If you’re watching Joshiraku subbed, you’re full of shit

I have nothing against anything valerauko does in his spare time, and I think he’s done a pretty good job on this show. It’s just not meant to be subbed. Large swaths of the show – I’ll venture to say most of the show – assumes very carefully that the viewer knows Japanese, lives in Japanese pop culture, is aware of Japanese cultural memes, and so on. I guess if you really wanted you could just know some Japanese and sort of get by, but I don’t get half the show and I know some of the other translators don’t either.

Aside: Someday I’ll unleash an essay that’s like this but more general, about Japanese-specific things in shows and how one translates them. The short version is that Japanese things in, let’s say, fantasy or domestic or whatever else anime are there to tell a human story, and we as translators can keep the human story there. Even Japanese/anime memes like the “class rep” in school settings aren’t that important compared to telling a story about people, no matter who tells you that -sans and -senpais are critical to the plot. But here, telling Japanese jokes is basically the point.

By the way, vale did do a good job. It’s just that converting this show is a waste of time.

<valerauko> btu so are you then
<valerauko> since fansubbing is a waste of time to begin with

Got me there.

Also “you” for our purposes are an average leecher who doesn’t know any Japanese and just wants to watch his crappy Korean cartoons about angry teenagers with swords and know what they’re yelling about. I don’t know if any of them actually watch Joshiraku, but translation exists for them because they speak English. Translate for them and you’ve translated for everyone; if you are unable to translate for them, there are issues.


Maybe you’re watching for vale’s punning. You know, you can just hit us up on IRC and I’m sure someone on staff will make puns for you. You don’t need to leech hundreds of megs of Japanese wordplay you don’t understand overlaid with English wordplay you might understand.

And sorry, but while, again, props to vale for figuring out something in English that matches this, “issue”/”tissue” is a joke book gag. It can’t power a scene this long. I’m not natural at Japanese by any means, so for all I know it’s just as lame for natives, or maybe Japanese’s simpler syllabary and cultural crap makes it acceptable. Either way, what are you really watching for? (Bonus: “go tissues” only works in text.)

This is not quite a pun but whatever. I’ve been down this road pretty recently, but the odd pun in a fantasy or drama anime is something to barrel through on the way to whatever else is happening. In Joshiraku, this is the entire show.

Visual Gags

I don’t understand what this is, and neither do you. It’s probably a Japanese product reference or some visual pun or something. It’s far from the only instance in the show, and while puns can be sidestepped or overlaid, these are just going to get dropped. What’s the point?

(If you know what this is because you looked it up, you don’t count. If you know what this is legitimately, congratulations. Don’t come and tell me, because I don’t care.)

With a kanji joke you can at least understand it because they explain it, but then it’s a linguistics joke that you might appreciate, if you’re the sort of “anime fan” who’s gotten far enough to sit through first year Japanese or whatever. Most probably aren’t. And it still needs an instruction manual.

The signs that are all weird kanji-reading puns (Dirty Harry, etc.) are completely lost, short of going and looking them all up. They’re background, so they don’t interrupt the flow of the show, but they’re still just going away. “Lost in translation” is rarely so apt.

Being Japanese

This entire sketch isn’t for you. That’s the end of it.

So Basically

It’s a show about Japanese references and Japanese wordplay. It’s not primarily a life sitcom or a slapstick act or anything “universal” like that. You could and should be watching something else – it’s not like we’re wanting for English sitcoms or sketch programs. If you’re watching it with English subs, or probably with any subs, you’re

  • Japanese, but interested in how one would translate if one had the time on his hands.
  • a pun-lover like me, but have made the inexplicable decision to look for your puns wedged forcefully into localizations of Japanese things instead of in one of the many well-crafted and legitimate sources of English puns.
  • full of shit, watching this because you like anime just for being anime, and because you want to go read a bunch of explanations later and then congratulate yourself/brag about what a smart Japanophile you are and how you definitely totally got all the jokes.

There is definitely no other reason you’d –



This post attracted a lot of heat. This should surprise no one – to be fair, it’s kind of inflammatory. But no one got this far purely by saying mean things on the internet. So let’s be serious for a while.

