So, Shin Seiki Evangelion finally made it onto a legal medium, with an entirely new localisation to boot. Does the localisation stand up to the knock-off torrents we’ve all been watching for years, or have Netflix neutered parts of the script to make it more accessable to “normies”?

Here I’ll try to outline every notable change the subtitles make to the words spoken by the voice actors. I’ll try not to include nothingy localisations where the intent behind what is said remains the same, just put into slightly more coherent english.

I will use waapuro romanisation throughout.

I will add a * to any episode which I watched under the influence. I might be slightly more nitpicky and/or miss things.

Episode 1

Let’s go. Zankoku na tenshi no you ni~

  • The black title card is entirely untranslated
  • In NERV, background announcements are untranslated, I would assume netflix’s subtitle rendering software can only handle one thing at one time
  • 真っ暗ですよ (lit. “it’s pitch black”) is localised to “I can’t see a thing”, intent is the same
  • 本当のジオフロント (lit. “a true geo-front”) is localised to “a bona-fide geofront”
  • 第一種戦闘配置 (lit. type 1 battle stations) is changed to “condition one battle stations”
  • サードチルドレン (read as: sa~do chirudoren) is directly kept as “third children”, rather awkwardly
  • Language around shinji is… humanised. In the voice acting it’s said that a backup pilot is 届いた - previous fansubs have translated this as “delivered”, as a parcel - which I think fits the mood better. Netflix chooses to humanise to “arrived”.
  • Gendou’s speech is changed. 説明を受けろ (lit. you shall recieve instructions [imperative]) is changed to “Learn how.”, more hostile.
  • The famous line 逃げちゃだめだ (usually “I mustn’t run away”) is translated to “don’t run away”, throughout.

Episode 2

  • The “new” from 第3新東京, lit. “The third new-tokyo” is dropped
  • American-specific localisation, インスタント -> “TV dinner”, for what we’d call in UK english a “ready meal”
  • 知らない天井 is translated as “a ceiling I’ve never seen before”, as opposed to the now-iconic “an unfamilliar ceiling”. Not a terrible change, I’m just attached to the original line.

Episode 3*

  • Used through all 3 so far, but relevent here - はい is localised as a formal “yes, ma’am”, weirdly
  • トウジ is romanised as tohji, which seems odd. Passport hepburn, I think they call it.
  • 妹 is translated to “kid sister”, which sounds rather unnatural to me considering Touji isn’t given an accent
  • Touji’s kansai accent isn’t localised at all
  • The teacher’s speech is only half-subtitled, with the more pertinent mails taking up the space, +1 for my theory on netflix’s subtitle limitation
  • Rei is cute. Sorry, not strictly related. Just thought you should know.
  • 転校生 (lit. “transfer student”) is bizarrely translated as “newbie”
  • さっき行くから (lit. “I’ll go before you”) is localised to “i’ll meet you there”. Similar intent.
  • うるさい奴ら (lit. “noisy/annoying people [derog]”) is localised as “a bunch of pushy jerks” - I think I’m ok with this one
  • お前なー is very liberally translated to “you’re a piece of work”

Episode 4

  • The “kiddy” version of Shinji’s name on his room, シンちゃん (shin-chan), is left untranslated
  • Typo maybe, 帰らなきゃ is subtitled as “I got to go home”. Actually might just be american english.
  • 小学校 (lit. elementary school) is translated “grade-school” - weird for 2 reasons
    1. it’s an americanism
    2. Aida is 14, he’d still be a 中学生 (middle schooler), not out of “grade-school” yet
  • Just noticed, but the only honorific kept is “-san”, which is translated to “Ms.” or “Mr.”
  • 変態 (pervert, usually) is neutered a little to “weirdo”, dropping the connotations
  • 人のことなんか関係ないでしょう is changed to “what others think doesn’t matter”, instead of “this has nothing to do with them” or similar
  • Line entirely changed, あんたみたいな気持ちで乗られんのは迷惑よ (lit. To have someone feeling like you piloting would be a bother”) to “If you keep acting like this, you’re more trouble than you’re worth”
  • 恥ずかしいやつなんだよ (lit. “He’s an embarrasing guy”) is changed to “you know how melodramatic he is”
  • Entirely ignores 苦しい (suffering) when talking about what it’s like inside the plug

