Minor spoilers pertaining to two character endings in Fire Emblem 7 ahead!
Today’s post looks at a minor translation error that caused some confusion in the seventh Fire Emblem game, known to fans as Blazing Blade (or just Fire Emblem) in the west.
Minor translation errors (that cause big changes) are nothing new to Blazing Sword, as I cover regarding a small translation error that causes a bigger change at the end of the game here.
A young swordsman known as Guy has an epilogue that is a little confusing in the official localization of the game. Namely, for fans who played FE6 (Binding Blade, chronologically a sequel to this game), who know that the swordmaster Karel goes on to be known as the “Sword Saint.”
So did Guy become the Sword Saint? Or did Karel? Or did they both?
First, take a look at where confusion comes in for players. These are Karel and Guy’s epilogues in Blazing Blade:
Karel’s Epilogue (ENG):
Karel – Saint of Swords
Once, Karel was known as the Sword Demon. Now, he bears a new name. What prompted this change, he will not say.
Guy’s Epilogue (ENG):
Guy – Mounted Swordsman
Guy continued in his quest to be the finest swordsman of all Sacae. His form was so perfected that all called him the Saint of Swords.
As you can see, there is already an issue here. Karel became the Saint of Swords, but Guy did too. There is also a strange issue with Guy being known as the “mounted swordsman,” as he neither rides nor can ever ride a horse in this game. I will cover that too!
It turns out, upon inspecting the Japanese text, that there was a translation error. Read Guy’s original profile (in Japanese) below. I provide my own literal and smoother translation:
Guy’s Epilogue (JPN):
Up & Coming Swordsman
The Sacaen swordsman followed his dream and continued his journey to perfect his sword. Eventually, he was said to be able to rival the “Sword Saint” himself.
Literal Translation (for reference):
The Sacaen Swordsman followed his dream and continued his journey
to train with all his might. Afterward, his name would come to be known
as one that could [stand] side by side with the “Sword Saint” himself.
As you can see, the original Japanese was describing how Guy would come to be known as one that could rival the Sword Saint, but not become the Sword Saint. I suppose it was an issue of passive voice that seems to have gotten mixed up with active, along with how it refers to Guy as “his name would come to be known” and “Sword Saint” but missing the “rival/stand side by side” part. Or perhaps taking “match” to mean becoming the Saint.
It can certainly be a little confusing for a translator, especially if looking at it in isolation via text tables (as translators often have to), often removed from the context of the game. Another issue would be that I assume those who were translating the game had not played Binding Blade, which would have given them the context that a different swordsman known as the “Sword Saint” exists which this epilogue was referring to.
Likewise, whoever had translated Karel’s profile may have done so after this, or if it was the same person, may have forgotten that translation as these things are often translated in varying orders. There were plenty of things that could go wrong, which resulted in this minor error.
The next bit to address is the “Mounted Swordsman,” which may be some evidence of what I said above of a context-less translation causing these minor errors. The word used in Japanese for his title is 駆ける剣士 (kakeru kenshi), which can literally translate to a “galloping swordsman.” This is the title they went with (by making “mounted”, which implies horseback). This may be because those from Sacae were known for horseback (such as Rath and Uhai), and was left at that. However, in context, they would realize that Guy is a unit that is never mounted in any fashion, nor has any interest in it.
So this would mean, more likely, that the meaning was “advancing” (especially toward an enemy), which the word kakeru there can also mean. An “advancing swordsman” in this case would mean “up and coming” which fits his young swordsman personality, too.
Another thing that may be worth noting is Karel’s epilogue in Japanese is also slightly different:
The Man Known as the Sword Saint
Karel, the man who was once the frightening Sword Demon, came to eventually be known as the Sword Saint. What happened to cause this, he will not say.
This is just a literal (not too flowing) translation to get an idea. But as you can see he’s directly referred to as the Sword Saint in the epilogue itself (and not just the title). This was removed from the localization entirely, which may have prompted issues with Guy’s profile as well. I assume this was removed due to Binding Blade not being relevant to audiences in the west, as this was the first Fire Emblem game released overseas.
Yet, it is strange that he “goes by a new name,” since even if the audience lacks access to the sequel Binding Blade, it would do no harm to bestow upon him a title that would serve as an epilogue. So instead we can look at it simply as a matter of space. The epilogue boxes are small, and, seeing as “Saint of Swords” is right there in the title, one can probably figure “Saint of Swords” is that new title he got. So this may be an unrelated issue entirely, but something to consider for confusing Guy’s title too.
With all this, you can see how minor errors and oversights can come together to really cause some confusion for those who are aware of the context when playing the game (which the translators themselves may not be).
A translation error in Guy’s profile made him sound like he became the Sword Saint, causing some confusion with those familiar with Karel in the Binding Blade (and in Blazing Blade’s epilogue as well) being called the Sword Saint too. We see it was actually “rival” or “matching” the Sword Saint, which was meant to imply his great skill, but not the actual title he gained.
Lastly, here is an info graphic that gives a side by side:
I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new! What are your thoughts on the matter?
I’ve been covering a lot of translation changes between Japanese and English Fire Emblem games, as you can see from all my posts on Fates and the like! Feel free to send in any requests you may have in the comments below or via email found under contact!
Note: This post was originally written on Jun 16, 2016. It was updated May 22, 2018 for terminology and grammar.
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I saw what you’ve written here, and I will have to say…
…Thank goodness to you for telling the truth behind this.
This confusion had me worried for years, especially since there were so many terrible fanfiction on the web that depict Guy as the Saint of Swords while Karel is still the Sword Demon as opposed to Guy still being a up and coming swordsman who happens to match or rival the Sword Saint himself, a.k.a. Karel.
Now after seeing this blog, I calmed down a bit and felt much better.
I don’t hate Guy or anything but Karel is a favorite character of mine, his development from being a vicious, battle-crazed “Demon” to an enlightened “Saint” is one of the best things to happen in FE7 and FE6. He’s also been helpful in battle during the later chapters.
My main reason for writing it is because it caused a lot of confusion. I’m really happy it’s served to clear up some misconceptions caused by the translation error! I’m glad it made you happy. Karel is definitely a deep character that follows that story of sword demon to sword saint which we see in other Japanese media such as Rurouni Kenshin. It’s a nice story I think!
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