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by Douglas Michael Schules

An Abstract Of a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communication Studies in the Graduate College of The University of Iowa December 2012 Thesis Supervisor: Associate Professor Timothy Havens

ABSTRACT The democratization of new media technologies, particularly the software tools though which content can be manipulated, has invited a seemingly vast array of modes through which people can express themselves. Conversations in fan studies, for example, cite the novel ways in which new media allow fans to alter texts in the expression of their subcultural needs, while theorizations of media often reverse the paradigm by arguing how advances in technology will revolutionize how we interact with, and hence, know the world. Frequently overlooked are the ways in which these technologies and communities co-construct engagement and the extent to which this engagement spurs novel ways of interaction. This dissertation addresses these problems by theorizing the role of the medium as a ludic negotiation between text and fan, informedbut not determinedby the rules and strictures that construct both these discrete media artifacts and the communities in which these texts circulate. Nowhere are these concerns more evident than in the subcultural realm of anime fan translations, where an eclectic blend of tech-savvy, Japanese language proficient, culturally competent individuals from different backgrounds converge to form groups who have self-nominated themselves to spread anime through timely, efficient, and accurate translations. To be successful, they must navigate multiple linguistic and cultural currents as they move between Japanese and their target language, deftly avoid running aground on the shores that structure the boundaries of container media, all the while remaining mindful of ideological and subcultural discursive shoals as they scan the horizon for alternate paths to their translation goal. These fan translators are, to be less dramatic, limited in the types of translations they can provide by the formal properties of the selected medium, but these limitations should be conceived as a generative process motivating translators to seek novel ways of engagement with the medium to meet both their translation needs and the

needs of the communities in which their translations circulate.

Abstract Approved: ____________________________________ Thesis Supervisor ____________________________________ Title and Department ____________________________________ Date


by Douglas Michael Schules

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communication Studies in the Graduate College of The University of Iowa December 2012 Thesis Supervisor: Associate Professor Timothy Havens

Copyright by DOUGLAS MICHAEL SCHULES 2012 All Rights Reserved

Graduate College The University of Iowa Iowa City, Iowa

CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL _______________________ PH.D. THESIS _______________ This is to certify that the Ph.D. thesis of Douglas Michael Schules has been approved by the Examining Committee for the thesis requirement for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communication Studies at the December 2012 graduation. Thesis Committee: ___________________________________ Timothy Havens, Thesis Supervisor ___________________________________ John Durham Peters ___________________________________ Kembrew McLeod ___________________________________ Stephen Vlastos ___________________________________ Andre Brock

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This dissertation has been a long time coming. The topics and arguments have changed drastically since its conception, not only as I expanded my theoretical horizons but in large part, I suspect, to the continuing production of anime and fansubs: each season brought a new show and related fan-produced subtitles that appeared just a bit better, more suitable, than what I was previously working with. As fan groups grew and died, replaced in part by speed subs and quasi-corporate entities tangentially fan-driven, I reflected on the possibilities this diversity offered and tried to explain it all. I wish to thank those who helped during this extended period of revelry in my topic of chose, bouncing off ideas and gleefully running down theoretical rabbit holes with meespecially since many of them did not share my animation in anime. Nathan Wilson and Diana Bowne spring readily to mind, but other colleagues of mine equally deserve recognition for walking this path at some point during this process: Eleanor King, David Morris, Kristen Anderson-Terpstra, Hsin-Yen Yang, Evan and Cindy Jones, and Shiori Yamazaki. The editors of Dungeons, Dragons, and Digital Denizens, who provided extensive feedback and patience with my argument on language and games, also need recognition. My committee and the library staff also deserve my thanks, as their ability to point me to the placesboth theoretical and physicalI needed to complete this project was invaluable. University of Iowa librarian Chiaki Sakai merits particular mention as her help with getting me into Tokyo Universitys main library and teaching me how to navigate its databases provide essential for the earlier visions of my argument.


TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................. iv LIST OF FIGURES .............................................................................................................v CHAPTER I GAMING THE SYSTEMS: AN INTRODUCTION TO LANGUAGE, LUDOLOGY, AND ANIME FANDOM .................................1 Introduction.......................................................................................................1 Towards a Ludology of Language ....................................................................5 Fan Studies and Translation..............................................................................9 Fansubbing as Fandom? .................................................................................14 Summary/Chapter Overview ..........................................................................17 CHAPTER II LUX-PAIN, LUDOLOGY, AND THE LINGUISTIC GAME ...................21 Introduction.....................................................................................................21 Games: Playing by Rules ...............................................................................23 Lux-Pain and Fan Discontent .........................................................................24 Lux Pain: Language at the Local Level .........................................................33 Internal Gameplay and the Limits of Lux-Pain ..............................................44 Simulations and Names: Lux-Pains Inscrutable Location ...........................50 The Unintentional Return of High Modernist Aesthetics ...............................56 Loose Ends and Unresolved Tensions ............................................................60 CHAPTER III THE MEDIUM IN TRANSLATION: OR, THE MEDIUM STRIKES BACK ............................................................................................62 Introduction.....................................................................................................62 Container Media: Definition and Practice .....................................................64 Linear Notes: The Translators Visibility ......................................................81 The Medium in Translation: Foreignness as Translation Strategy ................93 Conclusion ....................................................................................................107 CHAPTER IV OF FANSUBS AND CULTURAL CREDIBILITY ...............................109 Introduction...................................................................................................109 A Quick Primer on Fansub Groups: Evolution and Current Status .............111 Language and Linear Notes: Subcultural Capital ........................................116 Foreign Words: Selective Fissures in Translations .....................................140 Concluding Remarks: Subcultural Capital and Perceptive Plurality ...........142 CHAPTER V EXPANDING THE FIELD: CONCLUDING REMARKS ON MEDIA COMPOSITION AND ENGAGEMENT ......................................145 BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................................155


LIST OF TABLES Table 4.1: List of LN topics in Figures 4.10-4.16 ..........................................................131


LIST OF FIGURES Figure 2.1: Lux-Pains experience screen. ........................................................................25 Figure 2.2: Quantification of Atsuki and his powers. .......................................................26 Figure 2.3: Battle sequence with Silent ............................................................................28 Figure 2.4: Time, damage, and randomness in typical encounter. ...................................29 Figure 2.5: Sigmas ability to reveal hidden shinen. ........................................................31 Figure 2.6: Shinen in Japanese and English ......................................................................34 Figure 2.7: Underlying and surface representations in Lux-Pain. ....................................35 Figure 2.8: Localization errors in Lux-Pain. .....................................................................46 Figure 2.9: Localization errors in Lux-Pain. .....................................................................47 Figure 3.1: The Legend of Basara, Opening Credits, Anime Keep [A-Keep], avi..........67 Figure 3.2: Fairy Tail, episode 93, Kyuubi Fansubs, mp4, hardsubbed ...........................71 Figure 3.3: Nurarihyon no Mago Sennen Makyou, episode 04, WhyNot?, mkv Normal rendering ............................................................................................72 Figure 3.4: Nurarihyon no Mago Sennen Makyou, episode 04, WhyNot?, mkv Larger font size ...............................................................................................72 Figure 3.5: Nurarihyon no Mago Sennen Makyou, episode 04, WhyNot?, mkv Smaller font size, mirrored .............................................................................73 Figure 3.6: Nurarihyon no Mago Sennen Makyou, episode 04, WhyNot?, mkv Smaller font size, italics, screen top ...............................................................73 Figure 3.7: Tokyo Majin Gakuen, episode 09, Shinsen-Subs [SHS], mkv .......................75 Figure 3.8: Ah! My Goddess Goddess, episode 04, AnimeONE and AnimeYuki [AonE-AnY], avi ............................................................................................75 Figure 3.9: Nichijou, episode 16, Coalgirls, mkv, KMPlayer ..........................................76 Figure 3.10: Nichijou, episode 16, Coalgirls, mkv, VLC .................................................76 Figure 3.11: Beelzebub, episode 23, Shogakukan Fansubs & Tomodachi [SGKKTMD], mkv...................................................................................................77 Figure 3.12: Deadman Wonderland, episode 02, Shogakukan Fansubs & Ruri Subs [SGKK-Ruri], mkv .......................................................................................77 Figure 3.13: High School of the Dead opening credits, gg Fansubs [gg], avi, KM Player ............................................................................................................79 v

Figure 3.14: High School of the Dead opening credits, gg Fansubs [gg], mkv, KMPlayer .....................................................................................................79 Figure 3.15: High School of the Dead opening credits, gg Fansubs [gg], mkv, VLC ..............................................................................................................80 Figure 3.16: Otogizoushi, episode 02, Anime-kraze [Ani-Kraze], avi .............................84 Figure 3.17: Genshiken, episode 03, Solar and Anime-Faith [Solar & Faith], avi ...........84 Figure 3.18: Hakuouki, episode 01, DatteBayo [DB], avi ................................................85 Figure 3.19: Keroro Gunsou, episode 06, Hitoribochi Fansubs [HB],avi ........................85 Figure 3.20: Scrapped Princess, episode 14, Anime-Keep & Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai [Keep-ANBU], avi...............................................................86 Figure 3.21: Shuffle!, episode 01, AnimeUniverse Fansub Group [AnimeU], avi ...........86 Figure 3.22: Keroro Gunsou, episode 47, Doremi Fansubs & Keroro Fansubs [Doremi-keroro], avi ....................................................................................87 Figure 3.23: Nagasarete Airantou, episode 03, Ayako Fansubs [Ayako], mkv ...............88 Figure 3.24: Toaru Majutsu no Index, episode 16, Eclipse Productions [Eclipse], mkv ...............................................................................................................88 Figure 3.25: Deadman Wonderland, episode 12, Shogakukan Fansubs & Ruri Subs [SGKK-Ruri], mkv .......................................................................................89 Figure 3.26: Gintama, episode 79, Yuurisan-Subs & Shinsen-Subs [YuS-SHS], avi ......91 Figure 3.27: Gintama, episode 79, Rumbel Subs & so Many idiots Fansubs [Rumbel-sMi], avi ........................................................................................91 Figure 3.28: Keroro Gunsou, episode 09, Doremi-Keroro, avi ........................................98 Figure 3.29: Tokyo Majin Gakuen, episode 07, Shinsen Subs [SHS], avi .......................99 Figure 3.30: Ah! My Goddess! Everybody has Wings, episode. 11, AnimeONE and AnimeYuki [AonE-AnY], avi ......................................................................99 Figure 3.31: Gintama, episode 80, Yuurisan-Subs & Shinsen-Subs [YuS-SHS], avi ....102 Figure 3.32: Gintama, episode 80, Rumbel Subs & so Many idiots Fansubs [Rumbel-sMi], avi ......................................................................................103 Figure 4.1: Gintama, episode 74, Rumbel-sMi, avi ........................................................118 Figure 4.2: Gintama, episode 74, Rumbel-sMi, avi. .......................................................119 Figure 4.3: Gintama, episode 74, Rumbel-sMi, avi. .......................................................120 Figure 4.4: Gintama, episode 74, Rumbel-sMi, avi. .......................................................121 vi

Figure 4.5: Gintama, episode 83, Rumbel-sMi, avi ........................................................124 Figure 4.6: Gintama, episode. 73, YuS-SHS, avi ...........................................................127 Figure 4.7: Gintama, episode. 82, Rumbel-sMi, avi .......................................................128 Figure 4.8: Gintama, episode. 79, YuS-SHS, avi ...........................................................129 Figure 4.9: Gintama, episode. 79, Rumbel-sMi, avi .......................................................130 Figure 4.10: Gintama, episode 84, Rumbel-sMi, avi. .....................................................132 Figure 4.11: Gintama, episode 80, Rumbel-sMi, avi ......................................................133 Figure 4.12: Gintama, episode 82, Rumbel-sMi, avi ......................................................134 Figure 4.13: Gintama, episode 84, YuS-SHS, avi ..........................................................135 Figure 4.14: Gintama, episode 75, YuS-SHS, avi ..........................................................136 Figure 4.15: Gintama, episode 79, Rumbel-sMi, avi ......................................................137 Figure 4.16: Gintama, episode 04, SHS, avi...................................................................138


CHAPTER I GAMING THE SYSTEMS: AN INTRODUCTION TO LANGUAGE, LUDOLOGY, AND ANIME FANDOM Introduction When I first experienced anime in the early 1990s, the choices were exceedingly limited and the only game in town was corporate offeringsbut I didnt care, as the images and story developed in movies like Akira, Vampire Hunter D and Wicked City were unlike anything I had ever seen in America. Characters in these movies did things, said things, that their American counterparts could never get away with, and I assumed this reflected some cultural differenceperhaps superioritycultivated in Japan. I didnt know Japanese, and I never really considered the role translation had in shaping my understanding of anime and Japanese culture. In retrospect, I attribute a lot of that naivety to ignorance of alternative distribution networks and the fact that at the time anime as a word had not yet entered the vocabulary of mainstream America. I didnt know fan translations existed (or where to even get them!), and even if I did corporate translations were underground enough to this teenager to be sexy. The fact that I knew what anime was and that I watched it was enough to mark me as a member of a subcultural group distinct from the masses. The development of Internet technologies, particularly broadband, in tandem with an evolution in digital recording and editing technologies has fundamentally altered the amount of anime available and access to it. Hundreds of fan organizations have spawned around anime and subgenres of anime, carving niches into an object that remains in the mainstream eye and some scholarship a singular edifice. The popularity and increased recognition of anime, aided in large part by a sustained effort of the Japanese government to leverage the genre as a soft political tool, has eroded the subcultural sexiness merely watching anime has conferred; indeed, as Lam (2007) notes the forces driving anime

distribution are distinctly market ones, and as anyone tangentially familiar with fan subcultures will wryly opine, mainstream products do not a subculture make. While knowledge of anime remains one facet of demonstrating credibility in fan communities, the market success of Japans soft political campaign has given rise to alternative standards by which fandom can be measured. Cultural and linguistic proficiencies with Japanese have emerged as one yardstick by which subcultural status can be measured, and these disparate forces have unwittingly converged to reveal subtle and not-so-subtle tensions in the processes of translation and the influence of the medium in its realization, some of which come to the fore in the example from two translations (Shinsen-Subs was a fan organization, Crunchyroll is a corporate one) of episode 8 of Gintama below: Shinsen-Subs I'm just such a pitiful wreck Crunchyroll It's not gonna happenbesides, my butt hair is too thick


There's no way any woman would There's no way a girl would go go for me. out with me. I'm just no good Tae: That's not true at all. You're so manly It's nice. I'm no good. That's not true. You're just very manly! And that's attractive, isn't it? Then let me ask you this If your boyfriend's rear end looked like an afro with a part down the middle, what would you do? I would love him, butt afro and all. What a goddess! She purifies unclean things, just like a Bodhisattva.


Then, Otae-san, if your boyfriend What if he were impotent?


Then I'd love him, impotence and all. She's so calm. She just accepts it, like the Buddha!


3 Let's do it at the altar! Buttbuttbuttbut will you marry me!

Note appearing top of screen:

Note: this line is a play on the words for "marry" and "sex"

These differences in the translations offer a nice primer into the themes of this dissertation: namely, the relationships between language and the medium, drawn to the fore via the otherwise invisible hand of translation; the navigation of these currents by fans; and the consequences of such pursuit within anime communities. Individually, each of these areas forms a field of study in its own right, but one central theme advanced in this project argues that these elements operate in tandem and cannot be parsed: they are co-constitutive. To speak of translation necessitates a simultaneous examination of the operations of language, the role of the medium, and their articulation in fan practice. This is an admittedly difficult, but plausible, task requiring a reconceptualization of the these objects and the relationships between them, a concern addressed in the second central theme to this project by arguing for positioning the myriad interactions between language, medium, and fan practice as a ludic endeavor, a game guided (but not determined!) by the strictures of their compositional rules. As McLuhan notes, all media are comprised of other media, and the emphasis ludology (the study of the rules and strictures by which a game operates) places on the formal parameters that structure human interaction with discrete media objects offers a useful approach to theorizing their relationships by highlighting structural tensions that arise when conceptualizing the coconstitutive impact of such discrete media. Translation, then, should be conceived as a state of play in which the possible "moves" reflect interactions with and responses to formal parameters between languages, languages and medium, between medium and fan, between fan and languages. While I do advocate that language contains a ludic component, I maintain that this feature operates in tandem with the more traditional approach of the medium as a

representational (i.e. narrative). It functions, in other words, narratively and ludically at the same time, and the methodologiesrules, reallythrough which we approach its study necessarily limit the results we can see. To strike a scientific analogy, the study of language in this context parallels that of the study of particles: examining the narrative dimension of language precludes its ludic behaviors, although this does not mean the ludic dimensions fail to exert influence on the other media in which it is embedded. My interest in the surrounding processes of translation, however, narrows the analytical focus of fan engagement with media to fan translations, a smaller segment of the broader anime fan communities. Also known more colloquially as "fansubs," those involved in their creation (i.e. "fansubbers") train their efforts specifically on the issues of language and the medium in which I am interested by inserting subtitles into Japanese source material. Their process is informed the formal properties of the media in which they work, but rather than stymieing the types of engagement possible, these properties should be conceived as generative wellsprings from which novel engagement with media emerge. This focus carries significance beyond the subcultural sphere of fan communities, as differences in translations arbitrated in part by the formal properties of media and language that have direct relevance to the perception of Japanese culture and, through this, Japanese soft political power. The term soft politics as used by Joseph Nye (1991, 2005) refers to a countrys attempt to accomplish its agenda through attraction rather than direct force or other forms of coercion. As Article 9 of Japans Constitution expressly forbids the accumulation of military force, the country has relied on cultural ambassadorship via anime to introduce its culture globally. With a lack of centralized oversight with respect to translation, however, the images of Japanese culture may be at odds with the agenda of the government. Whether impotence or butt hair, each choice feeds into divergent representations, and hence narratives, of Japan. While the overarching theoretical framework I sketch here with respect to the processes informing translation can be applied generically, my choice to focus on how

these processes guide engagement with Japanese cultural media, especially anime, reflects a relationship between Japan and America, and more broadly Japan and the West, laden with unique historical, social, and cultural baggage. Saids (1979) analysis of such relations in Orientalism, particularly in terms of knowledge and authority, speak to problems specific to (Western) translations of Japanese cultural media that are not encountered elsewhere, and approaching English (fan) translations of Japanese cultural media as a game in the ludic sense offers insight into the role the formal parameters of media objects play in shaping, maintaining, and reaffirming the currents of Orientalism through their structuring of fansubbing engagement. Important to navigating these currents as I chart them lies a grasp of how these discursive tributaries intersect and the larger theoretical bodies that serve as their sources. The rest of this chapter offers a theoretical introduction to the topics of this dissertation and includes overviews of language and ludology, fan studies and translation, and fansubbing as fan practice. More specific analyses will be given in subsequent chapters, suffice it to say that as my interests lies with explicating the role formal properties of media play in shaping such narrative tributaries, I approach fan translations (i.e. fansubbing) primarily from linguistic and ludic perspectives, tangentially engaging in scholarship from fan studies to ground the more practical applications of my argument. Towards a Ludology of Language McLuhans (1994) theorization of games offers an initial insight into the study of games through its emphasis on community and communication reminiscent of the interpretative communities of fan studies. For McLuhan, games are microcosms of larger social trends and anxieties, ways to resolve tensions plaguing the body politic through the adherence to formalized, ritualized sets of interaction. All games, he states rather boldly, are media of interpersonal communication (1994, p. 237). While McLuhan emphasizes the nature of the game itself as the communicative device, he

approaches the game itself as a sort of communicative metaphor for society. While games reflect specific social attitudes largely premised upon the types of interaction allowed (i.e. their rules), we must not forget that these rules themselves emerge from various negotiated interactions in which they were codified, and that these negotiations occur simultaneously among multiple, at times competing, communities. Broadly speaking, then, to be a game there must be interaction. Whether this takes place between opposing teams, between distinct narratives, between related communities, or between fansubbing groups and their fans, interactivity remains a necessary condition for the existence of games. Yet while all games may be interactive, not all of them need to be interpersonally interactive; one would be hard pressed to claim that solitaire was not a game because it lacked an interpersonal component. Likewise, the lack of interpersonal interaction would discount chess when ones opponent is the computer. Both are games, and both are interactive although not necessarily in the spirit of McLuhans prescription: the interaction occurs via engagement with the rules that construct the game, themselves the products of interpersonal interaction that possibly motivates McLuhans claim that all players must tacitly agree upon the rules. Regardless of the scope of interaction, it is generally agreed that rules govern the types of interactions allowed within any given game. These rules may regulate interactions explicitly or implicitly. Scholarship from ludology, for example, notes that rules are a condition of any games existence (Frasca, 2003; Juul, 2001), and that they can take the form of explicit proscriptions with respect to internal and external gameplay. Implicit rules manifest in understood assumptions about what the digital technologies allow, but also narratively through story elements and player interactions. This last point linking narrative requires a bit more explication because, as ludologists have argued, story elements represent a separate, non-constitutive and unrelated, facet of games. After all, there is no narrative in chess or, if we construct one, it is irrelevant to the actual regulations through which the game is played. Likewise, one

can still play a Japanese video game without any understanding of the language: the rules governing the playability of the game operate separately from its narrative component. We must bear in mind, however, that separating narrative from ludology is not the same as divorcing it from language. In ludology, narrative refers to specific arrangements of linguistic and visual elements typically analyzed from the fields of literature and film studies; however, language itself boasts a broader field, encompassing the rules that influence narrative structure as well as other social and asocial mechanisms that constitute its operation. Language, at the most basic definition, is a rule-based system. From the asocial generative linguistics first developed by Chomsky to the community-oriented sociolinguistics of Hymes, Gumprez, and others (for example, Labov, 1991; Tannen, 1996), the importance of rulesprescriptions, reallyguiding linguistic output underlies scholarship in the field of linguistics and its subfields. For Chomsky (1966), navigation of the various complexities of grammatical and phonological rules of language enable individuals to produce novel arrangements of morphemes, which he calls the creative function of language. The most relevant contribution Chomsky affords at present is the recognition that these linguistic rules are implicit, learned by engagement with language communities. In a similar vein, sociolinguistics extends these insights to apply to systems of power and prestige emerging from specific grammatical and phonological choices, noting again the implicit or unseen nature of such rules operation. While traditional sociolinguistics would hesitate to label the perceptions associated with specific linguistic performances as motivated by discursive power flows, as the discipline eschews critical cultural analyses in the pursuit of objective, measurable data, their insights find resonance within poststructural reflections on language. Lyotards (2002; 1999) concept of language games bridges some of these tensions by recognizing that interactions occur within specific power relations that guide linguistic output. Which rulesin this case discursive prescriptionsprevail in such interactions

emerge from systems of inequality. To be successful, the subordinate group must adopt the rules of the dominant one, meet them on their own terms as it were, which in letter at least meets McLuhans assertion that all groups must agree to the rules of the game for it to function properly. Whether we speak of games in the more denotative sense or broaden the term to connote more abstract interactions, the rules that guide games appear explicitly or implicitly. Comparing rules in the ludic sense with those of language may appear to be comparing incommensurable systems, but their operations suggest parallel purposes when couched within the functions of the rules themselves: to limit, guide, or constrain interaction within a specific set of parameters. These functions do not imply, however, that deviation or defiance is not possible; indeed, it is preferable, as Lyotards theorization of linguistic games suggests that deviation is generative. One may, for example, alter the rules of solitaire to produce the variations on traditional game that come pre-loaded with computers, and one may even alter the rules of a game appearing on the apparently unforgiving platform of the computer via recourse to patches or hacks (indeed, MMOs such as World of Warcraft consistently provide updates to the rules of the game in order to balance player experience). In short, the rules structure experience, but they do not determine it. This returns us to the spirit of McLuhans basic theorization of games: that they are interpersonal interactions. When we engage in a game we engage with others, even if they are not directly present as opponents. Media artifacts represent another, albeit less ethereal, means of influencing language choice. This crystallizes most clearly in the intersections between fan engagement with anime and ideologies of translation in Western culture. The relevance of these dimensions of linguistic behavior for ludology appears through their application to discrete media artifacts.

