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 Path of Radiance or haven’t made it this far in this game! I kept the title vague as a result, but please be wary of spoilers from here on out.

Now let’s take a look.

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.

Japanese Translation Official Localization
Ike: やはり生きていたんだな Ike: So it’s true. You’re still alive. Ike: So, you are alive. Somehow, I knew it wasn’t over yet.
BK: あの程度の技で私を仕留めた気でいたのか? BK: Did you really think you could bring me down with such pathetic skills? BK: Of course it wasn’t over. You were a boy trying to live up to the memory of the greatest swordsman in history.
Ike: どういう意味だ!? Ike: Explain yourself! Ike: And yet, I was the one who walked out of the castle that day.
BK: 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 BK: I shall. The “me” who fought your father, Gawain, and the “me” who fought you are not the same ones. BK: 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: 別人だったというのか? Ike: Wait, are you saying you’re somebody else?! Ike: What are you getting at?
BK: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。 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. BK: 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: いまはどっちなんだ? Ike: So which one are you now, then? Ike: …You did, didn’t you? I’ve relived that fight so many times… How could I not have seen it before?
BK: 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。 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. BK: 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: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: Meaning you can be harmed by regular weapons now, huh? How fortunate. You’ll find that I too am a different man than the one you faced three years ago. Let’s go! 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 interesting 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 thus far). So it is seemingly 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 does seem to be out of left field.

A few chapters later (in 3-12), Lekain shows off the rewarp staff to Pelleas and mentions its superiority compared to powder. Note that this is presented after the encounter already, though, so wouldn’t really set said precedent. But it is a good check of consistency:

Before this lovely little item, we used that ghastly warp powder. It worked well enough, but would completely exhaust whoever used it. What’s the use of someone traveling anywhere they wish if they’re too exhausted to do anything afterward? It’d take a very strong soldier to withstand the powder’s side effects. The rewarp staff solves that problem.

You can see Lekain only mentions “exhausts” whoever uses it here. This is of course the localization, so perhaps the Japanese said something different?

これより以前は、『転移の粉』なる品もあったが、あれは使用者の体力を奪いすぎる。戦場についたはいいが、立ち上がることもできぬほど疲れているようでは……ものの役にも立ちませんからな。 余程、屈強な戦士でもなくば……

(Super literal): Prior to this, there was “Warp Powder,” but the user would be left deprived of physical strength. If used on the battlefield, it would leave one so exhausted they couldn’t even stand… and thus was useless if you weren’t a top tier warrior.

So, we see even with the body/spirit thing in Japanese before, Lekain simply mentions the same exhaustion here, thus the localization accurately translated this part. It is a little strange that he would not mention it again here, considering it is part of the extended dialogue according to the game scripts, too.

Perhaps it was upon seeing this that the localization took things into their own hands. They completely changed up the dialogue that lacked precedence and made it that the Black Knight lost the battle on purpose. They were incredibly fortunate that the context lent itself well to this change, 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.

We will come back to this point later. The important part is that Ike did tell the Black Knight that Gawain had crippled himself and was not fighting with his true strength.

In Japanese:



Black Knight:…Didn’t you consider it futile to use the same style your father did against the one who defeated him?

Ike: My father…he sealed his dominant arm away! If he hadn’t…he wouldn’t have lost to you…

The Japanese uses the literal word “seal” (as in to seal an envelope). He doesn’t necessarily tell the Black Knight about any sort of self mutilation that may have been involved, but, regardless, he did inform him in both versions that Gawain was holding back or crippled in some fashion.

With this in mind, the localization sought to (and were able to) change 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. That is generally a sign of good localization.

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

Various issues arise in the Japanese version too, as to  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? It gets a little hard to keep track of as to whether they were consistent with this issue or not.

I went back to look at Path of Radiance too for mentions of the warp powder. I came across this scene. Here it is in the localization:

Ashnard: Ha! Don’t tell me it was difficult! I know you! I know you use that arcane powder to travel about at will.

Black Knight: The powder drains my strength. For that reason, I would rather not use it unless absolutely necessary.

Once again he mentions “drains my strength.” What about in Japanese?


(Super literal)… each time I use it, I’m left completely deprived of my physical strength. Unless the situation is dire, I’d prefer not to use it…

Once again, the localization carried it over fine. Another thing to note  is the Black Knight used the exact wording Lekain did in his earlier speech (体力を奪います, lit: “drained of physical strength.”) The point of presenting this is, once again, this was always what the warp powder was shown to do. There was no mention of any possible malfunction with mind and body.

While one may argue that it was a secret that only those who could use the powder effectively could know and thus not disclosed to someone like Ashnard or Lekain, we are focused on the context and dialogue we are given.

