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Kengan Ashura Illustrator Considers AI’s Potential For Better Manga Translations

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Following the announcement of major Japanese companies investing heavily in AI translation start-up to boost the export of manga, illustrator of Kengan Ashura, Daromeon, recounted an interesting tale on twitter.

Daromeon revealed that English debut of Kengan Ashura manga was almost rocky as the professional translators who were responsible for translating the manga had done a poor job.

Sticking with the official translations would have posed significant problems, as the illustrator believed nobody would read them.

The situation was solved then by entrusting the translation of Kengan Ashura manga to a fan translation group.

However, Daromeon also wondered if AI translations could have helped with this situation.

The English translation of Kengan Ashura is a bit peculiar, and we ended up entrusting it to an amateur group that had been illegally translating and uploading the manga without permission. This was because their translation was overwhelmingly better than the official one.
If we had stuck with the official translation, it would have been pretty bad. No one would have read it. I think there have been many works whose overseas reception was poor due to translation problems. I wonder if AI could help with that.

A fan pointed out in the replies that the official translation of Kengan Ashura which Daromeon rejected was done by AI (Mantra’s AI Translation). They alluded that manga translated by AI wouldn’t essentially solve the problem of poor translation.

In response the illustrator acknowledged that while the previous translation in question may have been AI-generated, it was developed before the advent of advanced models like GPT-3.

Daromeon also cautioned against assuming similar results from AI models separated by years of technological advancement.

i’m not sure how the recent AI translation is constructed, but that one was before GPT3. you can’t assume same results from AI models that are years apart,” stated Daromeon.

Furthermore, Daromeon expressed scepticism regarding the proficiency of some professional translators, and that decision-makers often struggle to discern between good and bad translations.

i think the problem is that many professional translators aren’t too good, and most people with authority can’t tell the difference.

Kengan Ashura is a Japanese manga series written by Yabako Sandrovich and illustrated by Daromeon. It was serialized on Shogakukan’s Ura Sunday website from April 2012 to August 2018, with its chapters compiled into twenty-seven tankōbon volumes. A sequel, titled Kengan Omega, began in January 2019.

It was adapted into an original net animation (ONA) series. The first 12-episode part premiered in July 2019 on Netflix; the second 12-episode part premiered in October of that same year. A second season premiered in September 2023; the second part is set to premiere in August 2024.

Source: Twitter

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