E3 2019 Nintendo Direct: How did they present the Bowser Gag in Japanese? JPN vs ENG

A very brief post!

During the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct, there was a scene with a gag involving Nintendo of America’s President Doug Bowser and the character Bowser.

Immediately I (and some others) thought: “How did that joke work in Japanese?” After all, his name in Japanese is not Bowser, but “Koopa.”

It’s pretty straightforward actually. Looking at the Japanese version of the presentation, they just added a note in the overlay that is not present in the English version:

The overlay says: “Bowser (Koopa’s English name)” and “Doug Bowser (NoA President).

So, the joke is actually presented exactly the same/with the same script, just with these added notes for context.

While explaining the joke with these subtitles may lessen the impact to those already “in” on it, it was probably necessary for this specific context.

That being said, if you could think of an alternative way to present Doug Bowser and Koopa in a case of English to Japanese localization, that may be a fun exercise!


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FE7 Localization: “You think you can stand up to Batta the Beast?” [JPN vs ENG]

Today’s short post comes from a reader on twitter:

Hi, I was wondering if you could take a look at a certain infamous line from FE7’s prologue boss in Japanese…

They linked the above image of the first boss that many western fans of FE had first run into –Batta the Beast!

So just what does he say in Japanese? It’s a straightforward case of colorful localization. Let’s take a look!

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FE9 Path of Radiance Localization: Was Greil’s “Harsh Scolding” a “Harsh Beating” in Japanese? [JPN vs ENG]

Please note there may be some spoilers in for Path of Radiance!

Today’s post is a brief request from a reader on another page of this blog. It was a simple concern:

In the English version of Path of Radiance, when Ike tried to touch the medallion, he says his father “scolded him harshly”. Remembering your article about the Shiro slap scene, I became curious and checked the Japanese script. I don’t know Japanese, so I checked Google translate. I honestly don’t know what I expected to find, but I was shocked and horrified that it looked like the “harsh scolding” was originally a bad beating. Maybe I’m just in denial, but I know Google translate is not all that reliable, so I hope you can confirm it for me.

 

The “Shiro slap scene” they mention is in reference to this previous comparison about Fire Emblem Fates.

The short answer: Yes, Greil did strike Ike in some way in Japanese.

For details, let’s take a look at the dialogue!

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FE7 Localization: Was Hector and Eliwood’s A Support Mistranslated? Who cut their hand? [JPN vs ENG]

Today’s post comes from a thread on reddit which concerns Hector and Eliwood’s A support conversation. u/Dragoryu3000 posed a question:

Hold up, is Eliwood and Hector’s A-Support majorly mistranslated?

They pinged me in a thread and I looked into it. The issue revolves primarily around Erik Laus and vague wording in the translation being potentially misleading as to what occurred. You can read their thoughts and the rest of the thread in-depth on the thread before reading this post if you want to get a better idea of the issue, but I’ll try my best to explain it as we go along, too.

So let’s take a look!

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Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon: Evolution? Isn’t that like, maturing quickly? [JPN vs ENG]

Time for another entry in Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon comparisons. I have looked into some others before, which you can find listed under the comparisons page!

Today, I look at a quick reader request for Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon:

A friend of mine told me that, in the health class scene in Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon, the partner in the Japanese version asks the teacher if evolution is similar to sex. In the English localization, they instead compare it to puberty. Could you confirm whether this is true?

They helpfully provided the links to the dialogue in question for both English and Japanese (a big thank you for that!)

So let’s take a look:

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Fire Emblem Blazing Blade (FE7): A look at the Japanese commercial

As part of a request from a friend on twitter, I decided to look into the original Blazing Blade commercial. I translate what’s going on, an excerpt from an interview regarding the commercial, a design document, what song is playing, and some other fun tidbits.

So let’s take a look!


First, here is the commercial itself, starring former actress Maki Horikita.

And below is the translation. I try to go in order and specify what is said by the voice, and what is just text. The song is afterward. Please note the translation is also to express intent, and thus, is not completely literal.

出会い
Encounters….
仲間
Friends…
戦い
Battles…

(Voice) 仲間と一緒にどう戦うか・・・
How will you fight alongside your friends…?

