to live.” (Commie’s version.)

He’s saying (indirectly) that he’s lonely. That’s the fucking point of this line and you would not get this from Mazui’s version. Even though their translator understood the meaning, he did not convey it properly.

Let’s ignore the shitty English. The big problem here is what they’re saying.

“If you’re against studying, sports, and romance, you have an inferiority complex.”

That has no fucking relation to what an inferiority complex actually is. If you think it does, I’m sure there’s a river you can find to drown in.

If you have an inferiority complex, that means you feel inferior to something or someone. How does this relate to being against those three things? This is such a stupid fucking translation I don’t even have the words to use that would properly describe how much I hate whoever was responsible for this.

And here we are. Full-fucking-circle. If you have an inferiority complex, you’re gray.

Well done, Mazui. Well fucking done.


If you want to actually understand the show, watch Commie’s release. Their intro sequence (every screenshot I posted comes from the first minute of the show) actually makes sense. But if you want to convince yourself that vague phrasing, shitty English, and nonsensical lines are the honto Japanese experience that you’ve been waiting for, I’m sure you’ll find the group-of-the-century in Mazui.

167 thoughts on “Prelude to My Hyouka Reviews”

  1. Commie for the episode, Mazui for the karaoke because being a fag and pretending that you’re able to correctly sing along with animu songs is what life is about.

  2. >Cartoon characters speak in big worlds and metaphors that are too hard for me to understand, please, rewrite it in mah hood talk.
    Do they make spacial editions of english books for Americans?

  3. While I agree that words can be localised, there’s a fine line between coming up with a liberal interpretation and completely butchering the line into something that doesn’t make sense. Or doing things like adding swear words when they’re not needed. I dunno.

  4. Well goddamn I still need a few more sentences on my concluding paragraph but fuck this essay, there’s a discussion on translation at foot.

    Okay, you have two primary points about translation, and I agree with 1.5 of them. A translation should be accurate, and it should make sense in its target language.

    Should a translation read naturally, in GENERAL? No. That falls under accuracy.

    An accurate J-E translation reads naturally if the original text was natural Japanese. If the original Japanese is spoken by a robot, or by a drunk, or by somebody who is confused, or by somebody with an incredibly odd and quirky way of speaking, then the corresponding English translation should sound like it was spoken by a robot, or by a drunk, or by somebody who is confused, or by somebody with an incredibly odd and quirky way of speaking. I’ve written monstrosities like this before, precisely because the Japanese was equally long-winded and awkward. That’s what accuracy is.

    Now, I haven’t seen the episode yet so I could just be making stuff up, but I do recall from the premise that Hyouka is about a classics club, and is all literary and whatnot whatnot. I won’t say a word about the other editing issues, plentiful as I’m sure they were, but I would like to argue the “gray” point. Seeing as this is the opening monologue, which you’re supposed to approach with no context, I doubt whether I’ve seen the episode will matter -too- much.

    Personally, I don’t see the issue with the “gray” and “rosy” stuff. Perhaps it could have been worded with greater clarity, but to me, it looks like this is a literary-themed show and the main character wants to be a bit metaphorical in his opening narration. Perhaps the particular metaphor is more common in Japan; I don’t know off the top of my head. Still, I’d be pretty confident that common or not, it’s seen as a figure of speech and not a dictionary definition. Japanese kids don’t walk up to their friends after class and say, “Man, that lecture was so gray-colored.” It’s meant as a metaphor.

    So MC-kun is walking into school and waxing poetic about the “color of his life”. So why -not- make the translation a bit poetic, and thus a bit more memorable? I’m sure your high school English teacher encouraged you to use figurative language to make your writing more vivid. “I live a dull life” is just any other sentence, but “I live a gray life”– now -that-‘s new, that’s something that will stick in my head, that’s something that evokes a much more vivid mental picture than just “dull”. Is it natural, everyday phrasing? No, but he’s not speaking natural, everyday lines in Japanese. He’s not buying a soda at the convenience store here, he’s giving his freaking opening monologue. Some room for poetic license, please.

    Even better, he goes on to explain his own metaphor. Why spoon-feed the viewers? If you’re translating a mystery and the detective says, “I think you can see from the evidence that there’s only one possible conclusion,” you don’t translate this as, “I think you can see from the evidence that Jarvis the butler was the killer.” Maybe Jarvis the butler is the only possible conclusion, but you don’t interpret that FOR the audience, you let them figure that out themselves.

    Yes, there is the language and cultural barrier, and some level of interpretation is necessary to bridge the gap. But I don’t feel there’s a need to feed viewers a pre-digested translation. Of course there’s plenty of wiggle room here, as there is no clear-cut line between “Oh, they’ll get this” and “Oh, this needs to be localized”. If you want to translate the metaphor for meaning instead of metaphor-ness, that’s perfectly valid. But if you want to translate the metaphor as a metaphor, I don’t think that can be considered wrong.

    In this case, because of the literary theme of the show, and because opening monologues are allowed to be poetic, I’d say go with the damn metaphor and let the audience work out what it means. I’m sure the wording could have been prettied up, but I don’t think the mere inclusion of the metaphor is reason to decry the translation.

    • Viewers can understand a show without good subs, or even without subs at all. How is this a fucking argument? Have a little pride in your craft.

