School Rumble R1 DVD Vol. 1

I finally received my School Rumble Starter Set yesterday. Rumor mill had some bad things to say about my main reason for purchasing FUNimation titles. Sadly, that was true.

I’ll start with the neat. The collectors tin is cleverly shaped as a locker. Since I have a display case, that’s where it will ultimately reside I suppose. Within the locker was the first volume DVD and a 6-page “yearbook” (not counting the cover pages). While the various English signings mean nothing to me (I’m guessing dub fans will enjoy those though), the roster of current characters is neat, though the names are in western order and there are several characters missing which will show up down the road (I think they all should have been there, but what do I know?).

Within the DVD case was a magnet sheet containing Eri, Harima, Karasuma, Akira, Tenma, and Mikoto. Also, a magnet for the title of the series was included. I didn’t expect that, but hey, I won’t complain.

As to the DVD, it contains the first five episodes of the series. That’s a good thing. I haven’t looked to see what the rest of the breakdown will be though, so I don’t know if any of the remaining DVD’s will contain the five-episode count or not. Each episode has the original prolog warning viewers to watch the title in a well-lit room. That’s cool because I so rarely see them on DVD’s. The DVD contains some extras that I wasn’t expecting either, namely an interview with Tenma’s seiyuu KOSHIMIZU Ami and Yakumo’s seiyuu NOTO Mamiko. Those are always welcome to me.

Since I don’t watch English dubs, I have no comment there. However, I have to say that FUNimation fails on the subtitles. No, don’t go blaming Tomato because he didn’t work on the series, nor did any of FUNimation’s stable of translators. Instead, FUNimation outsourced all the translation work for volume 1 to JN Productions. They’ve done translation work for FUNimation before, but NOT for the subtitles (it was posted on FUNimation’s forums that they have a translator credit for Desert Punk, but since Tomato did those subtitles, they must have just been the translator for the dubs). This time they do the subtitles and my main reason for buying FUNimation DVD’s got flushed down the toilet — Japanese honorifics. FUNimation has almost always been great about including all honorifics for their licensed titles (save Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid which was subtitled by ADV and Slayers which for whatever bizarro reason, they had to use CPM’s original and not so good subtitles).

I guess JN Productions attended the ADV school of honorifics because only “chan” survives most of the time, but it is ignored as well from time-to-time. Somehow, “senpai” survives as well (I was shocked.). The “san” honorific is force-translated in the subtitles or outright ignored and it is an important thing in episode 5 where Itoko-san demands Harima use “san” when addressing her (which is proper in Japan) but this goes against his bad-boy image. They try to make it work with the “Miss” translation, but remember, these two are cousins and which of your female cousins do you call “Miss?” None I’m betting.

The “kun” honorific is ignored because the translator can’t come up with a forced translation, so we’ll just pretend it isn’t there. “Sensei” is either “Teacher” or “Ms” or “Mr.” Ugh. Make me wretch.

I know some Japanese jokes aren’t handled well. Because the translators insisted on domesticating the display of Japanese names (meaning, they displayed them western style rather than Japanese style with the family name first), we now have “Kenji Harima” instead of the proper “HARIMA Kenji.” What’s wrong with that? Well, in the first episode, Harima-kun is looking for his name when Yoshidayama gives him bad information (on purpose) based on seeing the name “Harry McKenzie” (in Katakana of course, not in English) on the board. Its a word pun. Instead, good old JN Productions actually translate it at “Kenji Harima.” So not only is the joke blown, they don’t even get the blasted name right. Harry McKenzie is a character who will show up in later episodes, so JN Productions shows that while they may read and understand Japanese, they have never even heard of School Rumble and don’t care about doing things right.

Seriously, I hope that FUNimation doesn’t plan to do the entire series with these losers. It was completely disappointing and irritating for this hardcore fan. Look to Del Rey to see how it should have been done (save for the kappa jokes, which I felt Del Rey didn’t do right but that’s a minor complaint).

Bottom line: Had FUNimation given me the normal high-quality subtitles, this would have been awesome. As it is, the subtitle problems are going to annoy hardcore fans like myself who are used to quality and a Japanese perspective without losing readability.

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