A while back, someone asked me about Ayla, a prehistoric playable character in Chrono Trigger. The question was about a common fan theory:
I’ve heard Ayla is canonically bi in the Japanese version, though I could see this being misconstrued by a bad translation since there’s a lot of “Chrono Trigger Uncut” ROMs floating around and many of them are filled with mistakes.
The context is that when Ayla hits on Crono for the first time, she mentions liking strong men and strong women equally. If Lucca is in the party, she says something like “Oh! I’m not into that sort of thing!” I see it mentioned on a few sites without any actual source. Could you confirm or bust this?
I haven’t played the game in a while, so I first took a look at Japanese comments online. I couldn’t find any talk about Ayla’s sexual orientation at all. The only character whose sexual orientation ever came up was the villain known as “Mayonna” in the Japanese version, also known as “Flea” in the English version.
The key scene in question is when you meet Ayla for the first time. You can have a variety of party members when this scene unfolds, but for our purposes, it’s easier to analyze if both Marle and Lucca are in the party:
|Japanese Version (basic translation)
|Ayla: Me Ayla. Ayla like strong men. So Ayla like Chro.
|Ayla: Me Ayla. Ayla like strong people. So Ayla like Crono!
|Marle: G-get away from her, Chrono!
|Marle: Get away from her, Crono!
|Lucca: She’s taken a real liking to you, Chrono…
|Lucca: I think she likes you, Crono…
|Ayla steps away and shakes her head
|Ayla: You people strong too. Ayla like strong people. Whether man or woman.
|Ayla: You strong too. Ayla respect strong people. Men and women.
|Marle: Ohhh, so that’s what you meant.
|Marle: Oh, brother…
|Lucca: I- I’m not into that sort of thing!
|Lucca: Where have they been keeping her?
In the Japanese script, it’s pretty clear that Ayla is saying that she likes anyone who is strong, but not necessarily in a sexual or romantic way. She just likes people who are strong, simple as that. Marle misunderstands at first, but then realizes her mistake at the end. Lucca has a similar misunderstanding and assumes that Ayla is bisexual, but doesn’t seem to recognize the misunderstanding.
In the English version, Ayla says she “likes” Crono but “respects” the girls. And because this change sidesteps the misunderstanding found in the original text, Marle and Lucca had their responses changed too. The result: the English version avoids the original, intended bisexual misunderstanding altogether.
The text changes in the English version of this Chrono Trigger scene seem intentional, so I assume they’re why English-speaking fans believe Ayla was originally bisexual in the Japanese version. From what I can tell, at least, the original Japanese text says nothing about her sexuality at all – it’s just an initial misunderstanding by two main characters.
With that said, there is still some wiggle room in the Japanese phrasing that could maybe allow for the “Ayla is bisexual” interpretation, but I feel that conclusion is more a case of fan over-analysis than anything else. The fact that the topic isn’t brought up among Japanese fans also points against that assumption.
Of course, many ports, videos, interviews, and supplemental materials have been released in the decades since Chrono Trigger’s debut. I haven’t kept up with any of it, so I could very well be overlooking something that was later discovered. If there’s any further information about this topic that I’ve missed, let me know!