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DWN013

Resisting 'default translation army bias': a passionate, rational defense of naval terms in Macross

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Posted (edited)

Seto Kaiba and I kicked off a discussion in the technology thread about something that I hadn't before realized I was very passionate about: Bruno J. Global, the captain of the SDF-1 Macross, and his exact rank during and after space war one. Seto's position is that Global's rank is Brigadier General. My position is that Global's rank is Commodore. He has stated that he has explicit evidence that his position is correct. Below I will attempt to refute this assertion (and will be quoting said thread), as respectfully and thoroughly as I can.

However first I must say that I have a huge amount of respect for Mr. Kaiba and his colossal, encyclopedic memory of Macross technology and minutia of all flavors. In this one instance, given my perhaps unique perspective on things, I believe I must passionately make my case, and its up to you, dear reader, to decide for yourself. Now I fully expect Mr. Kaiba to retort to all of my points in excruciating detail and I look forward to enjoying a healthy, civil discussion. Fair warning: This Essay is five pages long in open Office. Hey, why are you running for the door? :p Also, pasting this text from open Office got rid of all the double spaces after periods?  After making 2 or 3 corrections I just said screw it.

Note: In this essay, I will sometimes throw around the slang term 'salt'. This is not the modern internet slang term, part of the name of one of my favorite subreddits, saltierthancrait. This term is the much older Naval slang, which denotes deployed experience, with subtle notes of world-weariness and badassery. Comes from the fact that sea spray deposits salt on the weather decks and flight decks. A 'salty' sailor is not (necessarily) a bitter one, but one with lots of deployments under their belt and generally a no-time-for-BS attitude.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PREFACE: My Background

An earlier draft had this bit down below, but I think it informs the rest of the essay better to have it here. I've been living in Japan with the United States Navy for over 5 years, including many underway periods. I now have a Japanese wife, and while I have yet to really attempt to learn the written side of the language, I can speak and comprehend it pretty good, well enough to get by certainly. I've worked alongside many different Japan Self Defense Force service members and 'normal' Japanese civilians and I'm also friends with several civilian Japanese superfans of the US military, not to mention being friends with several otaku and non-otaku young people.

 

PART 1: 'default translation army bias' – what do I mean by this?

In English, there is a proud tradition of having different rank names for the sea-based services (Navy, Coast Guard) than for the land based ones (Army, Air force, Marines). In some other languages, like Japanese, this is not the case. Japanese has just one set of officer rank names to refer to officers from all services (note: I'm talking about classic Imperial Japanese ranks, which are still to this day used IRL to refer to officers of non-Japanese militaries. The JSDF has new, wonky rank names that we won't get into here). If you've watched SDF Macross in it's native audio, you've heard these. Ichijo-CHUI, Hayase-TAII, Focker-SHOSA. Now, when translators, be they humans or bots, are faced with these words, unless they've been primed with the type of information I'm detailing here, they will almost assuredly default to army style without a second thought. THIS is the core issue here, and it effects much more than just Macross. This is what I mean by "default translation army bias". Most bot translators do it because they've been programmed that way, and most human translators do it because they haven't learned the significance of the difference. (Note that both native-English translators AND native-Japanese translators make this error all the time, this will come into play later.)  Hopefully I can shed some light here.  A chart, for reference (Japanese parsing mine, inserting a pic since pasting the text messed up my columns):

1091567898_rankchart.jpg.9e32916babc5321c6b2accef89ad8b60.jpg

*: Commodore in English denotes a higher-ranking Captain in charge of other, lower ranking Captains (all being O-6 paygrade).

**: According to my research, O-10 has long, involved, different rank names in the different Imperial services, but that rank won't come up in this discussion.


As a bit of trivia, one area that gets these translations correct every time, is historical translations such as WW2. It is never contested that IJN high staff should be "General Nagumo" or "General Yamamoto", they are Admirals and everyone knows it. "But!" I hear you asking. "The Spacy doesn't have to be Naval-style!" No, it doesn't have to be, per-se. But in SDF Macross, I am arguing that it is, or perhaps that it should be. Please see parts 3, 4, and 6 below.

 

PART 2: the current anti-space navy zeitgeist

Currently it seems like it's in vogue to hate on the term 'space navy'. If you're talking tactics or technology, that's fine and a different conversation. But in terms of how a ship is commanded and operated, I believe naval terms are entirely correct and justified. This anti-space navy zeitgeist usually comes along with realizations like "OMG space isn't an ocean, we have to remove all naval terms in space-based speculative fiction". However, I'd say SDF Macross pre-dates this zeitgeist by quite a wide margin.  To quote Seto:

On 4/26/2019 at 12:13 AM, Seto Kaiba said:

Mind you, when it comes to space fleets, in popular fiction there tends to be an improper Navy bias rather than an Army one... since in reality a space fleet would fall under the jurisdiction of the Air Force (something that the makers of Stargate SG-1 got right and almost everyone else got wrong).

I'm sorry Seto, but this is BS. The AF jurisdiction thing might be true in OUR universe and in OUR present time. That holds no bearing on fictional universes, not the least being ones where a derelict alien warship crashes and the political implications are so far reaching that humanity establishes a for-realsies armed united nations for planetary defense, something that's 100% impossible IRL at the moment. Also Stargate came out in 1994, SDFM 1982. And why must the "space navy bias" be improper? Only in comparison to the current real-world space capsules, ISS, and satellites that make up any current real-world air force's space arms. I am arguing that your "space navy bias" is entirely proper and justified given how space navies (macross included) operate and are depicted in fiction (and who knows, potential one day we could have fleets of space warships IRL also, and "space navy" would be justified then too!). Ask yourself: is the UN spacy / NUNS appreciably that different from space navies depicted in most other contemporary works of fiction? That is, does it do something different than operate fleets of carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and fighters? (a few of those ship types not showing up till Plus and Frontier) It really doesn't. The UN Spacy isn't depicted with a Diamond-hard ( https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness ) approach to things like proper orbital mechanics and other realisms, or else they wouldn't have monodirectional artificial gravity and the ships would look more like the Hermes from The Martian. We'll get back into this in part 7 below.

 

PART 3: Seto's evidence

Quoting directly from the tech thread:

On 4/26/2019 at 12:13 AM, Seto Kaiba said:

For instance, in the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross series episode "Blind Game", if you look at the markings on the ES-11D Cat's Eye reconnaissance plane you'll see that the name and rank of its pilot stenciled on the canopy frame read "S/SGT. H. IWATA" and Misa's seat is marked "F/LIEUT. M. HAYASE".  Macross Plus shows us a biographical summary from Isamu's personnel files at one point (which was faithfully transcribed, typos and all, into the liner notes), in which his affiliation is given as "UN SPACY" and his rank as "FIRST LIEUTENANT".  Macross Frontier publications provide the katakana for the SDFN-04's name as ジェネラル・ブルーノ・J・グローバル... "General Bruno J. Global" and SDFN-01's name as ジェネラル・ハヤセ "General Hayase" (presumably its full name is the General Takashi Hayase, Bruno Global's friend, mentor, and superior officer).  Likewise, Macross 30: Voices Across the Galaxy provides us with SDFN-08's name as ジェネラル・ブリタイ・クリダニク "General Vrlitwhai Kridanik" (using the official spelling of his name provided in the on-screen English text that accompanied the aforementioned katakana).  IIRC the official English subs produced in Japan for the Macross Frontier movies and the Macross Delta TV series and movie use Army ranks as well for both PMC personnel and the named NUNS ones.

Hell, in the interest of good sportsmanship, I'll give you another piece of evidence against my own position: All the model kits with decals for pilot's name that say “MAJ FOCKER” or some such.

Now, here is my position: ALL of the above instances could have been, and I will argue, ARE instances of 'default translation army bias' at work. As I was saying in part 1, Japanese translators make this error probably more than English translators, since in their own cultural upbringing, the concept of different rank systems does not exist. I'm arguing that they are even more prone to automatic, push-button translation into army-style ranks than western translators, excepting IRL war historians. The odds that the creators of macross are trying to communicate something specifically to us, the gaijin audience, an audience they are almost explicitly not writing for, via these few bits and pieces of blink-and-you'll-miss-it or otherwise not-in-the-main-productions content, I would say is very very small. I am proposing that all 5 of these pieces of evidence could well be the result of the work of some scribe at studio nue or hasegawa wanting to put the rank of 'Chuii' or 'Shosa' into the production in English, and just went ahead with the initial, basic translation option they found. Until more blatant evidence that they want the UN Spacy to have army-style ranks comes forward, I'm sorry, but I won't be convinced. Effectively, Mr. Kaiba, I'm proposing that you're putting the cart before the horse with these examples, please see part 4 below. I do suppose the possibility exists that Kawamori himself ordered “General Global” to be spelled out in katakana, but I would peg that as very unlikely at present moment.

You could put my initial assertion another way here: Seto's assertion is that the creators of Macross have explicitly dictated that the UN Spacy is to have army-style ranks. My position is twofold: 1. I'm not at all convinced that is the case, to me the evidence points towards just another case of 'default translation army bias', and 2. The UN Spacy should absolutely use navy-style ranks, at the very least for it's starship captains.

 

PART 4: My evidence

On the subject of the creators of macross's wishes, let's hear from one of them!  Thanks to Renato and the awesome folks at Deculture Shock / Speakerpodcast.

https://www.decultureshock.com/miyatake-interview-from-sdf-1-macross-thorough-dissection/

What Kawamori and I were very particular about, was that “Macross” be grounded in Navy themes. Even though it looks more like it’s about planes, I want people to realize that it is not just about the air force.” -Kazutaka Miyatake

Boom. For those who might not know, this man designed pretty much everything in SDF Macross that wasn't a VF-1 or regult, according to M3. This doesn't explicitly endorse naval-style ranks per-se, but keep this quote in mind when reading the rest of this essay especially parts 7 & 8, it all adds up.

Let's talk about inspirations. What inspiration has the UN Spacy and Macross as a whole taken from the US Navy? If you know what to look for, it's everywhere. The aircraft carriers, VF-84 Jolly Rogers inspiration for skull squadron, the fact that almost every variable fighter has Naval-style nose landing gear complete with catapult shuttle launch bars (The YF-21 / VF-22 doesn't, but strangely the SV-262 does). In Variable Fighter Master File, all UN Spacy and NUNS fighter squadrons are given navy-style nomenclatures, such as SVF-XXX, rather than Air Force style, which would be XXXth TFS or something. Also the uniforms, look at the color stripes for sleeve ranks (e.g, red stripes on Global's blue jacket), that is a naval uniform convention.

