Going into this review, I didn’t know what Rakudai Kishi was… and now I wish I never found out. Maybe I should have done the Fall preview after all.
Note: There are three “official” versions of Rakudai Kishi floating out there:
- AnimeLab/Madman (Australia/New Zealand exclusive)
- Hulu/Sentai Filmworks (U.S. exclusive)
- HorribleSubs (“fanrip” – the version you’ll find via torrents or any unofficial streaming service)
While all share the same base translation, their quality is not equivalent. Visually, Hulu’s is the only one that passes the test (HorribleSubs is a straight Madman rip).
As far as whom to assign blame to for the poor TL quality, I’m going to pick on Sentai throughout this review, but it would also be fair to point your middle finger at Madman. Not like these companies ever reveal who’s responsible for their outsourced translations.
Table of Contents
Release format: 720p MKV (294 MB, 8-bit), 1080p MKV (469 MB, 8-bit), 480p (196 MB, 8-bit)
Japanesiness: Honorifics. Japanese name order sometimes, Western name order other times. TL notes because I don’t know why.
English style: Sentai-style English.
Encoding details: http://pastebin.com/q8zc61q6
Following the lead of other officialsubs, Sentai Filmworks didn’t bother to license the show’s music, and as such, has not translated the ending.
Taking into consideration the quality of Sentai’s subs in the rest of the release, and how the ED is the only good thing about the show, I guess it was a blessing in disguise.
The typesetting is off in the HorribleSubs/Madman release, to the point where stupid shit like this isn’t uncommon:
When it’s not off, you’ll see Funimation-tier typesetting:
…which is fucking pathetic, since the one thing Sentai did right is the TS. Here’s what you’ll see if you watch the release on Hulu:
Hulu’s release also has more signs translated, just to rub salt in the Aussies’ and Kiwis’ wounds.
Apostrophising with multiples is a fucking headache. If there’s joint ownership, then you can skip the apostrophe on the first one (for a common example, “Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream”, cuz the ice cream is both of theirs.) but if the ownership is separate, you use apostrophes for both (“Naruto’s and Sasuke’s outfits are totes kawaii”).
Okay, that’s enough learning for one day. Time to tear down some ESLglish.
Don’t expect to be able to do it with HorribleSubs or Madman.
There we go.
If you aren’t watching on Hulu with a good connection, this is the kinda blurfuck you’ll be subjected to:
Still, gotta say it’s better than watching something that looks like it was put through the wash way too many times:
I like you too much to show you what this looks like on AnimeLab, but I’m sure you can make an educated guess.
If you watch the HorribleSubs/Madman version of the release, you’ll often find lines off by three syllables or more (and yes, I did pay for an AnimeLab account and a VPN just to verify this).
Still, if you aren’t bleeding money like a self-harming hemophiliac, you’re likely gonna be stuck going the HorribleSubs route, cuz Hulu is silver-spoon expensive.
Yup, you’re getting fucked either way. Welcome to simulcasting 2015.
You know you’re in for a good time when you can’t even guess what the translator was trying to get at.
The study abroad? What? Fuck, I can already tell this post is gonna get depressing quick. Have some upbeat to keep you alive:
Inspiration, Sentai style.
Note: This is how you alienate an audience.
It may be 2015, but Sentai is keen on “translating” like it’s 20 years ago. I can understand the desire to get back to their ADV days, but at this point it’s getting kinda pathetic. Ledford, you gotta learn when to fold ’em. Relics belong in museums.
Fuck my brain, this reads like a Wikia page.
Right after this line, we’re treated to a row of four trophies, with 4th to 6th place finishes. How do English works?
Human consciousness was a mistake.
I am quite piqued. Homophones aren’t that hard so long as you have a passable understanding of the language. While Sentai’s TL clearly doesn’t, a one-off pass by one of Sentai’s American mouth breathers would have only taken ~30 minutes. This basic incompetence is unacceptable.
In my 32 years of reviewing anime subtitles, I have never seen “take a responsibility” until today. I guess it’s true what they say about monkeys and keyboards.
The “it gets better” campaign was wrong.
I don’t know what dictionary Sentai’s TL is using, but I don’t think it’s an English one.
you’d -> you’ll
Taking into account all the failed English in the rest of the show, this is a trivial mistake. But I think we all deserve a bit of a break from the clusterfuck of Engrish we’ve been subjected to.
Much like interacting with my co-workers, this is a textbook example of a failed attempt at conversation.
This was probably a super deep metaphor in Japanese. As such, I guess I can’t fault Sentai for translating it directly, and without any consideration for how it reads in English. Got me this time, guys~
His ability is actually called “Blade Steal”, as in he copies his opponents’ sword techniques, but good guess.
She says “feint” in English here. I can’t even begin to follow the translator’s thought process here, cuz I’m afraid my brain would shut down as a defensive maneuver.
gift -> talent
Sentai’s TL is gifted in all the wrong ways.
Sure is some redundant redundancy here.
Thankfully the show is generic enough that you can generally figure out what’s going on without needing to understand the Engrish. If Rakudai were halfway decent, however, the subs would come across as complete gibberish.
She’s saying he’s been treated unfairly, not that he’s a duplicitous weasel.
Normally I’d be incredulous that anyone could misunderstand a show so thoroughly basic. But if there’s any human too stupid to understand Rakudai, then it’s probably Sentai’s TL.
Boxes all the way down.
Bitch be crazy, but line be wrong.
Try, “I lost completely, Ikki.”
Thanks to Sentai, everyone who watched their translation did too.
Whether you watch this on Hulu, Madman, or with HorribleSubs, the Sentai-translated version of this show is a failure on multiple fronts. While the anime itself may not be great, Sentai goes out of its way to show such complete contempt for its audience that only a mental invalid could find these subs acceptable.
If you still want to watch the show, yet aren’t keen on re-translating every line in your head, I strongly suggest holding out for a better option. Given the expected popularity of Rakudai (or lack thereof), I expect that means you may have to wait for the blu-rays and hope that Japan will do a re-translation, in-house.
How far we’ve come.
Overall grade: Fail.