When PETA, Super Mario, and Game Localization Collide

A few months ago, NES Boy had an unusual question that had to do with Super Mario RPG and… PETA? Huh? Weird, I never imagined I’d EVER be typing that sentence out.

Anyway, here’s the question!

Mato, I’d like you to look at a line from Super Mario RPG. This particular line is interesting because it was reused in PETA’s New Super Chick Sisters game from 2009.

The sub-plot of this game is that Mario is attempting to rescue Pamela Anderson, only to be repeatedly beaten to the punch by the game’s protagonists, Nugget and Chickette. He tries to get help from Luigi and Bowser, with little success.

Anyway, this game can be played in other languages, and Japanese happens to be one of the options. It’s obvious that the Japanese setting is translated from English without localization, as Bowser isn’t called Koopa, and the line he says isn’t the same one he says in the Japanese version of Super Mario RPG.

So here’s the English line and the translated Japanese line side-by-side:

The English line here is a quote from Super Mario RPG for the Super NES. But the question is, what’s up with the Japanese translation? Is it right? Wrong? Somewhere in-between? Let’s take a quick look!

First, here’s a look at both lines side-by-side:

English VersionJapanese Version (basic translation)
Bowser: Fungah! Foiled again!Bowser: Fungah! Foiled again!

So it’s pretty much the same thing here – just a straight translation from English into Japanese.

Now, here’s a look at the line in Super Mario RPG that’s being referenced:

And here’s what this text says, side-by-side:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Koopa: Fungya!Bowser: Fungah! Foiled again!

Right off the bat, we can see that villain is known as “Koopa” in Japanese but “Bowser” in English. This name difference has been in place since the very first Super Mario Bros. game actually, so this isn’t surprising. But this means that the name “Bowser” is completely unknown to Japanese fans.

We can also see that the Japanese line didn’t have anything about being “foiled again” – he just makes his weird “fungya” sound and that’s it.

Given this information, it looks like the PETA folks just had someone unfamiliar with games translate the text straight into Japanese. The result is this:

  • Japanese players wouldn’t get that this is a Super Mario RPG reference at all
  • Japanese players wouldn’t even know this PETA game is referencing the main Mario Bros. villain at all, which weakens the whole point of the parody somewhat
  • The net result is a strange line that seems like it should be familiar but is instead slightly off. It’d be like if someone wanted to make a Mario reference in English but accidentally changed the names AND the text – something like, “Sorry, Richard, but the waitress is in another building, yo!”

Still, it feels like it was such an unimportant line and reference in the whole scheme of things that it doesn’t really matter. In fact, just the fact that we’re talking about an old PETA game from 2009 has probably achieved what the creators intended – awareness. …Clever girl.

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    1. PETA is known to outsource these flash games (It was either in the game’s credits or the developer’s website), which would explain why it actually knows stuff like the SMRPG line. I’m pretty sure the Pamela Anderson part was some order from the people with the cash (PETA) though.

      1. *website that people learned the staff behind the, then popular, Robot Unicorn Attack were behind the recent Pokemon “parody”.

        1. This Is Pop didn’t make Robot Unicorn Attack, but they were behind many other Adult Swim.com games, including one called “Tofu Hunter”.

  1. Fungahhh! I remember Chupon (Typhoon) from Final Fantasy III (6) saying that. It cracked me up so hard, along with the name “Chupon”…it was just such a bizarre battle overall. I don’t think I’ve encountered the “fungah” onomatopoeia anywhere else, actually. I wonder what it’s supposed to signify…some sort of giant beastly growl/roar?

    1. Actually, my original version of this article included a bunch of stuff about just that, since I knew other RPG fans would remember the same thing ๐Ÿ˜›

      I decided to leave that talk out for now since it sort of strayed from the topic. But I’m still not fully sure what funga and fungya mean, it seems they’re onomatopoeia that have different meanings in different situations (many of which are cat-related for some reason) so I wanna do some more research and possibly ask some native speakers about it. In the case of Chupon (which should’ve been translated as Typhon or Typhoon I later learned), though, it’s most likely the sound of a stuffed-up nose.

