How Were These Japanese Characters and Typos Handled in Ace Attorney?


John R. sent in some questions that I actually don’t know the answer to, so I thought I might turn it over to the readers!

Here’s the first part of the question:

In Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, there is some kanji that I would like to know what it means.

The images in question are here:

I'm curious to see how they continue to say this takes place in AmericaI'm curious to see how they continue to say this takes place in America

As I haven’t played this installment in the series yet (I really want to though!) I’m not sure of the context at all. The character on these pieces of paper is (ki), which actually isn’t kanji, it’s kana. In simple terms, whereas a single kanji character tends to represent a single thing or concept or what have you, a kana character is a little closer to a letter in an alphabet – kana is often strung together to spell a word.

Anyway, because of this, I can’t really say for sure what this is supposed to mean. My first guess is that it’s an abbreviation of sorts for きつね (kitsune) which means “fox”… but that’s a total shot in the dark and I have absolutely zero idea if that even fits the context of this game at all. So if anyone out there can shed some light on this, please do! I wanted to avoid digging around too much lest I spoil myself somehow 😛

John also had another question:

I would also like to know about some translation errors. Apparently, some dialog is botched up in the English version, and I would like to know if this was in the japanese version, or if the localization team created the errors:

And the included image was this:

Maybe he just really really have something

This seems to be from Dual Destinies too. I haven’t played it yet, but I do know that it’s got a reputation for having tons of typos in the English script – there’s even a Tumblr just for AA5 typos!

The thing is, though, that script typos like this are almost never related to the Japanese text – they’re just accidentally introduced during the translation process by the translator or editor or whoever happens to touch the text data in some way. Although, just to be extra-sure I did a brief look online and the Japanese version of this game doesn’t seem to be rife with typos – so it seems only the localization has problems. You know, this make me wonder how translations of AA5 into other languages turned out.

Still, even though localizations do tend to introduce typos into games, Japanese games aren’t free from typos either. Here are some quick examples:

Don't try to read my mind! meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meowDon't try to read my mind! meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meowDon't try to read my mind! meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow

(I wrote a little bit about the Final Fantasy IV one here, actually!)

In general, I’d say it’s rare for a game translator to purposely include a typo in English to match a typo in Japanese, unless it’s somehow a purposeful, meaningful typo in the original version. So if you ever run into a typo in a translation, you can usually assume it’s just a translation/localization thing and that it wasn’t messed up in the original text.

Anyway, although it wasn’t much, hopefully this helps answer your questions in some small way!

If you liked this, check out press start to translate, my book about the time I Google-translated Final Fantasy IV. It includes the worst/most hilarious translation mistakes, all while explaining why Google's A.I. made such terrible choices. (free preview PDF)
  1. Was it the QA department’s day off when this game was being localized?

  2. Without giving spoilers, Kitsune is the most logical abbreviation given the context. Lucky guess!

    1. Hooray! I guessed from the paw print alone, but it sounded pretty farfetched and unlikely. Glad I was right-wrong (almost spelled it wright oops)

  3. You’re dead-on correct as to the “Fox” guess. Without giving too much away, a nine tailed fox mythical figure is heavily involved in the story of that case. The charms are protective wards, used to ward away the enemies of that fox.

    1. Cool, thanks, that definitely puts things into context! Sounds like I better start playing this game before I answer any more questions about it and get spoiled 😛

      1. There’s even a non-spoiler reason for the relevance to foxes in that case–
        the village it takes place in was localized as “Nine-Tails Vale”.

  4. Well there is the Blitzball incident you covered already…

    I have this vague recollection there was one other major error in some game that people noted was in the original, but I can’t remember where it was from (TitS?)

    1. Haha, yeah, the Blitzball kid. I kind of want to think that either the translators just took that line at face value or preferred the crazy version over a fixed version. If I ever get a chance, I’ll ask about it someday.

  5. 「数が多いわ。動き回って相手を霍乱しましょう!」

    Xuse didn’t do a great job on the QC.

    1. And of course, Tsukihime’s あなたを犯人です

      1. Aha, how the heck did I forget that one? I can’t believe my memory’s failing me already 😯

  6. Given that it’s a warding charm, is it at all possible that it’s ki as in the alternate reading of 鬼 instead of being short for anything? Or is that not the way that charms would normally work.

    1. Anything’s possible in the Ace Attorney series, so that’s why I wasn’t sure at all 😛

  7. “I’m curious to see how they continue to say this takes place in America”

    This comic may be relevant:

    I found it a few months ago while browsing forums. It does not contain any spoilers for the Ace Attorney series.

  8. “You know, this make me wonder how translations of AA5 into other languages turned out.”

    I see what you did there. 😉

    Or is it an unintentional typo?

    1. The non-English localizations for Ace Attorney games stopped with Apollo Justice and Ghost Trick. Since then, well…
      At least Nintendo will localize the crossover as a Multi-5 release.

    2. I think it’s a typo but I’mma keep it anyway 😛

  9. Oh, I didn’t realize you were an AA fan. Have you played all of the first four?

    1. Yeah, most of them in Japanese though since I needed more after the first English one came out 😛

      It’s been many years since I played them though, whenever 4 first came out in Japan is when I last played any of the games :X

  10. I just thought it was for きゅうび. In the Japanese version that’s the name of the town (named after the ninetails fox.)

    And one more typo. I’m the back of the pce ys4 box it says 伝説の英雄か帰ってきた

  11. Mato please tell us what the Japanese typo’s said?

    1. It’s not really possible to convey typos in translation like that; they’re just typos 😛

      The first one says “te no dokanai” but should say “te no todokanai”.

      The second one says “narakatta” but should say “naranakatta”.

      The third one I actually go into more detail here.

  12. I feel stupid, but what’s the typo in that image of Tonate?

    1. Er, whoops, just noticed the “I’ve”.

      I guess when I play Ace Attorney games my mind automatically corrects stuff like this.

  13. It’s been a while since I’ve played through every case in the in the original 4 games (although I do go back and replay my favorite cases quite frequently,) so I’m having a hard time remembering if the games ever actually state that they supposedly take place in America.

    I know that the in-game dialogue heavily implies that games take place in the US but have they ever, flat-out, said so?

    1. Yup, in the English versions of the game they seem to take place in Los Angeles. The Von Karmas are also from Germany, in the Japanese version they’re from America.

  14. “You know, this make me wonder how translations of AA5 into other languages turned out.”

    …Well, thanks for that salt in the wound.