Final Fantasy VI Translation Comparison (Part 10)


This is part of my ongoing series in which I compare four translations of Final Fantasy VI with the original Japanese script. For project details and my translation notes from Day 1, see here.

Part 10: Boat Scene to Leo’s Death

This time we take a look at a bunch of major story moments that will eventually lead to the world’s destruction.

Over the last few comparisons I’ve noticed that the Super NES version has had a steady increase in translation issues, and that trend continues this time too. At this point, I can almost “feel” how rushed the Super NES translator was at times. Who knows, maybe that feeling comes across in these write-ups too.

Video Archive


As always, my notes below are only a small portion of all the translation topics I covered during this stream. So if you want to see some more changes, mistakes, and such, definitely check out the video above.

More Business Problems

Earlier we looked at the infamous mistranslation of Setzer’s line about his business booming/drying up. The problem was that the Super NES translator misunderstood あがったり (agattari) as “to go up” in the “to increase” sense when it actually means “to go up” in the “to dry up” or “to go up in smoke” sense. Luckily, the Game Boy Advance translator was able to fix the translation by avoiding the same tricky mistake.

In this particular line, however, we see that the Super NES translation has made the same exact agattari mistake. This pub used to be very lively and profitable when Imperial soldiers were stationed in town. But now that they’ve withdrawn from the town, the pub is empty and barely making any money. So it makes sense when the pub owner says in Japanese:

With the imperial soldiers gone business has dried up.

But the Super NES translation says just the opposite – that business is on the way up. Again, the GBA translator avoids this same mistake and translates the text properly. Meanwhile, the fan translation borrows from the flawed Super NES translation.

On a side note, little mistranslation patterns like this can indicate a lot about a translator’s skill level, what kind of experience they have, what kind of fields they’re weaker in, and other stuff like that. They add up and combine with other things to create a sort of “translation fingerprint”. It’s a lot like how you can differentiate writing styles when you read novels, articles, forum posts, and stuff like that.

Incidentally, a big part of my job years ago was picking up on such fingerprints to mimic the style that previous translators had. This is the kind of stuff they don’t really teach in school, yet it’s so interesting!

Leo’s Love Life

A lot of character drama happens during this part of the game, including the boat scene. There are lots of little differences to be found, but the biggest one that stood out to me immediately was when Leo tells Terra in the Super NES version:

You’re just young. …but I understand what you mean. I understand only too well…

The last part about “understanding only too well” is nowhere to be found in the original Japanese line:

You’re still young. …Someday you’ll come to understand. I’m sure of it…

So the original line is meant to be a straightforward bit of encouragement, but the Super NES version alludes to something bad from Leo’s past that never gets explained.

The GBA translation, the fan translation, and even the Google translation all get this line correct.

Being Cureful

The village of Thamasa is home to magic users who try to hide their abilities from the outside world. As you walk around the village, you actually catch glimpses of people using magic, though.

In one case, a mother is about to cast the Cure spell (known as Kearu in Japanese) on her daughter. But the mother notices the main characters just before she finishes saying the spell name. She then pretends she was doing something else and that she definitely wasn’t using magic at all.

In Japanese, the mother’s line is something like:

Okay, okay. Kea– Now where is that medicine…

As we can see, the jump to the second sentence is sudden and not smooth at all – both sentences are separate thoughts.

The official translations handle this scene properly and improve upon it by linking the two sentences together:

Super NES TranslationGBA Translation
Oh all right. Cure…Oh, all right. Cur–
…medicine… where is my cure medicine?!-io. Yes, I think I left the medicine in the curio cabinet…

These are both clever choices, and show how different translators can take the same creative path, yet produce very different results.

The fan translation keeps the scene literal and the same as the Japanese text. That’s another valid choice too, and it fits with the fan translation’s stated goals.

Meeting Strago

An old wizard joins the party during this part of the game. In Japanese, his name is “Stragus”, but this became “Strago” in English due to name length limitations.

In Japanese, Strago’s introduction is roughly like:

An old man with a pure-hearted dream who has spent his entire life continually pursuing the mysteries of monsters.

