Written September 2020
Spoilers for all of Code Geass
I recently marathoned both seasons of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. This was probably my third time watching both seasons and I still enjoyed the insanity of the world of Code Geass and the heroics of our cast. This rewatch was my first time experiencing the Netflix version though, and one particular translation in the crucial final episode annoyed me.
At about seven minutes in, Lelouch forces Nunnally to hand over the FLEIJA launch remote. Right before this, Lelouch and Nunnally argue about which is more despicable: Geass mind-control or the Damocles with its FLEIJA missiles. Here is the very end of that conversation:
Lelouch: Then what about the Damocles? Isn't a mechanical system designed to force people to submit just as terrible?
Nunnally: The Damocles will become the world's symbol of hatred. All the hatred of the world will be directed here, and the world will be able to move forward from this hatred.
Lelouch: (Thinking to himself) Is that so, Nunnally? You, too, are...
[Lines from Code Geass R2 Episode 25 (7:09) - English translations by me]
Let's sidetrack here to give some background. One of the key points of Zero Requiem was that Lelouch forced the world to see him as the last source of evil . Lelouch's execution left the world with no targets for hatred, and the people of the world were able to work together to achieve a happy ending.
This should sound extremely familiar. Nunnally was proposing the exact same thing, except she worked with what she had. She replaced a genius dictator with an oppressive weapons system . Lelouch understood that their plans were the same, which is why he thought 「おまえも...」 / "You, too, are...".
The first time I watched Code Geass, I don't think I understood any of the nuance of Zero Requiem. I was just interested in the insane plot and the crazy ending. I saw Nunnally as an unconsequential character. It was my during my second time watching Code Geass that I realized that Nunnally had her own similar plan . This understanding really improved my opinion of Nunnally .
Netflix's translation of Lelouch's thoughts didn't give me this impression at all. The first two lines were basically translated the same way, and the third line was translated as follows:
Wait what? This translation just made it seem like Lelouch dismissed Nunnally's words as simple opposition, when it was so much more than that. It was Lelouch going through the same realization I did during my second watchthrough, giving him the conviction to finally pull the trigger and use Geass on his sister. I don't think I would have gotten as much from this scene and liked Nunnally as much if Netflix's translation was what I had consumed during that watchthrough.
Now, my Japanese listening comprehension was poor to non-existent at the time of my second watchthrough, but I was able to pick up what the Japanese line was conveying. How? I was watching a pirated release I still have on an external hard drive. The subbers for this release were able to convey Lelouch's thoughts perfectly fine in English! Here's their translation of the same third line:
I don't know if these much better subs came from the Bandai Entertainment release, or if they were just fansubs. All I know is that Netflix put out an inferior translation of this single line compared to what existed already. I hope that Netflix is able to hire more translators who are able to convey the intent of each line more effectively.