Subtitling Japanese Anime!

Hero Curve Element
Subtitling Japanese Anime!

In the past we’ve worked on lots of Japanese media content. We’ve subtitled many short films and documentaries into English. But recently, we’ve received some really interesting commissions – producing subtitles for Japanese anime!

Anime is a Japanese term for animation, but outside Japan it refers to Japanese animation (specifically). There are several hundred production studios in Japan producing anime, with perhaps the most well-known studio being Studio Ghibli, based in Tokyo. Studio Ghibli has produced real gems such as Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away and has bought Japanese animes worldwide acclaim.

To bring anime to a more global audience, studios are increasingly commissioning English subtitles. We’ve been working on a number of films with a Tokyo-based studio, subtitling four new animes. Fortunately we have a bespoke team of Japanese translators on hand, who are all experienced at working on Japanese films. We’ve been making swift progress.

Obviously with subtitling there are a number of conventions that need to be adhered to, to ensure that the subs make comfortable reading. Some things are generic and remain the same irrespective of language. There should be no more than two lines per caption, and captions should always last between two and seven seconds, for example. However there are also some minor differences that apply, depending on whether the final subtitles are in Japanese or in English. Since Japanese uses kanji, the number of characters used per line is significantly lower than for the equivalent English subtitles. So while in English, there is a maximum character restriction of thirty-five characters per line, in Japanese the restriction is just fourteen characters.

Whichever language the subtitles are produced in, the translator working on the content obviously needs to have a clear understanding of the target audience and the ‘tone’ required. This is particularly the case with Japanese video content, since target audience varies quite a lot. While there are huge numbers of films produced for family viewing (such as the Studio Ghibli films mentioned earlier), there are also a number of films that are specifically for children and still others made exclusively for adults. The films we’ve been working on are all family films, so watch this space!

Need help?

Should you require our help with Japanese to English subtitling do not hesitate to get in touch with us and our team will do their best to help you.


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