This Be Bad Translation #13, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment!

63 Comments
This is Part 13 of my project to document the poor text translations in Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment. For project more details and to start from the very beginning, see here.

I spent a lot of time playing the game on my own rather than on Twitch, mostly just to grind levels and get better items. I took this time to go through a lot of menus and other less exciting stuff, but there were still lots of simple problems everywhere I turned.

Be sure to check out Part 14!
63 Comments
  1. That one with the overflowing textbox reminded me of this from Splatoon 2:
    https://i.imgur.com/f2h2NTu.jpg

    Reply
    1. Mmm, glorious meta. That’s my Marina at her best.

      Reply
  2. I honestly never really got the appeal of this series. I saw both anime series on Toonami a few years back, and while it was good, i’d hardly put it as one of my favorite anime, and really don’t get why so many people obsess over it so much.

    Reply
    1. It is a pretty friggin’ terrible adaptation of a series of books that is thoroughly mediocre to start with(I have read several, in large part because the same author did Accel World). But it struck a chord with a lot of people.

      Reply
    2. I’m confused at your assertion that this series is liked or beloved by anyone.
      All I ever hear is the massive amounts of hatred that everyone i’ve ever seen has about this series. It’s become one of those “butt of everyone’s jokes” things, like Twilight or Fifty Shades Of Grey, that everyone uses it as an iconic go-to example of the worst of something. I hardly know anything about this series, I only know it by it’s reputation for being massively hated by all.

      Reply
      1. SAO is extremely popular and well-known by people who don’t know they’re not supposed to like it. It’s on TV and everything. It even has side stories like GGO that are actually well written.

        SAO itself… you can guess every line the characters say as it comes out of their mouths. It’s funny that the author’s deepest fantasy that he wrote in his self-insert fanfic is just to have a wife and kids though.

        Reply
        1. I bought the Vita version of this when it released on the EU store and the piss poor translation made me stop playing. I can usually overlook a few errors here and there but these were so relentless the eye rolling became painful. Shame too as the game itself was quite fun.

          Reply
          1. Derp. I’m sorry. I didn’t realise I was replying to your comment.

            Reply
      2. I’ve never met anyone who dislikes it. I’ve had to tell five people I dislike it, and they couldn’t comprehend how I could dislike such an “amazing show”.

        Reply
  3. Ah, my favourite trainwreck.^^ To me, it’s always been fascinating to read because it’s so amusingly wrong. Also part of why I picked the game up on PSN when it was on sale.

    Some of these really were cleaned up for the European (and American, I assume) PSN release. For example, the “[enemy] received [item]” message was changed to “[enemy] drops [item]”: https://i.imgur.com/XiJdsBL.jpg

    I’m a bit unsure about the “penetration” part because I don’t remember it from my playthrough and don’t have any screenshots displaying that phrase among the around 400 pictures I took. They may have replaced it with another word but if that’s indeed the case, I don’t think it’s a better one: https://i.imgur.com/JWX7h3F.jpg

    Reply
    1. Yeah, we actually noticed that it was “assaulting” in the e-mails during the stream. Here’s how that same thing looked for us btw:

      https://legendsoflocalization.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/assaulting.jpg

      Reply
    2. I am fairly sure the official US translation is just a heavy editing job on the asian english translation. It is still a trainwreck, just one that is grammatically correct more often than not.

      Reply
      1. Yeah, the official North American release is pretty headache-inducing to parse in a lot of places.

        Reply
  4. Interdimensional Observer

    To be fair, why would an Asian version have high-quality English? In a sense, I’m expecting issues abound here. Isn’t the English option only because Hong Kong used to be a British colony? And it is not like Chinese got thoroughly replaced by English there I would imagine. Crude English should suit most East Asian needs I would think, would they understand/be affected by the difference between good and bad unless they really knew their Anglais?

    Not to say that I don’t appreciate an English option, I’ll be liking it if I ever get a PS4 and want Super Robot Wars: Original Generations: The Moon Dwellers. Why’d Banpresto only give us OG1&2 on the GBA?

    Also, I’m still loving all the bad English goodness.

    Reply
    1. Assuming the game is sold for the South-East Asian market, chances are, English is the de-facto Linguia Francia.
      Talking, specifically, about Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Places where people may not speak Chinese or Japanese, but will probably have a good grasp of English for the purposes of reading comprehension.

      Take me with a grain of salt, but this is what I believe to be the case. And the reason for a lot of Asian-only English translated releases.

      Reply
      1. Yeah, I always assumed that Asian releases were heavily targeted with southeast Asian markets in mind too, but I’ve never looked too much into it myself.