Fan Studies and Translation Using the term fan typically implies an interest in the practices of fans and their relationships to and engagement with texts surrounding a particular object of discourse the active audiences of Ang (2002) or the textual poaching of Jenkins (Jenkins, 1988, 1992b)especially as these processes relate to individual and community meaningmaking. While such practices certainly bear relevance to fansubbers of anime, the texts they produce differ from the fan texts discussed in the literature of fan studies: anime fansubbers do not create their own narratives in the subtitled anime, thereby creating alternate universes in which the primary characters inhabit; nor do they tend to be defined by any one specific object itself, as fans of anime more broadly hold an interest in and engage with a larger circle of Japanese cultural products ranging from video games to music to, more broadly, the image of Japanese-ness articulated as cultural uniqueness in Japanese soft politics. The interactions fans have with their texts of interest have guided recent critical academic study, particularly in terms of identity formation (Fiske, 1992; Jenkins, 1992b) and the tensions between fans and copyright holders known as convergence (Jenkins, 2008; Postigo, 2008). In both areas, studying fandom emphasizes the role of the fan or the fan community in creating texts and navigating meaning, how they are appropriating and reworking textual materials to constitute their own varied culture (Jenkins, 1992a, p. 209). Yet while this position clearly demarcates the role of the fan in the process, little discussion has taken place on how the medium itself impacts the ability of fans to rework texts to fit their various needs. This is particularly important for the study of anime fandom wherein the term has come to be a catch all phrase aimed at containing a variety of interests related to Japanese culture. One problem with this schema of fan studies is that it treats anime as a homogenous text rather than a series of discrete, individual ones that comprise a distinct genre. Anime consists of a variety of subgenres and aesthetic modes, and what


consolidates these various differences into one genre is the animation and location of production. Conflating the child-oriented Pokemon or Doraemon with the more adultthemed ettchi anime Sora no Otoshimono or Queens Blade shown on late night Japanese television does the genre a disservice by glossing over real nuances located in the fandom of specific shows. Consider the ramificationsscholarly or culturallyof making no distinction between Star Trek and Star Wars fans, labeling both Sci-fi fans: these shows certainly contain parallel thematic elements to allow generic categorization, but they are distinct programs with divergent vocal fan bases some of whom overlap. Scholarship on anime rarely makes such distinctions, primarily because emphasis on anime fandom reflects the fields concern for the individuals or communitys navigation of meaning with the text. The original texts themselves simply are not that important. The inability to make such distinctions (or refusal to) when it comes to anime evokes broader historical spectres of the East as homogenous, this time framed via media content. With respect to fan studies, speaking of anime in broad strokes may coalesce the larger, shared trends of various communities into a more manageable object of study, but it does so at the price of overlooking how these discrete communities interact with and reproduce anime to serve not only their needs but also the needs of the larger communities of which they are a part. While this project cannot completely escape this criticism, it strives to narrow down the focus of its analysis in two complementary fashions: first, via emphasis on one segment of the fan communitythose who produce fansubsand second, by generally couching its analysis within the context of one specific show, Gintama. Other shows certainly receive attention, as do a variety fansubbing groups, but rather than being anecdotal their inclusion mainly serves to show that the trends I note in the fansubbing of Gintama find more broad appeal within a specific fansubbing segment (the details of which are expounded upon in Chapter III). The second problem with discussions of anime within fan studies reflects problems in how discrete media artifacts impact fan practice itself. In discussing how


fans derive pleasure from their interactions with their texts or how they develop status within the community, the very real material limitations placed upon fan practice by the mediums through which fans engage the source material is relegated to a whisper in the literature. Anime fandom in particular boasts a variety of practices through which fans express themselves and become closer to the source material: construction of cosplay costumes, engaging in the performative aspects of cosplay, writing doujinshi, and providing translations scratch the surface of the myriad practices engaged in by anime fans. Each practice represents a different way of interacting with anime (let alone if we wish to be wary of the point above and be attentive to specific shows) shaped by the formal properties of this medium, although this does not imply that the medium determines how such practice is enacted; rather, that is a negotiated process involving a larger set of social, cultural, and aesthetic discourses in which these media emerge. Essentially, the literature foregrounds the telos of fan practice rather than the means and methods by which fans negotiate the media they work in to create these meanings. Part of this mediation process, as I argue through the incorporation of ludology, involves the medium itselfwhich can abstractly be conceived as the parameters that guide interactive experience, in essence the frame in which other stuff (i.e. content) is put. Another complimentary part of this process engages language as it transitions from Japanese to English (or any other set of languages for that matter)how fans interact with grammatical, syntactic, and semantic parameters in negotiating the language systems. Scholars from various fields have long noted the difficulties involved in moving between languages (Benjamin, 2004; Jakobson, 2004; Sakai, 1997), but approaches interestingly vary depending on ideological perspective and teleological purpose. Scholarship informed by post-structural reflections on language generally argue for the referential fissures that erupt during the translation process (Derrida, 2004), but such problems tend to fall flat from the perspective of industry which has a longer history


(Cronin, 2003; Munday, 2008). Contemporary perspectives on translation originate in the Romantic notion of the creative genius, an ideological position that Venuti (2008) argues denigrates the role of the translator by denying her own creativity in translation while additionally erecting structural limitations to the organization of the text itself. In discussing these concerns, Venuti focuses largely on literature and poetry wherein the seed of the creative genius initially took root, but his approach by no means reflects the only voice in the matter. Beating beneath Venutis literary take on translation rests the broader ideology of market relations. At the core of these relations, according to Frankfurt scholars, is the overriding drive to reduce all to the laws of exchange (Horkheimer & Adorno, 2002; Jameson, 2005). In the case of translation, language emerges as the currency through which such exchange is measured, implying as with all systems of exchange a sense of equivalency between the objects so ceremoniously propagated. Equivalency in this context rests predominantly with overall meaning rather than literal translation of individual words, although this can happen. Business, medicine, and law readily adopt this ideological position as a firm belief in the transparency of language central to their systems of knowledge production. Recognizing semantic fluidity in international law or business contracts, for example, would be detrimental to establishing a system in which all parties are, ideologically speaking, supposed to be equal. Likewise, adopting a transparent approach to translation benefits scientific knowledge by reinforcing the discourses fetishization with objectivity. The various ideological approaches to translation reflect the depth to which referential instability is broadly recognized as a problem that must be surmounted, particularly in terms of the extent to which words, concepts, and meanings need to be adapted to the receiving culture, a process known as localization. Localization strategies are as varied as the ideological approaches to translation, but within the market context of cultural media the general rule is to alter narrative and visual elements to better


fit the new target market (Chandler, 2005; Thayer & Kolko, 2004), an approach with deeper ideological roots that frame a good translation as one devoid of foreign elements (Venuti, 1998, 2008). These various ideological and institutional approaches to translation articulate another dimension to a ludic theorization of language by demonstrating that different approaches to translationwhat constitutes a good one, for exampleemerge from rules aimed at meeting specific communal needs. By understanding how these rules operate in conjunction with the more formal properties of language and media, translation and localization strategies function as games. The extent to which localization strategies resonate within fan communities must be tempered by specific discussion of media objects; while fansubbers certainly rework textual material to constitute their own varied culture, they can only do so within specific constraints imposed by the medium itself and ideological framings of translation and language. This issue finds particular purchase within the context of anime fandom as many members of the genre utilize it to develop their own language skills and learn about Japanese culture (Napier, 2005, 2007), and the Japanese government, as noted before, adds a political dimension to these processes by advocating the exportation of anime among other cultural productsas a means of soft diplomacy. Of course, while not all fans of anime watch fansubbed versions, message board posts within fansubbing communities suggest that those who do watch fan-produced translations are particularly sensitive to the pedagogical applications of the genre noted above, especially when it comes to translation and language practice. Unfortunately, the role of translation within anime fansubbing communities (let alone anime in general) has not been addressed in this context, despite insights into the ideological base of translation practice emerging from translation studies. First and foremost, then, this project reflects upon fan translations of anime with respect to the role of the medium plays in the practice. As McLuhan notes that the content of a medium is another medium, I initially approach these fan translations in a


more generic context by emphasizing how language as a medium shapes the genre. In so doing, I emphasize the formal features of languageits structurerather than the more common practice of analyzing language in terms of its content, narrative or otherwise. As a medium language functions ludically by limiting the ability of fans to engage in unfettered play via its own formal rules, but additional constraints can be found in ideological reasons centered on translation (show has to make sense in terms of original content), as well as in the interaction with the rules of the medium in which linguistic content is embedded. Fansubbing as Fandom? While the scope of fan practices is vast, most scholars agree that they share a common teleology, and these purposes constitute fandom. Jenkins (Jenkins, 1988, 1992a) notes two practices relevant to the fansubbing of anime: fans produce texts, and fans create communities. Both emphasize the interpretative power of fans to rework texts and invest them with meanings relevant to the individual fan and the community in which the reworked text circulates. In the case of anime fansubbing, however, the nature of translation and communal prescriptions on it interfere with the ability of fans to freely rework texts in the traditional sense, but this does not imply that fansubbing exists outside fandomfansubbing is a form of fandom. Reacting to claims that fandom merely re-circulates nostalgic readings of texts, scholars emphasize the creative processes by which fans generate meanings relevant to their circumstances. Although conceived of as a space wherein marginalized subcultural groups can carve identities distinct from that of the dominant spherea space that hardcore anime fans from Japan known as otaku may inhabitprocess equally constitutes fandom (Fiske, 1992; Jenkins, 1992a). Jenkins states, it [fandom] is a way of appropriating media texts and rereading them in a fashion that serves different interests, a way of transforming mass culture into popular culture (Jenkins, 1988, p. 87), noting that


in the case of Star Trek, it is something that can and must be rewritten in order to make it more responsive to their needs, in order to make it a better producer of personal meanings and pleasures (Jenkins, 1988, p. 87). Of course, Jenkins frames this production within the context of Star Trek fans who produce new texts in which the characters and perhaps themes of the original appear, but a parallel in the anime community would be the creation of doujinshi, comic book fan fiction. Fandom, especially as we shall see within the anime community, extends much further than the creation of texts although this function does reveal two significant compositional characteristics of the field itself: the production of texts and the creation of communities. Anime fans, however, are different in that they typically express interest across a large number of cultural texts that span multiple media. This appears to be true regardless of the fans country of origin, although the specific subcultural reasons for their interest vary. Azuma (, 2001) mentions, for example, that a broad range of cultural media constitute otaku subculture and that the subculture itself obsesses over Japan and Japanese culture. Napier (2007) observes a similar trend in American fans of anime, who express interests in media ranging from anime to music to video games, but their interest is constituted by a desire to develop linguistic and socio-cultural knowledge rather than the sense of loss Azuma argues motivates their Japanese counterparts. Despite popular use of the word otaku to describe excessive fandom of Japanese culture, particularly anime, internationally, the word refers to a distinctly Japanese phenomenon as it connotes specific cultural, historical, and social relations rooted, in part, in a sense of nostalgia circulating the countrys nationalist discourses of kokumin and minzoku. Ivy (1995) addresses some of these concerns with respect to Japans relation to modernism, noting in particular that a reflection on the past and a perceived sense of loss in national identity has spurred a Japanese fixation with its national heritage. The irony lies in the fact that many of these traditions, as Gluck (1985) notes, were designed in the Meiji to create the shared sense of unity essential to the survival and legitimacy of the modern


nation-state. So, what constitutes Japanese culture for an otaku is fundamentally different from what an American, or any other, fan experiences. Conversely, the American fan interest in linguistic development, and more broadly development of cultural knowledge on Japan, represents a different set of motivations for fandom, and in terms of fansubbing opens a space for a specific type of fan to contribute to anime communities by fulfilling their pedagogical needs. The differences in translation approaches, ranging from language choice to use of media, enter the community and are evaluated. While differing in the nature of product, anime fansubbing equally shares in the production of meaning-making as fansubbers rely on linguistic strategies to serve different interests. While fans may certainly generate pleasure from the creation of their own texts, their submission to communities, particularly for interpretative and critical review, implies hierarchical relations of power. Bourdieu (1984) speaks of these processes as elements of cultural capital, but Thornton (2005) refines these distinctions to apply to subcultures and other groups operating outside of the traditional nexuses in which power circulates. Sharing the language of Jenkins with respect to fandom, Thornton theorizes subcultural capital as a set of knoweldges through which a group or community distinguishes itself from others, highlighting the central role hierarchical arrangements stemming from the display and performance of these knowledgeswhat she calls objectified and embodied practicesplay in shaping their organizations. What distinguishes subcultural capital from Bourdieus more mainstream cousin is the role media play in its circulation: for within the economy of subcultural capital the media is not simply another symbolic good or marker of distinctionbut a network crucial to the definition and distribution of cultural knowledge (p. 187). A correlation exists between possessing relevant knowleges and media consumption, and a person cannot navigate one without proficiency in the other. In anime communities this especially holds true as Internet networks, forums, and databases offer the only means through which information


regarding shows can be conveniently and expeditiously accessed for the majority who belong. It is even more important for fansubbers who must stay relevant by providing quality translations in an increasingly competitive market fixated on speed. In addition to cultural knowledge about shows and trends within communities, these fansubbers must also possess an intimacy with operating the media in which encode and distribute their translations. Fansubbing represents a convergence of cultural and technical knowledges the performance of which cannot be parsed into their constituent components. The position of media to fansubbers, in other words, is not a question of relevance but one of definition: without digital media there is no community as we currently know it. Summary/Chapter Overview Overall, I am concerned with how language and media mutually influence each other and argue that formal properties of both inform fan engagement to co-constitute texts, in this case translations of Japanese cultural media. In arguing for a constitutive relationship between language and media artifacts, I switch not only between genres of mediavideogames to animebut hone in on very specific formats within those genres: the handheld, portable iteration of videogames and the various computer video formats (what I call container media and defined more precisely in Chapter Four) that comprise fan translations of anime. Furthermore, while I generally analyze one specific game or show I do occasionally make reference to others. My choice to do so reflects my contention that language can be treated as a ludic device and, from this assumption, that translation itself is a game. The diversity in genres of media studied and specific content within these media may initially appear as a shotgun approach to the critical study of the role of language and the medium in translation, but my choice prioritizes the stake media objects play in shaping interaction reflected in the study of games, a contrast to the bulk of literature in fan studies which emphasize human agency. McLuhan points out that the content of any


given medium is another medium, and in this sense analyzing the operations of language and its impact within the context of video games and computer media remains the singular thread woven into the dissertations binding by providing one demonstration of the efficacy of analyzing language as a ludic medium in its own right. In positioning language as a game, it should come as no surprise that I view the processes of translation in a similar light. Languages quantum naturethe fact that it operates narratively and ludically simultaneouslyimplies that the act of translation is one of constant negotiation: between languages and their structures, between languages and media artifacts, between languages and social-cultural discourses. To navigate these shoals without running aground, one must be cognizant of how these waters overlap and, more importantly, the different tidal influences media objects exert upon them. How the medium of video games engages translation and vice versa is different from how it operates in anime due to differences in their formal composition, although both media draw from the same quantum linguistic architecture. To understand how translation operates is to study how the rules of the linguistic medium guide its trajectory, and these processes are the most opaque when examined though different multiple media formats. This is not to suggest that content is irrelevant or that the medium in which language is contained analytically static. To the contrary, the reality is much more complex and my argument draws attention to the fact that these separate dimensions operate in a concerted, mutually reinforcing fashion. The interactions between the content of translation and the medium in which it is housed reflect choices demonstrating what is important to the communities in which the translations circulate. In this vein, how translators employ the potentialities of the medium reflect these communal concerns as well, pointing to one aspect of the constitutive relationship between the two. Less theoretically, however, this dissertation speaks to how anime functions within various communities, offering a more concrete demonstration of the academic


observation that such communities use the medium as a learning tool. In arguing how language, particularly processes to translation, operates synergistically with media to construct parameters that structure fan engagement, I draw attention to the creative and novel ways in which fans push the limits of these boundaries and note how these processes become bound to credibility. The observation that language, media object, and fan practice converge so closely within anime fansubbing would not be a tremendous problem if not for the pedagogical element fans invest in their consumption of anime, a fact that bears directly on issues of cultural perception as different translations conceivably promote divergent visions of Japan and Japanese culture. Chapter II grounds the larger conversation by making the case that language can be treated as ludic device by parsing the consequences of such an approach. As the term ludology operates largely within the field of game studies, particularly video games, I frame my argument within these parameters to more efficaciously demonstrate how linguistic ruptures in the U.S. localization of the Nintendo DS game Lux Pain disrupt gameplay, one of the key definitions of a game. This gameplay, according to ludology, is generated from the strictures of the game itselfthe compositional rules of which it is comprisedwhich neglects language as a rule based system. Although grammatical and referential foibles clearly destabilize the game experience, they are small ruptures compared to the way perfectly formed language guides our understanding of the world whether this be a game world or otherwise. The ability of language to guide ideological world views through its formal characteristics presents it as containing a ludic dimension. Chapter III turns to the medium of digital video, building upon the claims established in the previous chapter by drawing connections between how a medium impacts translation through its formal characteristics. While language may thwart attempts to reinscribe meaning to words due to their associations within language communities, the extent to which this can take place is constrained by the medium in which it is housed. This chapter approaches the apparent contradiction with the previous


chapters argument by demonstrating how the physicality (digitality?) of container media formats impact translation choices. Complicating matters further, the nature of the medium is such that these choices enacted by fansubbers can be altered by the end user. This interaction with the medium, both in terms of the fansubber and the fan viewer, frames container media as one of potential playa game cognate to the ludic construction of the genre in the sense that both parties manipulate the medium according to a set of rules to achieve specific purposes. In so doing, the chapter extends literature on fan studies by highlighting the importance of interaction with the medium in fantextual practices, both from the position of the fansubbers as well as that of the fan. Chapter IV argues that anime fansubbing represents a form of subcultural capital, one that relies on the merging of linguistic and digital prowess visibly performed through engagement with container media. Framed through challenges the translation ideology Venuti terms the translators invisibilitythe removal of the translator and stripping of foreign elements from the text properI analyze how fans combine container media with translation strategies to stoke subcultural capital.


CHAPTER II LUX-PAIN, LUDOLOGY, AND THE LINGUISTIC GAME Introduction It is interesting that an analysis of language itself, arguably a core component in the construction of a games story and the development of character in role-playing games, has appeared as nothing more than vague ripples in the literature. This is not to suggest that language has not figured into analyses of games; rather, I contend that language as an analytical tool itself has been glossed over. At the risk of overgeneralizing, analyses of the subject tend to either emphasize narrative game content, drawing connections between linguistically constructed story elements and larger nongame social discourses (Bogost, 2007), or privilege the medium, maintaining a separation between the two realms based on differences in how they operate (Aarseth, 2004). Both approaches treat language as a representational vehicle; the irony is that language, as a rule-based system, fits the very basic definition of a game (Lyotard, 2002; McLuhan, 1994), and the implications of embedding the linguistic game within another rule-governed systemlike RPGs, regardless of platformhave not been directly addressed in this context. My understanding of an analysis of language, then, differs in that I refer to explorations of the mediums rule-based characteristicsits grammar (Chomsky, 1957, 1965) or pragmatics (Austin, 1975; Lyotard & Thebaud, 1999)and how these rules construct game worlds and intersect with more mundane corporeal existence. From this vantage, I am not interested in the compelling explorations of how to approximate the complexities of linguistic rules into a game so that the computer will understand nuance but, rather, how existing and intuitive human applications of linguistic rules inform the game environment. The process of video game localization witnesses these concerns, and so I scrutinize the grammatical, semantic, and prescriptive operations of language within the


America iteration of the Nintendo DS (DS) game Lux-Pain (Killaware, 2009) to argue that language contains a ludic impulse and can be approached in terms of its impact on gameplay. Sociolinguistic theory informs this argument, as do insights into language from Austin (1975) and Lyotard (2002; 1999); discussion of the medium itself draws from McLuhan (1994) and Baudrillard (1994) peppered with scholarship from ludology. My choice to use a corporate localization rather than a fan one reflects both theoretical and practical necessity. At this point in the dissertation I am theoretically more concerned with making the case for the ludic dimensions of language, which takes as its focus the internal mechanisms that structure engagement rather than how those rules are engaged by players, corporate or otherwise. Making the case for how language operates ludically precedes any discussion of how those rules are engaged. In terms of media, I begin with video games as this is where the literature in ludology concentrates and consequently easier to remain focused on the primary task of demonstrating my argument about language; as later chapters engage anime rather than video games, the scaffolding erected here by the formal properties of language with respect to play translate with little variation to other media as we are dealing with grammatical and pragmatic rules. The media may be different, which as I note do impact narrative dimensions of language, but the formal aspects remain largely staticwhether I pen this dissertation in the medium of paper or a videogame bears little consequence to the grammatical realization of language. Practically, however, my choice to focus on the video game medium in this chapter is motivated, in part, by the fact that fan translations of video games are rare due to the fact that the medium itself requires specialized knowledge to access and patch, thereby making corporate versions the only one available. As such, the medium itself leans towards those very ideologies regarding language I wish to parse, and this chapter couches this conversation within a dialogue between how we should theorize the video game medium itself and the role of language in this medium.


While Lux-Pain was neither popular nor profitable its inability to create even a ripple in the popular gaming market does not imply a dearth of critical potential. My rationale for choosing this game stems directly from my overall argument that language operates ludically: the games spectacular failure as a localization more clearly elicits how language operates as gameplaya good translation, to paraphrase Venuti (2008), smoothes over linguistic rupturesthe explicit operation of which would be difficult to parse from a better constructed text. Games: Playing by Rules Frasca (2003) broadly defines the ludic approach by stating that games model a (source) system through a different system which maintains (for somebody) some of the behaviors of the original system (p. 223). Pointing specifically to audio-visual components as the most frequently reserved features of the original system, he notes that games encapsulate more than what players see or hear, a point Aarseth (2004) identifies as integral to the study of games in general: When you put a story on top of a simulation, the simulation (or the player) will always have the last word (p. 52). While games may engage in storytelling, that is not necessarily their primary purpose or, in cases like chess, even a condition of their existence. Rather, games operate by a system of rules that may or may not parallel the semiotics of narrative. This fact is what Frasca (2003) alludes to when he states that video games are just a particular way of structuring simulation, just like narrative is a form of structuring representation (p. 224). The rules of games tell us how to play; the rules of narrative tell us how to read. DRPGs consist of both systems of rules, and to come to an effective analysis of the genre we must engage how these systems interact to construct the gaming experience. In this respect language offers an excellent analytical entrance to these concerns as it, too, possesses the same protean nature: alternatively approached as a representational tool (see the general work of Levi-Strauss) or generative


system (Austin, 1975; Lyotard & Thebaud, 1999; Searle, 1989, 1995), it offers multiple modes of structuring the DRPG experience. Fan reactions to Lux-Pain provide a doorway through which I argue languages ludic potential. Three arguments form the core of this central claim: first, that violations in linguistic rules such as grammar and pragmatics potentially disrupt immersion in the DRPG game experience and thereby impact gameplay, a feature I refer to as immersive dissonance; second, that language can exceed the structuring of simulation organized by the game, resulting in an immersive dissonance motivated by semantic confusion; third, that this ability of language to operate both internally and externally to the game offers an analytical approach sympathetic to ideological critique. Before trekking these admittedly intricate paths, I begin with an overview of the Lux-Pain, including its genre classification and its plot. Lux-Pain and Fan Discontent Lux-Pain was developed by the Japanese game company Killaware for the DS, and Ignition Entertainment handled the 2009 distribution of the U.S. localization. The game resists black-and-white genre classifications, mashing action, RPG, and adventure elements together to produce multiple gameplay interfaces. In terms of its DRPG characteristics, the game incorporates three distinct elements that scholars (Barton, 2008; Wolf, 2002) cite as definitive of the genre and shown in Figures 2.1 and 2.2: a formal leveling system, statistical representation of the protagonist Atsuki, and randomness. These elements are drastically simplified when compared to DRPG classics such as SSIs Gold Box, Origins Ultima, or SirTechs Wizardry series, but their inclusion directly affects gameplay in that if Atsuki is under-leveled no amount of touch-pen dexterity in the action inspired sequences will help him overcome the various obstacles he encounters. In these sequences, for example, he inflicts damage upon whoever he is probing; the greater his skill, the less damage he inflicts and the more time he has to


complete his task. As one progresses in the game, these elements become increasingly

Figure 2.1: Lux-Pains experience screen (Killaware, 2009).


