Final Fantasy IV Translation Comparison: Baron 2

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What is What

The real question you should ask is, 'When are you?'The real question you should ask is, 'When are you?'

Now that we’re back in Baron, let’s see what the guards at the castle are up to.

In Japanese, they say something like, “Who are you? Have you obtained authorization to pass?”

The first phrase very, very literally translates into, “What are you?” but in this context has the meaning of, “What do you want?” or “Who are you and why are you here?” It also has “kisama” here, which is a very rude version of “you”.

The official English version of this line is simply, “What are you?”

So we see that it not only takes the overly literal route, but leaves out the whole part about being able to get through if you have authorization. Not that it’s a big deal or anything, but being asked, “What are you?” is a pretty weird thing for one person to ask another.

This same mistranslation is made in other parts of the game as well, including back when you first meet Tellah.

Arrested Development

You know what Square-Enix should do? Make a game about all the Cids in the FF games. And no other cameo characters. Please send all royalty checks to Tom Ato @ USA, EarthYou know what Square-Enix should do? Make a game about all the Cids in the FF games. And no other cameo characters. Please send all royalty checks to Tom Ato @ USA, Earth

This guy in Baron talks about how the king has gotten worse over time:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
The king has become even more strict!What is wrong with the King? He has changed!
But if we disobey him, we’ll wind up like Cid…Cid was arrested for acting against him!

If you remember, when you were first in Baron, the king was pretty strict, but now that a lot of time has passed, you learn in the Japanese version that he’s gotten even stricter.

In comparison, the English line sounds like the same complaints from the beginning of the game – about how the king doesn’t seem to be his normal self.

This isn’t a big deal at all, though. What’s more interesting is that in the English localization they added more details about what happened with Cid.

What’s interesting, though, is that for some reason this line says “Kain” instead of “Cid” in the GBA translation:

Spoiler: Kain IS CidSpoiler: Kain IS Cid

Don’t mind Cid’s name being in English in the Japanese screenshot there, I named him that for easy spotting. Anyway, my only guess is that this is due to a control code mistake at some point in the localization process and no one caught it.

The Karate Man Returns

Karate is good for opening tight jars that won't openKarate is good for opening tight jars that won't open

This lady walking around outside has some interesting info for Cecil:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
A foreign monk seems to be leading members of the Royal Guard in search of something.A Karate man was invited to lead the guardsmen.
I believe he’s at the inn…They are at the Inn!

The first thing to pop out is the use of “Karate man” instead of “monk”. Actually, when I was a kid, the way this game capitalizes “Karate” all the time made me think it should always be capitalized. Nope, I was wrong!

But the big thing is that in the Japanese version she tells you that this monk and the Royal Guard are searching for something. What is that something? A crystal? Cecil? Something else?

Love that Knight

BREAKING NEWS: DARK KNIGHT THAT EVERYONE HATES IS DEAD ALL HAIL LEVIA-TANBREAKING NEWS: DARK KNIGHT THAT EVERYONE HATES IS DEAD ALL HAIL LEVIA-TAN

The kid in Baron has some more localization fun surrounding him! Here’s what he says:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
I wonder if that Dark Knight really did die.I miss that Dark Knight.
I liked him.I kind of liked him!

Here we see that the reference to dying was cleaned up to just say that he misses the Dark Knight.

Also, it might be looking too deeply into it, but the use of “really” in the Japanese line makes it seem like he heard news of the Dark Knight dying at some point. If so, I’m guessing he heard about the ship being attacked at sea and assumes that Cecil died when the ship went down.

Dutiful Daughter

Shut up and make me some GODDAMN TEAShut up and make me some GODDAMN TEA

It’s not much, but Cid’s daughter has some ever-so-slight differences in her text too.

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Sir Cecil!?Cecil!?
You’re alive!So, you are alive!
My father has been at the castle a long time and hasn’t come back.My father hasn’t come home for a long time.