        Reply
        1. I think even Dragon Ball Z got one of these kinds of translations . I’m pretty sure Toei Animation Enterprises (T.A.E.) in Hong Kong is responsible for the horrible English dub (the “Speedy dub”) for those southern Asian countries. And that horrible translation is what Funimation based their dub off before they hired Steve “Daimao” Simmons (and probably even after). The voice actors used “Well, the translation Toei gave us was horrible” as their excuse for why they “had” to ignore it and make up their own story/dialog. Luckily for DB, they seemed to use your translation instead…tho not very closely.

          Reply
      2. This is what I’ve picked up from being in the Super Robot Wars fandom, at least. Doing a translation for every SEA country would be expensive and time-consuming, but nerds that play anime video games will probably have relatively high English literacy.

        SRW and SEA translations are kind of interesting in their own right. The first one, Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon Dwellers had a translation on about the same level of SAO here. Very poor grammar, lots of strange mistakes, just generally a poor translation. But after that Banpresto started hiring better translators who natively spoke English (and one who was already a SRW nerd) and now the translations are very good, especially when it comes to references and humor.

        I’m not sure why it happened, but I’m glad it did.

        Reply
        1. That’s the one with the “What a Damn itty operator” line isn’t it?

          Reply
          1. Yeah. Along with “a little Damn it like you” at another point.
            Kind of obviously a search-and-replace error.

            Reply
    2. The issues were still present in the Vita version that was released on the EU store.

      Reply
  5. These are all so very bad, but for some reason the Lizardmans one stood out as my favourite.

    Reply
  6. Why is “hidding skill” surrounded by double chevrons?

    Reply
    1. I guess it’s a leftover from the original Japanese text. I don’t know much about Sword Art Online so I don’t know why it would be highlighted to begin with in the first place though.

      Reply
      1. hiding is a skill in the SAO game and in this game all skills have the double chevrons to you oh it’s a move ingame

        Reply
  7. I THINK it is just highlighted to emphasize it is a skill name instead of normal dialog. She’s not good at concealing herself, but she has an actual skill called “hidding”.

    Given all the characters are themselves trapped inside an RPG with skills and stats, and where not taking the game seriously means you die in the real world, much of common language usage within the game winds up being gamer terminology and slang. In cases where the gamer terms have meanings outside of games, the “real-world” uses get set aside as everyone starts talking like GameFAQs.

    Long story short, the players trapped inside Sword Art Online would be using skill exclusively to mean game-mechanic skill slots. But the Vita game is not a very faithful adaptation, so I make no guarantees they use it that way.

    Reply
    1. Interdimensional Observer

      Reminds me of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, where important terms, mostly of a story nature, were highlighted a different color, and due to the dual screen would be touched for a popup of what they meant.
      It too reminds me of Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, where IIRC, story terms were spoken of in square brackets. This was a bit out of place, since even when Shanoa confronts Dracula at the long end of her story, she fiercely addresses him as [Dracula]. Which cuts into the intensity of the moment. And I don’t think players need to be reminded Dracula is plot-relevant when he is standing right there ready to danse macabre.

      Reply
      1. Yeah, I noticed that in Order of Ecclesia. It’s jarring, but I figured it was the kind of thing I’ve seen in a fair amount of video games, especially those aimed at a younger audience, like the Legend of Zelda ones where the text mentioning important items or actions would be in a different colour so it stands out. I don’t know why they couldn’t bold or colour it though.

        Reply
        1. Yes, it’s certainly common in RPG and other such games to highlight important portions of the text in some fashion.

          Reply
  8. Really the one that sticks with me the most is the line “Hey, is that black man sexually harassing the maid?”. It’s a complete mistranslation, yet somehow it’s one of the few lines that’s grammatically correct and something a native English speaker would actually say. I have no idea how that happened. Monkey on typewriter type random accident? Non-translator competent at English doing cleanup on this one part of the script (and ignoring everything else)?

    Reply
  9. I really want to know about that “flowerpot of a houseplant” line. Is it a mistranslation or something that went over my head because I’m not as familiar with Japanese insult culture or Sword Art Online?

    By the way, it’s irrelevant, but while I was watching this stream, I thought of “Radiant Historia” for some reason (I guess because I don’t play a lot of text-heavy games). It’s not a particularly well-known game, but the 3DS NA release has an unexpectedly really good translation (as far as I can tell), and I was wondering if you had heard of it.

    Reply
  10. “I hope you like penetration, because this translation won’t stop talking about it,” please, game, not until we’re level 35

    Reply
  11. What’s the deal with monopoly? Is that prostitution?

    Reply
    1. It’s in the context of monopolizing someone’s time. The winner of the game gets to spend the day with Kirito.

