FE9/10: Tellius Games Localization: The Black Knight’s Fate at Nados [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 death quote from Schaeffer, a level boss in Path of Radiance.

Today’s post however concerns an exchange from the middle of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, but concerns late game events in Path of Radiance as well.

As such, I’m putting in a spoiler warning for those who have yet to play this game! I kept the title vague as a result, but please be wary of spoilers from here on out.

 


 

In celebration of the Black Knight’s appearance in Fire Emblem Heroes, I take a look at one major change known to some fans that happened in Radiant Dawn. It revolves around a conversation Ike and the Black Knight have in Chapter 3-7 (Rivals Collide). The localization had made a major change (often cited as for the better), so let’s take a look at what that change was.

(It’s also hard to find it side by side, which is why I want to make this post for reference).

The following conversation happens when Ike encounters the Black Knight directly for the first time since their final fight in Path of Radiance, where he was thought to have died at Nados Castle. It is an optional conversation, but necessary for the “best ending” requirements.

 

Original Japanese: Translation: Official Localization:
Ike: やはり生きていたんだな

Black Knight: あの程度の技で私を仕留めた気でいたのか?

Ike: どういう意味だ!?

Black Knight: 教えておいてやろう。貴様の父ガウェインと戦っていた時と貴様自身と戦っていた時の私は同じではなかったと

Ike: 別人だったというのか?

Black Knight:そういう訳ではない。 ただ空間を移動する関係で精神と鎧だけを飛ばすのと生身の身体ごと飛ぶのでは戦闘力に差異がでる。

Ike: いまはどっちなんだ?

Black Knight: 生身すなわち、 ナドゥスで対峙した時とは違うさらにもう1つ、 朗報だ。我が鎧の加護はあの戦いを終えたあと失われた。

Ike:なら、特別な武器でなくともダメージを与えられるということか。こちらに好都合なことにな。  あれから3年―― 俺も あの時とは違っている。  行くぞ !!

Ike: So it’s true. You’re still alive.

BK: Did you really think you could bring me down with such pathetic skills?

Ike: Explain yourself!

BK: I shall. The “me” who fought your father, Gawain, and the “me” who fought you are not the same ones.

Ike: Wait, what?! Are you saying you’re somebody else?!

BK: Not necessarily. As it was, my power to warp sent only my spirit and armor while my physical body stayed behind. This caused a great disparity in my true fighting ability.

Ike: So which one are you now, then?

BK: Flesh and blood. That is, different than the one you fought at Nados. I have more good news for you, too. The divine protection on my armor faded after our last battle.

Ike: Meaning you can be harmed by regular weapons now, too? How fortunate. You’ll find that I too am a different man than the one you faced three years ago. Let’s go!

Ike: So, you are alive. Somehow, I knew it wasn’t over yet.

Black Knight: Of course it wasn’t over. You were a boy trying to live up to the memory of the greatest swordsman in history.

Ike: And yet, I was the one who walked out of the castle that day.

Black Knight: You have your father to thank for that. When you told me that he had crippled himself, I realized that I had never fought him at all, merely his shadow.

Ike: What are you getting at?

Black Knight: I saw immediately that you were not your father’s equal, but that one day you might be. So I did the only thing I could to keep you alive… I let you win.

Ike: …You did, didn’t you? I’ve relived that fight so many times… How could I not have seen it before?

Black Knight: You were not yet capable of seeing it. But I had to let you live, so that you could continue to train and perhaps one day be worthy of Gawain’s legacy. My armor’s blessing is gone; let us see if that day is today.

Ike: I promise you that it will be. Begin.

As you can see, that is quite the difference! So the original Japanese is a bit of a mess in terms of writing. While there was precedence for how warp powder does cause him to feel fatigued, there wasn’t really any mention of soul/body transfer issues as seen above (this is still pending more research, but not as far as I saw). Either way, it is a little out of nowhere as a reason for how he survived. It’s not a particularly bad reason, but compared to a lot of events in the game it is rather out of nowhere.

Though, Lekain showing off the warp staff’s superiority to powder may have been a hint at it lacking these side effects.

Either way, seeing this, the localization took things into their own hands. They completely changed up the dialogue with no real precedence, and made it that the Black Knight lost the battle on purpose. They were incredibly fortunate in how this was done, too. For one, in Path of Radiance, Ike did say the following against the Black Knight at Nados Castle:

Black Knight: What an odd fate. This will be the third time I have defeated you. The first was in the forest of Gallia. The second at Delbray in Crimea.

Ike: We’ve met twice, and I’ve lost twice. But the third time will be different.

Black Knight: Oh?