So, returning main point: localization may have actually led to much better writing and consistency at the core of the game (rather than general tonal writing). This is of course subjective, by “better writing” here I simply mean in the objective sense of something that has stronger precedence to it. They knew the warp powder was physically exhausting. It was stated as such in Path of Radiance and just a few chapters after this very scene in Radiant Dawn. But the soul/body discrepancy was not.

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 without too much trouble.

Later on, as one nears the end of the game and duels with the Black Knight on Part 4 Endgame 2, Zelgius says the following:

I was entranced by Greil’s swordsmanship while he was in Daein. I studied under him, I fought next to him… I idolized him. When he left, I was crushed. I vowed to find him again, and challenge him to a duel. I had to know if I had surpassed him! Three years ago, I caught up to Greil. I challenged him to a duel, and was victorious. But, something was wrong… The fight had been too simple. I thought I’d never feel satisfaction again. Then, Ike told me why it had been so easy. Greil had severed all the tendons in his right hand, and swore never again to draw a blade. Can you imagine my joy at the news? I knew that a swordsman of his stature couldn’t have been so easy to defeat!

The bold part is the important takeaway to compare. In Japanese:


(Super literal) But my teacher [Greil]…had actually severed his dominant sword arm and sealed his sword [abilities] away. I was made aware of this later…and was overjoyed. It meant I may not have surpassed such a proficient swordsman after all!

You can see “seal” pop up again, but this time “severed” does too! But, the most important take away here is the use of passive voice. He was “made aware” of the fact. The localization, instead, directly credits Ike for this, fitting it back to the scene with “letting him win” since Ike had told him, as presented in the dialogue for Path of Radiance. This goes back to what I said about the dialogue having lent itself well to localization simply out of circumstance. They simply attributed his learning of the matter to Ike, rather than a potential unnamed third party.

One reader suggested that perhaps we are not to take his words literally. After all, he may have meant that the body that “stayed behind” was that his stamina itself staying behind was as if his body stayed. While that is possible, I don’t think the script was really indirect or poetic on such things. So I double checked by looking around the Japanese side of the internet, to which this summary from a Japanese wiki says:


…He [the Black Knight] reveals that [Ike] did not face the real Black Knight himself at Castle Nados in Crimea, but only his spirit and armor which was teleported instead. The discrepancy in fighting strength thus became apparent from the fact he was only fighting his spirit and armor. As a result, it can be said that this means this chapter is the first time Ike and the Black Knight actually fight.

I put the most relevant line in bold, but overall the above shows that it was indeed literally interpreted by the Japanese audience too. While the rest could be a summary of the game, this line alone is not a quote from the game but with the word usage of 本人 (the real man himself), you can see they took the separation literally and not as a product of the warp powder’s stamina draining issue.

Though that last line makes me wonder if that means Ike never actually faced the Black Knight at all. Perhaps he was facing his armor the whole time…? That’s a story for another day! (Of course they may be discounting Ike’s first two attempts as actual fights, which resolves that issue).

The other point would be, if he was speaking figuratively, then localization would have made it clear in their translation as they had been quite faithful with all the other aspects of the Black Knight. It would be odd to make this change if it was something that could be explained rather easily. As such, they, like the Japanese players and myself, likely took it literally too. With these points in mind, the figurative interpretation can be safely put to rest.

On a side note, neither version really says why his armor is no longer blessed, however. But that is a different issue entirely. (Perhaps due to Ragnell striking it? HP below a certain point? Who knows…)

One final question we may never get a clear 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).

We can try to form an educated guess, however. In an interview with some of the localization staff on the previous game, Path of Radiance, featured on Nintendo World Report, localizer Tim O’Leary mentioned something interesting in response to this question:

PGC: What changes, if any, are there between the Japanese and U.S. release of the game? Any plotlines altered, references dropped, etc.? Any improvements over the Japanese version?

Rich: We tried to keep everything we can in the story. It has to do with our relationship with Intelligent Systems and what they’ve intended for the story. We don’t change any of the plot elements, we defend them[1]! If anyone has a desire to change anything we’ll charge the gates with our letter openers!! We care so passionately about these games it isn’t funny. If there are any small references changed, it’s only because it may have been something never before released in America, so very few players would know about it. After all, we’ve only had three games localized so far. We make sure what we get in the Japanese text stays in the English text. All of the references that Intelligent Systems wants to be seen, get seen. Sometimes though, we don’t realize when something is important because we get the files in episodes as the game is still being developed in Japan.[2] So we always ask the development team to give us a break down of the important things: like the Fire Emblem’s role. What is it? What does it do? What is its involvement with the story? That kind of thing. [3]

I put three points of interest in bold.

