Monday, October 7, 2013

Editorial Minimalism

Over the past week, I've helped two groups that are resubbing simulcast shows to tidy up the scripts. The changes I made were pretty minor: removing surplus ellipses, joining sentences that were unnecessarily separated, removing or adding commas, dealing with the occasional infelicity. There wasn't much to do, because the simulcast scripts were fluent and, according to an experienced translator, quite accurate. I also edited the songs. Again, the changes were minor.

With so few changes from the simulcast, it's a legitimate question to ask, "Why bother?" Personally, I prefer resubbed versions of simulcasts to the originals, even if the changes are relatively minor. I like having lyrics to the songs. I like having proper typesetting and having more signs typeset. I like the timing to be clean. I like the occasional translation or editing mistakes to be corrected. I like a good encode from a better source than a webcast. In all, it adds up to a better viewing experience.

You could dub my philosophy in these situations as "editorial minimalism." When the underlying script is good, I try not to change wording or phrasing gratuitously. My translation colleague on Yawara! produced brilliant scripts which hardly needed editing at all. I saw no reason to "correct" his language; and if I did without good cause, he made his displeasure abundantly clear. Editing is not about ego or imposing one's style on a script. It's about flow, correctness, and continuity. Meddling with a good script is disrespectful to the translator and (in the case of a resub) the original editor. Just as I don't want a QC to "back-seat edit" my scripts, I don't feel I should second-guess a competent translation-editing team.

This may not sit well with everyone. Some may prefer edits that produce a distinctive tone or edge, add honorifics, or localize more (or less, for that matter). I do not. Unless a resub has errors in translation or in editing, I'll abide by the belief that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." In this fall anime season, where essentially everything is simulcast, that's the only appropriate course of action. Besides, it leaves more time to work on the back catalog.

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