      Reply
    2. I’m guessing it’s what we’d call “have all to myself” in ordinary English.

      Reply
  12. Were the monopoly lines originally 独り占め or have a read too many VNs where I see that used the most often…

    Reply
    1. Yeah, that’s what my instinct says too. In fact, when I first learned the word so long ago it was literally explained as “to monpolize” which felt kind of strange for whatever context I was seeing it in. I’m guessing it’s one of those “it can’t be helped” sort of catch-all phrases but less well known.

      Reply
  13. Can you leave credits of the individuals who translated the games? Just fir chuckles

    Reply
  14. Kirito’s line about using your brain reminded me of that one boss’ winquote from the Double Dragon Neo Geo fighter

    “If you don’t use your brain it will become useless!”
    Also I forgot how horribly sappy the Yui subplot was.

    Reply
  15. Winners don’t do heroiz!

    Reply
  16. “Is Daddy going to monopoly me? Hehehe, I’m so happy!”
    Big yikes from me dawg! It’s like they created an involuntary, not so family-friendly doujinshi due to strange translations…
    I mean, who doesn’t want some good ol’ monopolizing with daddy? Even for a whole day!

    Reply
  17. Interdimensional Observer

    A game that leaves the lord of translations in utter bewilderment. Were you a teacher, you could probably make retranslating this someone’s undergrad capstone, or maybe it’d be fairer to assign it for an MA.

    Limit Liberalization is so confusing! Are we talking classical or modern-American liberalization?

    Devil’s Cave Story 3 sounds like a game that needs to happen, after Angel’s Cave Story 2.

    Also, could some road in the US please change its name to Silent Fresh Greenwood Avenue? Sure it’d need some space on a street sign, but it’d be worth it. And make sure it’s a good place, ideally one where someone could rap.

    Lastly, why do you say Treant so often poorly translated? I generally haven’t seen this be the case, outside of one intentional misspelling.

    Reply
  18. Why is this translation so obsessed with penetration?

    Reply
  19. Kirito’s title was translated as “black swordsman” in the anime, so Leafa’s line in part 4 isn’t exactly a mistranslation. Or at least not a problem endemic to this localization.

    Reply
  20. It does seem as if some of the translation is from Chinese. While quotation marks can used (especially in mainland China), it’s more common to see the corner brackets when writing in traditional characters in Taiwan or Hong Kong (『「these things」』) which seem to be used in Japan as well. I can’t find anything on Japanese using double chevrons/angle brackets (《Like this》) which can be seen in one of the images of part 3, but they can be used in Chinese kind of like italics in English, usually denoting the title of a book or song.

    I’d say that this supports the theory that it was not only multiple people translating, but at least one was working from the Chinese translation. I’m interested to see how that translation came out, to be honest.

    Reply
  21. “Pets” isn’t actually a bad translation, necessarily. In an MMO like SAO is pretending to be, pretty much any creature allied with a player that isn’t a mount is usually called a pet.

    Reply
  22. Interdimensional Observer

    Feeling at all burned out from this? How much of it can you take? If you haven’t played very far in, and already have enough material for ten pages, going to the end sounds utterly laborious.
    Thank you for all the laughs though!

    On the topic of games with multiple translations, I don’t know if it is true or not, but I heard heresay that Final Fantasy Tactics had several translators who never actually met each other.

    As for other bad game translations to tackle, perhaps the DS Visual Novel Lux Pain? That game has a reputation for a trainwreck transration, worsened by it being a VN and hence text is absolutely central to it.

    The translator of Lux Pain was Ignition, which also did the translation for Muramasa: The Demon Blade. The game has gotten some notoriety in the translation world, since its Rebirth port to the Vita had a brand new translation by Aksys Games. Aksys also, with skill apparently, translated the VN Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.
    https://militarypenguin.livejournal.com/281392.html
    Looking at the two translations side by side, like the above person did for the very beginning, you can see how the Ignition translation is really short. When playing the game, the Japanese VAs give you the idea more is being said than is in the text box, since the lines sound longer than the English would be if pronounced, more than just a fundamental difference in spoken word length between languages. It reminds me of the SNES FF translations you’ve been doing- except we’re past the era of space limitations and video game translation is now taken seriously.

    Ignition also translated Arc Rise Fantasia, no major screwups there from what I can tell, other than Papirusagu. It’s supposed to be Pabilsag, a mythological reference. It did introduce me to an old English expression right away though- “The Devil is beating his wife”.

    Reply
  23. “Please come back soo, good translators”

    Yes, please get them back. I can’t stand reading this alphabet vomit these morons have shoved into this game.

    Reply
  24. I think ‘Tree Fork’ isn’t an L/R problem but a ‘long O vs or’ problem.

