Did Natsume Misspell Its Own Name in Harvest Moon 64?

After I posted a recent article about Harvest Moon, I was reminded that Natsume has made many mistakes, typos, and wacky translations in other games… including misspelling its own name on the title screen of Harvest Moon 64!

I was really interested in see if this was real, so I booted the game up and saw that it was indeed called “Natume” on the title screen!

And this is right after the company’s name is spelled as “Natsume” on a boot-up logo screen:

“How the heck could they make a typo with their own name?!” is a sentiment I’ve seen online… But on closer inspection, “Natume” ISN’T exactly a typo.

Whenever I finish my professional translation projects I often have to translate reams and reams of Japanese credits into English, and this same issue pops up all the time, every time. What’s going on is similar to the Yoshi vs. Yossy thing: there are several different ways to write Japanese words using the English alphabet.

In super-simple terms, one style is preferred by native Japanese speakers, and one is preferred by foreigners. Because of this, there are often multiple, legitimate ways to spell the same word, although they’re meant to be pronounced the same way. And because of these different systems, what foreigners might write out as “tsu” is often written as “tu” by Japanese speakers.

Thus, “Natsume” and “Natume” are technically both correct spellings. In fact, the “Natume” spelling isn’t that uncommon – plenty of other Japanese companies spell it that way too:

Still, I guess someone on the translation team hadn’t gotten the memo that the company preferred “Natsume” as its official spelling. Which isn’t too surprising, given the quality of the translation – seriously, even the title screen says “Push the START”!

Anyway, even if “Natume” isn’t necessarily a typo, it IS a consistency mistake. It shouldn’t have happened, but it’s probably to be expected from such a big company – I mean, even their web guy seems to have spelled it “Natume”:

I guess the important thing to take away from this is that there are usually multiple ways of spelling the same Japanese word, and every so often these alternate spellings will sneak into stuff. So if you’re ever playing a Japanese game or watching Japanese anime or whatever and think to yourself, “Why is this suddenly spelled slightly differently?” now you probably know why!

Get the Very First Legends of Localization Book!

My very first Legends of Localization book is now on sale! Check it out!

This book covers the original The Legend of Zelda and includes tons of new content, updated info, and more! It features a hardback cover, 208 full-color pages, a reversible book obi, a localization survey card, and many extras!

Whether you're a fan of the Zelda series, a fan of Legends of Localization, a retro gamer, or even just an aspiring translator / localizer, this book is for you!

Related Reading

Read more articles »

54 comments

      1. I think it might have been from the one where it teaches you how to speak Yoshi language at the end. Pretty sure I saw it in an article here at some point… Maybe the actual Yossy/Yoshi article?

        Reply
  1. AConcernedGamer

    I think I understand why Nihon-siki is favored so strongly by natives, but for all the conveniences it offers, it has, in my opinion, a major disadvantage that vindicates Hepburn:

    Nihon-siki cannot distinguish between γ€Œγ—οΌγ‚·γ€ and γ€Œγ›γƒοΌγ‚»γ‚£γ€ (“shi” and “si” in Hepburn), γ€Œγ‘οΌγƒγ€ and γ€Œγ¦γƒοΌγƒ†γ‚£γ€ (“chi” and “ti” in Hepburn), γ€Œγ€οΌγƒ„γ€ and γ€Œγ¨γ…οΌγƒˆγ‚₯」 (“tsu” and “tu” in Hepburn), and γ€Œγ΅οΌγƒ•γ€ and γ€Œγ»γ…οΌγƒ›γ‚₯」 (“fu” and “hu” in Hepburn).

    I already posted a comment in a previous article that, for long vowels like γ€Œγˆγ„γ€ and γ€ŒγŠγ†γ€, I prefer staying true to the hiragana spelling, which would result in, for example, “Nintendou” with a U at the end. The reason for that is to minimize errors in converting a romanized spelling back to kana. This is why I prefer Hepburn over Nihon-siki, not necessarily because it clarifies pronunciation of irregular kana.

