FE Heroes: “Do my best!” [JPN vs ENG]

She’s been saying this since FE7, actually!

Today’s post is a quick look at a line that has become a bit of a meme for the FEH community (especially on Nino from FE7/Blazing Blade).

Beyond Nino, many other characters say it. It’s actually based on an extremely common Japanese word, and this post is just to show you all the little variations in Japanese that all became (mostly) “do my best” in English.

So let’s take a fun look at this.

First, a macro table that shows several instances (or slight variations) of this line across the characters. There may be some I missed, and I excluded dialogue beyond map/status screens and such to pull up this example list.

Character English Original
Nino Do my best! がんばるよっ
Nino I’ll do my best! あたし、がんばる!
Oboro Do my best! 頑張るわ
Kana (M & F) Do my best! がんばるよ!
Elise Do my best! 頑張るね
Faye Try my best. がんばるね!
Maria I always do my best! わたしもがんばる!
Amelia I’ll do my best! が、がんばるぞ!
Amelia Did I…give it my all? がんばれた…かな…?
Olivia Always do my best! が、がんばります…
Sakura I’ll do my best for you! が、頑張りましょうね…
Laslow I’ll do my best. 頑張るよ
Oscar Only my best. がんばるよ

*-Why this line of Amelia’s is here despite not mentioning doing, my’ing, or besting will be addressed when we get to her.

So a look at this table, you can see the uniform “Do my best!” down the first several characters, yet the Japanese (even if you can’t read it) seems slightly different each time, huh? In fact, it is rare to see them repeat in the exact manner or as often as the English. So what’s going on here?

Well first let’s address the word itself. The basic verb we’re working with in Japanese is がんばる (ganbaru), which essentially means “to persevere,” but is often used in the context to “to do one’s best.” For those concerned with the exact definitions:

1. to persevere; to persist; to keep at it; to hang on; to hold out; to do one’s best
2. to insist that; to stick to (one’s opinion)
3. to remain in a place; to stick to one’s post; to refuse to budge
Our friend “do my best” is bold just for clarity in the definition.

The other thing one who may not know Japanese should know is that the above がんばる can also be written as 頑張る (said the same, ganbaru, but written in kanji/Chinese characters). It’s often used in cheering someone on (go to any sports event), or just generally telling someone to do their best, or saying you yourself will do so, among many other things.

Anyway whether you know Japanese or not, the above should fill you in on what you need to know. However, if you go back and look at the macro table, you will still see that nothing there is ever the same twice in Japanese, right? Well, it’ll get slightly more nuanced in Japanese, but I’ll do my best to explain it!

Let’s start with the star of this line, Nino:

Character English Original
Nino Do my best! がんばるよっ
Nino I’ll do my best! あたし、がんばる!

So her Japanese is がんばるよっ. The よっ here is basically a heavy emphasis that she will, inf act, do her best, for sure! No exceptions. It’s basically a strong emphasis ending particle.

Her second line has “I’ll” added in English, and indeed, in Japanese there is the added first person (feminine) pronoun あたし (atashi). あたし、がんばる! thus quite literally becomes “I, do my best!” Note this is also from her special trigger, rather than basic turn action.

Actually, her first line can also be made “I’ll do my best” too as Japanese does not rely on pronouns too often. Either way, that’s Nino’s line simplified. She says it strongly, and very informally.

Character-wise Nino is always trying hard to prove herself to her mother and others in FE7, which is probably why she says it so often in her source game and here.

Character English Original
Oboro Do my best! 頑張る

Oboro says it the same way as Nino in English, yet we can see great differences in her original.

For one, she uses the kanji version. That doesn’t make a difference for out loud, however (and, considering the transcript is from gamespedia, I’m not sure if it’s written this way in the script they may have gotten it from or if it’s just a transliteration), but either way it wouldn’t make a difference as it is the same word.

What does make the difference is the feminine word ending “わ” (wa) which is an emphasis in a similar way to yo, but often reserved for women or incredibly effeminate men.

So one reading the Japanese would already feel the difference between Nino and Oboro here, but in English we have it translated to the exact same line. It’s not wrong at all, as these small nuances are inevitably lost in translation. It may be worth noting, however, as voiced lines, the voices alone (with tone in reciting such) makes up for the lost textual/grammatical nuance as the voice comes with its own unique way of expressing

For instance, Nino and Oboro are saying the exact same lines for someone reading, but aloud sound quite different saying it. This is one thing I want to emphasize now going forward rather than saving it for a main point in the conclusion.

Character English Original
Kana (M & F) Do my best! がんばるよ!

Both Kana’s say the exact same line, translated the exact same way. It’s very close to Nino’s style, with the よ (yo) at the end as a major emphasis that they will do their best indeed. It’s still not exactly like Nino’s as it’s missing the smaller slur at the end of it, but comes very close. Informal and strong expression.

Character English Original
Elise Do my best! 頑張る

Elise’s “do my best!” has the kanji once again, but instead of Oboro’s feminine wa at the end, she has a reaffirming ね ne. It does add a childish/girly tinge to it, but is not exclusively female. It can basically be read in a “Do my best, right?” Or “I’ll do my best, okay?” sort of way. It could also be more hesitant than the “yo” that Nino uses.

Once again, her voice serves to differentiate the English line from the others, but if one was left with the text alone, the Japanese would better express the small nuance differences in their personalities.

Character English Original
Faye Try my best. がんばるね!