The Super NES translation tries to compress all of these ideas into something shorter, but it drops the detail that he’s been chasing down monsters his entire life. The Japanese line also explains why Strago is obsessed with finding the weird monster on Ebot’s Rock after the world gets destroyed.

The GBA translation gets closer to the original text. The fan translation seems to be a rewrite of the Super NES text combined with a complete misunderstanding of the original line: Strago has been studying monsters his entire life, not just his declining years.

Meeting Relm

Relm’s name in Japanese is リルム (rirumu), which doesn’t quite match the pronunciation most English players know her by. This means that it’s intended to sound more like “Reelm” than “Realm” in Japanese. It’s indeed spelled “Relm” in all the official Japanese materials and guides, however.

There’s not much more to say beyond that, but I thought I’d share this bit of info for fans who enjoy name pronunciation trivia.

Translation Pandemonium

This whole scene between Strago, Relm, and Shadow always felt weird to me back in the day, like I was missing some sort of info. It turns out that the whole scene was wrecked in the Super NES translation. From looking at the scripts side by side, it very much feels like the translator was rushed, didn’t have any context, and didn’t have easy access to this scene. In other words, it feels like most of this scene was translated without any idea of what was happening, who was walking around, who was facing who, and so on.

Still, some lines clearly don’t need much context to translate. This line, for example, has Relm saying “Bye-bye”. She’s literally saying the way the English phrase “bye-bye” would be pronounced in Japanese. Yet the Super NES line says “Oh, all right…” instead. It’s clear she’s saying goodbye to someone or something. In this case, she’s saying goodbye to Shadow’s dog.

In this specific case, it appears the Super NES translator was rushing through the script at warp speed and misread バイバイ (baibai, "bye-bye") as ハイハイ (haihai), which means something like “oh, all right” or “okay, fine”. It’s a very basic mistake that would be like mixing up the letters “q” and “p” in English.

Anyway, as a result of this issue and many others, the Super NES scene feels kind of off and Relm comes across as a super-pouty kid rather than a relatively cheery little girl.

The GBA translation fixes all of the problems in this scene’s text. And we can see that the fan translation borrows from the faulty Super NES text.

For a more detailed look at each line in this scene, check out the stream video at the top of this article!

Magic History Lesson

Strago explains the history of Thamasa and how magic users hid there after the War of the Magi.

In Japanese, he says that ordinary people had experienced horrifying tragedy and misery during the war, so once it was over, they feared the powers that wizards had. It’s a pretty understandable, natural reaction in my opinion.

In the Super NES translation, this changed to say that wizards “were despised by normal people”. At first glance it doesn’t seem different, but being despised is different from being feared, and it was the wizards’ magic that they feared, not necessarily the wizards themselves.

The GBA translation fixes this little detail. Surprisingly, the fan translation fixes it too, but it also adds in extra stuff not found in the original text.

Third-Person Speech

In Japanese, Relm speaks about herself in the third-person instead of the first-person. In other words, she calls herself by her own name rather than using the word “I” or “me”. So she basically runs around saying “Relm did this” and “Relm did that” whenever talking about herself.

This type of third-person speech is often used by Japanese children and is a common pattern in Japanese entertainment. In games and such, it’s often used by young girl characters. It usually lends a person a childish, pampered vibe, although it can sometimes indicate other things too. So although Relm’s use of the third-person throughout the Japanese Final Fantasy VI script sets her apart from the rest of the main cast, it still comes across as pretty standard stuff.

Some examples of third-person characters I’ve run into include:

This third-person thing comes up often enough to cause heated arguments among English-speaking audiences. Some feel the third-person references are annoying and should be changed to first-person references to sound natural in English, while others feel that it’s important to keep the third-person intact at all times since it’s a part of the character’s identity.

Anyway, in Relm’s case, we see that the Super NES and Game Boy Advance translators turned the third-person references into first-person. The fan translator preferred to keep her third-person style as-is.

In my own experience, it’s always a case-by-case thing whether or not one style should be used over another. Most professionals I know prefer the first-person option most of the time, but there are times when the third-person style is important to keep. Sometimes such speech quirks play a role in certain dialogue or during key scenes, for example.

