Re: Joshiraku not meant to be subbed

Caphi wrote a lengthy post about why he thinks that Joshiraku is not meant to be subbed. To start from the conclusion, I must say that he’s probably right.

However, I’d probably put it differently. I’ll not go into what’s meant to be subbed and what not, but it’s sure as hell true that unless you are familiar with the Japanese culture, even watching Joshiraku subbed is probably a half-assed experience.

As a fansub translator my job is to translate the dialog (and the signs showing up on screen within a reasonable range) and I’m doing my best to provide you with a translation as accurate and as funny as possible. The problem is that the humor of Joshiraku is at a deeper level. It’s not just the dialog that’s funny, it’s the whole situation, the self-irony and the Japaneseness of the series as is.

Joshiraku is very clearly aimed at the Japanese audience and the Japanese audience only. This kind of humor is most probably not even funny for the western audience. Puns and wordplay are usually considered the bottom line for comedy. Not to mention that unless I redraw the entire series and get people from Rizon to provide voice acting, there is no way that “jokes” like the “Give it back!” shouts at the sea or the relation of the dog to the shamisen could be localized.

But honestly, I don’t mind. If only people who are more or less familiar with Japanese culture can appreciate it, I’m fine with that too. At least someone appreciates it. Caphi’s right – subbing Joshiraku is probably a complete waste of time.

But I like translating and Joshiraku is a really good challenge to make it even more fun. And I hope that even without getting all the cultural references, all the puns and all the irony, you there watching the subs are able to appreciate at least a little more of the show than just watching it raw. After all…

So yeah. Not to mention the opening and ending songs are seriously addictive.

This entry was posted by Vale.

22 thoughts on “Re: Joshiraku not meant to be subbed

  1. I don’t know if you follow joshiraku threads on /a/ but almost all of them degenerated into trolls arguing about the same points you raised. Personally, I get some jokes while others confuse me. It’s still enjoyable to watch though which is the whole point of watching it in the first place. Let’s not descend into /v/-level faggotry where apparently fun is just a buzzword.

  2. I understand caphi’s point (and I did even before he wrote that lengthy post; hell, even when the anime adaptation was first announced). I don’t know how to classify myself as far as a Japanese language learner. I took 3 years of Japanese in high school but I practically learned nothing. It’s only in the past 3-4 years that the language really started to click in my head.

    Now, I can actually understand a fair amount of Japanese. Because I can understand a lot of the dialogue sans translation, I’m able to understand the puns/wordplays beyond what your (amazing) localization provides so I feel that I’m getting all levels of those types of jokes at least.

    My downfall is reading Japanese. I can read hiragana and katakana flawlessly, but I probably only know around 200 kanji, so things like the dog kanji joke were easy to grasp, but jokes like the name signs and such are beyond me.

    And also, on the point of the jokes regarding Japanese politics, economics, brand names, and such, yeah I’m totally lost on most of it. So what? That doesn’t change the fact that as the above poster said “It’s still enjoyable to watch […] which is the whole point of watching it in the first place.”

    Any way, I can’t be the only one in this position as far as knowledge of the language, and your subs make enjoying Joshiraku so much easier, so thanks!

  3. Even if the enjoyment is only half of the full experience, I still enjoyed it. Also I absolutely ABSOLUTELY agree with you on the OP and the ED, they are so bomb

  4. I’d like to start by saying thanks for translating and subbing a series like this.

    I already knew vale was translating this, but I just happened to find this post when searching for something that would explain the puns better. And look! It’s vale himself.

    As for the jokes themselves, I get most of them, but I’d also love if someone could type up a post to explain the more obscure ones, if someone wants to understand the Japanese side in addition to the English translation.

  5. “Oh my god, why are you enjoying this show? How dare you!”
    That’s all the argument against subbing the show seems to boil down to. If someone out there is actually willing to translate it, I don’t get why we have to debate whether or not it’s worth the effort. Those who do not like that fact are not obligated to care, and those who are happy about it have every right to be. In my opinion, you’re doing an excellent thing for us, Vale, and I most definitely appreciate it. I’m sure many others feel that way as well.

    • Because at this point vale is basically writing his own script. It just happens to match decently well with what’s shown.

      • Obviously it doesn’t “just happen” to match decently well, it’s the result of a directed effort on vale’s part to retain the intention of the dialogue. I.e., the point of translation. For which we leechers are particularly grateful.

        Of course, a translation on that level, and for this sort of subject matter, is probably not nearly enough alone to justify watching this show for most random casual or entry-level viewers. In fact, it probably is true that anybody genuinely enjoying this show has at least some degree of proficiency enabling them to somewhat go overhead vale’s presented pun’s/localizations, and catch the original Japanese puns/dialogue on at least some level. In this regard, the maintenance of at least some rough or minimal correspondence between the translated gags and the originating Japanese elements is certainly very helpful.

