This is another post in my ongoing 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 change in a class/race name. What was originally Garou and Managarmr is now Wolfskin and Wolfssegner. The Fire Emblem wiki already includes trivia on this, but go a little farther and ask questions about the localization decisions themselves. So let’s take a look below!
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. : )
Classes change names between east and west, it is nothing new. A friend of mine wrote a great post regarding Tenma and Pegasus over here. I encourage you to read it to get the idea!
In this game, there are shape shifters similar to the Taguel in Awakening and Laguz in Path of Radiance / Radiant Dawn, though they work more like manaketes (dragons) did throughout the series since FE6. They use beaststones to transform.
So, getting right to it, in Japanese, the Garou (ガルー) are a race that shape shifts into wolf-like beasts. The word is french for “werewolf,” and referred to as “loup-garou” specifically (a pleonasm that means “wolf-werewolf.”)
In English, it was made into Wolfskin. They are likely aiming for wolf-skin, likely a reference to shape-shifters (referred to as things such as “skin walkers,” or like Tolkien’s “skin changers.”) It could potentially be a pun on wolfs-kin as well, people of the wolf essentially.
The promoted class is referred to as Managarmr (マーナガルム) in Japanese. It is a reference to the “moon-hound” of Norse mythology, which relates back to werewolves in a literal sense (influenced by the moon), but also implies greater strength (a hound that hunts the moon itself). The Final Fantasy series had a beast named such, so it seems to be on the rise for use in general JRPGs (trends such as Ragnarok and all that).
In English, this became Wolfssegner. The word is derived from Wolfsseggen, which was originally a charm said to ward off werewolves in Bavarian folklore. Those that sold them were named Wolfssegners. the sellers of these charms were eventually persecuted and tried as witches and werewolves themselves! In that sense, naming the class Wolfssegner can give a feel that they are a more wise and tricky sort of Wolfskin (if going with the beliefs of the people back then, however), and so the name for the higher class.
So the above changes make sense in meaning. But then why the changes? Why go from Garou to Wolfskin and Managarmr to Wolfssegner?
Perhaps the localization wanted to sacrifice exotic naming conventions for more straightforward, meaningful ones? After all, how many people were aware of who or what a Managarmr was even after playing the game without doing some research? With Wolfskin and Wolfssegner, the word “wolf” still appears at the very start to give the English player an idea of what they are, leaving them to connect the more obvious dots.
In Japanese, Garou and Managarmr are rather exotic, with perhaps only harder-core JRPG fans understanding what they could be. With that in mind, the intent was probably to portray a slightly more exotic culture beyond simply the “werewolf.” These two above words are both from cultures foreign to English and Japanese speakers alike, so it made little sense to change them unless it was to simply make them easier to convey to an audience (saving them the trouble of a fun trivial pursuit).
If the Japanese name was simply “werewolf,” then perhaps taking this route may have served to make it as exotic as it was to the Japanese (who were using an English word). But considering it is foreign to both, it is a strange change to me. Of course, the English ones are still somewhat exotic, but a bit of the charm is lost in putting “wolf” in there straightforwardly.
Interestingly, look at the way they’re described in the game-text:
A class of Nohr. Werewolves [man-wolves] that are said to feed on people. Have great strength and speed.
Above is a more literal Japanese translation. They say werewolves (or man-wolves) directly here. This is probably to inform the Japanese player above what they are without simply referring ot them as “man wolves.” Now look at English:
Nohrian. A human/beast hybrid said to feed on humans. High Str and Spd.
So this is the opposite. Wolf is in the name of the class (Wolfskin, etc), yet they call them human/beast hybrids instead of the most literal word “werewolf” as it is in Japanese. However, the connotation of simply being werewolves may make one assume that they only change depending on the moon, where as over here they use beast stones. Perhaps this is the reason they avoided it.
The funny part about all this is, where you meet and battle the Wolfskin in Birthright is atop “Mt. Garou” (same name in Japanese). So something stayed the same, whether this was an accident or not remains to be seen!
I wonder what the french version of the game will do with Garou…
Tomorrow I hope to post about the Kitsune!
What do you think? Do you like the exotic approach or the slightly more straightforward approach better? Which class name do you prefer?