This post is part of a series of Fire Emblem Fates localization comparison posts! I discuss anything from major to minor changes here as I play through the game.
Today, I take a look at the localization’s portrayal of the character Izana and his country of Izumo. He is on all three paths, but I only reference examples in Birthright as it is early in the game and I believe many will have passed it by now. So please do not worry about Conquest and Revelation spoilers.
So far, this change is the most significant one I came across, so let’s get to it!
Please note that this post is purely informative and may share some opinion, but this does not mean the change is necessarily good or bad. A change is just a change that is being looked into, and you can be the judge of whether you like it or not!
It is all just for fun and curiosity for me. : )
Fans have already noted that the eccentric Izana has become a “total hippie party clown” (to summarize it all in one). Izumo, as a result too, has a sort of awkward portrayal. I present several instances (all from Birthright) of his eccentricities in Japanese, how localization went about handling it, and how it effects things in the bigger picture.
The changes are baffling, yet understandable when you look at them:
First instance is right after he is rescued from his cell:
I’m saveeeed~! You guys are my lifesavers! Thank you sooooooo much! So, let’s have a feast as a sign of our appreciation!
You can see he speaks with eccentricities (a lot of ~’s and somewhat informal speech). Now look at the text below, which is the NoA localization:
Woooo! You guys saved me! This calls for a feast. No, better idea—an all-night party! We’ll wear pajamas and eat bonbons. Let’s get it started! Izana in the house!
They basically summarized the Japanese text in the first bits (up to “this calls for a feast.”) But then all night parties, pajamas, bonbons, and Izana being in the house…
So this may be just to display his eccentricities even more without extending words (like I did in my translation). But then he goes on to explain his circumstances. This is where his character (and country) become more of a grand joke rather than anything that can be taken seriously.
When asked about his capture and if he witnessed the battle between Hoshido and Nohr nearby, this is how he replies in Japanese:
Ah! There was, there was [a battle]! Eeep, it was pretty freaky. We heard loud noises coming from outside and went out to see just what the ruckus was. Just like that, we saw the Nohr army –as if it was stretched all the way to the sea itself –beginning their invasion! Our country doesn’t have much of a standing army as you know, being neutral… We were occupied pretty quickly. Phooey. After that, these guys went straight from here to the Hoshido border~ It wasn’t long before it became an all-out war out there, probably. Well, I wouldn’t know, ’cause I was locked up in a jail cell during all that…
Again, his eccentricities show (portrayed by Eeep, Phooey, etc). In this literal, quick translation, the tone of a rather eccentric person (speaking of a serious matter) still shows somewhat. The informality stays. One can see Izumo is indeed a neutral country that was taken by Nohr as a stepping stone to attack Hoshido. That is good for the greater game’s context too.
Next, the localization:
Oh, yeah. Definitely. What a bunch of party poopers they were. We were just listening to some music and getting massages. And then I heard, like, a big explosion or something outside. I went to see what was going on, and they captured me. I was still wearing my silk pj’s! Anyway, we’re all about love, peace, and chicken grease here in Izumo… So we don’t exactly have a world-class military force. I don’t know what happened after that. I was in my own jail. Luckily, I previously had the cell equipped with velvet sheets and scented candles. Best sleep I’ve had in weeks!
The lines regarding Nohr using Izumo as a point to attack Hoshido from is gone. Replaced by non existent references to Izumo being a land of… well rather unsympathetic people partying in the midst of a war. It is almost as if neutrality itself is a joke rather than something to be seriously respected, as just one of many examples of how it may effect the general war theme.
Listening to music, getting massages, silk pj’s… without a care in the world. The lines about “love, peace, and chicken grease” really makes it look like localization aimed to portray them as the equivalent of hippie culture in America. The oddity of being put in a lavish cell serves to make his situation in general rather unsympathetic. In English, Corrin replies accordingly, a slightly sarcastic remark on it (“I’m so sorry you had to, uh, suffer through all that…”), where as in Japanese they are truly sympathetic to his situation.
The above two already show the massive changes, so here is a final third instance of when he contacts the gods themselves:
Right then! Let’s get to it~!!
Oh gods of old… answer our call, will you?…………..
Note the sudden tone shift from before and after “Oh gods” above. This was likely to show how they intended to portray his character: An informal, very casual and laid-back exterior that hides a truly wise leader. It is a trope that often comes about in Japan too, though the first examples that come to mind are goofballs who hide seasoned warriors (Rurouni Kenshin and Trigun, for instance).
He uses a term of endearment (male specific), but it can also be semi-polite. So, above I wrote the “will you?” to show that it is not fully formal, but more than being totally informal. A familiarity with the gods that fits his role, but not one of friendship, exactly.
Hmm. Oh, ancient gods… What’s up? I ask that you please answer me. Oh, I’m getting something!
