Saturday, June 26, 2004

Suffering under the rule of the Monkey King

I'm an editor with Japan-TV. It's my job to write the text that actually appears as subtitles in an episode. I get a script from a translator, who drafts a rough and often literal version of the original speech into English. Then I take that, rewrite and polish it up, and it goes either to be timed or, if it has already been timed, to be encoded for release. At least, insofar as I understand the process. Japan-TV, as the name suggests, primarily concentrates on Japanese dramas, but we also do Korean and Chinese shows as well.

For whatever reason, it seems to be the case that Chinese translations are the worst. A script from a Chinese show usually requires at least half-again as much time to edit into understandable English as a Japanese program. Now, this could simply illustrative of a particular translator's skill, but since this seems to span more than one translator, I have my doubts. I suppose our entire Chinese translation staff could suck, but I really don't think so. At any rate, the additional difficulty is one reason why I don't like doing Chinese series, but it isn't the only reason.

I've only worked on two Chinese shows, A Step into the Past and Monkey King. I've only done one episode of Step, but I've done three for Monkey King. Both shows seemed extraordinarily stupid, and as I busily turn Engrish into English, I can't help but wonder how dumb someone has to be to actually watch then. Someone must, because people download them, but I can't for my life understand why. I once tried to watch an episode of Monkey King, because I like to see episodes I edit. Partially it's to look for errors and what not, but there's a certain element of satisfaction in it. After all, if I didn't feel that the work was, in some sense, a worthy achievement, then I wouldn't do it. In any case, I made it barely ten minutes in before I closed the stupid player. Three sittings later I finally finished the episode, and I haven't bothered with another one since.

If none of this made any sense to you, visit Japan-TV and download it for yourself. You can find the link listed on this page. Beware the Monkey King.


Kok Bi said...

there are a lot of monkey king series and almost all of them are stupid. the only bearable one was "journey to the west"...if u do korean soaps as u should know winter sonata. i kinda like the music..the piano especially...

LeperColony said...

We're doing Winter Sonata and All About Eve. That's all the Korean Drama I think we've done, but there might be more. We seem to be increasing our Korean and Chinese series relases. This isn't really at the expense of the Japanese shows, because the translation resources are seperate, but it does slow down the release of Japanese shows because it forces logjams at editors, timers, and encoders.