Translation Notes

As you may have noticed, this shrine is not based on one publication of the series, but on four different translations. Part of it is because I always want to make use of all the sources I have available, another is that I enjoy comparing translations a lot, along with finding joy in rewriting things until I've found the best way to express the meaning behind. The biggest reason in this case, however, is something that I consider an important part of MKR and its experience particularly due to its JRPG roots: magic spells and class names (of course, I went on to compare all four translations for everything I wrote, perfectionism be damned).

For the most part, I used the German spell and class names for this shrine due to their consistency in comparison to the other translations (see below): Most notably, all class names end on the same syllable, something which I think is intended. For the Magic Knights' spells, which are not unique words, I used the translation that makes the most sense or the one most present in fandom. I had never consciously taken note of it before, but the reason the Magic Knights' spells needed to be translated in the first place is because in the original, they cast their spells in Japanese – unlike the people from Cephiro. Spells in the original version consist of two parts, something which is lost in all official translations I have referenced, which is why they also give more information about the spell itself. All these years, I had wondered whether the supplemental info boxes explaining the spells' effects by Carlsen, the German publisher, were completely made up (e.g. "Ebonea"/Debonair = Gold Death Strike – how would you know whether something is golden when the manga is black and white?), when in fact, they were using the spell structure found in the original.

Allow me to mention on this topic that the German translation is the one dearest to me due to its situation-appropriate tone and its preservation of spells, genre lingo and Japanese feeling, though it contains a few minor errors. Two major ones surprised me: Firstly, Ascot's job class, Paru, is actually supposed to be "Summoner" – the German version had confused it as "Herald" because Zagato had Ascot summoned through a messenger.

Secondly, Primera's Futura spell boosts the power of other spells. In the German version, Lantis exclaims "Primera! No!" when she flies forth to cast her spell, after which he casts his, and I had always wondered what exactly her spell did. It turns out that Lantis is doing quite the opposite: He's telling Primera to boost his next spell. (This also explains why in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, CLAMP's later crossover series, Primera's ability is to make her exclamations materialize as solid text blocks with the help of a megaphone, which are capable of inflicting damage. What a brilliant way to reimagine her power!)

How faithful the German translation is to the original is also evident when you compare it word for word with the English fan translation provided by fuu; they're far closer to each other compared to the two official English translations by Tokyopop and Dark Horse Comics. The German publication also includes all extra material present in the original, such as official character profiles – something omitted in the first English Tokyopop edition.

Dark Horse Comic's translation, on the other hand, is far too Americanized for my comfort, and neglects consistent worldbuilding as well as MKR's roots in the Magical Girl and JRPG genres: e.g. "Magical Girls" becomes "witches", the honorifics scene is substituted with "sis", what ought to be subtle flirting turns into "you're a babe", terminology is used inconsistently ("sorceress", "witch"/"sorcerer", "magician", "wizard" even though they have specific terms in the original and are included in character profiles due to their connection to JRPGs), spell names are lost, instead replaced by English equivalents, Caldina's Osaka dialect is brushed over. It also sports an unnecessarily aggressive and hostile tone in many friendly parts, such as the chatter of Hikaru's classmates on the Tokyo Tower or the Magic Knights' first encounter with Caldina. Most of this only pertains to the first story arc, which is where the RPG elements and the light-hearted banter are the strongest. (I didn't mind the second part's translation at all, whereas the first part immensely frustrated me.)

If you're an English reader looking to pick up copies of Magic Knight Rayearth, you'll most likely buy Dark Horse Comic's omnibuses as they contain all the additional material (colour pages, character profiles – do note that some profiles have been abbreviated though) and Tokyopop is out of print. If you're as invested as I am, I urge you to reread the manga with fuu's translations to get the full and immersive experience for reasons mentioned above.

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