Dialects in Anime: Othering Minorities
Daniel E. Josephy-Hernández
University of Ottawa
Abstract: Little work has been written about the translation of anime, with most of it concentrating on fansubbing, e.g. Díaz-Cintas and Muñóz-Sánchez (2006) and Pérez-González (2006). Some research has been done on the censorship and localisation of anime products (Ruh 2010, Josephy-Hernández 2015), as well as the translation of gender in anime (Hiramoto 2013, Josephy-Hernández 2017). Yet no research has been carried out on how anime dialects have been subtitled, dubbed or fansubbed.
This talk analyses three different cases of anime characters speaking in Japanese dialects that are different from the usual Japanese spoken in anime, that is, different from Tōkyo-ben. It concentrates on the translation into English and Spanish of, first, Perfect Blue (1997, Kon Satoshi), where the film’s main character, Mima, speaks in her native southern-Japanese accent when talking with her mum; second, on the case of Hana, a transvestite in the film Tōkyō Godfathers (2004, Kon Satoshi) who speaks in her own distinct feminine language; and third, on the case of Dragon Ball (1986, Toriyama Akira), where the character of Mr Popo, as well as the aliens Namekusei-jin, speak in their own idiolect of Japanese.
The study examines this scenes and concludes that dialects in Japanese anime serve to represent stereotypical, “othering” notions of foreigners and people that do not speak the dialect most used in anime, reproducing the core hegemonic values found both in anime and in Japan itself.
Keywords: Anime, media, dialects, minorities, linguistic hegemony
Daniel E. Josephy-Hernández holds a PhD in Translation Studies from the University of Ottawa, where he teaches translation courses. His gender-focused dissertation explores the subtitles and the dubbing of the Kon Satoshi film Perfect Blue (1997). He spent a research period (2014-2015) at Tōhoku Gakuin University in Sendai, Japan. His research concentrates mostly on gender and audiovisual translation in anime, focusing on critical analyses of hegemonic gender portrayals in this medium. He also studies the censorship and distribution of anime, including that of hentai (pornographic) anime. He has published work video game translation, translation in Wales and film censorship in Iran. He is an expert on gender issues in Japan, and speaks Japanese fluently, amongst several languages.