Smile Precure – 18 Released

Reika demonstrates her aptitude at the sport humans call ‘running’.

HD Torrent | SD Torrent | Script

Welp, time to say some words I didn’t think I’d ever say two months ago.

Wow, that was a really quite fantastic episode of Smile.

I wax lyrical an awful lot about the Mother’s Day episode of HeartCatch. It’s not a plot ep at all, and nothing really dramatic and emotional happens in it, but it’s just beautifully written, directed, and knows how to tug on just the right heartstrings at just the right time to deliver maximum emotional impact. It was an episode that made me cry no less than four times – twice while watching it, and then the same scenes got me again while I was translating it. Such was it’s impact, I like to think, that the character of the week in that episode was later instated as a secondary recurring character.

This ep is pretty much cut of the same cloth. It’s fantastically moving, offers some really nice actual character development, and just generally doesn’t try and be too much – it keeps it’s single plot thread running continuously through the ep and, excuse the pun, runs with it. And it does so to great effect, which I think is to it’s credit.

So yeah, if you’ve been getting fed up of me whining about this show constantly (sup /a/) then it seems times are getting brighter. Enjoy the episode, cause I certainly did!

~secret TL talk~

There’s a scene in this ep where we had to do a bit of funky localization to make it flow well. There’s a bizarre joke that involves no less than three languages and only works because of how Japanese innately uses them for things. Specifically, their phrase for “heave, ho!” (as in a tug-of-war) is borrowed from French: “oh, hisse!”. (Language #1!) In the Japanese pronounciation system (Language #2!) this sounds like the English letters ‘O S’, which, when the phrase is constantly repeated, causes instances of the acronym “S O S” (Language #3!)

I tend to work on the basis that translator’s notes should only be used when absolutely necessary – when a piece of culture or language is so vital to the episode, overarching plot, or thematics, that one has to leave it untranslated. While this is perhaps an extreme opinion, it’s balanced out by my team-mates, who try and impose a certain degree of common sense onto things. It’s as such that, while I’m not exactly happy with what we used to make the joke work in English (“Let’s go!” —> “Let go!”) and feel it’s not a perfect substitute for the Japanese – especially due to the cognitive dissonance of hearing one thing and reading another – the fact that we as a group kind of figured it was the best way of handling it means I’m not going to beat myself up too much, especially as I spent the best part of a day trying to think of something better before I had the sudden flash of inspiration.

I’d also like to talk about, while we’re here, translating villain names. This is a decision that seems to earn a lot of flak from people who assume we’re going to start translating Itsuki Myoudouin as Woody Brighthall or something, but what it really is is a question of thematics.

Smile, as is fairly obvious, is based on the lore and myth of fairytales. We have stories inspired by fairytales, Miyuki’s love of fairytales, and most pressingly, villains taken from fairytales. And when we think about fairytales, how many of them have villains with names? Think about it. The Big Bad Wolf. The Wicked Witch. The Queen of Hearts. Even, say, Captain Hook is named purely for his defining trait. Fairy tales love to have their villains be referred to by what they are – removing any kind of personification from them beyond the fact they are the embodiment of their chosen form of villainy.

It’s that that made me think translating the villain names was most thematically accurate, because the Japanese names also follow this trait – the wolf is named wolf, the oni is named oni, the witch is named witch. The show follows the fairytale scheme of having it’s villains be referred to and defined by, well, what they are. As such, translating these names feels right at home with the idea of fairytales being up front and honest with the reader about their world and characters – just as Schneewittchen becomes Snow White to fit in with our culture, and Snow White becomes Shirayuki-hime to fit in with Japan’s.

So, why leave oni? Well, there are plenty of words one could use to replace oni – demon, ogre, troll, devil even. But to my mind, onis are a thing unto themselves, a part of myth and legend and folklore that is innately Japanese, and one that I think lacks a good equivalent in English. The stories of onis are not really ones that have been brought over to western shores, and hence there’s very little cultural resonance for a Western viewer to have with the concept of an oni. I’m not allergic to Japanese culture despite what some might say, and the idea of allowing Redoni to teach the western viewerbase about the myths and folklore of onis – just as Wolfrun and Witchylina teach the Japanese viewerbase about our folklore and fairytales – is I think part of the attraction.

But the idea that a witch, who is clearly a witch, should not be called a witch, to me strikes with a whiff of elitism and glorification of the Japanese language, especially as the culture is still innately western.

Just my two cents.

13 thoughts on “Smile Precure – 18 Released

  1. I still say that the localized version is very easy to miss while watching but oh well.
    Not sure why it would even need a note if we went with the actual version, people still would have been able to get it. Hell, easier to pick up on than shit Enter says yet you don’t give him notes… but whatever… not making an issue out of that line.

    • enter uses french that is not commonly used in Japanese, to deliberately sound exotic and foreign

      “oh hisse” is a loanword that has infiltrated the social consciousness of Japan to the point it is not actively thought of as a loanword anymore, in the same way we use “cafe” from French or “siesta” from Spanish

      intent is everything

  2. OK fair enough. I still say the joke you went with looks a bit to similar to the non joke form and is pretty easy to miss when watching it… hell.. the first time I saw it it still looked like “let’s” and I thought “WTF is Nao doing rooting for the Akanbe…”, tbh that was my main complaint with the line… :/

      • If you mean the second sub track with the vocal tics and stuff, then I’m afraid not. The SD has the subtitles locked into the video (so it’ll work on games consoles and multimedia players) so it can’t have multiple subtitle tracks. :w

  3. You know what? It’s the “y”. It just makes the name look really silly sitting in the middle of it like that.

    “Witchilina” looks much better and likely sounds a lot better too since you won’t be finding yourself subconsciously breaking the word up into “Witchy” followed by “lina” rather than the much nicer sounding “Witch” followed by “ilina”.

    That’s my 2 cents.

    • I can see where you’re coming from, but I think having the natural break point in the name actually helps – because the Japanese has it too. The name needs that, IMO, because of the policeman’s recurring joke of misinterpreting her one word name as a two-part full name (“Majo Rina”) – and having the natural split in the translation allows that to work pretty much verbatim without any further localization of the joke.

      That’s my logic, anyway. Lemme know if you disagree and I’ll talk to the team about it and see if we can’t come to some sort of concensus

  4. I can see how that would be an issue, but I think the gag would still work since there’s still a break point after “Witch”, it’s just that the break point is in a much nicer position. Rather than having the policeman think her name is “Witchy Lina”, he’d think it’s “Witch Ilina”, which I’d say works better as well on a number of levels.

      • Glad I could be of service.

        While I’m here, is there any reason you chose to turn Akaoni into Redoni rather than simply calling him Red Oni? It’s just that when I see the name “Redoni” I can’t help but think of a dashing Spaniard.

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