Figure 2.2: Quantification of Atsuki and his powers (Killaware, 2009).


more unfavorable to the playertime becomes shorter and damage greaterso that leveling becomes necessary to counterbalance the increase in game difficulty. To complicate matters, each encounter plays out differently; the positions of objects he must find and their movements randomly change each time Atsuki confronts the same obstacle, leaving a small portion of the encounter to frustrating chance (Figures 2.3 and 2.4). This emphasis on leveling and luck rather than skill aligns the game more closely with DRPGs than the other genres (Barton, 2008), but the three general definitional guidelines noted above reflect Western historical indebtedness to the pencil-and-paper predecessors of the genre (Apperley, 2006). Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs), emerging from different historical and social conditions, possess an aesthetic and gameplay different from their Western counterparts; this area, as Barton (2008) woefully notes, is academically undertheorized. Gamers, however, maintainsome with religious zealthat story and character development are hallmarks of JRPGs (Nagidar, 2008 and more generally the whole thread). In the land of the JRPG, immersion in the game world rules, and many fans see this as the true roots of RPG. Indeed, Lux-Pain spends more time advancing the convoluted themes of murder, suicide, and isolation than forcing characters to grind for levels or money. Lux-Pains official webpage describes the plot and premise of the game as such: Lux-Pain is set in historical Kisaragi City, a town plagued by mysteries from small mishaps to murders with no logical explanation as to why these events occur. It seems Silent, a worm born through hate and sadness, has infected humans and forced them to commit atrocious crimes. The heros parents, Atsuki, are victims of such crimes. To avenge his parents, Atsuki goes through a dangerous operation to acquire Lux-Pain in his left arm, a power so strong that his left eye turns golden when using it to seek and destroy Silent for good. (Lux Pain Official Webpage, 2009) Silent infects people with negative emotions which appear to Atsuki as worm-like balls of moving light that meander around an infectee. In order to see these balls of light,


Figure 2.3: Battle sequence with Silent (Killaware, 2009).


Figure 2.4: Time, damage, and randomness in typical encounter (Killaware, 2009).


referred to as shinen (, thought), Atsuki activates a power called Sigma that enables him to literally scratch the surface of reality to see what lies underneath. In order to more efficaciously mete out his revenge on Silent for his familys murder, Atsuki has joined an organization known as FORT which is comprised of individuals like him with the ability to see shinen. The game takes place in Kisaragi City (the location of which a problem addressed later). It contains everything one would expect in a towna church, apartment buildings, barsbut what takes center stage in the game is the local high school. Early in the game FORT narrows Silents base of operations to the vague someone operating through someone operating at the school; as a result, what begins as a detective story resembling a cross between Dashiell Hammett and H. P. Lovecraft tropes transforms into something profoundly darkerthe navigation of high school social banality. In his quest to track down the link to Silent, Atsuki enrolls in Kisaragi High as a transfer student and is thrust into the world of high school romantic and social drama; how he navigates these currents determines which of the eight endings the player experiences. The emphasis on narrative and character development dovetail well with what fans perceive as the general conventions of JRPGs, but what makes Lux-Pain unique in this regard is the almost universal agreement that due to its rife linguistic errors the U.S. localization was released prematurely. One concise reviewer described the game by stating: Dodgy localization is everywhere with typos galore. (Castle, 2009) A more gregarious reviewer expounded on these points by stating, in part: But maybe theres a reason they keep their name on the down low with Lux-Pain. This fantastic game does sport its [sic] own Achilles heel. Well, maybe thats not the right metaphor to describe it. Achilles heel was not huge, throbbing, and had a million neon signs pointing to it saying, Here! Hit this! Its an easy kill!


Figure 2.5: Sigmas ability to reveal hidden shinen (Killaware, 2009).

32 So what is the games fatal weak point? Well, have you ever watched an anime DVD with both the dub audio and the subtitles on at the same time? Notice how the subtitles are basically saying the same thing as the dub actors are saying, but using different words here and there? Thats the entire localization of Lux-Painthe only thing thats wrong with it is.. well THE TEXT! Its crappy. Its horrible. Its a complete and utter embarrassment! (Video game review: LuxPain for Nintendo DS, 2009) The emphasis both reviewers place on the games poor localization offers a starting point to theorizing language as a dimension of ludic gameplay. Games structure simulation which, according to Baudrillard (1994), are beyond true and false in that they do not attempt to make referential prescriptive claims about the world external to their operations (p. 21). They are, as discussed later, self-contained. Narrative, to overgeneralize, strives to forge such connections due to its understanding of language as a representational device. But telling stories is merely one function of language, and overlooking the games narrative does not throw the rules through which language operates out with the narrative bathwater. The fact that reviewer discontent with the game emphasizes how the localization impacts immersion in the game world rather than the narrative itself suggests a problem in rules, not story. My argument regarding the ludic implications of language takes shape over the course of three major sections that build upon the insights of the last. I begin this analysis by focusing on a close reading of linguistic rules emerging from the audio and written channels of Lux-Pain; the argument remains, more or less, constrained to material generated internally by the game. The section after, however, examines how internal inconsistencies in semantics disrupt the game and claims that language as it functions ludically exceeds the structuring of simulation imposed by the game text. From here, I close with some critical implications these insights have for the study of games.


Lux Pain: Language at the Local Level While the ultimate aim of this argument is to explore the ways in which market politics is interwoven with linguistic performance and the demonstration of cultural competence, I wish to begin the analysis of the aesthetics of localization by concentrating on the relatively small, seemingly inconsequential, linguistic unit of the single word. As localization process hinges on the smooth transition from one referent to another to be effective, it seems prudent to begin at level on which this process takes place prior to moving to the larger cultural contexts and consequences of this process. Figure 2.6 provides a side-by-side comparison of the Japanese original and U.S. localized versions of Lux Pain. The conversation itself takes place in the very beginning of the game, serving as a contextualizing device and orienting the player to the larger overall plot of the game: the main character is after someone or something named Silent and he or she or it can be tracked through these shinen. In terms of translation, the U.S. localized version is fairly accurate; however, what is not important at this juncture is the skill of the translation team but, rather, the term shinen itself. As the process of localization itself is predicated upon the equivalency of languages, the lack of translation despite an analogous English word implies something significant with the word itself. The word could, perhaps, be analyzed from a semantic standpoint, focusing on its usage within both the Japanese and American contexts. While literally meaning thought, the word itself is not commonly used and perhaps this infrequent usage conveys something that a literal translation could not adequately capture. Given the mood and tone of the initial stages of the game, the common usage of such an uncommon word may have a variety of effects, including situating the game environment or establishing a sense of disbelief. Within the English text, the lack of translation of this termespecially when considering the option of using the banal translation thoughtcan at once convey a sense of foreignness and mystery that seem so integral to the plot. These are mere speculations as to semantic implications of the word and its lack of


Figure 2.6: Shinen in Japanese and English

translation in the U.S. localized version; however, raising this point draws attention to the role and function of a specific word with the translation environment as they intersect with specific concerns regarding the levels of linguistic representation as initially postulated by transformational/generative linguistics and still in vogue in some form within the discipline as a whole. The DS allows for two images to be broadcast on its two separate screens; the bottom screen is touch enabled, allowing players to interact with games that support this feature through the use of a stylus. In Lux Pain, the bottom screen is where the action of the game takes place; the upper screen, as seen in the upper half of A, B, and C of Figure 2.7, typically display the same image as the bottom screen but in a hazy,


wavering, almost dream-like replication. The screens, though, are not always exactly alike. Only through a close examination of the upper screen can players discover those elusive shinen that infect people, which appear as dull balls of light as marked in example B. These shinen exist on the bottom screen as well, but can only be revealed by the player through frantic scratching of the bottom screen, as seen on the lower half of example B.

Figure 2.7: Underlying and surface representations in Lux-Pain.

The difference between what we can see on each screen suggests that the upper and lower screens are engaging or presenting different aspects of the same game situation. More specifically, since the same content that exists on the upper screen also exists on the lower, albeit obscured through the superimposition of additional material onto the content of the upper screen, what we are left with is the impression that the upper screen offers the glimpse at what underlies the reality as we see it in the bottom screen, that the upper


screen hints at the deeper or underlying model that informs and constitutes the surface image with which the player engages on the bottom. Dialogue and interaction with game characters additionally supports this characterization of each screen associated with a level of representation. Like any investigation, ascertaining the motives and reliability of suspects, witnesses, and informants can be a trying task as it can be difficult to get information. The role and function of shinen in this game helps circumvent this problem by housing the ulterior motives and thoughts of the individuals Atsuki analyzes, operating in some sense as a mystical lie detector. So powerful is this device that Atsuki need not engage a person in conversation; merely reading the shinen that languidly orbit his target provides access into their inner thoughts. In the context surrounding Figure 2.7, for example, Atsuki has been drawn to a seashore cliff side after hearing poetry being recited late at night. Approaching the voice, he meets an unnamed man (later identified as Arthur Mays, the first major Silent suspect) and immediately uses Lux Pains Sigma to scan him, revealing the floating balls of light that represent shinen (example B of Figure 2.7). As Atsuki removes these shinen, they turn into phrases, seen in example C, which are supposed to represent mental anxieties or deep seated feelings about topics that the subject of the Sigma scan cannot reconcile, feels guilty about, or doesnt want to express. To vastly simplify things, through the use of Sigma Atsuki appears to access the subjects superego. He then takes these terms and implants them into the subject, causing him or her to reveal what he or she really thinks about the subject. These true thoughts appear across the upper screen as fleeting fragments or phrases; after implanting the term that girl into Arthurs mind in figure 2, for example, a string of phrases emerge and quickly recede into the wavering fog, at times overlapping and making reading difficult: Twilight; Shines for a moment; Sparkling eyes; Wont leave my head; Hurts more than death; Endless sorrow; Disappearing in darkness; Where is she.


The phrases and words typically appear in pairs, at times staggered and at times simultaneous, the games attempt at stream of consciousness. While this technique is interesting on a psychological and literary level, for the purposes of this argument the parallels between the use of this device and the mediation of linguistic levels of representation, especially in terms of the (lack of) translation of the word shinen, need revisiting. The distinction between content and how the player interacts with each of the screens finds some interpretation in the linguistic concepts of competence and performance. First proposed by Noam Chomsky to offer an analytical focus for the study of linguistics, the categories attempt to describe the various levels on which people understand language. Performance in Chomskys use of the term refers merely to the actual use of language in concrete situations while competence reflects a speakerhearers knowledge of his language(1969, p. 4). Performance reflects what people say, but competence hints at the rules which govern the language; anyone can perform but only those who understand the complexities of grammar can be said to be competent. These two aspects of language use occupy two separate levels of linguistic representation: the surface representation (SR) and the underlying representation (UR, also known as deep structure). All speech begins at the UR level and when the competent speaker wishes to utter something, he or she applies a series of rules which transform the UR and generate the SR. Due to this movement Chomskys theory is known as transformational or generative grammar. In terms of Lux Pain, these general concepts manifest at the intersection of three different presentations of the game world. The world as relayed by the upper and lower screens marks the first two portrayals; the upper screen parallels the UR, and the lower the SR. The rationale for this rests in the conveyance of information and interactional opportunities afforded the player in these environments. Content on the upper screen constructs the lower, but the reverse is not true, implying a binary in structural


representation, much like how the UR informs SR. This is not to suggest that the SR of language offers no analytical insight into language use; in fact, it is essential to divining grammatical rules because we, as humans, have no direct access to the UR and can only discover how it operates through a process of reverse engineering a series of similar SRs. Within Lux Pain this process appears through the requisite scratching that uncovers the shinen. In removing these shinen, Atsuki uncovers phrases and words which, when implanted into the subject, creates a stir on the upper screen in the form of a linguistic barrage of half-formed phrases. This interaction between the two screens, the lower-asSR and upper-as-UR, suggests the third fashion in which reflections of transformational grammar may be witnessed. The process of navigating between these two linguistic levels does not necessarily produce well-formed phrases in all instances; even the most competent of speakers at times generates a marked phrase. This process happens due to a misfire of one or more grammatical (or phonological) rules during the transformational process. Lux Pain provides a space for this through the players interaction with the bottom screen during the scratching aspect of the game. During this phase, players reveal the underlying image of the upper screen but cannot fully or completely succeed at this task as over time the lower screen regenerates the surface image. Indeed, the purpose of scraping away the surface is not to reveal the man behind the curtain but, rather, to seek and remove specific moving targets that are the shinen. This space between the surface and underlying representations serves as a site, both in the game and in transformational linguistics, of linguistic action. This foray into one branch of linguistic theory, however, began with a question over the status of the term shinen in the translation environment. The linguistic levels of representation speak to parallel processes informing the localization process, wherein the original language from which the new text is comprised can only be accessed through proxy. The fact that those attempting to learn Japanese utilize games and other cultural material as pedagogical tools (Napier, 2007) speaks, in part, to the hegemony of linguistic


equivalency permeating localization by foregrounding the asocial mechanism of competence. This concern is addressed in more detail in the following pages through criticisms of the transformational model within sociolinguistics. Emerging from the same disciplinary crucible as its transformative cousin, the sub-field of sociolinguistics builds on earlier asocial premises of language theory but places primacy on language in use. In transformative grammar, the rules applied to produce the SR are completely asocial and concerned strictly with lexical classification; the focus is solely on competence, a fact that has not gone uncriticized (Hymes, 1989; Labov, 1991). Sociolinguistics, however, recognizes the limitations implied by a purely grammatical emphasis on competence, which compelled Hymes to advocate a broadening of the term competence. In speaking about Kenneth Burke and the possibilities his position on language presents to linguistics, Hymes states: [F]or Burke the organization and selection of linguistic resources in verbal performance (action) is underlain by kinds of symbolic competence that transcend linguistic competence in its present technical sense. An extension of the notion of kinds of competence underlying linguistic performance is necessary in any case, if the convergence in outlook between much of modern ethnography and transformational grammar is to be recognized and made fruitful. (1989, p. 139 italics present) What Hymes recognizes here is that limiting our definition of skillful use of language to the proper articulation of sentences that are grammatically sound and how grammar informs these sentences neglects other aspects of language use which certainly contribute to its generative-performance. In this case, Hymes recognizes that Burkes understanding of language as a device to accomplish symbolic acts incorporates more than the transformative model can adequately handle; broadening the term to include what can be called social rules into the process of linguistic performance is a step that can help legitimate sociolinguistics and mark it as different from other disciplines (as well as carve out a spot within its own), concerns already noted previously. The inclusion of the social in influencing linguistic performance presents some interesting revisions worthy of


exploration. In particular, one of the more significant changes emerges in relation to the concept of novelty as it relates to the translation process in Lux Pain and localization in general. Within the transformative model of language, rules applied to the UR of an utterance give rise to its SR, and it is a speakers competence that enables her to produce any number of utterances at the SR. Chomsky explains: The most striking aspect of linguistic competence is what we may call the creativity of language, that is, the speakers ability to produce new sentences that are immediately understood by other speakers although they bear no physical resemblance to sentences which are familiar. (1966, p. 11) The focus of linguistic activity and, hence, disciplinary interest is understanding how competence functions, as language performance from the generative perspective is merely a consequence of this more important process and what is at stake is how people understand these or creative uses of language. And for Hymes (1989), Chomskys conception of the creative aspect of language use reduces creativity to novelty (132). Focusing on the utterance itself, its performance, does nothing to help us understand how we understand what we have never heard. Returning to the example of Lux Pain and the comparison between the Japanese and U.S. versions, one of the consequences of this position is that we can only concentrate on the role grammatical functions play in the translation process. In this case, the UR representation becomes the original language and the target language, the localized and translated version, the SR. If this rather basic rendition is accepted, two things need to be addressed. The first point, the consequences of which will be analyzed later at a more relevant juncture, is that there should be multiple translations that would readily address and express the main concerns of the Japanese UR, although the possibilities are limited to grammatical variation due to the asocial imperative of transformational grammar. In other words, there needs to be lexical symmetry; one cannot have a deficit or surplus of, say, nouns when moving from one level of representation to the other. Second, and more relevant here, is that the process of moving between these levels of representation implies an equivalency between them.


Consequently, the syntactic component of a grammar must specify, for each sentence, a deep structure that determines its semantic interpretation and a surface structure that determines its phonetic interpretation (Chomsky, 1969 italics present). In other words, a sentences meaning originates prior to vocalization in the underlying grammar, but remains unintelligible until modified through the appropriate transformations. The meaning of the sentence itself does not change only the appearance it takes, like souping a Pinto: its status as a car liable to explode when rear-ended remains constant, but its outward form may radically change. This general position seems to be confirmed by common sense; after all, what use would language be if the transformations we applied to the UR produced significantly different relationships than we intended? There is a correspondence between the levels of representation, grammaticality, and comprehension. Due to this, if we view translation as expressing characteristics to transformative linguistics similar to UR and SR, we take on faith that the translated language, the SR, is an accurate grammatical and semantic representation of the original UR language. While not all items are visibly altered by the rules applied during the transition between representational levels, there are at least rules that govern this behavior. When confronted with translation, however, we encounter a problem that cannot be adequately resolved in using this model. The term shinen in the example is not translatedand this is not due to the fact that there is no translation for it. In fact, if we view translation as bearing similarities or parallels to the transformational model, then we would expect that the term would be rendered into its English counterpart because the rules which govern translation within the market context imply an equivalency between languages; as this model assumes no social elements factor into the application of rules, the lack of translation of shinen cannot be to maintain and express any cultural element unique in the Japanese. Due to this restriction, the novelty or creative aspect of language which Chomsky notes is the locus of language is confined, and much like Hymes in suggesting


a broadening of the term competence, many sociolinguists have called for a reenvisioning of what constitutes transformational-performance in order to account for the very real variation of utterances within the same speech community. It is within this domain that that some of the issues regarding translation and its assumptions assumptions that appear easily swept away or dismissed due their grounding so far become more clearly focused. If in the transformative model we can make parallels between translation and the representational levels of language that are at least intriguing, it must also be recognized that an asocial approach to translation can only take us so far and is not terribly convincing on its own. But it presents us with one way in which the concept of creativity in language use can be framed within the translation environment, and the integration of the social into the realm of language investigation has given rise to a broader definition of what may be constituted as the creative use of language. If Hymes is correct in his criticism of Chomsky, then creative language arises only through innovate or novel grammatical combinationssemantics and other novelties centered on the meaning of the words is excludedand in this can become limited in the translation environment. Rather, two premises within sociolinguistics become useful in broadening the concept of the creative use of language. The more traditional sociolinguistic approach deals with variation within speech communities. As Labov states, it must be noted that the very existence of the concept idiolect as a proper object of linguistic description represents a defeat of the Saussurian notion of langue as an object of uniform social understanding (1991, p. 192). The acceptance of the idiolect as an analytical category suggests that the rules which govern language are not uniform and that variation or novelty can result from situational factors as well as the grammatical environment. This understanding is useful in terms of understanding creativity within the translation environment as it establishes cultural factors or even translator bias as potential contributors. The second premise broadens the lens of the creative use of language further by approaching all language as


having an esthetic, expressive, or stylistic dimension (Hymes, 1989, p. 133). As we enter this realm, the land of genre functions and ritual, what constitutes creativity within language is broadened immensely, although we are saved from infinite scope by the fact that these categories and what constitutes proper use of them is constrained by the rules of the speech community or given discourse. In one sense, then, Lux Pain actively engages this concern between the surface and the underlying representations of language and the world as premised in linguistics. From the analysis so far we can see how the interface of Lux Pain functions as a parallel to linguistic discourse on the structure and function of language: the (mis)application of transformative rules operates in the liminal realm between competence and performance, much like the player-controlled Atsuki must engage language as it floats about in the lower, post-scratched screen that occupies neither world. Pushing this interpretation, however, only allows for the examination and evaluation of the actual accuracy of the grammar in the translation as well as the discussion of parallels in terms of structure and organization between the games interface and theories of language. The more interesting and potentially problematic issue, which is the lack of translation for shinen and what can be generalized from this about the aesthetics of translation, remains salient. Rather than being saddled to grammatical analyses and, in the case of translation the additional requirement of lexical symmetry, the creativity of language involves recognizing how the same string of banal words are given new meaning and function creatively in different environments. Literature on the subject of reclaiming words, such as in the radical feminist tradition, demonstrates a partial application of this concept with its emphasis on referential reclamation, but sociolinguistics additionally seeks to discover the underlying grammatical, phonological, and social rules that govern linguistic output. Sociolinguisticsis an attempt to delineate social structure and linguistic structure more clearly by correlating these independently measured variables; and to detect and changes in these structures through changes in the correlated measures (Gumperz, 1971, p. 223).