      Just because something is a metaphor does not make it good English. You can’t honestly sit here and expect me to believe that because something is poetic that it contributes value to a script. I could phrase “rosy” and “gray” into decent sentences, sure. But to do so I would have to completely change how they’re used in the script. I’m not railing against good metaphors; I’m railing against BAD metaphors. And from their release, it’s clear that Mazui doesn’t know the difference.

      • I wouldn’t have written a wall of text if I wasn’t passionate about translation. It’s 3 AM and I’m sure I’m a bit disorganized, but I laid out what I wanted to say in my previous comment. Everything is a matter of balance, and I never said the burden is ENTIRELY on the audience to figure out what’s going on.

        If you believe it to be a bad metaphor, you’ll have to blame it on the original writers. I’m arguing for equivalence. If the Japanese viewers were expected to understand the metaphor, and if it’s NOT an obscure cultural reference that ONLY a Japanese viewer would get, then why should we expect less of our English viewers? That’s what I’m asking.

        • “No, trust me. The original Japanese sucks, so since their subs suck… they’re actually the best group ever!”

          You can’t just copy-paste a metaphor over and expect it to work. It needs to make sense. Here, it doesn’t make sense *as they phrased it*. Like I said, I can work with “rosy” and “gray”. But they took “gray” and made it something that doesn’t make sense to an English-speaking audience. If you somehow got “Dark_Sage hates anything other than simple, ordinary, plain English” from my post, you missed the point entirely.

          • If you somehow got “metaphors must be run through Google translate” out of -my- comment, then you also missed the point. But fair enough. Would you object to reworking the metaphor into something different but still poetic? I like 8th’s suggestion of “colorful vs. dull/monochrome” (or is that what he actually used in his release?). He also made a point that was on my mind, but which I forgot to mention: this imagery/symbolism could become important later on in the series, and if you pretend he wasn’t speaking poetically then you might have set yourself up for disaster.

            • Maybe it’s just me, but I thought “gray” made enough sense. Sure, it’s a novel and unusual way of describing a lifestyle, but stale metaphors are boring, and I was able to figure out what it meant easily enough just by imagining what “gray” implies. But maybe that’s just me; as said below, maybe my judgement has been too colored by my exposure to the Japanese language.

            • No, lyger, I don’t speak Japanese, but I understood Mazui’s line perfectly because I have a familiarity with basic use of imagery. As far as I know Commie’s staff and Dark_Sage are the only people in the world who had difficulty with those lines.

          • Ahem.
            “So, whatever. Guess I’ll be on the prowl for good lines in the script now. Take this one, for example.

            This is exactly the kind of argument (and phrasing!) one would expect from two middle schoolers. “Your ____ is stupid!” “No it isn’t!”

            The language and flow here gets it spot-on.”
            compared with
            >it’s WRONG to preserve metaphors said by intellectual guy.

            It seems you got infected with recently increasingly popular policy of being as liberal as possible even when it distorts what creators originally intended.

            • I didn’t know you’d interviewed the original creators to find out what they intended. Please, do tell us more.

              Maybe later you can tell us about the grand liberal conspiracy headed by Commie and Underwater with the intention of “infecting” fansub groups worldwide with the disease that is creative editing. I already heard a bit about it from some crazy guy on rori’s blog and it sounds fascinating.

      • I don’t really see what makes this metaphor bad.

        Using dictionary definitions, “rosy” connotes “bright or cheerful; optimistic” and “grey” “neutral or dull, esp in character or opinion”. Are either of those terribly far off of the meaning intended?

        And even in the case that they weren’t, this isn’t, as far as I can tell, some obscure Japanese idiom or reliant on some subtle shade of meaning that isn’t present in the English words. You can call that a “bad” metaphor even so if you like, but it’s hardly the job of a translation to “fix” something it judges to simply be poor writing on the part of the original author. A translation needs to be as clear and well-written as the original writing – not losing meaning by trying to be a 1:1 translation that fails to bring across the tone, but also not adding clarity when none was ever present in either language.

    • It really comes down to whether or not the poetic language adds anything to MC’s character. If it adds nothing to his character, I would say Commie’s way of doing it is correct.

      • And as I said, their approach is perfectly valid. Whether it contributes to his character or to the tone of the show as a whole etc. is arguable.

    • The way this was explained to me originally (because the initial, literally translated script we had for that scene didn’t make any sense to me and I had to ask for clarification) , the “rose-colored” expression had a specific meaning in Japanese that isn’t necessarily apparent to the English-speaking audience (and in fact had a high potential for misinterpretation because “rose-colored” sounds similar to the English expression “rose-colored glasses”, when the actual meaning is somewhat different).

      I’m phoneposting right now so I can’t write a whole lot about this but I talked about this a bit before in the comments for Vale’s TL notes on NRR.

      • Perhaps my instinct can’t be trusted, but even just from the screenshots the metaphor made enough sense to me. Maybe Japanese classes finally have me thinking like a Nihonjin and no normal English-speaking viewer would get it. Who knows. As I said, there’s nothing wrong if you want to focus on the meaning rather than the poeticism.

        Though 8th does raise a good point in those comments that it’s a risky move to remove what could possibly be an important keyword. I’ve gone on about equivalence in theoretical terms, but that’s a very good practical reason to be careful with lines like this: you might be screwing yourself over in the future.

      • So much nerd raging over the poetic monologue! I remember BRS starting out similarly. Commie’s release of BRS ep1 was packed with errors. Even ep1’s title seemed like a major error to me. I went with WhyNot with BRS (but never finished watched it), since they seemed to know the background of the story better, and therefore retained more of the accuracy.