If you’re a translator-in-training, think carefully before you decide to stick with the third-person style, especially if you know that character is going to stick around for a long time. The third-person stuff can get unpredictably messy and out of hand fast.

Also, if you’re interested in this topic, here is a much more academic look at Japanese self-talk.

Learning the Hard Way

A man in Thamasa explains how Strago’s special skill works. In Japanese, his skill is known as “Blue Magic”, but this became “Lore” in the Super NES translation, presumably due to battle menu size limits. Despite this change, Strago is called a “Blue Mage” here. As far as I can tell, this is the only time the concept of blue magic appears in the Super NES script.

In Japanese, this man also explains that Strago won’t learn new spells if he’s asleep, confused, or anything else along those lines. This important gameplay information was cut from the Super NES version.

The GBA translation restores the missing text. The fan translation sort of adds the missing text back in, but gives different information than what’s present in the original Japanese script.

Suddenly Goddesses

Previously, we saw how the Japanese game’s ”Three Battling Gods” were renamed the “Statues” in the Super NES release. The topic of the Three Battling Gods plays a central role during this part of the game, but for some reason the Super NES version suddenly starts calling them “goddesses” now. This is confusing for a few reasons:

  • Nintendo of America had policies in place against religious references, yet here we see the word “goddess” all over the place
  • When we finally see the three statues, only one appears to be female
  • We’re literally looking at three small statues of the Three Battling Gods in this scene, so the Super NES translator’s use of “Statues” to refer to other statues causes some confusion. Perhaps because of this, the characters suddenly start calling them “goddesses” instead. Later on in the story, when we’re not looking at these three small statues, everyone goes back to calling the Three Battling Gods the “Statues” again. Basically, it’s a weird, inconsistent mess when the Japanese text is perfectly logical and consistent.

This whole part of the game always felt really weird to me back when it was first released in English. Things like this are probably why.

Statue Gods

The Three Battling Gods are poorly explained in the Super NES translation, and their background information is handled messily. It’s not even explained how they became stone statues. The GBA translation fixes and restores all of the details. The fan translation fares a little better than the Super NES translation, but gets some facts wrong, adds in new stuff out of the blue, and mistranslates some pieces.

Classic Writing

If you check the small statues in this room, they reveal the story behind the Three Battling Gods. In Japanese, this text is written in what’s called classical Japanese, an old form of the language that was used centuries ago. The language is different and weird enough that it requires its own academic courses and dictionaries.

Anyway, the classical Japanese used in this particular text isn’t very heavy, but it’s why the Game Boy Advance script uses slightly fancier, old-sounding English here. In comparison, the Super NES translation is written in a pretty standard style that doesn’t sound any different from other text in the game. And, again, the Super NES translation condenses text down and changes some story details here.

In my experience, classical Japanese has certain aspects that trip up amateur translators, but the fan translation appears to avoid those mistakes here. Just like in the Super NES version, though, the idea that this is supposed to sound like ancient writing isn’t reflected in the fan translation, however.

Squirmy Relationship

Ultros suddenly shows up and reveals his plan to steal the three gold statues.

Ultros mentions “Ziegfried” in the Super NES translation, which is a translation oddity we looked at earlier here. In the Japanese script, Ultros uses the same name as back on the Phantom Train, so it seems the confusion between “Siegfried” and “Ziegfried” is still just a product of the Super NES translation. The GBA translation follows the Japanese script and only uses one name everywhere: “Siegfried”. Even the fan translation only uses the one name.

Anyway, in the Super NES version of this particular line, the phrasing always made me think that Ultros and “Ziegfried” were treasure hunting rivals. But the Japanese script makes it clear that Ultros looks up to Siegfried as a superior, and is stealing the statues to prove his worth to Siegfried.

Dueling Egos

Ultros attacks the party, and Relm shows up to save the day. Both characters use the Japanese honorific -sama to refer to themselves, indicating that they both have big egos. After hearing this, Locke jumps to the bottom of the screen, faces the player, and says in Japanese:

Relm-sama… and Orthros-sama. I don’t even know what’s going on anymore…

This focus on the Japanese -sama honorific makes it tough to do a straight translation of this line into English. I guess that’s why the Super NES version of the line always felt kind of off to me. The GBA translation does a good job at putting the scene into perspective.

