Breath of the Wild: How do those sand seal puns work in Japanese? [JPN vs ENG]

Screen shot from here.

This is part of a series of comparing the Japanese and English versions of the game. Read more about that here! And feel free to leave a request or curiosity on the comments here or on that page.

The section question regarding Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild comes from personal curiosity.

So in the Gerudo Town in the game, there is a woman who sells sand seals. She makes quite a few puns (as seen on the image at the top of the page), and so I’m sure many were curious at what that may have been in Japanese.

So let’s take a look!

Original Japanese Literal Translation Official Localization
ヴァーサーク ザラシ!公大なグルド砂漠を渡るならスナザラシは必須ザラシよ!一乗りたったの20ルピー!盾がないなら50ルピー!どう?乗ってかないザラシ

<Options>
スナザラシって何ザラシ
借りるザラシ
乗り方教えザラシ
借りないザラシ

Vasaaq Seal! If you plan to traverse the great Gerudo Desert, you’ll need a sand seal! Seal! It cost’s 20 rupees to ride! 50 rupees if you have no shield! Well? Want to ride, seal?

<Options>
What’s a sand seal, seal?
I want to borrow, seal!
Teach me how to ride, seal!
No need, seal!

Vasaaq! If you are hoping to cross the vast Gerudo Desert, a sand seal is a must! It’d be sealy not to have one! It’s only 20 rupees to rent one! Need a shield, too? Just pay 50 rupees! What do you say?

<Options>
Sand seal? Sealiously?
Let’s seal the deal!
How do I set seal?
Seal you later!

So this is a thing you see often in Japanese media. The literal translation appears incredibly lame and makes little sense, and this is often why localization opts to utilize puns instead to convey a meaning as there is no exact equivalent in English.

In Japanese, seals are generally あざらし (azarashi), and sand seals are hence スナザラシ (sunazarashi, suna meaning “sand.”)

So what the woman does is end most of her sentences with “zarashi.” I bolded every instance on the table above so you can see how often the characters ザラシ (seal) appear. The blue highlight is to show the actual time she’s referring to the sand seal itself, rather than just saying “seal” over and over again.

This kind of repetition is just a silly way of emphasizing things in Japanese as a character quirk. A character who comes to mind immediately who does this (though I don’t recall if the localization opted for puns) is Taupy/Toppy in Sands of Destruction. He has a tendency to end all of his sentences with the word kuma (which means bear). It serves the same emphasis as a silly quirk a character has.

“Gotta go kuma!”

Another that comes to mind is Zero III from Virtue’s Last Reward (of the Zero Escape series). They make all sorts of rabbit based puns in English. And, as expected, in Japanese they are actually just ending their lines with usa (short for usagi, or “rabbit,” in Japanese).

“Usa usa usa!”

These are just two examples that come to mind immediately. It’s more common than you may think! Especially among anthropomorphic characters in Japanese media.

In this case with the Gerudo, it’s likely because she’s a saleswoman that she’s imitating this kind of structure as her sales quirk. Thanks to the above two examples, the moment I saw these puns in English, I figured this may be the case. Seems like I was right!

Oddly, the Gorons retain the tic of saying goro. However this may be because they are not exactly human, nor is there any actual existing animal equivalent to what they say…

Interestingly, if you select the first option, the repetition continues in Japanese. However, the puns in English stop there. Seems they only decided to be punny for the initial dialogue and options.

Original Japanese Literal Translation Official Localization
スナザラシはグルド砂漠だけにいる 生きものザラシ
砂漠は砂に足をとられて普通に歩くと大変だけどスナザラシをうまく操れば砂漠を早く楽に移動できるザラシグルド族にとってはなくてはならない存在ザラシ
Sand seals are only found in the Gerudo Desert! Living seals! It’s hard to walk around on the sands of the desert, but with a sand seal you can easily traverse the sands, seal!
We Gerudo can’t live without them, seal!
Sand seals are animals native to the Gerudo Desert Gateway.
It’s quite dangerous to cross the desert on foot, but if you have a sand seal,
you’ll breeze right along!
Obviously, sand seals are incredibly important to the Gerudo people.

This is if you select the first option where she talks a bit more about them. You can see from the bolding that the Japanese continued on with the repetition, but the English did not continue with the puns here.

In short:

The Gerudo makes puns in English as there is no exact equivalent to the Japanese “animal name” repetition character quirk. This is more common than one may think too! Next time you see someone making animal puns in Japanese media (especially if they appear to be said animal), you can safely assume the original Japanese featured this structure.


A summary infographic:


This was pretty fun to look into! Have any other examples of characters that use these sorts of puns in English? Any others you know of in Japanese that use that repetition structure? Let me know!

Please feel free to leave any other comments/suggestions below! See you next article!

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5 thoughts on “Breath of the Wild: How do those sand seal puns work in Japanese? [JPN vs ENG]

  1. The person making the puns in the replies is Link himself! She even reacts to this wondering if this is how kids talk these days.

  2. So it’s like in Persona 4 where Teddie used puns in the localized versions, but in the Japanese version he ended most of his sentences in “Kuma”

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