Episode 5

  • Ibuki’s だめです is militarised to “Negative!”
  • 信じられないくらい乱れたのよ (lit. Disturbed to unbelievable levels) was changed to be about… readings? “the readings were unbelievably unstable for her”
  • ありがたいわ (I’d say: “much appreciated”) is changed to “this is useful”
  • The girls calling for Shinji are left untranslated
    • A lot of their chit-chat is left out, not that it matters too much
  • Inconsistently with ep2, instant food is directly kept as “instant food”
  • ごめんください (“Can I come in?”) is translated as “hello?”
  • It’s got to the point of bugging me - decimals are transcribed in long form “two point five” instead of the more natural “2.5”
  • 警戒態勢 “emergency status” is changed to “battle stations”

Episode 6

  • My netflix subtitle limitation theory is broken - I turned on JP captions for the OP, and they show that the system CAN handle complex positioning and such.
  • Idioms again. 後よろしく is changed to “hold the fort”. Imo this is entirely ok considering how notoriously difficult よろしく is to translate.
  • しゃらくさい is made a little stronger with the addition of “bastard”. They do this with やつ a lot.
  • 無茶な作戦 (reckless plan) is changed to “a loony one”, which I think sounds unnatural
  • Avoids solidsnakeism, 他に何もないって is changed to just “what do you mean?” - a positive change imo
  • 笑えばいいと思うよ (I think it’d be good if you smiled) is changed slightly to “smiling would be a good start”

Episode 7

  • The “-kun” honorific is weirdly translated as “Mr.”, inconsistently with the first 6 episodes.
  • かっこいい (can be either “cool” or “hot” etc) is rendered as “hot” - I think cool fits the “drifting a car into school” thing better though
  • バカみたい (lit “like idiots”) is changed to “horny idiots”. I have no idea where the “Horny” bit comes from, although it does fit.
  • The newspaper with VERY relevent information is left untranslated
  • Again, “ma’am” is added where it isn’t really needed. “good morning” would have sufficed.
  • MORE untranslated text. This is starting to get annoying.
  • Slight alteration, “the age of NERV” -> “NERV’s reign”. Just re-phrasing.
  • interestingly, だめです isn’t militarised for AJ - the more standard “it’s not working!” is used
  • NO BAD NETFLIX DO NOT USE THE CRINGE WORD THAT IS VERY ABUNAI DO NOT (TN: 恥ずかしい was localised to “makes me cringe”)

Episode 8*

It’s asuka time baby

  • kensuke’s repeated すごいs (lit awesome) are omitted for an “oh, cool!”
  • Unnatural subtitle of misato’s line - “hey, have you grown in height?” as opposed to maybe “my, haven’t you grown” or something
  • Weirdly, passport hepburn isn’t used for souryuu - it’s romanised as soryu
  • SUUUUPER liberally, まさか今の (“it couldn’t be [that kid] from just now”) is translated as “don’t tell me it’s this sleazebag”. Although not out of character.
  • つまんない子 is changed to “a letdown”, rather than just “a boring kid”
  • Another super liberal translation - なんだよもう is somehow “why is she so bossy?”. Seems out of character this time.
  • OK let me go on for an paragraph here about HOW GODHECKINGLY stupid it is for asuka to be subtitled as AND I HECKING QUOTE “[Speaking German]”. YES SHE’S SPEAKING GERMAN SHE’S GERMAN. You are A SUBTITLER. Your VERY JOB is to convey what non-english is being spoken to ENGLISH SPEAKERS. WHAT PART OF THAT do you not understand, mr netflix translator? EVEN FANSUBS manage to subtitle the german words to keep the “you’re not really supposed to understand” thing going. But netflix? NOOOO let’s just ignore it entirely and say “hehe [speaking german]”
  • AND THEN YOU TRANSCRIBE BAUMKUCHEN LIKE IT’S NOTHING WHY WHY WHY
  • Ok not subtitle related but why are Iowa-class battleships sailing with modern destroyers? I guess they were recomissioned for desert storm, so would have been active when the show was made, but this is set in 2015.