Taking Credit

The heroes finally find the escaped Espers. They explain what happened: after Terra opened the sealed gate, they flew out and lost control. The fan translation gets this part wrong, though – instead of Terra opening the gate, Terra only gave encouragement to the Espers, which let them open the gate themselves.

Synchronized Shutting

This was a rare instance in which all four translations were the exact same, so I thought I’d commemorate it here. Shut up!

Seeing Red

This line has Kefka yelling “hate!” over and over in the Super NES script. In Japanese, he’s actually yelling “die!” over and over, but Nintendo of America’s content policies didn’t allow for that. We can see that this policy changed by the time the GBA translation was released. I also found Google’s translation to be comical.

Missing the Mark

We’ve seen in previous comparisons that the fan translation tends to inject super-generic villain dialogue into Kefka’s lines. This is another good example:

So altruistic, yet so meaningless.

The original Japanese script says nothing of the sort, and it doesn’t even match Kefka’s character. If anything, it reminds me of the overly-done villain dialogue that the J2E team gave Golbez in their Final Fantasy IV fan translation:

I don’t know, maybe fan translators find villain text to be the easiest or most fun to write. I can kind of understand that – good villains are fun. But after looking at these separate fan translations, it seems it’s easy to sound like a bad fanfic too.

Kefka’s Phrase

Kefka shouts this line during his assault on Thamasa and his Esper massacre. He also says the exact same line earlier in the game, when he’s in a prison cell. This has made the line one of his catchphrases in Japan, but I don’t think it’s ever really caught on anywhere else.

Relm and Edgar

At the end of this long story sequence, Edgar and Relm have a short exchange that’s meant to lighten the mood a little bit. As we’ve seen before, the Japanese version of the game mentions in several places that Edgar hits on girls of all ages, from the very old to the very young. So when he asks Relm about her age here, it ties into that already established character trait.

After hearing Relm is 10, Edgar basically says that even that’s too young for him. It’s intended as a light joke in Japanese, but naturally Nintendo of America wouldn’t have allowed an adult character to even consider hitting on an underage girl. So a few lines were altered for the Super NES release to say something else entirely. The GBA version returns the script to the original topic in a unique way, while the fan translation tries to keep close to the original text in a straightforward manner. Google makes Edgar a crime fighter.

I’ve actually already written an entire article about this specific scene, so if you’d like to see all the details, text comparisons, and reader comments, see here.

Getting Neutral

An entire magic-filled continent floats into the sky. As the heroes try to assess the situation, Strago explains more about the Three Battling Gods. In Japanese, he says that the three gods turned themselves into stone while facing each other in order to fully neutralize their powers. This explains why the world gets destroyed later on when Kefka moves the statues out of alignment.

The Super NES translation drops all of this explanation and simply says “they somehow neutralized each other’s power”. Both the GBA and fan translations restore this informative detail.

  1. Check-plus on the Bob Dole reference. 🙂

    On a related note, it invariably grates on me when characters refer to themselves consistently in the third person. I understand the background, but in English it just comes off as so affected; nobody actually talks like that.

    Also, I always liked Kefka’s “Hate… hate… HATE!!” line. It makes him sound so entirely unhinged.

    1. Maybe that’s why everyone hates Elmo.

    2. I don’t think I’ve come across a ton of third person talking people that I can recall, but i think it can depend on how much they do it. If they use third person 100% of the time then that can be annoying, but when used just occasionally it can be alright.

      One example of the occasionally type I can think of is Vaike from FE: Awakening. He often refers to himself as ‘The Vaike’ or ‘Teach,’ but he still does talk in first person as well (possibly more of the time and third person parts just stick out more). I feel it does add a bit to his character since he’s a bit cocky. Plus it lets one of his crit lines be ‘Looks like Teach just got tenure’ and I love that line.

      1. Interestingly, Vaike did NOT refer to himself in 3rd person in the Japanese version. Nowi did, as did Peri from Fates, but Vaike’s “The Vaike” tic was a localization of “Ore-sama”. This is a good example of how 3rd person says different things about a character in Japanese and English. In Japanese it implies childishness, in English it implies arrogance.

