Q&A: Gilbert and Sexual Innuendo in Legend of Mana

Darien asked me loooong, long ago about something from Legend of Mana, and I feel bad for taking months to get to this question, so it’s time to be free of this weight!

Here’s the question:

Quest 58 in Legend of Mana — Gilbert: School Amour — is about Gilbert the centaur falling in love with a medusa, and, in the English, makes multiple jokes revolving around the phrase “get hard,” culminating in the Cactus’ response “he got hard?” after the quest. Does all that play in the Japanese also, or was it invented in localisation?

Having never played Legend of Mana myself, this is all completely new stuff to me. So I looked at some Japanese fan sites and checked a number of videos to see what’s up with this scenario. Here are some Japanese and English screenshots for comparison:

So, through videos and Japanese resources like this, it looks like the Japanese text uses the phrase 固くなる a lot too, which is essentially “to become hard” or “to become solid”. So, yeah, the Japanese script uses it a lot, and no, the localization didn’t make this up.

That said, compared to English, 固くなる isn’t that unusual of a phrase at all – it’s used in all sorts of everyday Japanese situations, and in the case of Japanese entertainment, instead of saying “so and so turned to stone” like we normally would in English, it’s very common to hear “so and so turned hard” in Japanese. Hopefully that makes sense.

So although I think the innuendo is there, it’s not quite as strong as it comes across in English, where the phrase “get hard” instantly has sexual connections. The localization’s phrasing of “gettin’ hard for you, baby” and such throughout this quest also ups the innuendo level a bit more, but both versions still achieve the same result of mixing petrification word play with sexual innuendo jokes.

Also, although I don’t have a picture of the cactus guy specifically mentioned in the question, he does indeed say the same thing in the Japanese version that he says in the English version.

I also can’t help but note that this Gilbert guy’s overly-romantic and overly-poetic personality has kind of changed in the English version in some parts. The first screenshots above are just a small example, where he’s sort of singing out of stupid love in Japanese, while in English he comes off as really horny, you know? I dunno, I’ve never played the game, so I’m probably missing something. If not, maybe it’ll be a subject for another day 😛

Anyway, there’s the answer to the Legend of Mana “gettin’ hard” question! Hopefully fans out there will find it enlightening and (INSERT YOUR OWN GETTING HARD JOKE HERE)!

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  1. Gilbert was pretty loevy-dovey dorky throughout the game. He did use poetry a lot as far as I can recall.

  2. Okay, I’ll be the guy: what do the shopping carts have to do with anything? If there’s a joke here other than “shopping centaur,” I’m not getting it.

    1. Heh, no joke or anything, I just needed to come up with a pic but couldn’t find anything good so rather than try too hard I decided to have fun with it. And I figured it might get some people talking about it 😛

  3. Here’s another game I beat somewhat recently (2010) and yeah, if you don’t have to play this game, I’d say you shouldn’t. It might be the most maddening game I’ve played. It still looks gorgeous and the combat can be fun, but it’s full of really avant-garde concepts that don’t work properly and don’t pay off. You wind up wasting so much time trying to find quests, or you just play the game out of a strategy guide. Neither of those options are particularly fun.

    1. I’ll be the guy on the other side of this fence. The game is very deeply flawed, but it’s full of brilliant big ideas that manage to shine through periodically. So I guess basically I agree with you about all the particulars, but I think the overall experience is sufficient to redeem the copious flaws. Especially at $6 on PSN instead of $50 retail, which I paid for it new.

      The first time, I mean. Since, uh, I bought it on PSN also. 😮

  4. Not like the English version of Final Fantasy VII at any rate, where “Tch!..” and “Guh..” were regularly translated as “f**k” and “*bleep*” (sic).
    The way that game was handled was pretty… interesting to say the least.

    And just for fun here’s the horrible French localization, ranking among the worst of the worst (you don’t need to know French to recognize how awful it is from these screens):

      1. Well, SquareSoft only had an American branch at the time. Their early titles were handled in Europe by Nintendo (hence why, when they released Secret of Mana on iOS, they only had the rights to the English Woosley script: other languages had their scripts re-translated directly from Japanese).
        In particular, Final Fantasy 7 French, and the equally-awful Spanish script, for all PS and PC versions, were done by Sony of Europe. It goes without saying the translators were not qualified at all: they would translate English idioms literally.
        They did establish a proper European branch in England by 1998, and things got better…

        …not that it stopped completely, with the recent European Dissidia game on PSP having the dialogues translated to French/Spanish/German, but the actual in-game text pertaining to gameplay (i.e. everything else besides cutscene subs) was left in English. Makes one wonder what are they thinking..

        1. A shame they couldn’t have retranslated Secret of Mana from scratch. I’m sure everyone knows a lot of stuff got cut out of the game’s story and dialogue.

          That is interesting information about the European translations. I was not aware of any of that. Thank you for sharing that information. I can see the issue was just hiring the right folks who are well-versed in the languages.


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