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Anime, Fansubbing, Release, Translation

CR, I am disappoint – Chihayafuru TL Notes, Rules, Observations, Sub Review

Chihayafuru Difficulty 4 (w/ Karuta Songs 6)

Crunchyroll = B (C), LS-5

So, I was writing the subtitle review for CR, and it somehow strayed from the subtitle into the show. Needless to say, I liked Chihayafuru enough write this wall of text, and I hope it’ll help those interested to understand the show better than CR are willing to explain themselves. Click here for other subtitle reviews.

I originally thought this would be the first “Difficulty 10” series in this review, but after a quick research, I found a website that conveniently interprets and provides context to all the karuta songs, so it’s reduced to a mere “Difficulty 6” now.

CR translator got most of them right, but there were some misinterpretations. I don’t understand why a professional translator wouldn’t spend 2 minutes to research about the very show he’s translating.

The very first verse (beginning of the episode) was translated completely wrong. I would translate it as:
> The flower blooms by the Naniwa Harbor.
> It blooms now that the harsh winter passed and spring has come.

Not sure if they thought it should be left mysterious, but the literal translation makes absolutely no sense in English, nor poetic as the line was intended.

For those curious, the two lines happen to be the opening verse for a game of competitive karuta.
The opening of this anime parallels a karuta competition. In addition, it’s an analogy for Chihaya’s start of a new life as a high school student in spring (Japanese school years start in April) . She spent her life as nothing more than an inconsiderate girl who blurts out whatever comes to her mind, but she (presumably) starts competing professionally in karuta and shines.

I am just going to continue writing TL notes and observations here instead of reviewing your subtitles, because why did you pick this series, CR? Nobody is going to understand karuta unless they speak Japanese.

The title “Chihayafuru (Chihayaburu)” is the opening word of card #17’s verse, where the word means “to act intensely fast”, or “Sick Swift Swagger (SSS, really)”. The first half of the verse means:
> Even the intense/swift/raging gods have never witnessed such a wondrous sight.

Genius of a choice for character and title name, I would say. I’m certainly expecting to see the wondrous story this amazing anime is building up for.

Competitive Karuta Rules: (Summarized Japanese Wiki translation ftw~! I watched a very boring video of competitive karuta to double check, and it is accurate. Fortunately, it looks a lot more interesting in anime.)

– The competitive karuta championship is held in Oumi Shrine (Jinguu) every year.
– Ooishi Tengudou‘s Hyakunin-Isshu karuta cards are used in the competition.
– Each player holds 25 places cards each in their own “territory”, on a tatami area under 87cm in width. A total of 50 random cards out of 100 are used in each game.
– Players are given 15 minutes to memorize the location of cards.
– After the memorization time, both players vow to the opponent before starting the match. A game of karuta begins and ends with a vow in accordance to The Path of Karuta’s Honorable Gamesmanship. You will be forced to eat the entire karuta card deck if you break this rule.
– The game begins with a verse from The Song of Naniwa Harbor (the one CR messed up). Followed by a randomly selected verse from the Hyakunin-Isshu karuta’s 100 songs.
– Each verse is broken down into “first half” and “second half”. The “first half” is sang, while the “second half” is printed on karuta cards.
– The point of the game is to listen to the first verse, and grab the matching card first.
– If a player gets (touches first) the matching card in his own territory, that card is removed from the board.
– If a player gets t he matching card in enemy territory, that card is removed, and s/he can pass one card of choice from their own territory to the enemy territory.
– 1) Contact on a card while a verse not present on the board is sang (the unused 50 cards). 2) Touching a card in the enemy territory while a card in your own territory is sang. 3) Vice versa of 2). Those three plays are called “fouls”, and a card of opponent’s choice will be placed into your own territory.
– Touching a wrong card in your own territory is not a foul.
– Players are allowed to change the order of their cards so long as the opponent is notified. Switching too many cards are considered to be bad manner. (This rule probably exists so that players don’t have to remember the order when multiple cards are slapped. Players are allowed to touch multiple cards without penalty as long as the first contact is with the correct card.)
– Repeat verses until either territory gets rid of all cards. That player is the winner.

As you can see, karuta is a game of both mind and body, memory and reflex.

Anyway, CR subs were average. Whoever did this definitely had the translation skills, but it was a very half-assed job with no research. There were a bunch of carelessness or just poor nuance, like missing “too” in a sentence, or using “and” where “but” was appropriate – completely changed the meaning of those lines and caused the reaction from another character to be confusing to viewers.