What inspiration has the UN Spacy taken from armies or air forces? The only things I can think of off the top of my head are Hikaru's training where he uses a pistol and rifle (but even that isn't necessarily non-naval), and Roy's Unification war flashback where he meets Claudia serving at an airbase inland (again, not necessarily non-naval, naval tactical squadrons have served expeditionary-style from land bases). Also New Edwards on Eden. I will admit my bias might be clouding my memory so I will leave an invitation here to add more.

At the same time, let's not pretend that all of Macross has always operated with 100% consistent comprehensions of what certain ranks even are. Have a gander at one of my favorite Macross protagonists: Saotome Alto. In episode 12, he introduces himself as Saotome Alto Jui, which means Warrant Officer (Jun'i according to google translate the n is silent). This demonstrates that whoever wrote this scene either a. had very little understanding of how ranks work or b. wanted to have SMS have a radically different approach to ranks for no discernable reason. I forget his exact age, but knowing how anime main character ages work, Alto can't be older than 20. A Warrant Officer (WO) is a rank that can only be what we call a “mustang”: someone who begins their military career as enlisted and then, through one of several assession programs, becomes an officer. There is always some minimum rank (and therefore minimum time served) that an enlisted person must achieve before they are eligible to apply to become a WO, in the USN that is E-7 but other services could be E-6 or even E-5 maybe, but you get the idea: no 20 year old could be a WO, they ain't nearly salty enough. To me, this scene reeks of something like a writer that wanted Alto to be the lowest ranking officer possible, and the only thing they knew about Warrants was that they were lower ranking than all the commissioned officers, and so stuck Alto with it. My point with all this is that, it's another example of ranks being just kind of thrown around in Macross with an MST3K mantra ( https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MST3KMantra ) about it all, which is absolutely fine, however don't expect me to just accept calling Global a colonel / general with this other stuff going on too.

 

PART 5: Cultural differences

I want to briefly also touch on cultural differences, and the difficulty of getting through them. As I said in the preface I have extensive experience dealing with the in-depth subtleties of American / Japanese cultural differences. My wife speaks perfect English and lived in America for a few years, but even then we still encounter big cultural differences that we just have to work through and teach each other about. These experiences, but also through my friendships with various Japanese civilians, fans, and servicemembers has given me perspective on the below:

This army / navy rank divide is not something the writers of Macross would ever likely care about or take effort to explain, because it has NO meaning to the standard Japanese viewpoint. "Hey this strange other language which we're not writing for (nor do we anticipate ever doing any business in, thanks HG) has this weird as hell system where the army and navy have different names for the same ranks, let's take the time and effort to establish a precedent in this other language". I'm saying I have not seen nearly enough evidence to conclude that this conversation happened. Yes, I know Macross canonically takes place mostly in English, that doesn't necessarily mean the creators though to specify army style ranks as a standard to follow. It doesn't necessarily mean the writers are writing for anything other than a Japanese audience alone. As I said in part 3, I think the Cat's eye thing was just a writer wanted to put Chuii in English on the show, and just ran with the first thing they found for a translation. Macross was not written for non-Japanese audiences. To the Japanese, Global is a Junsho is a Junsho. He was a Taisa or Chusa in the unification wars, and he's a Junsho in Space War 1. That's as far as that line of thinking needs to go for them. The writers of Macross were probably civilians themselves, I say this because of the fraction of the Japanese population that is serving in the SDF is much smaller than the fraction of Americans who are serving, so I think it's safe to assume they were civilians until shown otherwise (see footnote 1). When someone (possibly not even the head writer or director) put the detail that Isamu was a 1st Lt, or the (shudder) SDFN-04 General Global in Katakana, this distinction probably has almost zero significance to them, as it just translates back to Chuii and Junsho anyway. Given my personal, intimate experience with US and Japanese cultural differences, I sincerely doubt that these pieces of evidence were attempts to establish a precedent of army rank names for Ship's captains.

 

PART 6: Naval experience and culture (possibly the most important part):

Why do western navies have different rank names? I would argue that not only is it appropriate, it's justified as well:

First, on the subject of Captains (O-6s): The 'Head MoFo In Charge' of a naval vessel or a large space vehicle bristling with weapons (you might say, a ship), is probably going to be addressed as 'Captain' and in the previous thread Seto did not seem to refute this. This person is going to have total command of the vessel and total responsibility for many things, among them the lives of all the crew, the performance of the vehicle in battle, and ultimately even things which the skipper might depend on a Department Head (DH) for in totality, such as supplies, navigation, engineering, air wing control, weapons, security, etc. If the skipper does not trust that a particular DH is doing a satisfactory job at a discipline that the skipper has no experience with, it is still the skippers prerogative and duty to replace said DH. They also have total control of where exactly the vessel goes and sometimes whether to even follow the orders of the admirals above at all (as in, an unethical order). You might think I'm drifting a little off topic here, but I assure you, stay with me. All of these awesome responsibilities and near-sacred duties have a convenient package of language that instantly conveys a huge amount of concepts and meanings both large and subtle: the naval tradition and associated language. If you have to chose between having your ship captain be a naval rank, which is (for larger space capital ships, and for any naval vessel larger than a destroyer) conveniently also Captain, or some army / AF rank, such as colonel, it is very much easier and more direct to just go ahead and go with the naval tradition. If you go with having a colonel as ship captain, you are instantly going against the grain with the normal, expected ways of our own language, and I would argue, expectations of the crew under that colonel. Now, how are the typical responsibilities of a more 'normal' colonel different, and by extension, why have different rank systems for different services at all? This is why: No Army, Marine, or Air Force Colonel ever gets to (or is expected to) command a warship and all of the unique particular subtleties that come with that. I am not trying to crap on colonels at all here. But look at how they operate, and what exactly they command: Mass numbers of infantry, tanks, or wings of fighter aircraft, or bombers, helicopters, or some other such arrangement. None of these will ever be exactly like being solely responsible for the operation of a warship. This is mostly what I mean when I said, in the other thread, that calling your SHIP'S CAPTAIN by the rank of colonel was madness. If you'll permit me a bit of fun, it is also blasphemy, insanity, and dangerous blood magic from beyond Asshai :p  Having a colonel in charge of a ship who's crew is not to refer to themselves with any naval terms is entirely unnatural, and as time went on, the crew would probably start looking and sounding more and more like a naval crew anyway. Yes, even the crew of a spaceship. There are real, valid reasons why you see space navies and terminology so often in speculative fiction, and they don't actually have to have anything to do with deep space being completely different from an ocean. It's about the operation and command of the vessels, not the environment those vessels are in.

As far as O-5s go, I can't speak for typical army /AF style organizations, but in most navies the majority of your command organizations (by number, that is, destroyers, air squadrons, attack subs) are going to be headed by an O-5, with the XO as either an O-5 or O-4. The CO's immediate underlings (besides XO) are going to be called Department Heads and they will be O-4s. The CO's boss in the overarching command will be an O-6. This is true in carrier squadrons with CAG and in destroyer squadrons with the DESRON commodore. The army / AF system puts a lot of emphasis on the O-6, the navy system balances this out more with some emphasis on the O-5 skipper and their DHs. The CO is a Commander, and his or her DHs are Lieutenant Commanders. In an equivalent army/AF-style system, the air squadron's CO is a Lieutenant Colonel, and their DHs are Majors. Note that compared to the navy system, the 'Lieutenant-' modifier has moved from the O-4 to the O-5. This sorta leads to a nagging need to differentiate between the Lt Colonel, the skipper, and the "full bird colonel", his boss. This is not a problem that the Navy system has. (Coincidentally, this is also not a problem that the Japanese system has!) My point here is that if you ask a destroyer or aviation sailor, they will tell you that the Navy system is less clunky than the army system would be for their organizations. Perhaps there are many more tactical commands in the army / AF that are headed by O-4s or O-6s compared to the navy, I can't say for certain.

Now I'd like to address a fact that Seto also agreed with me on:

On 4/26/2019 at 12:13 AM, Seto Kaiba said:

The understandable confusion certainly isn't helped by the fact that, prior to his transfer into the Spacy to assume captaincy of the Oberth-class space destroyer Goddard, our boy Bruno J. Global was a Commander in the UN Navy aboard the submarine Marco Polo.  (The UN Forces and New UN Forces seem to take a very Japanese view of transfers between branches of the armed forces.)

A Naval Officer worth his salt would never do this! More to the point, no Naval officer would ever be asked to do this. This is another artifact of the Japanese language blossoming forth. This issue never arose in the Japanese author's mind because this issue does not exist in the Japanese language. Here, Mr. Kaiba, you yourself are fully admitting that Bruno Global and Takashi Hayase were career naval officers and damn good submarine commanders. At that point in their careers, they would have been fully immersed in naval tradition and command environments for at least 18 years or so. In my line of slang, they'd be super salty, sh!7-hot, gucci and awesome navy skippers, the kind any sailor would gladly follow into hell. There is precisely zero chance any career naval officer like this would permit their rank to be changed to army-style in order to captain a spaceship. None. I'm not saying submarine commanders wouldn't jump at the chance to captain a spaceship, I'm saying if you asked them to change their rank to do it, they would laugh at you, keep their navy style rank, and go captain the spaceship anyway. Again, the reality is they really would not be asked to change their ranks to army-style. I have a lot of respect for colonels and generals in the other services, and trust me, they have a lot of respect for captains and admirals and their naval experience commanding ships. This request would be ridiculous even if the four-star flag officers in charge of the new spacy were army / AF. They wouldn't expect or ask a proud, decorated Naval officer to give up their pride and change his or her rank to "colonel" or "general" in order to captain a starship. At that point in a flag officer's career, they've been part of so many joint commands and made so many friends in all services that even biased army / AF dudes would know you just wouldn't ask that of a professional Naval officer. Please don't just gloss over or handwave this concern, dear reader, this point might not be obvious to someone who has never been personally at sea under the command of a trusted CO in the navy but I can assure you it is accurate. Look at NASA: The early astronauts were all test pilots, mostly active duty (with a few civilians also), and all the naval aviators retained their naval rank. They served side-by-side in the spacecraft with USAF and Marine officers doing the exact same jobs. Yes, I realize I might partially undermine my own argument here by saying that USAF and marine officers can command “diamond-hard” space capsules. But the important part there is that no one asked the naval officers to change their ranks.

As a convenient reference in my favor, check out Jessica Chastain's character in The Martian: She's a USN submarine officer who goes on to captain a spaceship. It seems Macross's writers weren't the only ones to realize that Sub skippers make good space skippers. Yes, she's probably called the 'Mission Commander' formally, but while the cast is on board the Hermes I'd argue she is that ship's captain.

