The MangaGamer controversy

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#26 by encrypted12345
2020-05-07 at 16:51
@25 I agree. OAG is still better than a variety of other websites as they generally only need to be taken with few grains of salt as opposed to a barrel of salt, but that's not saying too much. Sadly, part of the problem is that they are the only website that's actually reporting about various censorship issues, which is going to lead to a few false positives like this incident.

As for if it will affect MG's overall sales, I honestly doubt it. I don't think OAG's grievances with the company will convince most of their current buyer base to boycott. If MG is on a slippery slope like One Angry Gamer seems to believe, then I might boycott down the line, but there's no indication that they'll outright censor any of their titles any time soon. I'll be the first to admit that Mangagamer has fucked up before (Kuroinu is an absolute disaster of a release, and keeping their employees in line in public is a fair enough criticism), but I still like them the best out of the current PC VN localization companies. JAST is too slow, Sekai is more or less NISA tier, Nekonyan and Cherry Kiss Games only do a single niche (moege and short nukige respectively), and the less said about Sol Press, the better.
#27 by gerardlonewolf
2020-05-07 at 18:26
Maybe they just want to help people who don't know the language but actually want a good translation instead of a bad one?

How noble of them, I'm touched. Pretty sure they damn fixed the translation too, for free of course. Oh, forever the Messiah.

There are enough people who would choose no translation over the latter any time of the day.

Preserving the purity of generic masterpieces. Those slices of life must be translated with care, less people could not fully appreciate the wonderful feeling of eating lunch on a school rooftop. It's important! And honorifics are sacred!
#28 by wertville
2020-05-07 at 19:15
How noble of them, I'm touched. Pretty sure they damn fixed the translation too, for free of course. Oh, forever the Messiah.
I'm confused by the sarcasm here. Not only was the whole scene propped up by people doing free translation work for 10+ years, people *have* redone bad translations, see: r42351 and r60521. It's also kind of unrelated to what the person you're quoting said?

Preserving the purity of generic masterpieces. Those slices of life must be translated with care, less people could not fully appreciate the wonderful feeling of eating lunch on a school rooftop. It's important! And honorifics are sacred!
You're going to see a bias towards school life comedy drama because school life comedy drama is what's popular in VNs, and many of them *are* considered masterpieces, at least by this community. I think most people would be critical of questionable translations in any genre though, of any tier of quality aside from maybe Nukige.

Writers have a voice and most people want to hear that voice instead of the translator's. Even if that's an impossible ideal, is it really such a laughable concept that it's worth mocking people over?Last modified on 2020-05-07 at 19:28
#29 by shining17
2020-05-07 at 19:21
How noble of them, I'm touched. Pretty sure they damn fixed the translation too, for free of course. Oh, forever the Messiah.

Oh yeah, fans gotta fix all the fuck ups a publisher made. And any form of criticism is not allowed since you're nothing more than a sheep being led towards a cliff edge. Such is a consumer friendly attitude.

And honorifics are sacred!

The majority of fans sure don't agree with you, oh the great outsider who has just recently got some free time to clear out his VN backlog after being enslaved by his wife.Last modified on 2020-05-07 at 19:24
#30 by kiru
2020-05-07 at 21:02
@24: The point is, that a "good translation", like some idealize them, does not exist and can't exist.

Information will always get lost, even when you just read posts on vndb. In fact, you've probably not seen that I basically wrote this already.
You can't prevent that, especially not if you actually have to finish your job at some point. Even with endless care, some things can't be translated just like that. So warnings are pointless. Especially warnings about very specific parts of a translation. It's not like people have a choice, nor is it necessarily bad. Original and translation are two different things. This is not something you can change.

There are exceptions, yeah, but like I also already said: Those are rare. Usually those change entire characters and their behavior in ways that are completely unfitting. And even then, it's debatable. It might not have much to do with the original, but that isn't necessarily bad. Dragon Quest is a popular example, as already mentioned.Last modified on 2020-05-07 at 21:07
#31 by lucumo
2020-05-07 at 22:20
@30: It certainly can. Localizations and translations are different things.

Why wouldn't I have seen it? I have read your post after all. And I agree that information are always lost which is why I didn't address that point. The simple fact that there are untranslatable words or meanings (including connotations) in basically every language makes that clear. However, that is one reason why honorifics are used...or something like bento (example from the linked poll in shining17's post)...and also why they should be used.
Still, you also have (and often in Japanese entertainment) puns which basically can't be directly translated at all. So translating those into something that makes sense is perfectly fine and I have yet to see anyone complain about that.
So while a "perfect" translation is obviously impossible, a "good" one isn't and one should generally strive towards perfection. And as said before, a lot of people buy Japanese media because they want something Japanese, not something American (which unfortunately happens a lot), especially if they are from neither country.