No, I can’t stop anyone from spending their time on anything, or even enjoying (or claiming to enjoy) it. All I can do is write almost a thousand words trying to figure out where their enjoyment is coming from if not the actual comedy of the show, and then judging it to be foolish, risible, or both – or, in shorter terms, “full of shit.”

And that is all I can do, and I do it for the same reason vale does this show in the first place. So if you posted something angry here or on 4chan valiantly defending your enjoyment or attacking me personally, feel free to collect your prize (there’s a bigger one if you angrily accused me of being angry). On the other hand, if you posted something thoughtful, unironically thank you. You know who you are.

What it comes down to as far as this post is concerned is that if you’re watching the show for any variant on “it’s Japanese” – including “I’m learning about Japanese this way” or “I like reading the tlnotes to learn about Japanese” – you’re full of shit. If you claim you somehow know Japanese pop culture even though you evidently don’t know anything about the language (or if you think it’s cool to read the tlnotes and then act like you 100% got the jokes) you’re full of shit in a slightly different way.

If you “enjoy what 30% of the show I get,” I’m not sure what to tell you. I know some of the bits are universal and legitimately funny (in a kind of Japanese way), so I’m not sure I’d go so far as to tell you you’re full of shit, but there’s a chance you should evaluate what you do with your time. Because, again, if you just want to see people talking about cats and dogs or whatever, that’s called stand-up and we have it in America (or probably wherever you live, since I know you have the Internet) and it doesn’t come with fifteen extra minutes of weird Japanese stuff. If you want to see specific cute cartoon Japanese girls doing stand-up, well, that’s a different issue.

If you got the Japan-and-the-world jokes in the first episode unprompted, congratulations, but if you came to 4chan/my comments to tell me how stupid I am for suggesting you didn’t instead of being quietly satisfied in your own accomplishment and how things I say don’t apply to you, you may still want to rethink your life. If you got the Japanese pop culture references or linguistic jokes and puns (you know, most of the show) unprompted, but still need subs to understand the show, you’re full of shit. If you enjoy valerauko‘s comedy, whatever, let him know, he’ll be happy. Either way that’s still like half the show missing (when I wrote this I didn’t even know they were going to basically do Japanese free-association routines).

If you just want some English words attached while you stare at cartoon girls, I guess there’s not much I can say to that other than calling you a little weird. (And I thought I accepted “the girls are cute” as a thing in the original post, but apparently some people were too mad to get the joke.)

I’m probably missing some options, but it’s about time for 4chan to link this again so they can burn it in effigy, so someone will be along soon to tell me.

Unrelatedly, if you just like the theme songs, you have my blessing. They’re great.

Addendum 2

Holy shit, you guys, it’s been months and I’m still getting enraged responses. This isn’t even fun anymore. Comments closed, feel free to email me if you want me to know how wrong I am on the internet.

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29 Responses to If you’re watching Joshiraku subbed, you’re full of shit

  1. Pingback: Re: Joshiraku not meant to be subbed « Not Red Reviews

  2. Name (required) says:

    Hey, I don’t see why you can’t do like this:
    1) Watch Joshiraku subbed;
    2) Learn Japanese, read 2ch for a month, familiarize yourself with cultural phenomena, etc, etc;
    3) Watch Joshiraku again;
    4) ?????
    5) PROFIT!

    It’s double fun this way!

  3. ­Anonymous says:

    i’m watching it for the girls

    fuck the police

  4. Anonymous says:

    Jin scanned interviews with Kawamori and Okada http://archive.foolz.us/a/thread/68439891

  5. blahblahblah says:

    I wouldn’t be watching it if it weren’t for the amazing ED.

  6. anon says:

    So much pretentiousness around me, I can’t hold all of it.

    “This entire sketch isn’t for you. That’s the end of it.”
    Seriously? Are you being serious with this? This was the fucking easiest to understand in the whole chapter. Unless you know jack shit about international politics and incidents, of course.

  7. H says:

    This baka GAIJIN thinks he knows better than anyone else.

  8. bread says:

    I’m watching it because I found it enjoyable. Don’t know why, but if it stops being enjoyable I will drop it. The end.