The points of interest here include:

  • Cecil’s name modifier has been dropped in the translation. This seems to be common throughout the English translation.
  • Similarly, in the Japanese version she speaks to Cecil in a very polite, formal way, as if addressing someone far superior to her. This nuance is missing in the English text.
  • In the English version it sounds like he’s just maybe gone away on a trip or is staying at the bar for a really long time or something. The Japanese version makes it clear that he’s been stuck at the castle for a long time. Knowing that he’s in trouble, it sort of gives the player a vague hint of where you’ll need to go in the near future.

Still, even in the English version you can take this line and the other citizens’ lines to figure out that Cid’s in trouble at the castle, so the changes here are very minor in impact.

Do Not Come Here

I am Punctuation Man! I have the ability to see punctuational differences from 40 miles away!I am Punctuation Man! I have the ability to see punctuational differences from 40 miles away!I am Punctuation Man! I have the ability to see punctuational differences from 40 miles away!

This kid near the Baron inn has a tiny text change:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
My dad says we’re not getting any customers, what with scary soldiers coming to the pub and all…My Dad says we have few customers these days because the soldiers are hanging around.

Here we see that “Dad” is capitalized when it shouldn’t be, which isn’t a huge deal. The main things to focus on here are actually:

  • The English version leaves out that the soldiers in question are scary.
  • The English version leaves out the reference to the pub. They didn’t even change the reference to a cafe – it was just left out entirely.

This line always seemed a bit strange to me because there were no issues with the inn having customers when you were here earlier in the game as a mega-scary soldier. Maybe these new soldiers give off some sort of even scarier vibe or something, I dunno.

What I find more interesting, though, is that in Final Fantasy IV Easy Type, the Japanese ellipsis was repositioned to fit with the text. I wonder how it got on its own line in the original text in the first place.

Act Out

Really? It looks like they're just sitting at the table minding their own business to meReally? It looks like they're just sitting at the table minding their own business to me

Although it’s not much, I thought I’d point out what this lady at the pub says too.

In Japanese, she says something like, “Soldiers from the castle are doing whatever they please in this pub!” or “Soldiers from the castle are acting like they own this pub!”

In English, the pub reference is unsurprisingly removed: “Soldiers from the Castle Baron are acting terrible in here!”

Text Compaction

Sorry, Cecil! The Cid is in another castle!Sorry, Cecil! The Cid is in another castle!

The bartender has something to say about what’s happened to Cid:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
They say Cid’s being held prisoner in the castle! Apparently he hid the newest, most highly advanced airship somewhere.I heard that Cid is imprisoned in the castle for hiding the latest airship.

There’s little to say about this – because it’s actually really good!

One of the hardest parts of Japanese-to-English translation is compacting everything down into something that doesn’t sound like “translation-ese” and can fit into as little space as possible. This is a really good example of that. Good job, whoever was responsible!

Booze Who?

What are YOU drinkin atWhat are YOU drinkin at

The Baron soldiers here have some slight localization changes:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Hey! Where’s my booze!Bring me refreshments!
Who are you?!Who are you?

The alcholic reference was unsurprisingly removed and replaced with “refreshments”. Which seems like a funny word for someone rude to yell, but that gives it charm I think.

Also, remember the various times so far where the translators would use the literal translation, “What are you?” Well, they finally got it right this time!

This inconsistency is a bit strange, but maybe it’s due to different translators working on different parts of the script. For reference, later translations handle all these “What are you?” lines much better and bring across the proper nuance even more clearly.