Warnings are just a vertical slice, of course, and whether they are representative of the whole work, who knows? Doesn't change the fact that it's a decent indicator and they have their uses. Also, don't forget that people are often paying money for the works with warnings, so having one is always better than having none. For example: If people hadn't warned against the machine-translations of that one Patreon guy, there wouldn't have been a backlash on Twitter which caused that person to close his accounts and he would still be making money off unsuspecting payers. While that is a more clean-cut example, there are enough questionable translations around. And usually those don't get a warning just because they write "mister blabla" instead of "blabla-san".
#32 by PabloC
2020-05-07 at 23:03
How noble of them, I'm touched. Pretty sure they damn fixed the translation too, for free of course. Oh, forever the Messiah.
So I'm a Messiah now? Well, thanks.
I'm accepting cute, virgin lolis as sacrifices, just so you know. I also don't mind if they actually turn out to be tentacle monsters. ^^

Jokes aside, you really don't need to do extensive research, own a legal copy of the VN and finish it 3 times, pass JLPT1 with flying colors and volunteer as a fan-translator for free, in order to have an informed opinion about localizing "tsundere" as "fragile male ego". So stop making those irrelevant non-arguments in this particular case, they only make you look silly.

That said, this just seems like a well thought-out localization choice to me - nothing more, nothing less. Translator provided a very detailed explanation about this decision (that's a huge plus in my book) and SJW aren't capable of doing stuff like this. Instead they'd cry "HARRRRASSMENT!!!!" or something like that... which is kinda sorta how MangaGamer responded. Oops. XD

Nah, just kidding. People are blowing all of this stuff out of proportion. That's far better than negligence though. I'm sure SJWs would love to infest VN scene. So much "problematic" content to bitch about and censor... You can never be too careful with those nutjobs.

The point is, that a "good translation", like some idealize them, does not exist and can't exist.
The fact that something can't be 100% perfect doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to make it as close to the original as reasonably achievable.
Sure, you can always go the "Ghost Stories" dub route and just make up some funny shit. It might turn out quite decent in the end. But it can hardly be called a "translation" or even "localization" at this point. It's a completely separate entity that doesn't even pretend to represent the original.

Both translations and localisations are supposed to do exactly that - deliver an experience that will be similar to the original. Every change in the script should be made with this very purpose in mind - you don't get to slap random dudespeak everywhere for shits and giggles, because "it can't be perfect, so why even bother, lol".
This "tsundere" case seems to be within the realm of reasonable localisations though. It still IS a localization, so people who prefer translations (like me) won't like it at all.

So warnings are pointless.
Nah, quite the contrary - such warnings are one of essential elements of making informed decisions about spending your time and money.Last modified on 2020-05-07 at 23:04
#33 by gerardlonewolf
2020-05-08 at 00:12
#29
The majority of fans sure don't agree with you, oh the great outsider who has just recently got some free time to clear out his VN backlog after being enslaved by his wife.

It is either you are from discord or the shoutbox then. If you are going to bring up things from another community, why don't you call me out in there too? Majority? That is supposed to tell something is it?

You're going to see a bias towards school life comedy drama because school life comedy drama is what's popular in VNs, and many of them *are* considered masterpieces, at least by this community. I think most people would be critical of questionable translations in any genre though, of any tier of quality aside from maybe Nukige.

It is but one example. All I am saying is, get real. For a niche community, you guys sure demands a lot.

Writers have a voice and most people want to hear that voice instead of the translator's.

It is impossible. You cannot carry over original nuances, prose, word play, puns and whatsoever into a whole other languages wihout changing anything. What voice? Other book and novels were translated into 30+ languages for it to be accessible. VN is localized for English speaker and everybody demands perfection.

In the context of MG translation that I have read, I could understand the story, plot, characters, the world building, and the direction it is going. Aside from minor typos, there aren't any glaring issues to raise a pitchfork. Obviously I cannot judge the accuracy, but not knowing it does not hamper the story.

If it was bad MT and such, then obviously people should avoid. Those stuff does not even make any sense.

Even if that's an impossible ideal, is it really such a laughable concept that it's worth mocking people over

Get real.

So I'm a Messiah now? Well, thanks.
I'm accepting cute, virgin lolis as sacrifices, just so you know. I also don't mind if they actually turn out to be tentacle monsters. ^^

lol I am not undermining what you did. I appreciate all the works and contribution everybody put to make the medium accessible for all of us.