成長
Growing Together…

喜び
Happy Moments…

強くなる
Becoming Stronger

(Voice) みんな、どんどん強くなる・・・
Everyone grows stronger and stronger…

別離
Partings

会えない
For the last time

(Voice) 失った仲間には、もう・・・会えない・・・
The friends who fall…we shall never see again…

(Girl): さようなら
Goodbye…

(Voice): ファイアーエムブレム烈火の剣
Fire Emblem. The Blazing Blade.

Next, the song lyrics. Title: “LIFE IS…~another story~” by Ken Hirai. Specifically, the chorus:

答えなど何処にもない
誰も教えてくれない
でも君を想うとこの胸は
何かを叫んでるそれだけは真実

There’s no answer anywhere
Nor will anyone tell me
But my heart shouts at the mere thought of you
That much is the truth I do know

Note the song cuts off before the final two characters 真実 (truth). This is the third paragraph of the song. The rest of the Japanese lyrics for the song can be found here.

The song in full (or a cover of it, anyway) can be seen below. The original you will probably have to purchase:

Next is a brief excerpt from a larger interview with Tohru Narihiro from the Making of Fire Emblem 25th Anniversary book (specifically page 277).

[On expanding appeal with FE7…]

The TV commercial for Binding Blade featured a song that was reminiscent of the Shadow Dragon commercial. However, the Blazing Blade commercial had a different kind of appeal with casting Horikita Maki along with Ken Hirai’s song playing.

Narihiro: Yes. That was one of many ways we sought to widen the gates [to make the game have more widespread appeal].

It was presented with this design document:

The above document has the same flow as the final product. The minor differences are the lack of “goodbye,” as well as a slightly different word used for “parting” (they wrote “separation” instead). Another subtle difference is that it seems Kent is the character dying instead of Heath in the commercial, a tidbit I point out just a silly point later. Also, the title seems to be “A girl’s murmurs.” The music is simply “Ken Hirai~” but not what song of his, either.

This article is mostly straightforward and a reference point, so I’ll summarize any thoughts/analysis/silly trivia in bullet point format this time around:

  • From the commercial, interview, and documents, one can see that the intention was to broaden the appeal of the game by using a known actress, popular song from 2003, and a change of style in presentation among other things.
  • Most notable is how the commercial is more emotional and focuses on meeting allies, growing with them, and eventual partings via mechanics like perma death. Compare this with previous commercials that are more opera-like with an operatic flare (links provided in the interview segment above).
  • “LIFE is…~another story~” is a romantic song (as the excerpt may have implied already) by the famed Ken Hirai, so was likely used for its popular appeal rather than its literal meaning. However, the themes of friendship and bonding share similar themes to love and longing, so it helped set the intended mood beyond it simply being a popular song in 2003. The song was not written for the game, but was actually the theme for a TV drama known as Black Jack Ni Yoroshiku.
  • The final commercial featured Heath as the ally that has fallen and is being “parted with,” rather than someone so looks more like Kent in the original document. The emotional music paired with her waving him off with a “goodbye” became a bit of a joke among the fanbase, with multiple fans citing this commercial as the reason why they voted for hm on an FE7 popularity poll. They felt that bad! It’s much like how Dorcas came to fame thanks to the US commercial making him a bit of a joke.
  • Speaking of the US commercial (linked above), you can see the difference in intended marketing between the two versions. The US commercial goes with “build an army, trust nobody” as its central theme, rather than the themes of “meetings, growing, bonding, partings” that the Japanese commercial aimed for. Considering it was the debut game for the US (and west) too, it’s an interesting approach!

I believe that’s all that really needs to be said for this commercial! I hope to cover the Japanese commercial for Sacred Stones down the line.

Smash Bros: “Ridley Hits the Big Time” in Japanese? (Also every 3DS/Wii U Line) [JPN vs ENG]

A follower on twitter asked the following:

I took a quick look at it, and the results were as expected. It simply says 参戦 (san-sen), which means to “join” or “participate” in an event of sorts. It’s often used, but not limited to, fighting games. You see it used in Smash Bros a lot however!

