Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Kamen Rider vs. Fansubbing

Kamen Rider vs. Fansubbing

Melissa Moore

Subtitling is one way in which foreign language television and movie media is consumed by fans who don’t speak the language of the original media. In the case of Kamen Rider, which has a strong following in its native Japan but a relatively low audience in English speaking countries, fan enthusiasm for the show has led to fansubbing. Through this process, fans of a show with knowledge of the native language translate, subtitle, and distribute the work to an English speaking community on a non-official basis. The two primary translation theories examined are literal and liberal. Through examination of the subtitling efforts themselves, public message boards, blogs, as well as translation theory, this article analyses the community and their interpretations of fansubbing efforts. What makes for a well-received subtitling translation? How important is it that the show give you exactly the same experience as the original language, and is it possible at all? Is one subbing style more legitimate than another? How much of this legitimacy is perceived and implemented through fan interpretation? This paper argues that indexing oneself as a part of a certain group is the central point of the debate. Future research could examine other views on subtitling methods, which could broaden audiences, lead to better marketing, and more effective subtitling.

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April 11, 2016 - Posted by | abstract

3 Comments »

  1. This is a very interesting topic. I know a few people who are very much into Japanese film and animation and a common complaint and frustration for those learning Japanese at a beginning level is that some subtitling is distracting as they begin to learn the language and find that the translations do not capture the actual meaning but they aren’t fluent enough yet to translate completely themselves.

    Comment by Debbie Leggett | April 18, 2016 | Reply

  2. “Through this process, fans of a show with knowledge of the native language translate, subtitle, and distribute the work to an English speaking community on a non-official basis.” Do they disseminate the show through torrent sites or by what means? I think a linguistic study of the underground torrent world would be an interesting read.

    Comment by D Castagna | April 19, 2016 | Reply

  3. This is an extremely interesting topic. I have never heard of fansubbing. Being someone who watches shows in non-English languages, it can be very fustrasting when English subtitles are not available or accurate. From you findings have you found that the fansubbing provides the same experience as the original language?

    Comment by Natasha Modi | April 25, 2016 | Reply


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