        I think the poetic nature of the MC’s monologue is an integral part the show, setting the tone and introducing you to the character and how he sees his world. If a viewer didn’t read the story’s summary from ANN or whatever, this bit of monologue should act as a good base to show how much of a sloth the guy is. You can swap pink with colorful and gray with monochrome, but you better make sure you retain the continuity of the poetic nature. I actually think colorful and monochrome is the better way to phrase it. Continuity is just one thing that Commie’s BRS script. Not sure if Commie can do any worse, but by the sound of it, they are pulling something questionable for this too.

        I haven’t watched this yet, but I saw gg’s script reviewed on notredreviews and can say I prefer mazui’s over it. Dark_sage may seem overly critical here, but I agree with all the points he brought up. I’ll just consider all the comments about the poetic monologue and the dramatic title being him just successfully trolling a bunch of plp too srs about fansubbing.

        People may question “oversubbing” of anime, but at least there’s diversity between the various releases. From what I’ve seen, there’s yet to be a group that gets this show right. Has no one read the manga or at least read some sort of wikia to help with the context?

        • The translator for this is the same person who translated BRS for WhyNot, so I’m not sure why you’d be comparing it to Commie’s BRS when none of the staff are the same.

    • This… actually makes a lot of sense.

      Yes, subs must be understandable in English, but what if the original Japanese scrip was in broken Japanese? Shouldn’t the English translation be in broken English as well?

      Not to mention, sometimes, people do say weird shit in daily conversations.

    • Although I consider “gray” to be somewhere in the gray zone between acceptable and unacceptable, I find “rosy” an overly literal and inappropriate translation. The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear “rosy” is Santa Claus and his rosy cheeks – cheerful, spirited, etc. and not what “薔薇色の人生” actually means in Japanese: Not only happy but filled with passion, dreams, success, love, and everything you would ever want. The definition of “rosy” has too narrow of a definition for a Japanese idiom that encompasses such a wide range of characteristics. Not to mention “rosy” has a connotation that is more about the feeling than the actual color of a rose.
      This brings me to my second point: Idioms. Idioms, idioms, idioms. “薔薇色の人生” (literally, rose-colored life) is an idiom in Japanese. If you were to translate “That’s a piece of cake” into Japanese, would you say “そんなのはケーキを食べるよりも楽さ” (That’s easier than eating cake) or something? Or would you translate “朝飯前だ” (literally: It’s before breakfast; meaning: That’s a piece of cake) into “I could do that before breakfast?” I sincerely hope not. “Rose-colored life” is another one of these magical things called idioms and requires a contextual translation. To keep the aspect of color in this, “colorful” (as 8th apparently suggested?) is a viable alternative. It takes into account the various factors that make up a happy and satisfying life.
      Next: My interpretation of dark_sage’s “natural” was that the script is not natural in a writing/speech sense, but more like “natural in the context.” A drunk man’s lines should sound drunk but still make the as much sense as the original Japanese did, and a robot’s line should be clunky but still make as much sense in one read as the Japanese did after hearing the line once. In this case, (I’m assuming; I didn’t see any of the show) the MC used easily understandable Japanese by using a common idiom rather than a unique metaphor, so there should be no need for such odd phrasing that takes a Japanese-speaker’s mind to understand. I’ve never heard “rosy” and “life” in the same phrase in English, but I’ve heard it many times in Japanese.
      And so to my final point: My policy for translations is “derp-friendly.” There should be no need for people to think about the literal meaning of a line. Sure, there may be some thinking involved if there’s some subtle meaning behind it, but as long as that isn’t the case, there’s no need for using roundabout ways to say things. The script should convey what YOU, as the translator, understood from the line, rather than what the combination of words in the sentence simply tell.
      Note: I didn’t even see a microsecond of this anime. I just looked at the script and took a guess at what the MC was saying. This entire argument comes from my experience translating for a year and a bit, as well as my many years since childhood of interpreting for my family, classmates, teachers, etc.

      • Oh, I only just saw this post.

        Yeah, this pretty much covers my reasoning exactly for why we went with the lines we did in the Commie release. I think just bringing the term across literally leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation – the rosy one you mentioned is one such example, and another is how “rose-colored” suggested “nostalgic” for one of our reviewers on NRR. I like avoiding that kind of ambiguity where possible.

      • Mm, I took D_S saying “a translation must be natural” at face value, so I responded as such. And yeah, I’d agree with localizing the idiomatic usage to a different metaphor, but I still feel the “rose” usage isn’t objectively wrong. I mean, it looks like MC more or less explains what he means by it, even if the usage is non-idiomatic in English, and also… well at this point I may as well say “see what 8th wrote below”.

  5. We (gg) have also used “rose colored” and “gray” colors as well. I admit “rose color” is inherently a logic error because well… “rose” is not a real color, so it’s not proper English. It’s risky to lose that reference later though. Maybe the screen will be filled with roses to portray changes in his life later in the series. “Gray person”, on the other hand, can be easily defended.

    There’s one huge flaw in your argument. A translator should keep as much meaning, tone, AND effect of a line. In this case, the usage of color as metaphor. They used color to describe high school life. Translated script should use color to describe high school life as well.