Also, Italian does have different rank systems for Navy/CG and Army/AF. Off topic, but if you want to hear how badass an Italian coast guard captain can sound, here's a conversation one had with the cowardly skipper of the Costa Concordia: (warning language)

https://youtu.be/WX_08zcCmx8?t=21  “Do you want to go home, Schettino? It's dark and you want to go home?!?!”

 

PART 7: It's a freakin' Space Navy (Occam's razor)

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WatsonianVersusDoylist

I guess I take a Doylist perspective of a space navy. Look at the various space navies of Star Trek, Star Wars, Halo, and Mass Effect. Are these contested as space navies by their fandoms? Pretty much no. Now look at the UN Spacy and NUNS. How are they significantly different in makeup and deployment from other show's space navies? Pretty much, they're not, on a zoomed out scale. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck... UN Spacy looks like a spacy navy. UN Spacy quacks like a space navy. I've always thought of it as a space navy (and in fact for the longest time thought UN SPACY was just a contraction of UN SPACE NAVY). And that's OK! Using all these space navy tropes isn't wrong. They convey useful (and I argue, realistic) information immediately to the audience.

So, look at Starfleet, the Imperial / Rebel navies, the UNSC, and the Alliance Navy. Those fandoms will pretty much tell you, even when not explicitly named as such, they're space navies. How is the Macross universe appreciably different from those universes (Doylist wise) in terms of capital ship makeup and deployment? Now, I am not saying that I don't appreciate the unique aspects of the UN Spacy that we all love (such as variable fighters) which separates them from space navies in these other works. All I'm saying is, these other fandoms aren't in denial that their thing which looks like a space navy and quacks like a space navy is, effectively, a space navy.

Seto, if I may, I think you're such an expert in the minutia of Macross that you're not seeing the bigger picture, that you can't see the forest for the trees here. You might be able to prove (I'm still not convinced) that in-universe it's not a space navy. But from the zoomed out, Doylist 30,000' view, it's absolutely a space navy. Metaphorically, take 3 steps back, and squint a little bit: SDF Macross is a space opera. SDF Macross is a space opera in which two space navies duke it out. In space. Then culture and singers get involved.

 

PART 8: Death of the Author

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeathOfTheAuthor

Now, I must admit something that I suspect some of you might be guessing: Even if Kawamori came out and said tomorrow that the UN Spacy always had colonels commanding ships, I would have to begrudgingly concede the point with macross works going forward, but I would still argue that naval ranks are a valid interpretation of the past works, when you consider default army translation bias. Similar to part 7 above, when I look at Bruno J. Global, I see a man with “Naval Officer” positively soaked to the bone and evident in everything about him. When I look at his uniform, his appearance, his behavior, actions and words, I see a kindred spirit, a Professional Navy Officer chosen to command a space destroyer based on his successful submarine career and then chosen to command the flagship of the UN Spacy based on him being the only candidate with successful space combat experience.

 

Conclusion

At the end of the day though, this little exercise we're doing is mostly academic. The vast majority of both macross creators and macross fans (that is, the Japanese) will probably never know or care about this distinction.

Sigh. I wish I could wield the 'point of view gun' from the Hitchhiker's Guide movie and convey instantly my deep understanding and perspective (from having been to sea many times on USN ships) on the awesome concept of ship's captain and everything that goes with it. Casually insisting that a ship's captain, be it sea or space, should be a Colonel or General... I struggle to convey my repulsed reaction to this assertion. Yes, even given the essay I've just written, I don't feel like it's enough. Everyone can make their own interpretations of any work of fiction. But to me, Macross is a story with navy-style captains helming their spaceships and it always will be.

In posting this, i don't know if I'll convince that many people. But, like the ending text to Metroid Fusion, I have to hope I'll convince at least one. So it's worth it.

 

Footnote 1: Backing up my assumption: quick calculations based on figures from Wikipedia for US and Japan pop and total numbers of active and reserve military:

JSDF: 310,457 active and reserve

USDOD: 2,169,193 active and reserve

Japan total pop: 126,440,000 (2018 census)

US total pop: 327,167,434 (2018 census)

Japan percentage: 0.2455370136

US percentage: 0.663022286

Edited by DWN013

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Posted (edited)

Phew..! I read the whole thing..

Firstly (is that a word?) this.

9 hours ago, DWN013 said:

Conclusion

 At the end of the day though, this little exercise we're doing is mostly academic. The vast majority of both macross creators and macross fans (that is, the Japanese) will probably never know or care about this distinction.

Ultimately we can go on and on ( and on) about this and why we’re right. But until the floating head is VERY specific about this...:unknw:

As illuminating as This is..

9 hours ago, DWN013 said:

What Kawamori and I were very particular about, was that “Macross” be grounded in Navy themes. Even though it looks more like it’s about planes, I want people to realize that it is not just about the air force.” -Kazutaka Miyatake

Nevertheless, I find it to be an interesting topic of discussion and I appreciate both @Seto Kaiba and @DWN013 input and point of view .

For my 2cents. Global always came across as salty from day one. And ,apparently , that’s very justified considering his previous commission.  And the UN Spacey/ NUNS has always looked , from way over here, to be run and operated in a Navy like fashion.

(I’m not hear to argue any points only to comment:p )

Running space ships , to me, wouldn’t be , fundamentally, very far out from running navel vessels for many of the same reasons. As someone who was also in the Navy when I was younger( Desert Shield/Desert Storm) , And now as someone who sails the SF bay for fun, CAPTAIN has and always will have a very specific meaning to me. And there’s a very good reason for it.  (People should be required to take a sailing course! ) oops sorry!

And so , that system of rank makes sense to me. I’ve never spent too much time losing any sleep over the various positions of rank assigned to the Macross universe. Mostly , I believe, it’s fuzzed in the translations.

CHEERS!

:5:

 

Edited by Bolt

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

This term is the much older Naval slang, which denotes deployed experience, with subtle notes of world-weariness and badassery. Comes from the fact that sea spray deposits salt on the weather decks and flight decks. A 'salty' sailor is not (necessarily) a bitter one, but one with lots of deployments under their belt and generally a no-time-for-BS attitude.

So remember... regularly sand and repaint your old sailors to prevent corrosion damage!

 

 

14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

If you've watched SDF Macross in it's native audio, you've heard these. Ichijo-CHUI, Hayase-TAII, Focker-SHOSA. Now, when translators, be they humans or bots, are faced with these words, unless they've been primed with the type of information I'm detailing here, they will almost assuredly default to army style without a second thought. THIS is the core issue here, and it effects much more than just Macross. This is what I mean by "default translation army bias". Most bot translators do it because they've been programmed that way, and most human translators do it because they haven't learned the significance of the difference.

Y'see, I'm not so sure that this alleged Army bias in translation is actually a thing outside of machine translations and inexperienced translators.  Both of those groups have a well-known tendency to default to whatever's the first definition in the dictionary for simplicity's sake or because they don't know any better.  Experienced translators know to look for contextual cues that point them to a more correct translation.  Sometimes these cues are flying out in plain sight, and sometimes you have to dig.

Mind you, given the state of popular space fiction we would actually expect the opposite of your contention.  Namely, a strong bias towards the use of Navy rank systems for most any work featuring starships or space fighters.  Why?  The most popular, mainstream works of space fleet-featuring science fiction in the US and in Japan prominently feature their space fleets organized as space navies.  Star Trek has the Federation Starfleet organized as a space navy that borrows pretty much exclusively from US maritime tradition.  The Star Wars universe has the Galactic Empire's starfleet literally called the Imperial Navy.  Japan has Space Battleship Yamato, wherein the space fleet is a space navy.  They've also got the Earth Federation Space Force of the Gundam franchise's Universal Century that's presented as a space navy.  There are more examples of "Space Marines" than one can shake an entire forest's worth of sticks at.  The overwhelming bias is towards Navy organization in fiction, not Army.

 

 

14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

I'm sorry Seto, but this is BS. The AF jurisdiction thing might be true in OUR universe and in OUR present time. That holds no bearing on fictional universes, not the least being ones where a derelict alien warship crashes and the political implications are so far reaching that humanity establishes a for-realsies armed united nations for planetary defense, something that's 100% impossible IRL at the moment.

Here's the thing... Macross's history is supposed to be essentially the same as ours up to 17 July 1999 0030 JST, when an intense energetic phenomenon (later known to be a defold reaction) is detected at lunar orbit followed by the detection of an object of significant mass on a collision course with Earth.  Macross's creators have gone back and corrected their timeline several times over the years to account for events that occurred in the real world like the fall of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany.  You'll find old timelines from artbooks like Macross: Perfect Memory make reference to West Germany and the Soviet Union still existing in the early 2000s.  When the newly formed Earth UN Government established the UN Forces in February 2001, the four branches of service were mergers of the various Armies, Air Forces, Navies, and Marine Corps maintained by the nations which joined the Earth UN Government.  The US's fingerprints are all over the UN Forces in practically every known aspect of their organization to date.  When the government finally put together a dedicated Space branch of the armed forces, it was a slam dunk that it was going to be heavily influenced by the US's approach to space defense.

Now, which branch has been in charge of military operations in space since the 1960s?  The United States Air Force.  They staked their claim early on, with the Blue Gemini project proposal and held onto it with a death grip ever since, even if the Outer Space Treaty in '67 kind of took the wind out of their sails.  It would not be remotely surprising for the UN Government to round up all those Air Force guys who were part of the space commands of the various national air forces and say "you're a space force now, start figuring it out".

Even in Star Trek, the Federation Starfleet's predecessor United Earth Starfleet was an outgrowth of the United Earth Space Probe Agency, a merger of the various national space agencies and space commands of pre-unity Earth.

Likewise, Stargate was a fictional universe that hewed closely to our own history and are one of the few to depict a US-owned space fleet correctly as belonging to the Air Force.

 

 

14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

1091567898_rankchart.jpg.9e32916babc5321c6b2accef89ad8b60.jpg

This chart is incorrect from O-7 (NATO OF-6) up... or should I say down given its directionality?

Specifically, there appears to have been an offset introduced when the US Navy's version of "Commodore" was included... resulting in incorrect ranks in Japanese being given for the flag officers.  A correct version of the chart would look like this, which I knocked together in Google Sheets real quick:

image.thumb.png.28ee89a714267722ffdc353abb9c6914.png

You'll notice I've marked NATO grade OF-6 (US O-7) in RED.

