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!