    Whether or not a color’s symbolism in Japan is consistent with Western symbolism is also irrelevant. There are accuracy issues with Mazui’s translation there (“lonely” and “inferiority complex”) that messed up flow, but assuming it’s right, you’re just supposed to just believe that’s the way it is in Japan. Just as Ford is considered to be a luxury brand there (because imported cars get taxed like crazy), and if someone said “you must be rich because you have a Ford”, there’s nothing wrong with using that line for English subtitle even though it makes no sense.

    This doesn’t mean it would be wrong to remove the whole color theme like Commie though. It’s up to the translator to choose what the most important “effect” is. Is color metaphor more important effect on audience, or what the Japanese audience would relate that color with? If there’s a Ford in the video, then the brand is more important than effect (viewers can see it and make sense of it -> “Oh! Ford is considered to be expensive in Japan!”). If there isn’t one, it might be better to change the brand to Mercedes or BMW etc, because that’s a more relatable example. HOWEVER, you will be screwed later if a Ford actually shows up.

    I’ve thought through (smoked a cig) which effect was more important. Here, it’s pretty obvious the color/rose reference is more important. Viewers can connect the dots just as you were able to figure out “rose” meant “colorful/eventful/glorious” and that “gray” meant “dull” without Commie actually having those words as translation. On the other hand, you would lose the color reference for sure if that is removed in the script.

    Those lines used as intro to the series should set off alarms already. It’s even repeated a few times as a major theme of this series. I would say the chance of it showing up visually or used as metaphor for other stuff is very high, and I definitely don’t want to be caught adding “rose” and “gray” out of nowhere in middle of the series.

    BTW, Mazui’s “so to speak” was a literal translation of what was said, rather than added to justify the line. It’s sort of a modifier to elaborate that “gray color” dialog was used as a metaphor for “dull life” rather than that being their favorite color. Obviously it’s kind of redundant in context so it’s easily misinterpreted.

    • I agree with you except for the Ford example. Personally, I feel that the Ford should always remain in the translation even if it appears or not. For one thing, you are never sure if it will appear in the Anime later or not.

      But more importantly, Westerners and Americans are not the only people in the world that speak English. I’m not sure what the mentality of fansubbers are, but I can sense that more often than not, they are subbing with only Western fans in mind. I don’t think this is the right way to go about doing things as I am sure that a significant number of people watching the fansub isn’t from America (like me, being a Singaporean Chinese).

      That being the case, I don’t think one should put in ‘relocatable’ examples as while such examples will make sense to an American audience, they won’t ring true for the rest of the world. Just leave the context as Japanese and if someone is interested, they can figure that out. The context is after all Japan, not America. If need be, at a TL note.

      • Yeah, you can never tell if it’ll show up for certain, but you kind of get a feel for the series, story development, and direction/presentation style as the show go on. My subs tend to get more “liberal” in latter episodes for shows I care about because I feel more comfortable taking that risk and predict what’s a main theme that will be repeated and what’s not.

        You’re right there can be the “American issue”, but again, it depends on translator/group style. Do they want 80% script that everyone can understand, or 100% script that only Americans can understand.

        Because most groups assume most viewers speak American English, and it’s arguably the universal language of the internet, most of us choose the latter.

    • Is “rose-colored” not an idiom with a specific meaning in Japanese? That’s what I was told previously, so I figured those lines would have specific meaning to the Japanese viewer that wouldn’t be brought across in a literal translation.

      • lit. “Rose-colored life” means eventful life with ups and downs, but they only used “rose color” (hope, passion, happiness). More importantly, he specifically added “gray”, another color, to contrast “rose color” (rather than using the word “boring” or “dull”).

        I’m sure you’ve seen a LOT of Japanese anime (and it happens more often movies) that visually or verbally used “colorlessness” or “monochrome” to convey dull life or despair (color = hope or dream. Just look at SZS).

        “Rose color” and “gray color” aren’t commonly used together to express two extreme ends (or “ups and downs”). That’s why I see it as a potential risk, and we’re already seeing artistic, impressionist scenes. Impressionist art is all about use of color, and you’ve seen the effect of weather change on the art (vivid color vs monochrome). Geez, I totally forgot to blog about this lol.

        Color being a main these of this anime is still a speculation though. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty much betting on that by keeping “gray” and redefining “rose” as a color for this show despite the awkwardness.

        • ‘lit. “Rose-colored life” means eventful life with ups and downs, but they only used “rose color” (hope, passion, happiness).’

          Couldn’t you say ‘colorful’ or ‘bright’ instead of ‘rose-colored’, then? It would seem to me that they’re pretty close idiomatically (though I don’t know Japanese); you would also preserve the use of color in their speech while finding a decent approximation of the way that people actually speak English. I have never heard a native English speaker use ‘rose-colored’ this way.

        • The main problem I have with “rose-colored” is that in English it’s more often used to describe someone who is excessively optimistic, e.g. rose-colored glasses, rose-colored outlook. Translating the monologue thusly makes things a bit muddled; it took me a coupled read-throughs of the posted screens (probably would have saved some time if I just skipped straight to DS’s comments) before I figured out what was going on.

    • I honestly don’t understand why the color references have turned into such a big deal. We do have a similar idiom in English: “seeing life/things through rose-colored glasses.” Hence, I think most English speakers would understand the reference.

      The “inferiority complex” part, on the other hand, feels completely illogical to me. The “Though that’s probably quite a lonely way to put it” makes absolutely no sense in English. That’s the kind of shit that usually makes me dl someone else’s subs in the hope of finding a better script.

      To be honest, I have not have a chance to watch this yet. I had downloaded Mazui’s, but now I will probably fetch GG’s as well and compare the two.

