Featured Articles

Visual Cues and Panel Layouts

Manga combines drawings with text, so missing a visual cue can easily trip up your translation. You also need to take panel layouts into account when translating certain types of spoken lines. Here are tips on how to deal with these two issues.

by MAL_editing_team
Oct 25, 2:11 AM | 2,097 views

Article written by Tomoko Kimura


kimurasan
Manga tells stories using a combination of drawings, dialog and sound effects. Here’re tips on how to deal with two issues that arise from this visual storytelling medium.

(1) Visual Cues

Make sure you’re paying enough attention to the drawings so you don’t overlook information only the visuals provide.

Visual cues such as facial expressions and body language often reveal how a character is really feeling. If you miss them, your translation could be way off the mark.

Here’s a scene where girl A and boy B are talking. A eventually gets up and says

行きましょうか
(Ikimashouka)

“Shall we get going?” is a possible choice here.

But what if A is grabbing B’s hand as she says “Ikimashouka,” forcing B to get up and follow her?
A is obviously not giving B a chance to say no, so this line shouldn’t be translated as a question. It should sound more like a command such as “Just come with me.”

Students in my translation courses have tripped up on similar examples, so be careful!

(2) Page-spanning lines

Manga panels are laid out on two-page spreads so the last panels of odd-numbered pages work as page turners.

When a speaking line spans an odd-numbered and even-numbered page, the difference in Japanese and English sentence structures could cause trouble, resulting in spoilers on the odd-numbered page.

A simple page-spanning line can be translated as is:

Japanese:
そ… (So... )
そうですか… (Soudesuka...)

English translation:
“I...”
“Is that so...”

In the second example, the first translation puts a spoiler on the odd-numbered page. The second translation avoids spoilers by maintaining the original word order:

Japanese:
紅い瞳の (Akai hitomi no)
帝王! (teiou!)

English translation 1:
“The emperor...”
“...with crimson eyes!”

English translation 2:
“The crimson-eyed...”
“...emperor!”

Same with the third example. The first translation results in a spoiler, but the second translation is spoiler-free:

Japanese:
一番 (Ichiban)
大好きで、憧れたおとぎ話は (daisuki de, akogareta otogi-banashi wa)

English translation 1:
“The fairy tale...”
“...I loved and adored the most was”

English translation 2:
“My favorite…”
“...fairy tale, the one I most adored was”

Step back once in a while and read the manga you’re translating as a casual reader. It’ll help keep your focus in balance so you’re not missing anything.

logoClick the banner to be taken to the Manga Translation Battle Homepage!

Related Articles

Tips on Translating Manga Dialogue

Tips on Translating Manga Dialogue

Basic tips on translating spoken lines in manga, and a method for splitting up the translation process for better quality and efficiency.

by MAL_editing_team

10,969 views

The Effects of Sound: Translating Sound Effects

The Effects of Sound: Translating Sound Effects

Dokan! Kira-kira! Shiiin. Manga Translation Battle judge Matt Alt talks sounds effects in anime and how to translate them!

by MAL_editing_team

5,012 views

The Agony of Aisatsu

The Agony of Aisatsu

Greetings and common phrases are some of the most difficult parts of translating Japanese, but the key to handling everyday aisatsu is simply maintaining flexibility.

by MAL_editing_team

2,723 views

The Early Stages of a Translator's Career

The Early Stages of a Translator's Career

William Flanagan talks about 4 of the stages you go through during the early stages of your career as a translator. Manga Translation Battle submissions close November 4!

by MAL_editing_team

4,059 views

Tips for a Translation Submission!

Tips for a Translation Submission!

Many English-language manga publishers send a prospective translator a sample chapter as a test. Here are some points editors use to evaluate them. Do a good job on these, and you'll stand a much better chance of getting hired!

by MAL_editing_team

20,004 views

All Tags Trending Tags