The First Few Lines Of Final Fantasy 7 Are A Little Different In Japanese

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I’m playing Final Fantasy 7 in both English and Japanese at the same time, and noticing a bunch of tiny differences — for you. Here’s a video illustrating what nuances of the first few lines of the game couldn’t make it into the English translation.

I lived and worked in Japan for 10 years. I’ve worked as a game designer on Japanese video games, and I’ve even officially translated a Japanese role-playing game from Japanese into English all by myself (it was a lot of work…). So I had a real good time making this video — and there’s more to come!

Comments

  • You can loot those corpses?! I checked everywhere in FFVII for items and gil but for some reason it never struck me to check those bodies…

    • Basically it says that translations are hard and you’re rarely ever going to have an English translation that matches the original characterisations and script. This is especially so with Asiatic languages because they can use a few characters to describe tone and concepts while we need several words and text boxes only have a certain amount of space. The other common problem that translators face with Japanese in particular is that certain subtleties in how you write a word can dramatically change a character’s attitude (eg. Using “Ore” instead of “Watashi”, “Anta” instead of “Anata” to create the feeling of a brash youth) and this is difficult to translate into English.

      Combined together it all ends up changing the way characters can come across. Barret feels a little more friendlier in the English version because he uses “Newcomer” while in Japanese he’s just referring to Cloud as an impersonal “New guy”. Cloud also loses a little of his original youthful cheek in the English version when he’s telling everyone to “not bother telling him their name because they’ll never see each other after the mission anyway” because of the subtleties in spelling I mentioned previously.

      It also serves as a bit of a lesson about what some Japanese words mean but the main gist is about the nuances that translators have to deal with and why we often end up with a translation that can differ greatly from the original script.

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