Japan's old Imperial Army and Navy, as well as the modern Japanese Self-Defense Force, don't actually have a rank in their organization corresponding to OF-6 (US O-7).  They skip right from OF-5 to OF-7, which I've seen hints was something they might've picked up from the French via cultural osmosis or deliberate imitation.  For parity with NATO forces, the Japanese flag officers treat their NATO grade as one lower than on this chart due to the absence of an actual OF-6 equivalent in their organization.  Junshō is a rank, not a title, and thus is equivalent to what would be called Brigadier General, Rear Admiral Lower Half, or the rank of Commodore used by two dozen or so navies outside the US.  (Gensui would typically be rendered as "Marshal" or "Field Marshal" in a Japanese context.)

The title of Commodore as it is applied in the United States Navy is a title independent of rank held by the senior captain in a group of ship's captains who commands the group.  I believe the equivalent term for the title of Commodore would be Teitoku (提督).

Bruno J. Global's rank is given as Junshō in the dialog of Super Dimension Fortress Macross and Macross: Do You Remember Love?.  It's not his title, it's his rank.

 

 

14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

Hell, in the interest of good sportsmanship, I'll give you another piece of evidence against my own position: All the model kits with decals for pilot's name that say “MAJ FOCKER” or some such.

There are more examples than can be readily counted, to be honest.

I'd actually forgotten another one - a cluster example - where the personnel profiles of half a dozen characters are on screen simultaneously and we see that all of them have bios in conspicuous English with legible ranks and vital statistics in Macross Delta:

Second Lieutenant Sara Korat
First Lieutenant Hilma Sandra
Captain Hadley Fuller
Second Lieutenant Attilio Missillier
First Lieutenant Samuel Murdoch
Captain Kuzma Sirotenko

 

14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

Now, here is my position: ALL of the above instances could have been, and I will argue, ARE instances of 'default translation army bias' at work.

Quite honestly, I think the simplest explanation given that other two major Japanese sci-fi anime properties (Yamato and Gundam) are both all-Navy all the time is that this was done intentionally.  The creators of the original Macross series were Gundam fanboys, and at least one of them (Kawamori) is a dyed-in-the-wool military aviation enthusiast.  For them not to know the difference would be surprising to say the least.  

I don't think there's really a cogent case for "it's all accidental" when they've been so incredibly consistent about it over three and a half decades of material.

I mean, we have at least five cases where Macross shows were subtitled with the direct or indirect cooperation of Macross's creators: Macross II: Lovers AgainSuper Dimension Fortress Macross (Animeigo release, 2001), the Macross Frontier 30th anniversary Blu-ray set, Macross Delta, and Macross Delta: Passionate Walkure.  On each occasion, the ranks are translated as Army ranks.  Literally Army ranks in the case of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, since that was the only one to feature enlisted ranks rather than having every pilot depicted as an officer.  US Renditions even had to account for the potential confusion stemming from having a character whose rank was Captain (Taii) in scenes alongside a character whose title is Captain (Kanchō), which was resolved by the dub giving Cpt. Nex Gilbert an informal promotion to Major.

There are, to the best of my knowledge, only two instances of Navy rank terminology showing up in Macross

The first was the Viz Media translation of the Macross II: Lovers Again manga, which contained a number of errors including accidentally substituting Navy ranks in and referring to Nex as "Lieutenant" and Sylvie as "Sublieutenant".  

The second is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it thing in Macross Zero, wherein a handful of aircraft are shown with Navy ranks stenciled on the canopy frame.  Poor LCDR Tim Baker dies like five times in the OVA thanks to being the name stenciled on the default VF-0A CG model's skin.  Shin Kudo's F-14A++ Super Tomcat has his and Edgar's canopy stencils reading "LT SHIN KUDO" and "LT EDGAR LA SALLE".  Later on in the OVA, the characters who are confirmed to belong to the UN Spacy at that point have no rank on their canopy stencil, only a "PL" followed by their name.  We know Shin and Edgar served aboard the UN Navy's carrier Illustria prior to being dragooned into flying for Roy in the UN Spacy, and that Roy was essentially leading a model conversion training class to train pilots on the variable system prior to adoption of the VF-1.  It's possible the unfortunate Lt. Commander Baker was one of the UN Navy's future trainers operating in Roy's ad hoc squadron aboard the Asuka II.  

 

 

14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

What Kawamori and I were very particular about, was that “Macross” be grounded in Navy themes. Even though it looks more like it’s about planes, I want people to realize that it is not just about the air force.” -Kazutaka Miyatake

Boom. For those who might not know, this man designed pretty much everything in SDF Macross that wasn't a VF-1 or regult, according to M3. This doesn't explicitly endorse naval-style ranks per-se, but keep this quote in mind when reading the rest of this essay especially parts 7 & 8, it all adds up.

You knew it was coming, so here it is... THE CATCH.

We know Kawamori's a big aviation enthusiast who loves naval aviation.  The UN Spacy's SVF-1 Skulls are his homage to the US Navy's (then VF-84) Jolly Rogers.  This ain't news.

However, Miyatake made some interesting Army-themed design choices for UN Spacy and Zentradi gear... a few of which I alluded to previously.

If you examine the bodies of the destroids whose markings identify them as UN Spacy units, you'll find US Army-style bumper numbers and US Army World War II-vintage formation markings.  That's what the Δ#Δ and several other numerical markings are.  Division and Company affiliations, presented Army style.

Curiously, the closest to a conventional aircraft carrier the Zentradi have - the Quiltra Queleual-class - is explicitly called out not as an aircraft carrier, but as an LST.  Yes, they even helpfully wrote out "Landing Ship Tank" in English.

 

 

14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

Let's talk about inspirations. What inspiration has the UN Spacy and Macross as a whole taken from the US Navy? If you know what to look for, it's everywhere. The aircraft carriers, VF-84 Jolly Rogers inspiration for skull squadron, the fact that almost every variable fighter has Naval-style nose landing gear complete with catapult shuttle launch bars (The YF-21 / VF-22 doesn't, but strangely the SV-262 does).

As a point of order, the VF-1 Valkyrie was never exclusive to the UN Spacy.  Navy-specific features like the nose landing gear configuration with catapult shuttle launch bars is a touch intended to accommodate users like the UN Navy and UN Marine Corps.  We've seen, officially, units from three different branches of service with VF-1s (the UN Spacy, UN Navy, and UN Spacy Air Force), and it's indicated to have also been used by the UN Air Force and UN Marine Corps.  The VF-1 was like the F-35... just, y'know, not bad.  It was one fighter to rule them all, and by all accounts it was pretty damn good at it thanks to overtechnology.

The same holds true for the models that followed, and even the one that preceded it.  The VF-0 is one of the few VFs I know of to have a variant commissioned for a specific branch of service: the VF-0C was built for the UN Marine Corps, and the sole known user was VMFAT-203.

 

 

Quote

In Variable Fighter Master File, all UN Spacy and NUNS fighter squadrons are given navy-style nomenclatures, such as SVF-XXX, rather than Air Force style, which would be XXXth TFS or something.

This is actually something Variable Fighter Master File got from official sources.

You'll find references to UN Spacy fighter squadrons using a modified version of the Navy-style squadron designation all the way back in the earliest art books like Sky Angels.  

The Air Force and Spacy Air Force use USAF-style markings and designations, while the Navy and Spacy use the Navy-style and modified Navy-style markings and designations, and the Marines and Spacy Marines use modified USMC-style markings and designations.

The other overtly-Navy organizational touch we see is that the ships use US Navy-inspired (or directly lifted) hull classification symbols most of the time.  

Please note that my contention is not, and has never been, that there are not Navy-inspired touches present in the UN Spacy and New UN Spacy.  Only that all evidence indicates that this space force uses Army-style ranks for its personnel.

 

 

Quote

Also the uniforms, look at the color stripes for sleeve ranks (e.g, red stripes on Global's blue jacket), that is a naval uniform convention.

Amusingly enough, that is not consistently applied.

If you look, in the Super Dimension Fortress Macross TV series everyone has three stripes on their sleeve regardless of their rank.

Visible rank markings weren't applied to character designs until Macross: Do You Remember Love?.  The main rank markings were on the right side of the chest, though they did also have sleeve stripes that correctly line up to their rank.

Macross II: Lovers Again carried this practice forward, but it went away in Macross Plus only to come back again in Macross 7, was inconsistently applied in Frontier (Cathy Glass's are correct, Leon's are not), and seems to have been abandoned again in Macross Delta.

 

 

14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

What inspiration has the UN Spacy taken from armies or air forces? The only things I can think of off the top of my head are Hikaru's training where he uses a pistol and rifle (but even that isn't necessarily non-naval), and Roy's Unification war flashback where he meets Claudia serving at an airbase inland (again, not necessarily non-naval, naval tactical squadrons have served expeditionary-style from land bases). Also New Edwards on Eden. I will admit my bias might be clouding my memory so I will leave an invitation here to add more.

Again, more Army Air Force than straight Air Force... after all, the UN Spacy spun off an Air Force.  Battroids are explicitly infantry units, and refer to the previous remarks about how UN Spacy destroids have US Army style armored vehicle unit markings.  "FAST Pack" itself is an Air Force term coined for the F-15 if memory serves.  They also explicitly indicate that the translation for shotai is "Platoon", an infantry term.

More subtle nods to Air Force and Army Air Corps stuff are EVERYWHERE in Macross though.  The VF-1 Valkyrie is named for a USAF Strategic Air Command prototype bomber (the XB-70) and Hikaru has a model of said bomber on display in his quarters.  The next three main fighters are all named for USAF and USAAF aircraft as well: the P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt, and F-117 Nighthawk.  The VF-1's manufacturers are bland name versions of companies known for producing aircraft and concept aerospace craft for the USAF and NASA: Rockwell International (AKA "Stonewell") and Bell Aerospace (AKA "Bellcom").  Other contributing companies are similarly Air Force-heavy.  The QF-3000E Ghost's design is based on the USAF/NASA X-24A built by Martin Marietta.  Roy's signature stunt plane was a Focker D.VII.  Many of the character names reference aviation and particularly aces of various Army air services like aerial maneuver-inventor Max Immelmann (Max Jenius, who is also a nod to the "Blue Max" medal he won), high-scoring ace and general scumbag Hans-Ulrich Rudel (Bruce Rudel), Eddie Rickenbacker and Eino Juutilainen (Eddie Juutilainen), and so on.  Macross Delta took this to an obscene extreme.  I could go on like this for entirely too long, but I think you get the idea.

Kawamori might've had Navy inspiration for a few things, but the Air Forces are all over the place.