    By the way, a box for a Famicom Disk System game, Family Computer Golf: Japan Course, says γ€Œγ‚Έγƒ£γƒ‘γƒ³γ€ (the English exonym “Japan”) instead of γ€Œζ—₯ζœ¬γ€ (the Japanese endonym, “Nippon”) at the upper-right corner (see here: http://www.mariowiki.com/File:Fds_famicomgolfjapancourse_2_jp.jpg). I always thought it unlikely that any native speaker would use a foreign endonym to refer to one’s own country, and more and more I feared that every time an English speaker refers to that country as “Japan”, a native cringes. Has there ever been, at any point in the history of the country, an international event encouraging other countries to refer to their country as “Nippon” instead of “Japan”?

    Reply
    1. I don’t think it answers your question, but I don’t think the foreign name is something that Japanese shy away from, just something that they don’t themselves use. There’s a video game and manga named Zipang (earlier form of “Japan”). The equivalent of Japan in the Rance series is also referred to as “JAPAN” in Romaji.

      Reply
    2. I’ve never gotten the impression that “Japan” is disliked in Japan. Since it comes from a Chinese reading of the characters, it’s not really different than ζ—₯本 being called Riben in Mandarin or Jatbun in Cantonese or Ilbon in Korean. I get the impression that it’s known as the English name, but not a “butchered” version or anything. Since English is cool in Japan, sometimes “Japan” is used to be cool.

      In G Gundam, the “neo” countries use English names instead of Japanese, so Neo Japan is ネγ‚ͺ・ジャパン instead of Neo Nippon. Neo China is even ネγ‚ͺγƒ»γƒγƒ£γ‚€γƒŠ instead of ネγ‚ͺδΈ­ε›½.

      In the Super Sentai series Battle Fever J, the main, Japanese, member is named γƒγƒˆγƒ«γ‚Έγƒ£γƒ‘γƒ³ (Battle Japan) instead of γƒγƒˆγƒ«ζ—₯本 or γƒγƒˆγƒ«γƒ‹γƒƒγƒγƒ³.

      Reply
      1. Also Yakitate! Japan. But that’s probably because the pan (bread) joke wouldn’t work if they didn’t spell it “Japan” rather than “Nihon”, I guess. (“Nippan” could’ve gotten close though. :P)

        Reply
    3. I see ジャパン often enough that I guess it’s not a huge deal. The first time I saw it I was a little confused too, though. Even more so because it had a typo!

      Even the Japanese text has a typo!

      I think the owner saw me snap that photo, actually. And later that week they fixed the sign, heh.

      Reply
        1. The Wanderer

          Actually, if I’m reading this right, the kana read “SHAPON” – and the Roman letters read “Japapn”.

          So at least three mistakes about the name, in one sign…

          Reply
          1. Shapon would be シャポン. Anon was correct. It does in fact read “Shapan.”

            Reply
  2. One place I’ve seen the tu thing is Summon Night on the PS1, where the auto-complete cycles between putting the character’s name in katakana, kanji, hiragana then all caps romaji (even though the game does support lower case), one of the characters will be rendered “NATUMI” but given how the official material and her (to my knowledge) lone appearance in an English released game use “Natsumi”, I think it’s just character limits at play.

    http://i.imgur.com/8uETj9I.png

    Reply
    1. They use all caps to avoid having to program that the first letter in the “English” name should be an upper-case.
      Character limits? I doubt so, since they must have predicted the English conversion will take from two to three letters per kana (otherwise translating some compounds with the “sh” would be impossible). My guess it’s a preference for γ€Žγ€=tu』 rather than γ€Žγ€=tsu』 rather than technological constraints.
      Or probably laziness.

      Nice to see someone remembers the “Summon Night” series πŸ˜›

      Reply
      1. EDIT: You’re right.
        The naming screen allows for only so much letters. An odd choice to say the least if they intended on having English names.
        I gues it doesn’t do the conversion on the fly, but rather have the alternate names in a predetermined list. Guess not as much games were as advanced as the Tengai Makyou IV naming screen.

        Reply
        1. Six characters is positively loads, man. Tons of older games limit you to fewer than that; if I remember correctly, the Lufia games only allow four-character names, and I seem to recall the Final Fantasy Legend and Adventure games doing the same. As, of course, did the original Final Fantasy.