Episode 9

  • NOW they subtitle asuka’s german!? Come on, at least be consistent…
  • お姉さん (familial language used to refer to an older sister, but can be applied to any girl) is translated as “old lady” - pretty sure Ritsuko is older than Misato?
  • Every time Kaji is referenced, it’s changed to his given name Ryoji. Not a big change.
  • For the scene of asuka and shinji arguing over an announcement, I confirmed that netflix’s subtitle system can handle multiple lines at once. The english one just doesn’t bother.
  • 残念ながら (lit. “unfortunately, …”) is changed to “i’m flattered, but…”
  • Asuka’s surname is used by shinji here, despite netflix choosing to switch to first names when kaji is referenced
  • “10倍にして” is changed to “with interest” rather than “10 times over” - but intent remains similar.
  • Ignores the sudden change in speech when misato decries Kaji, using 我 (super formal 1st person pronoun) over あたし (very informal feminine 1st person pronoun)

Episode 10

Very little to remark upon in the next few - these middle episodes are pretty straightforward deliberately. Guess I’ll be a little nitpicky for the heck of it. Just gotta wait for the heel-turn around 16 for some more fun stuff.

  • Not a big change, but Asuka’s 諦めてたってわけ is changed from the familiar “you’ve already given up?” to “you already had it written off?”
  • 旧態依然として減点式のテストなんかなんの興味もないわ (“I have no interest in any sort of old-fashioned subtractive grading system”) is changed to “a system that penalises errors instead of rewarding brains is so unenlightened!”
  • そんなこと言ったって is changed slightly to “you can make fun of me…”
  • “チェ” localised to “crud”. Sounds a little weak for something asuka would say but whatever.
  • 待ってました is changed to “music to my ears”, but I think it fits the character.

Episode 11

Shounen yo, shinwa ni naaarreeee~

  • In asuka’s outburst to rei, “ひいき” (favourite) is substituted for “special treatment”
  • Same in rei’s reply
  • Asuka is also given extra “miss perfect”s around the place, in place of 優等生 (honour student)
  • Slightly oddly, asuka’s german is corrected (I think? I don’t speak german) - Gehen is subtitled as Los geht’s

Episode 12

  • 大変な仕事 is subtitled as “important job”, drops the “difficult” aspect
  • Just noticed - is that Hayashibara on the radio? Sounds like her
  • Language militarised again - 今の責任者はあなたよ (“you’re the one with the responsibility now”) changed to “you’re the ranking officer”
  • Rei’s 肉嫌いだもの is toned down slightly to just “I don’t like meat” rather than “I hate meat”

Episode 13

  • 異常なし (lit. no abnormalities) is localised to “all systems green”
  • 気持ちの問題よ (lit. a question of feelings) is changed to “I’m feeling seriously uncomfortable here”
  • 爆発的スピード (lit. explosive speed) is changed slightly to “it’s like spreading wildfire”
  • Slightly weird number subtitles - 60 is written as sixty, but 38 and 39 are in numeral form
  • Ibuki’s だめです returns to the standard “it’s not working”
  • 裏技 is localised to “hacks”, I think that fits given the computing slant
  • I feel kinda bad for whoever had to translate intのC, which I’m pretty sure is meaningless technobabble. Fansubs go for INT-C, netflix goes for c-as-integer. Not sure there’s a correct answer here.
  • American-specific localisation again, 大学 is translated as “college” rather than “university”

Episode 14

AWWW HECK it’s time for things to get WEIRD

The first half of this episode is just recap, but whilst I’ve got you, can I complain for a minute about furigana so far removed from their text as to be useless? Take 3人目の適格者, which should be read sanninme no tekikakusha, but the furigana reads サードチルドレン sa~do chirudoren. If you’re gonna have weird terminology at least keep it that way heck.