      2. To me, talking in the third person reminds me of either Hulk or The Rock and as such, it’s hard for me to take the use of it seriously.

        1. Funny, after posting about how I associated “gym rats” speaking in the third person, I thought of those same two people.

        2. Hulk is superior to you and all puny humans. You know nothing!

        3. It reminds me of The Boulder from Avatar.

  2. >In Japanese, his name is “Stragos”, but this became “Strago” in English due to name length limitations.

    “Stragos” is certainly a legitimate way of spelling it, but the official spelling is “Stragus”. Appears in-game during the ending sequence, even.

      1. Which sounds pretty traditional among classical names. Greek -os being latinized as -us all the time.

  3. Nora Stevens Heath

    I wonder if Kefka’s big (in Japan) catchphrase would have caught on in the States if it had been translated as “Inconceivable!” (Lisp optional.)

    Navirou in Monster Hunter Stories RIDE ON speaks of himself in the third person. It works for the character, but I occasionally find myself rejiggering a line to avoid it altogether when space/time is of the essence. “I” is about as short and sweet as it gets!

    1. You keep using that word! It don’t think you know what it means!
      (Also, saying inconceivable in an SNES FF game is Gilgamesh’s territory.)

  4. It would’ve been hilarious if Google rendered バイバイ as “Trading”.

  5. Whatever argument there is to leaving in Japanese third-personing today, this convention was virtually unknown to the western world in 1994. In fact, Japanese entertainment media outside of Japan as a whole was emergent at the time. I’m not sure how aware the general population was that they were playing translated Japanese products in the first place. Personally, I’m generally satisfied with general audience material having greater localization while fan translations being more “literal”.

    Also, third-personing in English is commonly associated with vain, egotistical men, like a gym rat, so there is that to consider, too. Bob Dole so swol.

    1. “third-personing in English is commonly associated with vain, egotistical men”

      Which is occasionally used to convey the ego of someone using 俺様. Funny how that works.

    2. The Asterix books sometimes have Julius Caesar do it (playing on his Gallic Wars style).

  6. I remember Dole ‘96. That was a boring game.

  7. Bob Dole is my favorite cute anime girl

  8. The use of blue mage is also the first time the concept appears in English given FFV wasn’t released over here (and given what they were apparently going to do to it, we can be thankful for that). “Yeah, yeah” and “uhuh, uhuh” are options for ハイハイ, which reflect that it’s はい (yes) twice, which is fortunate if the scene calls for it to be mistaken for actual approval (I’m sure I’ve seen that gag multiple times).

  9. Awesome update!

    Another unique scene that almost all FF6 fans miss (which becomes relevant for Sabin quite soon) is that after you fight Vargas on the mountain, if you go all the way back to talk to Duncan’s wife, she has a scene with Sabin. It’s more than just changed dialogue; they actually had Sabin interact with her.

    I’ve never seen any Let’s Play person do it, so most fans have never ever seen it.

    1. Addendum: this can’t be done after you do the Returner’s cave, so the window is very small to see this scene.

      1. That’s really interesting! I’ve gone back to see Duncan’s wife with Sabin later on, but I had no idea there was a scene! I’m gonna give that a try next time I play. Thanks for mentioning this!

  10. Oh man, that “everyone felt we had started the war” line is interesting. It’s definitely wrong, but if you were translating the script in order you wouldn’t know that til a little later; the inscriptions on the golden statues explain what actually started the war. It seems like the fan translator realized this, but couldn’t read the original line, so they tried to reconstruct it from the assumption that the SNES one made a slight mistake in nuance instead of writing a totally new sentence. That’s a really clever way to get the wrong answer.

    1. I guess that line, like a lot of other mistranslated lines, didn’t seem all that bad to me because it would be natural for people who fear the powers of others to convonce themselves that the others were to blame in the first place. I took it to mean the Thamasans were wrongly blamed over the years.

  11. The third person talk as childish behaviour reminds me to Majin Buu (the fat one) from Dragon Ball. In the old catalan translation of Dragon Ball Z he talks in normal, first person way, but in the “remastered” version (Dragon Ball Kai) he talks in third person. Does he talk in third person in the original japanese, both the Z and Kai versions? Since he is extremely childish this fits very well with his personality.