  1. The first line is an admission of defending plot elements. This article is focused on how one was somewhat changed quite drastically, but shows there may have been something else going on we may not know about that demanded it. Perhaps the Japanese staff wanted to make an amendment? Keep in mind this interview is for Path of Radiance and not Radiant Dawn, so perhaps, in defending said plot elements, the localization changed it to indeed protect FE9’s plot consistency, rather than change FE10’s, if that makes sense.
  2. The second line is another thing worth noting. It shows they were getting the text (of FE9) during its development in chunks concurrently, rather than after the fact. Therefore, they were indeed translating with less context than the writers would be aware of. I stress the importance of context in many of my other articles, too, and how important it is for any translator to have the full context. I assume this means they did the best they could with what they were given. However, again, the above is for FE9. Running on the assumption that perhaps they were given FE10’s dialogue in chunks too, they may have approached it with the isolated contexts they were given.
  3. This last line establishes the fact that they do ask for the most important things in advance, such as the Fire Emblem and its role. Notable to this post may be that they were aware of the Black Knight, his overall motives, intentions, and character well in advance of this chunk of dialogue. Thus they were able to, in advance, change his dialogue for consistency.

Again, this is in the realm of intense speculation going off what we know. And, the above interview is for Path of Radiance, not Radiant Dawn. But it’s all we have.

The above begs the question as to whether this was a change they consulted with the original staff on or not. Tim O’Leary and Rich Amtower seem quite passionate about the project and preserving the original flavor and meanings indeed. I want to quote something from earlier in the interview. On the subject of name changes that occur, Rich states:

Rich: We’ve been given a lot of… let’s say “faith” from Intelligent Systems. They really care about how the game is received in America and want the absolute best possible reception.

This was on the subject of names in previous entries and Path of Radiance. But, the important takeaway is said “faith” to “want the absolute best possible reception” in America. It is this line that makes me wonder if this was a decision purely on the localization end to help solidify consistency that they perceived a western audience potentially being less willing to accept? Perhaps not all their decisions have to go through the original staff thanks to said “faith” in the matter.

If they indeed 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 and often debated.

Regardless, many enjoyed the results. There was no real question as to whether it was an accurate translation upon reading, and indeed it was those who only experienced the Japanese version who could spot this inconsistency.

The Japanese players ended up with a completely different experience/knowledge of how the Black Knight survived Nados Castle which would sound ridiculous to a western fan and vice versa, as a result.

Let it be known that the Black Knight’s fate at Nados isn’t the only change localization made to this game. There are other things regarding the Blood Contract and such that I hope to make posts later on about. As well as the whole extended script (a still ongoing project that I am compiling in the background).

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, a malfunction that is without any apparent precedent. 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. It’s a case where localization may have helped the core writing of the game (rather than just general tonal writing), perhaps using their faith from Intelligent Systems as well as their urge to preserve FE9 lore. It may bring up the question of how much localization should change something to what they may deem as “better,” however, deviating from original intent. A question of ethics in localization.

But that is not what this article is about, it is about what changed and how it may have changed. The game is known to have had other changes between the languages, too. This is just one example of many.


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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Note: This post was originally written September 2017. I updated it with more tidbits from the interview as well as lore from Path of Radiance regarding warp powder to help it be more in depth on May 23rd 2018.


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

  1. Here is the exact line in question (from Soren):

    Like the Black Knight, he always wears his armor and never shows his face unhelmed. Some say he’s not even in his armor, but that it’s inhabited by an ancient spectre or a demonic creature. It’s all just superstition and rumor designed to heighten fear of the man.

    …Okay I just realized he was actually saying that Bertram is rumored to be a ghost or demon, not the Black Knight. And I though they had planned ahead for this..!
    I am not too proud of the scriptwriters of either script rn (still not buying that the Black Knight lived with the placement of the scars in the armor)

  2. I don’t remember all these little details about warp powder being in this article before… did you add them later or did I just forget how to read?
    It’s weird since it looks like they hadn’t mentioned that warp powder leaves your body behind before.
    But, there is a part in Path of Radiance where they mention a rumor that the Black Knight is just a ghost possessing armor (or something to that effect)…
    –which I found the mention of! (In the English script anyway): https://serenesforest.net/wiki/index.php/Chapter_26:_Clash!_(Script)
    So that’s why I thought “maybe that’s just how warp powder works”. But if they didn’t mention it when they were talking about warp powder’s drawbacks, then maybe it was a malfunction… but they didn’t say that warp powder was prone to such malfunctions either!
    Whatever, Radiant Dawn is a mess anyway. My opinion is still “if they wanted to bring the Black Knight back so badly then they should have made it canon that Ike failed to defeat him the first time.” that certainly would have avoided this issue and others. And they shouldn’t have gotten rid of Ike’s emotions in the localization. :/

    • Hi there again! Yes, if you see the bottom of the post, you’ll see that I updated the article to be more in-depth in May 2018 : ) As for that rumor, they were actually talking about Betram. With the “like the BLack Knight” they just meant he wears armor head to toe like him, but not that he’s rumored to be a ghost like him. (Oh wait I see you realized that on your second post too!)