Right rei time let’s go

  • another intance of 嫌い being translated to “don’t like” rather than perhaps the more relevent “hate”
  • 心 is translated as “heart”. Useful to note.
  • Again, multiple lines of the same phrase get chopped
  • Ritsuko’s language is… slightly de-sexualised. 汚れたと感じた… is “The first time you feel dirty”, which doesn’t explicitly state what she’s getting at there.
  • Shinji’s line is changed slightly, it’s now a “stupid ceiling” rather than just “this ceiling again”
  • 予定外 is “unpredicted” rather than “unplanned”, I think the latter is better considering that there is a plan
  • 人類補完委員会 (lit. “Human instrumentality council”) is stripped to just “the council”
  • They use the translation “spear of longinus” rather than the “lance” one used by literally every eva translation for the past 20 years

Episode 15

  • I’m heavily nitpicking here, but “the key human instrumentality project” sounds bizarre
  • Shannon Bio gets “-tech” appended to its name
  • この姿のままだ is now “sitting empty” as opposed to just “appearance unchanged”
  • Importantly, the company’s director names sit untranslated - so viewers do not read “Ikari Gendou” or “Fuyutsuki Kouzou”
  • Kaji says he knows ALL the names, the subtitles say most of them
  • It seems weird in subtitles to say “the big three-oh”. Just say “30” heck.
  • Shinji is now also “eager” to see his father - despite misato never saying that
  • Slight alteration of wedding speech for western audiences - using “happy wife, happy life” instead of the 3つの袋 speech, but the intent remains very similar
  • 先に帰るぞ is now “I need to go” rather than something like “I’ll go ahead” or whatever
  • 花火 are now “matches” apparently. Goodness knows when that happened. I know what the subtitler was getting at here.
    • カジ:どうせヤケドするなら君との火遊びがー
    • ミサト: 花火でも買ってきましょうか?
    • I’d personally phrase it as “If I’m being burned anyway, I’d like it to be from playing with fire with you-“, “Do you want some fireworks to go with that?”
  • Not subtitles, but the fly me to the moon rendition for misato’s speech is gone. Feels… empty with no backing. Almost entirely loses its emotional weight.
  • Misato’s 独断 own judgement is now just “on her own”
  • Ritsuko’s honorific nickname, りっちゃんricchan is kept? They drop ALL -chan usages prior to here.

Episode 16

Time for things to start tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down

  • “Intropunitive”!? I had to actually go look the word up. Medical terminology? I mean it is the listed translation of 内罰的 but still, it’s not common speech
  • Ibuki’s だめです is re-militarised to “negative!”
  • The internally-directed AT field is now an “inverted AT field”
  • An “imaginary numbers” space? That sounds super awkward
  • Interestingly, 心 is still translated as “heart” here, despite the conversation being psychological in nature. “Mind” might be more appropriate.
  • 自分はこれでいいんだと思う続けて, でなければ生きていけないよ
    • My interpretation “Believe that everything is ok, otherwise you can’t carry on living”
    • Netflix says: “Believe in yourself for who you are, otherwise you won’t be able to go on”
    • Not sure how netflix got their version

Now we’re at the good stuff. Off the rails? The rails are a but a distant memory, my friend.

Episode 17

  • Another instance of grade-schooler. Please stop.
  • Did you really need to subtitle counting down in english?
  • Drops Kensuke’s “weird” bit from “weird questions”

Episode 18

  • I can’t help but think that the “Ms.” prefixes for “-san” is a tad formal. Especially when its students talking about eachother. But whatever.
  • Ok now the formality seems very off. Hikari is talking rather… distantly, yet 仲良さそう is translated as “awfully chummy”. American thingy again? Idk
  • Interesting that they’ll try and translate Kaji’s speech about how 彼女 -> はるか彼方の女 but not leave a note explaning how he reasons. Fansub doesn’t either.
  • The text surrounding Eva 03’s test is untranslated. netflix chooses to instead prioritise technobabble from the tannoy.
  • “Belay that”!? Isn’t that strictly nautical? I mean sure he’s called anchor gendou but still. Made me double-take.
  • shinji scream.mp4
  • I really miss the rendition of fly me to the moon from here - it’s a super nice jazzy version in the orignial

Episode 19

  • “that idiot” is dropped from asuka’s あのバカ…

There is very little here to comment on here. Ah well. On to the final stretch.

