Management: this is not a structured review, but more of me gushing about one of my favorite scenes from Madoka Magica, one of my favorite shows. Spoilers are obviously unmarked.
Miki Sayaka’s had it rough.
When she made her contract, giving up her normal life, she expected to be a hero of justice. She would hunt evil by night, protect the weak, and be satisfied knowing she did something good for her crush. But it was not to be. Her powers are weak: an obstacle to fighting evil. Kyouko scoffs at her idealism, as the system rewards her for letting the witches claim some human casualties before she defeats them. And worst of all, just as she feels her humanity slipping away, a rival confesses to the person she crushes on from afar, and she sees him slipping out of her reach. What was she protecting? Why was she in this business? If she can’t achieve her ideals, then what was her sacrifice for anyway?
It is at this moment, when Sayaka crosses the line into despair, that we learn the truth of the magical girl system, and follow her into the conclusion of her tragic arc. In this moment, all Sayaka’s broken ideals, lost hope, and bitter regrets overflow into one heart-wrenching utterance:
I’ve seen this line translated as “I’m really stupid”. That is such a shame. This is the culmination of Sayaka’s tragedy: this single line holds distilled in it the emotions of an entire character arc. And translating it as a mere declaration: “I’m really stupid” doesn’t do it justice.
I do, however, like Crunchyroll’s translation:
I was stupid, so stupid.
That comma giving Sayaka time for pause, before the emphatic “so stupid” hammers home her despair–I love the rhythm in the prose. I’ve watched Madoka Magica many times now, and this is such a powerful scene every time I watch it. With the Crunchyroll translation, I felt tingles down my spine; with the “I’m really stupid” line, I could only feel the tension deflate.
So yeah, appreciate the translators who bring you your anime =P
Native Japanese speakers: how do you perceive the original line “あたしって、本当バカ”? Does it carry the same emotional weight as I described in the English version? If not, how would you word it?
Pour ceux dont la français est la langue maternelle: Je crois que la traduction officielle est “Je suis vraiment une idiote”. Pensez-vous que ça peut exprimer les mêmes émotions que j’ai décrites en anglais? Moi, je la traduirais comme l’anglais: “J’étais idiote, tellement idiote”, mais le français n’est pas ma langue maternelle. Comment traduiriez-vous cette phrase?
And just for fun, for those who speak Spanish (porque sé que hay muchas personas hispanohablantes que miran el anime), cómo traducirían ustedes esta frase?