After I posted a recent article about Harvest Moon, I was reminded that Natsume has made many mistakes, typos, and wacky translations in other games… including misspelling its own name on the title screen of Harvest Moon 64.
I was really interested in see if this was real, so I booted the game up and saw that it was indeed called “Natume” on the title screen:
And this is right after the company’s name is spelled as “Natsume” on a boot-up logo screen:
“How the heck could they make a typo with their own name?!” is a sentiment I’ve seen online… But on closer inspection, “Natume” isn’t exactly a typo.
Whenever I finish my professional translation projects I often have to translate reams and reams of Japanese credits into English, and this same issue pops up all the time, every time. What’s going on is similar to the Yoshi vs. Yossy thing: there are several different ways to write Japanese words using the English alphabet.
In super-simple terms, one style is preferred by native Japanese speakers, and one is preferred by foreigners. Because of this, there are often multiple, legitimate ways to spell the same word, although they’re meant to be pronounced the same way. And because of these different systems, what foreigners might write out as “tsu” is often written as “tu” by Japanese speakers.
Thus, “Natsume” and “Natume” are technically both correct spellings. In fact, the “Natume” spelling isn’t that uncommon – plenty of other Japanese companies spell it that way too:
Still, I guess someone on the translation team hadn’t gotten the memo that the company preferred “Natsume” as its official spelling. Which isn’t too surprising, given the quality of the translation – seriously, even the title screen says “Push the START”.
Anyway, even if “Natume” isn’t necessarily a typo, it IS a consistency mistake. It shouldn’t have happened, but it’s probably to be expected from such a big company – I mean, even their web guy seems to have spelled it “Natume”:
I guess the important thing to take away from this is that there are usually multiple ways of spelling the same Japanese word, and every so often these alternate spellings will sneak into stuff. So if you’re ever playing a Japanese game or watching Japanese anime or whatever and think to yourself, “Why is this suddenly spelled slightly differently?” now you have a good guess why.