The Role of Cultural Awareness in Manga Translation: Avoiding Cultural Pitfall

Manga and anime have grown in popularity globally over the past few decades. But how was the message spread to the rest of the globe from such a diverse culture?

When handled by multiple individuals, a manga translation can differ greatly. Editors, adapters, and companies, in addition to translators, all have unique methods and preferences (thus the existence of style manuals). The difficulties that could arise in translating manga will be examined in this essay.

1. Understanding Manga Translation and Its Challenges

Manga’s significance in Japanese culture and around the world

The influence of Japanese culture on the fields of education and communication is best illustrated by the phenomenon of manga.

Manga is a powerful international communication tool in addition to having tremendous entertaining and educational value. For instance, manga signages are utilized in businesses and workplaces with an increasingly diverse workforce to encourage better awareness of traditions and lower communication errors.

Fans all throughout the world have been drawn to and admire manga. This is due to the visual artistry’s distinctive aesthetic, dynamic panel design, and expressive character creation. As a result, this serves as inspiration for several professions, including those of film directors, illustrators, and graphic designers, in addition to modern art, animation, and design.

The potential cultural pitfalls that may arise during translation

A cultural translation error makes little logic and can produce absurd and occasionally offensive outcomes. Sometimes the manga translation is so incomprehensible to the local market that the service or product can be permanently removed from sale.

Cultural localization refers to the process of adapting material to your target audience based on local traditions, cultural norms, accepted aesthetics, and sensibilities. You run the risk of turning off potential clients if you don’t account for cultural variations.

Colors, symbols, and pictures are preferred by many civilizations in diverse ways. Colors, symbols, and images (like emojis) can signify a variety of things in various contexts.

Not least among these are the distinctions between Eastern and Western cultures. This speaks of the minute details interwoven into speech and behavior that convey messages. For a better comprehension of the idea it conveys, “rice balls” in Pokemon, for instance, were translated as “doughnuts”. The same holds true for “ramen” being misinterpreted as “pizza” and numerous more instances. These are only a few instances of localization that is required in anime in order to ensure accurate manga translation.

2. The Impact of Cultural Misinterpretations in Manga

In contrast to what one might anticipate, the most recent chapter of Jujutsu Kaisen, for instance, has caused a stir among fans. Fans are on the edge of their seats as they watch the protagonist Yuji Itadori battle Sukuna, but many are furious with the English translation of the most recent issue.

Fans are criticizing VIZ Media and Shueisha over chapter 214’s official English manga translation since it completely ignores and mistranslates Yuji’s remarks. In the original Japanese, Yuji states, “be the one trying to stifle this misery,” emphasizing “this” in italic and bold font. Fans contend that the usage of the word “misery” rather than “suffering” eliminates subtleties in the original Japanese text.

Language has various contexts depending on the culture. The meanings of words that have been passed down from one culture to another can alter somewhat or drastically. Sometimes those meaning variations reflect little or significant value variations that could affect the accuracy of translations.

Translation and culture are closely related since culture gives life to language. Particularly in manga translation, the cultural background of words has a significant impact on their meanings in both the source and target languages. A statement that seems simple to translate may really contain cultural nuances that, if not taken into account, can result in the exact opposite meaning from that intended. Translation without a thorough understanding of cultural context can therefore be risky, especially where semantics are crucial.

3. The Role of Cultural Awareness in Manga Translation

Understanding cultural variations and the intricacies and subtleties of the target language’s culture are essential for successful translation and localization. The efficiency and accuracy of the translation and localization process are significantly influenced by cultural understanding.

Culture and language are interwoven. Language reflects culture, while cultural nuances influence language. For instance, many languages have certain idioms, expressions, and phrases that are distinctive to that culture. To translate well, a translator needs to be aware of these cultural variations. A literal translation may not always communicate the intended idea and may confuse the target audience.

4. Cultural Sensitivity in Manga Translation

In order to avoid prejudices, cultural understanding is also crucial. Stereotypes can be hurtful and disrespectful, and they can also have a detrimental effect on the translation and localization processes. In order to effectively communicate a message, a translator must be aware of cultural variety and refrain from using stereotypes.

The requirement for cultural sensitivity is one of the main obstacles in Japanese translation and localization. To avoid offending or disrespecting the target culture, a translator must be knowledgeable of cultural norms, beliefs, and rituals. A cultural faux pas can negatively affect a brand’s image, making cultural knowledge particularly crucial in marketing and advertising.

5. Conclusion

Through our Japan translation services, which have given us extensive experience in creative translation, we guarantee that every project is handled on a micro and macro level: taking into account all the minute nuances in the language and culture, as well as making sure that the plot and characters remain as consistent and solid as possible.

We translate using a multi-step procedure. Our team of linguistic professionals and fans of manga, comics, and Webtoons works together to offer the finest quality translation for readers of the target language, from the preparation phase through the translation phase, checking phase, and ultimately proofreading stage. We are aware that translation naturalness does not always result from strong language skills.

To ensure not only the accuracy of the manga translation but also the proper delivery and usage of slang, proverbs, idiomatic expressions, colloquialisms, and many other linguistic and cultural nuances that only native speakers can understand and express, we have always employed native speakers in our team.