 

 

14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

At the same time, let's not pretend that all of Macross has always operated with 100% consistent comprehensions of what certain ranks even are. Have a gander at one of my favorite Macross protagonists: Saotome Alto. In episode 12, he introduces himself as Saotome Alto Jui, which means Warrant Officer (Jun'i according to google translate the n is silent). This demonstrates that whoever wrote this scene either a. had very little understanding of how ranks work or b. wanted to have SMS have a radically different approach to ranks for no discernable reason. I forget his exact age, but knowing how anime main character ages work, Alto can't be older than 20. A Warrant Officer (WO) is a rank that can only be what we call a “mustang”: someone who begins their military career as enlisted and then, through one of several assession programs, becomes an officer.

For the record, Alto Saotome is 17 as of the start of Macross Frontier.  The UN Government and the New UN Government that replaced it after the First Space War apparently set the age of legal majority at 17 based on explicit dialog references in Macross Frontier.

Alto's initial rank is an odd, but not entirely unprecedented case that is trope excessively abused by mecha anime over the last twenty or so years.  Namely, in the rare instance that an officer trainee is assigned to field duty prior to the conclusion of their training they are sometimes given the provisional rank of Warrant Officer (Jun'i).  Anime f*cking loves abusing this, because that way they can have young characters who only just joined the armed forces end up as officers very quickly by merit-based promotion.  This goes back as far as the series Fang of the Sun Dougram but wasn't really flogged for all it's worth until the 2000s with shows like Macross Frontier.  (I can only think of two cases where the rank is actually used in the way it's intended... Vato Falman in Fullmetal Alchemist, a man of indeterminate age who was at least in his mid-20s or early 30's and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant partway through the series, and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, wherein Suzaku Kururugi goes straight from a second-class citizen buck private meat shield to warrant officer in one fell swoop thanks to the patronage of Earl Lloyd Asplund and Princess Euphemia before being promoted directly to Major upon being knighted.)

 

 

14 hours ago, DWN013 said:

This army / navy rank divide is not something the writers of Macross would ever likely care about or take effort to explain, because it has NO meaning to the standard Japanese viewpoint.

The current batch of writers, certainly... but the people overseeing it all are acknowledged to have a fair amount of actual understanding of how the military works.

They're not ex-military, but they are what you might call military enthusiasts.  Kawamori in particular is a military aviation enthusiast with a love of American military aviation.  It would be ridiculous if he wasn't aware of the distinction.  Moreover, he broke with Gundam and Yamato by using Army ranks rather than Navy ones.  Surely it would have been easier for him to simply follow suit.

 

 

Since there's a limit on the number of quote blocks, I'll split this post.

Edited by Seto Kaiba

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13 hours ago, DWN013 said:

A Naval Officer worth his salt would never do this! More to the point, no Naval officer would ever be asked to do this. This is another artifact of the Japanese language blossoming forth. This issue never arose in the Japanese author's mind because this issue does not exist in the Japanese language. Here, Mr. Kaiba, you yourself are fully admitting that Bruno Global and Takashi Hayase were career naval officers and damn good submarine commanders. At that point in their careers, they would have been fully immersed in naval tradition and command environments for at least 18 years or so. In my line of slang, they'd be super salty, sh!7-hot, gucci and awesome navy skippers, the kind any sailor would gladly follow into hell. There is precisely zero chance any career naval officer like this would permit their rank to be changed to army-style in order to captain a spaceship.

That is your personal feeling, not a hard fact.

Frankly, I know a number of Navy personnel (some of them relatives) who would jump at the chance to serve on a spaceship regardless of what it entailed. 

I think the UN Government and UN Forces felt a former submariner was an ideal choice for command of a starship since they were more accustomed to three-dimensional thinking and being confined to a huge metal pressure vessel for long periods of time.  The entire structure of traditional militaries had been turned on its ear already, so who was going to argue?

 

 

13 hours ago, DWN013 said:

PART 7: It's a freakin' Space Navy (Occam's razor)

This isn't applying Occam's Razor.

The explanation with the fewest assumptions is that the mountain of consistent evidence we've been given over three decades is correct and the ranks are supposed to be translated as Army ranks.

The Japanese term used doesn't say "Space Navy", it says "Space Army" or "Space Military".  

Moreover, why would we automatically assume that a space force with its own fleet would be organized along Navy lines?  There's no rule saying it has to be, and realistically we know that space operations are the jurisdiction of the Air Force.  The established trope we've got about "space navies" is a product of authors who had no concept of how space travel worked and wanted an easy analogy ("space is an ocean") or were lavishing affection on their personal obsessions (like Gene Roddenberry's affection for CV-6).  The use of Naval ranks is often the only part of them that's recognizably Navy-inspired unless you go to into the hardcore military fiction.  Realistically, you'd end up with something that's a good deal like the UN Spacy... a blending of whatever traditions and practices works for the situation, and to hell with where it came from, mixing Army and Navy traditions from multiple countries.  

 

13 hours ago, DWN013 said:

PART 8: Death of the Author

The entire concept of "the death of the author" is academically cretinous at best... amounting as it does to a way to say "screw the evidence, I'm not wrong because I don't want to be".  To pretend that there is nothing of the author's thought in his work is denial of the most basic nature of authorship.  

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54 minutes ago, Seto Kaiba said:

(...)

The Japanese term used doesn't say "Space Navy", it says "Space Army" or "Space Military".  

(...)

I think this is more on point about 'army bias' than anything else.

The term you're referring to is 宇宙軍 is it not?  In this particular instance, 軍 often tends to be translated as 'army'.  It's also why I've made the effort to NOT use 'army' when I translate it; preferring to use 'Armed Forces' (thus ' Zentrādi Forces' instead of what I consider the mistaken, but oft appearing: ' Zentrādi Army').

I've always put my preference down to a difference in nationality (I'm originally from Canada, where we have "armed forces", and not distinct, separate military organizations like 'army', 'navy', etc.).  However, in this case (army bias), my preference has actually worked in everyone's favour.  ;)

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3 minutes ago, sketchley said:

I think this is more on point about 'army bias' than anything else.

The term you're referring to is 宇宙軍 is it not?  In this particular instance, 軍 often tends to be translated as 'army'.  It's also why I've made the effort to NOT use 'army' when I translate it; preferring to use 'Armed Forces' (thus ' Zentrādi Forces' instead of what I consider the mistaken, but oft appearing: ' Zentrādi Army').

Yeah, 宇宙軍 is what I was thinking of.

There is a very slight etymological bias towards army in a stringently literal "Definition #1" rendering of the term itself, but "space army" sounds goofy as f*ck and I can't think of any translator who'd actually want to use that interpretation.  An army is something intrinsically associated with land warfare, so to most a "space army" is a contradiction in terms.  That kind of gels with the kanji actually used for "Army" (陸軍, literally "ground troops" or "ground forces") and "Navy" (海軍, literally "sea troops" or "sea forces").  The only reason that a "space navy" doesn't cause the same kind of cognitive dissonance as "space army" is because we've been conditioned to accept it by popular fiction's overwhelming bias toward the Navy organizational model for a space fleet.  Write "space navy" in Japanese (宇宙海軍) and it looks every bit as wrong as it should sound in English.

 

3 minutes ago, sketchley said:

I've always put my preference down to a difference in nationality (I'm originally from Canada, where we have "armed forces", and not distinct, separate military organizations like 'army', 'navy', etc.).  However, in this case (army bias), my preference has actually worked in everyone's favour.  ;)

My personal preference has always been for the Navy organizational model.

Because I was raised on Star Trek, that style has always felt more natural to me and it took a while to really get my head around the idea that a modern space fleet would fall under the administrative jurisdiction of the Air Force.

With so much evidence that the ranks are meant to be translated as Army ones thanks to English text visible in the animation itself, info from liner notes, katakana spellings of ranks like the names of the Macross-class SDFNs, and official subtitles produced in Japan under the supervision of Macross's creative staff, my preferences have to take a back seat.

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Posted (edited)

*eats popcorn* Please, continue the Otaku stuff. Personally, I blame the translators for any confusion caused. When it comes to noting what careers the macross military follow, I assume that everything is patterned after how the JSDF is organized. But just to make things either crystal clear or complete muddy of waters, I ask this:

1) Can a helicopter pilot that initially flies helicopters that are based aboard ships, transition to a helicopter that is based from what is considered a Japanese Air Force Base command? If so, then the Japanese kanji is used as is (F the translations). If not, then the distinction between Naval and Shore (or how ever you want to describe Army and AF) is important.

2) Is the JSDF organized where the chain-of-command for Naval forces and Ground Forces are distinct commands, tied together only at the flag level? or are they treated as elements of the same combined command structure? (another way to look at this is how are they funded? together or separate? A good example of the latter is the US Navy, where we have both Aviation centric funding, Surface centric funding (including Amphibious units), Sub Surface, See Bees, SEALs, etc...)

3) Why does it have to be Spacy? The term Cosmo Navy seems more... professional? It sounds better at least. 

Edited by TehPW

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27 minutes ago, TehPW said:

*eats popcorn* Please, continue the Otaku stuff. Personally, I blame the translators for any confusion caused. When it comes to noting what careers the macross military follow, I assume that everything is patterned after how the JSDF is organized.

A lot of it is actually modeled on the United States Armed Forces... distinctly Japanese touches are surprisingly thin on the ground in the organization of the [New] UN Forces.

The ability to transfer between branches without having to be discharged and reenlist is one of those distinctly Japanese touches, though the only officer we've seen do it is Isamu... and he doesn't appear to have been doing it voluntarily, being kicked around from the UN Spacy to the UN Navy, UN Air Force, and back to the UN Spacy over the course of a few years in the 2030s.

 

 

27 minutes ago, TehPW said:

1) Can a helicopter pilot that initially flies helicopters that are based aboard ships, transition to a helicopter that is based from what is considered a Japanese Air Force Base command? If so, then the Japanese kanji is used as is (F the translations). If not, then the distinction between Naval and Shore (or how ever you want to describe Army and AF) is important.

So... the military ranks used in the Macross anime are the old school terms that were used by the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy until Japan's military was formally dissolved under Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, and are now only used to address foreign soldiers.  Nowadays, the JSDF's three branches each have unique terms that incorporate the kanji for their operating regime ("Land", "Sea", and "Sky" respectively).  The old system used the same words regardless of branch except where it was prefaced by the name of the branch as an additional word.

If a pilot were to transfer from the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Air Self-Defense Force, he wouldn't be demoted but the rank term used to refer to him would change.

 

 

27 minutes ago, TehPW said:

 2) Is the JSDF organized where the chain-of-command for Naval forces and Ground Forces are distinct commands, tied together only at the flag level? or are they treated as elements of the same combined command structure? (another way to look at this is how are they funded? together or separate? A good example of the latter is the US Navy, where we have both Aviation centric funding, Surface centric funding (including Amphibious units), Sub Surface, See Bees, SEALs, etc...) 

