Chapter 3:

Does Everybody Hate My Work?

I Work in the Anime Industry and Everybody Hates Me!

Anime conventions typically run over the course of a single weekend, from Friday to Sunday, with the busiest day being Saturdays. Some of the biggest, most exciting experiences happen on Saturdays, from big industry reveals to the cosplay competition, and even performances by a handful of Japanese musical guests on Saturday night. Sundays are usually the slowest day of the event, as most of the fan artists, vendors, and guests begin to pack things up and prepare to head home. Sundays at a convention also end earlier in the day. For that reason, attendance on Sundays usually drops significantly.Bookmark here

Despite this, when Joy walked back into the halls at All-Out Anime Festival on Sunday, she was now feeling more on edge than she was the day before. Her experience with Liam, followed by her own research on what other American anime fans were discussing in regards to localization, had her wondering exactly how many of the attendees around her actually secretly hated her. Thankfully, she was mostly an unknown member of the industry. Most people wouldn’t recognize her as she walked past. But clearly, that hadn’t stopped Liam from approaching her yesterday. And now, even though she knew people could be critical of her job before, she was hyper aware that a non-zero percentage of American anime consumers not only hated the entirety of the work based on small presumed slights and mistakes, but were also out for blood. Did that include the people attending AOAF today? How many of those people were here right now?Bookmark here

Joy usually enjoyed anime conventions. Even as a member of the localization industry, she had not yet been soured to everything that business entailed. She still loved anime, and she still loved seeing how much other people loved it, too. These fans put a lot of heart into showing off just how much they loved a particular show or a character. The artist alley held so much fan art from people who just wanted to share their love with one another. Cosplayers at every event showed off just how much time, dedication, and talent went into creating something that they might not wear ever again if only to have fun pretending to be a character they love for a few hours at a time. It was one thing she always felt like the community had in common with her own name⁠—joy.Bookmark here

But now… now she wasn’t so sure. Now she moved through the halls of the convention center like a ghost, keeping her head down and her glasses pressed high on her nose, hoping not to accidentally make eye contact with anyone or draw any attention to herself in any way. But soon she wouldn’t have a choice. She was scheduled to meet with a handful of other staff members from Toon Motion Studios shortly, to sit on another audience-facing panel to discuss their upcoming licenses and retail releases. How could she possibly face another audience today after learning what they really thought of her and the work she did, even if they didn’t know who she was personally?Bookmark here

Inside the panel room, the staff at Toon Motion were working together with the convention staff to ensure the microphones, projector, and lighting were all arranged properly. At this point, the only thing missing was Joy.Bookmark here

Toon Motion’s production manager, Ryan, stood from the table on the stage at the front of the room and scanned his eyes across the crowd, now trickling in and taking their seats. There was no sign of Joy anywhere.Bookmark here

“Hey, have any of you guys heard from Joy this morning?”

“Not me,” replied another woman on staff. “I hadn’t seen her since yesterday’s panel.”Bookmark here

Ryan placed his hand on his chin and began thinking to himself out loud. “We’re getting started with the presentation in just a few minutes. She’s usually so good at getting to these things early.”Bookmark here

“Hey, guys.”Bookmark here

“Ah!” Ryan shouted. And suddenly there she was. Joy had just appeared by his side. How did she get there without him noticing her? “Oh, man… Sorry for yelling like that. Hurry up and take your seat. We already checked all the microphones.”Bookmark here

That was when he noticed Joy’s general appearance. Her hair was less straightened than usual. She was slouching and had dark circles under her eyes. She looked as though her soul had been drained from her body.Bookmark here

“Hey, Joy, you feelin’ all right? The con staff brought us some water. Want me to pass you a bottle?”Bookmark here

“Huh?” She barely registered that he was speaking to her, but finally his words caught up to her brain to process. “Oh. Yeah, I’ll take a bottle, thank you.”Bookmark here

As Ryan passed Joy a bottle of water, a convention staff member gave the presenters a thumbs up from the back of the room. It was time to get the presentation started. Ryan led off with the opening statement.Bookmark here

“Hello, All-Out Anime Festival! How has your weekend been?”Bookmark here

The crowd cheered, just happy to be somewhere cool to talk about anime.Bookmark here