Episode 20

  • 私たち is now “we humans”, although it remains similar
  • It bugs me that ゲンドウ is romanised as gendoh. Passport hepburn is used in some places, but not all of them. It’s weird.
  • セクト is highly bizarrely translated as “leftist”. Wonder where they got that from?
  • “I lost to shinji” is translated as “shinji upstaged me”
  • Interestingly, letters in tannoy speech are phonetic-alphabet’d, B -> bravo and so on
  • The character names are untranslated on screen, but I assume people can tell based on voice
  • The psychological conversation on the radio which is super relevent is omitted
  • AAAAAAAAAAAAA HECK I HATE THAT SCENE YOU KNOW THE ONE THE STILL SHOT AT THE END AUHFWEHUE

Episode 21

  • The location for Fuyutsuki’s flashback is left untranslated
  • Fuyutsuki’s comment on Gendou+Yui’s relationship is toned down a bit, あの男と並んで歩くとは (“To think you’d walk side-by-side with that man”) to just   ”I’m surprised you have anything in common”, which then doesn’t really link to Yui’s “oh, he’s a sweet man”
  • 今日も真夏日だそうで (“it’s like a midsummer’s day”) is mystically changed to be “they say it’s another 30C day”.
  • Would gendou say “the missus”? I think it sounds weird

Episode 22

  • 生き方 わざとらしく is now “putting up a front”, rather than “her way of living seems unnatural”
  • [speaking german]
  • Asuka’s disdain for the bathwater is toned down a tad, from “like hell I’d…” to “I don’t want to…”
  • Nice to see they subtitled the elevator scene perfectly
  • Asuka’s lift line has an additional mention to “mental walls”
  • Asuka’s breakdown has many untranslated lines on screen. Most prominently, “death” which it lingers on at the end

Epsiode 23

WATASHIDAKE WO TADA MITSUMETE HOHOENDERU ANATA

  • The subtitles imply that shinji reads the sign on misato’s door. He does not.
    • He says ミサトさん、今日も籠もりっぱなしだ (Misato is still hiding herself away today)
  • Misato’s レイ、死ぬ気 (“Rei, do you intend to die?”) is obscured a little to “rei, are you going to…”
  • Ritsuko’s 壊す is now “smash”. Sounds weird.
    • “so I’m going to smash them. Because I hate them”. weird right?
  • Also she’s now “destroying property”. Idk where the property bit came from.

Episode 24

  • The “safely” from “safely in custody” is dropped
  • Again, misato’s sign is kinda toned down from “i’ll kill you if you come in” to “no unauthorised entry”
  • Kaworu doesn’t quite say “intimacy”, 触れ合う is more just “touching” (not in a lewd sense)
  • I think the subs are slightly mis-timed here? Feels a little fast
  • Okay it is time for the controversial bits
    • 好意に値する
      • Me: “it’s deserving of affection”
      • Fansubs: “you have my regard for it”
      • Netflix: “you’re worthy of my grace”
    • 好きってことさ
      • shouty people: “it means I love you”
      • netflix: “it means I like you”
      • Me: both are valid. it’s a notoriously ambiguous scene. 好き (like/love) is especially hard since it’s rather unusual for the japanese to jump to the 愛する word (which is explicitly “love”). Considering just how heavy the undertones are in this scene I think I’d lean more towards translating as “love” but either is valid
  • “All I did was take up space” is a bit more negative than what he says. ただそれにいるだけの (“I just existed there” or something)
  • Slight change to kaworu’s answer, 人間が嫌いなのかい (do you hate people?) is now “you hate being around people?”
  • Again with the grace thing? Shinji was talking about the 好きってことさ line

Episode 25

Remember when this show went off the rails? Well now any memory of those rails is long gone and all that remains is the abstract thought of the possibility of rails in some alternate dimension.

  • 死を望んだ (wished for death) is strengthened somewhat to “he craved death”
  • oh heck the MASSIVELY IMPORTANT on-screen text lies untranslated. This could test my speed-japanese reading later in the episode…
  • I swear they’ve been jumping between “miss misato” and “ms. misato”. Maybe I’m going mad. Probably that actually.
  • これに乗るしかないのか is translated as “is piloting this all I have?”, it’s a little ambiguous. Could also be translated “I have no choice but to pilot this”
  • Asuka’s いらないのよ (“not needed”) is “they don’t want me”
  • yeah keeping up with these untranslated cards is really hard
  • 怖い?わからないわ (scared? I don’t understand.) is “scared? why would I be scared?”. very minimal I guess
  • In misato’s argument
    • 余計なお世話だわ
      • lit. “Mind your own business”
      • Netflix: “What gives you the right?”
    • ただのなれ合いじゃない
      • lit. “isn’t that just a conspiracy?”
      • Netflix: “That’s just forcing people to cozy up to eachother” (??)
  • だから、一人で生きるの (lit. “so I’ll live on my own”) is now “I’ll live for myself

Episode 26

I literally cannot fault this episode

It makes the famously confusing dialogue more… coherent

Conclusions

So, 26 epsiodes and another impending bout of crippling depression about to start, we’re at the end.

