Love Damage: The Viz Video Girl Ai Lie Report
Episode One: [i'm here for you] (Viz Sub Version)

by Dave Watson, for the Ai-chan Project

My general verdict on the Viz sub of Video Girl Ai Ep. 1 is that it's more accurate than the dub, and contains far fewer elements that I strongly disagree with. But it's still quite flawed.

My resources for this report are: The fan translations of the first five chapters of the manga by Ka-Ping Yee (thanks to them, I've noticed how identical a lot of the dialogue is between the two different versions; when I find these occurrances, I quote them directly under the Viz sub version of the line); Dallas Operator 7G's fansub scripts; copies of the Viz sub VHS tapes.

I've also noticed that the sub still uses the Japanese onscreen text in the credits. Nice touch. I have no problem with English in the credits, though. For Ai's sake, please don't pull a CPM and author this from the dub VHS master. Start fresh with the originals. If you have totally raw OP and ED sequences--no text whatsoever--that would make for a couple of nice extras on the DVD, and if you could get ahold of any music videos that were made in Japan from the songs on this and include those, I'll buy it so fast your head will spin. I repeat--please DON'T hardsub the insert song lyrics on the DVD. That's one of the reasons I won't buy CPM's Utena DVDs, regardless of value for money. And no, my use of the spelling "Youta" in my reports does not mean that I object to the Viz spelling "Yota" (I'm just more used to the former), nor will I complain about how the script doesn't get across the masculine expressions in Ai's speech that don't easily translate to English, nor will I get snotty about honorifics. I'm not that anal-retentive.

Now that that's out of the way, here's my critique:

Episode One: [i'm here for you]

Right off the bat:
Screen: For Heartbroken Eyes Only
FANSUB SCRIPT: Do you have a broken heart...
I don't know what the original Japanese is for this line, but he fansub translation rings truer to the idea of a Video Girl to me. I admit that it does also sound a bit clumsy, but "If you have a broken heart..." or "If your heart is broken..." would probably sound better, especially in conjunction with the next screen:
Screen: I'm Here For You--Ai Amano
Sounds much better to me than the Viz translation does. "I Will Cheer You Up" is another translation of it. And the opening text leads right into it, see?

Ai: "I know I'm not much, but..."
KPY (JPN): "Watashi ja yaku busoku kana?"
KPY (ENG): "Will I be able to fill the role?"
Somehow I can't see an image of a girl offered as an ideal for lonely men saying "I know I'm not much." And yes, the literal translation is stiff. Something like "Could I do the job instead?" would do better.

Ai: "That's it! I'll stay with you for as long as it takes!"
KPY (JPN): "Ii yo! Kyou kara itsumo soba ni ite ageru."
KPY (ENG): "Okay! From today on, I'll always stay close to you."
DAVE'S SUGGESTION: "Okay! From now on, I'll always be with you."
There's a difference between "for as long as it takes" and "always." I also find that her promising to always be with Youta makes the events later more poignant.

Youta: "S-some girl just came outta my screen!"
KPY (JPN): "Bi-bi-bideo kara onna no ko ga dete kitaa?!"
The first line makes a sudden extraordinary event sound too vague. Not just "some girl." The girl he rented the tape of. Especially after he got a good look at her sprawled out on his bed.

Youta: "Stephen Hawking, I love you!"
FANSUB (ENG): "Hawkins is dynamite!"
DS: "Stephen Hawking is the best!"
Okay, so the fansub got the name wrong. But I certainly didn't hear anything that sounded like "I love you!" in the Japanese track of that line.

Youta: "This must be a love goddess that God sent down from heaven!"
KPY (JPN): "Kore wa masa ni Kami-sama ga motenai boku ni ateate kureta ai no megami ja nai daro ka!"
KPY (ENG): "This must be the Goddess of Love that the gods have granted to someone as unpopular as me!!"
FS (ENG): "This must be the Goddess of Love that the gods have bestowed upon me!? The Buddha of Love!!"
They're all flawed (esp. the fansub), but the Viz one is definitely the most natural-sounding. But it's missing the point he makes about himself being unpopular. I can't think of any way to work that in off the top of my head, but I might at some point in writing this [to be honest, I still haven't.].