“Yeah, same for us! My name is Ryan Willows, and I’m the production manager at Toon Motion Studios. Thank you so much for joining us at our Licenses and Releases panel today! I’d like to introduce you to a few other members of the production staff who have worked very hard to bring you the anime you’re about to hear about. Why don’t we start at the far end of the table down there?”Bookmark here

Ryan motioned to his right-hand side, stage left, to the woman he’d been speaking with before Joy entered the room. The woman with short blonde hair stood up and introduced herself cheerfully.Bookmark here

“Hi, everybody! My name’s Lisa Miller, and I’m part of the video production team, making sure the final versions of the videos you end up watching are looking their best! It’s great to see you all here today!”Bookmark here

As Lisa sat down, another young man stood up to her left. “Hey, guys. I’m Mike Paige, and I’m an audio engineer with Toon Motion. If you’re listening to one of our shows dubbed into English, I probably helped to mix it together. I hope you guys have been enjoying the work we do!”Bookmark here

Mike sat down, leaving only one person on stage who hadn’t introduced themselves yet. A few long seconds passed, and Ryan gently elbowed Joy in the shoulder. She had been slouching, looking down at the table, but the elbow gave her a slight shock. She gasped and then hurriedly grabbed her microphone from its stand off the table.

Joy needed a minute to compose herself. She suddenly wondered if she wanted to be known for having worked on anything, even though she’d been so proud of the work she’d done up until today. Finally, she worked up enough courage to squeak out her introduction.

“Um, hello everyone. I’m… I’m Joy Darwin. I’m a s--subtitle editor, and I make sure you see the anime at the same time Japanese viewers get to watch the same show. Uh… and I do some other stuff sometimes. Th--thanks.”Bookmark here

Joy sat down with a quickness and jammed her microphone back down into its stand. Ryan was shocked at how nervous and reserved Joy was acting. This wasn’t like her. She was usually so confident and excited to talk about the things she’s worked on. But he didn’t have time to address it, not with an audience waiting to hear about these new releases.Bookmark here

“Uh, thanks, guys! Well, with the introductions out of the way, let’s talk about what you can expect to see from us today. First, we’ll be talking about our ongoing and upcoming shows that we’re streaming as simulcasts this season and beyond. Next, we’ll be discussing our upcoming retail releases, so you can all add to your Blu-ray shelves at home! And finally, we’ll be taking audience questions about the work we do, so I hope you’ll stick around until the end!”Bookmark here

Throughout the panel, Ryan made a very conscious decision not to call upon Joy to do much of the presenting. Although some of this season’s anime was being passed through her hands at the office, Joy didn’t seem very up to the task to talk about her involvement today. Though, he did occasionally make sure to involve her by telling the audience about the shows she was editing. Sometimes Joy would manage to squeak out a, “Thank you,” into the microphone.Bookmark here

There were some really great retail releases being announced. One specifically involved the popular television series Katana Craft Connection, in which Joy had cleaned up and corrected the subtitles and worked on many of the bonus features. Mike had quite a lot to say about his involvement in the final mixing process. They showed off an image of the final box set for Blu-ray release, and Ryan once again thanked Joy for her hard work in making sure the Japanese language episodes were looking their best. “Thank you,” she whispered again. Ryan was really worried. But he moved on with the presentation.Bookmark here

“So, to round out the show today, we want to hear questions from you guys! There’s a nice volunteer from the convention with a microphone who will come to you when we call on you, so stay in your seats and raise your hands if there’s anything you’d like to ask!”Bookmark here

A small number of enthusiastic fans raised their hands. Some started waving them frantically, and others chimed in with shouts of, “Ooh, ooh! Pick me, pick me!” Ryan controlled the floor and did his best to pick the first person he saw raise their hand. They managed to get through a handful of questions. Some of them were pretty standard questions they answer all the time, either online or at other events. “When is this particular title coming out?” “How do I get a job with you?” “Will you license a certain TV show?” Thankfully, these questions were so common, Ryan was largely able to prattle off the answers to these questions without having to think twice about it.Bookmark here