    1. Phantom Dusclops'92

      Yes, he speaks like that in original.

  12. I also liked “hate hate hate”. It’s more fitting with his extravagant character that the far more generic original.

  13. Correct Tom, Ayumi speaks like that in Conan. The show is over 900 episodes to date now too, and the poor girl still gets into quite a few dangerous moments too, usually through no fault of her own. “Ayumi-chan was really scared, Conan-kun!” should probably be her catchphrase at this point. XD

    It’s both amazing how much the SNES version of FF6 is worshipped to this day (like Chrono Trigger), but also surprising to see how many nuances in the story really got booted around or out.

    1. I personally feel like cringing every time someone *coughredditcough* suggests the SNES version over the GBA one, and I honestly regret touching the SNES one in the first place.

      1. Specific Certainty

        But… why? That seems a bit like a scrupulous purity manufactured by you and demanded nowhere by the scripts as compared.

    2. Wasn’t this released at a time where it was unusual for the game translator to be fluent in English?

      1. More or less. It was a step up compared to your average video game translation of the time (and a HUGE step up from FF4), but by today’s standards it’s rather poor, and it’s not very hard to see that the kind of people that recommend it over the retranslation just work off “I grew up on it so it’s the best version no matter what” logic.

        1. As someone who does prefer the SNES variants of both Chrono Trigger and FF3, I can say that a large part of it DOES come from initial perception. There are a lot of things that your first experience with something affects, and it’s very acute when it’s something like a character’s personality or motivation.

          That said, I don’t think you should cringe or shy away from the earlier translation. It’s just a different interpretation. I guess it might be worth it to consider your own bias: which version did you start with? When did you start with it? Did you play the game after playing another version, did you play it at a formative time? Do you prefer games that are literal (or very close) translations to the original, or are you okay with reinterpretation?

          I guess what I’m trying to say is to not judge someone’s favorite as wrong because it’s not the one you like, ya know? People like what they like.

          1. Them deadlines were insane

  14. On the subject of Final Fantasy, there’s definitely something from FF8 you should take a look at. In the Japanese version, Rinoa’s Angel Wing limit break is ヴァリー (Vary) which definitely sounds nosensical to me although it could have some hinduist/buddhist undertones in there somewhere… Anyways, just something that’s been boggling my mind as well. It’s definitely NOT Valley despite what some redditors might think at least.

    1. The Japanese Final Fantasy wiki says
      (英語版では「Angel Wing」だが)英語表記はvary。

      Makes a reasonable amount of sense, I guess. The Limit Break casts a random spell, so it could also refer to how the effect varies.

  15. It always bugged me when older game like this would have to abbreviate names due to length restrictions. That’s why i was blown away when i recent played Dragon Warrior on NES and saw that that game never once had to shorten or abbreviate anything.

    1. Almost: the hero’s name is truncated to 4 characters in battle. I’m not 100% sure, but Dragon Warrior may be one of those games that used 1-byte pointers to select words from a dictionary.

      1. The hero’s name is definitely not truncated during battle…perhaps in a menu somewhere, but off the top of my head I don’t think that’s the case either.

        1. You’re right in that the infobox I was thinking of also appears outside of battle, but the name is still truncated. Love your maps, by the way.

  16. When i first played this game on the GBA years ago, I actually interpreted Locke’s “Do I even wanna know what’s next” line as a tentacle hentai joke, which i would find funny if not for the fact that she’s 10.

  17. The third-person speech is pretty interesting. I saw something on a fan translation site for Chrono Trigger, about how a scene where you go back in time to Lucca’s childhood used this in Japanese. When you read her diary, it’s written in childish third-person, but after her mom has an accident it changes to first-person writing, suggesting a change in her maturity. But if you do save her mom in that event, Lucca continues writing third-person afterward.

    I can’t confirm all this myself, but if it’s true it makes the scene more touching. Though it seems quite challenging to translate this extra nuance into English, without using third-person text.