The Japanese Self-Defense Force's three branches are organized as distinct commands united at the highest levels.

Each of the JSDF's three branches has its own Chief of Staff: 

  • Chief of the Ground Staff, the head of the Ground Self-Defense Force
  • Chief of the Air Staff, the head of the Air Self-Defense Force
  • Chief of the Maritime Staff, the head of the Maritime Self-Defense Force

They collectively answer to the Chief of Staff of the Joint Staff and his deputies, the Vice-Chief of Staff of the Joint Staff, the Administrative Vice-Chief of Staff of the Joint Staff, and a senior enlisted adviser.  The Chief of Staff of the Joint Staff in turn answers to the Defense Minister (and his deputies) and the Prime Minister who acts as Commander in Chief of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

That said, there are a number of joint organizations in the JSDF that are staffed by a mixture of personnel from multiple branches administrated by the Joint Staff like the Regional Cooperation Headquarters, the SDF hospital network, and SDF Physical Education School. 

 

 

2 minutes ago, kajnrig said:

Good god, y'all are such friggin' nerds. :lol:

And f*cking proud of it. :D 

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6 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

The VF-1 was like the F-35... just, y'know, not bad

My good sir, it appears we can become great friends after all! :D  I actually lol'd.  We're of the same mind here.  Sorry, I wasn't trying to say the VF-1 wasn't used by the UNAF.  I think of it like the F-4 phantom:  Designed for carriers first, then used by all three services with minimal modifications.

1 hour ago, Seto Kaiba said:

And f*cking proud of it. :D 

Cheers! :drinks:  Just wanted to hammer out this quick reply, more to follow.

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15 hours ago, TehPW said:

3) Why does it have to be Spacy? The term Cosmo Navy seems more... professional? It sounds better at least. 

As far as I know, it's just an attempt to make an intelligible English word out of the kanji for "Space Forces" (宇宙軍) following the same pattern used in the kanji for "Army" (陸軍) and "Navy" (海軍).  The other two end in -y in English, so if the Ground Forces are the Army and the Sea Forces are the Navy, then the space forces would be the Spacy/Spacey.  

Macross's creators have come up with a couple terms like that which unintentionally sound a bit silly in English, like the name the Unification Government gave to the alien starship that crashed in 1999.  They called it Alien StarShip One... or ASS-1 for short. :rofl:

"Cosmo" is one of those prefixes like "Cyber" that just feels incredibly dated these days.

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2 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

"Cosmo" is one of those prefixes like "Cyber" that just feels incredibly dated these days.

And yet “cyber” is so ingrained now..

William Gibson May not have invented the word, but he sure coined the F**k out of it..

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Of course, I would argue that the Air Force getting "control" over space early on wasn't "right" in the first place, with them being a relatively new branch, while the Navy had been flying planes LONG before the Air Force even existed... 

Thus, "space forces" in Macross/Trek/Wars being under the jurisdiction of the Navy seems to be "correcting an error" if anything.  :D

 

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One thing it occurred to me to add, with respect to the UN Spacy having operational similarities to an Army Air Force, is that the UN Spacy fleet as it existed during the First Space War was developed and operated less as a fleet than as static orbital defenses.

For instance, the ARMD-class space carriers were actually developed to be stationary space airbases situated in various orbits as part of Earth's planetary defenses.  The idea to modify the design into a warship came after they'd already built at least one as the original design-intent space station: the L5 Frontline Station.  The Oberth-class destroyers were designed as ships from the start, but the actual function of that basic, no-frills design is essentially a space-based ballistic missile silo.  They park in orbit with the missile silos pointing outward and let rip if they're given a target.

 

32 minutes ago, Bolt said:

And yet “cyber” is so ingrained now..

William Gibson May not have invented the word, but he sure coined the F**k out of it..

Is it, though?  Most of its uses are kinda cringy these days.  The only one that really gets taken seriously anymore is "Cyberpunk".  Some terms like "cyberspace" are dated enough to be instantly associated with the 90's.  (and I say that as a guy who has a degree in what used to be called "cybersecurity").

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16 minutes ago, David Hingtgen said:

Of course, I would argue that the Air Force getting "control" over space early on wasn't "right" in the first place, with them being a relatively new branch, while the Navy had been flying planes LONG before the Air Force even existed... 

The United States Air Force was only "relatively new" in its modern incarnation as a stand-alone branch of the armed forces. 

The original incarnation of what eventually evolved into the USAF - the US Army Signal Corps, Aeronautics Division - was founded and flying in 1907.  That's three years before the US Navy first experimented with aviation in 1910, and 14 years before the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics was founded as a formal organization for naval aviation.  The Signal Corps Aeronautics Division ended up reorganized into the Aviation Division in 1914, and then into an independent branch of the war department as the US Air Service back in 1918 (three years before the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics was founded, if we're still counting).  It was rolled into the US Army as the US Army Air Service with the National Defense Act of 1920, and was renamed several times thereafter.  Its name got changed to the US Army Air Corps in 1926, then the US Army Air Forces in 1941, and finally became the independent US Air Force branch in 1947 under the National Defense Act of 1947.

So, if we're being historically accurate, technically the Air Force was flying planes before the Navy was and formalized its military aviation organization over a decade earlier than the Navy did.  The Navy only looks like it has a longer aviation tradition becuase they were less impacted by congress's inability to decide who should have administrative control over military aviation until the military potential of aircraft became too big of a thing to ignore.

(If you're wondering why I know this esoteric history, one of my part-time jobs as a callow youth was at the Greenfield Village history museum, where I occasionally pulled presenter duty in the Wright Brothers cycle shop.  The Navy's first hesitant step towards naval aviation was observing a Wright brothers test flight in 1908 in Fort Myer, VA.)

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1 hour ago, Seto Kaiba said:

One thing it occurred to me to add, with respect to the UN Spacy having operational similarities to an Army Air Force, is that the UN Spacy fleet as it existed during the First Space War was developed and operated less as a fleet than as static orbital defenses.

(...)

Which reminds me of something that I think some may be overlooking: there are two incarnations of "Spacy" that we are dealing with:

  • SWI (and earlier): Unified Forces (Unified Space Forces, etc.)
  • Post-SWI: New Unified Forces (New Unified Space Forces, etc.)

In addition to the macro level name change (addition of "new"), what changes occurred at other scales?  For example: where the ranks in the earlier version of the 'Spacy' changed from Army to Air Force?

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1 hour ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Is it, though?  Most of its uses are kinda cringy these days.  The only one that really gets taken seriously anymore is "Cyberpunk".  Some terms like "cyberspace" are dated enough to be instantly associated with the 90's.  (and I say that as a guy who has a degree in what used to be called "cybersecurity").

I’m not high jacking this thread! I blame Seto for being a conversational Hydra!( right down to the part where you cut one head off and another grows back;))

In popular culture “Cyber” is there. Professionally, I would expect you to cringe , and yes it is dated. But it’s still there! We’re way past the days of reading MONDO 2000, I know . You’re using real industry terms (probably) .But Terms like cyberwarfare( comrade, DARPA wants to talk to you!) , cyberspace, cyber cafe, cyberpunk(yeah!) hell,even  Cybertron are still all over pop culture. I’m no expert on the subject, but I’ve been down with it for decades, like you, and even if it makes me laugh and think of  hacking Nintendo power gloves , it’s still there..it’s ingrained:unknw:.

Now back to our regular scheduled discussion.. here’s one. When is the last time Kawamori San was asked about this? And did his eyes just glaze over?:p

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17 hours ago, sketchley said:

Which reminds me of something that I think some may be overlooking: there are two incarnations of "Spacy" that we are dealing with:

  • SWI (and earlier): Unified Forces (Unified Space Forces, etc.)
  • Post-SWI: New Unified Forces (New Unified Space Forces, etc.)

In addition to the macro level name change (addition of "new"), what changes occurred at other scales?  For example: where the ranks in the earlier version of the 'Spacy' changed from Army to Air Force?

That's an interesting line of thought as well...

Besides introducing Zentradi into the organization, the one change that really stands out is that the old UN Spacy's focus on static and semi-static orbital defenses was deemphasized by the logistical necessities of supporting the Humankind Seeding Project.  The New UN Spacy needed more flexibility and long-range endurance in its ship designs, since they would have to accompany and protect emigrant ships on their long journeys across the galaxy.  They needed ships that were designed to function like ships, rather than ships that were just glorified orbital weapons platforms that occasionally conducted patrols, and probably benefited a lot from the experience the Zentradi brought and the analysis of Zentradi designs.

(That might be why the New UN Spacy didn't end up a "space navy"... the Zentradi influence, since they wouldn't have been familiar with blue water navy concepts.)

I'd imagine General Vrlitwhai Kridanik did a lot to influence the development of the NUNS's next generation of warship designs that came into service in the 2020s and 2030s.  That's when we start seeing the carrier-escort paradigm becoming the dominant formation with a lot of emphasis on stealth.

 

 

17 hours ago, Bolt said:

I’m not high jacking this thread! I blame Seto for being a conversational Hydra!( right down to the part where you cut one head off and another grows back;))

I wouldn't worry too much, this was already an exceedingly broad topic involving history, linguistics, and methods of translation, and so on...

 

17 hours ago, Bolt said:

Now back to our regular scheduled discussion.. here’s one. When is the last time Kawamori San was asked about this? And did his eyes just glaze over?:p

You'd have to ask the guys who did the subs for Macross Delta and Macross Delta: Passionate Walkure... they were, in all likelihood, the last ones to ask and they did go in for Army or Air Force-style ranks for both Xaos and the NUNS.

(Somewhat oddly, the main characters in Xaos appear to belong to an Air Force-esque organization even though they operate from a carrier.  The unit affiliation is often given, in English, as Xaos Ragna 3rd Fighter Wing Delta Flight.)

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Given how pseudo-military Xaos was in the first place, I think all bets are off as to where they took their guidance from. :p

One thing I am curious about is whether any of those "UN MARINES" or "UN NAVY" (or whatever other designations someone came up with) markings on VF-1s in assorted publications have any official source backing up their existence, or if they're just people being nostalgic for real-world markings, and projecting real life military delineations onto the Macross universe that don't actually canonically exist.