      • Ok, so I should have read though the entire debate before posting… apparently the two idioms have different meanings. Or do they? Hmmmm…

        • Yeah. I would say the usage of “rose color” here is more about liveliness and enthusiasm than optimism and nostalgia.

  6. The name of the place in India which Houtarou spoke in the episode is Banaras (with Bana spoken as in Banana) not Benarus. Just saying ;)

      • Well the devanagari script has this word written as बनारस which translates to Banaras since ब is written in english as ba though strictly speaking it should translate as b only, ना as na, र as ra and स as sa.

        Translation by a non-native speaker might have caused its name to be given that way. And also since wikipedia is nowadays considered as an ultimate guide, I dont think anyone will accept what I am trying to suggest XD. But still being a native to the language and its script, I would anyday go with Banaras only.

        Well this word has no relevance at all in the series so I might as well not stress on this anymore :)

  7. While the wording in used in the screenshots seems awkward, I can easily associate ‘rosy’ and ‘grey’ with ‘colourful’ and ‘boring-as-fuck (or: quiet/simple)’ given the context. Even if ‘rosy’ doesn’t click with you straight away, he comparing it to ‘grey’ the way he does should give your brain enough of a kick to make the retrospective connection automatically. That said, I haven’t seen the episode yet, so I have no idea if the grey line comes right after or not.

    The bit regarding the superiority complex, however… Wow. All I’m getting from it is: avoiding all the fun things because you’re a worthless sack of shit makes you a boring-as-fuck person.

    • I don’t think that’s really what the show is getting at, though. It’s more like he does it, even though he knows it’ll just make him lonely.

      • I haven’t seen it in actual context yet, those are just my impressions from the screenshots.

        But now that you’ve mentioned it’s like that, I can vaguely associate it with ‘(happily?) living in the background’. Whether or not that message is conveyed to me, I’ll find out in 32 minutes.

  8. Oh yes, I disagree with Dark Sage’s point/analogy. Sure, a new language might not be learnt the same way as one’s first language, but even through the “robotic” learning process, many, if not most, learners are able to master the language given time and are able to be perfectly fluent in it.

    Also, I have to agree with some of the commenters above that when it comes to translations, a balance between understandably and accuracy is needed. After all, you can’t really say a translation is good if the original meaning is kept, but the entire sentence has been rephrased to the point that it’s completely different from what was said/written.

    Lastly, I have to ask how you guys define what ‘natural’ sounding language is. Is it something that you can tell simply by intuition?

    • “After all, you can’t really say a translation is good if the original meaning is kept, but the entire sentence has been rephrased to the point that it’s completely different from what was said/written.”

      I would say that’s an amazing translation.

    • >After all, you can’t really say a translation is good if the original meaning is kept, but the entire sentence has been rephrased to the point that it’s completely different from what was said/written.

      I don’t see why not. The purpose of a translation in the first place is to convey meaning, not to slavishly reconstruct the grammar constructs / sentence structure / forms of reference of the original language.

      >Lastly, I have to ask how you guys define what ‘natural’ sounding language is. Is it something that you can tell simply by intuition?

      Intuition formed as a result of experience from talking to people in real life. That’s why editors are usually native speakers of the target language.

    • >After all, you can’t really say a translation is good if the original meaning is kept, but the entire sentence has been rephrased to the point that it’s completely different from what was said/written.

      Uh, as long as the meaning is conveyed, who cares? Of course, stuff like tone and nuance also have to be there, but the kind of literal translation you’re talking about isn’t necessary to keep those either. In fact, it may often have the opposite effect.

      You’re contradicting yourself anyway – if the sentence is “completely different” then it doesn’t really keep the meaning anymore, does it? And if it does, it’s not “completely different”.

      • >You’re contradicting yourself anyway – if the sentence is “completely different” then it doesn’t really keep the meaning anymore, does it? And if it does, it’s not “completely different”.<
        He is not contradicting himself, he made a paradox. Or lets say what was written/said was not the original.

        • It’s only a bad translation if it adds additional/different meanings in the target language. If you’re arguing between the use of “yes” and “sure” for “hai~” then there’s no marked difference (though, even then, a “yes, sir” denotes talking to someone in authority and a “gotcha” would more be used amongst friends – yet all are valid translations of the Japanese word “hai~”), but if you want to argue the difference between something that holds a bit more nuance to it, that’s a little tricky.

          For example, even words such as “want” and “need” hold different nuances, and you might find that while a direct translation uses one, in actuality, the other might be more appropriate for the tone of the scene (not a great example because I don’t know the jp equivalents).

          tl:dr English words aren’t always interchangeable, but sometimes the nuance of a direct word isn’t as strong for the translation as one of its synonyms. That’s what makes translating and editing such an important role in fansub making.

      • When I say different, I do mean in sentence structure and grammar and specific phrasing. ..and yes, I argue that in certain situations, it does matter.

        For instance, in episode 2 of Nyaruko, she said “無駄無駄無駄無駄!”, but one group translated it as “That won’t work on me!”. Same meaning, surely, but it’s essentially different from what she said in Japanese. The new line might sound more fluid in English, but why won’t translating it as ‘Useless, useless, useless, useless!” work as well?