Referring obliquely to the social dimensions of language to derive an answer to the status of shinen in the English text presents problems of its own. What, in particular, constitutes these so-called social aspects? How wide of a net do we cast? Labov calls for studies of language to focus on a speech community defined as participating in a set of shared norms regarding language use (1991, pp. 120, 158), while Hymes offers a broader approach, suggesting that sociolinguistic systems may be treated at the level of national states, and indeed, of an emerging world society (1989, p. 44). Internal Gameplay and the Limits of Lux-Pain In terms of translation and the overarching discussion so far, the integration of the social and other factors into what can constitute the creativity of language allows for an almost dialectical relation between the translated languages. At one moment, the ways in which we can move from L1 to L2 and express ideas has been broadened, but concurrently this broadening more tightly confines what meanings are possible by fostering increased tailoring to a specific audience, more liberty and leeway in the localization process No matter how one approaches localization (see Chandler, 2005; Kuzimski, 2007) the underlying impulse of the practice relies on manipulating the rulebased foundations of the symbolic system whose combination forms the building blocks of story and character development prized in JRPGs. With this in mind, the lack of translation for the term shinen can be understood not as a failure in the rules governing transition between the UR and SRa failure only if we ascribe to translation as a mechanistic process of exchange based on equivalency of wordsbut rather quite the opposite, as a means of conveying culture in a marked fashion; it is an overt display in the breakdown of language, a failure in the localization process to frame local identity (a point explored in more detail in Chapter IV). In the case of Lux Pain both may actually be accurate, but immersive dissonance resulting from grammatical readabilityinstances where, for example, the main


character is referred to as she are not uncommondo not contribute much to languageas-gameplay given their rarity in the industry. A more useful approach flirts with the semantic component of language as it constructs the game world, as meaning is generally seen as emerging from specific situations and speech communities (Hymes, 1989; Labov, 1991). Fortunately, Lux-Pain provides both obvious and subtle fissures from which we can see how gameplay is impacted by language, and I intend to tease out the implications of this through repeatedly returning to the question of where the game takes place. Obvious examples of language impacting gameplay stem from the differences between the written and audio channels of the game. These differences first appear at the end of the prologue which orients the player to the game mechanics and basic points of the plot. Atsuki contacts FORTs recon and intelligence officer, Natsuki, to ascertain the location of some odd shinen and she mentions that her job would be easier if she was in Kisaragi City. The exact location of Kisaragi City, however, depends on whether one listens to the audio or reads the text: Natsuki dubbed: I wanted to go to America, too.using viewing is easier at the actual scene. Accompanying text: I actually also wanted to check out Japan butthe actual place is easier for viewing. (Killaware, 2009) This mismatch is not a minor concern, both in terms of the game itself as a marketed product and, more germane here, in terms of its navigation of tensions between the linguistic and ludic games. This disjunction between the written and aural channels continues through the entirety of the game, and the accumulation of these errors stress the ideological veneer placed upon localization as an accurate representation of the original text by revealing how language operates behind the proverbial curtain to craft part of the gaming experience. Through these errors, we witness how language interacts with, engages and alters the world. Natsukis complete monologue, provided on the following pages, provides insight into these processes; some examples of these errors can be seen in Figures 2.8 and 2.9:


Figure 2.8: Localization errors in Lux-Pain.


Figure 2.9: Localization errors in Lux-Pain.

48 Natsukis audio: 1a) I wanted to go to America, too 2a) using viewing is easier at the actual scene. 3a) But the chief says no. 4a) How mean, really! 5a) I know why, you just want to see Atsuki, right? 6a) Thats what he said; what do you think? 7a) Oh, I wanna go to L.A. and I wanna see New York. 8a) Also, I really want to try the food there. 9a) Ive never tired it before. 10a) I said so, but he ignored me. Accompanying text to audio: 1b) I actually also wanted to check out Japan but 2b) the actual place is easier for viewing. 3b) Yeah, but the chief said no. 4b) Youre quite the bully 5b) I get your alterior [sic] motive. You just wanna meet Atsuki. 6b) The chief actually said that. What do you think, Atsuki? 7b) Youre wrong. I wanna go to both Akiba and Genjuku. 8b) Well, I also really like Sushi and Tempura. 9b) But I havent exactly partaken in either yet. 10b) Well, forget I said that (Killaware, 2009) Natsukis monologue is of special interest in that it manages to distill in ten lines most of the faults reviewers and fans point to when they explain how an entire experience can be ruined by poor localization (Shau, 2009). Scanning the few lines in Natsukis monologue reveals quite a bit of evidence to support the claims of Shau and others regarding the localization being poor; the rather large leap in setting between (1a) and (1b), inconsistencies in spelling as seen in (5b), confusion over addressee as in (6a) and (4b), and general illogical statements such as in the pair of (8b) and (9b) demonstrate that the released product still requires some polish. What we read creates a different world and set of expectations that conflicts with what we hear, and while minor errors such as misapplied pronouns and other grammatical issues certainly contribute to this failure, more troublesome are those moments in which referential knowledge of the game world breaks down. Natsukis desire to eat sushi and tempura can make sense regardless of whether or not the game takes place in Japan or America, but the problem emerges from


the fact that both of these locations are simultaneously presented as valid constructions of the game world. The divergence in game world constructed by the two channels additionally impacts her character. Grammatical and semantic consistency in Natsukis voiceover suggest nothing dramatically marked about her speech, and this finds support with the inflection and other auditory cues provided; the written gloss, however, contains a number of issues that may strike the native speaker as odd. Line (4b), for example, points to an ambiguity in addressee. Given the nature of the speech, the second person pronoun should be understood to refer to the chief and her outburst more of an excited statement than direct address, but the ambiguity arises from the fact that Atsuki is present and there are no other cues to facilitate the intended reading. The rather interesting semantic logic between lines (8b) and (9b), where Natsuki complains that not going prevents her from eating the sushi and tempura she likes so much and immediately reveals that shes actually never tried them, further contributes to her puzzling characterization offered in the two channels and potentially interrupts the game experience. This interruption of game experience, I propose, orients language in a fashion akin to more familiar aspects of ludic gameplay in that it directly impacts a players ability to become immersed in the game world, a condition that many players see as constitutive of the JRPG genre. The localization problems with Lux-Pain do not severely impact ones understanding of the plotthe overall story is readable and relatively coherentbut the grammatical and semantic potholes consistently serve as reminders that the game is a construct and a translation. McLuhans (1994) speculation that media are co-constituted by other media explains the divergence between the audio and written gloss as symptoms of the operations of language embedded within different media, but this implies that the mediumin this case video games of the JRPG console variety regulates or somehow constrains language.


To some degree this is true, as technical limitations imposed by the DS cartridge prevent, for example, Lux-Pain from accompanying all written text with audio. But these limitations do not necessarily impact the rules by which language operates, and my claim that language can be approached as gameplay arises from its properties as a rule-based system. Unlike more traditional or conventional aspects of gameplay, however, linguistic gameplay derives from mechanisms both internal and external to the game. A brief overview of how simulations function will help ground this tension before an extended discussion of the prescriptive functions of language and the properties of naming. Simulations and Names: Lux-Pains Inscrutable Location In arguing that games structure simulation, ludologists implicitly tip their hats to Baudrillard (1994) who, building off of McLuhans theorization of media, notes it [the object] has no relation to any reality whatsoever: it is its own pure simulacrum (p. 6). Games, in other words, are discursively self-contained and though they may draw upon resources external to them for content, these resources operate according to internal rules structured by the gamereferential meaning included. This is a basic premise of socalled suspension of disbelief and from this perspective we are able to overlook errors in location, logic, and the like, writing them off as idiosyncrasies tied to the game world itself. Natsukis desire to go to Genjuku in (8b) and shown in Figure 7 can plausibly be seen as an actual place in Japan (or America!) rather than a misspelling of Shinjuku. The term shinen, and untranslated words in general, reflects how the game structures pragmatics in a limited sense. From the perspective of simulation, at most that can be said about the lack of translation of shinen in the U.S. version is that it must have some semantic or other social function or meaning within the game world. It is a referent whose meaning is supplied from within the specific situational context of the game. The tension I allude to at the end of the previous section, however, lies precisely with the properties of language as a rule-based system that includes how words are


pragmatically conceived beyond the individual morpheme. As Lyotard (2002; 1999) and Austin (1975) note, language emerges as a response to specific, pre-existing discursive conditions. Austin speaks of this in terms of commitment and obligation: if I have stated something, then that commits me to other statements: other statements made by me will be in order or out of order (p. 139). It is not just that language in certain contexts can establish and alter world relationships but also that these bonds imply specific obligations that continue to exist after the ephemeral speech context has been completed or even forgotten. Lyotard (1999) speaks of this obligation in terms of languages prescriptive functions. An utterer is always someone who is first and addressee, and I would even say one destined. By this I mean that he is someone who, before he is the utterer of a prescription, has been the recipient of a prescription, and that he is merely a rely; he has also been the object of a prescription (p. 31). In a ludic sense Lux-Pain and video games in general simulate languages prescriptive and obligatory functions through their demand in interactive response to drive gameplay. One must, for example, push buttons or touch the DS screen to move the game forward and acknowledge that the text was received. In addition to this type of interaction, Lux-Pain presents players with moments where they must select a response from a small pool of choices. These choices are constrained to what the game provides, and the players ability to create alternatives outside these choices impossible. The game, in short, strives to simulate the limiters discourse places upon linguistic response through constraining interactive alternatives. The obligations and prescriptions Austin and Lyotard allude to, however, encapsulate more than response in the semantic sense of the term, suggesting instead the role discursive systems play in pragmatically shaping the world and our rejoinders to it. The tension, then, lies with the extent to which games can govern pragmatics motivated by discursive prescriptions. The character of Aoi Matsumura, self-described within the game as the language teacher at Kisaragi High and viewed by the students and other teachers as a model of the


profession, provides some insight into this process. She is the first teacher Atsuki meets when he arrives at school to search for leads on Silent, and her class is also his first experience with how academics operate at the school. Atsuki enters the classroom and Matsumura-sensei introduces him to other students; the bell rings and class begins. Through the dialogue box, Matsumura-sensei asks the students get out their textbooks and the following conversation begins: Aoi 11) This is your first time, so Ill go slow with you. 12) Here we have Shimazakis A Collection of Young Herbs. 13) Know [sic] for its [sic] 5/7 syllable 14) form, its called Japans own romantic anthology. 15) Its been a popular one since last week. 16) The anthology also contains the well known First Love 17) Perhaps youve come across it before? 18) Its [sic] goes, You swept back your bangs 19) Well? Nothing? 20) This next novel should come with ease. Heres a hint 21) It deals with the Spring, starting anew, the joys 22) and sadness of youth. Student A (Mika) 23) Well, there are tons of ways to explain 24) Yeah, so should we get on to our homework as usual? Student B (Rui) 25) Yeah there are. Aoi 26) Hmmsuch a wonderful love as this (Killaware, 2009) Within the classroom environment, Aoi Matsumuras position and responsibilities at Kisaragi High amounts to reading and explicating literature. Reading and even translating literature may plausibly be part of an advanced language class, and given Atsukis age of seventeen it is equally plausible that he has the language background to succeed in such a class. Based solely on this very small and isolated context within the game, little appears amiss; however, interactions with Matsumura-sensei are not limited to the classroom, and Atsuki frequently encounters her in various locations throughout Kisaragi City either checking up on students she is worried about or gauging the


suitability of popular hang-outs where students gather. In one of these encounters she confesses to Atsuki that she does this because a teacher should protect and guide their students. These encounters emphasize the prescriptions placed upon the profession as constructed by the internal discourse of the game world, but they must be read in concert with other similar discursive prescriptions to establish said world as coherent. In this case, the issue of Lux-Pains fluid location once again emerges to disrupt a pragmatically coherent environment: minor inconsistencies become compounded, and the question as to where the game takes place emerges as a central concern. One possibility places Kisaragi City within America, and from this vantage we can most clearly see how inconsistencies within the gaming environment collude to destabilize the gaming performance and pragmatic construction of the world. Aoi Matsumuras specialization as evinced from the dialogue above is Japanese. Based on how she conducts the course, her pedagogy challenges students to explicate literary texts rather than study the grammatical, semantic, or phonological characteristics of the language. All of these features appear plausible given some latitude and generosity with

how the game constructs secondary education in America; indeed, from the perspectives of gaming and aesthetics, the text itself has been argued to be not a representation of the real world but, rather, suggesting potential of how it could be (Frasca, 2001). Lux-Pain offers for players consideration a high school where the study of Japanese amounts to a cultural immersion: in addition to the study of Japanese literature, other courses such as Reijis history course also revolve around Japanese cultural products. In essence, Kisaragi High amounts to an otaku magnet school. Even with this rather lenient reading of the world Lux-Pain constructs, however, certain aspects do not add up. While Atsuki encounters a number of minor characters, he interacts with roughly twenty on a regular basis throughout the course of his investigation. Two of these characters have already been introduced: the language teacher Aoi Matsumura and FORTs resident psychic tracker Natsuki. Other characters,


such as Atsukis classmates and the residents of Kisaragi City, bear strikingly similar names. Prominent classmates include Akira, Rui, Shinji, Sayuri, and Yayoi; residents include characters such as Nami, Yui, and Naoto. Through these names, the question of location demands scrutiny as we are presented an America that boasts the existence of not only Japanese magnet schools but, more puzzling, an America in which the residents of at least one town reject Anglo naming practices. This puzzling state of affairs certainly contributes to problems of immersion that disrupt the gaming experience, but in different, more subtle, ways than the obvious localization gaffes noted in the beginning of the chapter whose disruptive epicenter can be located in purely internal linguistic mechanisms (i.e. the game as simulation). The disruptions associated with naming conventions and the location of the games events, however, appear to be motivated by prescriptions external to the game. One approach to this puzzle can be found within the performative function of naming itself. According to Lyotard (2002), to learn names is to situate them in relation to other names by means of phrases.A system of names presents a world (p. 44). Tracing the relations between characters provides insight into one aspect of the games narrative dimensionits plotbut the schema of naming, taken in conjunction with the prescriptive function of language, reflects discursive relations. Some of these are driven by the internal mechanisms of the game world, as the expectations of Kisaragi Highs language classes and the extra-scholastic responsibilities of teachers intimate. These two examples form part of the larger system of relations that constitutes the fictive game world, and through interaction with the gameobliquely referred to in ludic terms as the learning curvethe player gleans how this system operates. Working in tandem with internally-driven naming schemas, however, are terms which derive their prescriptive power from external discursive systems. The America in which Kisaragi City is potentially located receives no description beyond the name itself, leaving the player to supply the referent with relevant pragmatic content, an attempt drawn upon the


audiences beliefs in constructing the game world. The problems with immersive dissonance emerge from reliance on external prescriptions to construct an internal world. The implications of this position for the structuring of simulations are far reaching, as the rule-based ludic aspects of language appear capable of penetrating the closed system of simulation, consequently generating a gameplay that potentially continues after the video game ends. While specific terms may generate their meaning from within the game itselfthe untranslated term shinen referring to swirling orbs of concentrated emotion, for examplethe text itself cannot be constructed solely from words of this type for both practical and theoretical reasons. Much as we may push for a reading built upon what the game provides, the building blocks of Lux-Pain, when push comes to shove, are individual morphemes already empowered with signification by social decree. To create a text whose meaning derives solely from itself would necessitate the creation, essentially, of another unfamiliar set of symbolic chains that the audience would need to decipher and encode with meaning as it progressed through the game; in this sense, perhaps, playing the Japanese version with no knowledge of the language would be the closest parallel. Such an endeavor would be impractical to say the least, especially when we consider the purpose of Lux-Pain as a localized product aimed at the generation of profit and the emphasis on the JRPG genre on story and character development. Lux-Pain employs English to establish some symbolic common ground; rather than reinventing the links between the chain of signification, Lux-Pain alters specific referents whose meaning becomes clear throughout the course of character interaction. In short, players bring discursively prescribed assumptions to the game and utilize them to navigate the simulacral waters they structure; at the same time, players may take with them referents generated in game for play in other contexts. The gameplay of language, in other words, lies in the ability of players to divine the semantic scope of referents and actively figure out if they operate purely internally to the game or are drawn from external discourse. It continues to function after the video


game has ended, allowing for the creation of new, unique games. This last feature, explored more in depth in the next section, provides a critical dimension to approaching language in a ludic capacity by linking aspects of gameplay to ideological critique. The Unintentional Return of High Modernist Aesthetics The immersive dissonance generated by the Lux-Pains inability to ground itself in a stable semantic environment does not necessarily mean that this gameor other, better constructed onesis without critical potential. The frustration evinced by the reviewers and their inability to access the game in their customary fashion reflects, in part, ideological conditioning that a ludic interpretation of language, with its ability to move freely in and out of the confines of simulation, appears exceedingly capable of engaging; this should not imply, however, that this is an easy or common task. Critics generally focused on the failure of the localization process in Lux-Pain by pointing to grammatical flaws that were symptomatic of a larger issue of representation. Voicing his inability to get into the game, Acaba (2009) complains: If that isnt bad enough there were a few times that I couldnt help but start snickering during really inconvenient time. When dealing with topics this mature its a really bad sign for you to start laughing because a girl was referred to as he or general Engrish popping up. It kills the mood and destroys any immersion in the story which is all a game like this really has. Acaba may be hinting at the tension between the two radically different registers of knowledge players must supply to position themselves within the game environment. Whether Natsuki wants to go to Japan or America makes a lot of difference as most players will be much more familiar with the cultural tendencies of one location over the other, a fact that has a direct impact on how much fiddling with the prescriptions generated by signification Lux-Pain can plausibly get away with. Due to this, the existence of a city in America populated almost exclusively by Japanese nationals whose idea of language study is to read and translate ancient Japanese literature gives one pause in its sheer absurdity. But it is exactly within this absurdist realm brought about by the


infelicitous meeting of our expectations between the discursive prescriptions supplied by the game and the discursive prescriptions we bring to the game that Lux-Pain points to the aesthetic potentialand here I mean the older sense of the term invested with political overtonesof embedding a game within a game. In a very general sense, Lux-Pain can be read as confrontational and antagonistic, disrupting embedded practices and ideologies. Derived through Lux-Pains amateurish localization, this aesthetic impulse within the game owes its origin to linguistic issues that complicate the construction of a coherent world, either on its own terms or in its intersection with surrounding social discourses in which it is embedded. Exemplified by the games ambiguous setting, these linguistic issues have the potential to fashion new relationships and understandings of the world in which the player resides. Although speaking specifically about Dada, Tristan Tzara (2003) writes that art introduces new points of view, people sit down now at the corners of tables, in attitudes that lean a bit to the left and to the right (p. 25). For Tzara, new points of view emerge organically from the irrational, and part of his articulation of the Dadaist project revolves around breaking free from rationalist, scientific frames of thought. What we need, Tzara says, are strong, straightforward, precise works which will be forever misunderstood. Logic is a complication. Logic is always false (pp. 10-11). Art, then, plays with the ordering and structure of the world as mapped by specific ideologies, attempting to offer alternate modes of envisioning the world predicated upon contradiction. Lux-Pain enacts this process through language, albeit unintentionally. The world Lux-Pain presents to players certainly bears similarities to the one external to it, but inconsistencies in the performative construction of the virtual environment the gaming experience. A conflict between multiple competing constructions of the same world that ground the players social, cultural, and ideological assumptions in different ways emerges; instead of asking why a town such as Kisaragi city would exist in America, the more fruitful way to approach the games performative inconsistencies according to the


aesthetic map offered by Tzara would be to ponder why America cannot have such a city. In this vein, the contradictions and confusions circulating the game express not liabilities but, rather, a new vantage from which to engage ideological networks such as nationality and identity. This approach applies equally to more polished games, although the manner in which they engage ideological apparatuses is less evident; after all, ideology operates best when hidden, and the position of video games within the popular arena as entertainment media coupled with a lack of linguistic ruptures to draw attention to the prescriptive underpinnings of language obscures how they function as the potential world Tzara and Frasca note. Lux-Pain is like the friend who cant keep a secret: its linguistic slippage reveals how language constructs more respected games. Along these lines, then, even the grammatical and pronominal inconsistencies that are the subject of re\viewer consternation suggest ideological revelation. Similar to the case above regarding the aesthetic potential housed in the ambiguity of the games location, the grammatical errors often cited by the reviewers point to a breakdown in representation, a disjunction between signifier and signified that scholars have argued shape our approach to the world. Attention to language, in fact, figures prominently into Dadaist literature, where discussion and implementation of it aims at reframing the chain of signification. In the Dada Manifesto on Feeble Love and Bitter Love Tzara (2003) glibly remarks that the good Lord created a universal language, thats why people dont take him seriously. A language is a utopia (p. 47). The polemic nature of this statement enacts the Dadaist position over language; in articulating languages link to the divine problems over commensurability appear all the more poignant. At the heart of Dadaist theorization on this subject beats the arbitrary nature of signification; poised against bourgeois art and academic criticism, Dada revels in incommensurability by stripping the status of the artwork of communal interpretation. The bourgeois spirit, which renders ideas usable and useful, tries to assign poetry the invisible role of the principle engine of the universal machine: the practical soulIn this way it is possible to organize (sic) and


fabricate everything (Tzara, 2003, p. 73). In dissolving, refiguring, or altering the way in which specific words are understood through either grammatical rearrangements or semantic/pragmatic reconstitutions of words, the mandate of the market to render all things equivalent and into use value becomes stymied, momentarily arrested in its course of world domination like a super villain without henchmen. Lux-Pains overlooked grammatical inconsistencies parallel the spirit of the Dada aesthetic in that the slow dissolution of referents in the game affects the cultural understandings of the words, revealing ideological structures the potential for alternate symbolic configurations. The clearest case of this potential rests with the intermittent application of incorrect pronouns to the games characters, a potential bolstered by the ethnic character of their names: players face being kept in a state of flux, constantly reconfiguring their perceptions of characters as they try to ascertain with certainty which gender box they belong. Naturally this does not happen with every character, and in many cases a given characters gender can be based on vocal or visual cues. However, not every character is given audio or visual screen time in every interaction. Coupled with the androgynous Japanese animation style and unfamiliarity with the gendering of Japanese names, a player must be hyper-aware of who is doing and saying what or risk confusion. Problems over the U.S. localization of Lux-Pain have been traced to inconsistencies between the sub and the dub facets of the game which contribute to differing performative constructions of the game. Positioned within an analytical framework sensitive to inconsistency as aesthetic, the problem emerges due to the simultaneous existence of these features producing a performative inconsistency in the construction of the world. As discursively closed systems, simulations require that the performatives through which the world is constructed be consistent within that world, a feat which requires a modicum of suspension of disbelief. In the case of Lux-Pain, however, disbelief remains elusive due to competing versions of the world that can be


traced to mismatches between the written and aural texts. This aspect is typically the focus of fan discontent, but such discourse tends to remain isolated to the grammatical realm and overlooks a deeper interpretation for fan discontent rooted in how language coconstitutes the aesthetics. Loose Ends and Unresolved Tensions In this chapter I have argued that language should be treated as a form of gameplay driven by linguistic rules ranging from the grammatical to the semantic, sketching out how these rules intersect with, operate within, and even exceed the organizational rules imposed by the structuring of simulations known eloquently as games. In this vein I have made three arguments, although I feel that the second is more significant than others due to their larger theoretical implications for ludology as a whole. My first advocates that in the context of JRPGs language should be treated as a component of gameplay due to its ability to prevent immersion or engagement with the text in question. My second point builds upon this claim and argues that these moments of immersive dissonance arise from both internally and externally driven linguistic rules; this is particularly significant as language appears capable of escaping the event horizon that keeps simulations self-contained and self-referential. The final argument asserted that this ability of language to persist outside the simulation (or enter it, as the case may be) offers a unique opportunity for ideological criticism surrounding a game and represents an approach not necessarily beholden to discussions of game plot. Naturally, as JRPGs rely heavily on language, particularly stories, to carve out their identities, using them as a starting point to theorize the ludic dimensions of language may seem counterintuitive given the tendency in the literature to conflate language with narrative. Their status as translations, however, provides particular opportunities in this regard not commonly found in their less travelled and monolingual brethren, and the insights garnered here can offer a basis for more generalized study of the chimeric


qualities of language, particularly the contexts in which it operates as a narrative device and when it operates ludically.