      1. If Bowser says “Fungya” after being defeated in battle, isn’t it likely that that’s just ๅ€’่ชž of ใŽใ‚ƒใตใ‚“?

        From ๅบƒ่พž่‹‘็ฌฌๅ…ญ็‰ˆ:
        ใ€ใŽใ‚ƒใตใ‚“ใ€‘ใ€€่ฒ ใ‹ใ•ใ‚ŒใฆๆŠ—ๅผใ‚„ๅคชๅˆ€ๆ‰“ใกใฎใงใใชใ„ใ•ใพ๏ฝก๏ฝขโ€•ใจใชใ‚‹๏ฝฃ๏ฝขโ€•ใจ่จ€ใ‚ใ›ใ‚‹๏ฝฃ

        1. That was actually my first instinct when I took the Mario RPG screenshot, but looking into it I found ใตใ‚“ใŽใ‚ƒ is used as a cry for a bunch of other situations. A few are mentioned here: http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1028667895 but looking through blogs and sites and videos I’ve found it used in other ways too. I really wanna take a closer look at the phrase someday for my own learning’s sake.

      2. Isn’t “fungya” just some incomprehensible cry? You pointed it out numerous times in your FF4 localization comparison that the monsters sometimes uttered nonsensical cries when they were defeated. And it’s nothing new in anime either, as many monsters and creatures let out weird sounds all the time when they’ve lost the battle.

        1. Sure, that’s a possibility, although in this case it’s something that I recognize and that isn’t just some made-up sound. It’s a phrase used in many situations apparently, from babies crying to being angry to a reaction-to-pain sound to some sort of cat sound to other stuff.

    1. Why would they? Americans know the Koopa name because he’s called King Koopa sometimes, and the normal turtles are Koopa Troopas. And there’s stuff like the Koopa Kids, etc. But “Bowser” never went back to Japan.

      1. It seems that the internet lets people immediately know about any name change, no matter how minor. Or is that only when playing games from another country?

        1. Sure, but only the really curious fans actively seek out Wiki articles and sites like this one; that he’s called Bowser in America wouldn’t necessarily be common knowledge to average gamers in Japan.

      2. Actually, there has been some mention of the name “Bowser” in Japanese media.

        In Mario Kart Wii, the Flame Runner bike (which is very Bowser-esque in its design) was called the “Super Bowser” (ใ‚นใƒผใƒ‘ใƒผใƒใ‚ฆใ‚ถใƒผ) in Japan: http://www.mariowiki.com/Flame_Runner

        More recently, the disc art for the Super Mario 3D World soundtrack has the name “Bowser” on his drum kit: http://www.mariowiki.com/images/b/bb/Soundtrack_JP_-_Super_Mario_3D_World.png (Character spoilers behind that link, in case anyone who cares doesn’t know already.) That’s even for an as-yet Japan-exclusive product, I believe.

        There may be more I’m not aware of, but even just from this, it certainly seems that the Japanese are indeed aware of the “Bowser” name.

        1. Ooh, nice! I didn’t realize they were starting to incorporate it back into Japanese stuff in recent years, even if it’s just super tiny stuff ๐Ÿ˜€

          EDIT: You know, now that I think about it, I’m actually kinda surprised that Nintendo never tried to change Bowser’s name back to match the Japanese name like they did with Toadstool/Peach.

          1. If I had to guess — which I do — I’d suggest it’s because “Toodstool” is not a very cute name, and doesn’t really fit the design vision for the character very well, whereas “Bowser” is just badass.

            1. Ah – you’ve got it backwards. Peach in Japan became Peach here too; before that it was Toadstool here. English Bowser will never become English Koopa, however, probably because the “Koopa” name has been replaced by the smaller turtle-shelled enemy known as koopas.

        2. The most noticeable instance is probably the voice acting of Super Mario Sunshine, which is done in English for all regions. Even though a few of the lines are alternate takes in the Japanese version, they still say Bowser practically everywhere (even though the subtitles instead write “Koopa” rather than following the audio).

      3. Actually it’s used in Mario Kart Wii. A Bowser-themed bike, known as Flame Runner in the USA version and Bowser Bike in Europe, in Japan is called Super Bowser.

