Some anime series use captions to translate signs, text messages, speech bubbles, and the like while others do not. I'm left guessing when some characters only communicate through these messages and nothing is translated. Are these extra translations done by specific studios or on a case by case basis?

  • I've not seen speech bubbles before. Are these subs of someone reading out a comic strip, analogous (but not similar) to how a few strips of Tsurezure Children were voiced over? What series was it that had this example?
    – Makoto
    May 24, 2016 at 14:55
  • Time. If its a fansub, then more detail means less time watching anime. If its an official release, then more detail means (potentially) less profits.
    – anon
    May 24, 2016 at 15:07
  • I meant when they're expressing some feeling without saying anything. The example that comes to mind is when someone's stomach growls and there is text pointing to it. I don't know the name for that device so I said speech bubbles.
    – guest
    May 24, 2016 at 15:09
  • 5
    Note that in most cases, translation is done by a licensee (a streaming service or something), not by the animation studio.
    – senshin
    May 24, 2016 at 17:16
  • 3
    Please make clear what do you mean by your question. Are you talking about dubbed anime? Or the original one in Japanese? Jul 13, 2016 at 9:34

2 Answers 2


In some anime the additional text is there just to provide info. If context is provided, the translation usually isn't necessary. However, anime or at least their source videos that are meant to be dubbed and shown outside of Japan, are sometimes supposed to be translated, because most viewers never know nor care about the original language used in production (kids watching TV?).

Otherwise it's just about speed. Some fast-subbing groups only provide the needed dialogue, some groups take their time and translate everything to help the viewer.

Sometimes scribbles and text on walls provide additional humorous inputs (e.g. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei) and some people like to thoroughly go through them...

Overall it's all about the target audience :)


In Naruto they usually translate everything but I think that it's because it is a very popular anime. In other small anime i've watched they did not because it's not that popular. So I think how popular the anime is has something to do with it.

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