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A deeper look at the fumbles in Persona 5's localization, and the industry in general

Mendrox

Member
Jan 4, 2012
6,392
0
610
I understand every native speaker who felt that it's off. I only noticed a few awkward things and many typical anime translation subs which I didnt mind because my anime is also translated like this. I was fine with it, but it seems many native speakers arent so Atlus should have done better than this. Havent heard such a complain from a non native speaker (work or friends) yet though.
 

TrutaS

Member
Mar 3, 2009
1,637
1
0
I couldn't spot anything bad really, seemed as good as any other translation in the past. Which means lots of exposition from the game design itself - but perfectly engaging and interesting. Not a native speaker, but living in the UK, so still not as sensitive to that.
 

Phu

Banned
Jun 17, 2014
3,340
5
0
I can see some of these as being an issue..

but damn if this isn't the most nitpicky thing I've come across on Gaf

Your "luggage" arrived earlier; I left them over there.

There are many more events that I must inquire on. Lies and false accounts are eventually exposed.

Hm, there is a faint tickle in the deep recesses of my nose... Could this be the pollen of rumor...?

It can't be helped in order to ascertain the truth.

As expected of Christmas Eve.

You don't need to dig to see it.
 

graywolf323

Member
Jan 19, 2008
9,799
826
1,410
Richmond, VA
I'm disappointed in the localization, especially since P4 was great. This was an opportunity for Altus to have P5 as a breakthrough to the mainstream, and I'm not sure if they made the right decisions.

between the localization and the ass backwards restrictions on streaming/screenshots I really hope they didn't squander all the progress Persona 4 made for the series
 

Famassu

Member
Sep 11, 2010
16,035
1
0
So you're saying that nonsensical localisation is fine because sometimes people enjoy it?



I've actually found the exam questions to be pretty diverse as they are. I can remember answering a ton of questions that weren't pertaining to Japanese culture; maybe even the majority of them.
Trying to pass off the settings of the Ace Attorney games as US is silly, but otherwise that comic strip isn't a good argument against more liberal translations. Ace Attorney is a prime example of how localizations do need to often make big changes and consider the language being translated into instead of going with the most literal translations. It relies heavily on subtleties with a lot of its puzzles so awkward & poor translation that literal, straightforward translations usually are would make it far less playable since the gameplay is all based on text.
 

+Aliken+

Member
Apr 18, 2005
1,859
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Translation is not:
Removing content that is difficult or controversial to readers

Mh not sure I agree with this.Content might work differently due to what is accepted in different cultures.The translation should try and convey the same message as the original but keeping in mind the sensibilities of its audience.
 

Fjordson

Member
Jul 5, 2010
34,917
1
815
California
Really shocked some people aren't noticing this. The game is great overall, but there's awkward writing all over the place. At least in the 12+ hours I've played. Lots of lines that you'd simply never hear in English (at least not from native speakers).
 
Aug 24, 2012
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Gifu, Japan
Understood. I'd be the first to tell anyone to consume anything in its original language if at all possible since I long gave up on the idea of translations, even the very best ones, being anything but the best try at conveying something that might just be impossible to fully convey.

Right. But it's also true that through painstaking work it's possible to capture a larger amount of the original, or to find ways to fill in the gaps that are completely impossible to capture. Persona 4 was an absolutely excellent example of this.

Some people have been saying that the game or its characters aren't resonating with them the same way that P4's cast did. Of course people will have different feelings, but when I played through the game in Japanese I absolutely loved the cast, both the main party and the supporting characters, with very few exceptions. They were vibrant and full of personality and life. If the localization failed to capture that, that's an enormous shame.

In particular, it seems that the translation of Sae and the interrogation scenes is utterly indefensible, and I can't imagine that not then bleeding out onto the rest of the game. The contrast between the Sae you see in the interrogation with the one you see at home with Makoto can't possibly come across correctly. The sudden flashes of cold rage that would slip through at home, or the disarmed shock in the interrogation room can't possibly have the same effect (if they were even noticeable at all). Watching Sae's icy front begin to chip away as the testimony progressed was crucial to Makoto's character arc.
 

OniBaka

Member
Feb 6, 2015
1,987
2
265
I understand every native speaker who felt that it's off. I only noticed a few awkward things and many typical anime translation subs which I didnt mind because my anime is also translated like this. I was fine with it, but it seems many native speakers arent so Atlus should have done better than this. Havent heard such a complain from a non native speaker (work or friends) yet though.
I'm a native speaker and I don't have an issue with it but that might be because I watch anime.