CHAPTER III THE MEDIUM IN TRANSLATION: OR, THE MEDIUM STRIKES BACK Introduction The core assertion of ludology maintains that a games rules structure interaction and guide experience. In general, these operational rules derive from a combination of social agreement and medium specific properties. Although theoretically the rules of a game and the medium in which it operates are separate (whether ones plays baseball in the dirt lot with friends or at home on a gaming console the rules of baseball stay the same), in the case of video games the two tend to be interwoven as such games heavily rely on the operations of the medium in order to structure the gaming experience. In this case it is not too bold to generalize that the medium facilitates the structuring of experience. Building from McLuhans claim that the content of any medium is another medium, however, I argued in the last chapter that language as a ludic device complicates the structuring of experience by showing how another, subordinate, medium exceeds the parameters of its host. This realization, however, is only problematic if we assume a hierarchical order of operations to the exercising of rules, and I argued that the ability of language to exceed the parameters of the host medium represents a ludic moment itself and should be approached as a game in its own right. Over the course of the next two chapters I develop the implications of this line of thought, arguing that language and the medium are symbiotic and mutually informative, constructing a multifaceted rhetorical space exploited by fansubbing organizations in their construction of Japanese culture and the construction of cultural credibility. The complexity of such interactions more clearly crystalize in what I term container mediaa catchall term that for now I will define as video files meant for viewing on digital devicesas the variety of formats boast subtle differences in the ways


fans can interact with them. Key to understanding these differences is McLuhans stance on media, which I extend further by arguing that the formal properties of any given medium are shaped by the intersections of the formal properties of the media that comprise the main object, what I refer to alternatively as component media or compositional media. The medium guidesbut does not determinethe available

means of fan engagement vis--vis these inherited formal properties and their related restrictions. Understanding fan engagement with media, anime or otherwise, necessitates an analysis of the compositional structure of the medium in question, as the novel forms of fan engagement lauded in fan studies emerge only through reworking, stretching, and very rarely breaking the rules that structure a media text. In this respect fan production itself operates as a state of playfans work within a system of rules meant to guide and structure the experienceand in no case is this clearer than in the case of anime fandom and fan creation, where fan consumers and producers must navigate the various rules of language while negotiating the strictures of the container media they use to create and distribute their translations. These issues are increasingly important given thedeserved or notemergence of anime as a vehicle of Japanese soft power (formalized most explicitly in June 2010 with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industrys establishment of the Cool Japan campaign). While there is an ongoing conversation as to what constitutes anime in scholarly and fan circles, its deployment to the political stage has spurred analyses of the genre and its relationship within the social systems in which they operate. Literature in this regard has tackled fan practice (Napier, 2007; Patten, 2001) and even produced cultural-historical analyses of the roots of anime fandoms more ardent supporters, the otaku (, 2001). So-called media approaches merely rehash narrative analyses in vogue with film studies (Lamarre, 2009; Napier, 2005). None provide a serious discussion of the role formal media properties play in the development of fan culture and engagement despite a robust and varied literature in these fields noting the perceptible


impact media properties and ecologies play in shaping perception (Baudrillard, 1994; McLuhan, 1994; Schiller, 1992). This chapter expands upon the literature on anime and anime fandom by arguing a constitutive relationship between formal media properties and fan engagement with respect translation and corresponding intercultural perception. Understanding the ludic parameters of container media more broadly informs fan studies by incorporating the negotiation of media specifications into the generative practices already associated with fans. As my focus rests with fan translations, I specifically engage the menagerie of digital video media that fans create for consumption through computers or associated devices with microprocessors. Due to the importance container media play in this argument, a discussion of their properties foregrounds this chapter. In this first section I sketch how container media operate by parsing their compositional elements, discussing how they function, and demonstrating how the manipulation of their technological specifications represents one facet of the ludic quality of the medium. The next section introduces the use of linear notes by fansubbers as a paradigmatic example of ludic engagement with container media, arguing that their inclusion represents a challenge to translation ideology emergent from the potential of container media. The final section develops the role container media play in translation more fully, arguing that the convergence between translation ideology, language, and the properties of container media should be considered critically due to the polysemy of meaning emergent from such play. Container Media: Definition and Practice Before beginning an analysis of how fans interact with container media, it would be prudent to clearly define the genre. This is actually a more difficult descriptive task than it sounds, as the media I am describing do not have a single generic categorization into which they can be lumped. What I am speaking about, though, are multimedia files


that are commonly meant to be played on a computer or other similar device (now smartphones, tablets, portable gaming devices, and so forth) and appear in a plethora of formats: avi, ogm, mkv, mpeg, and mp4 files. I distinguish these from streaming video (formats such as flv, 3gp, asf, for example) and DVD/Blu-Ray as qualitatively different due mainly to differences in distribution mechanisms and standardization of playback devices which undercut the ludic potential of the medium from the position of fan consumers. Container media as I define them are additionally different in that, despite the common file formats noted above, the manners in which they can be encoded vary. Differences in standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) video and audio motivate part of this, but so does the desire for greater compression in the file itselfthe file size. This necessitates a range of decoders known as codecs to ensure effective playback. Ones groups mkv file may not be playable on different systems, but more importantly that same groups file may be drastically different internally from another groups. The final characteristic of container media is that the preferred fan method of distribution is through P2P and file sharing sites; this characteristic implies a correlation between the file size of container media and Internet technologies. These features, expanded upon below, can initially be used to define container media as a subset of multimedia formats, predominantly distributed online, whose nonstandard encoding methods restrict playback to specific computer media. I have intentionally left this definition vague for now, but of imminent relevance now is that the non-standard encoding and decoding practices directly contribute to the ludic framing of this media via multiple dimensions of fan interactivity. An encoded video consists of three parts: the video codec, the audio codec, and the wrapper (also known as container, hence my descriptive label of container media). While technically separate elements, confusion can arise as some standards refer to both codecs and containers (the MPEG family being the most relevant here). Regardless, these three elements combine to determine file size. All digital multimedia consist of


these elements: standard definition DVDs, for example, are typically encoded with the MPEG-2 video and AC3 audio codecs placed within an VOB wrapper; the process of ripping the same DVD may produce an AVI wrapper in which the video and audio are encoded with in Xvid and mp3 formats, respectively. Codecs merely compress the video and audio, enabling dramatic reductions in file size while still maintaining respectable quality. In the case of standard DVDs, which range from 4-9GB in size, compression can reduce size to less than an eighth of that. This reduction in file size, while dramatic, would be meaningless without the Internet technology to efficiently distribute it. The music industry cracked down on file sharing in the early 2000s because the technology allowed relatively small file sizes to be transferred quickly; movies, too, were being downloaded but transfer rates were too slow to encourage rampant piracy of these large files, not to mention that the quality of such captures were less than spectacular. Consider Figure 3.1, a screenshot from the anime The Legend of Basara (1999) encoded with Divx and mp3 and wrapped in the AVI format. According to the website of Anime-Keep (Anime-Keep, n.d.), the fan translation group for this anime, the project was completed in August 18, 2002; the lag between broadcast time and project completion is probably motivated by the group getting access to analogue copies of the show (the ecology was different then, suffice it to say differences in source material used, video capturing technologies, and Internet speeds are motivating factors), but more importantly it represents three years of potential evolution in codec compression and quality. While only 180MB in sizea fraction of what a DVD would beFigure 3.11 demonstrates that the quality resulting from the confluence of analogue and compression technologies leaves much to be desired. Compared to contemporary encoding developments, however, file size appears to
1 Figure descriptions will be in the following format: anime title, episode, fan group [abbreviation if relevant], format. If relevant, the program used to play the file and/or other relevant information will be provided.


be increasing: a typical 23 minute anime episode can range from 180MB to 340MB depending on how it is encoded (larger sizes are becoming more frequent, too, as storage media produce larger capacities more cheaply and Internet speeds continue to increase). Two factors, however, must be considered in this regard: the quality of the encodes and Internet speed. Much of contemporary anime is distributed in HD format as the initial Japanese broadcasts are digital, and when Blu-Ray versions are released it is not uncommon to find True HD variants (1080p). Higher quality naturally produces greater file sizes, but these increases are offset by developments in Internet data transmission. According to the International Telecommunications Union (International Telecommunication Union, 2010), Internet use grew from 44% in 2000 to 77% in 2010;

Figure 3.1: The Legend of Basara, Opening Credits, Anime Keep [A-Keep], avi


The Pew Internet and American Life Project (Horrigan, 2009), offers roughly similar numbers nothing that the majority of connections in 2000 were dial-up; broadband connections accounted for less than five percent of home Internet usage. By 2009, broadband dominated the market-share and in 2010 ITU notes that roughly 85 million 35% of usersutilized broadband. The Pew Center paints a rosier picture, with over 65% of connections being broadband. The discrepancy can be chalked to divergent methodologies and data collection, but the important generalization gleaned from these trends is that broadband has increased its presence, particularly, as the Pew study notes, in more affluent demographics. Faster speeds translate to faster distribution of files, alleviating one major concern over the distribution of large file sizes. Fans have taken advantage of these speeds to leverage P2P networks in the distribution of these files as such networks are generally superior to traditional direct downloading. While Internet distribution technologies play a role in the distribution of anime and have impacted the ecology in terms of how files are distributed, the ludic qualities of container media rest predominantly with how fans interact with them, the choices they make with respect to encoding and wrapping their work. Two features in particular demonstrate these ludic qualities: issues with playback and subtitle rendition. Playback issues reflect the diverse means of encoding and decoding container media, with ludic interaction centered on the (in)ability to successfully render files. Subtitle rendition presents another means of ludic engagement in that fansubbers and end users can manipulate the markup to suit their own needs. The lack of standardization for container media gives rise to a variety of encoding possibilities. Fansubbed anime currently appears in one of three formats: Audio Video Interleave (AVI), a Microsoft-developed container; Moving Picture Experts Group or MPEG-4 (MP4), utilized most familiarly in Apple devices; and Matroska Video (mkv), an open-source container. The relevant differences between these containers are related to the resolutions they support and the hardware that supports their playback. AVI


fansubbed anime appears with SD video while MP4 and mkv fansubbed anime can also appear with HD video; although theoretically AVI could be used with HD steams, the requisite resolution and bitrate to support HD video would make the file size too cumbersome for efficient distribution. This feature is largely predicated upon the choice of video codec used in encoding the video. While the codecs used to encode the video and audio steams in these containers can vary, anime fansubs typically utilize one of three video codecs depending on the container: AVI appears with DivX (a proprietary codec) or XviD (an open-source codec based off of DivX) video streams, both based on MPEG-4 part 2, while MP4 and mkv almost always utilize h.264, also known as MPEG-4 part 10 or AVC, for encoding video streams (a new encoder based off of h.264 called Hi10P has recently emerged). The major difference between these video encoding methods, once again, lies in the file sizes they produce with respect to video compression and quality: h.264 can encode HD at higher bitrates than its DivX or XviD cousins with analogous file sizes. In addition, the devices upon which such encoded content can be played vary, and in some cases may require the installation of specific decoders to ensure that the video plays properly, even if the media device can play back the file type in question. Because of the variability in encoding, playback of content can be a problem. Almost every forum contains a help page that discusses common issues, recommends specific players, and/or provides links to codec packs. Open source community

developed programs such as Media Player Classic Home Cinema (MPC-HC) and codec packs of the same pedigree such as the Combined Community Codec Pack (CCCP) tend to be community favorites, and discussions of how to render files, convert them, or extract subtitles are also common. The (in)ability to play files becomes an exercise in customizing video players to a specific users needs or, at worst, changing the container or re-encoding it so that it can be meet a users specifications. In addition to these common elements shared by all container media, fans must


additionally contend with choices specifically centered on how to embed what is probably the most important and definitive aspect of their worktheir translations within container media. The rendering of subtitles, predictably, varies with container and choice of player, ensuring that visual standardization of playback of fan translated content nearly an impossible task. The variability in rendering subtitles and their playback forms part of container medias ludic potential on two fronts: from that of the fan subbers, who must navigate multiple choices to embed their translations into the medium, and from that of the fan viewer, who canin certain contextsrework the choices of fan subbers through their choice of playback programs. In fan engagement with anime, the ludic dimensions of container media appear predominantly in subtitle choices. Two strategies exist for embedding subtitles into digital video: hardsubbing and softsubbing. Hardsubbing simply merges or burns the subtitle into the video stream(s), making it an inseparable part of the video; softsubbing, in contrast, relies on a separate set of instructions (markup) read by a player to generate the subtitles. Like codecs, there is a variation in subtitle markup formats, with certain containers functioning only with certain markups. Whereas hard subtitles cannot be altered, soft subtitles can experience variation in color, font, size determined by the end user. Additionally, since hard subtitles embed the translation into the video image itself they cannot, like their soft cousins, be turned off. Typically an anime episode will employ one or the other subbing styles; the only exception is for opening and ending sequences which, depending on the fan translation group, may be hardsubbed for karaoke-style rendering of text. While all of the common containers support both subtitle formats, anime in AVI wrappers typically utilize hard subtitles. Each subbing option presents consequences for playback. Hardsubs, as in Figure 3.2, allow a group to integrate specific fonts, colors, and movement to their text. Due to the texts integration into the video stream, the text itself is subject to distortion if upscaled or played at a higher resolution than initially streamed (e.g. running a SD anime


episode at full screen on a monitor set at 1080p). Softsubs, due to their rendering by the player itself, circumvent this problem but cannot always provide the variations in font and color of hardsubs. They offer the additional perk, as Figures 3.3 through 3.6 demonstrate, of allowing the end user to alter the font in various fashions (and in some instances actually allow for alteration of the translation). The potential for the end user to alter the subtitle display (and potentially the subtitles themselves) differentiates container media from its other digital cousins by transforming the viewing experience into one of potential ludic interaction with the text. The potential to alter subtitles reflects the impact the medium has on translation in that the dynamic alteration of softsubs theoretically affords groups greater negotiation of the screen space in their translation choices (e.g. translating dekai as humongous instead of big; the former takes more screen space than the latter) and their layout of text. Consequently, even written Japanese presents fan organizations with choices for translation, as the medium allows for text to be positioned almost anywhere on the

Figure 3.2: Fairy Tail, episode 93, Kyuubi Fansubs, mp4, hardsubbed


Figure 3.3: Nurarihyon no Mago Sennen Makyou, episode 04, WhyNot?, mkv Normal rendering

Figure 3.4: Nurarihyon no Mago Sennen Makyou, episode 04, WhyNot?, mkv Larger font size


Figure 3.5: Nurarihyon no Mago Sennen Makyou, episode 04, WhyNot?, mkv Smaller font size, mirrored

Figure 3.6: Nurarihyon no Mago Sennen Makyou, episode 04, WhyNot?, mkv Smaller font size, italics, screen top


screen, akin to a canvass. The use of text in the upper part of the screen seen in the karaoke-style openings and endings of some anime (e.g. Figure 3.13) demonstrate a common example of this, yet as noted in Figures 3.7 and 3.8 the medium itself affords much more possibility that fan groups take advantage of. The placement of text in Figures 3.7 and 3.8 represent another dimension of the ludic strictures of the medium separate from language play. Not only can written text be translated, but such translations can exist simultaneously with dialogue, which as shown in Figure 3.7 need not be positioned bottom center. As a dynamic multimedia space, the potential to incorporate multiple translations on screen at oncewhether this be through written translations or the translation of overlapping dialogue or background conversationforces the viewer to selectively choose which aspects of the content to engage, paralleling the native experience of viewership. The truncated sign in the upperleft (i.e. Fruits) of Figure 3.8 reflects this sense of native experience by literally translating the visible orthography. Simultaneous overlaps in conversation need not, contrary to conventional practice, proceed linearly and be timed to prevent significant overlap; likewise, written text (no matter how insignificant) can be rendered onscreen to approximate native viewing experience. The ability of hardsubs to embed specific fonts and colors into the video means that groups can even present the translations of text in the same style and layout as in the original ensure that the end user will view them as intended. The potential to interact with the medium as a canvass represents one ludic feature of the medium, although this feature is theoretically shared, but not practiced, by its other televisual cousins. Rather, container media differentiate themselves ludically with respect to the use of subtitles. Consider the following screen shots from the anime Nichijou with respect to such rendering; figures 3.9 and 3.10 show how different players render soft subtitle markup differently and ensure variation in viewing experience. Despite the potential for both translators and viewers to engage the medium dynamically, the rules by which these


Figure 3.7: Tokyo Majin Gakuen, episode 09, Shinsen-Subs [SHS], mkv

Figure 3.8: Ah! My Goddess Goddess, episode 04, AnimeONE and AnimeYuki [AonEAnY], avi


Figure 3.9: Nichijou, episode 16, Coalgirls, mkv, KMPlayer

Figure 3.10: Nichijou, episode 16, Coalgirls, mkv, VLC


Figure 3.11: Beelzebub, episode 23, Shogakukan Fansubs & Tomodachi [SGKK-TMD], mkv

Figure 3.12: Deadman Wonderland, episode 02, Shogakukan Fansubs & Ruri Subs [SGKK-Ruri], mkv


interactions operate are generally more fluid than those by which ludology traditionally defines them. In this case, very real technical limitations surface to destabilize play: the plurality of programs fans may use in the playback of anime and its translation markup can compromise the use of screen space and the handling of text by the group. These differences in playback can cause minor annoyances, such as the doubling of text in Figure 3.11, to major problems, such as obscuring of the anime itself in Figure 3.12. Figures 3.13-3.15 offer variations in the interpretation of subtitle markup, which in turn force the viewer to approach the viewing experience differently. Figure 3.13, hardsubbed in avi, provides the most stable experience as content will be rendered similarly across players due to the integration of the fan-provided text into the video itself. More interesting, however, is the softsubbed mkv: despite no alteration of the file itself, the subtitle rendering experiences variation in size, font, and layout distinctly different from the hardsubbed iteration. All screenshots come from the opening credits of the anime High School of the Dead subbed by the group gg. The embedding of the text into the video with hardsubs ensures homogeneity of experience across players and devices that cannot be guaranteed with their softsub cousins due to how players and devices interpret the markup dictating the rendering of the subtitles. Softsubs, despite their potential for alteration during viewing, are not without problems because the rules governing their expression can vary based on playback method and capabilities of the viewer. Essentially, container media allow for certain moves but these are superseded by the end user whose playback application of choice, codecs, and device specifications serve as referee in regulating how these rules are enacted. In general, then, the ludic dimensions of container media most clearly appear in the rendition of subtitles. Fansubbers engage in play through their layouts and choices in fonts, colors, and size; fan viewers, the end users, do likewise through the manipulation of translations. But while the potential to alter the rendering of text in softsub fan


Figure 3.13: High School of the Dead opening credits, gg Fansubs [gg], avi, KM Player

Figure 3.14: High School of the Dead opening credits, gg Fansubs [gg], mkv, KMPlayer


Figure 3.15: High School of the Dead opening credits, gg Fansubs [gg], mkv, VLC

translations represents one aspect of how fans interact with the rules that scaffold container media, the differences in how players interpret subtitle markup speaks to how the medium itself regulates play. In other words, while fansubbers may intend for their translations to appear in specific fonts, locations, and colors, the medium remains the ultimate arbiter of how their choices are interpreted. End users may override some of these choices as well, although their choices remain constrained to the options afforded by the video players themselves. To ensure that their translations are viewed in the manner they intend, fansubbers must constrain ludic play by closing off these options through hardsubbing. Ludic play, however, is not limited to the technical dimensions of the medium; linguistic play, the subject of the next and subsequent sections, combines with the technical potential of container media to provide fansubbers additional ludic opportunities.


Linear Notes: The Translators Visibility Undoubtedly language remains the primary vehicle through which fans present interpretations of anime characters and representations of Japanese culture. Sociolinguistic perspectives articulate the connections between language and cultural representation as derived from a series of contexts, ranging from ideological to situational, that underlie conversational choices. In translation, the larger ideological contexts informing the show may not necessarily find purchase within the receiving culture, giving birth to strategies of localization meant to maintain the ideological nougat of the original within an ideological wrapping more familiar to the new audience. Venuti (2008) refers to this as the translators invisibility and argues that Western translation practices view texts that hide the translators presence and strip it of foreignness are treated as skillful adaptions of the original. The types of play afforded by container media with respect to subtitles in the process of translation, however, destabilize this ideological position through their integration into the anime text itself. The presence of the translator or foreignness associated with lexical material becomes reframed in this context as essential to narrative engagement with the anime. An examination of the localization strategies between two fansub groups, YuS-SHS and Rumbel-sMi, of the anime Gintama broaches the discussion of translation practice within fansubbing contexts. In this section I parse fan strategies that appear to violate the translators invisibility with respect to the translators presence, leaving the issue of foreignness to subsequent discussion. YuS-SHS and Rumbel-sMi exercise the translators invisibility in their translations to varying degrees. The differences between the translation styles and the localization strategies can be seen in the following exchange in the beginning of episode 79 between Gin (the main character), Kondo (leader of the Shinsengumi and a caricature of the historical Kondo Isami), and a character never named but identified as Kuubeis grandfather (a master swordsman who appears only in the four or so episodes that comprise this story arc). Each character has answered the call of nature only to discover


that because of the remote location of the facilities there is no toilet paper; Gins commentary on the situation is subtitled as follows: YuS-SHS Don't talk about God, even the Devil's disappeared. Rumbel-sMi Both paper and ghosts have forsaken this place.


This example is fairly representative of the differences in localization strategies between the two groups. Understanding the depth and ramifications of these differences, however, necessitates a discussion of the original Japanese in which Gin says, deadpan, kami mo hotoke mo nee, yo (; literally, neither the gods nor Buddha are here). The statement itself is a pun on a Japanese saying essentially meaning that the gods have deserted a person, and the heart of the joke lies in the fact that kami possesses two meanings: (paper) and (god); in this case, theres no toilet paper. Of minor note, but of little significance to the pun, is that hotoke can refer to the Buddha or, more generally, the dead. Semantically, kami serves as the translation fulcrum upon which localization strategies depend. YuS-SHS has opted to translate the word as God, and this choice points to localization for a Western audience through the liberties taken with the translation of the term hotoke. Strictly speaking, kami originates in Shinto practice and refers to the innumerable local divinities who inhabit natural objects and phenomenon. While not unheard of to refer to the Judeo-Christian God, use of the term in this fashion typically contains the honorific suffix -sama (). Using god while maintaining the literal use of the term in Japanese, however, would not convey the same sense to a Western audience as the term has been stripped of most religious context in the modern sense of the term: gods are something belonging to the mythologies of pagans and pantheistic whimsy but of little protective value today. The localization to God maintains the originals sense of divine protection through the alteration of one simple character, for while many in the West may shirk off gods as antiquated stories of a less


enlightened time, most are fluent in the discourses concentrating power into one monotheistic being even if they dont believe it. The choice to localize kami as God spurs the rather large disjunction between more mainstream translations of hotoke and the one offered by YuS-SHS. To maintain the localization and spirit of the original, hotoke must be transformed into a term clearly recognizable by the target audience. Yet localization strategies are not the only way in which fans engage translation ideology; the ludic dimension of container media with respect to layout employed by fansubbers to explicate their translation strategies (or lack thereof). In so doing, fansubbing practice confronts the translators invisibility through in medias res linear notes (LN) leveraging the ludic potential of the medium; I define linear notes in these contexts as any on-screen transcription external from dialogue or translation of written material (i.e. signs, letters, etc.) meant to explain lexical, cultural, historical, or social phenomena. They typically appear at the top of the screen paired with the subtitles to which they refer and as such become integrated into the viewing and experience, as seen in figures 3.16-3.25. Although all of these notes share a common trait with respect to their placement on screen, the processes by which they actually appear and their format serve as differentiation points. The identifier note or some variation of it (e.g. N, TL note) may or may not appear to offset its appearance, although the fact that they tend to appear in different styles, colors, or fonts than the translated dialogue ensures that they are not confused with each other. Despite these common elements, how linear notes appear or screen varies between groups, highlighting the different ways in which fan organizations can interact with the possibilities of container media. Figures 3.17 and 3.21, for example, offset the appearance of their notes through a drop down box seconds before the note in question is triggered. While by far the most common positioning for these linear notes remains the top of the screen, variations in placement do exist as demonstrated by figures 3.22-3.25.