(Youta describing Ai:)
The pro sub says her face is cuter than "Riho." And admittedly it sounds like that. The fansub calles her "Riko." Who is this woman, and which one is right? It's also a nice touch to refer to Rie Miyazawa as "Rie the beauty queen," since I was wondering who exactly Ms. Miyazawa was. And why not give Noriko Sakai's full name? Then we get to the part the really bothers me:
Youta: "And hooters from heaven!"
FS (ENG): "And especially those big tits!"
DS: "And oh, that chest!"
Yecch. I wouldn't use either one of those first two, especially since the word "mune," which seems to be the polite term for "breasts," is used, in which case, neither of the above would qualify. KPY's manga translation indicates that the third manga chapter is called "Oppai," which I know for sure is an impolite term. And face it, "hooters" just sounds disgustingly tacky (and "honkers," as used in the Animerica Extra manga translation, is both tacky and stupid). Even if you don't like my exact suggestion, I believe that "chest" can be used in this and still be delivered well in that leering tone.

(After Youta comments that something is wrong:)
Ai: "Glad you like me."
FS (ENG): "Are you that happy?"
Now, I'm not sure which one is correct, what the original Japanese is or how she was intended to sound. But that should be looked at again.

Ai: "My name is Ai Amano, Video Girl at large."
KPY (JPN): "Ore (wa) Amano Ai, Video Girl. Yoroshiku ne."
KPY (ENG): "I'm Ai Amano. Pleased to meet you."
That "Video Girl at large" bit is an obvious lie. Please change it back.

Ai: "'Motenai' as in 'Dateless'?"
JPN (how I heard it): "'Motenai Yuuda' da no?"
Translation I got somewhere for "Motenai Yuuda": "Seems unpopular (with girls)"
Maybe the full translation of "Motenai Yuuda" is different from what I have here, but I think the sub "'Motenai Yuuda'?" with "(translation directly afterwards)," like how a lot of other companies handle Japanese puns in subs, would work better.

While I could get nitpicky about Youta reading the article title as "So You've Got Her Alone--What Comes Next?", I think that it's an example of a bit of Americanization that actually works well. It has to be applied with a light touch to be most effective.

Ai: "Let's start with foreplay before going hardcore."
KPY (JPN): "Jaa...toriaezu ecchi shiyuu ka. Ecchi!"
KPY (ENG): "So...first, wanna do something dirty? Dirty!"
DS: "Let's just do something ecchi, okay? Ecchi!"
A poor attempt at trying to hide the Japanese reference to "H"/"ecchi" by making Ai downright forward instead of a bit naughty. This is a prime example of a subtlety that Trish's script plowed under. Putting it exactly like that also makes it a bit of a pun on the use of "ecchi" as both a noun and a verb. And if you're worried about people not getting the reference...
Youta: "H-H-H-hardcore? As in..."
KPY (JPN): "'Ecchi' tte yappa...are kaa...?"
KPY (ENG): "'Dirty,' she said. Could it be...THAT?"
DS: "'Ecchi'? As in 'hentai'? You mean...?"
I believe pretty much all of your average sub fans know what that means!

Youta: "Deodorize. Brush teeth."
Now, I don't have the Japanese for this (the fansub messed this up, and he says nothing in the manga during this), but he can't have said two independent ideas with only one Japanese word.

Youta: "This really means a lot to me. Please be gentle."
KPY (JPN): "F-f-f-futsutsuka mono desu ga yoroshiku o-o-onegai shi-shimasu! I-itaku shinaide ne."
KPY (ENG): "I-I-I-I'm inexperienced, but be gentle with me, p-p-plea-please! D-don't hurt me."
FS (ENG): "This is my first time. Please be gentle. Make it so it doesn't hurt, okay?"
The fansub has the right idea. Having Youta say something the girl would normally say--especially after being shown wearing muck on his face to improve his skin like some women would--now that's funny.

Ai: "I was kidding. Learn the difference."
KPY (JPN): "Joudan da yo. Joudan. Ma ni ukeru na."
KPY (ENG): "It's a joke! A joke. Don't take it so seriously."
FS (ENG): "It's a joke, a joke. What were you thinking?"
DS: "I was kidding. Don't be so serious."
"Ma ni ukeru na" obviously does not mean "Learn the difference." And learn the difference between what? And no, the irony of touching on that line in the middle of a serious critique of a sub script of a comic part of the series hasn't been lost on me.