That said it can be improved.
 
Dec 18, 2014
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between the localization and the ass backwards restrictions on streaming/screenshots I really hope they didn't squander all the progress Persona 4 made for the series

Honestly, it feels like they did. P5 made a huge splash on release, but I haven't seen the sustained conversation that games like Zelda got
 

Samaritan

Member
Feb 20, 2015
1,131
0
0
There has been specific messaging that the pronounciation of some things was dicated by AtlusJP management thinking that western people wanted to hear names a certain way, and that was it. It's hubris and bullshit in the classic Japanese style.
God, that's actually way shittier of a reason than if, say, AtlusUS decided it sounded better to pronounce them that way or something. AtlusJP shitting up their game for the West in more ways than one bums me the hell out.
 

Saprol

Member
Jun 25, 2012
2,636
0
420
Vancouver, Canada
I've finished my first playthrough recently. I enjoyed the game despite the odd lines or excessive stock phrases that I'd likely never hear from other native speakers.

The bits that really stuck out to me when I played were: the beginning cellphone call confusion, or the battle tutorial's "serious to kill us" bit, or most times we return to Sae in the interrogation room. Definitely chose to just keep mashing the X button rather than sit there deliberating what a vague sentence was supposed to mean.
 

Toxi

Banned
May 29, 2013
41,538
1
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I'm actually going to disagree on this point, because despite the heart being in the right place, there's a very heavy line leading right into the boss fight of the fourth palace that I said to myself ahead of time and correctly called, and it was goddamn weak and predictable regardless. A non-literal translation at that moment would have lended more heart and emotion to that moment, which felt like it was supposed to be one of the heaviest of the 50-ish hours of the game I've played so far. Instead, because of the overuse of a phrase, it landed like a wet fart and instead of making my blood boil, it made me shrivel.
Futaba shouting "I WON'T FORGIVE YOU" at her Sphinx-mom was the most obvious fucking thing.

That moment could have been amazing, but the predictability in the lameness of the translation sucked the life out of it. It was literal, and it was weakened by that.
At least it wasn't
"THIS IS UNFORGIVABLE!"
.
 

GSR

Member
Jun 17, 2011
4,274
0
0
twitter.com
This is a great write-up. To reiterate, nobody is calling for Atlus' head on a pike or saying the game is garbage because of these issues. The point is that this is an extremely visible example of what happens when you don't give a localization the proper time and resources.

Going through the examples given, I was struck by how many of them are things I've done while doing a rush or live translation job - or even a NaNoWriMo draft - and I'm by no means a professional writer, editor, or translator. That doesn't mean that Atlus is a bunch of amateurs, but it serves as a reminder that writing and translating is really damn hard to do well, especially at scale, and even pros will slip up if they're under the gun.
 

Joeku

Member
Sep 15, 2009
5,733
0
0
I've finished my first playthrough recently. I enjoyed the game despite the odd lines or excessive stock phrases that I'd likely never hear from other native speakers.

The bits that really stuck out to me when I played were: the beginning cellphone call confusion, or the battle tutorial's "serious to kill us" bit, or most times we return to Sae in the interrogation room. Definitely chose to just keep mashing the X button rather than sit there deliberating what a vague sentence was supposed to mean.

The Sae stuff has been the worst of it for me, too. I guess her being professional and direct in her speech led to the way the translation felt so goddamn machine-like? In media res of a cop interrogating a perp really never sounds like this in English, and the game could have been so much better if Sae had been playing more of a role, especially since you have other scenes of her being more "normal" interspersed throughout the game.
 
Feb 17, 2013
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From what I saw most of not all of the translation errors are restricted to inessential disalogue. The core story content, which is typically voiced, was given far more attention. It's usually things like the shadow conversations where I see errors.
 

Moonlight

Banned
Oct 16, 2012
10,506
0
0
From what I saw most of not all of the translation errors are restricted to inessential disalogue. The core story content, which is typically voiced, was given far more attention. It's usually things like the shadow conversations where I see errors.
The main story content is actually by far where I notice the most errors. Stuff like Confidants tend to be the best of this localization in my experience.
 

XaosWolf

Member
Jun 19, 2012
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www.neogaf.com
Mh not sure I agree with this.Content might work differently due to what is accepted in different cultures.The translation should try and convey the same message as the original but keeping in mind the sensibilities of its audience.

