I’ll Make You Eat Those Words – Sonic Adventure 2 and the Translation Check

I’m sure some people might be wondering what exactly we do here at Renta!, so I thought I’d like to talk a bit about what it’s like to work here. As it turns out, it’s a bit more complicated than sitting around reading manga every day. Although, as you might be able to imagine, the conversations around the office do tend to be a bit geekier than most…

So what exactly is the process before the manga is released in English and everyone is happy reading their perfectly translated content? Well, as it turns out, it’s not as simple as running the original Japanese through the magic translation machine and getting a perfect English copy.

Of course, the first step is stripping the text and translating the Japanese into English. Depending on the size and content of the manga, this can be a time-consuming task on its own. A slice-of-life high school romance will naturally take less time to translate than a fantasy epic with lots of weird magic spells and fancy character and place names.

Once the manga is translated, that’s not the end for our lovely new English text. Here at Renta!, we are proud of the quality of our translations, so we always make sure to have translations looked at by another professional. While all of our translators are amazing, we don’t have any magical space employees at Renta! either, so of course there are always some spelling mistakes or strange grammar, as well as the occasional mistranslation. In fact, I might even go far as to say that the check is the most important part of the translation process!

Depending on the media, it’s not hard to tell when a translation doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Sometimes there’s a deadline that has to be made. Sometimes there’s an issue that’s out of the creators’ control. Whatever the reason, sometimes you get weird or interesting translations that probably should’ve been checked a bit better. And I think that was the case for a game I really enjoy, Sonic Adventure 2. For a game that was developed over a span of only 18 months, I think it turned out mostly pretty well! Except for some weird translation quirks that I think could have benefited from a bit more polish.

But you can always pet the chao.

While Sonic Adventure 2 is well-loved for its sometimes unnatural translation, it screams to me like something that was written in a hurry and not given the the developer’s full attention. Numerous fan-retranslation projects also exist because Sonic fans have proven time and time again that they’re nothing if not passionate about their favorite blue vaguely hedgehog-resembling speed demon.

The power of angry fans literally convinced SEGA not to use this disgusting two-eyeballed monstrosity months before its major release.

Whether it’s the overuse of stilted and kind of unnatural phrases like “Long time, no see!” or dialogue where two characters bizarrely cut each other off mid-insult despite the cutscene being timed and recorded for the English dub (?), there’s a few things that really make me wonder if SEGA simply didn’t have enough time to send the text off to get that extra spit-shine.

At Renta!, we all believe in delivering the absolute best translation possible, and that’s why we really take the time and effort to deliver truly polished products to our readers. Sometimes this means that highly requested series don’t quite make it out in English at Sonic speeds, but rest assured we’re doing everything in our ultimate power to make sure English readers are as happy and fulfilled as people reading in the original Japanese. Our goal is to give you your money’s worth!