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Recently, in Trailer Weekly 43, I posted a teaser trailer for「るろうに剣心」  (Rurōnikenshin/Rurouni Kenshin, Japan, 2012). A full length trailer now is available on the official YouTube channel of the film, not only in Japanese, but with subtitles in four different languages: English, French, Spanish and Chinese. The multi-language effort in itself is interesting, as it surely must indicate something about the audience the film is aiming for.

Full Trailer: on official YouTube channel
Teaser Trailer: on official YouTube channel (previously posted)

I am really liking the look of the full trailer – not that I’m that much into swashbuckling sword fight films, but somehow I’m getting excited about this one. I don’t expect it to blow me away with any sort original storyline but am hoping it will deliver in other aspects. So far, I am enjoying the cinematography – as I said previously, I like the dark, mysterious look – and what really strikes me in this full trailer compared to the teaser is the musical score (sound and image of minutes 1:38-1:45 are just awesome). The theme song, “The Beginning”, which you can hear in parts, was written by a young Japanese rock band, ONE OK ROCK. The song is already available from two Japanese outlets, Recochoku and AmuMoba, according to this article. The official release of the single is August 22nd, and I have a hunch that it might appear on iTunes then as well – iTunes UK actually has five ONE OK ROCK albums on sale.

Also interesting about the trailer are the subtitles: not just the fact that they come in multiple languages, but their placement on the screen as some appear on top rather than on the bottom of the images. This goes against conventions in professional subtitling, although it is fairly common in fansubs for Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese (etc.) TV dramas and films, where lines are often included on top of the screen to insert comments or explanations of various types.

Trailer screenshot: Suptitles plus theme song information.

Given that this is the official trailer posted on the official YouTube channel of the film, it has to be assumed that this sub was done by professionals – which raises the question whether what we are seeing is the influence of fan subs on professional translation practices. It’s the first time I have noticed suptitles (I’m making up the term here) somewhere other than in a fansub, so I’m definitely taking note(s) here:

  • Suptitles here are used when additional information is given on the screen (information about the theme song, character and actor names). The extra infos are added mid-screen in the form of dynamic text (flashing on and off), suptitles being used for dialogue translation, while subtitles being eliminated entirely in such instances – somewhat different from fansubs.
  • The interplay between suptitles and subtitles seems partially random, in some shots we get mid-screen information plus suptitles,

Names and suptitles.

…in others mid-screen information plus subtitles. This is actually daring, as it requires viewers to move their eyes up and down quite a bit – and without any way for them to predict when such movements are needed.

Names and subtitles.

It also raises some questions about subtitling conventions which rely, in part certainly, on assumptions of what viewers can handle (a topic I’m quite interested in, thanks to what I have read about the history of subtitling and the current developments I have noted fansubs).

The suptitles may be a unique feature of the trailer (indeed, I don’t see what need we would have for them in the film), in fact, I may be entirely wrong with my musings here: I have not actually done any sort of systematic analysis of translation features in trailers, and maybe these suptitles do occur even in official film clips. I don’t know – it’s just the first time I have really noted them outside fansubs.

Vagrant or legendary swordsman?

Moving on to other things: The film’s YouTube channel also features an interview with Satō Takeru, the actor of the lead character Himura Kenshi, who is probably best known for his roles in the TV dorama and film adaptations of the manga 「仮面ライダー電王」 (Kamen Rider Den-O/ Masked Rider Den-O). I myself have only previously watched him in「Beck」(Beck/Beck, Japan, 2010) – which I hope to find time to review one day (planning for a triple music film review alongside 「バンテイジ」/Bandeji/Bandage, Japan, 2010 and 「ナナ」/Nana/Nana, Japan, 2005). Satō is looking notably different from his character in Beck – perhaps a good example of what a mane of glory can do for you!

Satō Takeru in「Beck」.

On the YouTube channel there are also interviews with other members of the cast, including Takei Emi (Kamiya Kaoru) Kikkawa Koji (Jine Udo), Yū Aoi (Takani Megumi) and Aoki Munetaka (Sagara Sanosuke). None of the interviews is currently subtitled.

Rurōnikenshin is set for release in Japan on August 25, 2012. Given the multiple subtitling languages, I think we can expect it to arrive in cinemas outside of Japan and possibly a DVD distribution as well. I have no idea when that could be, but I’m going to dig out the manga in the meantime.

P.S. Another translation note: 漫画 (manga) is translated as “comic” and “cómic” (domestication) in the English and Spanish trailers, but kept as “manga” (foreignisation) in French.

P.P.S. Viewer numbers for various trailers are also interesting: one day after the full-length trailer being released in subtitled form, the English version has been watched ~25,000 times, French ~915, Spanish ~7,500 and Chinese ~200. I daren’t put any rhyme to reason yet, but I wonder if anyone keeps track of these kind of things? It would seem like something worthwhile.

Rurōnikenshin Manga.

Bonus Bits:

Image Gallery: Posters