That was describing Translation. What you're proposing would be part of Localisation.
 

zephry

Member
Aug 22, 2014
208
0
0
As a translator myself I can't wait to see how other localizations turned out for P5... especially Korean. It should be coming out in a few months.

There are some awkward phrases and sentences in P5 but they haven't lessened my enjoyment one bit.
 

KuroNeeko

Member
Jul 22, 2009
3,695
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Osaka
While I haven't played Persona 5, or any of the other titles outside of the first, in English, I got the impression that the in-house localization team (that had worked on previous titles) had a pretty good grasp of the difference between localization and translation.

Reading some of the behind-the-scenes interviews, I thought that some of the text was localized quite well. I wonder what happened. Were there changes in personnel?

Personally, I feel like you would lose a lot of the Japanese vibe in the process. It doesn't mean that you can't make a bittersweet, coming-of-age, high-school drama resonate with a "foreign" audience, but to what extent should you go to preserve the original material if it only serves to detract from immersion?

This is a question that I face all the time. If you need a reminder that localization is tough, look at the (stellar) job that the FFXIV team does with their work. There are many, MANY instances where they favor localization over translation, and the fanbase can't decide whether it's a good thing or not lol. Personally, I think they take it just a bit too far, but I like the "Ifrit Bleeds We Can Kill It" story so much, that I'm willing to let it slide.

Truth is, most game designers don't understand the challenges / demands of localization, nor are they aware of what they can do to make our job easier. You often get treated like some kind of glorified dictionary and it's a constant struggle to make the team understand just what the process entails. lol

I'll check out the article later, but I don't want to be spoiled on anything!

Mh not sure I agree with this.Content might work differently due to what is accepted in different cultures.The translation should try and convey the same message as the original but keeping in mind the sensibilities of its audience.

I disagree with you...disagreeing lol

The aim of translation is to convey the source text into something that the intended audience can understand. Whether or not it is controversial is irrelevant. Whether the subject matter is difficult or not is also irrelevant. Your job is to render the message into something that has identical, or near-identical meaning for the intended audience. This is not to say that it's all about the words. If that was the case, machine translation would suffice. Rather, you're conveying the message, the underlying intent of the statement (including any insinuations or innuendos involved). You making sure that the sensibilities of the audience are protected comes down to intent: did the speaker have those same sensibilities in mind when they made their statement? If so, then you would naturally include that in your translation. If the speaker intends to offend, then you would include that as well, though you would have to make concessions based on the game's rating and the context of title itself (e.g. whether or not racial / sexual slurs belong in the game or not, etc.).

Localization means adapting the message so that it's culturally relevant to the intended audience. For example, if you have two kids talking about their favorite superhero, making allusions that a monster lives in their toilet, or referencing a specific pop idol, these would need to be localized to avoid confusion of your players.
 

Spoit

Member
Nov 11, 2007
2,884
0
0
the errors and typos and mistranslations that even amateur fan-translators and anime fansubbers have been all to happy to point out completely mischaracterize the intent of the original text are in fact a magical barrier enacted by Atlus to keep the dreaded Westernization Monster at bay. you see, those errors and typos are the only reason Persona 5 isn't set in 1990, during the Gulf War. your "confidants" were originally meant to be guns which would fire bullets at bad Iraqis from a first-person viewpoint. so you better thank your lucky stars, kiddo

I've been staring at this post for minutes trying to decipher what you're saying. I think...I might need a translator. Or better yet, a localizer.
 

KuroNeeko

Member
Jul 22, 2009
3,695
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Osaka
I've been staring at this post for minutes trying to decipher what you're saying. I think...I might need a translator. Or better yet, a localizer.

I think he's trying to say that the mistakes (read: design choices) the localization team team made were intentional. By adhering more towards literal translation, they're making a conscious decision to preserve those inherently Japanese aspects of the text, rather than risk "losing them" in a more faithful, localized text...I think... lol

Seemed pretty tongue-in-cheek though.
 

Nachos

Member
Jun 17, 2013
3,576
0
405
McDonaldland
Site has some weird organization decisions. Why start with the last item for the first bullet-point list?

Did a bunch of important people leave Atlus US between Persona 4 and now?

Lead localizer for most of their games for over a decade left for Treehouse in 2015.