      No worries : ) Thanks for the input!

  3. Pingback: FE10 Radiant Dawn Localization: What did Mia say in the “Execution” Cutscene? [JPN vs ENG] | kantopia

  4. Pingback: FE10: Radiant Dawn Localization: “Ike… father of Sothe’s children” [JPN vs ENG] | kantopia

  5. Amazing article. I think the table would look better, and be easier to follow, if you kept Ike’s and the Black Knight’s dialogue on the same level/spacing across all versions. With what you have, the localization’s extra text means that, spacing wise, it’s more difficult for the eye to compare to the original Japanese and your faithful translation.

    To throw my own two cents into the debate my answer is: yes. Translation is an art, not a science. Ask for a literal translation from 10 different translators and you will get 10 different translations. Personally, I would rather have a creative translation that fails, a la Fates, then something that dogmatically sticks to the original.

    Now, it’s always great to be in contact with the original writer, that’s a no brainer. However, that brings up a different frame of reference to this debate.

    From the perspective of the original writer, you’re hiring someone to translate the text you wrote with the intended audience that speaks your language into a different language. You are trusting this person/people to make your script suitable for their audience.

    At this point, what does it matter to you what changes they make? Their job already is to alter the text to be suitable for a different audience. Any change, no matter how small, will have a profound impact on characerization, as Explanation Point’s Sub vs Dub series goes into great detail to show.

    In summary, my position is, from the perspective of the original writer, you’re already hiring other people to make changes to your script so it can suit a different audience. By definition, they’re already altering what you wrote. Let the people you hired do their job.

    • So WordPress has this terrible table formatting which puts spacing out of my control… xD So what you see above is unfortunately the best it can do (for free, anyway). You can see on the infographic summary that the spacing is a bit better (but even then still not perfectly aligned).

      Moving on, thank you for taking the time to share your viewpoint on the matter. : ) I think more than the characterization for this particular instance, it’s a matter of whether they should alter what may be deemed as a lore inconsistency/”cop out” to one they see as making more sense, even if it wasn’t the original intention. Indeed, characterization may just be an inevitability of the language, but I think world-building or lore may be a slightly different question.

      Of course, what you said may still apply to other people in this instance too, but may be an interesting point to ponder!

      • Eh? You’re still replying to comments on this post? I couldn’t help but notice you haven’t said anything about my comments… I’m sorry I got so heated. It seems like my view on a translator’s job is different from others. If I hired a translator I would be trusting them NOT to change my work, and to make a change like this… is something I would see as a betrayal of my trust (and my money lol), especially since it has nothing to do with cultural or lingual differences. Even if you don’t want to remark on what I said about the change, I still think my ideas about the nature of warp powder are worth considering, and I would have liked to hear a “yes” or a “no” on my request about the use of the word “Branded”/its equivalent in the original script (I guess I could have been clearer about it being a request, though >.<)

        • Oh don’t worry, it wasn’t anything about your post that was offensive or anything! It’s more I’m trying to formulate a more proper reply to it rather than these quick fire on the spot replies xD Since it was a nice and lengthy post on your end so wouldn’t want to shrug it off with a short comment!

      • If nothing else, I would like to point out that in your graphic, you said that it was a “warp powder malfunction”, whereas in the actual script, it is not implied anywhere that the warp powder was malfunctioning, and in fact, when you think about it, it makes sense for that to be exactly how warp powder works–the rumors of there only being a ghost in the armor, the issue of how he could be a major general of two different countries at once (just by sending his spirit, along with the armor and sword, which are probably only affected because they’re blessed/enchanted, to meet with Ashnard), the fact that a warp staff is “improved” compared to the powder (because it sends the entire person and their gear). You said that “he could have just warped out at the last minute” but the thing is, his armor has a big gaping hole in the chest, and he doesn’t spontaneously disappear upon running out HP, meaning he got a sword through his heart and lived… so his body couldn’t have been there. You say that “we see him warping from place to place and his body isn’t left behind” but when he isn’t acting as Zelgius he’s always in his armor so he’s probably already left his body behind in Begnion. Too often people mistake plotholes with “things that make perfect sense if you just think about them a little bit”, and I think this is one of those cases. So I think that to say “his warp powder malfunctioned” is… untrue… but people are going to think it’s true because a translator is saying it.

      • Maybe you can try making that table in Word or Excel (or the google versions of them); saving them as a picture; then inserting it into wordpress. Loopholes!

        Well, if you really wanna seperate characterization changes from more drastic changes, let’s dive right in then. To me, the bigger the change, the more important it is to check if the change is ok with the creator. Your change could result in creating plot holes and inconsistencies later on.

