FE9 Path of Radiance Localization: Marcia’s Colorful Language [JPN vs ENG]

This post is part of a series on reader requested (and personal curiosity) comparisons between various games’ Japanese and English scripts.

Today’s post concerns Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. Specifically, Marcia’s dialogue! It’s partially a reader request, and partially personal curiosity.

A reader said the following:

Did Marcia call Makalov a “eunuch” in Japanese too?

Though the reader requested just this line, I looked into a few of her other colorful moments too –all with Makalov, of course.

So let’s take a look!

For sake of organization, we’ll go in order. The requested line is a little farther down the page.

All of these are Marcia talking to Makalov, her gambling-addicted (and hence indebted) older brother who drives her crazy. That’s all the context we really need to know.

The first part is from Chapter 14, where Marcia talks to Makalov in order to recruit him. I’ll present the conversation in full first just to give an idea of context and what she’s replying to:

Marcia
B-B–Brother?!

Makalov
Hey, Marcia! Heh… Hey, long time, huh? Good timing, though! I was just thinking about paying you a visit, Sis.

Marcia
Long time? Long time?! You dungheel! Where in the name of heaven have you been? You racked up all that debt and then ran away? You’re such an irresponsible skunk! Thanks to your worthless hide, I had to leave the sacred pegasus knights!

Makalov
Huh? But why?

Marcia
Because there were a bunch of debt collectors hanging around the barracks! That’s why!

Makalov
Oh, that’s… That’s a shame. Listen, I was trying to increase the money I borrowed and pay off the original, but it, um…vanished. And I swear that just kept happening! I’d almost get enough and then…poof! Gone! Ha ha! Ha? Hmm…

Marcia
You rat. You cheese-eating rat! You haven’t changed at all…Let’s go. You’re coming with me.

Makalov
With you… Where are we going? What am I going to do?

Marcia
You’re joining my company. I’m going to let Ike beat some sense into you. We’ll see how that works.

Makalov
No, wait… I’m working for these guys at the moment, and…Well, if I just up and joined with the other side, it might cause problems–

Marcia
STUFF IT, SPONGE-BRAIN!!! NO MORE LAME EXCUSES!!! FOLLOW ME!!! NOW!!

Makalov
Sorry, Sis! Sorry! I’m coming…

That is indeed some colorful language Marcia speaks! One wonders what things like “sponge-brain,” “cheese-eating rat,” and “dungheel” would be in Japanese. So let’s take a look a deeper look at some of her amusing lines from the conversation:

Japanese Literal Translation Official Localization
『いやあ、久しぶり』じゃないわ!いったいどこへ行ってたの?借金作っていなくなっちゃうなんて、ひどいじゃない。おかげで私は、聖天馬騎士団をやめるはめになったのよ。 Don’t just go “Hey, long time, huh?”! Where on earth have you been?! Fleeing after accumulating such debt, isn’t that the worst? Thanks to you, I had to up and leave the holy pegasus knights! Long time? Long time?! You dungheel! Where in the name of heaven have you been? You racked up all that debt and then ran away? You’re such an irresponsible skunk! Thanks to your worthless hide, I had to leave the sacred pegasus knights!

Normally when I write literal translations on these articles, I still try to make them flow in less-awkward English. However, for particular articles where something would be lost in doing so, I present a more awkward translation quite purposefully, for a reason I will explain.

Content wise, we see it’s pretty much the same. She remarks on his casual “long time” comment, asks where on earth/heaven/etc he’s been, debt ranked up and accumulated, and that she had to leave the pegasus knights as a result. So, in terms of meaning, the translation is quite accurate.

So where did all these colorful words come from? Put simply, Marcia’s tone in Japanese. It’s very clear to Japanese readers she is talking in a very heated/lecturing/exasperated tone (all at once). The way one would carry this over in text in English is through word choice, and perhaps exaggerating elements to let you know “yes, this person is upset.” In the super literal translation above, you can see the best I can do with literal wording is use some exclamation marks here and there, but that may not do her tone justice.