Just from a practicality standpoint, depending on which version of SWI you reference, there may not have been enough people left of any particular branch of the military to remain functionally independent.  Over time, the separations would make sense again, but if you were stranded in space with a mixed crew combined from Air Force, Navy, and , Army, and Marine Corps, and not enough chain of command for any of them to function without incorporating the others, I'd think they might just pick one system to stick with, or incorporate aspects of all of the into a single new system, with ranks and roles being divided up to best represent the remaining command infrastructure.

Add in the Zentraedi influence, and you'll probably wind up adapting to some similar structure that completely re-aligns the designated areas of influence of the existing services, into something less splintered.  As air and space merge into a single continuous battlespace, the need for actual ships would probably dwindle to near nothing.  Why would you need boats on the water when they can just fly around, and go into orbit?  The difference between land and water blurs, and you're left with "planetary" operations.  I'd think the idea of a separate Air Force and Navy would disappear, and just be replaced by one command structure, while the Army would take over planet-based operations. 

I honestly don't know what would happen with the Marines, unless they were absorbed into the Army, but then you run into the idea of their being separate space-focused and land-focused troops.  You could probably make the argument that the Army was everything related to planetary defense, while Marines were focused on offensive planetary operations.

The existing military branches have pretty specific divisions of influence right now, but a lot of them are dependent on historical areas of specialization that don't really need to exist past a certain technological level, and get very blurry once you start dealing in interstellar terms.

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1 hour ago, Chronocidal said:

Given how pseudo-military Xaos was in the first place, I think all bets are off as to where they took their guidance from. :p

They watched a lot of war movies.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Chronocidal said:

One thing I am curious about is whether any of those "UN MARINES" or "UN NAVY" (or whatever other designations someone came up with) markings on VF-1s in assorted publications have any official source backing up their existence, or if they're just people being nostalgic for real-world markings, and projecting real life military delineations onto the Macross universe that don't actually canonically exist.

The official Macross timelines have always maintained that the Earth Unification Forces were originally created with four branches of service (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines) in 2001 and that the Spacy was a late addition two years later.  

The biographical summary from Isamu's personnel file that Guld accesses in Macross Plus mentions that Isamu's (involuntary) reassignments took him to a UN Navy posting aboard the carrier Enterprise (in 2035) and a UN Air Force posting on planet Iota (in 2039) in addition to his service in various UN Spacy postings.  Macross Plus's official artbooks also made explicit references to the existence of the UN Spacy Air Force and UN Spacy Marine Corps after the First Space War ended.  So the only technically unaccounted-for ones would be the UN Army and UN Marine Corps, and it seems relatively safe to assume that the miclone infantry and tanks we've seen are probably the regular Army.  Some of the technical write-ups of VFs also mention branch-specific variants of postwar VFs like the UN Navy's VF-4D and VF-4S.  

Macross's animation focuses overwhelmingly on the Spacy, so we haven't really gotten a chance to dig into the rest of the armed forces in detail.

In Macross II, there definitely seem to still be five branches of the UN Forces c.2092.  We know that two of the uniform variants explicitly belong to the Spacy (black) and Army (khaki), and there were a few other variants like blue and green.

 

Quote

Just from a practicality standpoint, depending on which version of SWI you reference, there may not have been enough people left of any particular branch of the military to remain functionally independent.  Over time, the separations would make sense again, but if you were stranded in space with a mixed crew combined from Air Force, Navy, and , Army, and Marine Corps, and not enough chain of command for any of them to function without incorporating the others, I'd think they might just pick one system to stick with, or incorporate aspects of all of the into a single new system, with ranks and roles being divided up to best represent the remaining command infrastructure.

Given Isamu's experience of being shuffled around to different branches of service without loss of rank depending on where his latest fed-up CO could dump him, I would surmise that the branches of the New Unification Forces are likely not as separate as we Americans would be predisposed to think.  The way Isamu does it, it almost sounds like the branch affiliation is more indicative of where you're assigned.

EDIT: I mean this mainly in the physical location sense.  If you're in space and they attach you to a fleet it's a Spacy assignment, where manning static defenses might be a Spacy Air Force job or being assigned to an orbit-to-surface assault unit would land you in the Spacy Marines.  I would assume both are likely combatant commands under the Spacy, and that the non-Spacy forces probably aren't very large.

Edited by Seto Kaiba

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I'm beyond not qualified to participate in this discussion, and I realize SMS and the UN Spacy or NUNS aren't the same thing, but...

If anyone can convince me that Jeffrey Wilder isn't a sea captain, I'll eat his hat.  Which will be difficult seeing as it's such a large hat.

jeffrey_wilder.jpg

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2 hours ago, Product9 said:

I'm beyond not qualified to participate in this discussion, and I realize SMS and the UN Spacy or NUNS aren't the same thing, but...

If anyone can convince me that Jeffrey Wilder isn't a sea captain, I'll eat his hat.  Which will be difficult seeing as it's such a large hat.

jeffrey_wilder.jpg

In his case it may just be nostalgia of course, or he was on boats in a past career before joining SMS. It's not a military job so really anything goes there. 

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3 hours ago, Product9 said:

If anyone can convince me that Jeffrey Wilder isn't a sea captain, I'll eat his hat.  Which will be difficult seeing as it's such a large hat.

According to Vol.3 of the Macross Frontier audio dramas, Colonel Jeffrey Wilder was a lifer in the New UN Spacy with a frankly impressive resume as a variable fighter pilot until some unspecified life event drove him to leave the military and join Strategic Military Services.  (It may or may not have been his wife leaving him.)

He is, however, acknowledged to be an avid enthusiast of water sports in his free time with a particular passion for surfing.  What he's doing in that scene is using the Macross Quarter's Storming Attack mode to surf a piece of armor down into the atmosphere of the Vajra planet.  Given his acknowledged passion for the sea in his off time, it wouldn't be surprising if he had boating experience as well.  (Getting assigned to an emigrant fleet that had large simulated bodies of water must've been a dream come true for him.)

Macross Frontier character designer Risa Ebata did acknowledge in interviews that the visual theme they went for when designing Jeffrey Wilder was that of a "pirate" and a "man of the sea", which is apparently why Kawamori insisted on the goggles he wears over his duty uniform.  His passion for surfing was apparently determined early on but not properly touched on until the second movie.

 

43 minutes ago, Master Dex said:

In his case it may just be nostalgia of course, or he was on boats in a past career before joining SMS. It's not a military job so really anything goes there. 

More like his hobby.  They touch on his past career in the Macross Frontier audio dramas, and as a New UN Spacy fighter pilot he supposedly flew an impressive array of VFs over the years including the VF-1, VF-4, VF-11, VF-17, VF-19, and VF-171.

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15 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

some unspecified life event drove him to leave the military and join Strategic Military Services

 

15 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

as a New UN Spacy fighter pilot he supposedly flew an impressive array of VFs over the years including the VF-1, VF-4, VF-11, VF-17, VF-19, and VF-171.

 I think he was playing Valkyrie Bingo, and he retired once he cleared his board.

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So based on this discussion (assuming I haven't missed anything) part of the issue stems from "for what country are you translating for" because military tradition, structure, and ranks vary from country to country.  Another part is that we are not 100% sure if military tradition, structure, and ranks is consistent between Macross shows.  There are many fans of many franchises that, over time, become far more knowledgeable about said franchise than the creators themselves.  I would imagine that creators move on to other projects once one is complete and cannot immerse themselves in it like their fans.  I isn't a matter of what it should be, but what it is.

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8 hours ago, JB0 said:

 I think he was playing Valkyrie Bingo, and he retired once he cleared his board.

Considering he can't be much over 50 in Macross Frontier, it's a damned impressive resume regardless.  The Macross Frontier novelization makes him out to be one of Ozma's old COs from the time he spent in the NUNS prior to the 117th Research Fleet incident, which implicitly further ups his badassery level by suggesting he was Earth/Federal NUNS before going off to join a PMC.

 

7 hours ago, DewPoint said:

So based on this discussion (assuming I haven't missed anything) part of the issue stems from "for what country are you translating for" because military tradition, structure, and ranks vary from country to country.

Not so much, no.  That only came up in connection with my correction of the rank table in the thread's first post by @DWN013.

The rank table in question incorrectly presented the rank of Junshō - the word used for foreign "one star" flag officer ranks - as equivalent to the US Navy's usage of "Commodore" as an honorary title held by a senior captain.  The best equivalent term for the US Navy's title of "Commodore" is Teitoku

Basically, it was the American English version of the Captain (title) vs. Captain (rank) conundrum that often crops up when translating Japanese into English.

 

7 hours ago, DewPoint said:

Another part is that we are not 100% sure if military tradition, structure, and ranks is consistent between Macross shows.  There are many fans of many franchises that, over time, become far more knowledgeable about said franchise than the creators themselves.  I would imagine that creators move on to other projects once one is complete and cannot immerse themselves in it like their fans.  I isn't a matter of what it should be, but what it is.

On the contrary, we're 100% certain that military structure was changed at least twice in the wake of the First Space War.  The first time was when the New Unification Government was established after the First Space War in 2010, and the second was the governmental and military reforms that came out of the Second Unification War.

This isn't really about in-universe changes or whether or not it's consistent between shows, though.

The actual bone of contention in this discussion is the allegation that the ranks in Macross media being consistently translated as Army-style (or Air Force-style) ranks both in-series and out since the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross TV series is a result of a systematic bias towards the use of Army ranks in the Japanese-to-English translation process, and the related assertion that the Spacy's ranks should actually be translated as Navy ones since it operates a space fleet.

(It's worth noting that the general idea that a bias exists is not entirely unreasonable, as the alleged bias can actually be demonstrated in the handiwork of machine translators like Google Translate and Babelfish.  Those systems tend to pick whatever the first dictionary definition because their ability to detect context is limited or nonexistent.)

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1 hour ago, Seto Kaiba said:

(It's worth noting that the general idea that a bias exists is not entirely unreasonable, as the alleged bias can actually be demonstrated in the handiwork of machine translators like Google Translate and Babelfish.  Those systems tend to pick whatever the first dictionary definition because their ability to detect context is limited or nonexistent.)

This explains a lot. Took forever to get the names of some of my characters since I try to use terms of concepts in other languages for my naming skeem. 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Not so much, no.  That only came up in connection with my correction of the rank table in the thread's first post by @DWN013.

(...)

Basically, it was the American English version of the Captain (title) vs. Captain (rank) conundrum that often crops up when translating Japanese into English.

 

Actually... it happens a bit more often then you think—why you're not noticing it is that most people default to American English, less often to British English.