        Take the Phoenix Wright games, for example. These games get excellent localizations overall. However, the localizers decided to change the location in-universe from Japan to America in order to make the game connect with the American audience.

        Though this leaves the audience wondering “where’s the jury?” because PW is a parody of Japan’s legal system, and they don’t have juries.

        Tangent aside, this created problems when the series started to introduce Japanese cultural elements into the series. The localization team doesn’t have the time and resources to create suitable replacements. Thus, in-between games, the series went from taking place in California to Japan without warning.

        • That’s where those infographics come from! Though the screen shot method is difficult for text size and a few other things, but I understand and will consider it (It’s why a lot of the recent shorter posts use a top down method instead).

          Oh did the series end up back in Japan? Here I thought they just quietly leave the references vague and someone can just figure it’s in some Chinatown-esque area. xD

          Indeed, so the mystery is whether they consulted the Japanese side about it for this case. I assume they probably did though, as it was an in house team rather than a third party. But we won’t know for sure…

          • Well, ideally, the localization process can happen while the game is still in development. That way it’s easier for the localization team to request changes to assets for stuff like converting text in images and replacing culture-specific objects with appropriate replacements, etc.

            It’s more expensive to do this after the original development team has finished the game for a variety of reasons. First, the localization team often doesn’t get a lot of resources. Final Fantasy VIII’s localization team had to use a Gameshark to hack the game and make the required changes. Second, the original dev team has probably moved on to another project, so making the required changes is a bit of a hassle.

            Nintendo is pioneering the localization process by integrating it with the game’s development. We see this with Pokemon getting simultaneous releases, and they did it with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The results of which we shall see in December. Oh! Speaking of Xenoblade Chronicles. God that localization was amazing. Just… perfect.

            • Indeed, I’m aware that localization that happens during development has better access to resources and communication, and hence is more ideal. I’ve observed that Nintendo (publicly) mentions that their games these days are often done this way, as you stated with Pokemon (X/Y having had that wonderful worldwide release).

              However, I was keeping Radiant Dawn’s timing (ten years ago) in mind and whether it was still the case. FE games up until FE Echoes had the infamous 6+ month localization time between the Japanese and western releases, which generally is a sign of localization being done mostly after the fact. So that is why there is still some uncertainty on that aspect for this specific game. : )

              • If by ‘better access to resources and communication’ you’re referring to fans like you and me compared to the professionals hired by Nintendo, I agree. However, the point I was trying to convey is that, even with that, the translation process is far from ideal. Too many translators are still using Excel spreadsheets. Nintendo is also the only major publisher I’m aware of that is integrating the localization like this; they are the exception, not the rule.

                Speaking of Radiant Dawn’s age, I think it’s also important to keep in mind that it released in a time where fans couldn’t so easily find such detailed information on the Japanese release. Fates only caused a controversy because of the improvements made in the internet compared to ten years ago. Upon Fates’ release, passionate fans couldn’t wait for the localization and started translating the game themselves. As a result, the official localization wasn’t the fans’ first introduction to Fates. This is basically unprecedented and is now the new normal.

                • Ah I actually meant between the localization and home company, but yes about fans and Nintendo as well. xD

                  Yes, that is indeed a very important detail about timing. Soleil and Fates got a bad case out of exposure due to this improved internet and such. (It’s also one of the varied factors that probably aided games like Awakening’s sales compared to those from before).

                  Indeed! I was one of the people who gave summaries and such on the game, though was not out of impatience, it was out of giving (other people? Maybe they would be considered impatience…) information at their convenience, especially menu translations or some idea of what’s going on. But the downsides are that others may run into things like Soleil and rush to a conclusion. xD

                  It is indeed the new normal now, though. Closer release timings between Japan and non Japanese releases helps reduce any discoveries such as this (Mario and Zelda on Switch are some examples that we don’t see too much about some discovery originally in Japanese first). As you mentioned, Fates fans had translations and info for several months from the Japanese version as their first exposure. It really makes a difference.

    • Personally, if I’m hiring a translator, it’s because I don’t know the language, and for no other reason. I am not trusting them to make it “suitable” for a new audience, I am trusting them to make it AVAILABLE to a new audience. The circumstances would be a little different if you’re just trying to make a profitable product, though… Fire Emblem seems willing to sacrifice its artistic integrity for that purpose.

      • I mean no offense when I say this, but your view sounds incredibly insecure. A good translator works on a project because they love it, regardless of quality. That’s what it means to be a professional. They love your project and want as many other people to love it as possible.

        Not to mention, from a creative standpoint, that just sounds constrictive and boring. Where is the fun?

        Of course, that’s just me. I love seeing someone put their heart into something and seeing the results, good or bad. I prefer something that takes a risk and fails than something that plays it safe. Of course, that’s my opinion.