    Reply
  25. “you can’t finish anything by that” sounds like “you can’t do anything during that [time]”

    Reply
  26. Whenever I see the word “angery” anywhere, in any context (which isn’t a lot), the only thing I can think of is this: https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/facebook/001/146/903/a7c.jpg

    Reply
  27. I’m surprised a translator that didn’t know the word “his” and butchered every mention of the word “clothes” managed to come up with “speak of the devil”, no matter how mangled. Doesn’t seem like that would be an expression in Japanese.

    Reply
  28. Devil’s Cave Story 3? Poor Deceased Crab.

    Reply
  29. “So it’s pretty common for translators to fall back on “gimmick” as the default “good enough” choice.”

    I wonder if that explains the Bomberman Jetters level name “Gimmick Party”. ThornBrain didn’t think there was a gimmick, but perhaps there was a karakuri, I don’t know.

    “I don’t know where this phrase (pour water on that) came from”

    I assume this is a metaphor for “seem ungrateful”? I’ve only seen it one other time, in the anime Lucky Star, when Miyuki, in a reversal from the norm, borrowed notes from Konata and Tsukasa… only to find that: 1. Konata has horribly messy handwriting, and 2. Tsukasa is so meticulously neat that she didn’t get far in writing the notes.

    Chefs and Chiefs, eh? Great googly-moogly… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nmgice3ieZ4

    “This made me wonder, how WOULD we convey this sound in written English without resorting to saying something like “*blowing*”?”

    Well, if I were making the game from the ground up, I would probably accompany the blowing sound effect with a side-view close-up of Leafa blowing on the porridge. But since this isn’t what the game author did, “*blowing*” or something like that does seem to be a better solution than leaving the player wondering what “Fffff… Fffff…” means.

    “Let’s kill together?”

    Wow. It’s grammatically correct, I guess, but what an insane verb to put there. In English, it just doesn’t go with the tone of the sentence at all. If you presented me with the sentence “Let’s ________ together” and asked me to fill in the blank, I might put “have lunch”, or, in the spirit of video game nostalgia, “live here”, but “kill”?

    “Sage Proceeding Vale”

    It’s a valley containing lots of a certain herb?

    “Limited Lost Trial”

    That makes it sound like you got to use it for free for the first 30 days, but you ran out of time, and now you have to pay to continue using it.

    Reply
  30. Do the “Try resist” skills always work? Because if not, it might be that they’re supposed to be “Try TO resist,” as in the skill has a chance of failure.

    Reply
  31. Maybe “heroize” is something like ヒーローぶるなよ!(hiiro buru na yo, stop playing the hero!)…?

    Reply
  32. > Oh, look! They finally used “bathe”! …But then they immediately forget to use it again.

    I bet the translator actually arrived at “bathed” by adding -ed to “bath”.

    Reply
  33. “Aren’t we all oranges?” is probably my favourite line in the game. It’s just so wonderfully absurd. No “inhibited orange fellows” in the European PSN version anymore, though (https://imgur.com/AFGDmPM).

    I also noticed the “mistfortune” text box on page 14 got rewritten entirely (https://imgur.com/a56EO0y) and the “nude aprong” from page 16 traded its extra g for the article it was missing (https://imgur.com/yAJlanl).

    Reply
  34. Regarding the “response that is not an enemy” thing, The radar-style explanation is probably plausible since it’s life in an MMORPG with GUIs and navigational stuff.

    But many times for immersion purposes, these kinds of features use “presence” or “intent to kill” (殺気, sakki) when describing things that they can feel beyond the basic 5 senses.

    Reply
  35. Reaction velocity lol.

    Reaction time or response speed would have sufficed for what was obviously translated from 判断速度 (handan sokudou).

    Reply
  36. The “I got addicted” line must have been a mistranslated “hamatta na” which can also mean “I got played” or “I was tricked”

    Reply
  37. I bought the Vita version of this when it released on the EU store and the piss poor translation made me stop playing. I can usually overlook a few errors here and there but these were so relentless the eye rolling became painful. Shame too as the game itself was quite fun

    Reply
  38. It was my first anime and I read more now because of it. It introduced me to many other shonen shows and opened up a whole world of entertainment for me. Though the second season, in my opinion, was not as well made as the first, the third season is the best so far. To add on to that, the opening theme songs by LiSa are really good.
    By the way, I also reuploaded my article about why Sword Art Online is good. Check the link below for more information:
    http://hafidh-yanuar-prastiko-fst18.web.unair.ac.id/artikel_detail-317397-Unair.ac.id-The%20reason%20why%20Sword%20Art%20Online%20is%20good.html

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Nathan Bisbo Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *