So I’m going down my timeline on twitter and see this shit:
These italics are getting out of hand pic.twitter.com/pujUIHtNMk
As a world-class localization expert, I was filled with righteous anger—nothing triggers me more than pointlessly unlocalized terms. You should never leave a viewer clueless. Now, in this particular case, nothing of value is particularly lost, but that still does not excuse it. At the very worst, it turns away newcomers to anime since there are “too many foreign words (yes, this is a real problem people have). Now, the argument against localization is that you are CENSORING CULTURE or some bullshit, but that’s a whole other can of worms I’m not going to open for now. But even if you believe that, you can still partially localize the terms so people get a general idea of what’s going on. Here are some ways I would have tackled these lines…
So first on the list is somen. Since I have no fucking clue what this is, let’s consult Wikipedia.
Sōmen (素麺) are very thin white Japanese noodles made of wheat flour, less than 1.3 mm in diameter. The noodles are usually served cold.
So for this scene, we can go with either “wheat-flour noodles” or “cold(-served) noodles”. If you are a purist, you can at the very least use “somen noodles”—yeah, it’s technically redundant, but at least the viewer knows they’re talking about noodles.
Next on the list is menma. Once again, from wikipedia:
Menma (メンマ or 麺麻 or 麺碼) is a Japanese condiment made from lactate-fermented bamboo shoots. The bamboo shoots are dried in the sun or through other means before the process of fermentation.
There are a ton of possible ways to localize this shit. Not sure which is the best/most accurate since I don’t have a translator to consult with, but basically just use some form of bamboo shoots— either fermented bamboo shoots or sun-dried bamboo shoots. Hell, bamboo shoots alone is probably good enough. At the very least that gives the viewer an idea what it is, unlike menma.
Next up, we have
Aight I have no fucking clue what ankake sauce is. It’s not on Wikipedia, and Google isn’t terribly helpful either, so I can’t give a decent localization other than guesswork. The best description I have is “a clear sauce thickened with starch”. There are tons of different recipes, so it seems like it’s a type of sauce rather than a specific one. The one common factor I found was that it’s used primarily for stir-fry. So I guess I would say “Ground chicken stir-fried with a thick, tangy/sweet/salty sauce” or something of the sort.
Kabura. This word is too ambiguous for me to find a translation of, so once again, I must make guesses. Kabu is turnip, so let’s go with that. If you’re an enlightened Japanophile, let me know what it is, and I can give you something better. Gomenasorry.
Other than the italics, I’m fine with this. I’d personally remove myoga though since it’s not important. The less scary foreign words, the better :’)
Botamochi (ぼたもち or 牡丹餅?) are a Japanese sweet made with sweet rice and sweet azuki (red bean) paste. They are made by soaking sweet rice for approximately six hours. The rice is then cooked, and a thick azuki paste is hand-packed around pre-formed balls of rice.
A very similar sweet, ohagi (おはぎ?), uses a slightly different texture of azuki paste, but is otherwise almost identical. It is made in autumn. Some recipe variations in both cases call for a coating of soy flour to be applied to the botamochi/ohagi after the azuki paste.
So basically, it’s a sweet rice cake. So, “sweet pumpkin rice cake”. If you’re on a high level of irony, you can go with “sweet pumpkin mochi”.
But yeah, I spent a hot two minutes for each term and came up with decent alternatives. If this was something I was working on, I’d consult my translators for accuracy, but these should be fine enough to prove me point that it isn’t hard/impossible to localize food. Anyway, it’s really disappointing to see such low effort coming from official subs.