Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

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Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by takenoko »

So finished watching the DVD today. I really liked the movie. I just felt like it does a good job at making me feel like I'm in a city in Japan by the ocean. The kids are cute and genuinely adorable. The story easygoing and mirthful. It was just pretty fun

I really like the crabby old lady named Toki. You have to admit, her advice was totally right. I also liked the instant ramen scene. I was like "Oh, that's not fucking ham. Lisa is just feeding them cheap ramen." Then she secretly adds the ham and eggs, and it's like "Oooh..."

Speaking of which, what's the deal with Sousuke addressing his mom and dad by their first names? I guess it made him seem kind of cheeky? It was kind of funny how she'd respond to young and old women alike with "No, I'm busy" and just walk by them.

Complaints about the subs
This leads me to the biggest problems with the subs in the movie. Sousuke calls his mom Lisa and dad Kouichi. However, it's like the translator forgot halfway through, so the latter half has the subs say "mom" instead of "Lisa" even though you can still hear him saying Lisa. There's other examples of random stuff being changed for no apparent reasons, but this is the most blatant one

The second problem is also kind of unforgivable. There's a line not translated. After Sousuke loses Ponyo, he's talking to Lisa and wonders something out loud, but no translation.

I also kind of feel like some of the translations don't use the best choices

-Lisa drops Sousuke off at a day care next to the old folks home where she works, but they translate it as just school

-There's a scene with Morse code. The Japanese subtitles are hard coded into the film, but there's one part where they write out "baka" in English. The translation they went with was something like "bugger off". I mean, people who have never taken a class in Japanese know what baka means, how stupid is the translator that works at Disney to think people won't notice that?

-There's a scene where some guys mention Kanon, the Goddess of Mercy. The subs drop the name and then kind of make up some stuff when they're praying. My co-worker calls this sort of thing "cultural scrubbing". I get that maybe most kids don't know about Buddhist gods, but do we really need to cover that up?

-After fighting, Lisa tries to cheer Sousuke up by talking about having dinner. Then she says the line "We'll eat Sousuke's portion too!" That doesn't make any sense, it's not Sousuke's portion if you're both eating it. Also, I think she was teasing Sousuke by threatening to eat Sousuke's dinner, which the translator didn't seem to get

-Hey, do you like songs? Well, the Japanese song isn't translated

-Sometimes people refer to Sousuke as Sou-chan. Guess what, totally not represented in the subs. No surprise there though, no honorifics either

It seemed like the translations were getting better with Howl and Earthsea, but this seems pretty sloppy. It's not as bad as the Totoro or Castle in the Sky subs, but Disney probably has the money to have someone watch the movie and go "oh wait, this kid says something and there's no subtitle there". I dunno, I just wish someone other than Disney had the rights to Ghibli. This type of sloppy translation is 20 years out of date at this point

I also realized while writing this that her name is probably more like po-nyo than pon-yo which is how I initially read it
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by oddjob »

No wonder why fansubbing rules!
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by Phoenix512 »

I watched Ponyo a while back except I watched the Blu-Ray which I almost didn't get to work on my player but that's another story. I felt that it was weird that Sousuke would call his parents by their first names. Usually that happens when you aren't really close to them like a step/foster parent or more of an extreme tone that you hate them so much that you refuse to call them mom or dad. I guess I wasn't really paying attention to the other stuff that take mentioned.

But I did like the movie overall.
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by Joe_Mello »

I wonder if the translation changed hands mid-project. Either way, that's a QA problem.
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by Mister Chief NZ »

I thought he called her Lisa because she was his step-mother.

This was the fourth Miyazaki film I have seen in Japanese in the theatre along with My Neighbour Totoro, Porco Rosso and Howl's Moving Castle. I saw them all at the New Zealand international film festival but this year is pretty week in regards to Korean and Japanese cinema. I have to say that seeing My Neighbour Totoro on the big screen was a pretty cool experience.
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by takenoko »

I checked the Japanese wiki and Lisa and Kouichi are his actual blood parents. But the first thing they do note for both Sousuke and Lisa is that he addresses them in such a weird fashion. Also, since she's Japanese, shouldn't that name be Risa?
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by oddjob »

> Either way, that's a QA problem.

QA? Whats that?