Yang Time

You know, I wonder if the fact that the fake king is the water fiend helped Yang get brainwashed after he fell into the sea. Although at this point maybe it's too easy to look TOO deep into everythingYou know, I wonder if the fact that the fake king is the water fiend helped Yang get brainwashed after he fell into the sea. Although at this point maybe it's too easy to look TOO deep into everything

Sitting with the Baron soldiers is Yang! Except he seems different. Here’s a look at how this conversation goes in Japanese and in English:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Cecil: Yang! It’s you! You’re all right!Cecil: Yang!
Yang: You!Yang: ……?!
Cecil: Oh, do you not recognize me because I’m a Paladin now? It’s me, Cecil!Cecil: It’s me, Cecil! I became a Paladin!
Yang: Cecil! I’ve been looking for you!
You wretched, king-defying dog!
Get him!Yang: Get him!
Royal Guards: Yes, sir!Guards: Yes, sir!

Here, we see a few things of interest:

  • Yang has some lines completely missing in the English translation. These show that he has real hatred for Cecil and is acting out of loyalty for the king of Baron. Still, even without these lines you can tell he’s not acting normally. In a way, I actually prefer it without the extra lines – it makes everything just a tad more disorienting and gives it a little bit more of a “WTF is going on here?!” vibe. But I also do feel that having him show a mysterious loyalty to the king of Baron ties in well with the whole king thing that’s coming up soon in the game.
  • Yang seems confused at first in the English translation rather than seething and surprised. He also doesn’t insult Cecil in the English script.
  • If Yang was searching for Cecil even though he’d been presumed dead earlier (as indicated by the boy outside), then we can assume he’s been specially informed by or through Golbez or Kain that Cecil is alive. That’s just an interesting thought I’d never had before, maybe because I never really paid attention or because these tiny connections don’t exist in the English translation.
Wait, I'm confused. The people think Cecil is dead, but he's also a wanted man? Good luck getting people to go look for him then!Wait, I'm confused. The people think Cecil is dead, but he's also a wanted man? Good luck getting people to go look for him then!

After the battle with the two Baron guards, the conversation continues:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Cecil: Yang! Don’t you recognize me!?Cecil: Yang! It’s me!
Yang: Of course I do, you wanted fugitive!Yang: I know that!

This particular change feels like your standard case of needing to trim down text due to space limitations.

Man, if Nintendo didn't like the word 'die' here I bet they would've gone crazy trying to change Aeris' death in FF7 if it'd been released on a Nintendo systemMan, if Nintendo didn't like the word 'die' here I bet they would've gone crazy trying to change Aeris' death in FF7 if it'd been released on a Nintendo system

Now the real fight begins with Yang himself!

During the battle, he says in Japanese, “Die!!”

In the English translation, this was changed to, “Shut up!”

I also always found it funny that they call him a “Karate” in the English translation, as if you’re fighting the martial art itself. In the Japanese text, it says “Monk” or “Monk-Priest”.

Incidentally, I’m told that Yang’s script is set to attack Cecil, except the programmers accidentally have it try to attack Dark Knight Cecil, who isn’t in your party anymore. As a result, two lines of battle text go unused.

Here’s a look at the fixed scene, courtesy of Dragonsbrethren:

Yang seems to use a sword here for some reason, but I’m not sure why.

SHH! THIS IS TOP SECRET INFORMATION FOR YOUR EYES ONLY BECAUSE YOU'RE A SUPER POWER PLAYER CLUB MEMBERSHH! THIS IS TOP SECRET INFORMATION FOR YOUR EYES ONLY BECAUSE YOU'RE A SUPER POWER PLAYER CLUB MEMBER

For reference, though, here’s a comparison of these unused lines in Japanese and in English:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Cecil: Come to your senses, Yang!Cecil: Come on, Yang!
Cecil: It’s me, Cecil! Don’t you recognize me?!Cecil: …… It’s me!

This text is also unused in the PlayStation version as:

Cecil: Yang!
Cecil: It’s me!

Yang Goes Good

I can't come up with any good anagrams for YangI can't come up with any good anagrams for Yang

Once he’s been beaten up enough, Yang finally comes to his senses and apologizes to Cecil and company.