        • I’m not really sure what you mean by “insecure”… if anything I was worried that my views would come off as arrogant by saying “that my work is perfect as is” and “translators shouldn’t touch it with their grubby little hands” lol. And putting trust in someone else (like a translator)… requires a lot of security… so…
          “A good translator works on a project because they love it, regardless of quality. That’s what it means to be a professional. They love your project and want as many other people to love it as possible.”… if they really loved it, and didn’t care about the quality, wouldn’t they leave it as is instead of changing it because they think they can make it better? Why would you try to change something you love? And if you love it “regardless of quality”, why would you try to improve it? If they “want as many people to love it as possible”, why wouldn’t they present to people that work instead of a false version they’ve only had the opportunity to make because the creator only knows one language? This all seems to go against your views.
          “Not to mention, from a creative standpoint, that just sounds constrictive and boring. ” … huh? If you want to be creative, create your own work, don’t translate someone else’s. The creator is one person and the translator is someone else. As a creator, I would not be paying a translator to be “creative”. I would be paying a translator to translate. The fact that it needs to go through another person before reaching some audiences is an obstacle, if anything, brought on by the fact that people have differing languages and the lack of a reliable automatic translator (imagine running your work through Google translate to localize it… lol). Translators are not used because people want to use them, but because people have to use them if they want to expand their audiences to where people speak a different language. If a translator did make a change that I approved of, I would want the change made in all languages, because I don’t want people to be getting a different work based on where they live or what language they know. A translator’s job is to translate, and to change things beyond “this cultural concept doesn’t exist in this language”, “this pun doesn’t work in this language”, or MAYBE “this is perceived differently by this culture” is… really out of line. Is it wrong to say that?
          “I love seeing someone put their heart into something and seeing the results, good or bad. I prefer something that takes a risk and fails than something that plays it safe.” …not sure what this has to do with this conversation but okay.

          • What you just described there is insecurity, false pride. You are afraid. It is a needless fear. That kind of worry is not productive and will only get in the way.

            Love, to me, is not dogmatic. It is not keeping things the same for as long as possible. Let me use an example to demonstrate my point.

            Let’s take the Mario models in ever 3D Mario game. With the exception of Galaxy 2, each one shares the same core design. However, take some time to look at the details and you’ll notice artistic differences. Little touches like more detailed gloves; a wider mustache; a smaller brim on the hat; jiggle physics on Mario’s nose in Odyssey. All of these little touches aren’t the result of the designer sticking to a rigid formula; they’re the result of the designer manafesting their love of Mario in their own unique way. That is the kind of love I’m talking about.

            Let me be clear: translation is an art, not science. If translation really was so formulaic, consistent, and predictable, machine translation would be far better than it is now. Good translation also requires good writing ability.

            For evidence, I call to the stand ProZD’s viral video, Official Subs vs Fansubs. Both of the versions provided in the video are techncially translation. The two differ so much because of the mentality went into translation.

            The latter translation focuses way too much on translating the exact words. For whatever reason, they decided to translate Naruto’s rough language into constant F-bombs. In addition, they didn’t even bother fully translating the entire thing, leaving ore as is, and didn’t even try to find a replacement for nakama.

            Slight tangent, but, in my opinion, translators notes for stuff like this are a cop out. They completely destroy the flow of the conversation by forcing the viewer to pause in order to understand what the characters are talking about.

            Back on topic, the former translation focuses on translating the intent behind the words, rather the words themselves. Naruto’s rude language is translated into PG swears and insults, which sound much more appropriate given his age and the context. Nakama is translated as ‘friend’ and the actor’s delivery conveys the sincerity behind that word.

            • … “False” pride? Who said it wasn’t real? Have you… never made a creative work before and been proud of it and wanted to share it? Wouldn’t you want to know what people in other countries think of YOUR work instead of someone else’s interpretation of it, so they can make there own interpretations? Wouldn’t you be hurt and offended if someone took advantage of the fact that you’re relying on them to convey your meaning to other people but they changed it (while still saying it was yours) because they could and you couldn’t stop them because you don’t know the other language enough to understand what kind of changes they made? No offense, but does artistic integrity mean nothing to you?
              And I don’t really think the Mario models are relevant here. Creators updating their OWN character’s graphics (and not even changing the character’s core design at all) is not comparable to making drastic changes to someone ELSE’s work because you think you know better.
              And in the Naruto case… I would consider the second to be a more accurate translation. Leaving words untranslated is not an accurate translation. Trying to replicate a “rough” feeling by inserting swear words that aren’t present in the original is not an accurate translation. The second translation is better because the translators weren’t doing dumb things, not because they were taking liberties. I am not saying that translators should never tweak things if the feeling or meaning something if it doesn’t work in a different language. I do not think translators should “focus on the words themselves instead of the meaning behind the words”, I am saying that translators should not change that meaning behind the words, should restrict themselves to minor tweaks, and should never alter plot points, which I really think should go without saying.
              You keep saying that “translating is an art, not a science” but I think of it more like an “inexact science”. I think changing things you don’t have to is almost deceiving the people of the new country. You’re telling them that they’re getting [insert name of work here] by [name of author] when you’re really giving them something you made up, and they are going to make their judgments of the original based on this new, muddled version, without even knowing that it’s different… because most people believe that translations should be accurate, right? I mean, isn’t that the whole point of translating instead of just making up new things for the other language? Once you start making major story changes, you might as well write your own story–and if you think you’re so smart/creative, make your OWN story instead of changing someone else’s.
              If they ever do advance computer programs to the point where they can recognize idioms, strange grammar, and concepts that only exist in some cultures, I really don’t see why anyone would use human translators. I know I wouldn’t. Translators should be decent writers, and should be able to reword things to make more sense–but for crying out loud, they should NEVER change plot points!