So Faye comes in as the combo breaker. Her ganbaru is actually much like Elise’s, with the same ne at the end! The odd part about her line is that the English did not make it into “do my best!” when they did for Elise. Instead, she has a dry “Try my best.” The difference between “try” and “do” is also subtle, the first less sure of itself, in a way, when you think of the connotations. “Do” has a stronger volition to it then “try” does. Star Wars comes to mind, actually.

The other oddity here is the exclamation, tone, and reaffirmation (much like Elise) that is present in the Japanese is missing in English. One can compare their tone:


Compare it with Elise who basically has the same line in Japanese:


I explained earlier that the “ne” can have a more hesitant feel to it than “yo,” but Elise managed to go with the usual “do my best!” when Faye was made to simply “try” her best. Perhaps the localization wanted to stay consistent with a colder Faye? In contrast, the Japanese is more “warm” in that sense.

But again, this is all from reading. Listening to the tones above, you can see it may be a matter of transliteration being misleading.

Now some more variations of the line:

Character English Original
Maria I always do my best! わたしもがんばる

Her ganbaru comes out in a basic way with the exclamation, but has some words before it. She uses a first person pronoun watashi , then mo (which means “also” in this case), and then ganbaru. It thus becomes, “I’ll also do my best!”

Her Japanese can imply “others are doing their best so I shall too,” in a way but that gets rather wordy. Her English came up with “always” to likely get the “I” in there without sounding slightly awkward (“I do my best”) or without it being a repeat of “do my best” that excludes her pronoun usage and such like the other lines.

Note the above is from her status page as well, and not her turn action.

Character English Original
Amelia I’ll do my best! が、がんばるぞ!
Amelia Did I…give it my all? がんばれた…かな…?

Amelia has two lines that use it, though neither are actually in her turn action. The first is from special trigger, and the second is a death line.

So the first line is read like ga-ganbaruzo! You can see/hear there is a slight stutter there. The zo at the end is interesting as that’s usually a very masculine emphasis on verb ending. She’s basically stuttering while trying to be brave at the same time. The “I’ll” in the localization is there without any actual pronoun usage (unlike the previous instances where it was put there to cover for a pronoun, like for Nino).

The second line is ganbareta…kana…? First, this is the first time the verb is conjugated slightly differently, hence why ru in ganbaru is missing. It’s put into past tense, basically, but is the same verb. She’s saying, “Did I do my best…? I wonder…” Oddly, the localization did not write it as the usual “do my best” here, but instead the more appropriate “give it my all.” It does sound more natural to say –especially if one is dying when saying it. (Though, depending on how far one may want to take the joke, or, in Nino’s case, it may be fitting to say “Did I…do my best?” for her too).

The English line for “I’ll do my best” lacks the stutter contrast with bravery, but still does sound reluctantly determined.

Character English Original
Sakura I’ll do my best for you! 頑張りましょうね…

This is from her status page. You can see that Sakura has the same stutter as Amela here too. It’s true to her portrayal in Fates too where she often is hesitant (and shy) so ends up talking as such.

Ga, ganbarimashoune… “L-let’s do our best…okay?” is a very literal take on it. You can see the same ne from Faye and Elise’s lines come up here. But Sakura also uses formal speech, which is why her ganbaru lacks ru and adds ri instead. It’s a polite conjugation. The mashou here is an invitation (in the sense of doing something together), hence the “let’s” in the literal translation.

You can see this put into practice in her turn action line, “Let’s go!” (which is translated from 行きましょう ikimashou).

The English made it “do my best for you” which actually has a rather different meaning. She also lacks her signature shyness stutter, and the “let’s” aspect (which they did keep for her “let’s go” line later), so that’s an interesting tidbit. Compare the tones:


Though, one can still hear that usual reluctance in her voice, so of course it can come down to a matter of interpretation.

Character English Original
Laslow I’ll do my best. 頑張る

He uses the kanji, and the strong emphasis ‘yo” at the end much like the two Kana’s do. He says it as a turn action like the rest of my “do my best”‘ers, yet has the “I’ll” added in. It may be due to the emphasis yo, yet the Kana’s have it too and only got “do my best!” in the end.

So that’s an interesting inconsistency, but not a bad one. After all you may want to try to differentiate the characters with what little you have to work with, though, in the same line of thought, one would wonder why “do my best!” appears in that form as many times as it does, too.

Character English Original
Oscar Only my best. がんばる

Oscar has a unique “Only my best” despite his Japanese being the same as Laslow (minus the kanji) and similar to Kana (minus the exclamation mark). He uses the yo emphasis like those two. Yet it seems his personality was kept in mind for his English line, and so he got a rather different English line in the end compared to the others.

That’s it for the “do my best” comparisons, based on a quick search of the dialogue on gamepedia. However, I excluded the instances that appear in dialogue outside the short lines. For instance, if you do a basic search of “do my best” you’ll end up with quite a few results from extended character dialogue! This goes back to my point that it’s really common in Japanese media beyond just this game. You can be assured that most of the time, if you see “do my best” or some variant appear in translated Japanese media, it was very likely because they originally said some form of ganbaru!

In short:

The localization translates quite a few lines from Japanese (variants of ganbaru) into the line “do my best!” Yet, looking at the table above, you see the Japanese seems quite varied. On paper, it may appear that character nuance is lost in translation, however, when kept in mind that these are mostly voiced lines, the tonal (and hence, character) differences can be better expressed by voice. That said, there are still some exceptions here and there.

How would you have gone about expressing nuance in different ways if you were stuck with just text? It may be interesting to see how you come up with how characters would go about saying some of these lines with all their little differences.

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