What Do Those Monado Symbols Mean in Xenoblade?

Yesterday I posted about Japanese signs and text in Street Fighter II. In the comments, Darien asked about Japanese text in a completely different game – Xenoblade for the Wii:

I’ve always wondered if the various symbols that appear on the Monado in Xenoblade have actual meaning in Japanese. It’s not quite a sign, but it’s close!

By lucky coincidence, I’ve been playing Xenoblade for the last month or two! I haven’t finished it yet, but between the story and all the quests I’m over 100 hours now, a personal first for any game ever 😯

Okay, so down to the question! If you’re unfamiliar with Xenoblade, it’s a really amazing RPG with one of the most beautiful game worlds I’ve ever seen. The story revolves around a sort of sword called the “Monado”, and it has a big circle area in it that sometimes has writing of some sort pop up on it:

So the question is if these symbols are Japanese and if they mean anything. And the answer is yes! It’s indeed Japanese text. So let’s take a closer look at the various symbols.

One of the ones you’ll see over and over is on the loading screen. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting a photo of it looking good, but I’m referring to this screen:

The symbol here is 読, which is the character for “reading”. Which makes sense, since the game is loading / reading stuff off of the disc at the time.

Next are the Monado symbols that appear during battle – they’re Japanese text too!

Since I haven’t finished the game I think I’m missing one more symbol on there, but from what I DO have, the symbols are all as follows:

  • 轟: Roar / Thunder
  • 破: Break / Destroy
  • 盾: Shield
  • 機: Machine
  • 斬: Slash / Cut / Slice
  • 疾: Swift
  • 鎧: Armor

And looking on Japanese sites, it looks like the last one I’m missing is:

  • 喰: Eat / Devour

Actually, as soon as I got access to the Monado I was like, “Wait, why didn’t they localize these?” and then I was like, “You know, knowing what these mean is pretty handy!” So I usually just rely on the Japanese text to choose which art to use. I’m not sure what most of them are called in English, now that I think about it!

Also, for some reason, I originally thought the symbols that appear during some cut scenes weren’t any real language at all, but looking at screenshots online I guess I’m wrong, or maybe I was seeing the Japanese characters from behind and at some weird angle.

In any case, hopefully that helps answer the question! And if you haven’t checked out Xenoblade before, I recommend it just for the music and the amazing, thoughtfully-crafted world! But, like so many games I like, it costs a ton of money to buy nowadays 🙁

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  1. Eat/Devour (Eater ingame) is a sidequest ability, like Armor was. It involves ruins in Makna, so if you want to mess around with that, it might be a good idea. It’s an interesting ability. And might as well have them all!

    1. I honestly don’t remember how I even got Armor, it just suddenly showed up at one point sometime around all the Machina stuff. I assume I must’ve done some sort of quest that unlocked it.

      1. Armor’s not hard to get at all, you just have to pretty much do all the sidequests you see. Although I think you have to do quests with the Machina just outside the village rather than in it? I forget exactly, but it’s such a great skill, that you really can’t skimp on learning it.

  2. Mato-Sama, (This isn’t really regarding video games, but you said you wanted to go past video games) I was wondering about all the signs and graffiti in the background of the movie Akira. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a really great Anime and worth the ten bucks for the DVD. But, back to my main point, what do the signs and graffiti say when translated to English.

    1. Well, I dunno if I’d have the time to go through the entire movie and label everything everywhere, but if you have specific screenshots I can take a look at them sometime.

  3. I kinda stopped playing Xenoblade because the combat system was getting on my nerves, especially in comparison to the amazing Tales series I was also playing at the time.

    I have a question though – Xenoblade was localised for Europe before America. All of the voices in the game are very English, which is a stark (and refreshing) contrast to all of the JRPGs around with American-accented dubbing.
    My question is: Was this game redubbed for the American audience, or are the voices still the same English-accented voices they originally recorded?

      1. Actually, I don’t know if it would make a good post for the site, but it is often the case that a game localised for Europe instead of America will use British English rather than the American English we’re so used to games having. Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, for example, uses British terms in its script(for example “Mum” vs “Mom”).