If I made a slightly more localized version (not to the extent of the official), it may come out as something like:

Don’t “hey, long time huh?” me! Where the heck have you been?! You’re the worst! You worked up a debt and then just up and left. I had to leave the sacred pegasus knights, thanks to you! The sacred holy pegasus knights!!

The tone is a bit more punched up than before, and in better flowing English. Still, I tried to stick to the original vocabulary without too many additions. I use repetition in the end there to drive her point of exasperation home, but don’t go any more than that.

So, as a localizer, one would be faced with a choice to try and translate her exasperation in this kind of way, or take some liberties in adding and removing lines to a character to help truly express how she’s feeling (the best one can, anyway).

And so we end up with the localization! This time, I highlight key points:

Long time? Long time?! You dungheel! Where in the name of heaven have you been? You racked up all that debt and then ran away? You’re such an irresponsible skunk! Thanks to your worthless hide, I had to leave the sacred pegasus knights!

In red is Dungheel, which is an added phrase here, likely to set the rest of the paragraph up as exasperated. Starting with an insult is probably a good way to go about it. The term itself is rather amusing, but not an actual word, rather, likely a euphemism.

The two green lines are translations (indeed, you can see what they came from in the literal translation), but reworded to stay consistent to her character as she’s portrayed here. The insults every other line are a way to add repetition for emphasis, preserve the intent of exasperation, as well as the original meaning. “Irresponsible skunk” took the place of “you’re the worst!”

“Worthless hide” may be less apparent, but the word she uses in Japanese that means “thanks to you” is normally reserved for a (positive) favor, but used sarcastically here given the context. So to emphasize this sarcasm (beyond what “thanks to you” already implies), “worthless hide” comes in as yet another insult.

That may better explain how this kind of scene came to be. I went in-depth here as it’s a process we’ll see with the next lines too. I won’t go as in-depth as the same things I said here will likely apply.

Next:

Japanese Literal Translation Official Localization
まったく、これだもの・・・とにかく一緒に来て。 Good grief, this guy’s always like this… regardless let’s go back together. You rat. You cheese-eating rat! You haven’t changed at all… Let’s go. You’re coming with me.

The literal here sounds extremely stilted, awkward, and boring. Again this is just to show meaning without tone involved.

The first line of the Japanese reads more like she’s thinking out loud, and then makes a direct command to return (to Ike’s side) with her. Ideally I’d translate that more like:

By the goddess can you believe this guy…? Well whatever. Let’s go back. Now.

Again, this is if we wished to go with the words we’re given. Localization adds the reference to rats (which eat cheese). They also make the final line more clear (coming with me), among other changes that help a natural flow with her tone intact.

Next:

Japanese Literal Translation Official Localization
ゴチャゴチャ言わずにさっさと来る!! No excuses, hurry up and come with me!! STUFF IT, SPONGE-BRAIN!!! NO MORE LAME EXCUSES!!! FOLLOW ME!!! NOW!!

This was a fun one. I would less-literally translate it as:

Just shut up and come with me already!!

The use of all-caps was very interesting, as you rarely see games do that (especially Fire Emblem games). Just like on the net, it does give off a “yelling” vibe. You probably read it “louder” than this text I’m typing, for instance. Interestingly, both exclamation marks are kept too, whereas usually Japanese double !! becomes a single one in English. I suppose with the caps that really drives her exasperation home.

Self explanatory enough, “sponge brain” is a localization addition, as were all the other colorful words for this conversation.

Let’s move on to Chapter 24, where she has special dialogue with Makalov at the base conversation. You can read the conversation in full below:

Marcia
Ah! Ike! There, hiding in the shadows of that tent! Grab him!

Ike
Huh? What?

Makalov
Hey! Ouch! Come on, you gotta let me go!

Marcia
Stop whining you little baby! Get over here!

Marcia
You spineless sop! You never learn, do you?

Ike
What’s going on?

Marcia
Listen to this, Ike! While I was changing my clothes, my dear brother here tried stealing from my purse again!

Makalov
Don’t do this here! You don’t need to tell the whole camp about it, do you?

