Why I don’t like to read Manga: an insight into language

If you’ve been in the anime scene long enough, then you’ve probably encountered a fanboy talking shit about how the manga was waay better than the anime. While this may hold true for a number of titles, I still feel that anime are a far better means of conveying content than the translated manga these internet squatters are reading. 

What’s your beef with Manga anyways?

Their mere existence is not what upsets me. It’s the fact that for the majority of us who can’t speak Japanese, the only choice is to read our manga in translated, and ultimately altered versions of the original work. This transition is what really worries me.

If you’re a multilingual speaker then you’re already quite familiar with the fact that there are a number of things like ideas, feelings, and ways of expression which cannot be simply translated from one language to another. More often than not, there is no actual translation. Language being an art form, is riddled with nuanced meaning; thus, there is a lot of manga content lost in translation.

So, what does that mean for us?

It’s simple: you’re not able to fully appreciate a piece of work that so many religiously preach. When reading translated versions of manga, we give up on the finer details that reflect the society and culture in which they were created. It’s not that we’re altogether neglecting a lot of the things that it does convey, but we’re not getting the whole picture.

Prime example

I’m sure that you’ve already seen a character that looks like he just found out about prostate exams (the hard way), look at another bloke at yell out: “TEMEH!” Coincidentally, that’s one of the most common scenes that exist. Unfortunately, its translation has never been as spot on as prostate exams have in the last thirty years.

The term quite literally means ‘you’, as in the pronoun ‘you’, but its translation is often said to be ‘you bastard’ in English. While temeh is used as a derogative way to refer to someone with a lower standing than yourself, its English counterpart fails to reflect that. More accurately, it fails to reflect that Japanese society is highly hierarchical and that verbal communication, specially when it comes to formality, can be extremely tricky.

But isn’t it the same thing with Anime?

Not exactly… unless you’re watching dubbed anime, which you shouldn’t be (leave hate in the comments section). While the moving pictures in anime, and the pictures in manga are left unaltered, the former adds a new dimension into consideration – sound.

So even if we’re reading some sub-par subs, with basic knowledge of Japanese phrases and words we’re able to gain just a little more insight into the content than manga just by paying close attention to what’s being said.

So even if all we have are some sub-par subs to read, we’ll still have the characters’ original speech. Prepped with just a little knowledge of Japanese phrases and words, anime are able to provide just a little more insight than translated manga.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you think I'm 
talking shit in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Why I don’t like to read Manga: an insight into language

  1. That’s a perspective I haven’t really thought of! But I think you’re right, sound makes translation more accurate in a sense that we the viewers can (to a higher degree) understand the conveyed emotions better than the manga.

    However, I think that alone isn’t an excuse for people to disregard the manga. Most anime’s are adapted from manga or light Novels. I personally think that it would be an insult to the writer of the story if one would simply ignore the original work. There are many anime’s that don’t follow the original story, hence to show proper respect to the creator I believe it is best to get a complete view of the work for a holistic outtake of the series.

    Liked by 1 person

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