Why I use “Aikatsu”

Thought I’d write up something short inbetween my long rants to break it up a bit.

So if you’re one of our Aikatsu viewers, I’m sure you’ve noticed that we leave the word “Aikatsu”, literally idol activities, untouched whenever it’s used.  This is seen whenever they train and shout it out, in that episode where many of you remember we translated a certen tweet as “Aikatsu, you katsu, we all katsu!” (or something like that), or last episode where the brand new “bankatsu” was created.  Sure, we could’ve decided to translate it straight up each time as idol activities, but would that really have been preferable?  Or, we could’ve done something like “idact”, straight from the shortening of “idol activities”, but holy crap does that sound awful.  And so, we decided to leave it as is.

Aikatsu is used as a noun, a verb, and probably as an adverb or adjective (almost wrote “adnoun” just now) somewhere along the line.  It’s as versitile as the word “fuck”, but only because we’re taking it straight from Japanese without any bells and whistles.  I’m no English major, but I’m pretty sure this counts as bastardizing at least one language.  I think the point I’m trying to make is that there really are sometimes so-called “untranslatable terms”, especially if they’re made up within the context of the series.  And that wasn’t the only time we’ve had to play with both English and Japanese.

In OreShura we had to deal with “jienotsu”, in full as something like “Society of Aspiring Maidens something something” which was shortened as the actual pun “samefag”.  This caused some sparks in people who are easily offended, but considering Masuzu’s character and the context of the series we thought it was the best choice we could’ve made (and we apparently weren’t the only ones).  Then there’s the damn series name itself, and how to translated “shuraba”.  We decided to have some fun with it and use a different word each episode title, but I’m pretty sure I messed up one of them and reused a title.  This culminated in the last episode in which we used the word shuraba straight up, because hey, I bet you’re never going to forget what that means ever again.

Then came Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge.  Oh what fun we had with that.  We went the route of “cutting and severing”, whereas everyone else used just “severing” if my memory is right.  This caused some issues for everyone later on when people started calling Kiri “dansai bunri”, which sounds like crap if taken literally.  I didn’t get the chance to check every release, but I think most of them just used “Crime Edge” like normal English speaking human beings.

Nothing quite the same in KinMosa comes to mind, unless you count all of the just barely safe use of Englrish in a handful of the episodes.  There were some puns that were hard/impossible to get across (Alice’s “kin batsu” comes to mind, when she rejected Shino’s hair-dyeing scheme), but nothing that really carried over throughout every episode.

So where does that leave us?  Learning from experience that subbing anime is an often difficult, but very rewarding process.  It’s usually hard to get puns and jokes across, but those times that you’re struck with inspiration, few and far in between, are just so perfect that it makes it worth all the effort.  I know from watching you all talk that I’ve had a few of them myself, and I can only hope that with time I’ll be able to increase that number further and bring you all an even more enjoyable anime watching experience.

(Oh, I guess that wasn’t so short after all.  Look forward to the Aikatsu pool episode tonight)

4 thoughts on “Why I use “Aikatsu”

  1. I honestly love reading these rants. I figured choices were made like this often by sub groups, but its nice to read about your thought processes into these choices.

    It is appreciated how you and other groups try to accurately get across the true meaning of the dialogue in a way a native English speaker would understand without taking the lazy way out. I’ve noticed just in my anime watching over the years there are a lot of terms and idioms that just don’t translate. You all do a great job of getting the point across though. We the fans do appreciate the hard work put into these.

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