“Okay, I think there’s time for just one last question. Uh… yes, you there in the button-down shirt.” Ryan pointed at a particular young man in the audience with a serious look on his face. The convention volunteer brought the wireless microphone to him and held it in front of him.Bookmark here

“Yes, I wanted to ask you about your upcoming Blu-ray release of Katana Craft Connection.” Actually, from the tone of his voice, it sounded more like he was gonna be one of those types that had more of a statement to say than an actual question.Bookmark here

“So, I watched your simulcast episodes of the show, and I think there was quite a lot wrong with the subtitles.”Bookmark here

Joy winced. She had worked on editing the subtitles during the broadcast of that show, too. Her chest tightened as the young man continued.Bookmark here

“Specifically in episode five, I noticed that the word ‘Swordcraft’ was not capitalized. However, it is a proper noun in the digital world of Katana Craft Connection. You did it correctly for the rest of the series, but you ignored the proper capitalization in that specific episode. Also, your subtitles did not include Japanese honorifics such as ‘-san’, ‘-chan’, and ‘-kun’, even if the Japanese actors were saying them.”Bookmark here

Joy listened and grit her teeth. Her work was being nitpicked to death. She wasn’t proud that the capitalization of a proper noun had slipped by her, but the subject of Japanese honorifics was a specific choice that had been made and was not a mistake. This was exactly what she was afraid of. She was afraid that no matter how hard she worked, people were still going to hate her work, and maybe even her with it.Bookmark here

The crowd was in something of a shocked hush, but the nitpicky young man continued.Bookmark here

“If this lack of attention to detail is what I can expect from Toon Motion going forward, then I will not be spending any of my money on your sub-par products moving forward.”Bookmark here

Joy had finally heard enough.Bookmark here

“Excuse me!” Joy stood up with strength and confidence, grabbing the microphone off the table and addressing the young man directly.Bookmark here

“I understand that seeing mistakes in a show you care a lot about can be incredibly frustrating. I know exactly what that’s like! Unfortunately, some mistakes are part of the nature of what it means to run a simulcast of a show at the exact same time as another country. Before simulcasts, localization teams used to take months to get everything together and sell the show on DVD or even VHS. They had more time back then. But obviously, we’re all fans in a modern age where it’s frustrating to have to wait to have the same experience as the Japanese audience. If the industry wasn’t providing subtitles fast enough, then fans were taking the show themselves and re-uploading the episodes with their own fan subtitles. We’re in a unique position now where we can get you the show even faster than fansubs can. We can give you the show at the exact same time it airs in Japan. It’s really an incredible advancement!Bookmark here

“Unfortunately, that does sometimes mean that little mistakes happen. We’re constantly trying to make a deadline that some people might think is impossible. The animators have barely finished making the show before it’s ready to air, and in that small amount of time we have to have a translation ready to go for you so you can watch it right alongside them. In the case of Katana Craft Connection, I was the subtitle editor during the run of that show. I’m never proud if a mistake like a proper noun gets through that wasn’t capitalized. For that, I’m extremely sorry that I didn’t meet your expectations.”Bookmark here

The young man stood in silence. He still looked firm enough in his resolve about how serious he was about these details, although he did seem surprised that a member of the production staff was directly addressing his issues.Bookmark here

Joy continued.

“However, I would like for you to know that between the time you see the show on our live streaming platform during the simulcast, and the time you see it when it reaches Blu-ray, we have gone over the entire show once again and taken much more time to clean up any mistakes we may have made the first time around. I can assure you that the final product will be free of misspellings, grammatical errors, and improper punctuations, along with anything else we may have gotten wrong.Bookmark here

“That having been said, I’d like to address your concerns with the subtitles not including Japanese honorifics when the characters address each other.”Bookmark here

The man in the button-down shirt stiffened. He was strongly opinionated on this particular issue. He believed that any genuine anime fan would at least be aware of the different levels of politeness used in the Japanese language, and why different characters might address each other differently under certain circumstances.Bookmark here