  9. I know you said you don’t care, but the egg is Twitter’s default user avatar.

  10. Eru says:

    “full of shit, watching this because you like anime just for being anime, and because you want to go read a bunch of explanations later and then congratulate yourself/brag about what a smart Japanophile you are and how you definitely totally got all the jokes.”

    I enjoy Joshiraku for what it’s worth, and I enjoy reading Vale’s notes and explanations on it. I enjoy learning these things, and I enjoy the show, but I don’t congratulate or brag about myself. Am I full of shit? Curious.

  11. thisarticleisbadandyoushouldfeelbad says:


  12. nope says:

    >a fansubber thinking people care about what he thinks

  13. YOOOO says:


  14. Anonymous says:

    lol ur gay

  15. who am i quoting says:

    >This entire sketch isn’t for you. That’s the end of it.
    i dont know what land disputes/taxes are!! what a uniquely japanese concept!!
    the author of that must be very new to anime or japanese culture or something. I don’t speak japanese but I got most of the jokes.
    “I don’t know what this means, and neither do you”
    the definition of projecting.

  16. Yalan says:

    I’ll have to disagree with you about that last joke.

    It was the ONLY one I got since I study Soviet and Russian History in my spare time. You don’t need to be a Japanese. You just need to have a slight interest in politics or be aware of the small things that make nationalists butthurt.

  17. generic says:

    >Not japanese
    >English is not even my first language
    And I’m still getting the fucking jokes and enjoying the show, what’s your excuse?

  18. cuore says:

    Wow, the weeaboos are real mad with you.

  19. randum passerby says:

    they’re just saying, “if you don’t get the meaning, maybe others still does in their own way”
    stop being so high and mighty, judging other people’s work with your own standard, it’s painful to see >_>

  20. Reed says:

    I’m watching it so I can make fun of other people for watching it. Does that count

  21. clouded101 says:

    I wasn’t going to comment but I really had to.
    “You’re full of shit, and you’ll have a horrible death.”

  22. Anonymous says:

    Jealousy much? The show he is subbing is getting all love and what are you doing? Nothing.
    Oh well sir, what you did, is the very definition of flamming.

  23. 馬鹿 says:

    What’s wrong with enjoying a show? It’s so funny! If you don’t get it, don’t watch it. Don’t make useless posts about how we shouldn’t either! You piss me off.

  24. Hahaha says:

    Guess he didn’t understand the show and thinks nobody else should either.

  25. Are you serious? says:

    The guy who started this must be really bored at home eating some chips and have nothing better to do than wrinting a stupid text of about 300 lines criticising an anime series, i think that sayonara setzubou sensei was the same “shit” as he said coz dialogs were so fast and hard to understand since most of them were about goverment and crap of that sort, but the anime was worth to watch even if you can’t understand everything…. the same goes for anime references that u can’t understand if u haven’t watched the anime….

  26. You're a fucking idiot go to school. says:

    Seriously, go to school you can understand some of their Japanese history plays if you learn some shit from things in World and US history. More is understandable from playing a fucking video game called Samurai fucking Warriors, it’s by Koei and is such a massive exaggeration, but still helps if you know absolutely nothing about anything Japanese. You are a fucking idiot if you didn’t get the give back our land joke. I can’t believe you would have the audacity to say everyone is full of shit because you’re too full of shit to learn culture after watching THEIR anime. They aren’t entitled to make it to your standards, it’s their media. Congratulations, I can enjoy most of their jokes and you are in the dark because you’re stupid. You’re fucking butt hurt because you were too stupid to figure it out without reading up on it, that’s all this amounts to. Good day to you, you whiny bitch.

  27. Nag says:

    I was about to post another pointless and unwanted comment about how I like Kumeta’s self loathing, Godly theme tunes and qualify in both being weird enough to enjoy watching a fansubers gags pasted over cute girls doing cute things AND have the spare time to waste doing so, but after noticing a few comments I don’t want to be associated with the hilariously mad weeaboos that made them, especially the one claiming SZS was hard to understand because it had jokes relating to the government – both uncultured AND uneducated, how vile.

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