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Opinions on localizing/translating Visual Novel titles


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I've noticed there are a few major ways Visual Novel titles got localized and/or translated (or not) when brought over by an official company
 
1) VNs that originally had English titles and are kept
 
So things like
 
  • Princess Evangile
  • Deardrops
  • Root Double
  • Little Busters
 
Obviously there's not much need to change these unless it's in Engrish or something.
 
2) VNs with titles that are in Japanese or not in English but are fully kept
 
For example things like
 
  • Neko Para
  • Dies Irae Amentes Amentes
  • Hoshizora no Memoria.
 
These could theoretically get translated into something in English but aren't.
 
3) VNs that fully translate the title into English directly
 
For example things like
  • Newton to Ringo no Ki -> Newton and the Apple True
  • Majo Koi Nikki -> Witch's Love Diary
  • G-senjou no Maou -> Devil on the G-String
  • Grisaia no Kaijitsu -> Fruit of Grisaia
 
4) VNs that translate some parts of the title, but keeps the rest in Japanese
 
For example things like
  • Suki to Suki to de Sankaku Ren'ai -> Sankaku Ren'ai: Love Triangle Trouble!
  • Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo -> Sharin no Kuni: The Girl Among the Sunflowers
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni -> Umineko When They Cry
 
5) VNs that fully localize the title into something that has a similar meaning but far from the direct TL of the original title
 
For example things like
  • Kono Oozora ni, Tsubasa o Hirogete / Konosora -> If My Heart Had Wings
  • Gyakuten Saiban -> Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
  • Bocchi Musume x Produce Keikaku -> Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome
 
6) VNs that use fan abbreviations of the full title in the translation
 
Example:
Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai -> MajiKoi: Love Me Seriously
 
 
What is your opinion on how VN titles should be localized? Kept fully in Japanese? Translated into English? Which do you think should be used more consistently?
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24 minutes ago, adamstan said:

Yeah, me too. Whatever sounds good for a given VN. For example, "If My Heart Had Wings" is absolutely brilliant title. (if only rest of the original translation was of the same quality :P)

Yeah, it looks like translating titles is the only thing MoeNovel knows how to do. :vinty:

But just as Kokoro, I don't have that much of a fixed preference. Also, it very much depends on the title, Japanese have the tendency to use long, descriptive titles that sound awful (or absurdly generic) if you just directly translate them to English. In others, you have puns or wordplays (like Okujou no Yurirei-san) that simply can't be directly replicated, so you have to get creative...

If I had to choose, I'd probably say hybrid titles with both Japanese (either part of the original title or an abbreviation) and English elements are most memorable and pleasing to my weeb sensibilities. Sharin no Kuni is a good example, another would be Saku Saku: Love Blooms with the Cherry Blossoms. Hoshimemo, btw, originally has this kind of structure (the full original title is: 星空のメモリア-Wish upon a shooting star-), so it didn't need any tampering.

Edited by Plk_Lesiak
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Seems like it's common nowadays to combine parts of the Japanese title with an English subtitle so both fans and newcomers can easily identify it.  One of the most important aspects of a title is its SEO; if the title uses a common phrase, it becomes hard to find related content in search engines.  Throwing in some simple Japanese or abbreviation of Japanese helps to make it more unique and memorable.

Edited by sanahtlig
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Translated versions are always the best, in my opinion!

As a translator, I get to come chip in on what the game's translated title should be, which is always fun! (And headache inducing. It's about 60/40)
Some of the localized titles for VNs in recent years have come out great. Mangagamer especially tends to come up with really fun ones.

While simple, I think Sisterly Bliss was such a great title for Tsui Yuri's localized title. It tells you so much more than "Tsui Yuri" untouched would have done. (Great job, PR team. :maple:)

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1 minute ago, Dergonu said:

Translated versions are always the best, in my opinion!

As a translator, I get to come chip in on what the game's translated title should be, which is always fun! (And headache inducing. It's about 60/40)
Some of the localized titles for VNs in recent years have come out great. Mangagamer especially tends to come up with really fun ones.

Sisterly Bliss is a good name for Tsui Yuri.

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15 hours ago, onorub said:

This makes me wonder: when Kiminozo and Oretsuba are localized, will the companies go with the english names given to their anime (Rumbling Hearts and We Without Wings)?

Huh? "When"? You sound like the localization of those two is 100% to happen. Kiminozo, yeah, maybe (I know there were talks about it), but Oretsuba? O_o I seriously doubt Oretsuba will ever see a localization.

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47 minutes ago, Infernoplex said:

Huh? "When"? You sound like the localization of those two is 100% to happen. Kiminozo, yeah, maybe (I know there were talks about it), but Oretsuba? O_o I seriously doubt Oretsuba will ever see a localization.

That comment was exactly what i feared. I thought about writing "if" instead of "when" but i just assumed people were gonna focus on the name part instead of the wording.

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I'll post from the perspective of someone who has had a hand in coming up with multiple localized titles now.

