Project Octopath Traveler: How is Helgenish in Japanese? [JPN vs ENG]

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 a scene from late in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.

Today’s post comes from the coming game Project Octopath Traveler for Nintendo Switch. The game demo was released recently, and I was playing through it when I came across a scene I wanted to check.

The scene in question is at the start of Primrose’s path where she has to deal with the rather sleazy manager Helgenish. Considering some of the things he says, I wanted to see both versions.

So let’s take a look!

The only context needed is that Primrose is apparently a dancer in Helgenish’s servitude, as well as his favorite of the girls.

Japanese Translation Localization
Helgenish: ぐずぐずするな! 客が待ちくたびれてるぞ 前座ども行った、行ったたっぷりと稼いで来い!!・・・出来の悪い猫どもめプリムロゼ、お前だけだ儂が頼りにしとるのは Helgenish: Quit dilly-dallying! The customers are gonna get tired of waiting! The opening act is starting, so get out there and earn your keep! …Those useless cats. You’re the only reliable one that I can count on, Primrose. Helgenish: Do I keep you women to titter here in the shadows? My customers are waiting for their entertainment! The opening act should be on that stage already. Now, get out there and earn your keep! What a bunch of useless strays… But not you, Primrose… You are the only one I can rely on.
Primrose: 身に余るお言葉ですわ支配人様 Primrose: That’s more praise than I deserve, Mr. Manager Sir. Primrose: You flatter me… Master.
Helgenish:お前が舞台に立ってるからこの酒場は大きくなった だが、勘違いするなよ 誰のお陰かわかってるな? Helgenish: Ever since you appeared on stage, this tavern of mine has grown considerably. But don’t misunderstand me. You know who got you this far, right? Helgenish: Oh, hardly. Why, this tavern’s custom has increased tenfold since you stepped on our stage! But do not go forgetting yourself. It was I who groomed you for this role.
Primrose: はい、感謝しています Primrose: Yes. I am forever thankful. Primrose: And I will forever be grateful for that, Master.
Helgenish:無知な小娘に儂が一から教えてやったんだ Helgenish: You were just a stupid little girl. I taught you everything you know. Helgenish: You were an ignorant girl when I picked you up. Completely useless. I’ve taught you everything you know.
Primrose: ・・・・・・ Primrose: … Primrose: …
Helgenish: *SLAP* ・・愛想笑いは、どうした?誰のお陰でいい暮らしができてると思ってる? いっぱしの踊子になるまで育ててやったのは・・・この儂だ いいか、恩を忘れるなよ? Helgenish: *Slap* What’s with that fake smile, huh? Did you forget who enabled you to live such a good life? Be grateful I raised you to be the wonderful dancer you are today! Helgenish: *Slaps* What happened to your sweet little smile? Who puts a roof over your head, and food on your plate? Who bought the jewels that adorn your pretty neck? Who made you the most sought-after dancer in this dusty old town? It was me –all me. You owe me, kitten. And I’ll see that debt repaid.
Primrose: ・・・・・・・・・はい、支配人様 Primrose: … Yes, Mr.Manager Sir. Primrose: … Yes, Master…
Helgenish: ふふ、それでいい・・・・・・儂は素直な猫が好きだ 舞台が終わったら いつものように儂の部屋においで やさしく、なでてやろう・・・ Helgenish: Heh heh, good. I like an obedient cat. When the performance ends, I’ll be waiting in my room to pet you ever so gently –just like always~ Helgenish: Good then. Purr sweetly and I may give you a treat. Don’t dally when you’re done with your show. I will be waiting in my chamber. I’ll have you purr for me some more.

A quick note, in Japanese Primrose calls him (literally) “Sir Manager.” It is really redundant in English so “Master” was a good choice (goes well with the slave/cat style treatment too).

I didn’t really decorate the “literal” translation as much as I normally do this time simply to show it’s differences with the localization. As you can see, the gist of it is the same, meaning the localization changed little to no meaning. That means to show the things that did change, we have to gaze at nuance, which requires an awkward literal translation in some places.

You can see in the localization that Helgenish is a generally terrible person, built up to be the typical sleazy harem-owning type of guy. He is the same in Japanese, talking in a very masculine, dominating, and rough way.

In both you can see he refers to them as cats/kittens throughout the dialogue. He of course slaps Primrose in both, and invites her to his room after the stage, too.

A particular detail I liked that the localization did was emphasize his self centered-ness. In Japanese he uses the pronoun “washi” to refer to himself, which is basically a very snobby way of going about it in this context. You can see how in English he says “it was I” for instance in its place.

The differences come from a few small things. For one, in Japanese, she seems to have a forced smile on her after the line previously, where as in English the smile faded away. (Japanese he asks why she’s putting on a fake smile, in English he asks “what happened to the smile?”) That can still imply her usual smile became a fake one, it’s unclear! Either way results in her getting slapped.

After the slap, his English dialogue is much more colorful than the straightforward Japanese one. It’s a good way to emphasize just how much control this man has over her and wants her to be sure she knows it. In general, he talks more in English and has much more “colorful” dialogue, as is often the case in localization! Traits that are expressed with just a few inflections in Japanese often have to be emphasized in different ways for an English audience to get the same feeling a Japanese reader might. This often results in “punching up,” a term you may see me use a lot through these posts.

Lastly, the line in question regarding meeting him after the show. So, in English, he will “have her purr for him some more.” That can be taken in many different ways. In Japanese, he says “I’ll pet you (specifically word for an animal).” That can also be taken in many ways, but it is interesting that the Japanese focuses on the action (of petting) and the English on the result (purring). Both ways are reducing her to the level of an animal.

One notable difference however is in Japanese, he says “just like always,” implying this is a very much recurring thing he does with her. In English, it could be taken as the first time, or one of many times. It’s not as explicitly stated. So that was one interesting difference. Regardless, one time is sure to still be horrible enough considering his general treatment of Primrose and the other girls.

In short:

Helgenish is exactly the same. The localization conveys his cruelty and character rather well. The usual “punch-ups” to dialogue are to help emphasize character traits that are obvious to the Japanese readers through inflections and general tone that are hard to translate into English directly. As a result, he speaks a lot more in English. The only changes come from small nuances. Notable examples include getting slapped for a forced smile rather than her smile fading, as well as how her “post-show visit” would be “just like always” in Japanese, rather than the more vague one in English (in terms of how many times this happens). Both have the equal amount of innuendo, however.


Infographic summary:

Below is a shareable infographic.

So what do you think of the above dialogue? Would you have done anything differently to emphasize those small nuances? Let me know below!

I will continue to look at fun differences between games. Any dialogue you’re interested in? Let me know in comments or via email.

If you like the comparison work I do (or any other translations I do), please feel free to support me by donating! I do this all on my valuable free time, and so every little donation really helps me out. : )

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10 thoughts on “Project Octopath Traveler: How is Helgenish in Japanese? [JPN vs ENG]

  1. So it’s relatively safe to buy western version. It’s a shame that we can not switch to Japanese text though …
    Thanks for comparison.

    • I think you can switch from the console itself, rather than in game. This is from the demo though rather than the final product, so I’m not sure if you can in the final product or not. : )

  2. Pingback: FE9: Path of Radiance Localization: Schaeffer’s Death Quote [JPN vs ENG] | kantopia

  3. I saw the trailer for this, didn’t know the demo was out already (don’t have a switch though, so doesn’t make much of a difference) Well, once/if I ever get a Switch, this is definitely on my list of games to get.

    • Yes, the demo came out a few days ago. It’s been okay, I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to play the full thing but certainly looks interesting.

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