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Yang: Sir Cecil! Leviathan caused me to…Yang: Cecil! Leviatan attacked us and I don’t remember what happened after that.
Tella: It would appear that Baron was taking advantage of your memory loss.Tellah: It seems you are being utilized by the Baron while you’re amnesiac.
Yang: ….I am in your debt.Yang: I am sorry.
Cecil: What of Rydia and Gilbert!?Cecil: Where’s Rydia and Edward!?
Yang: Rydia was swallowed by Leviathan.Yang: Rydia was swallowed by Leviatan.
As for Gilbert…. I don’t know….I don’t know what happened to Edward.
Cecil: I see….Cecil: I see.
Yang: Where are we?Yang: Where am I?
Cecil: Baron.Cecil: We are in Baron.
It’d be bad if the soldiers overheard us.Soldiers will hear us.
Let’s formulate a plan in private!Let’s talk over there.
Monk-Priest Yang joined the party!Yang joined the Party!

There’s nothing too major in here, but in the spirit of nitpickiness let’s take a look anyway:

  • As per usual, “Sir Cecil” is now just “Cecil” in the English version. In Yang’s case, the use of such words – along with the way he speaks in Japanese – helps show his discipline and respect.
  • In the Japanese version, Yang starts to say that the encounter with Leviathan did something to him. But, because of the way Japanese works, it’s left as an incomplete, verb-less sentence and the rest is up to the reader to figure out. This is always a tough and tricky thing to try to work with when translating because incomplete sentences like this are extremely common in Japanese. One approach is to just turn incomplete sentences into complete sentences by trying to fill in the blanks to the best of your ability. Of course, this becomes a guessing game, and there’s always a chance you’ll be completely wrong. In this case, for instance, it’s possible Yang was actually going to say, “Leviathan ate my brains and then I forgot who I was.” The likeliness of that being the case, though, is so low that as a translator you’d never guess it. So this “fill in the blanks” approach is best used when you’re able to play it safe.
     
    In this instance, we see that the official translation uses the “fill in the blanks” approach and then plays it safe by restating what the player already knows. There’s nothing wrong with this, I just thought it might be worth pointing out that Japanese-to-English translation involves a lot of guesswork, maybe more than other languages to English.
     
    I’m actually pleased to see this much thought put into the translation!
  • The English line about Yang having lost his memory is awkwardly phrased. It’s also strange how this sentence starts with a basic English mistake like “the Baron” and then ends with a complicated word like “amnesiac” that no non-native English speaker would know off the top of their head. Tellah is also given the wrong verb tense here when he uses “are” rather than “were”. Besides that, there are some more nitpicky nuance things with this line that aren’t really important enough to cover.
  • In the Japanese version, Yang pauses mid-sentence when talking about Rydia and Gilbert/Edward, presumably because he’s upset or sad. In the English translation, he just states it matter-of-factly.
  • “Party” is capitalized in the English translation for some reason.

Come On Inn

I want to say this was due to memory limitations, but then the translation goes and wastes lots of bytes elsewhere in the scriptI want to say this was due to memory limitations, but then the translation goes and wastes lots of bytes elsewhere in the script

After the brief talk, Cecil, Yang, and the others go to the guy running the inn.

In Japanese, this guy talks in a non-standard way that also has a warm, friendly vibe to it. Something like, “You guys sure are strong, knockin’ out them Royal Guard soldiers like that! I like ya! Stay the night here!”

In English, the non-standardness of his speech style is missing just because of how Japanese and English differ. But it also has a “this was a very early-era translation” feel to it too: “Beaten the guards!? That’s great! Stay at my Inn! It’s free!”

Besides the various nuance differences introduced by the translation, there’s also another odd use of capitalization here with “my Inn”. In all, it’s not a big deal or anything, but it’s interesting to see how even unimportant lines come across to the original target audience.

Plan of Action

This REALLY explains why he was so against them being in love...This REALLY explains why he was so against them being in love...

Once the party can talk in private, there’s a lot to say.