  18. I know this particular translation analysis is done, but there was something that really stood out to me this video I wanted to mention. I feel like your written translation analyses tend to leave room for the possibility that a particular variation in meaning was an intentional choice, not an error. In these videos the large number of actual, obvious translation errors in the SNES version (reversals in meaning, etc.) seems to have whittled away at that charitable assumption. Which is totally reasonable, but there’s some cases here where I feel like you referred to the translation as “getting it wrong” when it wasn’t clear (at least not to me as a viewer) why it would be assumed to be an error rather than an intentional choice.

    The specific example that stood out to me here was the line about the espers being drawn to the magic; the SNES version says they came to ‘bask’ in the magic while the Japanese just said they were drawn there by the magic. To me that seems like a bit of an elaboration on the original meaning, not a mistaken understanding of the Japanese text. Is there something about the Japanese dialogue there that could have been misunderstood as meaning “bask”?

    Sorry to criticize — I’ve really loved these videos and found them very informative. I’m extremely impressed by how well the GBA translation corrects the SNES translation’s errors while retaining a lot of the same flavor. (I’m also kind of amazed at how coherent the SNES version still is despite all the translation errors, although I think the most garbled stuff is mostly optional dialogue.)

    1. No problem, I love constructive criticism and am glad you’ve been enjoying my different types of analyses. I’m still learning how to do this new style and I definitely have room to improve.

      It’s true that when I’m doing on-the-fly comparisons I might not be able to consider every angle in the same way that I can when I sit back and have time to ponder over things and do research before making a call. It feels similar to how different it is to interpret vs. translate in that sense.

      In your particular example, the word used in Japanese is 引きよせられて, which means “drawn” as in being “pulled” or “attracted”. The verb is also in the passive tense, meaning they had the pulling/attracting done to them. They could’ve gone anywhere in the world, but it was as if they were drawn there by a magnet.

      To me, the idea of going there to “bask” more suggests they made a conscious choice of “Hey, let’s catch some rays over at magic mountain.” That’s probably why I mentioned the final translation as missing the point – the motivation changed slightly + it went from a passive, outside force thing to a conscious group choice. Hopefully that makes sense.

      The Espers go to the mountain due to its magical properties either way, so it’s not a big deal in the end. I don’t remember, but I probably hesitated internally to even bring it up since it’s a minor thing.

      1. Thank you! That really clears it up for me, that the original language implies being compelled rather than just attracted. I kind of read it like this: the Espers leave their domain, they attack the Empire in a frenzy, and then afterwards they have a kind of “oh no it’s so cold and un-magical in this place” reaction, which causes them to seek out a source of magic for comfort/sustenance/protection/etc.

        I still like that interpretation even if it isn’t in the original text, but it’s good to know 🙂

  19. I agree that a character referring to themselves in third person is a real case-by-case thing, though I don’t believe I’ve actually run into a lot of young girl characters who refer to themselves as such in the media I consume. Usually I see it with people who are egotistical (like Dio from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), or sometimes nobility or otherworldly characters. I think a lot of English speakers would find it more annoying than cute if the character used a lot of personal sentences and was constantly describing the things they did, but if they weren’t that chatty, I could see one getting away with it.

    I’d be kind of interested to know what “makes it cute” within the context of Japanese society. The only thing I can think of is associating referring to one’s self in third person with a lack of knowledge, which is therefore “childlike” and cute in the same way that kids pronouncing words incorrectly might be for some people in English.

  20. Hmmm, this was a very interesting update for me. This part of the game always seemed…off to me (so much so that I often forget it happens). Pretty much everything relating to the escaping Espers happens off camera during this, so the interactions during this part always felt garbled, like you were watching a play where all the onstage players were just pointing offstage saying, “Look, look at what’s happening over there!” It’s interesting to find out that part of it comes from the fact that so much of this was just misinterpreted and mistranslated.

    In particular, it’s interesting to hear about Relm. Neither Relm nor Strago have ever been what I’d call my favorite characters; they felt like the standard “RPG tagalongs” you have in every game. That said, I at least felt like they had strong personalities. Strago was an wise old man who could be stern or compassionate and worked hard to take care of his granddaughter. Relm came across as a precocious, cocky, clever little girl (sort of a brat). From what I’ve read here, it sounds like she was supposed to be a milder, more generic little girl character (maybe sort of like Galuf’s granddaughter who goes by many names?). I kinda think we got the better end here; I feel like she would’ve been pretty forgettable if they’d gone that route. She and Mog always gave me the impression of little mob bosses, and that’s endearing to me.