      4. Just to let you know, the name “Bowser” sneaked its way into the Japanese version of Mario Kart Wii within the name of the Flame Bike/Bowser Bike. (In case you’re wondering, its Japanese name is the “Super Bowser”.)

  2. I had actually thought of asking about this line, amongst others from that game, but never imagined it’d show up like this! I have also always wondered about Belome’s line “If you defeat me, you still won’t beat me. Beware the flood!” after you beat him in Kero Sewers, especially since right after Mallow asks about whether or not Belome was lying about rushing water, or some such wording that was just slightly off. What was the line supposed to be? It almost seemed like it was supposed to be a poem, but it just didn’t work out.

    (Do the whole game. DO IT. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    1. After Belome’s HP reaches 0, he says the following:
      ใ€€ใ‚“๏ฝžใชใ‚“ใ ใชใ๏ฝž๏ฝžใ€‚
      ๆœ€ๅˆใซ่จ€ใ†ใฎใ€ใ‚ใ™ใ‚ŒใฆใŸใ‚“ใ ใชใ๏ฝžใ€‚
      ใŠใ„ใ‚‰ใŒใฉใ„ใŸใ‚‰ใ€ๆฐดใŒใ‚ใตใ‚Œใ‚‹ใ‚“ใ ใชใ๏ฝžใ€‚
      ใƒ™ใƒญใƒ™ใƒญใ€€ใƒใƒใƒ๏ฝžใ‚คใ€€ใชใ‚“ใ ใชใใ€‚

      After the battle ends, Mallow says:
      ใ€€ใชใ‚“ใ โ€ฆโ€ฆใ€€ใƒ™ใƒญใƒผใƒ ใฎใ‚„ใคใ€

      The sound of rushing water appears, then Mallow says:
      ใ€€โ€ฆโ€ฆใ‚ใ‚Œ๏ผŸใ€€ไฝ•ใ ใ“ใฎ้Ÿณ๏ผŸ

      I’m not good at reading Japanese, so I’m leaving this transcript for Mato or anyone else who is. However, I can make notes based off what little I can understand:

      *The E at the end of Belome’s name is silent. His name is pronounced “beh-loam”. I grew up thinking “be-lo-may”, so I thought I would mention it in case anyone else was wondering.
      *Belome uses the word “water” (ใ€Œๆฐดใ€) directly in his warning, so I believe that Mallow’s mention of “when he said water would come rushing in” is a much more natural transition than in the English script.
      *Belome has a verbal tic that he says after every sentence, which is pronounced “…ndanaa.”.

      1. …and just after posting the above, I noticed that less-than and greater-than signs are not allowed in comments. For future reference, can we use the HTML/XML escape codes like “<” and “>” (if those got encoded, then “&lt;” and “&gt;”)?

      2. Unpolished translation:

        Belome: I forgot to tell you this from the beginning — if I move from here, water will overflow, like belo-belo bahahaaaai
        Mallow: Look at that… Belome told us water would come out, but it looks like it’s completely empty.
        Mallow: … huh? What’s that sound?

        1. Even that makes a lot more sense! I wonder why they translated it to rhyme. Maybe to make up for leaving out the verbal tic? Thanks for this, though, it’s really interesting!

      3. Wow, thanks for all that! I always pronounced it “beh-loam” myself, but I heard others say it your way later so I did kinda wonder which was “right”. I said this in the reply below (above?) but maybe the weird rhyming speech thing was an attempt to keep his speech different without introducing a verbal tick that audiences at the time may not have understood.

        Thanks so much for this reply. It’s fascinating (to me ๐Ÿ˜› )!

  3. Haha, I actually found this out for myself a few years back. When I was a teenager playing SMRPG, I always assumed “fungah!” was supposed to be some Mushroom Land cuss word since it’s so close to “fungus”. Then several years later I happened to be watching a Japanese playthrough of the game on YouTube, and after seeing “fungyaaa!” I realized it isn’t supposed to be a cuss word, but some sort of strangled cry when he gets bopped.

  4. Oh lord, PETA and its usual stupidity because they want to make all fast food establishments into the devil. I’ll never forget their retarded attempts to get people’s attention. I wonder if they’re aware just how stupid they truly are.


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