Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Decline in Published Manga Translation Quality

A professional manga translator weighs in.

Now, this is something I've noticed when looking at a lot of Yen Press manga. Things like Cage of Eden, Soul Eater and High School of the Dead. I don't know, maybe I just happened to grow up or get into manga at a time when a huge amount of effort was made into translating and relettering them -- all of the manga that I first read were always flipped, sound effects-ed, and written with literate quality English.

Viz seems to have stayed rather average, and quite above average with their releases of manga such as 20th Century Boys, but Yen Press's translations are internet scanlation quality. There was even a bubble where a character said "chivalry" and it had been left typoed as "chivarly". I can tolerate not seeing sound effects translated, but that is just very unprofessional.

That's why it's my policy for Yankee Goon Scans that we reletter sound effects and try to do a naturalistic dialogue style-- I'm just applying the standards that I was used to as a reader. It kind of pains me to see physical, hardcopy manga released by companies that are getting paid for their work, have such a slapdash level of quality.


  1. And this why sometimes I feel that fan scanlations are much better to have, than buy the actual English translated manga done by named companies.

    And no, you're not the only one, I've seen such typos as well.

    I am guessing such companies shouldn't wonder why they're loosing money when their translations are so sloppy, rather they should do more bang for their buck if they want people to even buy their English releases.

  2. Total respect for this. If only you guys had the time for Cage of Eden as well; massive quality drop since Red Hawk ditched it. It's such a shame to see groups compete to get chapters out fastest, rather than to get the best quality. Or better yet, to work together for both. Glad to see you guys and Mahou keeping it real.

  3. Indeed, and then they go ahead and start charging $15 per volume (storefront, tax included, no discount). It's gotten to the point that I only bother keeping up with English versions of series that I'm really invested in, like One Piece, FMA, and 20th Century Boys. And Cross Game, because I figure supporting that is my only chance at finding a copy of H2 outside of turning Japan's bookstores upsidedown. I had to drop Bakuman because I could actually see where they decided to be lazy and not redraw backgrounds. Which is odd, considering Viz's release of Psyren was stunning.
    Nothing can be as bad as Dr. Master's early days, though. Now THAT was bad.

  4. I'm happy for you and all, I'll let you finish, but the only sad thing I see now, is that I'll have to wait ~2months to get 3 new chapters of YKMC

    No hard feelings.

  5. Yeah, thanks for all the hard work guys, I personally don't mind sfxs being T/Ld and put in, but I'm sure others do so keep up the good work :).

    And @daniel if you checked a few of the people who did Cage of Eden at Red Hawks still are at Death Toll, so their quality isn't that different to Red Hawks, I can't say the same for Dragonfly scans which if you looked into it are run by mangafox and get paided to do it (at shitty quality), plus a few groups have asked for joints with them, but just got the projects they work hard on taken.

  6. I have read any number of books that their original language is English that have not just typos but grammar mistakes that would of mad me fail English in any grade of school. I have to say that it is way more noticeable in a translation.
    With the overuse of spell check, the quality of the written word has fallen. Because of all of the errors I see around me I am made more aware of how I myself write. Mainly because 9 times out of 10 when the spell check activates, you need to make sure, not only that you have the correct spelling from the list, but the right word.
    Now I understand if the person is new to the language they are translating to, but should not professionals be held to a higher slandered then some one doing the translation for themselves?
    When I see the professionals doing a worse job then the person doing it for ... fun, I have to wonder if my old English teacher is rolling in her grave.

  7. This doesn't apply only to manga. It also applies to anime.
    I used to buy a lot of manga and anime, and getting others to get into manga and anime to buy as well... because I thought that as the market grew, the quality would improve. The only thing that grew was the industry greed which in turn led to lower and lower quality.

  8. So they basically raised Scanlation Groups by themselves.

  9. I agree 100% with you. I don't mind when sfx are left untranslated (I don't bother to read them anyway), but when the releases have worse grammar than I do, that's really saying something about the quality of the company. I've been searching for the English-translated Yotsuba&! manga for ages, but Yen Press is the only company that translates it after ADV stopped doing it.
    I've noticed that subtitles for, not just anime but Hollywood movies, are subpar to fansubbers. They choose the worst fonts/colors so it becomes unreadable. :/

    That's why I am really grateful to fansubbers and scanlators like you guys! Y'all are the best~