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This question regards the official English translation done by Yen Press. According to the copyright page, the translators are Krista Shipley and Karie Shipley.

Long Version

At the beginning of volume 7 (Fail 56), Tomoko is late to school because she got stuck watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a western animation. However, she refers to this show as an anime. So I started trying to figure out what the reasoning and implications were for using this terminology.

The quote from the manga is as follows:

When I randomly turned on the TV this morning, there was this anime showing... And I just ended up watching to the end, so...

So, why did the English translator choose to use the term anime here, which in English is only used to refer to Japanese animation, rather than something more accurate? I've thought of several possibilities, but have no way to determine which, if any, is right.

If I'm not mistaken, in Japan the word anime is used to refer to any sort of animation, with no distinction for its country of origin. So the translator may have chosen the term to convey that in Tomoko's mind there isn't a real distinction for foreign cartoons. But the translator did make this decision to use this term in the English adaptation, where anime has a different meaning, so alternatively it is also possible they're trying to convey that Tomoko isn't aware the show is not made in Japan.

Another reason could be for style. Tomoko talks about anime and manga a lot, so it might be a little unusual for her to use a more accurate term here, such as "cartoon" or "animation".

The translator's note at the end doesn't offer much insight onto the matter, though does seem to imply that the translator knows the show is a western animation:

The show Tomoko is watching is Hasbro's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, in which Rainbow Dash is a main character. Rainbow Dash's Japanese voice actress is Izumi Kitta, who also voices Tomoko in the WataMote anime series.

Short Version

Is there any way to determine whether the translator's choice to use the term "anime" to refer to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a mistake or a deliberate choice to be accurate to Tomoko's character and/or Japanese culture?

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I'll give four possible answers, none of which are mutually exclusive.

  1. When using the word anime, the Japanese do not make distinctions between western and Japanese cartoons. It is an abbreviation of the English loanword animation (In Japanese, animeshon/アニメーション). Choosing to keep anime in the English translation keeps in mind that Tomoko is Japanese and thus thinks of these cartoons in the same manner. Ref: see кяαzєя♦'s answer here.
  2. In line with my first answer, it could be a translation choice to de-emphasize how My Little Pony is different from the other cartoons Tomoko watches. The reference is over in one page, so it isn't worth the extra space to explain it's a western cartoon.
  3. Tomoko perceives My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as an anime. The art style of this particular show is similar to a Japanese anime. Mainly, the large eyes of the characters are similar to many other anime. It's the Japanese dub, so Tomoko may not be aware it's a western cartoon. She expresses exasperation at the time block this anime is aired in, so it's possible the weird time is due to it being a western cartoon, and Tomoko is unaware of this.
  4. The word used in the original Japanese version to describe the show is anime. Tomoko watching MLPTomoko blaming MLP I've circled the word "anime" in the images (for the record, I can't really read Japanese, but I know hiragana and katakana). In the second panel, the text: だいたいあの時間帯のアニメってなんなんだよ小学生もあれ見てたら時間的に遅刻するだろ!, gets translated to "What is an anime in that time zone? If elementary school students watch it, they will be late in time! " by google translate. Yen Press's translation for this block is "What's up with broadcasting anime in that timeslot anyway?! Watching it would make even a gradeschooler late!". If Tomoko calls it an anime twice, it makes sense for the translators to just go with that, since it's just a throwaway comment anyway.

It would be interesting to ask the translators directly to see why they chose to keep it as anime, but in lieu of that, this answer should be sufficient.

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    Btw, this Japanese blog article has a panel that shows both My Little Pony and the word "anime" on the same panel.
    – Aki Tanaka
    Jun 24 at 0:53
  • @AkiTanaka Oh yeah, guess I rushed a bit and didn't notice. It would make more sense to use that panel. I'll do an edit later. Jun 24 at 19:51

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