Happy new year to all! Really sorry about the lack of posts lately… life has just been so busy.
A short and very trivial post today, mostly for posterity! A thread on reddit regarding gender pronouns got me curious to check a line in Ch 26 of FE7, where Ursula refers to Limstella as “my lady Limstella.”
Fans of FE7 are aware that Limstella isn’t really clearly referred to as male or female throughout the game, so this line sticks out a bit with that in mind.
The question that arises is: does the JP script also clearly define Limstella in this line to point at any intended gender?
Short answer: No, the JP uses a gender neutral title (“-sama” 様), so the gender-specific title is unique to the ENG/Localization.
You can see more details below. (Please be wary of spoilers for FE7).
In Ch. 26 (Battle Before Dawn), if the player wins the chapter without defeating Ursula, the following scene will play out.
English (from the FE wiki):
Ursula: Limste–my lady Limstella. I am prepared. The only reward for failure is death. However, I must give my report to Lady Sonia…
Limstella: That won’t be necessary.
Limstella: This is quite excellent quintessence. I believe Lord Nergal will be pleased.
I colored three different instances of Lady/Lord used in this conversation, which I will refer to later on.
Now here is the JP script:
Japanese (courtesy of pegasusknight):
I colored coded the corresponding colors with their respective English. I did not offer a translation as the script is the same in all other respects.
However, non-Japanese readers can pick up on how in all three instances in Japanese, the same character is used. The character is 様 (sama), a polite honorific attached to a name. You may be called Example-sama by the staff if you were a customer in a store, for example. But you’ve likely also heard it in various Japanese media, such as an underling reporting to a superior. (Long time readers of this blog will also recognize this from the Batta the Beast article).
Much like the usual “-san”, this can and is applied to men and women, so there is no gender differential. In English, the honorific is broken down naturally by gender, so “Lord” or “Lady” (much like how -san would become Mr. or Ms/Mrs.). So Localization likely went with an assumed title, given that the Japanese is vague. One possible work around may be to have given Limstella a title instead that would imply respect without gender definition. For example, some kind of military ranking such as “General” which could be used. It’d become something like:
Limste- General Limstella.
It carries over the same startled dialogue before Ursula corrects herself with an honorific, or in this case, Limstella’s title. (Not that General is the best title but this is just for example’s sake).
Now, all that being said, one would assume the Localization group had reference material to work with to ensure character consistency and/or the ability to consult the Japanese developers directly as they often do these days. Thus, one could conclude that the English localization could be a confirmation of intent. However, whether or not the process was as involved back when FE7 was localized is unknown.
After all, FE7’s localization suffers from many issues, such as that one quintessence line with Nergal, that strange case of Eliwood and Hector’s C Support, or whatever is going on with poor Guy in various epilogues of his. This could come down to quality control, but one could argue that it may also throw the notion of reference material or consulting developers into doubt.
As the person on the reddit thread mentioned –we may indeed just have to wait for Limstella to finally be added to FE Heroes… whenever that may be!
In summary, while the English uses “Lady Limstella” here, it may simply be a convenience on Localization’s side rather than proof of developer’s intent. The JP is gender neutral, and it is unknown if it was as an assumed title on Localization’s end or if there were some behind the scenes documents that may have a more definitive answer.
As usual, we’ll probably never know!
That’s all for today! I hope this small article can help provide further context if anyone brings up Ursula’s line in the future.
Did any of you see other gender references to Limstella that those in the reddit thread or myself may have missed? I’d love to look into them if so!
Find other fun FE comparisons (and more) here.
Interesstingly, this change actually may have still been intentional, even if it doesn’t line up with the original intentions of the writers. Limstella’s internal character-data has a flag set that defines a character as female(For the sake of a specific gamemechanic when the character is in a mounted class) and the team may have picked up on this.
However, this could be called into question with the rest of the game keeping mentions of the character as gender neutral. It is really a coinflip with how inconsistent the localization really was.
Thanks for the comment. Ooh that’s an interesting thing about the internal character-data flag.
But yeah… I really wish there were some design books or more interviews about FE7 out there, but alas, FE was still less mainstream back then…
Limstella has been added to FEH since this article was last written, too. It looks like Localization went for “they/them” over there!