Adventures in QC #3

Nawa Guna Heda

The challenges of translating an older show like Battle Fever J are very different than the ones you’d encounter in a relatively more modern show like Timeranger. Even when working with what should be a high-quality source, the sheer age of the material leads to issues where audio is unclear. This was certainly a problem even for the company that translated Battle Fever J for Hawaiian TV in the early 80s, JN Productions. As you’ll see if you check out their subs on track 2 of our release, JNP dropped lines with alarming frequency.

Most of the dropped lines are easy enough to time and translate for our revised sub track, but one line in this episode proved difficult: the line where Satan Egos refers to his commander as Nawa Guna Heda. At first, there was some difficulty making out the line. Once it was transcribed clearly, there was a problem in that nobody knew what the hell the line meant. The “nawa guna” didn’t seem to be Japanese and at that phase of the sub, we were still calling the character “Header” (as most online sources still do).

At this point, it seemed the key to figuring out the line would be figuring out what language the “nawa guna” might be. This was accomplished by a brute force Google search using different combinations of the syllables into potential words. We eventually hit paydirt with “nawa guna,” which appeared as a transliteration of Sanskrit in a book on JSTOR discussing religious customs in Sri Lanka. The source was otherwise useless, but knowing it could be Sanskrit was a valuable lead.

Every world culture has foreign languages it loves without really understanding, resulting in a lot of mangled misuses. Just as American anime fans have used Japanese in some of the dumbest ways imaginable, Japan has a long-standing love affair with Sanskrit. Fanboy Sanskrit shows up engraved on samurai swords as early as the 15th century. A quick trip to an online Sanskrit-to-English dictionary suggested that “nawa guna” together with the name we were erroneously translating as “Header” would mean something along the lines of “Nine Hateful Virtues.”

This made perfect sense, since the Heda character was obviously some sort of evil priest in Satan Egos’ service and Battle Fever J is not exactly the most subtle show in the world. We opted to leave the name transliterated into Sanskrit in the English translation to preserve the exotic, foreign quality it would’ve had for little Japanese kids who watched Battle Fever J when it first aired. As a result of this, his name appears as Heda in our subs, while the original Header translation is preserved in the JN Productions track.