Kaguya-sama: Love Is War English Subtitles Add “Social Distancing” Coronavirus Reference

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

Update: Aniplex of America has apologized for the “error in the subtitles. We had assumed the subtitles were purely down to Funimation. However, Aniplex of America holds the shows licence in North America. Some business deals may have meant Funimation would have subtitled the show as the exclusive streamer. Aniplex’ apology does not automatically confirm either party.

As such, we have edited the original story below, as we are unsure who is in charge of the subtitles. You can find an archived version of the original article here.

Original Story:

The subtitles for Kaguya-sama: Love Is War features a reference to anti-coronavirus pandemic “social distancing” measures in a recent episode.

The localization of the script for the second season’s episode 5 was noted by Twitter user “More Feihcsiim“, who criticized the translation for making the reference. The primary criticism that such a timely reference is unfaithful to the original Japanese, and also that it will age poorly.

A few years from now, anyone looking back on the show might only see social distancing as an awkward combination of words rather than the subject of interest it is during the coronavirus pandemic.

Twitter user “Seri3ma” [1, 2] provides both the original Japanese line, and what a more accurate translation should have been.

English: “What’s the deal with the social distancing?”
Original: “何でそんな遠い所にいるんだ?” (“Why are you staying away from me?”)

English: “Of course not! The social distance will be set at no less than 50 centimeters!”
Original: “もちろんです!50センチ以内の接近も禁止します!” (“Of course! I will forbid being within less than 50 cm each other.”)

While some pointed out the term began to rise around 2003, Seri3ma also notes that the line is similar to how it was in the original manga, which was released prior to the anime (and the coronavirus pandemic). “Manga author does not see the future. In other words, Funimation is at it again.”

As stated above, this isn’t the first time Funimation has made poorly-aging changes to translations. In 2015 we reported on Funimation’s dub of Prison School making a politically-influenced GamerGate reference.

Currently both anime and video game fan communities are abuzz with discussion over what role localizers can and should play in editorializing the content they license in the west. MangaGamer recently drew ire for their localization of visual novel The House in Fata Morgana (using fragile male ego instead of “tsundere” as in the original).

In some cases, this can even mean adding instead of removing content. XSEED Games revealed Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town would be changing the “best friend” system, to gay marriage in the western release. It is worth noting that some of these changes are made with the blessing of the original Japanese developers and producers.

Earlier this year we reported that Kaguya-sama: Love Is War would be streamed exclusively in the west by Funimation.

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is available via Funimation.

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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.