Ike: My sword-fighting skills were given to me by my father. If I stay true to them, I cannot lose.

Black Knight: Did you never think that using your father’s techniques on the man who killed him would be futile?

Ike: My father robbed himself of using his stronger arm. If he had, he would not have lost to the likes of you.

Black Knight: Hah… You think so? Let us test your stronger arm then. Come, son of Gawain… Show me your strength.

The Japanese script in Path of Radiance too is pretty much the above. The important part is that Ike did tell him that Gawain had crippled himself and was not fighting with his true strength.

The localization, with this in mind, changed this conversation to fit the Black Knight’s overall narrative in Radiant Dawn. In this game, he seeks to fight Gawain at his full potential, realizing that he had never truly surpassed him after learning of this. It seamlessly fit into the overall narrative of the Black Knight’s character, and so went by without any real question from fans who were unaware of the original Japanese –a sign of great localization.

So he lost the battle on purpose, and here he is. It makes sense too, how he could just warp out of the castle to survive it last minute with the scars remaining on his armor.

The Japanese version has the issue of how he may have retrieved his armor if only his “armor and spirit” had warped. Did he retrieve it in Crimea later on (as Zelgius perhaps)? It has to be the same set as he has the scars from Ike’s sword on it, for instance. Is his warp malfunction occasional? Or all the time? We see him warp a few times, his body didn’t stay behind in any of these instances, unless that was his armor/soul returning to his body? There are so many issues with that when you think about it.

So this is a case where localization may have actually led to much better writing and consistency at the core of the game (rather than general tonal writing). One can only speculate, but perhaps someone in localization also felt a little off by the soul/armor warp excuse and felt it was an opportunity to make it more consistent to the overall narrative of the game. The situation was perfect for it: There was previous mention of Gawain’s crippling, and nothing after this conversation would directly reference the warp powder malfunction. As a result they were able to change it quite flawlessly.

Both sides do not really say why his armor is no longer blessed, however. But that is a different issue entirely. (Perhaps due to Ragnell striking it?)

One final question we will never get an answer to is whether localization contacted the original staff about this change. They are often in communication with each other (especially for simultaneous releases, though that is more of a recent trend rather than back where FE games took several months to come out in English), so one can only wonder if they had consulted them on this change, or if it was entirely the localization’s decision (that the home office still may not even know about).

If they had no consultation with the writing staff and it was their own decision, then it brings up how far localization should go in changing things. Beyond making it “better” or “worse,” it’s a simple question of whether they should change something to make what they see as “better/consistent” writing at the expense of the original intent, or whether they should take a liberty as what they see as a better fit but not really true to the core material. It is indeed a hard question, but one that is nice to think about. Many (including myself) enjoy the results, but at the same time can’t help but ponder on how the Japanese ended up with a completely different experience/knowledge of how the Black Knight survived Nados Castle.

The Black Knight’s fate at Nados isn’t the only change localization made. There are other things regarding the Blood Contract and such that I hope to make posts later on about.

In short:

In Japanese, the Black Knight had what seems to have been a warp powder malfunction that only sent his spirit and his blessed armor to fight Ike at Nados. It’s a little out of nowhere. In English, the Black Knight had let Ike win after learning of how he only fought a shadow of Gawain, and wished to face his style in its prime. This fits with the overall narrative of the Black Knight’s goals too, and the change comes of little consequence as later dialogue does not really reference this warp issue at all. A case where localization helped the core writing of the game (rather than just general tonal writing). It may bring up the question of how much localization should change something to what they (and many) may deem as “better,” however. The game is known to have had some changes between the languages. This is one example of many.

References:

Infographic summary:

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!

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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6 thoughts on “FE9/10: Tellius Games Localization: The Black Knight’s Fate at Nados [JPN vs ENG]

  1. Wow, that’s a huge change! I have the firm belief that localization should impart the original meaning of a game to the intended audience. After reading this though, I’m not so sure.

    I think it ultimately depends on who’s handling the localization. We have instances of great localization, like this scene, that add tremendously to a narrative, but then we get other instances like Fates where characters are interpreted completely differently between regions.

    • Thanks for the insightful comment. : )

      That is the difficult question indeed, that it may come down to the circumstance involved. Both Fates and this game were done by Nintendo’s in house staff, but the years apart means the specific staff involved probably differed. You can see back then they did not have as much emphasis on silliness through “internet humor” and more just toward…well things like “eat rock.” xD

  2. Pingback: Pokemon: X/Y “Hey! Listen!” [JPN vs ENG] | kantopia

  3. That is quite the interesting change. Rare instance that I like the localized version. The whole mechanics of warp powder makes the whole thing confusing and weird. XD
    Thanks for the translation~

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