Controversy Over the Chinese Pacific Rim Translation

Illustration for article titled Controversy Over the Chinese emPacific Rim/em Translation
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Pacific Rim is a smash hit in China. People love it, even if the subtitles are iffy.

Advertisement

There is one subtitle translation in particular that has made the evening news in China. The on-screen subtitle for Elbow Rocket, Gypsy Danger's rocket-powered punch, reads "Pegasus Meteor Fist" in Chinese.

Illustration for article titled Controversy Over the Chinese emPacific Rim/em Translation
Advertisement

No biggie, right? It was changed, so what? Well, the problem is that the Japanese manga and anime Saint Seiya already has a "Pegasus Meteor Fist" attack.

And since Saint Seiya has a sizeable following in China, some theatergoers were either confused or amused by a well-known Saint Seiya combat technique appearing in Pacific Rim. Others were angered, saying bad subtitles made the film worse.

If you know Saint Seiya, for example, the subtitle makes it seem like Pacific Rim is ripping off the famed manga and anime series.

Advertisement

However, that wasn't the translator's intent. Xiuyan Jia, who did Pacific Rim's Chinese subtitles, said (via China News Network) that, since Guillermo Del Toro is a big anime fan, she borrowed the move's name from Japanese animation. Jia is not a novice. The translator has done subtitles for numerous Hollywood movies released in China, such as Men in Black 3.

According to Jia, "It's paying respect to Japanese animation." A straight-up translation of "Elbow Rocket" does sound like awkward gibberish in Chinese (to be honest, it sounds awkward in English, too).

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Controversy Over the Chinese emPacific Rim/em Translation

"Guillermo Del Toro has said numerous times that this movie was a love letter to Japanese culture," said Jia. "Even the end credits have loads of thanks to various Japanese people. The reason I went with Pegasus Meteor Fist is because I felt that Seiya is representative of Japanese anime and that the punch is very similar."

Advertisement

This doesn't seem to be the film's only questionable translation. Online in China, there's a list of all the discrepancies between the Chinese subtitles and the original English.

Advertisement

One particularly damning flub incorrectly substituted "polluted Hong Kong" instead of the correct text "populated Hong Kong." This is certainly not the image the movie's creators want to send to Chinese moviegoers. Jia, however, said the script she was working from read "polluted." If so, then it's possible the line of text was changed during filming or in post-production.

Warner Brothers found out about the Pacific Rim subtitle kerfuffle and began looking into the situation. As of today Sina Movies is reporting that Jia has left the movie subtitling business for the time being to go to graduate school.

Advertisement

揭秘“天马流星拳”背后的译制片江湖 [Sina]

环太平洋翻译遭封杀 神翻译 “天马流星拳”被吐槽 [CTV via ネタリか]

Eric Jou contributed to this article.

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.

Advertisement

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

The actual reference the movie was making. Mazinger Z's Rocket Punch attack.

With that being said, I saw the movie a second time yesterday. The movie is incredible, and is a love letter to a ton of mecha animes. Can kotaku guess what they are? I already have 5-6 shows in mind.