What’s Wrong with ‘Sparky’?

Seriously guys…why do you treat calling Misaka Mikoto “sparky” as a blasphemous act?

I don’t care what goes around behind the scenes of fansubbing nor the drama it brings, but I came across those two posts and just couldn’t understand why these kids cannot accept “Sparky”. It’s a pretty good/cute nickname, one I’ve been using since way back in late 2008, and it perfectly contains the meaning and connotation of “Biribiri”.

What’s wrong with ‘Sparky’?

12 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with ‘Sparky’?

  1. Personally I just don’t think character names should be translated, even if it’s a nickname. Also no translation EVER “perfectly” captures the meaning and connotation of the original.

    • You’re right about translations never being able capture the meaning of the original {but being pretty damn close is good enough} and that names should not be translated, but for nicknames, translating them could be a lot more beneficial than leaving them alone.

      The majority of fansub watchers don’t have a firm knowledge of Japanese, by simply leaving her nickname alone it would loose some comical value if they don’t know what the nickname is picking at.

      But well people are used to “Biribiri”, which is why they don’t accept “Sparky”. Should have thought of that before publishing this post. :/

  2. It might be the foreign nature of the word itself. “Biribiri” has a unique rhythm to the word (being composed of smoother and gentler sounds), while “Sparky” is full of harder and more ‘angular’ (for lack of a better adjective) sounds. I’d make a (wholly unsubstantiated, lol) claim that the smoother sounds mirror her awesome deredere episodes, while the other option… doesn’t.

    I get your point that nicknames, when translated, give some degree of meaning, but when people start using a wholly foreign word to describe a character, it gives the word an additional meaning, which is lost when translated into that viewer’s native tongue. For example, when someone who can’t speak Japanese figures out that “biribiri” refers to Mikoto, not only does it have the cute-diminutive feeling, but it is also
    mentally indexed by the viewer to that single character. In other words, “biribiri” only ever refers to Mikoto–however, if she’s rebranded as “sparky,” the (apparent) uniqueness of the nickname and character is sort of lost.

    Also, your claim that the comical value is lost might not hold if people continue watching the series, as a simple search for ‘biribiri’ on google turns up several hundred thousand results, and people will find out. Curiosity -can- spur action, you know.

    Plus, maybe it’s just me, but “Sparky” evokes images of crap-tacularly US-dubbed pokemon episodes.

    • The nickname was given to her by Touma because she couldn’t hold her emotions and let sparks fly, those sparks don’t fly when she’s in smother and awesome dere dere mode but when she’s in angular and fierce tsun tsun mode.

      Fansubs are a lot less localized, so the foreign sounding “Biribiri” is more acceptable to the viewers than the ‘crap-tacularly’ localized “Sparky”. I can understand that. But the fact is they are watching fansubs with Japanese audio. “Biribiri” is still there and it’s only said and directed at Mikoto so the viewer can still mentally put one and one together without having to go to Google and search why she is called “Biribiri” nor search for what it means.

      Nothing is really lost when using “Sparky”..well except for a whole bunch of fansub watchers!

      But I get it, it’s just a matter of taste/preference. I just couldn’t completely understand why go bat shit insane for using “Sparky”. :/

  3. If you were to be true to the meaning of the nickname, you would have to go with calling her “Bzzzt” or “bzzz bzzz” or something. That is the English onomatopoeia for electrical discharge.

  4. I don’t think character names should be translated, just like Raiga said.

    But cutting that short and bringing up a new point: don’t translate names that doesn’t have an official translation; it will only cause confusion if every fansub group is using a different nickname.
    What would you do if someone suddenly said “Spooky is awesome” out of nowhere (because XXXsubs had decided to combine “Sparky” and “Shocker”)? Sometimes you might be able to guess it, but if the subject isn’t already on Index or Railgun how should you be able to know?
    I still think that using “biribiri” and then have a TL note at the first occurrence explaining it is a better way of doing it.

    But I don’t get all the ruckus either…

    On a side note, is it just me or did Misaka suddenly get a lot more attention in Index II? I don’t remember Index I very well (mainly because I think it sucked) but I felt she was more a side character than a main character. But when I saw the OP (and later the ED) I felt like she was threatening Index position in the rank order… Almost like she came from Railgun and tried to butt in… Well, she haven’t been that prominent yet, but I fear this wouldn’t remain the case…

    • Sparky + Shocker = Spooky?

      Moar liek Spocker!

      If a fansubber decides to use a nickname not even close to the meaning of the original, then do not watch those subs anymore.

      Misaka is more on the scientific side of To Aru world, I don’t think she will play any major role on the magic side, but I don’t know, haven’t read the source material. But yeah, since the success of Railgun she seems to have started to threaten Index’s position in the magical side too!

      Hell, her nickname wasn’t even said in the first episode and people are complaining because the subbers plan to use “Sparky”. lol

      • Well, Spooky was the best word available in my dictionary : P
        But anyway, that was just a joke, it could have been Electrifier, Bzzzt or whatever some group found fitting.
        The point was that if I saw a sub that used “Sparky” and then someone else that saw a different sub (which used “Bzzzt”) comment on the show, “I really like the part where Bzzzt comes in”, I would have no idea what he just refereed to.

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