The biggest problem I had was the blatant misinterpretation of “Chihaya Furu”`as “Impassionately”. It clearly means “Swiftly” or “Intensely” as all the Japanese poem interpreters claim. Or just look at the kanji「千早」- “thousand-early”.
Okay, so it’s arguable that “impassionately” is a liberal variation of “swiftly” or “intensely” in context of karuta game, but one can be passionate and still be slow. It’s a series about a reflex game, if the title is a description of reaching motion, it should be kept as one. Not to mention someone who doesn’t speak Japanese, AKA the target audience, would never make the connection that “impassionately” implies “swiftly” or “intensely” in the first place. And what the hell are you going to do if the the word “Chihaya” gets used to mean swift or intense without “Furu” in latter episodes? “Impassionate” would be miles apart. This is like begging for a consistency error later on.

I know the main theme of the first episode was “passion”, but translators are not scriptwriters, and should not actively change the intended meanings of the source language, especially for keywords involving the title or someone’s name. Congratulations, you just screwed up all your audience.

This release still have a higher accuracy rate than most fansub translations, but all their major mistakes all cause confusion to the audience. Maybe they had a really tight deadline, but it was disappointing see such sloppiness and/or laziness on a Madhouse anime that’s actually not a Marvel cartoon.

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15 thoughts on “CR, I am disappoint – Chihayafuru TL Notes, Rules, Observations, Sub Review

  1. Damn. I was really looking forward to this show pre-airing, and after seeing just screenshots it still looked good. Am glad the main issue seems to be related to Karuta instead of the main dialogue though.

    Hopefully whichever group ends up sub ripping this will use that link you provided for editing/TLCing.

    Posted by tinpopo | October 5, 2011, 3:32 pm
  2. thanks for this. the rules help a lot. i got the gist of karuta when i watched ep 1 but a lot of it was like wtf is happening

    Posted by simo | October 6, 2011, 7:53 am
    • Yeah, I’m sure the story will gradually introduce more rules, but a game that’s completely foreign to the West like karuta really needs a proper introduction to get the viewers ready.

      Posted by 8thSin | October 6, 2011, 10:00 am
  3. How to translate Chihaya’s last line? the “I found Arata’s/a new passion.”

    Posted by abcdinosaurymous | October 7, 2011, 1:29 am
    • CR was correct, it’s “Arata’s passion”. She found out more about the transfer student.

      “New passion” is “Arata na” instead of “Arata no“.

      It’s most likely a wordplay though, considering the what Chihaya said at about 8-min mark, but CR definitely made the safer choice here.

      Posted by 8thSin | October 7, 2011, 1:48 am
  4. Nice review – I was looking forward to this show considering what I saw of the manga was pretty cute. We played this game during my Japanese class. Even if you learn to recognize all the poems (most require 3-5 syllables to be deterministic) remembering the position of the cards is a pain… Also, thanks for the website – we did interpret the more recognizable ones during class, but it’s a nice refresher 🙂

    Posted by nhva | October 7, 2011, 3:17 am
  5. what is your opinion about the english translation of the university of virginia? (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/japanese/hyakunin/hyakub.html)
    for example #17: they don’t mention something that could mean “intesively fast”. or am I wrong?

    Posted by Furuba-tan | October 9, 2011, 12:05 am
    • Chihayafuru is actually a “makurakotoba”, a modifier that changes meaning of some words in the entire song. The Japanese websites provide the song’s full meaning as well as unconventional terms used.
      In this line, it means even before (faster than) God’s time, it was unheard of, which sort of leads to my translation. I didn’t want to add all this confusion to the already confusing line in the main guide.

      As for the translation in the link, there’s quite a bit of context error. If you have to break off that way and stay literal, it should be
      Even before ancient days
      When the Gods ruled/walked Earth
      No one has ever heard of something as strange as
      The sight of Tatta/Tatsuta River’s water
      Gleaming with autumn red

      That translation is unreliable.

      Posted by 8thSin | October 9, 2011, 3:56 am
  6. You may want to read the note University of Virginia made about these translations – http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/japanese/hyakunin/english.html

    Posted by Ladholyman | October 18, 2011, 12:46 am
    • Someone already posted that, but it’s not good at all. It’s better for groups to have their own translators do it using Japanese analysis.

      Posted by 8thSin | October 18, 2011, 12:58 am
  7. I think Ladholyman’s link talks about UV’s translations and its context, not the translations themselves. Offers a lot of insight on translating these tricky poems.

    Posted by Maceart | October 18, 2011, 3:19 pm
  8. BEST anime of the season!!!!! *cries*

    Posted by Sapphi | October 25, 2011, 8:27 pm
  9. Thank you for the review- I found it educational.

    I found this while looking for whoever subbed the anime… If you could somehow tell them this:
    Matsuge is NOT eyebrow… it’s eyelashes. Also, whatever they translated for hyoro-kun, it’s supposed to be something like bean pole or something that’s skinny and not strong, waving in the wind.

    Posted by skye | October 26, 2011, 10:10 pm


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