Youta: "If I had been thinking..."
KPY (JPN): "Ore ni yuuki ga areba..."
KPY (ENG): "If only I'd had courage..."
He had been thinking. He just didn't have the guts to say anything.

Ai: "I came outta the video to brighten your broken heart."
FS (ENG): "I came out to comfort you."
"Brighten your broken heart"? Awful writing, Ms. Ledoux. And "nagusameru" ("to comfort") is heard loud and clear. Wouldn't it make sense that a sentient commercial product would repeat its pitch line at least once?

Ai: "Give me a break. Quit sweatin' the details!"
KPY (JPN): "Komekai n da yo omae!"
KPY (ENG): "You're so nitpicky!"
Yes, I am. But if it means getting rid of terrible, outdated slang like that, I'm glad to be that way.

Youta: "So what if I was rejected? So what if I'm dateless?"
FS (ENG): "Excuse me for being dumped! Excuse me for being unpopular with girls!"
There's a difference between sheer anger and angry feigned indifference, Ms. Ledoux. Learn it.

Youta: "If you're just here to lecture me, forget it! Pack up and get out!"
KPY (JPN): "Nagusame n ja nakute sekkyou tare n nara imasugu keite kure!"
KPY (ENG): "If you're going to lecture me instead of comforting me, you can just disappear right now!"
FS (ENG): "If you're not going to comfort me, and instead just preach, I don't want you around! Come on, disappear!"
Terrible writing on the part of the fansubber, but he's got more of the original meaning in his line than the Viz sub has.

The "chin-chin" scene was done beautifully, as was Youta and Moemi's scene afterward, and I wouldn't change a thing about the Viz sub translation of those. Now don't say that I don't give respect where it's due. However, I'd make the subtitle of Moemi saying "The guy I like is too popular" one line of text, because it blocks the sight of her mouth moving the way it is now.

Youta: "I've been motherless for ten years. Dad's always overseas on trips. I never get to eat home cooking! Digging in!"
FS (ENG): "With my mother dead for ten years and my father being gone all the time, I haven't had a home-cooked meal in so long. Thanks for the food!"
My only real complaint is translating "Itadakimasu" (which is customarily translated as "Thank you for the food") as "Digging in!", but there must be a better way to word the line about his late mother.

Ai: "Saving grace number one."
KPY (JPN): "Omae no ii toko hitotsu mekke."
KPY (ENG): "I've found one of your good points."
FS (ENG): "I found something good about you."
Either of the last two are more natural than the Viz one.

Moemi: "He's so popular and I can't compete, so I might as well give up."
KPY (JPN): "Raiberu go ooi desho kyousou nigate dakara akirameru you ni shiteru n dakedo ne..."
KPY (ENG): "There seem to be so many rivals. I'm not good at competing, so I guess I'm giving up, but..."
FS (ENG): "There's a lot of competition for him and I don't like competing. I've tried not to."
DS: "There's a lot of rivals for him. I'm bad at competing, so I guess I'm giving up, but..."
Another subtlety that was wiped out. Hopefully you'll find that my suggestion restored them but still sounds natural.

Moemi: "I'll bet he doesn't even know I'm alive."
KPY (JPN): "Sore ni watashi no koto nanto mo omottenai mitai da shi."
KPY (ENG): "Besides, he doesn't seem to think of me at all..."
FS (ENG): "He doesn't look as if he's thinking about me at all..."
Now, I know very well that VGAi is a pretty angsty series, but come on!

Youta: "'Saving grace number one'?"
See earlier.

Youta: "Quit that!"
JPN: "Baka!"
Erm, isn't that supposed to mean "dummy" or "idiot"?

(Remote control scene):
Ai gets mad at Youta for playing with the features, but doesn't call him a jerk or a moron. She just basically says, "Stop messing around!" both times.

Ai: "Listen, stupid! You hit stop and I disappear!"
Youta: "You do?"
FS (ENG): Ai: "Hey! You push the stop button and I'm gone. Don't push it!"
Youta: "All right."
The last point applies here, too, as does Youta obviously conceding to Ai's anger.