          The NES (and PSX) Dragon Warrior games, on the other hand, would allow you to use nice long character names, but truncated them to four letters in usage pretty often.

          Reply
          1. Lufia allows five characters, actually. Aguro, Jerin, Maxim, Selan, and of course Lufia are all five-character names. You’re right about the other games, though.

            Reply
  3. Heh. I just read the Harvest Moon article today, so it’s interesting to see the comments there and then see this piece on the Natsume/Natume confusion in the same day. πŸ™‚ An entertaining read.

    Looking forward to reading more, especially the “Other Views” and AVGN articles. I enjoy seeing Japanese gamers’ opinions on things.

    Reply
  4. Although it’s not the same thing, this article reminded me of how Konami spelt Nintendo’s name wrong on the intro screen for the NES port of Life Force. You can see it at the beginning of this longplay…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgfTC3UVCVs

    “Licensed by Nintend of America Inc.”
    *Just one letter short

    Reply
    1. And then they made a PC collection of those NES games with that line with the Nintendo name removed outright πŸ˜›

      Reply
        1. It was released around 2002. It contained the three Castlevanias and both Contras. Someone found Jackal in the data but I don’t know if it was available or not.

          It actually makes sense that they removed Nintendo’s name because the PC release was not affiliated with Nintendo.
          They also removed the Konami logo, perhaps by then Konami had changed from the iconic squiggle logo to the current red bar. That was still a more bizarre change.
          Supposedly they changed the passwords for Castlevania II.
          Though I haven’t verified it myself. I know even on the NES, the CV2 passwords were changed between the NTSC and PAL versions (well, not so much changed as the font reordered because the PAL version had Nintendo’s no-vowels password censorship).

          Virtual Lab was a rushed, clearly unfinished puzzle game for Virtual Boy that was rushed to market because obviously they had to get it out while it could still be “LICENSED BY NINTENNDO”

          Has anyone yet told Microsoft they should consider a Start9 button for their next OS. πŸ˜›

          Reply
  5. I think the thing Yoshi’s back was originally a saddle, but nowadays it’s depicted as more of a shell to move him away from the idea of a pack animal and more of an “equal” buddy for Mario.

    Reply
  6. I don’t know how much romanticized is the status of Kabuki-cho / Yoshiwara areas as “cities of night” compared to real-life, but here’s your answer about the equivalent for 555-XXXXX πŸ˜›

    Reply
  7. Man, “Push the START” still cracks me up. Microsoft should have gone with that for its Windows 95 campaign.

    Notwithstanding that: if “Nat(s)ume” is so common… wossit mean?

    Reply
  8. AwesomeBrand

    This whole thing involving alternate spellings just reminds me of Thouzer from Fist of the North Star. His name is pronounced something like “Sao-zr” but the official spelling given by the Japanese is Thouzer or the rare Thouther while translations, fanmade or official dub, usually changes it to Souther or pronounce it how its supposed to be… Then you have the game “Ken’s Rage” which keeps the original romanized spelling but keeps the original spelling.
    Speaking of which, Ken’s Rage would be a slightly interesting comparison. The translation partially quotes lines from Army of Darkness and Highlander.

    Reply
    1. Logically, shouldn’t it be Souther, though? I assume is name is derived from a straight-ish translation of Nanto-rokusei into English.

      Reply
    2. His name is ァウアー (Sauzaa). The “Thouzer” anglicization is a technically valid one. It could even be anglicized as something weird like Thauzar or Sauzer or Thouser. Made-up fantasy names almost always result in this kind of trouble.

      For example, Gundam character γ‚»γ‚€γƒ©γƒ»γƒžγ‚Ή (Seira Masu) is almost always called “Sayla Mass” in English. However, on at least one occassion her name was anglicized as “Sarah Math”.

      Reply
    3. Yeah, I thought of that, too. The weird confusion between Thouzer / Souther, Lin / Rin, stuff like that always bothered me.

      Another thing this made me think of is how in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, the spelling of Jotaro’s last name, Kujo. It’s preferred to be Kujo here it seems, but the creator romanizes it as Cujoh sometimes.