Figure 3.16: Otogizoushi, episode 02, Anime-kraze [Ani-Kraze], avi

Figure 3.17: Genshiken, episode 03, Solar and Anime-Faith [Solar & Faith], avi


Figure 3.18: Hakuouki, episode 01, DatteBayo [DB], avi

Figure 3.19: Keroro Gunsou, episode 06, Hitoribochi Fansubs [HB],avi


Figure 3.20: Scrapped Princess, episode 14, Anime-Keep & Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai [Keep-ANBU], avi

Figure 3.21: Shuffle!, episode 01, AnimeUniverse Fansub Group [AnimeU], avi


Figure 3.22: Keroro Gunsou, episode 47, Doremi Fansubs & Keroro Fansubs [Doremikeroro], avi


Figure 3.23: Nagasarete Airantou, episode 03, Ayako Fansubs [Ayako], mkv

Figure 3.24: Toaru Majutsu no Index, episode 16, Eclipse Productions [Eclipse], mkv


Figure 3.25: Deadman Wonderland, episode 12, Shogakukan Fansubs & Ruri Subs [SGKK-Ruri], mkv


next to the translation conserves space and prioritizes the visual dimension of anime, which ostensibly is a visual medium. The similarity of the font to that utilized for the translationdespite its offsetting by parenthesis, brackets, or other mechanisms conflates the narrative elements of anime with translator commentary, reflecting the general purpose of linear notes: to integrate into and become inseparable from the narrative of the anime. Whether appearing on the top of the screen or elsewhere, the logic of linear notes engages the narrative of anime by functioning in concert with specific words and timing. This behavior, as intimated by the host of examples provided above, is not limited to a specific fansub group or genre of anime but, rather, pervasive within this community. How these notes operate, their grammar or taxonomy so to speak, bear relevance to how the parameters of container media function in concert with language to define the larger ludic vehicle through which fansubbers articulate their visions of Japan. I return to episode 79 of Gintama, provided in Figures 3.26 and 3.27, to demonstrate how the logic of linear notes operates in tandem with translation strategies, specifically emphasizing their relation to the role of the translator in translation ideology. The linear notes appearing at the top of the screen with Gins line support these localization strategies, but as the linear notes that accompany Gins pronouncement demonstrate, they also function as a justification of each groups localization strategies. The effects such localization strategies have will be discussed in depth in the next chapter, suffice it to say for now their inclusion challenges the invisible role of the translator in the Western logic of translation. Apropos for now, however, is the function of linear notes within the context of localization strategies. The YuS-SHS approach emphasizes the denotative meanings of kami and reduces the breadth of the word to its qualities as a signifier in the Sausserian sense of the term, wherein linguistic symbols stand in for abstract ideas and concrete objects (which, in this case, kami does both) .


Figure 3.26: Gintama, episode 79, Yuurisan-Subs & Shinsen-Subs [YuS-SHS], avi

Figure 3.27: Gintama, episode 79, Rumbel Subs & so Many idiots Fansubs [RumbelsMi], avi


Through this note, the differences between languages become fixed as merely a change in the symbolic signifier and parallel the ideology of market localization. This strategy is not without problems, however, as even with the linear note explaining the homophone the localization choice to utilize God is a stretch given the context of the scene. In contrast, the Rumbel-sMi linear note moves beyond denotative meaning and explains the usage of the phrase within a limited cultural context. While not identifying the specific religious origins of the term, the group does attempt to explain the pragmatics of the saying that derived the pun and includes that contrast within their translation. These translation choices coupled with the content of the linear note identifying the polysemy of the term kami, reinforce the translation provided by the group. The combination of practices in this example of YuS-SHSs translation strategies parallels stereotypical localization techniques aimed at stripping foreignness from a text, and the linear note referencing semantic properties of words parallels the ideological discourse on language and translation as transparent and exchangeable emerging from business and technical contexts. The Rumbel-sMi approach, however, differs in both localization practice and method. The translation of Gins lament flirts with being a literal rendition if we recall the secondary meaning of hotoke as the dead which in Buddhist practice refers to ghosts. The choice to translate kami as paper, though, might initially seem strange to the Western audience even within the context of the plot as the pun potentially goes over its proverbial head. In this case, familiarity with the cultural context of the punin this case Japanese proverbsemerges as a prerequisite to fully appreciating Rumbel-sMis translation. Most serious anime fans will know a little Japanese, and many will probably know the double entendre created by kami but linking that comprehension to hotoke requires something else, a surplus of meaning beyond the semantics of the term. The linear notes supplied by the group provide just that: they explain the cultural significance of the statement while noting the polysemy upon which the pun draws strength. These


elements synergistically combine to provide the audience with the tools needed to understand the pun and its origins, and in so doing simultaneously cast linear notes as inseparable from the narrative. While the inclusion of linear notes into anime appears to conflict with translation ideology in terms of the presence of the translator, this prohibition emerges from a general ideological aversion to narrative disruption and the maintenance of the illusion that the translated text appear non-translated. The presence of linear notes in anime, though, blurs any such disruption by integrating comments into the anime in such a way as to become inseparable from the narrative dimension tasked with advancing the story. The position of notes, their visual appearance, and even their content converge to promote their presence as essential to the text, and the manipulations of these dimensions by fans represents one major aspect of the ludic potential of container media. These areas, however, are not he only ways in which container media guide translation strategies that potentially destabilize translation ideology; the next section approaches linear notes and translation strategies from the other facet of Venutis translators invisibility: the extirpation of foreignness from a text. The Medium in Translation: Foreignness as Translation Strategy The translation approaches adopted by YuS-SHS and Rumbel-sMi provide some insight into the strengths and weaknesses of translation strategies but additionally hint at the potential uses for these strategies. YuS-SHS opts for a literal localization wherein the heart of the original beats within a new, foreign body. It is, theoretically, a cosmetic alteration. In this case, the pun takes a back seat to the overall pragmatic impact of the utterance which resonates without recourse to cultural education and, consequently, implies commensurability based on a linguistic standard wherein words convey mere informational content. Rumbel-sMi, on the other hand, engages the word as inseparable


from the cultural context through its linear notes and almost literal translation of terms. This group, however, takes the nexus between language and culture to the lexical level through its reluctance to strip foreignness from texts via translation into more familiar English terms. Episode 73 offers one of many examples of how both groups deal with individual lexical items that carry sociolinguistic implications within Japanese culture. In this episode, the ever-broke Yorozuya formulate a plan to collect matsutake mushrooms so that they can sell them and afford something other than plain rice. Matsutake are extremely rare and expensive mushrooms; within Japanese culture they are highly prized and viewed similarly to Beluga caviar within Western culture. Each group, however, differs in their approach to the term: YuS-SHS localizes it to pine mushroom while Rumbel-sMi leaves the word untouched without even a linear note describing the referent (an interesting choice considering that later in the episode the much more familiar shiitake gets a linear note stating it is a lower quality mushroom). For comparative purposes I provide an example of these translations in use below, where Kagura has discovered what she thinks is the fungus in question and seeks confirmation from Gin: YuS-SHS Is this the pine mushroom? No. That's the "kid" size. Rumbel-sMi Is this a matsutake mushroom?





No, no, this is the kiddie size.

YuS-SHS again provides a literal rendering of the term matsutake which, while accurate, performs a function more attuned to a descriptive task than hinting at sociolinguistic nuance. This is not to suggest that the decision by Rumbel-sMi to leave matsutake as is accomplishes anything different; without the proper cultural knowledge of the mushroom and its value in Japan the word does not even serve a descriptive


function. It is merely foreign, exotic. At least in the YuS-SHS translation we could make connections through the established referents we already knew, even if they were combined in new ways. Rumbel-sMi, however, offers nothing save a string of phonemes cut loose from any convenient semantic moorings. Left without referential support, we experience a linguistic version of Otherness that, in this case, conveys the rarity and exoticness implied in the original better than localization or linear notes could provide. Rather than domesticating the foreign to be palatable to Western sensibilities which the market ideology motivating localization accomplishes through the erasure or expiration of foreign contentthe choice to leave matsutake standing on its own fosters a linguistic analogue to Saids theorization of Orientalism through its evocation and maintenance of an imaginary cultural hemispheric divide. The fascination with difference and otherness in Western culture is inextricably linked to the globalization of American economic, political, and cultural might (Said, 2002), complicating Iwabuchis (2002) observation that the export and circulation of Japanese cultural media serve as grounds for recentering globalization. While the demand for Japanese cultural media have certainly increased exponentially in the past twenty years, particularly in the United States, their deployment by the Japanese government as a form of soft diplomacy and use by fans as receptacle of Japanese culture reaffirm the ideology of Orientalism that articulates an essential or inherent difference between the West and the East. As Ivy (1995) and other scholars discuss, the notion of a Japanese cultural and racial homogeneity continues to reverberate today as an underlying, albeit subdued, ideological pulse upon which national identity is predicated. The affirmation of a cohesive and national Japanese culture, first deployed by the Meiji government to forge a modern nation-state through the creation of a singular Japanese body politic has been exported, exteriorized, with governmental sanction to preserve the fictionalized sense of Japanese mythic uniqueness. The choice to leave matsutake in Japanese extends the ideologically constructed


differences between East and West to the level of language, implicitly extending essentialist discourse on the performance of culture to the level of language. The lack of translation in this context suggests that there is no equivalent term in the target language (in this case English) that, in ironically challenging the market perspective on language equivalency, reinforces Orientalist discourse. Without a referential anchor, an aura of exoticness is conjured about the termsupplemented, in part, by the fact that the group searches for this elusive Japanese referent in a mountain forest, another Other positioned against Western narratives of progress and modernity (Horkheimer & Adorno, 2002) and part of the mythic construction of Japan in both the American and Japanese imaginaries. Language and culture intertwine in this process, leaving localization of terms or concepts anemic specters of what they signify in the original. Each group engages in the practice of leaving terms in their original Japanese to some extent, either with or without support from linear notes; the guiding rule appears to be that the more integrated or used the word is in the English lexicon the more likely it will appear untranslated. But there are terms that dont easily fit into this categorization, as the Rumbel-sMi example of matsutake implies, suggesting that each group translates with particular audiences in mind. While these translation choices certainly reflect differences in style, they additionally suggest that each group expects divergent levels of cultural/linguistic familiarity with Japan from their audiences. One function of linear notes, then, is to provide cultural knowledge necessary to more completely appreciating the cultural context of Gintama. The implications of these practices will be discussed in more depth in the next chapter, suffice it to say that for now these strategies stretch across fan subbing communities as demonstrated in Figures 3.16-3.25. Two very general approaches to the inclusion of cultural notes can be seen here, what I call denotative notes and explanatory notes. Denotative notes function essentially the same as notes explaining the denotative operation of individual linguistic words such as kami in Figures 3.26 and 3.27; the linear notes in Figures 3.16-3.25 are


also examples. Notes such as this are explanatory to the extent that their purpose largely identifies the cultural referents addressed in the dialogue or displayed on screen; they supply no moorings beyond the identifications they provide. In this case, the notes above merely descriptively identify the referents and they are by far the most commonly seen of the two notes. Explanatory notes, in contrast, attempt to anchor the note and translation within a particular cultural practice. The linear notes in Figures 3.28-3.30 reflect this practice; note that while they frequently contain denotative notes it is not a requirement. It is important to emphasize that while fans utilize linear notes in these fashions, they are only able to do so due to the digital medium of the computer and the democratization of video editing tools designed for this platform. Linear notes as used in this medium function much like a hybrid between the annotated translation and editors notes of the print medium, but their utilization and impact significantly differ. Linear notes and even translations themselves can appear anywhere on the screenit is not uncommon for notes to appear on the side of the screen or, when translating written characters such as shop names, letters, and the like, for the notes to appear alongside the text in question. Layout, in other words, is fluid although convention dictates that verbal communication appears at the lower half of the frame while extra-textual material such as linear notes stake out a similar share of the top frame. Exceptions do occur, but these layout practices are by far the most common. Additionally, unlike its print cousin, font size, style, and even color can, and often do, vary to distinguish characters and different modes of communication: opening and closing credits typically differ from the font size, color, and style of character speech; linear notes can appear in different sizes and colors from character dialogue; overlapping character lines tend to be in different colors. While these features are not exclusive to the visual channels embedded within container mediaone could imagine a book or magazine utilizing their layouts in a similar fashion, and translated manga very well waythe operation of these features within a dynamic multimedia space are subject to constraints not encountered by kami however


Figure 3.28: Keroro Gunsou, episode 09, Doremi-Keroro, avi


Figure 3.29: Tokyo Majin Gakuen, episode 07, Shinsen Subs [SHS], avi

Figure 3.30: Ah! My Goddess! Everybody has Wings, episode. 11, AnimeONE and AnimeYuki [AonE-AnY], avi


the word is translated. Notes, and the translations themselves, must fit within specific time constraints and must be tailored to fit the screen so as not to obscure the visual component. Consider the following exchange, with the time stamps at which dialogue and linear notes appear:
Time 16:40 Matsudaira YuS-SHS Let me explain: This game is based on drawing lots with the chopsticks we have here written with one Shogun and the rest numbers on it. Matsudaira Rumbel-sMi Allow me to explain.


The Shogun-sama game is one where straws are made from chopsticks with a number or a Shogun on them. The one who draws the Shogun stick gets to command the others with dirty decrees and other humiliating orders. If someone draws the "Shogun" lot, he has the right to command the number he wishes to do as he says without objection. It's this sort of adult game, or should I say "King" game. So it's an adult game version LN The Ou-sama game is basically the same game as this except the orders tend to just be humiliating like in Truth or Dare of the Ou-sama game.


16:49 16:52






16:57 16:58 Otoe Oh my! Isn't Matsudaira-sama just using this game as an excuse to do sexually harassing stuff?


Really, Matsudaira-san,


you're just using this game to cover up the fact that you're doing perverted things again, aren't you? Matsudaira No no, I will only be the judge this time around. Matsudaira Not at all! After all, I'm just gonna be the silent observer this time.


To address these issues of timing and screen visibility, each group adopts a different strategy to deal with the rapid dialogue and inclusion of linear notes. SHS-YuS includes no linear notes, allowing for more room on screen and prioritizing the translation. The length of their translations is offset by the durations they are allowed to remain on screen. One significant point is the onset of Matsudairas second line, which is timed to start at 16:49, because the start of the dialogue which corresponds to this translation actually begins three seconds earlier. Rumbel-sMi, in contrast, bombards the viewer with text. The translations of dialogue, while required to fit in the same span of time as SHS-YuS, are broken into sections for easier comprehension in conjunction with the linear notes which, in this case, preempts the dialogue that prompted it. There exists, in other words, an economy of phrase permeating the medium, one that is built upon the intersection of speed and comprehension. Of course, concerns over timing and layout will be shared by any televisual medium attempting to render text on frame, but the interactive potential of container media with respect to the rendering, creation, and layout of subtitles during playback frames these media as cousins rather than siblings to cinema or television. The logic of linear notes in the formal operation and experience of the textthe subcultural motivations and impact will be analyzed in the next chapteradditionally factor into


container medias divergence. Within these contexts, the economy of phrase presents some interesting technical repercussions with respect to translation and cultural perception. The frequency and type of linear notes provided speaks to an audiences cultural competence/familiarity, while (non)translations of individual lexical itemsas in the discussion of matsutakeinfluence cultural perception. Couched within the context of container media, these translation choices are influenced by the spatial/temporal sensitive nature of the medium. The layout and word choices of Figures 3.31 and 3.32 demonstrate offer more examples of this strategy.

Figure 3.31: Gintama, episode 80, Yuurisan-Subs & Shinsen-Subs [YuS-SHS], avi


Figure 3.32: Gintama, episode 80, Rumbel Subs & so Many idiots Fansubs [RumbelsMi], avi

These issues appear in varying degrees within the following scene from the Gintama. The scene, a flashback demonstrating Okitas dislike for Hijikata, takes place in a soba restaurant. The characters are young, and Okitaa genius in swordsmanship is merely a child on not yet in his teens. Mitsuba, his sister, has overloaded her soba with ichimitougarashi (; ground red pepper flakes) to the point that a small mountain covers her meal. Kondo protests, mentioning its not good for her health and turns to Hijikata for support. In response, he overloads his soba in a similar fashion with a mountain of mayonnaise and begins to calmly eat. Kondo voices disgust and shock, while the camera shifts to Okita, contempt etched across his face. As he internally voices


his disgust, the camera switches to Hijikata. The dialogue for each version appears below: Mitsuba: YuS-SHS You must be one of those people who want to buy insurance! I don't understand what you're saying What's that?! Hijikata: Kondo: You must be the climax Whose lines are these? Are they Kinoko? They are disgusting no matter who you are trying to copy them from! Rumbel-sMi I want to bring down public health insurance with what I eat. Eh? I don't get it! What is that anyway?! Inside your mouth, it's rat-ta-ta-ta-ta, wonderful. Now who is it? Hiroko? Masami?! Either way, it's disgusting! Okita: He pisses me off. I can't stand it.


While the apparently minor differences between the two translations suggest that both groups are working from the same source material, and that the differences between them products of dissimilar cultural needs, Ventui (2008) notes that the semantic instability between referents does not invest a translator with a linguistic impunity to translate however he wishes and speaks to a more moderate approach to translation: the translators interpretative choices answer to a receiving cultural situation and so always exceed the foreign text (p. 31). Rules govern translation, and the most readily visible stem from linguistic and cultural scaffolds. Examination of the translation differences in the YuS-SHS and Rumbel-sMi versions of exchange between Hijikata, Kondo, Okita, and Mitsuba points to how rules governing language guide characterizations. From a strictly semantic perspective there is nothing amiss in either dialogue set; the overall exchange can be understood despite some fissures in referents in Hijikatas and Kondos lines. Okitas line follows a similar grammatical pattern: the YuS-SHS version positions Hijikata as the subject whereas the


Rumbel-sMi translation affords that honor to Okita himself. This difference in agent contributes to a pragmatic difference over subjecthood and responsibility that becomes clearer through an examination of the thematic roles of the sentences. Thematic roles identify the semantic relationships between a sentences argument and the predicate; they play an important role in Theta Theory, which postulates a connection between lexical case assignment, the verb, and the arguments said verb can take. The connection between the three is frequently discussed in terms of a verbs theta roles. The verbs used in the YuS-SHS and Rumbel-sMi translations above take, at minimum, two theta roles and hence need two arguments to ensure their grammaticalitythey are transitive verbs. Removing an argument in these cases alters the semantics of the sentences and grammaticality can only be achieved if the verbs are understood as intransitive (he pisses off, i.e. he leaves; I cant stand, i.e. I am unable to be upright). Additional conditions include that argument positions be occupied by noun or inflectional phrases and that semantics further narrows what type of nouns can occupy specific theta roles. To be pissed off in the manner used in the YuS-SHS translation requires identification of cause of the irethe agentand a recipientthe experiencer. The verbal arguments in the Rumbl-sMi seem to flip these roles. Based on these roles, only certain types of nouns can grammatically occupy these positions in English and make sense. He pisses me off, makes sense due to the fact that the nouns occupying the agent and experiencer roles are capable of agency and emotion, whereas he pisses books off does not as books cannot experience any emotional state. In essence, Theta Theory notes that verbs require arguments, that these arguments must be filled by nouns, and that these nouns must make semantic sense. Thematic roles share similarities with theta roles in that they are tied to the verbs arguments. Unlike theta roles, however, an argument may possess multiple thematic roles. Carnie (2002) explains the difference succinctly: theta roles are bundles of thematic relations (p. 169). While both verbs in the translations carry the same theta


roles, the thematic roles of the nouns diverge which, in turn, shapes our understanding of the characters. The YuS-SHS version contains the theta roles <agent, experiencer> which are occupied by the nouns <he, me>, yet the thematic role of the second argument can plausibly include goal if we ascribe some malice or intent to the agent. In the Rumbel-sMi case potential candidates for the first argument include experiencer or even theme. Ascribing thematic roles to the second argument presents a greater challenge due to the fact that the lack of referent for it broadens the list of thematic candidatespossible thematic roles are location, cause, perhaps even time. The multitude of possibilities in assigning a thematic role to the pronoun underscores the fact that the word itself is carries ambiguous pragmatic content and therefore forces attention to the only other noun in the utterance: I, meaning Okita. These differences in the ascribed thematic roles translate to differences in the representation of the characters. By placing Okita in the direct object position, the YuSSHS translation constructs a power relationship between Hijikata and Okita with Okita occupying the subordinate position. The thematic roles assigned to him implicitly support this: as experiencer Okita can only react to the stimulus provided by the agent, and as goal he becomes an end result or product of the agents course of action. In both cases his volition is suppressed or rendered nonexistent. If his grammatical choices in this sentence accurately reflect a larger system of (or his perception of) subordination to Hijikata, it is interesting to note that he does not even refer to Hijikata by name but, rather, relies on the third person pronoun, a strategy of ambiguity often seen as a mechanism employed by those under the thumb of subordination to recoup power. In other words, by expressing his anger through the third person pronoun Okita can credibly deny he is referring to Hijikata; it is a strategy of indirectness. When used as a strategy by men in American culture, indirectness carries connotations of untrustworthiness and even deception. The grammatical choices offered by the YuS-SHS translation, then, present a representation of Okita as a disgruntled subordinate incapable of actualizing any


change in his position. The fact that Okitas line is repeated much like a refrain throughout the entirety of the episode as he reflects on Hijikatas actions reinforces an interpretation of him as a passive, ineffectual complainer. Rumbel-sMis translation of Okitas line offers a fairly different interpretation. Instead of necessitating an agent, the chosen verb requires an experiencer to occupy the first argument which shifts the illocutionary force of the utterance by foregrounding the psychological state of the subject rather than highlighting the cause of this state. In this case, then, Okita does not overtly blame Hijikata for his frustration but his lack of attribution does not necessarily absolve him of the subordinate representation suggested in the YuS-SHS version. The conjugation of the verb in its potential form implies an ability or inherent characteristic that is beyond the control of the subjectits not that Okita doesnt want to be able to endure whatever it is the Hijikata does that angers him but, rather, that he simply doesnt have the capacity to do so or the ability to change his threshold. In this sense, his subordination rests not with Hijikata but perhaps his own passions. The fact that the only pragmatically stable nominal in his utterance is the nominative first person pronoun portrays Okita as egotistical and self-absorbed. The ramifications of this difference in representation of Okitas character reach beyond the localized context of Gintama and speak to larger issues of cultural representation that will be taken up in later chapters. Conclusion In the case of container media, the wrapper guides but does not determine the types of codecs that can be employed in its construction. This top-down hierarchical examination can be reversed, and it's is equally plausible to state that the choice in codecs determines the possible containers in which we must ultimately wrap our video. The inclusion of subtitle files, not the subtitles themselves but the text file that contains the instructions for embedding, can be viewed in this fashion as well given the fact that


specific containers support different file formats. These relationships between the wrapper and codecs draw attention to the relational quality between media and their compositional ones, a position that equally applies to "content" in the traditional, representational and narrative senses: language choices in the case of anime fansubs reflect both limitations of container media and the possibilities afforded by them. The potential for end users to manipulate the translations of fansubbers, whether this be through cosmetic alterations such as the manipulations of color, size, or positioning of text, or whether this be through more radical alterations such as the modification of words or addition of linguistic material, speaks to the ways in which the operations between media can be conceived as play. The impact container media have on the realizations of translations, whether this be through the economy of phrase or linear notes, demonstrates another realization of this play, although the consequences of such interaction bear ramifications for the perceptions of other cultures. Of course, play can only exist when there is a player, someone or something capable of reconceptualizing the existing structure of rules, and in the interactions between language and media I have articulated so far I have only discussed the role of human agents within these interactions insofar as they demonstrate larger perceptual implications of these media interactions. My choice to do so certainly reflects my main argument that we should be cognizant of the role media artifacts play in shaping translation, but more importantly the discussion has limited the context of the translation game to one of personal interaction by the fansubber or fan consumer with container media. The next chapter expands these corners by analyzing how such play takes shape within anime fan communities, specifically arguing that the ideological position fans adopt with respect to anime--its function, its purpose--comprise a facet of the translation game that fansubbers exploit in their interactions with container media and the development of their translations.


