This post is part of a series on reader requested (and personal curiosity) comparisons between Fire Emblem games’ Japanese and English scripts.
Today, I look into an old reader request involving some dialogue from Chapter 5 in Shadow Dragon! (Sorry it took so long!):
I’d just always assumed Manaketes looked somethin’ like parakeets. Sheesh…
I bolded the relevant part. This can’t work in Japanese, can it? Isn’t the Japanese for Manakete “Mamkute” even? Any wordplay at all in it?
Short answer: No wordplay is involved, it is a case of localization just punching up a line. It only exists in the localization.
Let’s take a closer look!
The following dialogue occurs upon visiting a villager in Chapter 5:
“Well g’day, there, son! …Why the wide-eyed stare? Ain’cha never seen a country village before? You know, speakin’ o’ rare sights, I once went to Pyrathi, where I saw me a real live Manakete! Cripes, let me tell you what a shock THAT was! In a blink, this regular old feller turned into an enormous dragon! I mean, I ain’t stupid. I’d heard of the dragonkin before. I’d just always assumed Manaketes looked somethin’ like parakeets. Sheesh… …What? Oh, this? I picked this stone up while I was there. Dunno what it is, but how often do you spy a glowin’ red rock, ya know what I’m sayin’ But honestly, it’s been kinda creepin’ me out lately. You want it? Go on ‘n’ take it. Sheesh…”
For context, the term “Manakete” is read as “Mamkute” (マムクート lit: Mamukuuto) in Japanese, so that does not sound like “parakeet,” hence the reader question.
Looking at the relevant section in Japanese (corresponds to bolded part above):
Boy, was I surprised… I saw this average looking old man, and he just up and turned into a dragon. I mean I had heard a little bit about the dragon family, yeah. But it’s just that I had no idea they were that impressive!
I had to take some liberties with the above too, but we are not looking at the specific nuance, and just the context. He does speak very informally, hence his odd speaking mannerisms in the localization.
In Japanese, he is talking about how he had no idea they were as “impressive” (the word he uses, スゲェ (sugei) can also come off as “unbelievable”, and said in a very informal way).
The localization opted to punch the line up to talk about them looking something like parakeets. They likely saw it as an harmless opportunity to play with the character a little bit and play up the “country bumpkin” kind of attitude that was conveyed via the accent and dialogue (as strongly hinted earlier in the dialogue in both English and Japanese about “ain’cha never seen a country village before?”).
That kind of punch up is nothing new to 8-4, the people in charge of this game’s localization (also known for Awakening and Shadows of Valentia).
As a reader helpfully pointed out, there is also the following possibility:
“I guess it was partially done so people would know how to pronounce manakete. I knew some people who thought it was pronounced “mana-ke-te” before Tiki’s voice-acted supports in Warriors cleared it up.”
I had not considered this, but it would be a clever way to queue the reader into that pronunciation too!
So, to answer the reader question: There was no wordplay involved in Japanese. The parakeet line is purely a creation of the localization. The Japanese instead focused on how he was impressed having no idea about the reality of a Mamkute/Manakete versus what little he had heard about them.
Original Japanese Script
That was straightforward enough! Unfortunately, I do not actually know which reader asked this question and where, as it was on my backlog. I do hope they see this article though!
I will continue to look at fun differences between the versions of Fire Emblem and other games. Any dialogue you’re interested in? Let me know in comments or via email!