“The truth is,” Joy continued, “that the animation studio directly expressed to us that they wanted this show to be as accessible to as many people around the world as possible, and that included people who might not be familiar with certain things Japanese people take for granted. The hope was that maybe they could create a show that even caught the interest of people who weren’t necessarily anime fans to begin with. The world of Katana Craft Connection takes place in an online video game, where people from all over the world might log in. They were hoping that would be a reason other people around the world might be interested in the show.Bookmark here

“So we directly asked them if we could drop the honorifics, because in English, we simply don’t have honorifics that we regularly use quite like them. The answer the studio gave us… was yes.”Bookmark here

The audience quietly began whispering to one another. The young man in the audience behind the microphone finally spoke up again.Bookmark here

“You… you mean to tell me they were actually okay with this decision?”Bookmark here

“Absolutely. For them, it did not drastically change the meaning of the interpretation of their work. Where we could, if somebody called someone else ‘-chan’, even when we dropped the honorific, we tried to make sure the subtitles reflected how friendly that person was being with the person they were talking about. In that sense, we still managed to get the same feeling across, even without the need for honorifics.Bookmark here

“But to be honest, this is a decision that could have gone either way. At the end of the day, we had to make a choice, and we made one. We chose to go with the decision that we thought would be inclusive to as many people as possible. And I get that someone such as yourself has picked up on enough Japanese culture to understand how to use certain Japanese honorifics. We didn’t make this decision to insult your intelligence. Rather, we made the decision because we hope that this helps to generate more fans of the show, so you can talk about the show you love with even more people in the future.”

The hardcore fan trembled, trying to understand why this decision didn’t fit his mould of what he thought anime should be. “But--but you’ve left honorifics in on other shows in the past! Why would that change now?”Bookmark here

“You’re right. We have. It’s a decision that changes from show to show. If it’s a slice of life show that largely takes place in Japan amongst a bunch of Japanese school kids, or if it’s something extremely heavy with cultural relevance, we’re probably gonna leave those honorifics alone. Sometimes, we figure the target audience of the show is probably going to be someone like you, someone who watches quite a lot of anime already, so you already know what some of the language sounds like. That’s when we leave those honorifics in our subtitles.Bookmark here

“For that reason, we understand that we had to make a choice, and every time we make that choice, we know it will probably be one that someone does not agree with. I’m sorry that we cannot provide a solution that we know will please everyone. However, we strongly believe that the product you end up seeing on our Blu-ray releases is the best version of the show that we could possibly bring to you. We’re proud of the work we’ve done. So all I can ask is that if you love Katana Craft Connection, please give it a chance on Blu-ray. It may just be my opinion, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.”Bookmark here

Joy simply sat back down, finally out of things to say. It felt like she’d just poured her whole heart out into this room full of strangers, who may not even understand the point she was trying to make.Bookmark here

Or maybe they did. A few seconds after Joy had finished placing her microphone back into the stand on the table, the audience broke out into applause. As it turned out, they loved hearing about the ins and outs of why certain localization decisions were made. These were incredibly detail-oriented fans, many of whom had dreams of working with anime in the future, too. As the crowd clapped and cheered, the nitpicky fan in the button-down shirt looked around at the reaction. Even if Toon Motion wasn’t making the exact decision he would have made, he had to admit that it was admirable to have heard such a specific explanation. He finally dropped his pride.Bookmark here

“Thank you for your answer.” The man sat back down. He clapped, too, right along with the rest of the audience.Bookmark here

Joy lowered her head again, completely embarrassed. She had definitely said way too much and let her feelings get away from her. It was everything in her power to keep herself from bursting into tears in front of the crowd.Bookmark here

Ryan and the rest of the Toon Motion staff were somewhat dumbfounded. Joy wasn’t wrong about anything she said, but wow, she had really ridden a fine line there. She could have made a misstep at any given moment and completely turned that fan off from their shows for life. Somehow, however, she didn’t, and it seemed to win the crowd over. Something about her honesty with them really resonated with these fans. Either way, Ryan was just relieved it didn’t get any more hairy than it did.Bookmark here

Ryan wrapped up the show, and the crowd started funneling out the doors, now incredibly excited about Toon Motions upcoming releases. Joy, however, hadn’t moved at all from her seat. Even with all of the applause there at the end, it seemed like she just couldn’t hear it. All she could hear were the dissenting voices telling her that her work wasn’t good enough. Was this the way things were going to be from now on?Bookmark here

The rest of the staff was already packing up, and the convention’s volunteer staff was cleaning the room to be set up for the next panelists to come in. When he noticed Joy hadn’t moved, Ryan came to check on her.