    • I finally found a way to fix that table formatting issue! Just felt it may be worth pointing out. xD Looks much better now. Also article updated with some new bits.

  6. It took me a long time to respond to this, because I had to gather my thoughts, but…
    God, forget about the warp powder thing! Just look at how mangled that dialogue is! This is… horrific. They completely removed all emotion from Ike in this scene for no discernable reason! Was Ike like this in the Japanese version usually? God, all this time I’ve hated RD’s version of Ike for this, having no emotions, no drive, no struggles, stealing the spotlight from actually interesting, well-developed and flawed characters, but… here, he seems to actually care that the Black Knight is still alive, which didn’t even seem to matter to him in the slightest in English. This scene… almost fixes all of that. (Not completely, though. Still needs support conversations to explore what’s going on in his head. Compared to other characters, though, this implied conflict puts him near the same page as them.) I can’t believe anyone thought this was remotely okay. Like, I’m trying to be civil, but… I’d have no choice but to personally publicly execute anyone who butchered my writing like this. Not to mention “I let you win” is a phenomenally stupid excuse when we can clearly see his armor was cleft deeply through the head and chest, and then he was trapped under a collapsing castle (assuming he was lucky enough not to get crushed, which seems unlikely) which, y’know… kills people.
    And this is a scene where people are changing their minds about localization… by saying this was a GOOD change???? Because it replaced a plausible explanation with one that’s completely impossible?????? Huh??????????????????????????
    This isn’t even like that time they replaced Henry’s personality with one that didn’t even make sense or fumbled handling Soleil’s sexuality, because IKE IS A LORD. They should have been extremely careful handling a main character. By ruining his character, they kind of ruined the story… for me, anyway.
    I mean… this is life-changing. I can’t handle this.

    • Oh! Speaking of Ike becoming less likable in localization, I heard somewhere that the word “Branded” wasn’t dropped so… casually in the original, and that it was treated more like a slur (whereas in English it was used more like it was the proper term for beorc/laguz hybrids) and when people were trying to be polite they would say like “children of the mark” or something. If this is true, it would make the scene where Ike tells Micaiah not to call herself Branded come off less… well, less like this: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Xy98o8MrJu0/VRujdF7KOEI/AAAAAAAAD6M/Y2G6vbSzGB8/s1600/mexican.jpg
      His “hey, racism is bad” speech is still anviliciously stupid, and it’s a shame that people use that scene to worship him like he’s the only lord to not be racist (saying things like “would ur fave ever”), but… that’s less of a character issue and more of a writer issue, I think.

    • Okay, I missed the bit about “armor and spirit” before. What he means is that his body was left behind somewhere while his armor and spirit fought Ike. It’s not explained how his body rejoined the rest, so… hm. It could be that’s just how warp powder works (remember when they were talking about there just being a spectre/ghost or a demon in the armor?). I don’t know if that contradicts anything we know about warp powder. The localization is still worse.
      I also don’t think the localization is better for the explanation “fitting with the Black Knights’ motivations.” I’ll even make the argument that it might contradict his motivations. The Black Knight’s goal is to help Sephiran end the world, as it had been since the beginning of the story, and he had no issue with killing Greil (though he could have killed by accident while they were fighting… though it’s kind of hard to “accidentally” impale someone through the gut, seriously) or his children to achieve this… but it’s possible he decided he at least wanted to fight “Greil” one more time before it ended after Ike told him of Greil’s injury. (I don’t remember the explanation he gave to Tibarn–did it give off this implication, or was it more about Ike having the right to be the one to fight him?) Actually, if “leaving the body behind” is how warp powder works, it could mean he had been using it during missions for convenience and deliberately didn’t use it in the tower in order to have a “real” duel with Greil.
      Hm. I still think the localization was bad in this scene for making BK too polite/respectful as opposed to his usual arrogant self. They may have been trying to go down the “worthy opponent” angle, but the fact remains that (the way I see it anyway) Zelgius still has abandonment issues after Greil leaving (especially considering his family kind of disowned him, didn’t they) and he’s still… upset about that, and is now using Ike get closure, so I don’t think he would be respectful (especially since I’m also wondering if they changed Ike in order to match that tone, which I disapprove of). He didn’t seem to show that kind of respect to Greil when they fought, even though by that point he would know why Greil left (if he didn’t know to begin with, or when Elena died) and the only knew thing he’d found out since then was that Greil crippled himself. I think, for once, I’m… actually starting to understand this character.
      “I let you win” is still a dumb and unnecessary change.