For most English VN readers, all Japanese titles sort of run together, since they can't understand them anyway. From a marketing standpoint, translating a title will make it more identifiable and memorable. The catchier it is and the more it pops, the better. "Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome" is a phenomenal title for this reason. The flipside of this, though, is that there ARE a lot of games that are talked about in the English community using their Japanese names, so there is some justification for keeping those (or parts of them). As much as I hate the "When They Cry" title translations, it makes marketing sense to at least keep "Higurashi" and "Umineko," since everyone and their mothers have been talking about those games using those words for years. Though I'll maintain that using "When They Cry" for the individual games' titles is still confusing and misleading (I seriously thought "Higurashi: When They Cry" was for a sappy drama when I first saw the title. For months.). It was meant to be the overall series name, not the individual game titles!

Anyway, the result is that companies now like mashing Japanese and English together so they can reap the benefits of both. I'm not really sure how to feel about this (I say, as the editor for "Senren Banka: A Thousand Colors of Love"). People's minds are generally trained to ignore or forget subtitles, and having to relegate the English to a subtitle makes creating a memorable title much more challenging. But I also understand and accept the need for preserving some of the Japanese titles when working with well-known VNs. Just gotta make the best out of the situation. When working with lesser-known VNs, though, I'm all for ditching the Japanese entirely. Nobody knew what an "Otoboku" was in 2012, and the first time the vast majority of the English VN community heard of Yotsunoha was when Sol Press announced it (let alone the broader VN-buying market). It doesn't make any sense to me to keep the Japanese aspects of these titles.

From the perspective of a fan, I really enjoy fully localized titles. When titles go untranslated (very common in fan translations), they're a thing the Japanese audience gets to enjoy, but the English audience doesn't. A good title doesn't just catch the eye; they're a big part of a work of fiction's overall aesthetic, and they set the reader's expectations and often influences the way they view the work they're reading. It feels sad sometimes not knowing what the title is for a thing I'm reading, and I very much appreciate whenever a company (or fan translator) puts in the effort to make a good localized title.

Edited by Decay
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Well I'll just go with whatever the name that the translation team came up with I guess, and besides you can always link to VNDB anyway in case you afraid that someone might not get the idea what kind of the title it is. But if you ask what's my preference to call the VNs, then I'll answer that usually I'll go with the derivative of the Japanese name (Usually by shortening it).

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Normally, 1, 3 or 5 has higher appeal for English customers. For 4 and 5 to differentiate almost similar titles or hard-to-translate part. 2 could be use for titles which are both short and very well-known. If the titles originated as reference from non-Japanese words (such as Dies Irae, Schwarzesmarken) , then usually 2.

When it comes to unofficial translation, 2 is preferable to recognize the compatibility of patches/mods in search result.
 

Edited by ztrepzilius
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6 hours ago, Decay said:

I'll post from the perspective of someone who has had a hand in coming up with multiple localized titles now.

For most English VN readers, all Japanese titles sort of run together, since they can't understand them anyway. From a marketing standpoint, translating a title will make it more identifiable and memorable. The catchier it is and the more it pops, the better. "Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome" is a phenomenal title for this reason. The flipside of this, though, is that there ARE a lot of games that are talked about in the English community using their Japanese names, so there is some justification for keeping those (or parts of them). As much as I hate the "When They Cry" title translations, it makes marketing sense to at least keep "Higurashi" and "Umineko," since everyone and their mothers have been talking about those games using those words for years. Though I'll maintain that using "When They Cry" for the individual games' titles is still confusing and misleading (I seriously thought "Higurashi: When They Cry" was for a sappy drama when I first saw the title. For months.). It was meant to be the overall series name, not the individual game titles!

Anyway, the result is that companies now like mashing Japanese and English together so they can reap the benefits of both. I'm not really sure how to feel about this (I say, as the editor for "Senren Banka: A Thousand Colors of Love"). People's minds are generally trained to ignore or forget subtitles, and having to relegate the English to a subtitle makes creating a memorable title much more challenging. But I also understand and accept the need for preserving some of the Japanese titles when working with well-known VNs. Just gotta make the best out of the situation. When working with lesser-known VNs, though, I'm all for ditching the Japanese entirely. Nobody knew what an "Otoboku" was in 2012, and the first time the vast majority of the English VN community heard of Yotsunoha was when Sol Press announced it (let alone the broader VN-buying market). It doesn't make any sense to me to keep the Japanese aspects of these titles.

From the perspective of a fan, I really enjoy fully localized titles. When titles go untranslated (very common in fan translations), they're a thing the Japanese audience gets to enjoy, but the English audience doesn't. A good title doesn't just catch the eye; they're a big part of a work of fiction's overall aesthetic, and they set the reader's expectations and often influences the way they view the work they're reading. It feels sad sometimes not knowing what the title is for a thing I'm reading, and I very much appreciate whenever a company (or fan translator) puts in the effort to make a good localized title.

The fact that things such as Fxxx Me Royally!! have come into existence is more than enough to justify wanting the titles for VNs to be translated.

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