        However, precisely because there is this audience which IS interested in Japanese culture or DOES possess this level of proficiency (i.e. some degree of knowledge of Japanese, but insufficient to watch raw with easy or complete comprehension), means there’s fully reason enough for subbing.

        The fundamental fact which all these/you detractors are overlooking in the first place is that a perfect/complete comprehension of all the puns/gags in this series, in all their unapologetic japaneseness, is not nearly even necessary for people to enjoy this series. On a technical level, the adaptation features amazing bgm, great voice acting, and completely charming animation. The girls are all cute with attractive character design. Beyond that, the fundamental awareness the show displays towards this cuteness factor underlines the true purpose/appeal of the series, which is the sense of humour/cynical irony the creators carry towards various absurd parts of reality, including its own self. Joshiraku entertains people in the exact same spirit as Sayounara Zetsubou Sensei, which (when you get down to it, behind the japaneseness of *either* series) IS universal. In this regard, there are plenty of people whom Joshiraku’s entertainment has reached already.

      • Excuse me? By your persistent insistence on denying the enjoyment/gratitude dozens of people have expressed thanks to vale’s subs for this series, you are the one looking delusional.

        • >persistent

          >i’ve written like 3 replies and maybe a paragraph of text

          >you just wrote a fucking essay defending yourself from some perceived slight that never happened

          I don’t think you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy it. It’s just not really the same once translated.

      • “It’s just not really the same once translated.”
        Who cares? For plenty of people it’s good enough. You’ve contributed literally nothing to the conversation.

        The very existence of this blog post is a result of various flimsy generalizations attempting to assert that “Joshiraku should not be translated”–a generalization apparently founded entirely in the abstract mentality “oh no, we must stamp out the evil weeabooism”. On the other hand, we have the concrete personal enjoyment of hundreds or thousands of viewers, many of whom simply don’t fall into the category of “have zero knowledge of japanese language or culture”. When your replies to this blog post have constituted precisely nothing except attempts to shit on/contradict these people’s expressions of gratitude, yes, “persistent” would be the least word to describe you.

      • Is herkzz an admin?
        Is herkzz a 10-yo?
        Is herkzz mistaking a little wall-of-text paragraph to be an essay?

        Yes, herkzz is retarded.

  6. Just because I don’t completely understand all of it, doesn’t mean I don’t find it engaging. In as much as I found SZS to be a delicious curiosity, so to I find this program. This is, to put the Grandiose Hat on, the essence of culture, language, and the needs for translation. A fine effort is being made. Good on you.

      • Weeaboo? As if. There was one guy somewhere, who mentioned that he loved learning about different cultures by their satires. Joshiraku is fit for such a use, you must admit.

        • But some parts of this show are aimed at Japanese people. If you think they’re actually funny, you are literally a weeaboo.

      • Sigh. Meta humor, you find funny what exactly the japanese find funny.

        Also, you are mistaking “liking to learn stuff about a foreign culture” with “worshiping a foreign culture”.

        Also, for example, we bulgarians know a lot about neighbouring country rivalry, so I laughed my ass off on that “aimed at Japanese people” joke.

        That being said, from the start I turned to watching anime because my sense of humor was always closer to the japanese one, so from time to time things that I only vaguely understand manage to get a laugh out of me. In that sense, you have your right to call me a weeaboo, although I would never want to live/work there.

  7. Other comments: TL;DR

    The first time I downloaded Joshiraku, I feared it was going to be another Yuru Yuri or K-ON!, and at first glance the girls-sitting-around-a-table format looked Yuru Yuri so I held it off for a while without knowing anything about it.

    Then I came here and read the notes on it and was really excited about watching it.

    Joshiraku, even without the puns, would SELL with baka gaijin. Moe SELLS regardless of content as long as it’s top class moe, and there are hints here (two-faced Kigurumi is also less pun-full and funny).

    And reading your notes on here is immensely enjoyable too. I’m the type of person who finishes gaming at 1AM, then got piqued on something historically accurate from that game and read on until 5AM (recently Sengoku era, last time Jugemu and remembering an old teacher telling the Tikki Tikki Tembo story thanks to your notes).

    Even if there are people who would fiercely oppose subbing this (writing a lengthy blogpost is fierce enough) that frowns upon gaijins trying hard to enjoy or ‘get’ japanese-exclusive ‘culture’ or jokes, at least I still greatly appreciate the subs and the explanations.

    Besides, I love Bloody Mary. Favourite.

  8. oh please don’t stop translating it! I am very very grateful! I am enjoying this show alot, even when some of the jokes elude me. I read the translation notes and that helps! I really want to say thanks and how much I appreciate it! This show is charming and funny and I love it so far!!

  9. I’m very grateful for the subs. I’d be watching without them, but my Japanese is too bad to get even half of it. I appreciate your effort *very* much.

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