Overall, there were no major changes in characters or localisation. Only smaller things to potentially make things easier to read.

I was NOT a fan of how so much on-screen text got left untranslated, however. That really could use some work.

To anyone that read this, おめでとう

And may my moon-runes get good enough to do this more properly in the future.

End of Evangelion

May as well do this as well. If I’m going to fall to eva-induced uberdepression anyhow I may as well do it properly.

Are you ready for things to come

tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling, down

Komm, süßer Tod

Episode 25’ - AIR

  • Whilst “I’m the lowest of the low” is closer to the original script, “I’m so f*cked up” is now an absolutely iconic line. But hey.
  • Ibuki’s “senpai” is kept as is. I thought they changed it to “ritsuko” in the main series? I might be imagining things.
  • そんな生易しい連中じゃない is rendered as “these guys don’t play softball”. Is that yet another americanism? I’ve never heard that expression
  • The かまわないから is dropped from misato’s order for asuka to be put in the eva.
  • Aoba’s speech to Ibuki has a little bit changed.
    • He says “you’ve done it lots of times in training”, but the training bit is dropped in the subs
    • Ibuki doesn’t mention targets, she just says it wasn’t at people
    • バカ is rendered as “get over it!”
    • Aoba says 撃てなきゃ死ぬぞ “if you don’t shoot you’ll die”, idoimised to “it’s kill or be killed”
  • Over the radio, the man says フィフスマルボルジエ “Fifth Malbolge”, changed to “5th Bolgia”
  • 悪く思うな、坊主 is translated as “nothing personal, kid”. Nothing wrong here, but I just can’t take the line seriously. I immediately think of the soldier as a sonic OC please send help.
  • 女の子にすがって逃げってごまかして中途半端が一番悪いわよ
    • Netflix: “turning to a girl to escape a harsh reality is the worst kind of being half-assed”
    • I think that sounds slightly weird
    • There is no mention of “harsh reality” in the japanese
  • super shinji scream.mp4

I love the soundtrack so goshdarn much.

Episode 26’ - Sincerely yours

  • Shinji’s speech to asuka feels a little more of a confession of love than it originally did. It’s not an incorrect reading of the original though
  • although I will say that そばに来ないで “don’t come near me” is localised to “stop bothering me”
  • あすかじゃなきゃダメなんだ
    • Fansubs translate as “you’re the only one that can help me”
    • Netflix says “you’re the only one for me”
    • Both are ok, but I think in the context of 助けてよ the fansubs have it
  • Komm susser tod time
  • I KNOW, I KNOW I LET YOU DOWN, I’VE BEEN A FOOL TO MYSELF
  • Rei’s speech to shinji about その手 and その心 are changed to “why do you have…” rather than “what are your x for?”
  • I am very used to how rei speaks in the fansubs, time to see what we can get here
    • 孤独が人の心を埋めていく (loneliness is filling the hearts of people) is now “it’s weighing down the hearts of lonely people”
  • すべてはこれでよい was a prime spot to keep “all is right with the world” but ok
  • WHAT ONCE WAS HAPPY NOW IS SAD, I’LL NEVER LOVE AGAIN, MY WORLD IS ENDING
  • interestingly, kaworu’s 好き is “love” now
  • 気持ち悪い

Well there we go…

EoE is a trauma we all share.

Maybe one day I can take its message and improve my life instead of running into escapist fantasies like eva itself. And then learning an entire language so I can run even deeper into them. But until that day, I suppose, I will continue. “What’s wrong with running from a painful reality?”, as Shinji would say.

では、コロシテクレでした

またね