The English title of the immensely breathtaking movie starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney is simply Gravity, but Japan (and many other countries) has the habit of changing the title to “something the local audience can understand and are familiar with.” I never understood the necessity to do that because many times movie titles alone don’t tell what kind of show it is to even the native audience. Take Emperor for example. No one will know which emperor it is about just by looking at the title. Heck, it could even be a cartoon where the protagonist dog is called Emperor for all we know. But Japan had to change the title to the unmistakable 終戦のエンペラー (loosely, “The Pacific War Emperor”). Well, they got that one right, but I’m not so sure about ゼロ・グラビティ (Zero Gravity). At the end of the show I caught with a Japanese friend, she turned around and asked me, “What is gravity? Why zero?” If they were to stick with that idea, a better bet for the title might have been 無重力 (literally, “Zero Gravity”).
I might be over-thinking but I believe there is a reason why the movie is called “Gravity.” Whoever gave the show its title might have wanted to focus on the desperate craving of the astronauts for gravity than their presence in the state of zero gravity, a concept which the Japanese version totally got rid of.
But the Japanese are not the only ones guilty of this. My biggest bewilderment and shock was when I found out from an Australian friend that the classic 西游记 commonly known as Journey to the West was translated as Monkey Magic wherever he watched it. That is the worst title to give such a classic piece of work dumbing it down to the image of some juvenile cartoon.
Maybe “Zero Gravity” isn’t so bad afterall. The show is awesome though.