>I consider this to be a generally misleading statement

How so? Can you explain?
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by Neutronium Ranger »

I loved the moive, thought it was cute. I didn't watch it subbed for that very reason. I took out Howl's moving castle from the library and the subs were 'eh' they used the older sister's name when ever the main girl referred to her as 'older sister'. And they used wizard instead of maigiton(sp, sorry my spelling sis off ;_; ))
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by Guardian07 »

This kind of bad translation is why I always prefer fansubbing. At least in fansubbing, the translators are putting in the effort, as opposed to 'professional' translators, who gets paid for lousy and lazy work. And they wander why the sales are not good. I mean, who would translate Kamen Rider to 'Masked Superman'? The translator who subbed my Complete Blade DVD -___- . While with my Garo DVD, whoever translated it seem not to notice that Kouga was a name and translated it. It was correct, but with the -sama honorific it should be clear that it was a name >_>. And don't get me started on the various mistranslation on phrases such as Madou Kishi, Soul Metal etc.

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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by Mister Chief NZ »

takenoko wrote:I checked the Japanese wiki and Lisa and Kouichi are his actual blood parents. But the first thing they do note for both Sousuke and Lisa is that he addresses them in such a weird fashion. Also, since she's Japanese, shouldn't that name be Risa?
Her name is what confused me. Since she has a western name and Sousuke was calling her by her first name I assumed it was because he didn't really consider her his mother i.e. step-mother.

@oddjob - QA is quality assurance.
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by Darien_Shields »

I watched Ponyo a while ago. Actually, before that happened I had to do a project for class translating a review of Ponyo and an interview with Miyazaki. The review went into depth about how amazing the film was, and at the time I nodded and scribbled down my translation. It wasn't until much later that I saw it and said "... what the hell?"

Ponyo's ultra cute, ultra sweet, and umistakably Ghibli. But it's also, in my opinion, the worst Miyazaki film I've ever seen. That's not as bad an insult as you might think- Laputa, Totoro, Spirited Away, etc. are all amazing. Laputa got me into anime, into Japan in the first place. Ponyo just doesn't rank up alongside those classics for me. A cute flick, yes, but it doesn't quite have the same magic.

There were a few reasons for this, but I think the main one is that it's a love story about four year olds. Miyazaki's always been excellent at portraying adorable, believable children, and he does this time too. But while I can easily follow an adventure story about twelve year olds, Ponyo is different. For starters, there isn't that much adventure. Not that much happens. After Ponyo escapes and teams up with Sousuke, they just kind of sit about for a bit, then wander around. There are a few attempts at action towards the end with a big wave chasing Sousuke, but it didn't feel tied to any drama, and thus lost all impact. The bulk of the plot is essentially a love story between four years olds. In the ending
Spoiler
the fish queen God woman asks Sousuke if he'll love Ponyo forever, and if he doesn't, she's kind of screwed.
The kid's answer? "Yup". The main characters never really seem to appreciate the gravity of their situation, nor do they really seem in love. It seems just like a couple of kids playing together, saying someday they'll marry each other. Cute, yes, but if everyone were bound by that sort of decision in life do you think it'd work out well?

Ultimately, the film fell short of Miyazaki's high standards for me. Not bad, by any means, but I don't think it deserves to go down in the ages alongside the greats.
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by Darien_Shields »

Oh, on the subject of translation, a couple of things.

Miyazaki said in an interview that, while he used a specific Japanese town as a 'basis' for the film, he prefers for his films not to be tightly bound to any one location, so that everyone who watches it can feel like "it might happen near me", or something like that. He actually got rather annoyed because the animation team snuck in the name of the town it's based on on one of the flags in the scene with the whole village in boats. He wanted it removed, but because it flapped about so much it had been a pain to animate in the first place, and couldn't be taken out. Maybe that's why she's called Lisa...? I don't know, though, it still sounds a bit weird.

As to professional subs versus fansus, I've heard- and felt- a lot of bile towards official translations in the past. I remember a point where I hated dubs and translations of video games because I thought they were made by hacks who didn't care about what they were doing and watered down the pure Japanese awesomeness. But isn't the fact of the matter that professional translators are often the same sort of people who do fansubs? In some cases, it's how they even get into the industry. Translating is kind of like writing- it's not just a mechanical process but one that requires understanding and creativity. I don't think anyone would get into translating something huge like Ponyo if they didn't love Ghibli's films in the first place. They make mistakes, maybe, but don't we all? They're only human.

