A recent question I got from a reader was about Axel from the Kingdom Hearts series – he says “Got it memorized?” a lot, so the question was what the deal with this was in the original Japanese games.
So here’s a look:
In Japanese, he says 記憶したか (kioku shita ka), which does indeed mean something like, “Did you memorize it/that?” or “Did you commit that to memory?” It seems strange at first, but given how important memories are in Kingdom Hearts games, it fits the theme and everything.
It’s actually used in a catchphrase-y way that’s extremely common in Japanese entertainment, but in other languages/cultures it usually just comes off as weird and even a little childish. Another good example is the phrase “Believe it!” in the Naruto series – it was originally a Japanese-style catchphrase (“datte ba yo”), but because of said cultural differences, it just seemed weird and obnoxious in translation, so eventually the Naruto translators stopped including “Believe it!” altogether.
Whenever these weird catchphrase things turn up, it’s always a tough decision whether or not to include them 100% of the time. I mean, it’s important enough that the original creators took the time to write them down, you know? On the other hand, the original creators didn’t intend for the text to seem super-awkward. So it’s one of those little things translators and localizers have to think about for each new project.
If you have any specific lines from something that you’d like me to take a look at sometime, let me know in the comments or contact me some other way!
Thank you very much for this, it was very insightful.
I always liked Axel’s catchphrase.
In the gameboy advance title Chain Of Memories, Axel says “Commit it to memory” instead. Dunno if they changed that to the more popular Got It Memorised in the remakes of that game though.
They definitely changed it over to “Got it memorized?” for the PS2 version. My unofficial theory as to why it was changed is because later depictions make it clear that it’s supposed to…
1: Be a catchphrase. “Commit it to memory” feels a little too stiff.
2: It’s a lot clearer in the contexts of the following games that it’s a question, not a conclusive statement. Axel is asking you to remember, not telling you to.
This reminds me of another quirk I often see japanese media,where a young female character will refer to herself in the 3rd person. I have imagine that this comes off a bit different in japanese, because I often become really annoyed with otherwise likable character.
Oh man, yeah, it’s crazy when that happens. It’s such a weird thing to have to deal with :X
In BBS, he actually explains why he says it, he wants to be remembered so he can live in people’s memory that way he is immortal. He says it so people get it in their heads that they do have to have it memorized himself, his name, and what he is trying to tell you.
Catchphrases are pretty common in the KH franchise as a whole, if only because it draws from so many other sources full of catchphrases. Goofy’s “Gawrsh”, Rai’s “ya know”, etc.
But for some reason they didn’t keep Squall’s “…” from Final Fantasy 8. I wonder why.
“I mean, it’s important enough that the original creators took the time to write them down, you know?”
Man, I’d forgotten about Rai, I know? What immediately came to mind (over a year after this post & all…) was Final Fantasy X’s reliance on it. Even being as unaware as I was or am, I felt sure that was a means of filling in mouth-flapping (thank damn they started re-flapping scenes down the road).
And Leon’s just got silent ellipses.
“Got it memorized?” is cool and memorable. I don’t know how else to describe it, it just sounds badass. “Believe it!” just sounds stupid and annoying. I can’t even properly explain why either of them are the way they are. It’s just something you have to feel.
This is a test! Boop!