Posted by on Feb 18, 2009 in Retranslation log | One Comment

If your craving for localization blunders is greater than your aversion to spoilers, I have a pretty momentous topic for you today. One of our own vigilant translators aquagon discovered this alarmingly ill-treated line in an important dialog with Reisha:

Reisha(17) :23:23:
JP::クロアの両親も、レイカが殺してしまったようなものですから…。
EN::Leyka killed Croix's parents, as well...
NEW:Since Reika was like the ones that killed Croix's parents...
OR::It's as if Reika herself killed Croix's parents...

The first relocalization is aquagon’s, and the second is my own attempt to express what’s really going on in this line. What’s most important is that Reisha does not actually say that Reika killed Croix’s parents.

The line was enough to confuse and unsettle the fans in this Gamespot thread. They thought that if such a thing were true, it deserved much more attention in the story, and it certainly demanded more emotional response from the characters.

To be sure that I wasn’t getting things wrong, I checked the lovely Ar tonelico 2 Design Materials book. Right there in Luca’s biography (bottom-left of page 18) was a section on her childhood:

She had a younger sister Reika, who had an IPD infection and collapsed. Her father gave his life trying to protect her from being seized by the Grand Bell. This memory has haunted Luca ever since. […] Croix, too, has an IPD incident in his childhood. At the time of Reika’s IPD outburst, Croix’s mother also became infected with IPD and killed her husband, then died herself. Reisha feels remorse for this and took Croix in.

It’s not at all clear whether Reika directly infected Croix’s mother with IPD. (Indeed, aquagon points out that the scene where she is captured is set deep in Mikry Forest, away from the town.) But even if she did, it’s certainly not true that she killed his parents, as Reisha blurts out in the official localization. One could weakly argue (and Reisha seems to believe somewhat) that she indirectly caused their deaths. But it’s not as if in an IPD berserker episode she slaughtered them with her own hands. She’s simply part of the IPD outbreak that also claimed them.

The line above is the only place where this incident is directly mentioned in the game, from what I can tell. As you can see from the Gamespot discussion, the poor translation of that single line has had huge consequences for fans’ perceptions of the characters and of the game as a whole. If anyone still thinks that a slipshod localization isn’t that big of a deal, I think this is our strongest counterargument yet.

1 Comment

  1. saru
    February 19, 2009

    This is what is fascinating to me, and why I am so glad this retranslation project is happening. Personally, grammar mistakes don’t bother me too much; I don’t mind typos or mis-punctuation because the game is sucking me in too much for me to notice. But when you take a phrase and completely alter the meaning of it based on your questionable translation, that’s when it turns bad. Most people will come away from the game thinking Leyka definitely killed Croix’s parents, and that it was some example of shoddy characterization that made it so there was no interaction or reaction on that; which is a heartbreaking to think about Ar tonelico.

    All in all, excellent work — I love reading these examples, truly enlightening!

Leave a Reply