CHAPTER IV OF FANSUBS AND CULTURAL CREDIBILITY Introduction In the previous two chapters I have touched upon translation as a means of broadly arguing that language and container media operate ludically. The immediate consequences of this approach speak to the role media play in guiding fan interaction with texts, but more importantly it represents an alternative generative position from which we can theorize fan relationships to both texts and their communities, a premise that has been implied up until this point. This chapter enacts such a ludic approach by analyzing how fans navigate the rules of container media and language in the development of fan translations of anime. Of special emphasis is how these fans, who typically operate in fan translation groups or fansub groups, leverage these media to gather a following. The act of translation, I argue, represents a rhetorical move, a response, to the convergence of various rules that structure equally various experiences comprising the translation game: the rules of language as articulated in Chapter II, the rules of container media as parsed in Chapter III, and the rules governing fan ideologies that serve as the basis for this chapters analysis. Successful moves in this game result in the accumulation of subcultural capital and can only be achieved through understanding how each component relates to each other. A brief overview of subcultural capital as applied to anime fan communities foregrounds the analysis, and I frame these communities in terms of counterpublics in order to differentiate between different anime communities and, ultimately, different fansubbing communities based on their purpose and methodological approaches to subtitling. These differences allow me to extend the analysis of fan responses to the translators invisibility via linear notes and the incorporation of foreign elements into their translations introduced last chapter by developing a taxonomy for them located in


their subcultural functions within anime communities. These strategies, to generalize, reap subcultural credibility through the demonstration of Japanese cultural and linguistic prowess, areas of particular concern to anime fan communities who relate to Japanese cultural media as pedagogic devices. Fandom, particularly status within a given community, is generally marked by how much one knows about the text itself and its surrounding discourse. General knowledge, however, is not enough to guarantee status as different groups recognize different types of knowledges; Fiske (1992) notes that general knowledge on a text separates fans from non-fans, but within fan communities themselves specialized knowledge distinguishes levels of fandom. Thornton (2005), building off of Bourdieus (1984) theorization of cultural capital, discusses the circulation of such bodies of knowledge and the distinctions they invoke in fan communities as subcultural capital. For Thornton, subcultural capital operates performatively through either material objects or practices but, definitionally, relies on media for circulation. Within these contexts, it is not enough to possess knowledge but, rather, its demonstration within appropriate cultural contexts that determines ones position within fan networks. For anime fans, familiarity with not only the Japanese language but also the countrys social, cultural, and historical histories affords a level of credibility within those communities (Napier, 2005, 2007), hinting that these arenas demarcate normal, run-of-the-mill fans from the upper echelons of the communities. Despite the importance anime fans place on these discourses, however, the role media artifacts play in the construction of subcultural capitalparticularly how fans utilize themproduces no ripples in the literature, a curious fact given the defining role such media play in subcultural capital. This chapter broaches this concern by tracing how one segment of anime fansubbing communitiesthose who produce original translations, not those who reencode video or alter existing, quasi-corporate translationsengage container media to generate and establish subcultural capital via the performance of Japanese linguistic and


cultural prowess. The fact that many anime fans utilize the medium as a pedagogical tool places them, as Sakai (1997) has noted with respect to language learning in general, within subordinate relations of power with respect to teachers, in this case the fansubbers whose translations serve as linguistic and cultural study aids. While use of specific containers and codecs contribute to a groups credibility as noted in the last chapter, subcultural capital within anime communities lies in the interaction between these formal features and group-specific translation strategies that appeal to different segments of these communities. Two mutually reinforcing strategies encapsulate how linear notes circulate subcultural capital within fansubbed anime: translation choices, and internal consistency. A Quick Primer on Fansub Groups: Evolution and Current Status No extended description of the anime fansub community exists, and such a task here would be impossible. That being the case, a rudimentary outline of the types of groups engaged in fansubbing will serve as a foundation to both the complexities of the communities and their motivations. More relevant to this chapter, though, such taxonomy rationalizes my choice of specific fan translation groups. Much like the theorization of public spheres (Fraser, 1999), fan communities are varied and the anime community is no different. Anime as a term has been used as a categorical label to describe a host of divergent genres and anime fandom includes a surprising catholicity of divergent practices, making more useful to think of the anime community in plurality: as anime communities. These communities may be accurately called subcultures, but this ascribes to such groups an oppositional dimension to the primary culture that may simply not be warranted. In the case of anime fansubbing, the divergent interests of groups speak to different strategies of engagement with the discursive concerns of the larger, mainstream culture. With respect to intellectual


property, Dattebayo, one of the oldest groups around, only works on unlicensed anime and advocates fans buy DVDs when they appear in local markets; HorribleSubs, by contrast, only provides rips from anime streaming sites, stating that their motivations emerge solely to annoy streaming sites that control content. Engagement with container media and strategies of translations serve as additional dimensions by which groups can be examined. Some groups, notably THORA and Coal Girls, specialize in upscaling standard definition anime into high definition; such groups extract existing fansubs (the group doing the upscaling functions as the arbiter of what a good translation is) and embed them into video ripped from Blu-Ray source. No original translation is done by these groupsthe emphasis lies purely with re-encoding. Another category of fansubbing concerned with re-encoding exists, differing from the upscalers in that they draw their video and subtitles from corporate or quasi-corporate sources and re-encode them. HorribleSubs rips material directly from the site Crunchyroll, and many popular and obscure groups (Kanjouteki, Tsuki, Color Me Subbed) in turn re-encode the HorribleSubs rips. Most changes are cosmetic, although at times these groups will reword and provide minor alterations to translations. They do not, however, engage in any substantive original work of their ownat best they can be classified as technically savvy content editors. A third category of fansubbing practice, the one this chapter is concerned with, produce their own original work from translation to encoding; this category has suffered attrition from democratization and despecialization of encoding technologies and the relative speed at which pseudotranslation groups such as in the second category can release their work. Dattebayo, Shinsen Subs, Rumbel, and SGKK represent a few groups in the contracting membership of this category (and some, like Shinsen Subs, no longer exist). The reasons for the decline of original fan translation groups represents an argument in and of itself beyond the scope of this chapter as I hesitate to engage in


traversing a theoretical rabbit hole unrelated to fan uses of container media2, but understanding some of the historical context in in which these organizations operated provides a modicum of grounding in terms of the evolution of fan communities and their shifting priorities. While evolutions in Internet technologies, specifically distribution networks and network speed, play a large role, they have not killed fan groups who engage in original translations so much as provided fertile soil in which groups of the second category mentioned above can flourish. The restrictions placed on distribution discussed in the last chapter restricted distribution online to a very small group and limited file formats. Real Networks rmbv file format was popular, as it allowed content to be streamed and boasted relatively low file sizes. The tradeoff was in quality, although this was not entirely the fault of the encoding process as the technologies involved in capturing TV broadcasts, not to mention the analogue quality of the broadcasts themselves, were equally poor compared to contemporary standards. Dial-up dominated the Internet industry, and max speeds of 56.6Kbps severely impeded the downloading of large file sizesespecially since resumable downloading technologies were still in their infancy and not every server supported the technology. Additionally, dial-up connections shared the phone line, so using it to go online tied up other communications and, in part due to this, the connection itself was tenuous: merely picking up the phone interfered with Internet connectivity. In short, a dropped connection represented a waste of hours of download activity as it rendered the file unusablea particularly frustrating occurrence when the file was 90% complete. This was the turn of the millennium, where VHS still reigned supreme as a cheap method of recording, and video capture cards produced monstrous file sizes when

2 Specifically, I am referring to the connections between technology and speed endemic to late capitalism that Virilio theorizes.


converted to digital stream. In part because of these limitations many groups distributed VHS copies of their work, which in turn were copied and soldto those who knew where to askin local video and hobby stores. The community of fansubbers was small, and the quasi-underground nature of the industry fostered a sense of elitism and community typical of fandom. Those who viewed these fan translations, in other words, were already in the know and possessed a modicum of Japanese cultural knowledge. With the democratization of broadband in the early- to mid-2000s (Horrigan, 2009), distribution of large file-size anime rapidly receded as an impediment to fan communities and, spurred by the Japanese governments adoption of its popular cultural products as a form of soft powerCartoon Networks Toonami, airing weekdays in the late afternoon and the precedent to Adult Swimmore people became exposed to anime with the resulting, predictable, increase in public exposure facilitating an increase in fan base. The rapidity in which modern distribution networks can stream data means that fans can view anime hours after they are aired in Japan, creating a rift in fan communities over speed versus quality. Capitalizing on these network advancements, sites such as Crunchyroll and Anime News Network (ANN) have forged agreements with Japanese producers and broadcasters, along with American distributors, to provide legal alternatives to fan distribution of Japanese animation intellectual property. Of course, one defining characteristic of fandomat least from fan perspective is its outsider status, and corporate leveraging of Internet technologies has met little success within established fan communities. Resistance to the steaming model of anime distribution takes shape in current fan practice by technologically inclined fans ripping the streamed content from these licensed sites and distributing the files via the older, established fan networks such as BitTorrent or direct download (DDL) file storage sites, although the latter are now unreliable. These rips provide the base for many other fan translation groups (the second category noted earlier). This trend, however, tends to apply mainly to currently airing anime where fans prioritize speed. Technical advances


have also altered the sources from which fans draw upon for their video, with rips from Blu-ray and DVD sources not uncommon due to their higher quality when compared to television or Internet streams. The utilization of such sources, naturally, is a consequence of advances in capture quality, but also indebted to evolutions in network distributions speedswhile a single mkv episode may push 400 MB, its lossless Blu-ray ripped cousin may boast a bandwidth clogging 2.5 GB. Whole disks, which typically contain four episodes on a Japanese Blu-ray, can reach excesses of 16 GB. In short, the prevalence of anime online and particularly the speed at which translations are available, whether it be via licensed sites such as Crunchyroll, HorribleSubs rips from these licensed sites, or other venues, have impacted fan subbing groups predominantly through fragmentation of their fan bases. As digital media are compositional to the display and distribution of subcultural capital, understanding how anime fansub groups engaged in original translation employ container media to these ends. Particularly relevant to the core claims of this chapter is how this segment of the fansub community interacts with the larger ideological mechanisms of translation within container media in order to stoke subcultural capital. Some groups adopt a position affirming what Venuti (2008) describes as the translators invisibility, not disrupting the viewing experience with linear notes or foreign elements at all, while others adopt various practices that attempt to minimize such intrusion by placing extended notes at the end of the anime (Figure 2.29 from Shinsen Subs work on Tokyo Majin Gakuen in the last chapter), and/or replace foreign characters with English translations (Figures 2.8 and 2.10 in the previous chapter). Rather than discuss a range of groups, I focus primarily on how two groups, Rumbel-sMi (Rumbel) and Shinsen Subs-Yuurihan Subs (SHS-YuS) engage container media in their translations (technically, the two groups are actually four separate groups, but it is not uncommon for groups to combine resources or even share members). As groups, membership constantly changes and as a result the translation strategies enacted by the same group between different anime may also be different


(compare the SHS practice of placing linear notes at the end of an anime referenced above versus the strategies that I will discuss in this chapter); due to this, I focus exclusively on the anime Gintama. My rationale for this choice is twofold. First, the shows penchant for cultural and historical parody through postmodern signification lends itself to explication via linear notes. As a result, there is more material, on average, to draw upon compared to other anime, which in turn offers a less occluded view of how fansubbers navigate the linguistic, container media-specific, and discursive games with respect to subcultural capital. My second rationale for choosing Gintama lies in the fact that it is one of the few anime series to experience overlapping fan translations, which allows for convenient comparative analysis when necessary. In so doing, I can more clearly articulate how different strategies function. Language and Linear Notes: Subcultural Capital Thorntons (2005) theorization of subcultural capital combined with Napirs (2007) observations regarding anime fan communities offers an adequate starting point from which to engage the uptake of linear notes and their relation to translation choices. Building off of Bourdieus concept of cultural capital, Thornton defines subcultural capital as objectified or embodied practices largely circulated by media and confer status on its owner in the eyes of the relevant beholder (p. 186); subcultural capital is laden with power relationships and exercising these objectified or embodied practices enables one to speak with authority and presume the inferiority of others. Napier (2007), too, speaks of subcultural capital in anime fans, noting that knowledge of anime and Japanese culture drives part of its construction: In the case of anime fandom, once can argue that learning about Japan (as opposed to knowing about anime) added to the fans cultural capital. Mastering a foreign language or simply gaining knowledge of a foreign culture can be a genuinely empowering activity (p. 186). Fan use of anime as a tool to


learn both Japanese culture and language positions proficiency in one or both domains as facets of subcultural capital in the arena of fan translation, particularly given the skepticism and unease with which fans treat corporate renditions due to mainstream ideologies of translation that impede their pedagogical consumption of Japanese cultural media. Less important to the development of subcultural capital is a groups proficiency with media technologies and their ability to rapidly release episodes in specific formats. Understanding fan translation and consumption practices in this fashion offers an explanation of fan engagement with computer media as well as their rejection of the translators invisibility through linear notes: for fansubbing groups, linear notes operate as embodied practices demonstrating their linguistic aptitude and cultural prowess. This operation can be seen in both the denotative and explanatory varsities of linear notes, which derive their legitimacy through overt integration into the narrative of the anime. Gintamas status as a cultural provides numerous examples of this process, as much of the contentfrom plots to jokes to character namesoriginates from current and obscure cultural history. Episode 74 demonstrates the range of ways linear notes are approached by fan groups to foster cultural explication; the plot of this episode relies on a series of jokes and references to the manga Kochikame, and can be read as a tribute to the series which was celebrating its 31st anniversary at the time the episode aired. While popular and known in Japan, it has not been licensed in America and not familiar to mainstream American audiences and perhaps even younger generations of anime fans. As a result, many of the jokes and references may well be lost on the American fan base. Figures 4.1-4.4 provide a sample of the linear notes given by Rumbel-sMi to supplement this episode. The notes provided comprise both the denotative and explanatory types defined in the last chapter; in this context they primarily function as a means of deepening viewer understanding of the context of the show. Their integration into the text with this


Figure 4.1: Gintama, episode 74, Rumbel-sMi, avi The LN reads: Ryo-II = Ryotsu, the main character of the Kochikame manga.


Figure 4.2: Gintama, episode 74, Rumbel-sMi, avi. The LN reads: B-Super5963 = Pronounced "Buchou, gokuro-san," or "Nice work, chief," is a phrase often heard in Kochikame.


Figure 4.3: Gintama, episode 74, Rumbel-sMi, avi. The LN reads: The manga chapter corresponding to this episode was written a year previous. Thus, when this episode aired it was already the 31st anniversary.


Figure 4.4: Gintama, episode 74, Rumbel-sMi, avi. The LN reads: The characters in Katsuras hair = LaSalle, as in LaSalle Ishii, the voice actor for Kankichi Ryotsu in Kochikame.


presumed purpose fosters an apparent paradox: in identifying cultural referents and parsing linguistic jokes, the linear notes facilitate narrative engagement and thereby become integrated into the text, yet in so doing they diverge from ideological practices of good translation. To quickly summarize these tensions, translation ideology effaces the role of the translator in the West largely due to lingering Romantic notions of the author and status of the text itself (Venuti, 2008). This is exacerbated by similarly lingering modernist conceptions of the transparency of language and adopted within market, scientific, and legal systems. These systems imply that the text remains the same across languages and that the role of the translator relegated to the background of the text. First and foremost, linear notes in anime grate against both by explicitly drawing attention to the translation itself as a construct subject to variation and, additionally, the role of translators in this construction. But the subcultural needs of the various anime viewing communities suggest that the visibility of the translator functions with a similar telos: namely to provide readable,smooth texts. Both denotative and explanatory notes justify the translations offered by different groups and rationalize divergent translations choices by smoothing over translations that would appear unnatural or stiff without them. The dialogue

excerpt between Hijikata, Kondo, Okita, and his sister discussed in the previous chapter can be further explicated within the context of these linear notes. When first introduced, the conversation did not include the linear notes; I repeat the conversation here with the liner notes: Yuurisan Subs and Shinsensubs (YuS-SHS) You must be one of those people who want to buy insurance! I don't understand what you're saying What's that?! Rumbel Subs and sMi (Rumbel-sMi) I want to bring down public health insurance with what I eat. Eh? I don't get it! What is that anyway?!





You must be the climax

Inside your mouth, it's rat-ta-ta-ta-ta, wonderful. Hijikata is making a reference to "Sailor Suit and Machine Gun." Hiroko and Masami are the names of the two actresses who played the main character in the 1981 movie and the 2006 drama



Whose lines are these? Are they Kinoko? They are disgusting no matter who you are trying to copy them from!

Now who is it?

Hiroko? Masami?! Either way, it's disgusting! Okita: He pisses me off. I can't stand it.

Without the linear note, Rumbel-sMis rendition of Hijikatas lines appeared out of place, a non-sequitur within the overall exchange. Viewed with the linear note, however, Hijikatas reaction appears smoother even if we do not necessarily understand the context in which the original was produced. The linear note itself is a good example of a denotative one as it merely states the links in the cultural chain of signification; in this fashion the linear note becomes integrated into the translation itself and its presence essential to maintaining the smooth and readable translations Western audiences expect. This process is particularly important when the translation itself appears to contain errors. Consider the translation offered in Figure 4.5: what might be viewed as a typo and disruptive to the viewing experience, much like the errors of Lux-Pain discussed previously, is transformed in this instance into a demonstration of Rumbels linguistic aptitude. The explanation of Toujos irregular pronunciation demonstrates the groups phonetic prowess in differentiating between morphemes which within the context of the consumption of anime for pedagogical purposes assists viewers in training their own ears.


Figure 4.5: Gintama, episode 83, Rumbel-sMi, avi The LN reads: Toujo says "wakarimoshita," instead of "wakarimashita," which would mean, "I understand."


Equally important, however, the inclusion of the linear note reinforces the translation provided and justifies the groups choice, articulating a symbiotic relationship between the two. Essential to this relationship, and the establishment of subcultural capital in container media, is the visibility of the linear note as without it the group can neither show its skill with language nor assert that its translation is faithful. The use of linear notes in this fashion, however, is paradoxical to the expectations of Western audiences and the ideology of translation reflected in the translators invisibility. Skillful translations, defined primarily by readability approximating a native text and the extirpation of foreign elements, erase the translator from the product, but in the case of anime fansubbing their inclusion serves very real subcultural needs: for fan communities who utilize anime to learn about the Japanese language and culture, removal of foreign content itself is tantamount to executing the cultural and linguistic heritage that defines anime. In order to accommodate this preference, the translator must make his or her presence overtly known through linear notes and in so doing, their textual additions become intertwined with embodied subcultural capital due to the fact that many fans are in the process of learning the Japanese linguistic, cultural, and historical maps and therefore in a restricted position to challenge the narratives provided by fansubbing organizations. The types of knowledges fan translation groups choose to visibly demonstrate through linear notes in their works are varied, ranging from what many fans may consider obvious to the relatively obscure. The plurality of topics on which fan translation organizations offer linear notes reflects, in part, the requirement of visibility in staking out subcultural capital, but given that members of fan communities carve their identities out of specialized knowledge the explication of generic, readily identifiable popular cultural icons appears counterproductive to gathering subcultural capital within these specialized communities. YuS-SHS, for example, includes a note in episode 73 establishing that Luigi is from Super Mario Brothers, and Rumbel-sMi points out that


the monsters in episode 82 are a parody of Pokmon. Both groups take the time in episode 79 to note the origins of Yamucha and Tenshinhan of Dragonball Z, deigning to explain the origins of Yoda or Bigfoot referenced 30 seconds prior. Each of these references have met with commercial success in the U.S. and certainly have recognition within anime fan communities such that explication or identification of the references serves little pedagogical function and does not even establish the group as competent to navigate the currents of Japanese culture (see Figures 4.6-4.9 for examples). Rather, practice in this vein may be construed as a means of establishing their role not as fans of one particular anime but instead a series of anime and their communities. After all, the anime fan community is not a singular entity: it is a varied and diverse collection of groups whose interests are equally varied and diverse. Those who watch Gintama may not be fluent in the icons of other anime or Japanese media such as video games, a rationale that offers justification for the breadth of linear notes across diverse forms of Japanese cultural media such as video games, anime and manga with which fans commonly engage. Through identification of these specific media circulating in varying fan circles, fansubbing groups can begin to carve a niche within multiple fan communities. This explains one function of linear notes identifying references in other, older anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam3 as well as those identifying more recent series such as Bleach, Naruto and One Piece4. Notes on manga further embody their Japanese cultural prowess with animation and drawing, but demonstrating intimate knowledge of anime and other closely cognate Japanese cultural media does not guarantee an invitation to the upper echelons of any given anime
3 Series aired in Japan in the late 1970s and early 1980s; it appeared on U.S. shores in 2001 on Cartoon Network but was cancelled before the entire series ran. Both YuS-SHS and Rumbel-sMi explain the reference in episode 79 of Gintama. 4 Rumbel-sMi notes in a series quick notes in episode 86 the origins of a number of items Gin and Okita are wearing and carryingall from series currently airing and popular in both America and Japan.


Figure 4.6: Gintama, episode. 73, YuS-SHS, avi The LN reads: TL notes: Luigi is from Super Mario Brothers


Figure 4.7: Gintama, episode. 82, Rumbel-sMi, avi The LN reads: Gintokis line and the monsters themselves are a parody of Pokmon


Figure 4.8: Gintama, episode. 79, YuS-SHS, avi The LN reads: TL note: Another reference to DBZ


Figure 4.9: Gintama, episode. 79, Rumbel-sMi, avi The LN reads: Tenshinhan = Another character from the Dragon Ball series.


community; rather, due to the common utilization of anime as an entrance into larger historical, cultural, and social discourses of Japan a working knowledge of these nonpopular cultural discourses is equally necessary. Fansubbers, in essence, strive to demonstrate equal fluency outside the anime kingdom, constructing themselves as more broadly informed renaissance fans. The types of referents that appear with linear notes are varied, as shown in Figures 4.10-4.16 on the next pages, with Table 4.1 below listing the linear notes for ease of reference:

Table 4.1: List of LN topics in Figures 4.10-4.16

Figure 4.10 4.11 4.12 Episode 84 80 82 Linear Note Nico Nico is a popular video streaming site in Japan, and "Rumi" is a popular cat name. A Narita divorce is when a couple divorces after they arrive home at Narita International Airport from their honeymoon abroad. "Ramen with rice" refers to putting rice in the leftover soup for the ramen noodles. Chikara udon is a hot udon dish that is topped with mochi rice cakes." TL note: Hard Boiled is a 1992 Hong Kong film featuring an undercover cop and a gang shootout, and can also take to mean a "tough attitude" TL note: Princess Kaguya is a legendary fairy who resides in the moon "Benjou Warashi," translated as "Toilet Child," is a play on the "Banchou Sarayoushiki" folktale, also used in Episode 68. Note: Red Circle probably refers to an off-brand imprint, as started by Archie Comics



4.14 4.15 4.16

75 79 4

As demonstrated in the last chapter these practices are not isolated to Gintama, although the shows penchant for postmodern referential play ensures liberal dispersion of linear notes as fans struggle to demonstrate the reserves of their linguistic and cultural fonts in even the most obscure of contexts. The range of topics covered by these notes


Figure 4.10: Gintama, episode 84, Rumbel-sMi, avi.


