Urusei Yatsura fans criticize anachronistic translation

Urusei Yatsura

In a recent translation of the classic manga Urusei Yatsura from Rumiko Takahashi, fans called out one page in particular where a side character uses the word “heteronormative”.

A Twitter/X user posted the localized panel as well as a machine translation of the actual Japanese. To compare the two lines:

“We’ve got to re-establish heteronormative behavior!”

“We must somehow restore the normal state of male-female relationships!”

It’s true that part of a localizer’s job is taking direct translations and making them flow better while retaining the original message; however in this case neither line sounds particularly realistic for a teenage boy to say. Especially a teenage boy in late 70s/early 80s Japan.

In fact, the phrase “Heteronormativity” was only popularized sometime in the early 90s, making it sound even more obscure and anachronistic in the context of the manga. Even if you agree that the localized line maintains the intent and tone of the original Japanese, it’s still out of touch with the manga’s setting.

Urusei Yatsura began as a manga series in 1978 and is regarded as one of Takahashi’s first major works. The series follows a young man named Ataru who’s randomly selected to compete with a race of spacefaring Oni for humanity’s future.

A new anime reboot premiered in 2022 with a second season coming sometime next year.

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

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