“Joy. Hey, Joy.” He placed his hand on her shoulder, and only then did she look up at him, tears building in her eyes. “Hey. Did something happen to you?”Bookmark here

She lifted her glasses off the bridge of her nose and rubbed her eyes. “It’s… it’s nothing. I’ll be okay.”Bookmark here

“Joy, this can be a rough industry. You know I’ve been through a lot of it, and that I’ve been doing it a really long time. Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?”Bookmark here

The young woman thought about it. But everything that had happened yesterday was just too crazy, too emotionally draining. How could she put all of that onto a coworker?Bookmark here

“Thank you for asking, Ryan. But I think I might have to think about it on my own a little longer. Sorry about that.”Bookmark here

The production manager gave a deep sigh, wishing he could just get through to her. “Okay, I won’t force it. But please, you know I’m not a stranger. I can probably understand what you’re going through better than anybody. If you need somebody to just hear you, let me know.”

Joy honestly did appreciate his effort, and that at least made her feel a little better. She smiled genuinely. “Thank you, sir. I may take you up on that later.”Bookmark here

“Okay, great. We’ll see you at work tomorrow, right?”

“Yes, sir!”Bookmark here

As Ryan left the room, Joy slowly pulled herself out of her chair. She was glad for the support from a coworker, but she still didn’t feel uplifted yet. As she took the short flight of stairs down from the stage, she heard a familiar voice.Bookmark here

“Hey, Joy! You okay?”Bookmark here

Joy looked up from the ground to meet eyes with the voice calling her name.Bookmark here

“Oh… Shauni!”Bookmark here

Standing in the middle of all the empty chairs was Joy’s best friend Shauni. She was dressed in a cute anime shirt, shorts, tights, and was carrying an adorable character backpack on her shoulder.Bookmark here

“Hey, why do you sound so surprised? Didn’t you get my text?”

“Huh?” Joy instinctively reached for her phone.Bookmark here

She felt so ashamed. Shauni had texted her a few times between last night and this morning to let her know she’d be coming to visit her at her panel today.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I got a day badge. I heard you answer that guy during the Q&A part of the panel. You sure did sound like a pro!”Bookmark here

But Joy didn’t feel like a pro. Not at all. She felt like an imposter, only pretending she knew anything about what she was doing. Tears began welling up in her eyes again. Shauni was taken aback by the response.Bookmark here

“Hey, what’s wrong?”Bookmark here

It felt like Joy was finally given permission to just let it all out. She couldn’t hold her tears back anymore. All she could do was cry.Bookmark here

Shauni hated seeing her best friend crying like this. Before Joy knew it, Shauni was right up there next to the stage with her, arms wrapped around her.Bookmark here

“Hey. It’s gonna be okay. I’m so sorry.” Truthfully, Shauni didn’t even know what had happened, but she knew whatever it was, she wanted to help Joy make it right.Bookmark here

“I know! Why don’t we go grab lunch? I bet that’ll make you feel better. My treat. What do you say?”Bookmark here

Joy nodded, still unable to properly form words. In reality, she hadn’t eaten anything since lunchtime yesterday. She usually didn’t like taking advantage of kindness from other people, especially when it involved food, but at this point she was finally ready to drop her pride.Bookmark here

The two of them together walked over to one of the few remaining food trucks across from the convention center. The truck they chose sold some monster-sized cheeseburgers with a delicious fried egg on top of the juicy beef patty. There were a few scarce standing-only tables underneath an umbrella around the pavilion. After choosing a table, Joy managed to wolf down half her burger in only a couple of minutes, all the while giving Shauni an earful about her insane Saturday. About how she was approached by Liam, how at first he just seemed like an overly-aggressive fan, then how he had briefly kidnapped her, how he escaped from the cops, and then followed her home.Bookmark here

“Yeah, anmh you gnow bhat elsh?” That was Joy trying to say, Yeah, and you know what else? through a mouth full of delicious cheeseburger and fried egg. She swallowed the bite and kept monologuing. “No matter how many times I gave him legitimate reasons for our localization decisions, he just would not accept it as an answer! He told me he had over 700 more examples of places where we’d committed these horrendous crimes against anime!”Bookmark here

Shauni was astounded. “I can’t believe you even let him into you home. Why didn’t you call the cops?”