I had recalled in response to the twitter user above is that the Japanese all across the board actually just had “Character Name 参戦,” leaving the localization to come up with colorful lines instead. But memory can be a fickle thing that can lead to misinformation, so those of you who know me also know I like to be very thorough, and so I went through all the trailers once again just to double check for all of you, and made this table:

Character Localization Japanese 日本語
Villager Villager comes to town! むらびと参戦!!
Mega Man Mega Man joins the battle! ロックマン参戦!!
Wii Fit Trainer Wii Fit Trainer weighs in! Wii Fit トレーナ参戦!!
Sonic NA NA
Rosalina & Luma Rosalina & Luma launch into battle! ロゼッタ&チコ参戦!!
Little Mac Little Mac punches in! リトル・マック参戦!!
Charizard Charizard fires it up! リザードン参戦!!
Greninja Greninja makes a splash! ゲッコウガ参戦!!
Mii Fighters
Lincoln Lincoln gets sworn in! リンカーン参戦!!
Elijah Wood Elijah Wood like to battle! イライジャ・ウッド参戦!!
Ice-T* Ice-T Pours it on! NA
Arino Kachou* NA 有野課長参戦!!
Palutena Palutena alights! パルテナ参戦!!
Dark Pit NA NA
Pac-Man Pac-Man hungers for battle! パックマン参戦!!
Lucina Lucina wakes her blade?! ルキナ参戦!?
Robin Robin brings the thunder! ルフレ参戦!!
Shulk Shulk foresees a fight! シュルク参戦!!
Bowser Jr. Bowser Jr. clowns the competition! クッパJr.参戦!!
Duck Hunt Duck Hunt takes aim! ダックハント参戦!!
Mewtwo Mewtwo Strikes Back! ミュウツー参戦!!
Lucas Lucas comes out of Nowhere! リュカ参戦!!
Roy Roy seals the deal! ロイ参戦!!
Ryu Here comes a new challenger! Ryu! リュウ参戦!!
Cloud Cloud storms into battle! クラウド参戦!!
Corrin Corrin chooses to smash! カムイ参戦!!
Bayonetta Bayonetta gets wicked! ベヨネッタ参戦!!
(Ultimate)
Ridley Ridley hits the big time! リドリ参戦!!

Some quick notes/pointers:

  • Mega Man is the only character that actually had it translated to “joins the battle.” Perhaps they felt it worked just fine, or that particular translator did not decide to do anything colorful. Being one of the first trailers, perhaps there was reluctance, yet, Villager was shown before that with his own colorful tag.
  • Sonic lacks a tag, perhaps due to being a returning character. Though the title of the video seems to be “Sonic Joins the Battle” which is also ソニック参戦 in Japanese. Straightforward enough!
  • Ice-T was exclusive for the NoA version. In the NoJ one, it was Arino Kachou instead, a celebrity associated with video games. This was rightfully changed as he would likely be totally unknown to an NoA audience. I did not check, but I wonder if NoE had a third celebrity? Please let me know.
  • Dark Pit lacks any tag for himself in both versions, and his trailer title is shared with Palutena’s so does not include him.
  • Lucina is the only character where the Japanese is slightly different. She has a “?” added where the usual second “!” is in all the rest of the titles. This is reflected in the localization too.
  • In Ryu’s trailer, where it says “I’m Looking / for a / Challenge”, the Japanese says, ” 俺より / 強いやつに / 会いに行く” (ore yori / tsuyoi yatsu ni / ai ni iku), which would mean “I’ve come to meet those stronger than me” (or, literally, “More than me / stronger guys / go to meet”).

So even if you do not speak Japanese, you can simply look at the characters 参戦 and how they appear straight down the Japanese column on the table above. You can even put it into Ctrl + F and highlight all instances.

As expected, the localization indeed spiced up many of the lines with either references to the characters and their source material or puns –which I’m sure is a touch that has been mostly well received. The Japanese side would have been “character joins the battle” all across the board, so perhaps they felt this would be a way to differentiate the characters with references/nods to their origins and fans.

In short:

Japanese is “CharacterName 参戦!! (joins the battle!!)” across the board. All the references and puns are solely creations of the localization. You can assume in the future that any title line in Japanese was likely 参戦.


How would you have gone about writing these lines? What sort of alternate titles for characters would you have come up with? Feel free to share!

Ideally I’d have provided a picture of every single character add on with subtitle, but I just lacked the time to do so. Does anyone know if there is a gallery out there that already has all the (actual) characters and their lines? My search was bogged down by all the fan made ones, so…