Netflix has corrected the subtitles for its Cyberpunk Edgerunners anime after it was released with a number of issues.
Developer CD Projekt Red contacted us today to let us know that they have updated the subtitles for their (great) anime Cyberpunk 2077 and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. We checked out a few of the first episodes and saw no signs of the strangeness we remembered from before. Words used in slang were spelt uniformly and read fluently. We still recommend the dub voice track, but we’ve improved the quality of both the audio and the subs so that you may enjoy the show regardless of your preferred language combination.
Stories like Neuromancer, Blade Runner, and Ghost in the Shell have kept the cyberpunk genre and style on the fringes of popular culture for decades. In 2020, however, with the release of Cyberpunk 2077 on consoles, the genre experienced an explosion thanks to CD Projekt Red. Irrespective of how any of us may feel about the game itself, it was a major event nonetheless. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, the long-awaited anime adaptation, debuted on Netflix not too long ago. It’s a stunning spectacle by any standard. Both the English and Japanese voice actors are superb. And when subtitles are added, it becomes nearly unwatchable.
It’s not a debate about which version is better, the subtitles or the dubs.
Details abound in Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk setting, which he designed for the original tabletop role-playing game. The setting is rounded out with a jargon-heavy stream of lingo that is only just close enough to be understandable without a dictionary. “You can’t count on a corpo to pay you the dough you’ve earned. Don’t be such a dweeb. True cutting-edgers don’t put their faith in their ripper docs. Was that BD double-checked?”
Let’s not act like that’s great writing, but it gets across the fact that slang is so pervasive in today’s society that it might as well be a separate language. If you watch the show with subtitles turned on, regardless of whether the voice track is in English or Japanese, you will be left bewildered unless you are extremely well-versed in the language of the game world. The performers did a fantastic job of learning all of those words and making them sound natural when watching only the English voice track without subtitles.
To keep the sound down in my flat, I usually watch TV with the subtitles turned on. Whenever I glanced at the bottom of my screen, I was shocked at how terrible the subtitles were. The word “choom” is spelled both correctly and incorrectly as “chume” in different contexts. Intrusion Countermeasures (also known as cybersecurity) is referred to as “eyes” in this translation. When one of the characters mentions “Edgerunner,” the subtitles change it to “Headrunner.” More than once, though not always, they mixed up the words “ripper” with “reaper.”
Further, pinpointing the precise cause of the problem is challenging. One possible explanation for the “eyes” slip-up is that the translator heard a term with a similar sound but thought it was “eyes,” as Japanese is the translator’s first language. As I continued to watch, however, it became increasingly apparent that the subtitles had not been reviewed by a human translation. Many sentences make little sense, and it’s not because they were poorly translated but because they were translated by a computer. Some of the phrases had all the earmarks of “I was speaking a text message to my phone and it got half the words wrong,” with examples of words typed multiple ways underscoring the possibilities.
This impacts the English closed-captioning text for the hard-of-hearing as well as the English subtitle track supposed to play over the Japanese dialogue. It’s not worth the time to pick apart every single error in this. Hard to believe such sloppy work went into such a high-profile show from a studio that seems to be so keen with animation. It’s obvious that the Quality Assurance crew either didn’t give the show much attention before uploading it online, or that the upload was rushed because of pressure to meet a deadline.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is awesome if you dig the genre, whether that’s the video game, the tabletop RPG, or the aesthetic. There is a lot of noise, colour, and activity. All the glitz of a video game is here, along with a great plot and excellent development by Studio Trigger. You can just view it in English without the subtitles if you like. Either that, or I’ll have to wait for Netflix to fix it. And before you plunge in, be sure to read our review; this is a unique programme.