KH Panda Z recently asked a question relating to Tales of Vesperia, which is a really great game:
In Tales of Vesperia, the character Raven often refers to himself as “”ol’ Raven”” and I was wondering. What does he call himself in the Japanese version? Or more along the lines what kind of dialect does he have?
Don’t worry if you haven’t played it, but I would really recommend it.
I actually DID play it a couple years back – I translated the anime movie prequel, in fact!
In preparation for it, I played through the English version of the game, taking reams and reams of notes to make sure my translation matched every little nuance in the game. In all, I spent maybe two or three months on the project, even though it was like a simple 90 minute movie. Actually, it looks like you can get it on Blu-ray/DVD for pretty cheap on Amazon now here, if you wanna check it out.
Anyway, all that self-promoting aside, let’s get to the question!
In the English version of the game, everyone calls the Raven character “old man” throughout the game, even though he’s not THAT old. In fact, even Raven himself often refers to himself as “ol’ Raven” a lot too! So what does he call himself in Japanese? Here’s a random sample from early in the game:
Basically, rather than call himself “ol’ Raven”, he just calls himself “old man” like everyone else calls him. This sort of thing happens all the time in Japanese, but it doesn’t work quite as well in English.
For example, “You just leave it up ta old man.” has a bit of oddness to it. Using “this old man” instead is a solution, but overuse of it might eventually become strange too. Even more so if a voice actor has to say it out loud over and over. So the use of “ol’ Raven” instead is a nice localization solution that matches his character AND is memorable.
As for his speech style, he definitely talks in a less standard, more “carefree” style, for a lack of a better explanation. I wanna say it’s a light Nagoya-style dialect based on his usage of stuff like ～だわな and ～わ, but he actually doesn’t talk much in the anime so I’d need to play the game in Japanese to get a better feel for it. From videos and such that’s how it seems to me, at least.
Hopefully that answers the question! I actually have so many fond memories of digging into this game’s translation that it’s partly what inspired me to start my Legends of Localization stuff in the first place. It was neat how parts of the localization really shone – the English lyrics in the intro song, the phrasing of certain things, the script direction in some scenes… but then there’d be sudden, jarring typos and oddities too. Here are some for fun!
These are just some random pictures I took years ago – there are a lot more little issues like this that pepper the game regularly. But otherwise I could tell from my own work on the movie that the game had really great localization, both in writing and in its thoughtful localization choices.
So what happened? I’ve heard from pals who worked on the game and from the localization grapevine in general that although 8-4 handled the bulk of the project, some last-minute stuff got handled by someone else, hence the clash in quality. 8-4’s considered one of the best of the best out there, so it makes sense.
You know, I’d love to find out more of the details someday, as well as dig deeper into the game’s translation and localization and share a lot of the interesting stuff in a big section of its own. It’s a huge game, though, so maybe I’ll have to wait until I win the lottery or retire 😛