(In response to Youta complaining how he can't use his VCR:)
Ai: "Right."
Youta: "'Right'? But you--"
KPY (JPN): Ai: "Ii no."
KPY (ENG): Ai: "Good."
Sounds better to me than "Right."

Ai: "Touch it and you're dead!"
JPN (adapted from KPY): "Zettai ni video ni sawanna yo!"
KPY (ENG): "Don't you EVER touch that VCR!"
Another lost subtlety.

Takashi: "Three's a crowd, huh? Two together and love's in the air. Here, have some lovers' sodas."
FS (ENG): "It's kind of tough to butt in. You've got a good atmosphere going. Here, have a taste of 'first love.'"
DS: "I hate to interrupt you, since you've got a good mood happening. Here, have a taste of 'first love.'"
I don't have the Japanese to compare this with, since it doesn't happen like that in the manga. But, if the last part is more accurate to the original, then I suggest you use it, especially given the context it places Youta's comment about the taste of the Calpis later.

Takashi: "I'll bet the girl Youta likes turns out to be Moemi."
KPY (JPN): "Moshika suttoo Youta no suki na ko tte Moemi-chan ja ne--no?"
KPY (ENG): "Perhaps...the girl Youta likes is Moemi-chan, hmm?"
I just think that the way that Trish wrote this sentence sucked. That sounds like something he'd say to a fourth party, not to Moemi and Youta themselves in a roundabout way.

Youta: "He's just joking. Don't go playing with Moemi's mind."
KPY (JPN): "Joudan da yo, joudan!! Henna koto iuna yo, Takashi!"
KPY (ENG): "Joke. It's a joke!! Don't say weird things, Takashi!"
DS: "He's just joking. Don't say weird things like that, Takashi!"
He doesn't even say Moemi's name, and it's another subtlety wrecker. Don't do that to us.

Youta: "This drink isn't what I expected."
FS (ENG): "This tastes a little bitter. Just a little."
DS: "This is kind of bitter, isn't it?"
Deviates a bit from the original translation, but not as much as the Viz line. And my suggestion applies equally to both the Calpis and the situation. Does it not?

Ai: "What's your problem? I'm not taking a bath with my clothes on."
KPY (JPN): "Nanda yo? Fuku no mama furo ni hairu no ka?"
KPY (ENG): "What? Taking a bath with your clothes on?"
FS (ENG): "What? Am I supposed to take a bath with my clothes on?"
Totally wrong tone in the Viz translation. The fansub's got that right, even if the literal translation of the original doesn't make it clear whether she's referring to herself or Youta.

Youta: "Yeah, what?"
JPN: "Hai. Moshi-moshi."
The tone is "Yeah, what?", but "Yeah, hello?" would have gotten it across much better.

Ai: "I'm in the bath, waiting!"
FS (ENG): "Hey, the water's ready now!"
Don't know the original Japanese, but the fansub version is more believable (not to mention more natural-sounding).

Ai: "Let's go!"
JPN: "Ofuro!"
ENG: "A bath!"
Yeesh. I don't even study Japanese and I know that.

Takashi: "There IS a girl there. Youta, are you shacking up? It's Moemi! Good for you!"
FS (ENG): "That sounds like a girl's voice. You've got a girl at your place. It's Moemi, isn't it? Way to go!"
Surely a blend between the two can be made without using such a gross-sounding term as "shacking up." Somehow, I doubt very much that Takashi was implying something that improper.

Takashi's last "Oi!" before Youta hangs up on him should have been translated as "Hey--!" Just so people know that the noise actually means something.

Ai: "Guess he wasn't ready for the Full Monty."
FS (ENG): "Looks like it was a little too exciting for Youta."
Gee, Sarge, was that reference to that goddamned movie really necessary? I don't think so.

Moemi: "I told you that I was in love with Niimai, didn't I?"
KPY (JPN): "Watashi wa chanto Niimai-kun ga suki datte itta n dakara ne."
KPY (ENG): "I said right out that I like Niimai-kun, so..."
FS (ENG): "I told you I like Niimai, so now it's your turn."
Another case where the fansub nailed the tone that the Viz sub got wrong. The Viz sub makes her sound like she's being argumentative.