Figure 4.11: Gintama, episode 80, Rumbel-sMi, avi The LN reads: A Narita divorce is when a couple divorces after they arrive home at Narita International Airport from their honeymoon abroad.


Figure 4.12: Gintama, episode 82, Rumbel-sMi, avi The LN reads: "Ramen with rice" refers to putting rice in the leftover soup for the ramen noodles. Chikara udon is a hot udon dish that is topped with mochi rice cakes."


Figure 4.13: Gintama, episode 84, YuS-SHS, avi The LN reads: TL note: Hard Boiled is a 1992 Hong Kong film featuring an undercover cop and a gang shootout, and can also take to mean a "tough attitude"


Figure 4.14: Gintama, episode 75, YuS-SHS, avi The LN reads: TL note: Princess Kaguya is a legendary fairy who resides in the moon


Figure 4.15: Gintama, episode 79, Rumbel-sMi, avi The LN reads: "Benjou Warashi," translated as "Toilet Child," is a play on the "Banchou Sarayoushiki" folktale, also used in Episode 68.


Figure 4.16: Gintama, episode 04, SHS, avi The LN reads: Note: Red Circle probably refers to an off-brand imprint, as started by Archie Comics


Japanese myth and fairy tales, popular cultural trends, foreign films, and food offer a glimpse into the latitude fans take with supplying information to fans and positions the practice as an almost textbook example of postmodern signification. Identifying and articulating connections between various cultural referents across media and across decades, these notes perform cultural finesse via the selective repackaging of Japanese (pop) culture to be consumed by fan viewers; the emphasis on cultural prowess differentiates credibility within non-Japanese fan communities from that of their Japanese otaku cousins: while Japanese fans fetishize the visual aspects of anime (Lamarre, 2009), they have little need of cultural linear notes, being absorbed in the culture in question. For non-Japanese fan consumers of anime these notes facilitate their goals of learning both the Japanese language and the culture, and a groups silence on cultural referents implieslegitimately or nota lack of familiarity with source material to engage in this signification game. Indeed, as a text that integrates popular cultural material into its jokes and plot lines, Gintama challenges viewers to identify the references embedded within the show, rewarding those who can keep up with that very sense of superiority that serves to separate casual fans from those in the know. As embodied practices, credibility is largely derived from the perspective of the viewer, and the appearance of Japanese linguistic, cultural, and historical proficiencies is all we can glean from these linear notes: whether or not these groups can freely utilize these knowledges is secondary, as the linear notes themselves carry the burden of credibility by virtue of being the only means through which fans can interrogate a groups or individuals prowess. Visibility, then, is an essential part of credibility in the fansubbing context and motivates the practices resistance to mainstream translation ideology with respect to translator presence. While linguistic discrimination establishes groups as capable translators, anime fans equally hunger for cultural and historical nuggets to broaden their perspective. Given the currency fans of anime place on cultural prowess, linear notes of both varieties


function as a means of legitimating the groups status as proficient and capable translators. Drawing strength in part from the syntax of the linear notes themselves and their function as a justification of the translation provided, the utilization of linear notes offers a demonstration of both the linguistic and cultural prowess of the group. Foreign Words: Selective Fissures in Translations While the demonstration of knowledge integral to subcultural capital in container media must be explicitly visible in order to indicate ones proficiency, this needs not take place exclusively via linear notes. The refusal to purge foreign elements from a translation presents another opportunity, albeit one often used in tandem with linear notes, to mark ones credentials. Within the context of anime fansubbing, however, the choice to leave untranslated islands of Japanese words in English translations speaks less to a rejection of such ideology as it does to the discursive concerns of anime viewing communities. Given the status linguistic and cultural performance afford within anime communities, lack of translations may been seen as an extension of the gambit for subcultural capital predicated upon linguistic differentiation between audiences and between individual lexical items. This differentiation, as with linear notes, operates only through visibility. The first and most obvious claim that can be made with respect to audiences is that the use of Japanese terms in English translations functions to separate and categorize divergent levels of knowledge. As seen in the last chapters discussion of the search for the elusive matsutake, not all Japanese words are rendered into their English equivalents or provided with explanatory linear notes. Like the grammatical ruptures associated with Lux Pain, these foreign elements produce a degree of immersive dissonance related to the breakdown in linguistic referentiality; the absence of linear notes operating in conjunction with the translated narrative leaves the viewer, particularly one whose Japanese linguistic and cultural knowledge remains budding, without a capable cognitive


map to effectively link the referential chain of signification. This almost certainly comprises one facet of why good translations are deemed to be ones stripped of foreignness, as they avoid such disorientation by linguistically sanitizing the text to promote homogeneity of referential access. Refusal to localize, in contrast, implies that these referents do indeed carry specific baggage rendering them untranslatable. In so doing fansubbing groups position themselves as arbiters of multiple nodes of proficiency ranging from linguistic to cultural to historical that collectively comprise Japan as an object of study within the fan community and serve as the nexus from which hierarchical power radiates. One translation in particular provides an archetypical example of how untranslated terms operate on multiple levels to identify varying knowledge skill sets: Rumbel-sMis use of the term joui in episode 86. The term refers to a belief system originating in the bakumatsu that advocated the expulsion of foreigners from Japan; like many Japanese terms, there is not an easy, succinct translation that captures the gravity of what the word implies. YuS-SHS translates the term as nationalist, a choice most American fan viewers could readily identify with due to twenty-first century conservative discourse linking nationalism with the expulsion of illegal immigration, but the differing historical contexts construct nationalism in these periods quite differently, and the utilization of joui by Rumbel-sMi, instead of a translation, explicitly demarcates divergent significations and implies a familiarity with Japanese historical and cultural trends that, coupled with a lack of linear notes explaining the choice, are shared by a specialized segment of the fan community. Uncommon in general usage, the choice to leave the word in Japanese demands a similar background from fan audiences if they are to fully appreciate the nuance of the terms use. Any choice to not translate a term experiences a similar intersection of these discursive dynamics, although not every instance carries the same discursive weight. It is one thing to claim that joui or even matsudake carries culturally-bound significations best


left wrapped in the original, but it is admittedly harder to practically resolve how the refusal to translate tonkatsu as pork cutlet (as in the translations offered by RumbelsMi and Yus-SHS episode 75) operate on the same plain as more historio-politically laden terms such as joui. With respect to the flow of subcultural capital within the anime communities, however, judgment with respect to the efficacy of Japanese terms, regardless of the (lack of) discursive relationships percolating underneath, rests with the individual viewers: subcultural capital is conferred, Thornton notes, through perceptions of fans. Different fans will react differently to the use of Japanese words without gloss based on their own Japanese skill sets, but there is the additional caveat that, in general, fan communities prefer lingering Japanese referents in their anime as it facilitates their learning and maintains a semblance of Japanese-ness to the anime. A more significant corollary to the perceptive characteristic of subcultural capital, then, affirms that fansubbing groups need not actually possess the knowledge they offer but, rather, effectively demonstrate it. Whether or not Rumbel has an encyclopedic knowledge of the historical context of joui is irrelevant: what matters is how the group utilizes container media to give the appearance of knowledge. Linear noteswhether explanatory or denotativejustify translations and give the appearance of knowledge, allowing fans to consume these works to facilitate their own learning. Leaving terms in their original Japanese operates in a parallel fashion by demarcating hierarchical group statuses based on sociolinguistic proficiency. Concluding Remarks: Subcultural Capital and Perceptive Plurality If we understand language, particularly translation, as a ludic practice and if we frame fan engagement with container media in the same light, then differences between fansubbed texts represent pluralitydifferent methods by which distinct translation groups navigate multiple, intertwining rules of play emergent from multiple media. In


this respect, linear notes represent one aspect of this play and serve to reinforce or justify translations provided by groups which, in turn, operate as a means of subcultural capital. In garnering subcultural capital, then, the accuracy of translations is not as important as the way in which fansubbing organizations leverage container media. Different fan organizations approach anime and the processes of translation which as I have argued necessitates consideration of the medium as part of this process differently. These differences emerge from differences in their ideological outlook on translation as well as the discursive priorities of the communities for whom they envision themselves translating. The relationship between these communities and their work in container media, however, should not be construed as a causal one; while discursive forces certainly play a role in shaping fansubbers interactions with container media, I have been arguing that these factors are but one constituent force in human interaction with them as such interactions emerge from a relational engagement with how we perceive media artifacts in conjunction with what the artifact is capable of doing. In this respect, the synergistic function of linear notes with the translations in conjunction with the appearance of terms in their original Japanese reflects the fact that fan communities approach anime for linguistic and cultural developmental purposes but only achieves efficacy within the potentiality of container media. The interplay between the two fields implies plurality in how Japanese culture can be represented and perceived through anime. While the differences can at times be minor, as noted in Chapter III even these subtle differences at times provide radically different constructions of the characters. The inclusion of linear notes and foreign words into translation practices further fractures the singular narrative portrayal of anime in that their integration into the anime alters the viewing experience by attempting to provide a more native experience. As different groups cater to different communities, viewing two different translations of the anime episode will result in a narratively similar but representationally and perceptually different experience. These differences set the stage


for different relations, personal and perceptual, to Japanese culture. In the face of such plurality, we are no longer hostage to the hegemony of singular representationsthe case most relevant to anime being the market ideology of licensing that legitimizes one voiceand can freely challenge stereotypical and Orientalist constructions of Japanese cultural practice.


CHAPTER V EXPANDING THE FIELD: CONCLUDING REMARKS ON MEDIA COMPOSITION AND ENGAGEMENT I began this dissertation from the rather casual position that the different translations to Kondos problem offer glimpses at the individual strands comprising the larger discursive webwork of anime, specifically the relationships between the medium and language as it relates to translation, fan engagement with these two fields in the production of translations, and the subcultural reception of different translation strategies. While I have done my best to parse these themes for individual attention and analysis, one unifying theme in this dissertation is the reality that they operate in tandem--to demarcate and compartmentalize them overlooks how each of these strands co-constitute media engagement, and these interactions between media, fans, and subcultures should be viewed as a ludic endeavor. With respect to interactions with media, ludic engagement occurs as people encounter and, most importantly, respond to the strictures imposed by the technological and formal properties of the medium upon unfettered free play. Naturally, as with all games human interaction defines engagement, but this is because of the possibilitynay, the predilectionof human agents to change the rules, redefine the parameters of interaction, as engagement unfolds. But the potential to do this, however, is not absolute: formal properties of the medium guide, and quite frequently limit, the types of engagement possible. It is the struggle to overcome such limitations, to invent novel ways of interacting with a medium to meet our needs, that motivates my position that ludic practices in this vein are generative, productive affairs. So, in keeping with the dissertation's argument that ludic tensions generate novel forms of engagement, I conclude with some observations over the potential this theory of media has in the larger realm of media studies, along with some reflections on the developmental challenges it


must face to succeed. Two very broad applications to the study of media seem apropos: first, how my taxonomy of media facilitates our understanding of new media technologies and second, how adopting this categorization offers a subtler understanding of the complexities of media engagement, particularly as the relate to translation and cultural representation. Understanding of how media and fans co-construct translations and textual engagement establishes a beachhead in differentiating related families of media, offering a theoretical rationale for distinctions circulating in various public spheres regarding closely related media objects. Such an approach emphasizes not the purpose or use-value of the medium in question but, rather, how tracing the intersections between the properties of a mediums compositional media elements differentiate similar media artifacts. Video game remakes provide a case in point: the original Final Fantasy, first released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), has been ported to the Nintendo DS and iterations can even be found on mobile phone platforms. Narratively and ludically they are similar games, as the story and internal gameplay function roughly the same despite minor alterations to both systems. These two features construct the operational definition of the medium of the video game, but there is something qualitatively different about playing Final Fantasy on the iPhone, the DS, or the original 8-bit systemand those who play video games recognize this difference. At its core this approach to media relies on analyzing configurations: of rules, of interactions, of structures. Much like Lyotards theorization of language games, one can conceive of this approach as guided by conflict in which the generation of novel approaches or interactions with media comprises the important analytical threshold. We must be wary, however, of devolving into endless regression in our pursuit of understanding how media co-constitute other media, and I admit little practical reflection on this problem at this stage. After all, language is composed of individual words, which in turn are comprised of morphemes, which derive existence from phonemes. Or the


dialogue we hear in a video game or animeparticularly when coupled with subtitles finds prior purchase in the medium of writing, which can endlessly digress in compositional media until we reach whatever obscure origin we want. To make a mathematical comparison, medium X is comprised of a number of X media, of which a number of X media form their constituent parts, and they themselves are comprised of X media and so on. Theoretically and abstractly this regression makes sense, but at some point a line must be drawn to prevent any analysis from becoming too obtuse. After all, the more levels down one progresses the more potential media exist, presenting choices over analytical paths laden with power relationships. Furthermore, it is almost certain that the same compositional media will appear at different derivative levels, and should these be treated as similar or different? My earlier statement comparing media to apples complicates this here by suggesting they are different, at least qualitatively, and I can see how language comprising audio differs from that in writing. But what about moments when the same medium appears? I do not have the answers to these admittedly narrow and hypothetical cases, but details do matter and the topic should serve as one of many starting points into the compositional theorization of media. That said, I have arbitrarily drawn it at the X and X stages as my larger concern is with advancing how a compositional approach to media would work, itself a necessary step prior to the hashing of minutiae; I leave it to others to theorize and practice more regressive cyclical approaches. Analyzing the formal properties of media, given form via the configurations of their compositional media, offers one way to understand how related families of media qualitatively differ. The potential for haptic engagement, for example, comprises one part of the difference between the various platforms on which Final Fantasy appears, but equally part of the mix is the human relationship to technology, how media technologies are understood and framed within the various (sub)cultural spheres in which they circulate. The proportions to which these rules should be seen as comprising media is a


difficult question, as is how far we should pursue the contributions of a mediums component media. While the relationships between component media motivate the types of rules and their salience in media artifacts, we must not forget these rules only make sense when positioned within the realm of human interaction. Shifting social and ideological discourses shape our use of mediaand, at times, impose limitations on themjust as much as the eclectic set of rules inherited from compositional media. Introduce subcultural proscriptions and prescriptions and we are left with an erratic alchemical formula for predicting media engagement. Different configurations produce different media, whether these are the somewhat rigid proscriptions imposed by the formal properties of the constitutive media in question or surrounding social, historical, or cultural rules associated with said media. Adopting this position necessitates that we integrate an analysis of how a given community understands the media object in question within not only socio-cultural configurations, but also with respect to other media artifactswhether compositional to the object under scrutiny or notand its position within discourses of technology. This approach builds on theoretical frameworks concerned with social and cultural critiques but, though its emphasis on relationships and configurations of media technologies among each other and within these larger spheres, articulates how such relationships inform media engagement in specific periods or across time. Translation presents a clear horizon from which to enter this territory where familiar vistas of representation, politics, and market relations overlap; while I focus on anime, the same principles here apply to any text that operates in multiple linguistic communities. In applying my theorization of how communities engage media as outlined above, I have emphasized the role of language and asserted its role to be less protean and more quantum: we cannot analyze it from both a ludic and narrative perspective at the same time as the rules are different albeit not incommensurable.


In approaching language as a narrative device, we prioritize its representational characteristics that seek to forge stable relationships between words and their corresponding concepts or real-world objects. Certain objects may boast clusters of words surrounding them, but pragmatically and semantically they convey different meanings as otherwise there would be little need for differential nuance. While big and humongous or pink and salmon may refer to roughly the same concept, the existence of different terms points to some need, cultural or otherwise, for distinction. The difference can be visualized as being a mist versus a stream; in this light, two different translations will speak to two different albeit similar representationsthe overall meaning (hopefully) remains in the same diffuse area, but each instance presents a singular interpretation. What complicates this affair is, of course, the ludic nature of language of which semantics and pragmatics play one part. Language choices made in translation are influenced by the medium in which the translation appears. Video games, for example, operate with limitations of screen size and file size while container media carry additional considerations of encoding and timing. Understanding media engagement as a series of tensions between formal properties and socio-cultural discourses, however, we must reconcile the process of translation as engagement with not only the medium in which it appears but also the contextual discourses in which the medium itself occupies. A translated book, for example, is constrained not only by page sizes but also word counts mandated by publishers to ensure a more marketable product; different broadcast media ecologies impact translations program length and commercial interruptions. Regardless of the focus, constraints in this vein can impact the representations offered in these media by forcing the use of cognate words or grammatical patterns that result in a generally similar meaning across different versions of the same text. When one begins to alter language to fit the constraints of another medium, then one begins to engage the ludic dimensions of language as fidelity to the source takes a back seat to


playing with the intersections between media rules the navigation of which informs the narrative dimension of language. As I reflected in the conclusion of Chapter IV, such divergence is not necessarily a bad thing as it promotes a perceptual range of cultures that may challenge cultural stereotyping. Unfortunately what has been assumed in this conversation is a relative fidelity by fans to the original Japanese, some liberties with localization aside; more to the point, that while fansubbing organizations may play with the minutiae of translation ideologies through their overt presence or inclusion of foreign elements in their translations, they do play by the larger hegemonic rules that position the move between languages as roughly cognate. Deviating from the established rules too drastically facilitates problems that may grate against larger political realities. To more concretely demonstrate these problems, I return to the scene from Gintama introduced in the first pages of this project, a case where translation goes bad. The translation, recall, comes from SHS working alone; each line appears as it does on screen, and the linear note at the end appears simultaneous with the last line. SHS Translation I'm just such a pitiful wreck There's no way any woman would go for me. I'm just no good That's not true at all. You're so manly It's nice . Then, Otae-san, if your boyfriend What if he were impotent? Then I'd love him, impotence and all. She's so calm. She just accepts it, like the Buddha! Note: this line is a play on the words for "marry" and "sex" Let's do it at the altar!




Tae: Kondo: LN:


The translation moves smoothly, particularly with the addition of the linear note explicating the play on words that is so common in Japanese. As argued in Chapter IV, the linear affirms the translation and provides a consistency that appears to confer credibility. Without comparison to translation from other groupswhich beyond being generally non-existent except in the case of the most popular anime is additionally a rarity as fans, much like in other, more market-driven contexts, tend to confine themselves to specific groups translation brands and so dont explore alternate translationsor a working knowledge of Japanese nothing appears amiss. The translation, however, is a literal rendition of the dialogue accompanied by both the original Japanese and the SHS rendition; I have chosen my own translation instead of one from Crunchyroll (the only other translation I have seen and provided in Chapter I) because it is a corporate, not fan, translation. Literal Kondo: Why do I have such a hairy ass? I dont know how Ill get a woman. Im useless Tae: Its not like that. Isnt it wonderfully manly? Kondo: Then Ill ask you, What if your boyfriend Original Japanese SHS douse ore nante ketsuge I'm just such a pitiful booboo dashisa wreck onna ni moteru wakenaindayo There's no way any woman would go for me. I'm just no good That's not true at all. You're so manly It's nice. Then, Otae-san, if your boyfriend

dame dana ore wa sonna koto nai desuyo otoko rashikute suteki ja arimasenka jaa kikukedosa moshi otaesan no kareshi ga saa ketsu ga kedaruma dattara dou suru yo ketsuge goto aishimasu

What would you do if he had hair all over his butt? Tae: Id love him, even with his butt hair.

What if he were impotent? Then I'd love him, impotence and all.


Kondo: A buddhashes a buddha who draws in all the impurities around her! LN:

bosatsu subete no fujou o tsutsumikomu marude bosatsuda

She's so calm. She just accepts it, like the Buddha! Note: this line is a play on the words for "marry" and "sex"

Buttbuttbuttplease marry me!

ketsuketsuketsu ketsukon shite kudasai

Let's do it at the altar!

In this case it is arguable if even the spirit of the exchange remains intact in the SHS translation, although the operation of the linear notes in this instance renders their liberties in translation irrelevant. As a state of playbetween Japanese and English, between language and container mediavariations in fan engagement in these spaces materialize a wide realm of possibility. Such engagement with media must, in addition to the constraints placed upon it formally via the media in which they work, be tempered within the meta-discursive and (sub)cultural currents in which they operate. While media indeed guide the types of moves possible when tinkering with a text, the palatability of these moves takes shape within specific socially constructed discursive situations or at the edges of overlapping ones. The distinction is more of species than genus, as socially discursive prohibitions may be as inflexible as limitations imposed by media artifacts themselves. As fans struggle with parsing translations and wrestling with the encoding process of container media, they are additionally subject to the expectations of other institutions and communities, the most relevant here being the anime viewing communities. In this case, the pedagogical function many fan communities imbue upon anime necessarily limits the types of moves that fansubbing groups can make with respect to their translations; SHSs rendition above proves a flawed vehicle by which to learn Japanese due to its liberal translation, and therefore does not meet the expectations of the


community despite the deployment of linear notes in a fashion aimed at the generation subcultural capital. The role of student that many fans adopt in approaching anime places them in a power dynamic that limits the types of critique in which they levy within communities, if they by some chance possessed the competency to identify the issue to begin with. The potential impact such translations have on the perception of Japanese culture, too, must be considered as fans utilize anime to gain cultural proficiency in addition to linguistic knowledge. Although Napir (2007) notes that many fans critically consume the images provided in anime, she does not address how fans understand the role of these anime within Japanese culture, nor does she discuss how fans address differences in translations. It is one thing to point out that fans place critical distance between themselves and stereotypical tropes that circulate within anime genres, but it is a different matter to ask how they interpret anime within social structures such as Japanese and American media. Azuma (, 2001) theorizes some of these issues, but from the perspective of Japanese fans and, of course, without a discussion of fansubbing. Fans of all varieties, in other words, approach anime not as wholly simulacral texts but selectively approach portions of these texts as representations of larger socio-political and cultural discourses. Different configurations, in sum, foster different representations. In a mediated global culture, the importance of representational management is particularly pronounced, especially when the stakes are political or economic. Japans use of anime and other cultural media as a form of soft power certainly falls into these categories, and the existence of multiple translations for such media amount to multiple mediations through which Japanese culture gets framed. Such diversity is not necessarily a bad thing and certainly does expand the shores of Japanese culture through what amounts to fan crowdsourcing. The problems with this model, however, run the risk of articulating discourses at odds with what the Japanese government may wish to promote.


These reflections on language and other media speak not only to our conception of media as a whole on a theoretical level but also reflect practical concerns over how communities interact with and deploy media. Within the context of fan studies, particularly anime, the overall theme of this dissertation draws attention to the central role media objects play in the articulation of fandom by demonstrating how concrete practices both shape and are shaped by media. What fans do with media is as important as which media they use. This distinction should help discriminate between different types of anime fandom, a current lack of which is sorely lacking in both popular and academic conversations.

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