Q&A: What’s the Donkey Kong 64 Rap Like in Japanese?

A while back I got an e-mail asking about the Donkey Kong 64 rap:

Hello, Mr. Mato. My name is OmniM and I have been reading over your fascinating articles on your Legends of Localization site; it’s very informative and the site really expanded my mind on the Japanese/English translations of the games I play. There’s a line I would like you to translate in the Japanese version of Donkey Kong 64 (it’s the famous “one hell of a guy” line in the intro) and I want to know if they changed the line or not. Thank you for your time and keep up with updating the site.

So I did some quick digging around and found a video of the Japanese DK64 intro:

…Yep, it’s just what I expected: it’s the same as the English version. Completely the same – it doesn’t even have Japanese subtitles!

The reason I’m not surprised is because I’ve seen this happen lots of other times. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a pain to translate / re-record songs or if it’s because English stuff is too “cool” as-is or what, but this is pretty normal for English stuff going into Japanese. I can only assume the Japanese version didn’t get get Japanese subtitles there because the song was meant to be sung to.

A quick search online shows that a Japanese translation of the lyrics is available on none other than Shigesato Itoi’s website here!

monkey-rap-japanese

So there you go! This is a case of something NOT getting localized! It also makes me want to someday take a look at the Donkey Kong Country games and see how they might’ve been handled too. It’s gotta be really weird that a Japanese-made character/series is being imported back into Japan with such a different vibe to it :P

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11 comments

  1. Thank you, Mr.Mato. I’m surprised that the intro didn’t got changed due to what you said in the article. I wonder what other games got the same treatment? That would be interesting to see!

    Reply
  2. stone cold steve austin (scsa)

    I’m not surprised they didn’t change the entire intro. That would have been a lot of work and Japan is cool enough with English. That probably never happened the other way around though right? A Japanese song being left in when localized to the West?

    Reply
    1. It happens a lot, so it’s really hard to guess when something will be changed or something will be left as-is. A quick example off the top of my head is Goemon 64.

      Anyway, that’s why I found this interesting – you can’t always tell when a song will get localized or not.

      Reply
  3. @scsa That happens a lot more often with games nowadays… Remember how anime series like Naruto and Dragon Ball Z got new intro songs for the original English releases? Nowadays, nobody does that anymore (Well, except Pok√©mon)… Same thing for most games, from my experience.

    Reply
    1. Well, Level 5 still uses the karaoke versions in his non-japanese Inazuma/Layton games, but i think is mostly a copyright issue.

      Reply
  4. Huh… that “rapper” cartoon on that page is… a tad racist.

    Otherwise, interesting stuff. Never really got why the word “hell” was considered problematic.

    Reply

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