Takashi: "I'll introduce you to some of my friends."
KPY (JPN): "Ii yatsu shokai shiteyaru yo."
KPY (ENG): "I'll introduce you to someone nice."
FS (ENG): "Don't worry. I'll introduce you to someone."
Important distinction here. By having him indicate "someone," he could very well be taking about Youta. But the translation definitely doesn't mention introducing her to more than one person.

Ai: "Our object: to make Youta into a hunk that Moemi can't resist."
KPY (JPN): "Mokuhyou!! Youta o ii otoko ni shite Moemi-chan to tsukiaeru youni suru!"
KPY (ENG): "Our goal!! To make you into a better man so you can go out with Moemi-chan."
FS (ENG): "We're going to make you into a real guy that might be able to win Moemi's heart."
DS: "Our objective: Make you a better guy so you can go out with Moemi!"
Corrects both the grammar and tone mistakes in the Viz sub. While the literal translation has her offering to make him a "good man," I like KPY's touch, since just saying "good man" implies that Youta isn't good to begin with.

Ai: "Leave everything to me!"
KPY (JPN): "Kono Ai-chan ni makkase nasai!"
KPY (ENG): "You just leave that to Ai-chan!"
FS (ENG) (and DS): "Just leave it to Ai!"
I'd leave in her name. And if Ms. Ledoux wants a western pop culture reference in the script that badly, there's a good one in the fansub version (right, Beaver?).

Youta: "I'll pass."
KPY (JPN): "Kekkou desu!!"
KPY (ENG): "I'm fine, thanks!!"
Come on, Youta is too polite to say, "I'll pass."

Why does the Viz sub leave out Ai's last line in the bath scene, which the fansub translates as, "'No, no,' you say, but you're enjoying every minute of this!", and Youta's reply, which the fansub translates as "Knock it off!"?

Youta: "Gotta say, when she does something, she goes all out."
KPY (JPN): "Aitsu nari ni isshou kenmei yatteta mitai da shi ma--ii ka."
KPY (ENG): "I guess she's really trying her hardest...oh, well."
FS (ENG): "Well, she was trying to be considerate and do the best for me."
All the other translations, including the Japanese literal, put a more positive spin on this statement than Viz did.

Moemi: "I told you that I was in love with Niimai, didn't I?"
See earlier.

Huh? Where's the subs of the lyrics of "Message" that were in the dub?

Ai: "It's okay, Youta. It's okay. Can't give up"
KPY (JPN): "Genki dase, Youta. Genki dase. Faito da zo!"
KPY (ENG) and FS (ENG): "Cheer up, Youta. Cheer up. Hang in there."
Seems like nitpicking, I know, but remember the title of Ai's tape/original purpose? Right.

Youta: "At that time, my feelings underwent a change. I realized that my time with Ai was limited and it made me sad."
KPY (JPN): "Sono toki ore wa sakki made to chigatte Ai-chan no saisei jikan ni kagiri ga aru koto o sukoshi sabishiku omotteita."
KPY (ENG): "It was only then that I began to think about the limit on Ai-chan's running time, with a little sadness."
FS (ENG): "Unlike before, I feel a little lonely about the fact that her 'running time' is limited."
DS: "That's when I thought about Ai's limited playing time. And it made me sad."
There. Don't you think that tightens it up and sounds more natural?

Title: "Video Girl Ai Theater: Bonus--Omake--Section"
FS (ENG): "Video Theater Extra: For You"
You can't make us believe that those three simple characters mean three full words.

TITLE: "The Mysteries of the Jump Cretaceous Era: Aizaurus"
FS (ENG): "The Jump Cretaceous Period: The Story of Amano Ai"
You can see her full name in the title, so I believe the fansub's interpretation more. And just what's up with the "z" in "Aizaurus"?

Since I don't have the original Japanese text to compare this script with, I can't get into detail, but, reading the fansub script, listening to the dialogue and hearing a few words I can identify, it seems to me that the Viz sub script plays a little too fast and loose. Nowhere near as badly as the dub, which makes Professor Youta sound like a cheap carny huckster, but it still can stand to be worked on. I suggest reading the fansub script [which I enclosed when I sent this to my contact at Viz] and working from there.

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