Translation as a gateway to culture

The nineties were a whirlwind if new and interesting culture – as air travel got cheaper, the world’s economy was booming and new technologies made everyone and everything that little bit closer.

Japanese comics known as manga and animated series, anime really took off within youth, party and drug cultures during this period. Their availability was largely due to the efforts of Toren Smith who sadly passed away earlier this week.

I had discovered the Animage comics version of Nausicaa, which provided my entry into the world of Japanese comics–a world which was to cause me to devote my life to bringing it to all English-speaking people.

From mefi:

Anglophone otaku the world over have Smith and the manga import company he founded, Studio Proteus, to thank for much of the existence of their hobby. In addition to his instrumentality in bringing titles like AkiraDomuOh My Goddess, and Blade of the Immortal to the English-speaking world, Smith and Studio Proteus translated much of Science Fiction legend Masamune Shirow‘s oeuvre into English, starting with Appleseed and continuing with DominionGhost in the Shell, and Orion.

Over the course of his career he became involved with über-nerd animation studio Gainax, who immortalized him in Gunbuster as “Smith Toren,” a robot pilot aboard the Exelion.

When talking about translation, Toren nails what we all strive for:

Above all, Tom, Dana and myself all agreed that despite all the hard work we were doing, we wanted our work to be totally invisible to the readers. We hoped that, when we were done, the English-language readers would never notice the translation, the sound effects or the lettering–they would simply read and enjoy this incredible story without ever thinking about the fact that it was translated from another language.

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