        Even though I use and hear British English in my everyday life, I am very much used to games always using American English, so it is indeed surprising the few times when this isn’t the case! 😀

        1. I found it refreshing to get the European dub, since it meant all the people just spoke like normal people. For whatever reason, the American game dubbing world has adopted the trend of having everybody speak in absurd fake-o accents, and it’s really irritating. Everybody in Xenoblade just sounds like an actual person actually speaking.

          1. I cringe every time a southern US accent comes up in anime or games, because it’s almost always a terribly exaggerated fake. I guess it’s hard to cast someone who can ACTUALLY speak or fake an accent.

            The fact that it’s almost always attached to characters who are of, shall we say, less than average intellect is just icing on the cake. Screw unnatural, I want a dub that doesn’t actively set out to insult me.

  4. Yeah, I’m charming like that. “Oh, are we talking about Street Fighter 2? Perfect time to ask my unrelated Xenoblade question!”

    I figured the Monado was saying more or less exactly those things, but it’s cool to know for sure. I have a cap card; I can try to get you a better pic of the loading screen Monado… assuming my cap card has drivers that work with my current OS, since I ain’t used it in a few years. 😮

    Glad you’re enjoying the game, anyway. I loved it; spent about a hundred hours on it myself. One of my favourite things to do in a video game is explore, and Xenoblade has the greatest world design I’ve ever seen. It’s just such untrammeled joy wandering around and experiencing what’s out there — enough that I was willing to forgive the quite frankly curious systems. 😉

    That’s actually why I was such a big Earthbound fan (WHOA FULL CIRCLE); Earthbound had, especially for its day, a really intricate world with a ton of stuff to see.

  5. As long as we’re talking about kanji appearing in localised games, I’m gonna mention Malik’s special move in Tales of Graces f, known as ‘Tremorous Celestial Sundering Shredding Light of Cyclonic Butchery’.

    The joke here is just that “the move’s name is so dang long”, so as he says the name of the move while performing it, it appears on screen one kanji at a time. I don’t think it works very well in English though… What do you think would have been a better way to localise this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ekf1qkOMU0 – Japanese

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMtlH3nCV5k – English

  6. Oh wow, it’s cool to know what those symbols mean now, and now I’m a little curious about whether the attack names in Japanese matched the symbols. I mean, Roar/Thunder is appropriate for an attack name, but I’m not sure “Machine” works on that level.

    1. Well, the “machine” one is used to make machine enemies vulnerable to normal attacks, so it actually made a lot of sense to me and helped me get a handle on things when being barraged by all the millions of tutorial screens at the beginning. But yeah, I guess it’s a little different in that it indicates the target of its action rather than what the action itself does.

        1. I guess it’s supposed to be “enchanting” your allies’ weapons so they can fight too. That’s just a guess, though.

  7. There is one last symbol the Monado shows, actually. It’s at the very end of the game during the final boss fight sequence, so for spoiler reasons I won’t go into any great details. Suffice it to say that it’s very easy to guess what it means given the context of this particular scene.

    1. Actually the Monado I has the symbol “Machine” when active. The Monado II has the symbol “Person”. The Monado III has the symbol [spoiler].

  8. I’ve been working on Xenoblade for the past two years. I’m still only in the marsh. Why is it taking me so damn long to play this game?!

    …and yes, of course, it’s always Reyn Time!

    1. Maybe you don’t want to leave Satorl Marsh because it’s amazing. Easily my favourite area in the game. There’s no good excuse for playing it during the day, though — set the clock to nighttime and enjoy the sights and sounds. 😀

  9. Those Japanese symbols actually make it look and feel really awesome. Kinda like how before you were saying English letters in Japan are seen as “cool”, those Japanese symbols definitely gives it a really cool vibe, makes you feel like you’re a true “dragon samurai warrior” or something. :p

  10. In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, Shulk can change his stats with the Monado, could you analyze the characters for that?


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