One question, though. When I watched Totoro I noticed that the subtitles were just a transliteration of the dub- so they included some lines when no-one was actually talking (a character on a bike waves, in the dub he shouts Hi!). Was this the case with Ponyo, or were the subtitles actually dedicated subs?
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by Mister Chief NZ »

Darien_Shields wrote:I watched Ponyo a while ago. Actually, before that happened I had to do a project for class translating a review of Ponyo and an interview with Miyazaki. The review went into depth about how amazing the film was, and at the time I nodded and scribbled down my translation. It wasn't until much later that I saw it and said "... what the hell?"

Ponyo's ultra cute, ultra sweet, and umistakably Ghibli. But it's also, in my opinion, the worst Miyazaki film I've ever seen. That's not as bad an insult as you might think- Laputa, Totoro, Spirited Away, etc. are all amazing. Laputa got me into anime, into Japan in the first place. Ponyo just doesn't rank up alongside those classics for me. A cute flick, yes, but it doesn't quite have the same magic.

There were a few reasons for this, but I think the main one is that it's a love story about four year olds. Miyazaki's always been excellent at portraying adorable, believable children, and he does this time too. But while I can easily follow an adventure story about twelve year olds, Ponyo is different. For starters, there isn't that much adventure. Not that much happens. After Ponyo escapes and teams up with Sousuke, they just kind of sit about for a bit, then wander around. There are a few attempts at action towards the end with a big wave chasing Sousuke, but it didn't feel tied to any drama, and thus lost all impact. The bulk of the plot is essentially a love story between four years olds. In the ending
Spoiler
the fish queen God woman asks Sousuke if he'll love Ponyo forever, and if he doesn't, she's kind of screwed.
The kid's answer? "Yup". The main characters never really seem to appreciate the gravity of their situation, nor do they really seem in love. It seems just like a couple of kids playing together, saying someday they'll marry each other. Cute, yes, but if everyone were bound by that sort of decision in life do you think it'd work out well?

Ultimately, the film fell short of Miyazaki's high standards for me. Not bad, by any means, but I don't think it deserves to go down in the ages alongside the greats.
Some people blamed the absence of Miyazaki's producer, Toshio Suzuki as a contributing factor of the lesser quality of Ponyo. Apparently Suzuki was the one who kept Miyazaki in check so that his films didn't become too crazy for their own good.
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by lonegamer7 »

I think it's partly the editors' fault as well. Atlus US has a game blog where one of the translators posted that their job is to translate (even used one example that was rather tricky from one of the games), while it's the editors' job to fit the translations into the game, which can lead to change in script.
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Re: Ponyo on the Cliffs - Ghibli Movie

Post by takenoko »

Eh, I don't know Darien, that reaction sounds really jaded in regards to the story

>Maybe that's why she's called Lisa...? I don't know, though, it still sounds a bit weird.

But the characters are all clearly Japanese with Japanese names

>But isn't the fact of the matter that professional translators are often the same sort of people who do fansubs?

Is this based on some information that you know off hand? I genuinely don't know the answer, but I definitely feel like there are translators out there who have never been a part of the fansubbing scene

>Translating is kind of like writing- it's not just a mechanical process but one that requires understanding and creativity.

I try to make tolerances for reasonable translations. But did you see my list? I don't feel like they were mistakes so much as they were conscious decisions for something to be that way

>They make mistakes, maybe, but don't we all? They're only human.

I'd hope that when people find mistakes in our subs, they would understand that we're just fans who volunteer our time to do our translations. Those guys get paid to do something, it's a job, and it's fucking Disney. They can afford to have something professionally done or at least pleasantly covers up the stuff for the layman experience. Being inconsistent even within their own subs and forgetting to translate lines, that's going to be jarring to even people who know no Japanese

>Was this the case with Ponyo, or were the subtitles actually dedicated subs?

There are both, there's two English tracks
lonegamer7 wrote:while it's the editors' job to fit the translations into the game, which can lead to change in script.
Again, where's the quality check for this stuff to make sure everything is consistent? I just never want to buy the Disney Ghibli DVDs because I think their treatment of the material is total bullshit compared to the rest of the industry. I feel like the English subs are exactly the same on the Japanese DVDs, so that makes me suspect part of the problem might be whatever translators Ghibli hires themselves

I just feel like it's a problem with the commercial sub industry in that no one's ever going to pay attention to the translation enough to get indignant enough to make the companies kind of boost their game. I mean, it obviously works since Phoenix didn't notice any of the stuff, but it still doesn't seem cool to me
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