Anyway, what I am saying was based on past experience. Take comyu translation for example. Certain infamous people condemned Ixrec last translation pretty badly. It could be true for all I know that the accuracy sucks, but I could still understand comyu using the free translation and formed an opinion. I certainly don't see anybody fixing it or re-translate it again though. If it was not translated back then, comyu would still be worms for me.Last modified on 2020-05-08 at 01:43
#34 by freshift
2020-05-08 at 03:09
If we're talking about original producer's 'voice', as far as the recent storm in the Twitter (TM) world is concerned, the original developer came out to explain the context behind of original line and supported the translators.
#35 by wertville
2020-05-08 at 03:17
It is but one example.
Right, but I'm saying that the setting doesn't matter. Even in that example, you could have something like "Itadakimasu" changed to "Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub" or "this food is fucking lit, yo", which I think most people would find objectionable. If what you're talking about is an actual example, I'm not familiar with it.

All I am saying is, get real. For a niche community, you guys sure demands a lot.
The only thing I "demand" in translation is that TLs avoid punching up dialogue too much and that anime subs stop translating "Onee-Sama" as "Sissy".

Apparently the latter really is too much to ask for, though...

It is impossible. You cannot carry over original nuances, prose, word play, puns and whatsoever into a whole other languages wihout changing anything.
I agree.

What voice? Other book and novels were translated into 30+ languages for it to be accessible. VN is localized for English speaker and everybody demands perfection.
I only speak English and intermediate Japanese, so I can't comment on this.

In the context of MG translation that I have read, I could understand the story, plot, characters, the world building, and the direction it is going. Aside from minor typos, there aren't any glaring issues to raise a pitchfork. Obviously I cannot judge the accuracy, but not knowing it does not hamper the story.
I also haven't read anything I found particularly bad from Mangagamer, but my exposure to them is pretty much limited to their Alicesoft titles and Ciconia. However, if they do mess up, I think it's better for it to be brought into the open and discussed. The one thing I have heard from them that I know I disagree with is "Lolicon" as "Pedophile".

If you want an example of a series that maintains a coherent story, plot, characters and world building, but is nigh unbearable because of localization, just look at Hyperdimension Neptunia.

If it was bad MT and such, then obviously people should avoid. Those stuff does not even make any sense.
Fun fact: The VN community is the only English Otaku community that shuns edited machine TLs. Manga, Light Novels, Anime and Games all have (or had, in the case of anime) fan TL groups that just punch up a script thrown through DeepL. If it's good enough for them, why shouldn't it be good enough for us? Please no, I hate machine TL so much

Get real.
So it's "drown in your ideals and die", huh?

Anyway, what I am saying was based on past experience. Take comyu translation for example. Certain infamous people condemned Ixrec last translation pretty badly. It could be true for all I know that the accuracy sucks, but I could still understand comyu using the free translation and formed an opinion. I certainly don't see anybody fixing it or re-translate it again though. If it was not translated back then, comyu would still be worms for me.
Right, I read Muv Luv by the same translator. I enjoyed it, but that doesn't mean I don't think that it shouldn't be criticized if it deserves to be, or that I wouldn't have preferred the rewritten official translation. Doing something for free and for passion doesn't mean people have to just roll with it. And when you're not doing it for free, then...

edit:
If we're talking about original producer's 'voice', as far as the recent storm in the Twitter (TM) world is concerned, the original developer came out to explain the context behind of original line and supported the translators.
I don't know the context for the scene so I don't have a strong opinion on it as a whole, but I'm fairly certain that the author doesn't know the implications and greater context of a very western internet insult. You could imagine a similar situation with "Kuudere" and "Snowflake". At it's face it looks like it could be correct, but without western internet experience you wouldn't know it means something more like "Chuunibyou".Last modified on 2020-05-08 at 03:34
#36 by sakurakoi
2020-05-08 at 05:28
Perhaps I should also get in the business of translation since I am an avid writer~
#37 by dk382
2020-05-08 at 06:44
I don't know the context for the scene so I don't have a strong opinion on it as a whole, but I'm fairly certain that the author doesn't know the implications and greater context of a very western internet insult. You could imagine a similar situation with "Kuudere" and "Snowflake". At it's face it looks like it could be correct, but without western internet experience you wouldn't know it means something more like "Chuunibyou".
1) Hanada Keika can speak english and isn't an idiot, so maybe you should give him a little more credit.
2) The words "fragile male ego" have been used together long before the internet. A simple google search will bring up decades-old books.
3) It means something close to "chuunibyou"? Really? Since when? Some fata morgana spoilers: In the game, Jacopo has built his worldview around his male identity, and it was a fragile worldview that shattered around him. The phrase "fragile male ego" could extremely easily apply to Jacopo. The "tsundere" insult in the Japanese version was Morgana's (successful) attempt at mocking the way that Jacopo hurts the people closest to him because he can't keep his shit together. If you want to deliver that same effect without just keeping the word "tsundere" (which would in my opinion feel very weird to see in an english translation of Fata Morgana), I'd say "fragile male ego" is a pretty decent attempt at it. If you're worried about it being "modern internet slang", first, it's not, second, "tsundere" is modern internet slang anyway and this was just a joke omake scene, not part of the main story.

