“Anna and the Snow Queen”

…and I am talking about the Japanese dubbed title of the new Disney sensational “Frozen”. I am very bad at translating to be honest, but raising my opinion about how bad a translation is does not harm anyone, does it?

“Frozen” is great because it captures the whole theme of the movie. It triggers imagination of a snow kingdom, or maybe a blizzard, or whatever icy. At the same time, it hides the true relationship between the heroines, which is the key to both the kingdom’s devastation and rejuvenation. With the title “Frozen”, you can predict the scene but cannot know who “freezes” things. I knew the song Let It Go before I watched the movie, and I could not tell whether this sorceress was a villain. Simply, “Frozen” is a very good movie title, true to the content and arousing curiosity.

Meanwhile, the Japanese translate it as アナと雪の女王 (“Anna and the Snow Queen”). In my opinion, this translation fails in two ways: 1, It creates a first impression of two total strangers: a somebody Anna and a random Snow Queen. 2, The parallelism creates two forces: the heroine Anna and the villain Snow Queen. Both images the Japanese title may cast are very false to the movie. Spoilers here: Anna and the Snow Queen are sisters who love each other very much; the villain is a treacherous prince from another kingdom and, separately, an ill-minded trader.

If someone gives an argument that people love going to movie with this preset imagination but walking out with an utterly different twist of the plot, I raise my hands. I am not among those people.

Apart from this slandering dubbed title, the Japanese version of the theme song Let It Go really rocks. I hardly see any Japanese version of English songs which please my ears. For example, I am a huge fan of the Sound of Music; thus when they sing the “Do a deer, a female deer…” as “ドはドーナツのド…” (“Do is the do in DOnut”, pronounced “do wa doh-na-tsu no do”) I feel creeps all over my body. The adaptation is simply bad with super anti-artistic object (a donut!) and non-melodious syllables (especially the “tsu”). However, in “Let It Go”, the lyrics keep the original contents in general but do not follow word by word. The song sounds great in the original, with some parts a little bit pitchy though. The Japanese adaptation of the song, together with the Japanese native’s typical vocal sound, not only retains the original awesomeness but also makes up for the high shrieking notes at the end. The melody and its Japanese lyrics blend in very well together.

I like giving criticism on stuffs, not because I am a big jerk willing to throw cynical judgements around. As a matter of fact, I have things I adore and things I hate. Giving clear explanation of my likes/dislikes serves partly as a process to make me feel honest to myself. Because of this inner motivation of sharing opinions, even if they go against mine, I welcome all people’s thoughts as long as they are proved to be honest. It is like the title should be true to the movie.

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2 thoughts on ““Anna and the Snow Queen”

  1. Nice post! I haven’t seen this movie yet but from what little I saw on Youtube it didn’t look as exciting as Tangled which I love.

    This post reminded me of how some Japanese anime movies’ English subtitles are really badly translated. Maybe I’ll write a post about that sometime…

    1. Thanks for the comment.
      I like Tangled too. Unlike the focus on adventure in Tangled, Frozen is more about a conflict in relationships and self consciousness. Therefore, you can watch it under a different light and love both the movies.
      I look forward to your posts on badly translated titles. One of my favorite topic to read. 😀

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