An Introduction, Yuki’s Guide to Subtitle Reviews
Hello, everyone. I am Yukiatsuruko, an editor among other things. Vale of Commie, gg, and WhyNot fame asked me to blog about anime-related stuff with him, so here I am. While he provides insight into the shows he translates with his translation notes and the like, I will be doing reviews of subtitles and maybe some other stuff later.
I’ve already written a few reviews, but with a break before the full brunt of the spring 2012 season of anime arrives, I thought it would be a good time to write out how I conduct my reviews. I hope the information here and in my reviews will be relevant enough for others to use as a guide in determining the subtitle source they follow for a particular release.
How do I conduct my reviews? For whichever release I pick to review, I will only watch the release once. I might pause the video when I notice a mistake or something catches my eye to make notes and take screenshots, but other than that, I simply watch through it like a normal viewer would. I don’t watch the video multiple times or open up the script file to find errors. If I didn’t catch a mistake while actively looking for one, hopefully that means the average viewer watching for entertainment won’t notice it either.
Afterward, I look at the screenshots I took and elaborate on my notes. If there are problems in the subtitles, I will offer suggestions for improving the line(s). The things I point out can range from singling out a segment to give additional information to an actual problem in the subtitles that should be corrected.
How do I come up with the overall grade? The overall grade is determined by looking at the screenshots and notes I’ve taken. Every release starts out with a “5 out of 5,” but as I notice more and more problematic patterns in the subtitles, that score will eventually decrease. While I may be nitpicky in my notes, I will offer some leeway if the problems I point out are primarily aesthetic differences. That is to say, a score is highly unlikely to be brought down a full integer point because I disagree with the editor’s choice of capitalizing one word in one situation over another or usage of quotations, unless he or she is inconsistent and the mistakes pile up.
Thus, a “5 out of 5” doesn’t mean perfection. One release may be perfect, but there’s no way in Hell that every release will be perfect. Instead, the grade should be a reflection of the effort that went into the episode, and my expectation of the quality of future releases.
I also take note of editorial patterns and adjust my score accordingly. Something may be completely and technically “perfect,” but I am not okay with them reading awkwardly and/or requiring multiple pauses and rewinds. The opposite, a release with excellent dialogue but many technical errors, may be possible, but it is also highly unlikely. Realistically, great subs will have few actual mistakes, and technical mistakes do eventually add up.
Here are the possible grades and what they mean:
5 out of 5: Great. The subs appropriately capture the characters’ emotions and intentions, and they are easy to read as the type of show allows. A couple small technical errors at the most are acceptable.
4 out of 5: Above average. The subs mostly capture the characters as they should be, but there may be a couple issues with fluidity or phrase choices, though nothing major. Technical errors are kept to a minimum.
3 out of 5: Average. The subs are readable, but the translations are likely to be stiff or unoriginal. Technical errors are kept to a minimum.
2 out of 5: Below average. The subs are sort of readable, but some effort on the part of the viewer is likely required to decipher some lines. Technical errors are likely plentiful at this point.
1 out of 5: Terrible. The subs are barely enough to understand the show, and significant effort on the part of the viewer is required to understand many lines, if even. There are technical errors abound.
In addition to these grades, I offer a short section on what I liked and what I didn’t like. These are meant to give some information on the continuum of scores. I don’t like giving out 0.5 scores, so these sections should describe generally my likes and dislikes. You should be able to tell if I thought it was a low 5, a high 4, a straight-up average 3, etc. My five-point scale can also be thought of in terms of letter grades:
- 5 – A
- 4 – B
- 3 – C
- 2 – D
- 1 – F
Although I may seem nitpicky when it comes to technical details, I’m not unduly harsh when it comes to grading them, and occasionally, the things I point out in a review are meant to be informative, not necessarily a knock against the subs. It’s only when the technical errors add up do they affect the overall grade.
So, spring will soon be upon us, and the reviews will keep coming. I hope the readers of Not Red Reviews find us a valuable resource for subtitle critiques and information on anime.
P.S. I think the r/a/ge level is a fairly obvious scale. I just rate how much I think /a/ will hate on a release with reasons stated.