Opinion: The Ancient Magus Bride AI translation isn’t perfect, but it works

The Ancient Magus Bride

There’s been a lot of conversation the past few days after The Ancient Magus Bride announced that it would be publishing English chapters alongside Japanese chapters with the help of AI translation.

Fans of the series have largely been accepting of the announcement, faster chapter releases, no longer needing to rely on fan-translations, and of course cutting out some English-speaking localizers whose integrity and commitment to providing an authentic experience has come into question.

While the ethics of automating the job of translation is one matter, some criticism has come out about the quality of these translations. The translation is being provided by Mantra Engine alongside a human editor to check for consistency and also to probably help with made-up words and names (there’s a lot of those in Magus Bride).

After checking it out for myself, I’ve a few thoughts and criticisms.

1. The translation actually is pretty stiff

The Ancient Magus Bride

Awkwardly phrased bits of dialogue came up a handful of times, particularly the one above “Have you already read this newly obtained testimony?”, takes my brain a moment to parse that. Grammatically “the” would be better based on the context of the scene but surprisingly these mistakes only happen two or three times throughout a 55-page chapter.

2. The word choice is harsh

Similar to stiff phrasing, stoic and patronizing characters in Japanese tend to speak directly. I read another translation of this chapter for comparison and Know your place” was replaced with a more fatherly “You need to gain a better grasp of your limits and abilities”. There’s nothing wrong with harsh-speaking characters and it may even be more true to the character. But in my experience I’ve noticed English translations done by humans tend to soften stoic and stern characters. So going forward expect to see mentor-type characters be more strict in tone with AI translation.

3. AI doesn’t handle quotes well

“The choices we make dictate the lives we lead” is the quote the character is looking for here. This could also be chalked up to an editorial choice, but it leaves me wondering if AI will be able to contextualize quotes. When we encounter a chapter where one character is quoting another, will the AI be able to make that connection? Here’s where the editor will hopefully come in.

The elephant in the room

There’s still a human editor. Manga and anime fans have been hoping for a reprieve from personally motivated erroneous translations and censorship, but at the end of the day there’s still at least one human with editorial oversight working on the series. This is the greatest strength of AI, that a lot of work can be done with less people, but that also means that to answer the biggest criticism of fans, we still need to trust this editor. At least with Mantra that doesn’t seem to be a problem yet.


Ultimately, it’s a decent translation. It’s not great, but it’s not bad, and it’s better than the alternative. It’s not perfect, but neither are humans, and I trust Mantra and their AI far, far, more than the existing status quo. In an ideal world, we’d have enthusiastic fans localizing content for English-speakers.


You can read the official English translation for The Ancient Magus Bride here on Comic Growl.

, ,


A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

Where'd our comments go? Subscribe to become a member to get commenting access and true free speech!