        She’s fighting, and such a battle cry wouldn’t be unimaginable or unintelligible in English. (Not to mention, it’s a famous catchphrase from JoJo’s…) I mean, personally, I think such liberties are unnecessary if the original Japanese phrase can be translated into English directly and still work perfectly. Of course, I’m not saying that translations should be word for word, and sometimes liberties are necessary to avoid awkward phrasing, but some effort must be made to at least bring across what was said in the original Japanese script…

        But in the end, that’s just my opinion. You guys are also entitled to your opinions and I guess it is up to the individual translator/editor to make the call.

  9. My first language is Arabic and English is my second.After watching Mazui release I have to say its didn’t make sense to me. That being said, as an Arabic speaker, I eventually got what he was saying.It might be hard to understand at first but half way thorough the episode, you have a better understanding of MC character and get to understand the fuck they were talking about at the beginning. My only problem is with word “low power” it can be changed to something more meaningful.

  10. In my opinion leaving ‘rose-colored’ in the translation is a grave mistake.

    You can argue literally translating Japanese metaphors into English if a different metaphor using the same phrases doesn’t already exist – but ‘rose-colored’ is already a metaphor in English. A different one.

    Putting it into the translation isn’t just literal, it’s a mistake. Any educated native speaker without knowledge of Japanese would understand the ‘rose-colored’ to mean optimistic, nostalgic or maybe even naive, not eventful and exciting. I see absolutely no way of arguing in favor of this translation.

    Leaving a color metaphor is all nice and well, but this one simply doesn’t work.

    • What would you have used? I see people bitching about this, but no one has offered a single solution to it.

      Hey, guess what? It makes sense. I understand the character. The scene moves forward and it develops from there. I understand little Japanese, but I understand a ton of English.

      A rose coloured world? In Japanese it carries connotations of romance, and of it’s ups and downs. Correct? Is this what we have so far?

      A rose coloured world? In English it means, well, you’ve described it. But are you telling me that a sense of romance doesn’t have either optimism or naivety? Yes, we often use a phrase such as, “You are wearing rose coloured glasses” to say to a person, “You are being to optimistic, much to your detriment”.

      But, we often uses phrases in ways that maybe they were never intended to be used.

      There is no accounting for taste. That is, without context, a neutral statement. But, how often is it used as a prospective?

      Oh, I loved K-ON. I know lots of people pile on the hate, but I enjoyed it. Oh, that’s cool, you don’t have to account for your taste. Yeah, people don’t talk like that, like ever, “Dude, it’s cool” suffices
      But that is a neutral statement.

      Oh, you want another season of such and such, well, there’s no accounting for taste, I guess.

      That is pure put-down. Same words, different approach.

      8th mentions using instinct. He’s got the right tool from the box …

      • Are the subs understandable? Yeah, you can get the gist of what MC-kun’s saying. Is it proper or even natural English? No, it’s neither of those things. The idiom is used incorrectly, and it doesn’t sound right.

        So as subs, sure, they’re “good enough” to be understandable, but the point of this blog is to encourage fansubbers to go beyond that and actually release great subtitles.

        As for a suggested alternative, I posted one below. It’s not perfect, but I think it solves a lot of the issues with Mazui’s release.

        • >>the point of this blog is to encourage fansubbers to go beyond that and actually release great subtitles<<

          Rlly? So far I've seen no direct evidence that this is making for great subtitle releases. I do see direct evidence of Krushchev level shoe-banging. I do see Nixon level pomposity. Yeah, pretty much a Cold War in these parts.

          • Shit, let me say this: I see a bunch of folk that have, with great effort, assembled a collection of tools that they love and use on a personal level.

            And yes, this sort of debate can lead to groups putting out better subs. It’s just at times it seems we are getting less of the craftsmen’s approach….and more of a TOOLS approach.

            • Pompousness is basically this blog’s trademark. It’s the tone Dark_Sage adopts for his reviews, and I and many others find this to be amusing. It’s not for everyone, but that’s how this blog works.

              At the end of the day, though, he usually judges groups fairly (there is some bias, but it’d be very difficult to do this kind of thing completely objectively), and many groups try to improve based upon the criticisms he makes. If you look past all the snide and condescending remarks, unless a group is beyond hope *cough* Hadena *cough*, there’s often some solid advice.

    • The only information I’m going on here is what has been said above and the script that’s visible in Dark_Sage’s screenshots, so apologies if I misinterpret anything.

      >”It’s natural to think that way, because everyone treats high school life as a rosy experience.”
      >”Nevertheless, I don’t think that all students seek such a rose-colored life.”
      My first problem with these lines is the repetition of rosy/rose-colored. This is bad repetition: it serves no purpose and is boring and unimaginative (which is the opposite emotion that subs should be evoking here).

      The second (and more important) problem, like blargh pointed out, is that “rose-colored glasses” is already an English idiom, so calling it a “rose-colored life” conveys the wrong meaning. It also doesn’t make much sense.

      However, 8th has a point that the rose and gray imagery might be an important theme in the show.

      So I tried to preserve the rose and gray contrast, relate that to colors while avoiding the term “rose-colored”, and end up with something that’s passable English. After some iterations, here’s what I came up with:

      “It’s natural to think that way, because everyone treats high school as a thorny, yet vivid experience.”
      “Nevertheless, I don’t think that all students seek such a roselike school life.”
      “Surely there are students who want a less colorful, or “gray” life, so to speak.”

      I cheated a bit on the last line, because someone mentioned that the “so to speak” came from the actual Japanese dialog. I took the liberty of leaving in “gray life” after defining what it meant, which also allowed me to further convey MC-kun’s poetic tone.