“Oh, I didn’t need to. He made so much noise, somebody else called them for me for a noise disturbance.”Bookmark here

“Oh, wild.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, but now… now I don’t know what to think anymore. You know, Shauni, I used to be so proud of my work. But then this guy Liam shows up, and then I see there’s a whole army of other people just like him somewhere else in the English-speaking world, and… well, now I don’t know if anything I’m doing even matters anymore, if people are just gonna be this angry about it.”Bookmark here

Shauni thought about this for a few moments, then chuckled to herself.Bookmark here

“Joy, do you remember what anime localization was like when we were little kids?”Bookmark here

“Huh? What do you mean?”Bookmark here

“You know, I think we’ve got it pretty good now. But back when we were in grade school, things were kinda bad. Remember when you and I were really into Shiny Space Force?”Bookmark here

Joy looked up from her food, grinning. “Do I ever! I caught reruns of that after school every single day!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, but you remember how bad our English version was, right?”Bookmark here

“Ha ha, that’s true. They renamed all of the characters to these English-sounding names, they changed all the music, and sometimes they even flipped the picture so that it looked like the cars were driving on the right-hand side of the road instead of the left!”Bookmark here

Shauni had even more to add. “And the voice acting was pretty bad, too. It sounded like everybody was performing on a Broadway stage! They were just yelling everything all the time! And hey, do you remember when they had the Space Force girls doing those public service announcements?”Bookmark here

“Oh, my God! The public service announcements!” Joy cackled. “Those were awful! ‘Remember, if you ever have somebody offer you drugs, just tell them no! Run as far away as you can and tell an adult you trust, like your parents or a teacher! This is a message from the Shiny Space Force!’ Man, you’d never catch those kind of public service announcements these days.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, but they were everywhere at the time. They always put them in American cartoons like Samurai Geckos, so naturally they started editing them into the ending of all the Japanese cartoons, too.”Bookmark here

“Wow, how did we ever get out of times like those?”Bookmark here

Shauni grinned. “I’d say it’s probably because of people a lot like you.”Bookmark here

Joy didn’t really follow. “Huh? What do you mean?”Bookmark here

“Well, I don’t mean you specifically. But even though Shiny Space Force had a really bad localization at the time, we really loved it when we were kids, didn’t we?”Bookmark here

“Of course we did! Even if it was edited pretty badly, we could still see the core of the story shining through. It made me want to go out and find the original Japanese version later. It’s like I got to experience a great thing twice!”Bookmark here

“Exactly. I’d bet there are a lot of other people in the localization industry right now who are a lot like that. They probably fell in love with some show that got hacked to bits, and even though they loved it the way they saw it, they still wanted better for it. So they went into the industry, and now they’re making shows in such a way that we never have to suffer through edits like that ever again.”Bookmark here

Joy started slouching again. “Yeah, but there are people who are only a few years younger than us that have never had to deal with edits that severe to the anime that they watch, and yet they still come at us as though every little thing we do is destroying the art. It’s like they don’t even know that the people who work in this industry do it because they love it and that we’re trying to share it with everybody.”Bookmark here

“Hmm. You know, I’m not so sure about that.”