There's a reason why nobody complained about this line until a bunch of people who never played the game saw it: it's because when you read it in context, it just makes sense.Last modified on 2020-05-08 at 06:47
#38 by periah250
2020-05-08 at 08:06
Tsundere is pretty common in usage nowadays and a simple google will get it across very quickly. The fact they changed it is indicative of ulterior motives. Thats why were pissed. Its clearly a politically charged change to push a narrative.
#39 by yorhel
2020-05-08 at 08:17
TIL that literal vs. liberal translations is a political movement rather than someone's preference.

I mean, seriously? Political narrative? I'm aware that these translation wars have been going on for decades, but it ultimately boils down to the following: some people prefer words like tsundere translated, others don't. How you can read (unspecified) ulterior motives into that is baffling to me.
#40 by forever-here
2020-05-08 at 08:19
translating tsundere into fragile male ego and thinking there's no ulterior motive is even more baffling.

and I wish I'm just being paranoid, but after seeing marvel/disney/naughty dawg/actiblizzard/EA/bethesda etc. it would be far baffling not to be skeptical. these people are outsiders. gatekeep these outsiders. or unless you want to be the next marvel's "ask my feminist agenda". this was over 3 years ago.Last modified on 2020-05-08 at 08:22
#41 by freshift
2020-05-08 at 08:36
#40 I mean, the game was released in the late 2010s, and then many years later, out of nowhere, some Western people got mad at the translated release and, if I'm reading the Twittersphere's atmosphere correct, now they are going after the original devs, leaving "I'll never buy your games" etc.

So, who exactly are 'outsiders' here?
#42 by ecchihieronymus
2020-05-08 at 08:55
I think #40 wants to gatekeep/hinder the twittersphere & adjacents from VNs. I understand that. We should also gatekeep the other side, OAG & adjacents, who stirred shit up this time around. Leave political partisanship out of the VN community, how about that?
#43 by gerardlonewolf
2020-05-08 at 10:08
What was baffling to me is how serious people get over "fragile male ego".

The fact they changed it is indicative of ulterior motives.
Its clearly a politically charged change to push a narrative.

Any substantial evidence beyond mere speculation, wild accusation, and conspiracy theory?

translating tsundere into fragile male ego and thinking there's no ulterior motive is even more baffling.

*eats popcorn*Last modified on 2020-05-08 at 10:19
#44 by dk382
2020-05-08 at 10:18
Tsundere is pretty common in usage nowadays and a simple google will get it across very quickly. The fact they changed it is indicative of ulterior motives. Thats why were pissed. Its clearly a politically charged change to push a narrative.

My take is that an English translation of a work that is not set in Japan, does not have Japanese characters, and generally exists outside the common tropes and trappings of otaku culture should not be using words that, for English speakers, only exist within otaku culture. It's a tonal mismatch. It'd be like using military jargon to describe a sports play, or using academic/scientific language to narrate an h-scene. It'd have to be a real fringe scenario to justify doing those things, and likewise, it'd be a bad idea to use otaku terminology in a work like Fata Morgana, in my opinion. It just does not fit. They can get away with using "tsundere" in the Japanese version because it has broader usage there. In the west, the usage is much narrower, and it simply does not gel with Fata Morgana's vibe.

I say all this as someone who has worked on translations before and kept the word tsundere in the script for those. Not because I hold the word sacred, but because it fits the atmosphere of those VNs well. But like everything else in translation, nothing is rigid, everything is case-by-case. You can't just say "every translation should keep 'tsundere' in every scene every time regardless of context." That's just silly.