      • >“Nevertheless, I don’t think that all students seek such a roselike school life.”<
        How is a school life like a rose?

        • He just described high school as “thorny, yet vivid” (full of challenges, but exciting), but both those adjectives describe a rose very accurately. Thus, he metaphorically calls that school life “roselike”.

          It’s not perfect, but I think it works pretty well.

  11. I think the point to take away from this is the episode sets up the rose/grey theme to be the overarching theme of the whole series. While translating it liberally might seem now to be a good idea, and indeed probably better, when the series starts to explore the theme more deeply some serious issues will likely arise. Of course, how this will play out remains to be seen.

    The rest of those errors were definitely Mazui’s fault, though.

  12. Man, I’d love to put my two pennies’ worth as a non-native English user… If only I had some 5 minutes time, lol maybe in my next life / after exams

    • That doesn’t have the same meaning as the Japanese idiom. According to 8thSin (and I’m inclined to believe he knows what he’s talking about), the Japanese idiom “a rose-colored life” means an “eventful life with ups and downs”.

      So the confusion comes from having two idioms that don’t mean the same thing being used interchangeably.

        • They’re somewhat similar, but viewing something through rose-colored glasses means you ignore its flaws and only notice the good parts. The Japanese idiom acknowledges that life isn’t a bed of roses (teehee), but has ups and downs.

      • I do agree though that it was wrong to use this idiom along with with “inferiority complex.” “Low-power person” also didn’t sit well with me.

  13. Translation is about capturing the essence of an original and distilling it into a different form, a new language. Sometimes this process requires tradeoffs between the meaning of what is said, the precise emphasis placed on all the different words and ideas, and the delivery and flow of those thoughts. Different source materials may be better suited to different approaches, favoring different tradeoffs and compromises.

    Sometimes very talented editors make mistakes in conveying the right essence because they can’t see the whole picture. They’re used to transforming mediocre writing into good writing and phrases that people actually use. However, as pointed out earlier with a very simple example, such a transformation can be a mistake. If the original language is stilted and awkward, the translated language should be the same, or that’s an inaccuracy. If a straightforward dictionary translation mangles conversational phrases into a nonsense arrangement of words, that’s also very wrong.

    In a visually inventive show of this type, there could easily be later references to “rose” and “gray” colors, either in words or in the visuals. Throwing away key symbolism for any reason is a big mistake in conveying the original essence, if it turns out that the colors do have some significance. Those color references do sound unnatural in English, but that’s a compromise that should probably be made (or at least shouldn’t be counted as a mistake), especially since we’re looking at an opening monologue. This is the type of situation where it’s probably better to trust the instincts of a good translator over a good editor.

    That said, Mazui’s script in particular was not exactly blameless, just looking at the highlighted examples. Even keeping with their interpretation, they certainly could have done better.

  14. The second Commie puts in stupid shit like “wet panties” and “saged, hidden, reported” in their subs for Hyouka, I’m jumping ship to Mazui.

  15. i don’t know any Japanese, but i do know what a metaphor is. it wasn’t exactly difficult to understand what rosy and grey represented. i feel that if it was originally spoken metaphorically, a good translator should at least attempt do the same in English. at least, with metaphors as simple as colors.

  16. Okay, let’s see if I can rephrase this.

    It’s natural to think that way because people tend to view high school with a generally rosy outlook. {According to these comments, the Japanese idiom means to view life with inevitable ups and downs. “rosy outlook” here preserves the positive message of this comment and “tend to” and “generally” hammer the point home (almost redundantly) that life isn’t always perfect. It’s more important to focus on the positives in this line because 1. He offers a counterpoint that’s notable for lacking any positive message 2. It ties in with his earlier comment that people view high school as the high point of their lives.}

    However, I don’t think every student views this time with such rose-tinted glasses. {His counterpoint, using the word “rose” to throw it back in the faces of the faceless individuals who promote such values. It’s bitter and sarcastic because he’s implying they’re overly optimistic.}

    There must be those out there who aren’t interested in studying, sports, or relationships. {“romance” is way too specific and lessens the impact of how alone he actually is.}

    Could their outlook be considered “gray”, then? {This makes no sense, really. But it’s symbolic and sounds like shit, so it must mean Japan is great at anime!}

    Geez, that sounds kind of pathetic. {read: “I am lonely/pathetic.”}

    You’re a bit down on yourself. {Or whatever. I can’t salvage English from Mazui’s version.}

    What do you mean? {Far better than the typical “Phrase A.” “Phrase A?” translation}

    You neglect studying, ignore sports, and avoid relationships.
    It’s like everything is gray to you. {And that’s how you tie it all back together.}

    • This reads pretty well, with one possible exception. Later in the show, he states (and this is pretty much true from Commie to Mazui to gg) that he doesn’t look down on anyone for being different from him. He doesn’t feel he is superior. I don’t see him as bitter.

      Hell, we can take the Holmsian trigger he pulls and say he just needs a good shot of coke.

      • But that one was funny. This one is TL;DR. Well, apparently not too long to other people…
        Actually, if we remove D_S and Xythar, there aren’t really many comments lololol.

          • Okay, I’ll use this as a forum then.

            I just did the TL review run for gg and Commie, and I already have enough mistakes for “C” in accuracy lol (will probably discover more in the second run… Of course, the other two are getting “F” or “D-” at best).