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Yang: Who is this gentleman?Yang: Who is this gentleman?
Cecil: Tella the sage. Gilbert’s….Cecil: Tellah the Sage. Edward’s father.

Wait what what what?!

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just seeing things. Let’s check that again…

Nope, I’m not seeing things. Tellah is Edward’s father in the English version. Fanfic writing squad… activate!

All kidding aside, this is probably one of the biggest mistakes in the game’s translation. I’m actually surprised that so few people ever bring it up and instead focus on the whole “spoony bard” thing. Luckily, this mistake was fixed when the game was released again on the PlayStation years later.

It’s been fixed in every other English release since then as well.

Anyway, let’s continue with the conversation!

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Translation
Tella: My daughter loved him and sacrificed her life for him….Tellah: My daughter loved him… even sacrificing her own life.
Yang: I see.Yang: I see.
I am Yang, the head monk-priest of Fabul.I am a Karate Master of Fabul.
Palom: I’m Palom, the Mysidian prodigy!Palom: I’m the Mysidian genius, Palom!
Porom: I apologize for his brashness. I’m his twin, Porom.Porom: Please do not mind him. I am his twin sister Porom.
Palom: Man! I can’t believe you just let lousy ol’ Baron use you like that!Palom: You hurt us, man!

Whoa, wait a minute, there’s a definite translation mistake right there. Palom gives Yang an indirect insult in the Japanese version, but in the translation winds up saying that Yang hurt them in the battle just a few minutes earlier. Porom also reacts by saying, “Stop it!”, which makes a little more sense in the Japanese context.

Anyway, for fun, I checked the PlayStation translation to see how this was handled, and it’s become, “Hey, that kick really hurt!”

I haven’t gone through the PlayStation translation in great detail, but it seems like whenever I do, it feels like less a translation and more like someone unfamiliar with Japanese just tried to “punch up” the Super NES translation’s script. This is another example of that.

Again, for fun, I decided to see what the J2E fan translation did here. It’s equally as off-the-rails: “I can see why you’re Cecil’s friend. Both of you were Baron’s puppets.”

I can see what the J2E guys were trying to go for, but for what they touted as the most authentic Final Fantasy IV translation they sure took a lot of liberties.

With this key, we can make out!With this key, we can make out!

Okay, back to the conversation again!

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
Porom: Palom!Porom: Stop it, Palom!
Yang: I am deeply ashamed….Yang: I’m ashamed.
Cecil: In any case, we must rescue Cid….Cecil: Anyway, we must rescue Cid.
Tella: But I doubt it will be an easy task to get inside….Tellah: But it won’t be easy to sneak into the Castle Baron.
Yang: Hmm? What is this?!Yang: What is this…!?
Cecil: This is the key to Baron!Cecil: The Key of Baron!
Ah!Yeah!
It’s because you were put in charge of the Royal Guards….
We might just have a chance!With this key, we can make it!

Here we see a few things worthy of note:

  • This is going to sound really crazy if you’re not a translator, but I really like how the official translation goes with “must rescue” rather than “have to rescue” or “got to rescue”. This is because Cecil sometimes speaks in a higher-ranking, ever-so-slightly archaic style throughout the game, including here. Basically, he doesn’t talk like an average person using average speech patterns. If you were to talk like this in real life, people might smirk or laugh. Basically, Cecil, being a knight, sometimes speaks with a different tone than your average person or NPC might, and I can see it still reflected ever-so-slightly in the translation here.
  • That said, the English translation then makes Cecil say, “Yeah!” a few lines later. I feel that choice of wording could’ve been improved. Of course, this is really, really super-nitpicky stuff that doesn’t matter much for the story or anything. In fact, I only notice these changes now that I’m comparing them side-by-side in such crazy detail.
  • Cecil’s line about where the key to Baron came from is completely missing in the English translation. It even makes it less clear who had the key at all. Maybe it was even just sitting on a bed in the inn or something, you know? In comparison, the Japanese translation spells it all out in a logical manner.
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