      Reply
    4. “Then you have the game β€œKen’s Rage” which keeps the original romanized spelling but keeps the original spelling.”

      It keeps the spelling but it keeps the spelling? I think you probably wanted to say something else?

      Reply
  9. About the Yoshi saddle, I think it’s funny you brought it up because when I was in high school, I once heard some of my classmates arguing about the same thing! As for me, I think it’s a saddle, though it’s possible that it could be a shell fashioned into one. But that’s just me.

    Reply
      1. Makin’ me feel old now. i was a few years out of high school before the FIRST Call of Duty game came out.

        Reply
  10. Natsume has a legal claim on serious fun. That’s why we get so many samey shooters these days; all that’s left is serious boredom.

    ALTERNATIVELY:

    Natsume has a legal claim on serious fun. The only thing that’s left is whimsical fun.

    Reply
    1. They’re considerate enough not to put it in the in-game text…
      Taito had to append [TM] to almost every name and even the “Yabba-daba-doo” in all of their Flinstone games. In the in-game dialogue. And the pause menu. And the charge meter.

      Reply
  11. I say it still counts as a spelling mistake since even in Japan they’ve been spelling it in English even in Japan. Their first slogan (in Japan) was “It’s technostacy. Since 1987.” (even though, according to GameFAQs, they started dealing alleged video-crack in 1988 πŸ˜€ )

    I know the PCE version of Puzzle Boy (aka Kwirk) said on the title screen it was by Telenet and “Atlas”.

    Reply
  12. This reminds me of a weird spelling I saw for velociraptor in Japanese. It was in katakana, but the way it was spelled didn’t sound like the way it should be pronounced: be-ro-ki-ra-pu-ta.

    Reply
    1. The actual spelling in Japanese is Verokiraputoru (γƒ΄γ‚§γƒ­γ‚­γƒ©γƒ—γƒˆγƒ«).

      If you’re weirded out by the “ki” sound, it seems to be common practice. In Japanese, Triceratops is Torikeratopusu (γƒˆγƒͺγ‚±γƒ©γƒˆγƒ—γ‚Ή).

      Reply
      1. More accurately, it’s “common practice” in English to just pull a pronunciation out of one’s ass based on how the word is spelled.
        The Japanese pronunciations are correct Classic Latin and Greek pronunciation of the word stems in question.

        Reply
        1. I had been mispronouncing the name on the beer “Lowenbrau” forever. It’s pronounced something like Lehbenbroi in Japanese. I figure that must be closer so I just pronounce it like that all the time now.

          Reply
  13. Someone say γƒŠγƒ„γƒ‘? That was the Japanese name of Sabrina in Pokemon, I believe.

    420 Sabrina blaze it! Sabrina! Sabrina! Exclamation Shaun John Madden Kirlia Potatoes
    (OMG Twitch Speaks Pokemon is not going to leave my brain anytime soon)

    Reply
  14. “Still, I guess someone on the translation team hadn’t gotten the memo that the company preferred β€œNatsume””

    Actually it’s not the translators who write this kind of text – it would have been Natsume themselves who wrote it.

    Reply
  15. My favorite example of that Martin Sigmar from in the anime s-CRY-ed. Sigmar is a German name, so the S is pronounced like a Z. Translations are all over the place, even though the correct spelling is clearly shown onscreen at least once. The official translation went with “Jigmar,” but “Zigmarl” also shows up a lot.

    Reply
  16. Great blog and I love your articles. This one caught my eye particularly, as you bring up a point a lot of people forget, there is several methods to romanize Japanese. I work in translation too, translating Chinese to English, and I run into the same problem as well, for example certain names translated using Mainland guidelines differ from HK romanizations or Taiwan romanizations, and on top of that people/companies/etc. may prefer a unique romanization, which also has to be taken into account. While its sloppy to see inconsistancies in translation, such as Natume, a lot of Westerners overlook the fact, as you point out, the only correct way to write the company’s name is γͺ぀め!

    Reply
  17. This kind of reminded me of the Japanese Ancient Mew card that misspelled “Nintendo” as “Nintedo”. Although, I’m pretty sure that was just a typo.

    Reply

Post a Comment

Your email is kept private. Required fields are marked *