A translation can make – or break – a work of fiction but as long-time Japan resident and amateur Japanologist Dave Hackerson discovered, sometimes it can improve upon an already emotive scene.
Dave, who goes by the username @NorskAkiruno on Twitter, has long been interested in the ways that Japanese philosophy can be applied to the Star Wars universe and how that universe has itself been influenced by Japanese aesthetics, samurai films, and centuries-old Buddhist tenets. And when he watched the momentous showdown between Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano in the season two finale of Star Wars Rebels, he noted that the Japanese subtitles added an extra layer of depth to their exchange.
For example, he points out that the Japanese translation of “I am no Jedi” is not a simple one-for-one translation; the sentence used by the translator (ジェダイの道は捨てた) translates back into English as “I no longer walk the Jedi path”, placing greater emphasis on Ahsoka’s personal journey and her decision to leave the Jedi Order behind her.
I urge readers to check out Dave’s original article, “Japanese Translations Make Star Wars Even More Profound – 邦訳によりスターウォーズがより深遠になる場合もある”, and to give him a follow on Twitter. If you’re interested in Japanese culture or are learning Japanese, check out the rest of his blog, which is available in English and Japanese.