    Maybe that’s part of why I’ve never been comfortable with other translations of this game; the various missteps and mischaracterizations of the characters and events in the SNES version became what these characters are to me, even if it’s not a perfect translation of the source material. Much like I reject the names Tina, Mash, and Cayenne, I think my mind rejects the different personalities that superior translations offer. Those are different people to me. Funny how that works.

    1. Specific Certainty

      I tend to agree.

      I’m loath to trade away the impression the Woolsey script gives of Relm from her earliest scenes. She’s the sort of precocious little monster you could imagine settling into her role in Jidoor in the World of Ruin while everyone else scrabbles for purchase, or bringing her brainwashed grandfather to his senses through nothing but grade-A sass, someone too young to know humility and too talented to be likely to learn it—and, for the same reasons, unable to entertain even an iota of depression about what’s happened compared to the grown-ups around her. In Relm’s little world, everything always works out, because how could it not? But the Woolsey version of Relm makes her tough as nails instead of purely naive, and, weirdly, that’s a lot easier for me to buy. Given the broad strokes used to paint this game’s characters, it makes Relm believable as the only kid among those facing down a mad god at the end of the world, and all the more believable that the adult characters would let her tag along (try and stop her!)

      I feel the same way about Mog given the role of the Moogles earlier in the game and Umaro’s potential role in your party later. The Moogles are little brownie types, helpful sprites dwelling deep within the mines, but the one who ends up in an action-movie-style hostage scenario, and eventually (maybe) in your permanent party, is the oddball kobold who talks around his magic-monster speech tic like he’s chomping on a cigar and waving a half-empty glass of bourbon. And, of course, when you meet the wild cave yeti who can’t be controlled, Mog’s the one guy who can bridge the gap between person and monster, though he might end up getting bowled like a cricket ball for his trouble.

      I think it’s one of the strengths of FF6/FF3 that it’s such a grand, world-spanning story—at points a gloomy and near-pitch-black one—but it can still sustain the more kids’-cartoon-style aspects of any and each of its various scripts with ease. I think of Cait Sith or Yuffie in FF7, fun supporting characters in a different but no less interesting kind of story, but to plant them believably in that story, Cait Sith can’t really be a cartoon, he must instead be a disguised drone remote-controlled by a good-guy double agent inside the corrupt company, while Yuffie, if you chase down her full story, is out to prove something pretty serious to her disapproving dad. Relm has a tragic backstory if the player digs deep enough or gets lucky, but, to her character’s lasting benefit, Relm never finds out very much about it. There’s no need for it in that sort of character, in that sort of story.

    2. I really hated grand daughter, Mary-Sue, in FFV.

  21. The “warring triad” name for the 3 gods never really sat right with me in the GBA translation. I like that translation a lot, but they could have had something a little better, something a little more divine. Heck, I would have gone with “Warring Trinity”.

  22. Took me this long to read this article, and to notice that when Kefka’s shocked (like in the “shinjirana~i” line), he’s doing Iyami’s “sheeh” pose from Osomatsu-kun. Japanese pop culture’s been referencing that pose since the 60’s. Godzilla’s done it. Someone once got John Lennon to do it. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise for Final Fantasy to do it.

  23. In the Pokemon XY anime series Bonnie (Eureka in Japan) refers to herself in the first person in the original Japanese as well.

  24. A fun fact that might have something to do with Strago’s name change and may say something about the translator. In Latin names “-us” endings have some pretty strict grammatical rules, in fact one of the serious blows to the “Francis Bacon was William Shakespeare” theory is that it relies on him latinizing his name as “Baconus” which is not grammatical and someone learned in Latin (someone like an Elizebethan-era scholar) would not do. Instead he would have probably Latinized his name… Baco!

    So it’s quite possible that the -us to -o change was made to make it more authentically Latin-sounding, since the character is meant to evoke a sort of medieval scholar feeling.