Spoilers for Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword (GBA) lie ahead!
In the Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword (Known as 烈火の剣/Rekka no Ken in Japan), a very known localization mishap occurs during Nergal’s true death speech. This is unlocked only during Hector’s story and by doing the proper side quests. It is a rather sorrowful moment, a subtle twist to things to make him a deeper enemy than he appears to be.
However, as a lot of fans already know, the localization made a huge mistake that sort of dampened the powerfulness of the scene. But you don’t often see the exact text compared to it, which is why I did this today.
What is the mistake? Well, first let’s look at the dialogue:
How could could I lose…?
If only I were stronger… I
Why did I
want more power anyway…?
Now…as I die…
With the last of my strength…
You all will…tremble in despair…
Why must I lose?
must be… stronger…
Why? Why did I…
Gaa… Not like this…
I will not die…like this.
With my last breath…
Hwah ha ha…
Ha…ha ha ha…
Now, the localization did great with his speech. The meaning is there, and presented in a way that flows much better than the literal translation. But, the single mistake is the use of the word “Quintessence” where it shouldn’t be. Instead, it is supposed to be “Aenir,” the name of the female Ice Dragon –and the mother of Ninian and Nils.
Through a particular sidequest in the game (Chapter 19xx on Hector’s mode only), you learn learn that dark magic is powerful but often makes the user lose their way and forget why they even started when they fall victim to its seductive power, as seen by the level boss’s quote below:
“Yes. It’s the fate of those who study dark magic. If you covet the dark, you must enter it of your own free will. You must erase yourself and become an empty vessel. Only then will you be able to receive the dark and master it. If your disposition is weak, the dark will overwhelm you. You will be…lost… …Ofttimes, you will forget why you seek the power to begin with. Only a few people ever gain true power. To win such a prize, one’s self is a small and insignificant sacrifice.”
On the same level, you get a glimpse back in time of a man who is with two young children, saying he will be back, and is going to search for their mother, Aenir. Note that this is from the localization, and Aenir is named directly. However, as pointed out by some, it almost sounds like it could be a location name rather than her name, as implied by saying “go to.”
“Daddy has to go to Aenir. …I’m going to get Mommy.”
“…Mommy? Where is she?”
“Some bad men took her away. They can’t have gone very far, though. I have to go after them and save Mommy. You wait ten days… If Daddy’s not back by then, take your brother and go to the other side. You’re a clever girl. You know the way, right?”
After you clear the level, Nergal appears briefly as a green unit (not an enemy) and simply wonders why he came back here, but then figures it is trivial and goes back to his business. This implies, of course, that was him, and the two children, the boy and the girl, to be Ninian and Nils later on.
Through other implications and the like, he basically fell for that dark power that the man on that level speaks of, and forgot his entire reason for it all had to do with Aenir.
Quintessence, on the other hand, is the essence or life force of people that Nergal harvests throughout the game to gain power. Plain and simple.
Now, with the above context in mind, saying “Quintessence” instead of “Aenir” as he was supposed to really hurts his character, making him seem much more one dimensional as a villain. Of course, thankfully, the sidquests are still there, so the player can sort of figure it out that way, at least.
So then, how did this happen if they got a lot of other things right? Well, it’s not entirely their fault. In the Japanese version, the word that translated to “Quintessence” was “Aegir.” You can already see where the problem came from. In his dialogue, he says “Ae…r” specifically with the third syllable (ni or gi) missing. The beauty of this is, in Japanese, that he could be referring to either Aenir or Aegir, which fuels that sort of confused daze he is in for a moment, obsessing over Aegir when his real reason was Aenir, see?
However. The game always wrote (in every instance I saw) “Aegir” as エーギル and “Aenir” as エイナール. Note that the original dialogue for the above has エイ instead of エー at the beginning –which is used exclusively for Aenir. For those who speak Japanese, this gets more complex yet more straightforward, as エー is ee, but エイ is as well! They both represent a long vowel, and so I figure this was to specifically differentiate the two very similar words.
And so, in the end, to also make it more obvious to players that he is, in fact, referring to Aenir, rather than Aegir. This is helped by the fact the post credits scene shows a picture of a man and an ice dragon only after the requirements (and so this true speech) are unlocked.
The localization may have simply assumed that エイ was just them writing エー in another way, perhaps? Or maybe they translated the end dialogue first? Or maybe they had different translators and one did the side quest where Aenir is mentioned and one did the standard story where only Aegir is mentioned? Or perhaps they really did think Aenir is a place (where the mother was at, rather than being the mother) and ruled it out as something for Nergal to desire in his final moments. I would actually love to hear the real reason this happened. Mishap? On purpose? Did they want to make him less sympathetic?
Either way, it is a powerful scene with the original context in mind, so I do hope you learned something today.
To finish it off, now players of FE7 who were unaware may understand the brief dialogue afterward (which is the same in Japanese):
“…Nils? What is it?”
“…I…don’t know… Why…am I………crying…?”
Now that’s just a subtle tragedy that doesn’t get much spotlight.
And that’s that. If you would like to see more of these sort of brief comparisons, feel free to leave a comment or suggestion (or email me under “Contact”).
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