            Still have to do Mazui, but I’m pretty sure we fansubbers have all failed. Need CR to license this show immediately.

            • That’s brutal. Haha.

              But regardless, we all appreciate each and every one of the sub groups! (Yeah, I’m sure that… SOMEBODY… probably even appreciates Hadena! :P)

            • Oh, yeah. The two other groups were SO much faster than us, so they’re bound to have a lot of sloppy mistakes.

              The quality of their script definitely weren’t “F” grade, and I rigged the grading scheme a bit in their favor to reflect that.

            • I saw on your blog that this show had a difficulty of 9 due to lack of context and lots of talking. The lack of context problem will probably go away as the show starts to develop, so hopefully it won’t be difficult to translate later on. Keep up the good work, 8th.

            • I’m actually starting to think this is going to be a no-mindfuck version of Mawaru Penguindrum lol

              But hopefully it’ll get less confusing because it has about 75% more lines than MP and it’s effort.

  17. I understand how you feel about “grey” not making sense in English. While i cannot speak for the Japanese language, in Cantonese, we do use “grey” often for dull, etc. Especially, when it is used to describe our own life. As a matter of fact, I personally already said it several times today in comparison to my life lol. And so, I would assume Japanese has the same idea.
    I don’t mean to be nitpicky and such, but I just want to point that out.

    • Stepping back to read more of these posts, it seems like people are just looking for a way to properly “translate” a metaphor and retain its accuracy and crediting who gets it “best”. GL finding a way to phrase that in a way that can be accepted more universally. Hard to really fault it by leaving it more literal, though it seems editors or wanna-be editors are criticizing that and wanting to find a way to phrase it better. It’s close to the point where no one is right and they’d just have to live with it and consider this whole thing as pointless nerdraging and move on.


      • Debating = nerdraging. Gotcha.

        I mean, most of these posts have been pretty civil and insightful (other than the random people who come in here yelling that this is dumb and add nothing to the discussion), and it’s been interesting (to me at least) to read people’s thoughts and comments on this obviously difficult to translate show.

  18. why did this turn into such a long argument?
    do you all lack the ability to use imagination?
    don’t tell me you cant even use your brain.
    both translations make sense if you would just use your brain a bit.

  19. > Think about your first language

    Unfortunately, I NO Americano. So? The hell with “making sense” thingy. *sips radiator*


    This is the best I could come up with for a script for the first part of the OP that retains the “color” theme, but I’m not certain it’s better. It really depends on whether the color theme ends up being a recurring element or not.

    For the record, I don’t think gg handled the intro much better than Mazui did. “If I asked you to describe high school life, and for a rose color, you’d think of high school life”. It doesn’t really make sense to me – I certainly wouldn’t associate “a rose color” with high school life, and neither would anyone I know. Those lines are just kind of a “wtf” to me on first viewing.

    And in the end, it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s a lot easier to come up with the most appropriate translation for something when you’ve had days to think it over.

    • Er, that quote should be “If I asked you to describe high school life, you’d think of a rose color, and for a rose color, you’d think of high school life.”

      I know they follow up with “In the eyes of society, high school life is always glorified like the rose color.” but I still don’t feel like those lines get across what I understand to be the meaning of the term.

  21. I’m not exactly defending the translation here, but the meaning of the “inferiority complex” line was pretty obvious. Low self-esteem is related to lacking ambition and settling for less than you could have. It’s not exactly an uncommon sentiment.

    I don’t know what the original Japanese said, so maybe it is a bad translation. It’s certainly a bad line either way, but far from incomprehensible.

    As for “grey” meaning “dull,” color metaphors are very common and should be pretty easily understood. Green can mean envy. Red can mean passion or anger. Gray can mean dull or boring. I have no comment on the use of “rosy” though.

  22. Hey dark_sage — I know you have no idea who I am or why you should care what I say, but just let this conversation die. Do the right thing and just skip the Hyouka reviews entirely.

  23. Seems everyone is agitated about Hyouka release.

    Sometimes I wish that Japan get their color schemes right or at least say it in gratuitous English. Example: Every rose has its thorn or Not everything is all black and white.

    I would blame the show’s script writers and I tend to watch the official licensed groups in comparison to fansubs.

  24. Only stupid will watch Commie’s faggotness cause they’re the worst group fro Hyouka.. Would you actually believe that Commie is better? WTH.. The proof stated was so stupid, I have headache.. What a stupid review by a stupid faggot.. First, I suggest watch a couple of wordy shows and then try to understand that there are japanese lines that can’t be translated as it is in english..

    What’s the name of the faggot who claimed Commie got better script? Dark-Shit? Oh, okay.. You are funny, better ran for president on the next U.S election and I assured you, you’ll fucking win a Guinness World of Record for the STUPIDEST MAN alive..

  25. @episode 2, 03:08, gg translated “Someone gave these to us as a gift” while Mazui did “I brought these from home”. Seems contradictory to each other,which one is right?

    • It’s literally “a gift from home” I think. In my opinion both are acceptable interpretations as it’s not really clear whether the gift is from her or someone else.

    • I’ve also updated the opening monologue in Commie’s release to include color as a theme (similar to the pastebin I posted above but with some minor revisions, most notably colorless -> dull), though I’m not sure if we’re releasing a standalone v2 or waiting for the batch.

      We’ll be using “colorful” and “dull” for all future references to “rose-colored” and “grey” as these words have actual meaning in English while retaining the theme and also being fairly close to the intended meaning.


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