Without going too far into this particular rabbit hole, I'll just make these 2 points:

1) every time you (that's Seto specifically) say "Federal Forces/Government", it rubs me the wrong way as inaccurate.  It's hard to illustrate why, other than to describe it as an Americanism (nevermind the ensuing discussion about how Kawamori-san has implied that the Unified Government/Forces are most akin to the EU organizational structure, or the finer nuance of how the legislative power of the Federal Government in Canada is equal to that of the individual Provincial Governments, whereas in the US the legislative power of the Federal Government eclipses that of the individual State Governments; or some kind of understanding gap along those lines).

2) 航空団: this one is fresh in the memory.  How to translate this?  The Japanese Wikipedia entry handily sums up the difficulty in English: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/航空団#概要

While squadron is the same, (Air) Wing is used differently, and (Air) Group doesn't even appear in the Canadian version!!!  Ultimately, I regrettably had to go with the American version because—as DewPoint put it—"for what country are you translating for".  While I'm not deliberately providing translations for an American audience, American English is the most readily understood by the widest group of people.

Which goes to the heart of this discussion: translation bias—because in some cases, using American English is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole (adding and removing nuances that aren't in the original term to make it fit).  E.g.: is the usage of "President" in Macross Frontier the French usage, or the American usage?

Edited by sketchley

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Posted (edited)

Well, this is now officially a translator pet peeve thread... Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.

 

1 hour ago, sketchley said:

Actually... it happens a bit more often then you think—why you're not noticing it is that most people default to American English, less often to British English.

I notice it fairly often, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were more slipping past me.

I may be American, but virtually all of my coworkers speak British English being Brits themselves or from former crown colonies.  (Sadly, this has not given me any insight into the appeal of cricket... it remains as alien to me now as it was when I first read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)

 

Quote

1) every time you (that's Seto specifically) say "Federal Forces/Government", it rubs me the wrong way as inaccurate.

Believe me, I'm not altogether happy with it either... but it's the closest term I've found that communicates that we're talking about the supranational government/military rather than that of the individual member nations to the predominantly American audience here.  There's gotta be a better word out there to capture that particular dichotomy, but it escapes me.  (I am open to suggestions.  I'd previously tried referring to it as the "central" government/forces but that seemed to be insufficiently clear in many cases.)  I'd guess it might be easier for an American audience to get their heads around if the EU moved forward with Germany's proposals for a supranational European Army.

It wasn't something that Macross really made prominent until Macross Delta, when the subject of "can we expect assistance from the supranational armed forces?" came up fairly prominently in an episode.

 

Quote

It's hard to illustrate why, other than to describe it as an Americanism (nevermind the ensuing discussion about how Kawamori-san has implied that the Unified Government/Forces are most akin to the EU organizational structure, [...]

I feel it might be a smidge more accurate to say that the current state of the New Unification Government is more reminiscent of the European Union. 

Prior to the reorganization of the government and military brought about by the conclusion of the Second Unification War, the New Unification Government was more along the lines of the American Federal Government in that it was a strong central government that exerted broad authority over its member states.  That, of course, was the whole reason that conflict happened at all... folks in the emigrant governments were unhappy with the increasing concentration of governing authority in the central government, and there was a faction within the government and military working to increase that centralization of power (the bad guys in VF-X2).

 

Quote

While squadron is the same, (Air) Wing is used differently, and (Air) Group doesn't even appear in the Canadian version!!!  Ultimately, I regrettably had to go with the American version because—as DewPoint put it—"for what country are you translating for".  While I'm not deliberately providing translations for an American audience, American English is the most readily understood by the widest group of people.

Given the strong American bias Kawamori introduced in his worldbuilding of the [New] UN Forces, using the American terms for levels of organization like that is probably a "best fit" scenario.

 

Quote

E.g.: is the usage of "President" in Macross Frontier the French usage, or the American usage?

Obnoxiously, that seems to change between versions of the Macross Frontier story.  IIRC it's the TV series that leans slightly French while the novelization(s) lean more towards American with the inclusion of an American-style Vice President on the list of officials that Leon has to have murdered in order to seize the office of Frontier President.

Edited by Seto Kaiba

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4 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

(Sadly, this has not given me any insight into the appeal of cricket... it remains as alien to me now as it was when I first read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)

"Nobody understands cricket. "

-Raphael (the turtle, not the painter)

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Well, this is now officially a translator pet peeve thread... Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.

Nah.  I'm in it for the discussion, not to waste life having a silly internet argument.  ;)

 

Quote

(...)  (I am open to suggestions.  I'd previously tried referring to it as the "central" government/forces but that seemed to be insufficiently clear in many cases.) 

(...)

Well, I'm all for using Macross specific terms that force the reader to fire their neurons and think.  In this case, I'd go with the "Earth Unified Forces/Government" and emphasize it with the contrasting "local/[insert planet name] Unified Forces/Government".  There are limits of course (as Macross literature also tends to use Earth ~ to describe human related stuff in general).

So, in the words of my fellow Canadians when we talk about elections:  "choose the least worst option" (in this case, the option likely to cause the least misunderstanding).  [and for those following this discussion, that guidance pretty much sums up the job of a professional translator :hi:].

Quote

 

I feel it might be a smidge more accurate to say that the current state of the New Unification Government is more reminiscent of the European Union. 

 

Right you are.

 

Quote

Given the strong American bias Kawamori introduced in his worldbuilding of the [New] UN Forces, using the American terms for levels of organization like that is probably a "best fit" scenario.

This begs the question: how much is it Kawamori-san specifically, and how much is it Japan in general?  Without getting verbal diarrhea on the subject, everyone in Japan wants to speak English, and English to them means American English.

Let's just say it's amusing to watch my students start to freak out when I ask them what type of English they want to learn, and subsequently inform them on the 2 different spelling systems, and the 5 different kinds of native speaker English + international English.  And that's before even touching on the truly scary stuff: regional dialects and accents! :crazy:

:shok::unknw:  ← these two sum up the students' expressions. 笑

Edited by sketchley

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7 minutes ago, sketchley said:

Nah.  I'm in it for the discussion, not to waste life having a silly internet argument.  ;)

My mental image was more us translators sitting around loudly agreeing with each other about the things that frustrate us, like a bunch of old duffers at the nursing home. :lol: :rofl:

 

 

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Well, I'm all for using Macross specific terms that force the reader to fire their neurons and think.  In this case, I'd go with the "Earth Unified Forces/Government" and emphasize it with the contrasting "local/[insert planet name] Unified Forces/Government".  There are limits of course (as Macross literature also tends to use Earth ~ to describe human related stuff in general).

That approach runs an even greater risk of confusion, IMO.  Pre-war, you've got publications like Macross Chronicle that insist upon prefacing the pre-war government and military with the word "Earth".  Post-war, you've got the problem that a couple of descriptions imply Earth has a local New UN Forces specifically for its own defense AND is the de facto headquarters of the supranational armed forced.  That leaves the awkward question of which Earth New UN Forces are we talking about... the ones that answer to the Earth head of state (whatever he/she/fill-in-the-blank is called) and then the ones that answer to the New UN Government itself and its head of state (who I've seen variously referred to as a Prime Minister or Chairman).

 

 

 

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This begs the question: how much is it Kawamori-san specifically, and how much is it Japan in general?  Without getting verbal diarrhea on the subject, everyone in Japan wants to speak English, and English to them means American English.

Well, all the military organization and designation systems that Macross copied almost whole cloth from the US would appear to be the doing of Shoji Kawamori and Masahiro Chiba... as that goes all the way back to Sky Angels if not further.  For instance, if you look at the VF-1 units mentioned as being assigned to ARMD-class carriers in the wake of the First Space War in Sky Angels, they're all famous US Navy F-14 squadrons: the Tophatters, Swordsmen, Black Aces, Jolly Rogers, Checkertails, Checkmates, the Wolfpack, Bounty Hunters, Freelancers, Black Knights, Challengers, and Stallions.  Likewise, the ARMD-class ships are a who's who of famous aircraft carriers, with almost half of them being US Navy (Enterprise, Constellation, Ranger, Midway, Independence, and Forrestal).  Neither are the sort of thing the typical Japanese English-speaker is likely to know. 

 

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Let's just say it's amusing to watch my students start to freak out when I ask them what type of English they want to learn, and subsequently inform them on the 2 different spelling systems, and the 5 different kinds of native speaker English + international English.  And that's before even touching on the truly scary stuff: regional dialects and accents! :crazy:

:shok::unknw:  ← these two sum up the students' expressions. 笑

That's every language though... I remember sitting down to my first Latin lesson in high school and being informed that we were going to have to learn both classical Latin (the formal dialect used by the Roman Republic and Empire) and the informal "vulgar" everyday Latin spoken by the plebs, while other classes used the bastardized Latin used by the church and later generations of western scholars.

(I took Latin to annoy my parents and keep them from trying to mess with my homework, since they'd taken Spanish and French.)

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

That approach runs an even greater risk of confusion, IMO.  Pre-war, you've got publications like Macross Chronicle that insist upon prefacing the pre-war government and military with the word "Earth".  Post-war, you've got the problem that a couple of descriptions imply Earth has a local New UN Forces specifically for its own defense AND is the de facto headquarters of the supranational armed forced.  That leaves the awkward question of which Earth New UN Forces are we talking about... the ones that answer to the Earth head of state (whatever he/she/fill-in-the-blank is called) and then the ones that answer to the New UN Government itself and its head of state (who I've seen variously referred to as a Prime Minister or Chairman).

That's why we have to frame how the terms are used carefully.  It's a pain in the butt to write things out long form and semi-continuously have to subtly explain the term, but that's the price of making it understandable to the widest range of people (casual readers and hardcore fans).

It'd be great to write something like "The SLREF folded thru the SD to the GP."  However, all but the most hardcore fans would not be able to decipher that. :unsure:

 

As for PM vs. chairman... without knowing the Japanese term used, I'm guessing that this may be part of the aforementioned translation bias (as Prime Minister is synonymous to chairman).  So if one person knew the context (Parliament, thus PM), but the other didn't (thus chairman)... or vice-versus.

 

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Well, all the military organization and designation systems that Macross copied almost whole cloth from the US would appear to be the doing of Shoji Kawamori and Masahiro Chiba...

Well... Kawamori-san is more the designer and storyteller, and Chiba-san is the one who fills in the technical details.  That's not to imply that Kawamori-san doesn't have a hand in the technical/background details, or that Chiba-san is completely free to come up with the details on his own without directorial instructions and demands.

 

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That's every language though...

I disagree in that it's many, but not every language.  E.g. Korean and Japanese each have 1 spelling system, and 1 standard form (dialects and accents, as said earlier, being beyond that scope).

Edited by sketchley

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23 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Well, this is now officially a translator pet peeve thread... Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.

This hole be deep and grand! :D

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