Anime Reel – Anime & Manga TV News

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Getting Translated – Thursday Talking Point

Posted on: February 22, 2010

Zetsubou shita!

(Note: I actually wrote this on Thursday and didn’t hit Publish. Pretty smart, huh?)

According to some solicitations dug up by Mania, Media Blasters is ready to bring the satirical Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei to DVD in May. While we’d heard whispers of this at Anime Expo last year, it’s good to see such a fun series getting the proper treatment. The question is, what kind of treatment will it get?

There’s no dub listed in the solicitation, and that leaves the door open for a subtitled-only release. It would certainly cut Media Blaster’s costs on such a niche title, but one of the fundamental problems with an English-language Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei remains: the cultural barrier between its jokes and an international audience. SZS is soaked in decades of Japanese media and entertainment, and with all the study I’ve put in, I still have to spend a lot of time searching out its more oblique references every time it flashes one of its trademark text-heavy screens full of references and in-jokes.

So here’s a question to you, making this the Thursday Talking Point: if you were watching a show like Gintama, Excel Saga, or Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, where much of the comedy comes from references to other Japanese media you may not know, which option would you rather have?

– The jokes are translated literally, and have very extensive liner notes to take care of any lingering questions (Example: “They get along like monkeys and dogs” instead of saying “They get along like cats and dogs”)
– The jokes are localized to Western culture, with some notes and alternate audio/subtitling tracks for purists (Example: “Little Sister Fever” instead of “Imouto Moe”)
Excel Saga-style quick, on-screen liner notes to explain the obscure jokes, but letting the general flow continue as usual.

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6 Responses to "Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Getting Translated – Thursday Talking Point"

I’d prefer the method [gg] used for Goku, Zoku, and Zan: Notes for REALLY obscure jokes, but translate everything else (though they did make one joke in an episode of Zan more accessible by using “troll” rather than the Japanese version). I’d also like what afk did for the original series, namely having a section at the end of each episode a character first appears in with an explanation of their name and why it relates to them.

If this IS released in the West, I’m probably going to buy it. So I hope the subbing is done well.

I think option 1 is the best for series like these; localizing the humor/dialogue works for some shows, but in the case of a show like SZS or Excel Saga, you are practically localizing Japan’s culture, which is an obscene thought! On the other hand, if you get a handful of references, you can enjoy the series already and then read the notes later as you go to get even more of the jokes without being left in the dust.

I’d have to agree with the above, doing like Otaku No Video and shipping with a separate booklet to explain all the references.

Also, is it just me or is the comment posting button in spanish?

I think mostly westernizing anything that’s not really directly culture related is perfectly fine. Most punch lines over there, have a near equivalent one here. For the few that don’t a one-line TL note can run concurrent with it, I really don’t think an extra book, or time out of the actual video is something I’d watch/read after the fact, to get the jokes. By the time the episode is over, I’m done caring whether some obscure joke made sense to me or not.

Ah, Zetsubo sensei, how much did i have watching that? If it were to be translated and obviously keeping all the Japanese jokes kept in would be to put notes that explain about them. Some jokes based off words might get killed too but it’s a sacrifice necessary for it’s success! As long as SHE go around with her devil smile and keeping it “Equal” …i don’t mind X)

I loved the Excel Saga style (yeah I own those DVDs) and with the very quick pace of the jokes (~1.5s/ea blackboard jokes, about six of them in 30s) the pop-up notes seem the way to go; people who have to know everything will be playing pause-a-matic to read all the subtitles anyway.

In my experience, the notes being anywhere other than on-screen, right away, really breaks the flow of the show. You can have a glossary for maybe five REALLY LONG references, but I remember this show averages about fifty in-jokes. In a slow episode.

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