Rant: Shakugan no Shana DVD 4

      5 Comments on Rant: Shakugan no Shana DVD 4

A while ago I praised the quality of the subtitle translation on the Shakugan no Shana DVDs. Given that this seems to be a particularly difficult story to translate they seemed to be doing a pretty good job.

Unfortunately with the fourth DVD the translation seems to have taken a turn for the worse. And my main complaint isn’t even about the difficult poetic stuff; it’s something that should be really simple and straightforward: they’re spelling Wilhelmina’s name as “Wirhelmina”. I know that you could romanize the katakana that way, but why on Earth would you do that? Are the translators unfamiliar with European names? Are they relying on how Shana (Rie Kugimiya) pronounces it? (If so it’s a bad idea since we’ve already established that Shana speaks English with a heavy Japanese accent.)

Then there’s the matter of her title. Granted, the character titles are obscure and there isn’t necessarily one “right” translation for them. Nevertheless, how the heck do you get “The Specialist of Everything” from banjou no shite (万条の仕手)?

Sure that’s obscure but it’s not impossible. 仕手 is some sort of hero or leader. 万 is 10,000 (or a very large number.) 条 is a counter for paragraphs, stripes or lines. So in this context, especially given Wilhelmina’s fighting style, doesn’t something like “The Master of Ten Thousand Lines” make a lot more sense?

I won’t make an issue about translating de arimasu as “indeed” since there is no English equivalent. Having her say “thee” and “thou” might catch the flavor better, but it really wouldn’t be right.


In spite of this I still think that the DVDs are a lot of fun, and you’re still a lot better off with the subtitles than the English dub.

If you’re watching the DVDs, be sure to check out the “Naze Nani Shana” segments under the “Extras” menu. Not only are these funny, but they also sometimes contain useful explanations. Just be sure to watch the episodes on the DVD first.

5 thoughts on “Rant: Shakugan no Shana DVD 4

  1. Pete Zaitcev

    I am afraid you are slipping into pedantry, and you know it, judging from the closing tags. This level of imprecision is to be expected in translations. In fact, it looks like the title excercises artistic license. Seriously, Extremely Long Pedantic And Clumsy Title Which Provides Only Marginal Impovement might not be the best thing to put on a DVD. And finally, who cares about DVD titles? They might’ve not exist as well as I’m concerned. Shana is Shana is Shana. So, to summarize, you’re probably getting yourself ulcers over something undeserving.

  2. Jonathan Tappan Post author

    Well…I don’t agree that subtitles are unimportant. The vast majority of us (including me) are dependent on them, so I would like them to be as good as possible, at least for a series that I really like.

    You’re right that my complaint about “The Specialist of Everything” is pedantic and unfair. Translating something like that is very subjective. I don’t agree with it, but normally I would overlook it.


  3. sixten

    As a big Wilhelmina fan, I’m hoping “Wirhelmina” is a decision they’re going to reverse eventually (maybe even when vol.5 comes out tomorrow) since the proper romanization is evident. They had “tsuyosa” in the opening song misspelled for the first two volumes as I remember. I’m hoping “Wirhelmina” is that temporary as well.

    As for “Specialist of Everything”, “banjou” with different characters (万状) is “diversification, multifariousness” (literally “ten thousand circumstances”) in WWWJDIC, and the “jou” in Wilhelmina’s “banjou” (条) is indeed for “stripes or lines”, but also for “articles or provisions”. And finally, the English phrase “of all stripes” means “of great diversity or variety”. This fits with Wilhelmina’s multiple talents as a maid, even if she can’t cook. If you look at her title as “Master of All Stripes”, it’s a simple jump from there to “Specialist of Everything”.

    Incidentally, I can’t speak Japanese (yet), although I do know approximately 500 kanji. Take my explanation with a grain of salt. I’m also biased because I think “Specialist of Everything” is the coolest title in the official translation.

  4. Jonathan Tappan Post author

    Even if it’s not Geneon’s fault, it seems clear that somebody made a stupid mistake. And I doubt very much that it was Yashichiro Takahashi, the author of the light novels. He obviously put in a lot of effort reseaching Western names, (including the names of obscure demons.)

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