Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Space Neko Theater Revisited

Finally, and just in time for New Year, an accurate version of Space Neko Theater. The v2 Orphan release, now up on nyaatorrents, corrects some translation errors in v1, which was itself a significant improvement on the original ARR release. And therein lies a tale.

The ARR version of Space Neko Theater was a simple rip of Aoki Jun's YouTube posting, which included English subtitles that had been created, apparently, by a member of the animation crew. There were a number of problems, including bad timing and no signs, but the killer issue was the subtitles themselves: inaccurate and garbled. So Theater went on my wish list of shows to improve, not because of great artistic merit (it's a silly comedy), but because it was about cats.

I didn't making much progress on the wish list, because translators are rare, and in my frustration I decided to commission a paid translation of Theater. A few bucks later I had a script that at least seemed to make sense, and that became the basis of v1. After that, I decided to let sleeping cats lie.

Convexity's superb work on Senya Ichiya Monogatari and Cleopatra opened my eyes to just how wrong a seemingly sensible translation can be. I persuaded him to check v1 of Theater, and he found a number of errors. Looking through it again, I also found some timing problems, as well as signs that had been missed. So I put together convexity's corrections and other fixes to create v2, which I certainly hope is final.

The experience with Theater has taught me a valuable lesson: you can't judge a translation on plausibility. This makes it hazardous for non-Japanese speakers like me to commission paid translations. I can't check the quality of the result: I can't tell gold from dross. So I have to rely on the "kindness of strangers" in the fansub community, that is, on translators with proven capabilities and an interest in old shows, to move my projects forward.

I'll be much more wary, in the future, about translation sources. In commissioning translations, as in every other form of commerce, the old adage still holds: caveat emptor.

Late-breaking news: BakaBT, in a fit of self-purification, decided that "self-published" anime like Space Neko Theater, which appeared on YouTube, should be excluded. So the only place to find this is nyaatorrents.

Even later-breaking news: BakaBT has revised its policies again, and Space Neko Theater is back up. Yay!

And even more late news: As 12laus points out, BakaBT didn't actually revise its policies. Instead, Aoki Jun has built a body of professional-enough work to qualify under current policies. It's all good!

[Updated 3-Dec-2015]