“Oh, yeah? What makes you so sure?”Bookmark here

“Isn’t there one more big anime movie screening happening this weekend? You know, down at the movie theater across from the convention center?”Bookmark here

Joy had almost forgotten. There was this romance film being screened as an additional part of the anime convention called The Moon, The Stars, and Koku. It featured a boy who desperately wanted to be an astronaut but he didn’t have the math skills to become one, yet a girl he meets helps bring space down to earth for him. It was a super sweet film with great reviews and big box office numbers in Japan. Not only that, but Joy had also worked on the subtitle editing for that movie as well.Bookmark here

“I didn’t even remember we were screening that this weekend.”Bookmark here

“Come on, I’ll pay for the entry fee!”Bookmark here

“What? No, you just bought my food! I couldn’t possibly—”Bookmark here

Shauni grabbed Joy by the hand and smiled. “We’re going, and that’s that! Hurry up, I think it’s starting soon!”Bookmark here

Joy wolfed down the rest of her burger on their walk to the adjacent theater. The two of them sat down in a theater completely packed with fans who had been looking forward to the screening. The lights dimmed, and the film played. The film was so cute and sweet. The audience giggled, gasped, and even cheered when the two main characters realized they didn’t want to be without each other. The crowd reaction was so genuine. Joy had already seen the movie, obviously, because she had worked on the subtitles that the audience was reading right at this moment. But now, sitting in a theater and seeing the completed result herself was totally different. She braced herself for the audience reaction to one of her favorite moments, when the main character knocked over an entire bookshelf just to try to pick up his phone and talk to the girl he liked. The audience laughed, and even seemed to get a kick out of a joke that Joy’d had a difficult time picking an English equivalent to from the original Japanese script.Bookmark here

By the time the credits were rolling, the audience was cheering and clapping. As far as that crowd knew, nobody that had worked on the movie was even there to hear their clapping. But American audiences did this all the time at movie theaters. Joy speculated that maybe people just liked participating in big group activities like clapping together. However, they didn’t know who Joy was, that she had helped make the localization possible, and that she was sitting in the room with them right now. And this time, when the whole theater applauded, it felt like it actually meant something to her.Bookmark here

They liked what she had done.Bookmark here

Shauni leaned over to her friend as the credits rolled. “Can you believe it, Joy? The people in this room would have never been able to watch this movie in the first place if you hadn’t helped bring it to them.”Bookmark here

Joy blushed in embarrassment. “Nah, they probably would have relied on some fansub release on the internet to watch it later.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, but you know no fansubber puts that much time and attention to detail into their work! No fansubber ends up getting their fansub release put into movie theaters. They have to go to all these crazy lengths to get it up on some underground website that’s probably gonna give your computer a virus if you try to visit it, or you have to click some dark web link to download it as a torrent. But this is what people really want to be able to do. They want the same theatrical experience that the Japanese audience gets to have. And thanks to the work somebody like you does, they get to have that experience with other people in the same room. You’d never get that same thing from sitting in front of a computer monitor watching a fansub!”Bookmark here

The English credits rolled not long after the Japanese credits had already passed. A small list of names went by from Toon Motion Studios. Names that included Ryan Willows, Lisa Miller, and Joy Darwin. Shauni beamed for her best friend, and Joy felt a small sense of pride growing within her.Bookmark here

“Joy, I’m so proud of you. You do great work. And you should be able to tell that on a day like today, your name really means something. You truly did bring these people joy!”Bookmark here

The young industry professional pulled her glasses from her face, and let herself weep, this time not in sorrow, but rather in happiness and pride. She wiped her eyes and put her glasses back on over her ears.Bookmark here

“You’re right, Shauni. This is what working in anime localization is really about. I’m so happy that every single day I get to work towards sharing something I love with so many people that otherwise would never be able to see something so great.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, so who cares about the guy from the panel today, or those grouches on the internet, or even that Liam guy? These people in the theater today are the people who matter. Keep doing it for them. And for yourself, too! Okay?”Bookmark here

Joy grinned, finally believing in everything her best friend was telling her. “You’re right! I’ve got a lot more work to do to keep bringing anime to more people!”Bookmark here

The two women walked out of the theater together, and Shauni gave Joy a ride home in her car. It was a much better ending to the weekend than it had started, and Joy didn’t give a single thought to Liam for the remainder of the night.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, Liam hadn’t forgotten about Joy. Against all odds, he walked down the stairs of the detention center, already back on the streets despite his car robbery, kidnapping, noise disturbance, and resisting arrest.Bookmark here

“Joy Darwin… I told you nothing was going to stop me. I’ll find you again soon!” He was speaking to nobody but himself. Maybe he was the only one who thought this was important.Bookmark here

And he really thought this was important.Bookmark here

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