Marcia
Who’s created this situation in the first place! And here I was thinking that you’d finally turned yourself around… Even as we speak, Mother is at home weeping in her soup! You chowderhead!

Makalov
Don’t worry about Mom! Dad’s there to take care of her.

Marcia
You brainless eunuch! Gaaaaaa!!!

Makalov
M-Marcia! Ow! Ow! My foot! You’re crushing it! I heard something crunch! Help! I’m being crippled!

Marcia
And no one cares!

Ike
All right, all right. I think that’s enough.

Marcia
Hmph! It’s one thing that you’re a guppy-brained lout… But it’s worse that you never, ever change! You’re ALWAYS being chased by thugs, and I ALWAYS have to go looking for you. Do you have any idea how much I worry? Would it hurt you to think of others once in a while? You’re my OLDER brother, remember?

Makalov
Marcia…

Ike

Makalov
I’m sorry! I’ll give up gambling. I’ll work hard and repay all of my debts! Please, you’ve gotta believe me!

Marcia

Ike
Why not forgive him? He’s the only brother you’ve got, right?

Marcia
…Well, if Ike insists…

Makalov
R-really? Do you forgive me?

Marcia
Only if you keep your word! This is the absolute last time!

Makalov
I swear! I swear on Dad’s grave.

Marcia
Heh… That’s not going to work, you twit! Dad’s still alive.

Makalov
Made you laugh! ‘Bout time, too.

Ike
Straighten up and don’t trouble your sister anymore.

Makalov
Say, Marcia?

Marcia
What is it, Makalov?

Makalov
You want to bet on how long I can keep my promise? I’ll give you four-to-one odds!

Marcia
AAAHHH!!!

Let’s look at some of those lines:

Japanese Literal Translation Official Localization
バカ言ってないで、こっちに来て!
まったく! ほんっと懲りないんだから!
Stop saying such foolish things and get over here! Seriously! You REALLY never learn!! Stop whining you little baby! Get over here! You spineless sop! You
never learn, do you?

Again the literal translations are purposefully awkward just to show how they may have gotten from point A to B. You can see how the “foolish things” (even more literally “idiot speak”) changed to “stop whining you little baby!” The “get over here” remains, with the “seriously” into “you spineless sop!” before tying back into the “you never learn.” The emphasized REALLY is presented with the “do you” instead for emphasis.

Without the colorful additions, one may have translated it as:

Just shut up and get over here already! Gosh! You never ever learn!

While it still flows in English, I assume many would prefer the officially localized version which uses insults for emphasis of her tone which are otherwise hard to convey.

Japanese Literal Translation Official Localization
故郷の母さんが泣いてるわよ、もう! Mother’s at home crying, you know, jeez! Even as we speak, Mother is at home weeping in her soup! You chowderhead!

This is the final line of a greater paragraph. Even then, the official localization is actually a lot longer in both words/characters used,.

We got “even as we speak” and “weeping in her soup” as more decorative words to place the emphasis the literal translation lacks. “Jeez” is what I translated the word もう as, which is often a term of exasperation that is quite common in Japanese media in general. The localization instead made it to yet another insult from Marcia toward Makalov, likely to keep it consistent at this point. So we got chowderhead!

Next is the line the reader actually requested, which is quite amusing:

Japanese Literal Translation Official Localization
こ い つ はぁ~・・・ !! T H I S GUY…!!! You brainless eunuch! Gaaaaaa!!!

This is a bit hard to show literally. But you can see in the original Japanese, the characters have a space between them, with the last one stretched out with a tilde then ellipses that lead to exclamation. These combined factors would actually give us something more like:

THIS FREAKIN’ GUY…!! (or you can go more insulting depending on how frustrated one interprets her to be from the rest of the context). It’s not a bad word per se, almost more of a comedic insult than an actual one. The localization too had to still keep their intended ESRB in mind. Either way, we ended up with the “brainless eunuch” line. For those of you who may be unaware of what a eunuch is, you can get an idea from the wikipedia entry.

Also with the context of Makalov’s next line mentioning how she’s crushing his foot, one can thus read the above as something she’s grumbling while gritting her teeth together in frustration.