Here, they didn’t do the sudden change before and after. “Hmm” seems to have replaced the first part. He does address the gods, but adds the very informal “what’s up?” But then turns slightly more formal with the “I ask that you please answer me.” They do portray the sudden change here, but when compounded with everything else he said before, can this really be taken seriously too?
Lastly, when the fortune telling is over, this last bit of dialogue happens:
Izana: Well, that’s all～♪
Hinoka: We had such high hopes for this, and that’s all you give us?!
Izana: Now now, no need to get upset. The fortune itself ends there, you know. See, that’s how fortune telling works, right?
Kamui: W…well I guess that’s true…
Izana: Anyway! The fortune telling is over, so now feel free to do as you please! Of course it’s fine if you want to rest here…though if you will be heading off to search for Prince Ryouma and Prince Takumi, I guess I should see you off, huh. …Don’t worry. They’re fine. I happened to gaze upon your futures earlier, too… I saw both of them… and they weren’t in any trouble.
Izana above gives a few nice words regarding Takumi and Ryouma being safe. He simply uses the word “rest” in Japanese with no indication of the type of relaxation that comes with it. The focus is the fortune telling only being able to tell what is given to him. However, he mentions having seen their futures too and seeing the two specifically. Very reassuring, slightly less silly now too!
Now the localization:
Izana: All right, I’m all done.
Corrin: Oh. That’s it?
Hinoka: I’m sorry, but that wasn’t very helpful.
Izana: Hey, what can I tell you? I don’t make the fortunes up—I just read ’em.
Corrin: Very well. Let’s just move on.
Izana: Sounds good to me. I’m dying for something bubbly to drink. Who wants to join me in the sauna? Oh, right. You probably want to hurry off and find your friends. Well, there’s no rush. I peeked into their fortunes a little bit just now. And I can tell you that they’re both doing OK at the moment.
Funny enough, Hinoka is less riled up about it, and Corrin more “professional” (“very well” as opposed to seeing their point). However, as the focus is Izana, the last paragraph shows the differences.
Something bubbly to drink and a sauna. He also doesn’t bother naming the two princes by title or name, simply “friends.” He also peeked into “their” fortunes, rather than happening to see them in Corrin’s own future. That slight difference means he is probably capable of seeing more than said fortune told him (considering he said he can only read what is given, but then went off to look at their futures anyway…)
UPDATE: (3/11). I looked at his death quote and epilogue here, which drastically changed too. I paste them below (though with less commentary than the actual post) for convenience.
Death Quote (Japanese):
The truth is… I foresaw … myself… dying here… I leave…the rest…to all of you…
Death Quote (English):
Just as I predicted, sadly. I have but one dying wish… Keep the party going forever. Heehee!
He returned to his usual way of life in Izumo. He became extremely popular among his people due to his active role in the war. His joking personality never changed, and he continued to surprise all visitors who were deceived by his sublime appearance.
Izana certainly suffered the ravages of war—he was never able to win another “Best Hair” contest. He tried to make up for it with lavish dinner parties and vacations, but he felt hollow inside.
So… yes, Izana is a big joke in English.
He appears in Conquest and Revelation, too, but these examples from Birthright should suffice to show how much his character (and Izumo as a result) had changed.
The general English player (unaware of the original) will forever see Izumo as a country of rest and relaxation, almost to an apathetic point. I suppose you can relate it to being like the land of the lotus-eaters (from the Odyssey)… They will remember Izana as more of a hippie than a wise man hidden behind a goofy exterior.
It is a major change from the original portrayal for sure. Usually localization is fine in making a few tweaks for better flow, and justifiable changes as they see fit. However, in this case, the circumstances/actions/portrayal of an entire country change. The truly neutral country is portrayed as more of a joke with a leader that’s hard to take seriously, instead.
Clearly, they wanted to express his eccentricities and informal attitude, which they did. However, the added references to being a little too carefree at the expense of helpful world-building is the more questionable part of it all.
There is no reference to how they were victims of neutrality and taken easily by Nohr to be used to attack Hoshido. Instead, they seemed to almost be ignorant to the greater war in general, or choosing to ignore it, almost to a carefree and over-indulgently apathetic point. That is completely different than what the Japanese version shows, says, and implies.
His death quote still has him wanting to party. His epilogue makes him a big joke.
Again, this is not necessarily a bad change depending how you look at it. I am sure many people prefer the total goofball over any serious, deeper themes in a video game (sort of like how Nyx’s death quote was changed to potentially reflect this). But in terms of whether this was a change that kept true to an author’s intent, it would be poor in that way.
This post is simply information! So I hope you learned something new.
I will continue to note these differences (both major and minor) as I go through the games. Feel free to point out anything that stands out and that need looking into! I have played all three games already in Japanese, so do not worry about spoilers.
What do you think of Izana’s change? Do you prefer the Japanese or English portrayal? What about how Izumo is portrayed? Please leave your thoughts below!