And, even supposing that keeping "tsundere" was the correct call here, I don't see how this is clearly a politically charged action. This is a *single line* in an omake scene of an obscure game. And it was a line that the translator didn't even remark on until years later. If I were to try to push a political agenda, I'd maybe, I dunno, pick a more prominent place and be more active in pointing it out. Doesn't it seem more likely that this was just a localization choice? You're certainly free to disagree with the choice, but it seems absurd to attach nefarious motives to it.

edit: Actually, if I were to try to push a political agenda, I'd create a news site catering to a specific audience and then feed that audience outrage articles based on localization choices for games I know nothing about. Hmm, funny that.Last modified on 2020-05-08 at 10:47
#45 by warfoki
2020-05-08 at 10:56
using academic/scientific language to narrate an h-scene

I fucking want a nukige with this shtick now, it'd be hilarious. :PLast modified on 2020-05-08 at 10:56
#46 by kiru
2020-05-08 at 12:19
@44: Tsundere isn't exactly the most normal choice of words in Japan either. It's probably pretty comparable to here. Anime culture established it, and while it's fairly widespread nowadays, that doesn't change its origins, which most people who know the word should also know. Given how big the archtype actually is, I don't even thing it's less known outside of Japan. Not anymore.

There's nothing directly speaking against translating this, but that's just the usual literal vs. liberal question. There's nothing that makes one or the other better by itself, other than what you think is better. Both have advantages and disadvantages, though without having JP voices, liberal is a better approach. If done well, which with Fata Morgana is arguably very hard. Kinda of the problem: Liberal will be potentially much better than literal, but it's also possibly way worse than literal can be, provided the translators are of equal skill.
Literal is the save middle-ground approach. Liberal is the risky, potentially rewarding, but also potentially devastating approach.Last modified on 2020-05-08 at 12:22
#47 by warfoki
2020-05-08 at 13:15
I've read a whole bunch of like fan webnovel translations, mostly done by native speakers of the source language (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc.) and the translations mostly duffer from the same problems: they stick to the original structure and word choices too much. A typical example would be constantly using names of people. "X did this, then X went there, tehn X talked to Y, then X..." English has gendered pronouns for a reason, fucking use it. Also grammatically correct, but weird sounding sentence structures are all over the place, because they just mirror the original structure. Repeating full words, when English pretty much never does that, since that's what "it" is for. Using archaic words and obsolete expressions because that's what the translator found in a thesaurus.

My point is that literal translations aren't any safer that a liberal ones. They can easily screw the text up in a way that lowers the entertainment potential of the work. I mean, technically all machine translations are literal ones, as they just mirror what's being said in one language to another. And they are horrible, even if they do work.Last modified on 2020-05-08 at 13:15
#48 by wertville
2020-05-08 at 15:37
It means something close to "chuunibyou"? Really? Since when?
I think you misunderstood: That was in reference to "Snowflake" (i.e. someone who makes up traits to show how unique they are). The second half of that response was me thinking out loud- Someone mentioned the word earlier in the thread and it got me thinking.

I did end up looking up the full context of the scene and it... Kinda makes sense, I guess? I can see where the translator was coming from, even if I still think it's strange. Nothing to get worked up over either way.

There's nothing directly speaking against translating this, but that's just the usual literal vs. liberal question. There's nothing that makes one or the other better by itself, other than what you think is better. Both have advantages and disadvantages
It's interesting, because I'm sure a lot of the people who have an issue with liberal translation don't have an issue with, say, Phoenix Wright. I think there are more questions than just literal vs liberal when it comes to how someone perceives a translation, like "Am I missing out on something?" or "Are these characters the same as the original?" Part of the problem is that the trust between localizer and consumer has been damaged in the past few years, mostly by companies outside of VNs, and people aren't giving them the same benefit of the doubt they used to.

The only solution to this is just to keep the localization process as transparent as possible, and I think the translator did a good job of that in this case.
#49 by forever-here
2020-05-08 at 16:03
just a quick note to add: I'm watching a "debate" of the anime sub versus dub. long story short, dubbers tend to add liberal TLs to the point of adding "gamergate creep" to prison school dub. or maid dragon where luquoa talks about patriarchy. same with hajime no gal. anyway this ideology is creeping into the VN scene. GATEKEEP THESE FUCKERS OUT!Last modified on 2020-05-08 at 16:04
#50 by butterflygrrl
2020-05-08 at 18:34
so, you think they're hostile to you, and that's bad, so you want to be hostile to them, and that's good. Logic!


anime dubbing always used to be notorious for trying to appeal to outsiders by making Super Cool Pop Culture References and 'modernising' everything and making characters much ruder and more talkative to be American. It's annoying and I tend not to watch dubs. On the other hand dub-vs-sub is often great because if both exist then you have the option to watch whichever suits your taste or reading ability or whatever.

Unfortunately visual novels are still too niche to have multiple official translations available. We're very lucky when we get the handful of games that allow for a dual-language release so you can at least look at the original text and see what you think.

I wish we could get more situations where games had multiple translations available and you could just play whichever you wanted. Perhaps people should push for more VNs to consider a "mod" style approach, where people can submit their own translations if they want to?