    • Likewise I’m sorry it took so long to reply to this! But I’ll comment on all three of your posts in this one. : )

      I hadn’t actually thought about it too much from the character angle as you list here, as I was looking at the world/setting context rather than the individual characters. But when you state it that way, it is interesting to look at Ike’s reaction there. Though in English I took it more as a sort of calm reaction as he was expecting this, as well as to show he is not as headstrong as before thanks to the three years of maturing.

      I agree supports would be nice to help a lot of things about the game, but alas we did not get them.

      Perhaps the “letting him win” was giving him a few blows to give a “convincing defeat” rather than an obvious giving up the fight? I’m not sure, but just one possible explanation that wouldn’t be too impossible. This doesn’t mean your view is wrong or impossible, but just providing a possible reason, even if it seems forced, for why the armor may be that way! For the collapse, perhaps his divine armor saved him…? xD

      I didn’t know people were changing their minds about localization on a whole from this. I do see it positively received, but I don’t think they will change their mind about localization as a whole due to a few examples. Unfortunately, exemptions from the norm for people rarely changes perception on things as a whole (as perceived by people).

      Oh dear, Henry and Soleil. xD But some people did enjoy those results. But it’s true about the Lord being a much more central character. Though, I think some may disagree that his character was ruined from this kind of scene (though I think you meant his general presentation in the game?) It really comes down to how people read his character, I think, though from (observation) I think people generally prefer FE9 Ike on a whole.

      That thing about the Branded sounds interesting. When translating Tellius Recollection Vol 2, I did see it referred to in a few different ways though, all similar but may be good to see specific parts of the scripts for scenes like that. So I’ll note that down for later!

      I don’t actually remember the part about the spectre/ghost in the armor! But that may help/come from that.

      Hmm, well I’d say his ultimate motivation was to overcome Greil. The reason he killed him so easily is that he may have assumed at that point he had overcome him already, being arrogant. “Is that all there is?” he even asked in the battle, I believe! After this he only had Sephiran’s dream left to help on. But when Ike mention Greil had crippled himself, his original motivation was rekindled, realizing he had never overcome Greil’s true strength. As such it would make sense to hold back there if his major motivation had a chance to flourish and be proven right (or wrong) through Ike. As such I felt that the localization may have fit this motivation better… Ike got lucky he said that much huh? xD

      Indeed, as you said, no need for warp powder in the tower. It was a measure of true strength.

      As you pointed out the BK’s arrogance here, I think that goes back for why he’d impale Greil with such ease. Again I go back to his arrogance of why he showed no respect to Greil in that battle, and he was only humbled after he was told the truth of what happened to Greil’s strength.

      I used malfunction due to how it may have been perceived due to its out of nowhereness compared to the overall story that (English) players would experience. An out of the ordinary occurrence, something that had not come up before now, that comes up now may seem to be something that was almost made up to the average player. Even if it is how warp powder always worked, there was no real telling before to it being the case, and doesn’t come off as much as a twist as it does an easy way out. Not that “I let you win” is too much better, but as explained in the article, it has more reasoning associated with his existing motivations and all, which is why I and some others may deem it better (but doesn’t make the original “bad”, per se, as stated in the article too). : ) I hope that make sense!

      Looking at the reasoning though, the fact you have to fill in some gaps (guesswork as to why the armor and sword could go too), which is all we have to work with… sigh, wish we had more stuff to look at.

      The other issue that comes from this is that, back to the fight with Greil from before, it’s a mystery why he would duel with his ultimate motivation with just his spirit rather than his full strength, though perhaps he became that arrogant as I mentioned before, but it makes little sense both ways as a result huh? xD

      A gaping hole in the chest doesn’t necessarily mean he was impaled, after all, the armor could’ve broke but not penetrated the skin. Again, this doesn’t mean what you’re saying is unlikely, just a possible explanation.

      Again, more than a plothole, it was more the out-of-nowhereness (or as it would appear to be for those who were already playing the localization) that I was addressing in this article, rather than how the warp powder works exactly. : )

      I hope that reasoning for “malfunction” helps you better understand the meaning I was trying to convey. : )

      Post may be a bit of a mess as I was replying to several of your posts at once, sorry about that!

  7. 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

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

  9. 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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