So to answer the reader question: No, she did not call him a “eunuch” in Japanese. The “brainless eunuch” was a colorful addition by the localization to add an insult that leans toward comedic over what was originally a line to express intense frustration.

Next line! We can already assume the colorful language is a localization decision at this point, so while the poor dead horse may continue to be beaten, it’s presented for completion.

Japanese Literal Translation Official Localization
・・・・・・もう!
兄さんがいつまでたっても
そんなんだから・・・・・・
…jeez! My brother is and always will be like that… Hmph! It’s one thing that you’re a guppy-brained lout… But it’s worse that you never, ever change!

The “that” in the literal translation refers to his behavior referenced in the rest of the conversation. It’s also worth noting the above lines are the start of a greater paragraph where she expands upon what exactly never changes.

Another way to go about the literal:

…Gods! This brother of mine will never change!

We see our friend もう appear once again, so for conistency wrote “jeez” once again. But to show you how it can vary depending on placement, context, and interpretation, you can see localization went with “hmph!” (compared to before where they wrote “You chowderhead!”)

Guppy-brained lout too is a creation of the localization, as expected.

Now we finish this off with this final bit of dialogue (?), right after Makalov asks for a bet when he just swore off gambling:

Japanese Literal Translation Official Localization
!! !!  AAAHHH!!!

Oh no, the localization added quite a bit!

Joking aside, it’s more natural to see just the punctuation in Japanese compared to English that spells out what it means more clearly. Though, the Japanese can be left vague as to whether she just made an expression or actually screamed. In English it’s a bit more clear.

And that ends our look at all that dialogue!

It’s worth noting that an in interview featured on Nintendo World Report, the localization staff had this to say on dialogue:

Tim: … I think that the overall biggest “challenge” with Fire Emblem is that the storyline is so rich and we’re trying to bring the same texture and depth from the Japanese version into our localization. We don’t want it to sound farcical and campy. We want to keep it serious, but also keep the humor, which is very prevalent in the Fire Emblem series.

Alan: To continue on with what Tim was saying, we wanted to keep the dialogue dramatic and meaningful without making it sound “dopey”. It’s a very fine line to walk in many ways. With movies and books you have an unlimited space to get the character’s feelings into words. With games, you tend to be very limited in the amount of space you have to play with. Sometimes you only get twenty letters where you have to get the character’s emotion across without just going “Wahhhh!!!” As well, you have time constraints to deal with as well. Fire Emblem is a very, very large game so we had to work hard to keep our sanity and our wits.

Rich: Everything that Alan and Tim have said is absolutely true. Another more subtle aspect that we as a team have had to deal with is that when you have a game with so many dialogue boxes you have to make every button press count. During the localization we were able to add extra space by adding extra text boxes, but if we’re writing that many more lines it is going to take the player forever to get through them. We don’t want the player to say “oh no, how long is this conversation going to go?” So this has been one of our secondary goals: it isn’t just trying to conserve space to match the Japanese version button press for button press, but to keep that rich dialogue and still make it worthwhile for the player.

I present this on a few of my other Tellius related articles, as it’s very rare to get direct insight on the localization of any game. This one is relevant as their points on preserving the Japanese style of seriousness and humor shows through the game, with this being a more comedic conversation with serious undertones. The fine line they had to walk, as well as keeping space in mind (though they mention they were no longer limited and thus did have the liberty to expand as needed).

The most important point to this article is probably attempting to keep”the same texture and depth from the Japanese version into our localization.” Marcia’s colorful language is certainly a product of this objective, and it certainly shows in what was otherwise not apparent from the purely literal translation itself.

In short:

No, she did not call him a “eunuch.” All of Marcia’s colorful insults are inventions of the localization, which were otherwise various forms of exasperation and cues of frustration in the original Japanese. They help better express both her feeling and meaning in ways that can’t exactly be done with English grammar and punctuation alone, so did not have any equivalent insults that were used in Japanese.

Summary infographic:


So what do you think of the above dialogue? How would you have went about localizing it, if in a different way than the localization?

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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