Sister Princess and Translating “Brother”

Sister Princess and Translating “Brother”

Sometimes, I come across things that immediately provoke a response in me. Such was the case with the recent Harmony Gold news. That said, a Japanese anime fan on Twitter made this tweet, which Twitter user @chusetto made me aware of via @Johnny_suputama.

I gather that the Japanese were pondering the difficulties translating all of their forms of “brother” into some English equivalent.

That said, I pondered long and hard on whether to even open my pie-hole on this topic. I probably should keep it shut, beyond what I’ve already said on Twitter. But you know me–sometimes I just gotta speak. 😅

Localization vs. Accurate but Readable

People who’ve followed me for years know that I’m a staunch supporter of retaining Japanese honorifics in subtitles. When it comes to the dubs, I really could care less. Dub scripts could be 100% rewritten and I wouldn’t even blink, providing my subtitles are accurate but readable and retain the Japanese honorifics.

In the case of the anime release of Sister Princess, I already know that whatever nonsense they came up with for the dubs is the same stupidity they will ram into the subs. Clearly, there aren’t two kinds of fans, ones who want maximum “localization” and those who want accurate but readable subtitles. Nope, everyone should want maximum localization, no matter how stupid that is.

I don’t want localization. I want accurate but readable. I want the flavor of Japanese culture retained in the subtitles, not some hideous Western non-approximation.

Bro-bro! Or Is It Mon Frère?

The arguments against keeping the various terms for brother out of the English subtitles usually center around a few things. First, “no Japanese in muh English.” In this case, I’m laughing ’cause apparently French in “muh English” is awesomely awesome. (Nevermind that no one in France would address their brother in this form, but whatever.) It’s not the first time an English adaptation of Japanese goes to French honorifics to avoid using Japanese ones. 🙄

Second, “no one wants to look up what these Japanese terms mean.” But of course, looking up French terms is awesomely awesome. “Frak that slant-eyed nip crap!” 😑

What gets me is that in an attempt to avoid the Japanese cultural aspects, something that has always smacked of racism to me, we get cringe-worthy replacements instead. No one in English addresses their brother in any form as shown in the list. The term “Brother” (and “Sister” for that matter) is often uses in Christianity. And sometimes in a literary work, you might hear “brother” used (the various Thor movies spring to mind), but that’s the exception, not the rule. But we certainly don’t use any nonsense shown in the list.

Sister Princess

Bottom Line

You want me to buy your anime, manga, or light novel product? Keep all of the Japanese honorifics intact in the subtitles for anime, and in the text for manga and novels. That includes all of the various incarnations for brother…or sister for that matter. 🙂

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