Fimm Very nice. I need to rewatch it myself soon.
Do you have a list of what was changed?
It's been a goal to do it for a while, but I have been putting it off because I don't want to watch the dub. Strangely, no one else seems interested in cataloguing minor translation errors in less popular Ghibli films so it's just me. In any case, the official dub and sub are essentially distinct translations, with the dub differing signficantly from the Japanese in the few samples I've looked at. The sub removes most of these excesses and brings the text more in line with the original Japanese, except in the case of those lines I mentioned. Bizarrely, the sub changes the translation of these lines, but not in a way that reflects the original Japanese. Incidentally, the DVD release was rushed and only had "dubtitles", so as far as I know the first official release of the English sub was the 2015 Blu-Ray.
In any case, there are only three major lines that I remember off the top of my head, so I can go through them here. These are from the scene in the Cat Bureau building:
Similar translations are also used for Haru's revelation near the end, but I haven't transcribed that one yet.
I am pretty sure the Swedish translation is mostly correct, though I am not great at Japanese. The key phrase is "自分の時間を生きる", which I think means something like "live one's own time". Neither the English sub nor the dub accurately translate this in either case, but opt for completely different lines. I confess that when I wrote my earlier post I thought that the dub and the sub were essentially the same and mixed 'belong' and 'believing in yourself', but the latter is only in the dub.
Maybe calling it solipsistic was a bit much, but I do think both English translations fundamentally change the meaning of the film and make it somewhat incoherent. The point of the Japanese film is more that Haru is a listless daydreamer letting life pass her by, not that she needs "somewhere to belong" or to "believe in herself". She's not exactly lacking confidence and takes most of the things that happen in the film in stride. If the film is about belonging or whatever, it starts to feel a bit clumsy and it's suddenly in the same category as Spirited Away or Mary and the Witch's Flower, both of which handle this theme better because there's a heightened sense of conflict. Haru seems to live a cozy middle class life and gets along with everyone, so it feels a bit inconsequential for her to be worrying about those things. The Cat Returns is really too fun and light-hearted for that, but the tone and story structure does fit the actual message very well. Well, I feel strongly about it because I am a listless daydreamer letting life pass me by, so the Japanese version appeals to me on a deep level, whereas this angle is missing from the English translations.
Please excuse the wall of text. If it isn't obvious, I really like thinking about this film.