Jamie O. asked a question about Phantasy Star IV that seemed kind of interesting:
I recently made a friend of mine who’s into sci-fi stuff play through Phantasy Star IV (which turned out to be a bit of a bust since the Phantasy Star series is heavy on “Phantasy” and light on “Star”, a fact that I forgot since it had been about fourteen years since I played it last, but I digress). The translation seemed good enough – or at least, anything peculiar, I knew the story behind it or had a decent rationalization, which is as good as it gets for most of us, I suppose.
There was one line, however, that struck us both as odd, though. It’s a conversation that happens a little bit into the game.
Here’s a video of the entire scene for reference:
And here’s the questionable part:
CHAZ: “I have no idea what these machines are, but this is some place. You’re pretty adept at handling these machines. Were you caught by Zio while you were trying to get the system back under control?”
DEMI: “Yes, that’s right. Zio is very violent.”
GRYZ: “Very funny.” <————!??!!?
So Jamie asks:
What is very funny!? Was this a pun? Is Demi acting facetious? I don’t even know.
I apologize if you haven’t played this and it doesn’t make much sense with no context. I haven’t been able to find a Japanese script dump anywhere, otherwise I’d try and help point you to the right line in Japanese, at least. Also, for what it’s worth, there’s a script of the final Prototype version of the game, with many script differences, and this conversation is identical there. I know it’s a longshot, but I really want to sate my curiosity, and Phantasy Star IV seems to be the only script that the PS community hasn’t torn apart and examined. So, I look to you! If you please. Thank you.
I’ve never played but a few minutes of Phantasy Star games (well, except for PSO for the GameCube back in the day) but it’s always been something I’ve wanted to get into; it reminds me a lot of 7th Saga which I absolutely loved as a kid. So let’s consider this my first foray into Phantasy Star!
Luckily, getting to the scene in question was really easy in both games. So here’s a look at the line in question in Japanese and in English:
|Japanese release||English release|
From what little I played and saw, it looks like the English translation was really competently done, especially for its time! So it’s indeed a little strange to see this “Very funny” line in there when nothing seems to be funny. So let’s take a closer look at the scene’s text:
|Japanese version (basic translation)||Official translation|
|Rudy: I don’t know what any of this is, but it’s really something. I’m amazed you know how to use machines like these. So you got caught by Zio when you tried to stop the system from going haywire?||Chaz: I have no idea what these machines are, but this is some place. You’re pretty adept at handling these machines. Were you caught by Zio while you were trying to get the system back under control?|
|Frena: Yes, that’s right. He’s a very violent gentleman.||Demi: Yes, that’s right. Zio is very violent.|
|Pike: Heh… That’s an interesting way of putting it.||Gryz: Very funny.|
Without having played the full game up until this point it’s a bit hard to say anything for sure, but it sounds to me like Frena/Demi speaks in a very polite, rather formal way in Japanese. In doing so, she refers to Zio – who seems to be a pretty bad guy – in a very polite way, which naturally comes across as kind of odd.
And to this, Pike/Gryz responds by saying something like, “That’s an interesting way of putting it.” or “That’s a funny thing to say.”
The problem is two-fold: Frena/Demi doesn’t seem to speak in such an overly polite way in English in this particular line. And the word Pike/Gryz uses, 面白い (omoshiroi), has multiple possible translations ranging from “interesting” to “funny” to “amusing” to “entertaining” and even more.
|Japanese release||English release|
So the combination of these two things is why the translation of “Very funny.” seems so out of place – he was supposed to be commenting on the fact that Frena/Demi was speaking about Zio in a strange way.
Hopefully that clears up that question, although I get the nagging feeling that there’s something else to point out here that I’ve forgotten to mention. Oh, and if you’re looking for the Japanese text from Phantasy Star IV, this is a good place to check!
Also, although this isn’t 100% related to Jamie’s question, I have a question of my own – if someday I wanted to get into the Phantasy Star series, what games do you recommend? I’ve always been intrigued by the series since I was a kid (even despite being on the SNES side of the 16-bit wars) but I’ve just never really known where to start. If you got suggestions, lemme know!