A while back, joeymartin64 asked me a translation question about the final battle in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. As he explains, there’s been some buzz about the final battle having a translation error or translation change in English:
The error supposedly occurs in the lines that Zelda delivers as the final boss, Dark Beast Ganon, manifests.
The English script contains the following line: “He has given up on reincarnation and assumed his pure, enraged form.” The implication in that seems to be that Ganon assumes this bestial form by gathering all of his power and rage at once, doing so at the cost of his ability to reincarnate. Pretty straightforward, right? Apparently not.
I’ve seen it mentioned that the Japanese counterpart to this line is quite different, even outright contradictory. Supposedly, the implication in that line is more along the lines of his undying desire to reincarnate fueling his rage to such a degree as to create the beast form we see. In other words, it’s his REFUSAL to give up on reincarnation that does it; almost the exact opposite implication as the English line!
So, what’s the verdict, good sir? Is there anything to this, or are those wacky The Internets getting it wrong again?
The particular line of interest is this one:
|Japanese release (Switch)||North American release (Switch)|
And here’s that same line with some of its surrounding text:
|Japanese Version (basic translation)||English Version|
|He’s an embodiment of hatred and grudge that arose in distant antiquity and revives again and again no matter how many times he’s destroyed.||Ganon was born out of a dark past. He is a pure embodiment of the ancient evil that is reborn time and time again…|
|This form was born from his obsessive refusal to give up on revival…||He has given up on reincarnation and assumed his pure, enraged form.|
|If set free upon the world, it would result in a tragedy surpassing the one 100 years ago.||If set free upon our world, the destruction will be unlike anything ever seen before.|
My basic translation there is a bit clunky but I think it gets the general idea across. Ganon has a conviction / obsession that centers on reviving again, no matter what. He refuses to give up on it, and that strong conviction has transformed him into his beast form. However I look at the Japanese text, that’s what I keep going back to.
The official English translation seems to indicate the opposite, though. According to the English version, Ganon has unquestionably given up on getting revived / restored.
I’ve only played the Japanese version in full so far, so it’s possible I’m missing other information that might’ve been explained in the English release. But at the very least it seems to me that the two lines do suggest very different things. I can’t really say much about the implications these differences have on Ganon’s details and lore, so I’ll leave that for other fans. Still, the English scene seems to imply that defeating Ganon now will destroy him forever, while the Japanese scene suggests that he’ll simply be back someday.
After giving it some thought, though, I realized there’s an alternate implication in the Japanese version: if his final form is the result of his refusal to ever give up, then maybe defeating that heightened form/refusal allows him to finally be gone for good. In which case both of the battles – between English Ganon and Japanese Ganon – would still have the same end result. Given past Zelda games, the “he’ll be back someday” interpretation seems most likely, however.
Oddly, English Zelda suddenly says that “Ganon is gone for now” during the ending, which seems to contradict what she says during the final battle. Her wording suggests he will revive / reincarnate after all.
For the curious, the Japanese version says that “the threat of calamity is gone/has passed”.
Anyway, like I mentioned, I’m only familiar with the Japanese half of the game at the moment, so if I’m overlooking something or misinterpreting something please let me know in the comments or on Twitter. It’s also very possible the English script was written in tandem with or maybe even before the Japanese script, which happens on occasion with big-budget, simultaneous worldwide releases. I didn’t follow the game’s development at all, so I’m not sure what the process was this time.