This post is part of a series on reader requested (and personal curiosity) comparisons between various games’ Japanese and English scripts. Last time, I looked at the “mustard of your doom” line from Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga.
Today’s post however concerns an exchange from very late in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.
As such, I’m putting in a spoiler warning for those who have yet to play this game! While I present this post in a spoiler free way, characters may be considered “walking spoilers” (it’s why no screen shot is provided).
So today we look at a line I’ve always been curious about myself, and one that some readers wanted to see too: That is, Sanaki’s “drowning in a pool of rancid butter” punishment she “decrees” to Sephiran.
Let’s take a look!
Not too much context is needed. But the conversation only under certain conditions that must be met throughout a second (plus) play through of the game, and occurs on the very final chapter. When Sanaki confronts Sephiran again after all else is done and revealed, the following exchange takes place:
|Original Japanese||Literal w/ Flow Translation||Official Localization|
|Sanaki: よく戻ったな、 セフェラン。
Sephiran: サナキ様、 私は …
Sanaki: もう、 勝手なことは許さんぞ。
Sanaki: そなたは、 私の臣下じゃ。 主を残して死ぬことなど …決して 許さんからな。
Sephiran: はい …
Sanaki: ん。 それでいい。
|Sanaki: So you’ve come, Sephiran.
Sephiran: Lady Sanaki, I am…
Sanaki: … so selfish! Selfish beyond forgiveness!
Sanaki: You are my subordinate. Yet you were going to leave your master to die! You’ll never ever ever be forgiven for that. Ever. So there.
Sephiran: Oh, dear…
Sanaki: Good, good. Regret more. Just like that.
|Sanaki: You finally made it, Sephiran.
Sephiran: Sanaki, I…
Sanaki: I was starting to wonder how I would punish you.
Sephiran: I’m sorry?
Sanaki: You are my subordinate, after all. I have decided that leaving one’s empress to die is punishable by drowning in a pool of rancid butter.
Sephiran: Of course it is, my empress.
Sanaki: I hope you’re a strong swimmer.
In Japanese, Sanaki continues to speak in her unique tone (of being superior), yet with a childish tinge to it. The awkward replies from Sephiran and her final line (which equates to “that’s all” but also “that’s good”) would be hard to portray concisely. You can see how long the “lit/flow” category above had to make it in order to get the feeling across. I had to write both “Good” (to the fact he understands), but also “Regret more, just like that” to express the “that” (which refers to his “regret”) being good. It’s amazing how much thought has to be put into a single line, huh?
One can see that in all three conversations, Sephiran gets an understanding that “this is Sanaki being Sanaki, and all is well.” There is a mutual bond and understanding between them that she does forgive him, in her own strange way. In Japanese, it’s like a more childish style of a condescending daughter toward a father who made a mistake. So using repetition generally associated with children (“never ever ever”) and taking delight in his regret made that immaturity come across well.
Yet as an empress, and the fact she is rather mature for her age in other ways, I like how the localization went about handling it instead. Rather than make her express a childish sentiment in words, she expresses it in concept. She maintains her formal and mature tone, yet the farther the conversation goes on, the more of a joke it becomes. This keeps the intent of it not really being a serious punishment/reprimanding toward Sephiran. Her idea of a punishment still expresses that childish side of her, but also emphasizes she still is the empress with the power to make such (a silly) idea a reality if she really wanted to. Despite all he had done, she can still get away with making such lighthearted remarks.
Sephiran of course understands this and replies with an acknowledgement of such, with the subtle hint to the reader being that he has understood that she has forgiven him in her own odd way. Her follow up “strong swimmer line” is just a perfect top off to that short and sweet conversation that goes on between them.
It’s an example of great localization as a result. The intent comes through in a nice way. There is nothing out of character here for the sake of maintaining meaning. They manage to pull it off while keeping the characters as they already are. It makes it a believable conversation between the two without having to “punch up” any aspect for the sake of humor while emphasizing their deep bond and relationship.
Despite the seriousness of the situation on the level this conversation takes place, the two manage to reach an understanding in a strange, but subtle (and humorous) way in both languages.
Though the “rancid butter” (and punishment) is a creation of the localization, it wonderfully expresses the subtle bond the two share. The Japanese side emphasizes her childish attitude toward forgiving him and loving his regret (but of course not actually meaning any harm). The English side keeps her regal nature but childish side through the very concept of the punishment (which she likely won’t, but can enforce) rather than the words she uses. It’s an example of great localization that made for a memorable line and moment from the game.
Super Literal Translation:
Here is a super literal translation of the Japanese dialogue to give you an idea of the meaning/form. Note this is by no means how it comes off to people who read Japanese, and (I would hope) no translator would ever translate it this way. It is purely for meaning reference. So, please do not use this as an example of “what an (official) literal translation would be like.”
Sanaki: You’ve come, Sephiran.
Sephiran: Lady Sanaki, I…
Sanaki: Hmph, I won’t forgive you for being so selfish…
Sanaki: I mean you’re my subordinate. Yet you were going to leave your master to die and such. …so you’ll absolutely not be forgiven.
Sanaki: Good, that’s good [that’s all.]
Below is an isolated table with direct comparison for reference, and a shareable infographic is at the end of this post.
So what do you think of the above dialogue? How would you have went about localizing it?
I will continue to look at fun differences between games. Any dialogue you’re interested in? Let me know in comments or via email!
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