Well, one of their lead editors did, but P5 has the same project lead as pretty much every localized SMT, so who knows.

Honestly I think it's indicative of their JP overlords having more of an active hand in things. I feel bad for Namba.


Personally apart from the odd 'please take care of me' Japanese introduction, I think the localization is fine. It's not perfect, but things rarely are.
Do we actually know what being a project lead entails? I only know Namba is usually on-site to oversee the VO sessions.

Japanese tends to be indirect and contextual when referring to things. So referring to someone as "ano hito" (literally, "that person") and the like as opposed to naming or specifying the exact person or thing is common.

One of Guilty Gear's biggest villains was referred to as just "That Man" for a long time, too, apparently.
 

Mutant

Member
Jan 26, 2016
771
2
290
Great read. I guess I'll return my unopened copy. Damn shame.

Maybe it'll get retranslated in a re-release.

I'm kinda stunned at how such a dialogue heavy game got a 94 metacritic rating with such a wonky translation. It seems like Dark Souls 2 all over again.
 

Quasar

Member
Dec 1, 2007
14,683
0
0
Going to admit I never expected this. I expected wide praise for a company finally providing a subbed version as well as a dub.

Speaking of which, I recall early criticism that not everything got subtitled. Has that ever been fixed?
 

KuroNeeko

Member
Jul 22, 2009
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Osaka
Great read. I guess I'll return my unopened copy. Damn shame.

Maybe it'll get retranslated in a re-release.

I haven't played either version of the game, so grain of salt and all that, but don't let some (disputed) faults with the localization steer you away. The game itself has received pretty much universal appraise.
 

+Aliken+

Member
Apr 18, 2005
1,859
0
0
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That was describing Translation. What you're proposing would be part of Localisation.

I disagree with you...disagreeing lol

The aim of translation is to convey the source text into something that the intended audience can understand. Whether or not it is controversial is irrelevant. Whether the subject matter is difficult or not is also irrelevant. Your job is to render the message into something that has identical, or near-identical meaning for the intended audience. This is not to say that it's all about the words. If that was the case, machine translation would suffice. Rather, you're conveying the message, the underlying intent of the statement (including any insinuations or innuendos involved). You making sure that the sensibilities of the audience are protected comes down to intent: did the speaker have those same sensibilities in mind when they made their statement? If so, then you would naturally include that in your translation. If the speaker intends to offend, then you would include that as well, though you would have to make concessions based on the game's rating and the context of title itself (e.g. whether or not racial / sexual slurs belong in the game or not, etc.).

Localization means adapting the message so that it's culturally relevant to the intended audience. For example, if you have two kids talking about their favorite superhero, making allusions that a monster lives in their toilet, or referencing a specific pop idol, these would need to be localized to avoid confusion of your players.

Ok wait, I agree... so disagreeing with my first comment...
Well I actually misinterpreted the meaning intended regarding translation. I was looking at "Translation" in that comment as if it was "Localisation". My bad.
 

kromeo

Member
Oct 21, 2015
4,980
1
0
London
Some people care far too much about a few pieces of bad grammar in a 100 hour game

In 20 hours I've noticed Kamoshida get called a scum and that was it
 

Elephant

Neo Member
Jul 1, 2016
244
0
0
Nottingham, UK
I've just had a look at some of the examples and they're really stretching it. The whole thing exudes arrogance by someone who doesn't fully understand the difference between trifle and trifle. I don't know, this just seems petty.

Great read. I guess I'll return my unopened copy. Damn shame.

Maybe it'll get retranslated in a re-release.

I'm kinda stunned at how such a dialogue heavy game got a 94 metacritic rating with such a wonky translation. It seems like Dark Souls 2 all over again.

I wouldn't let this put your off the game. One of his criticisms is that 07734 doesn't spell "Hello" when turned upside down, despite the game saying it does. Yet anyone who has ever owned a calculator will know that it does in fact say "hello". Then they would have typed 58008 and giggled to themselves for hours on end, because they were probably 5 when they figured all of this out.
 

TheBryanJZX90

Member
May 4, 2012
5,506
2
435
Great read. I guess I'll return my unopened copy. Damn shame.

Maybe it'll get retranslated in a re-release.

I'm kinda stunned at how such a dialogue heavy game got a 94 metacritic rating with such a wonky translation. It seems like Dark Souls 2 all over again.

I don't think a single person here thinks the game isn't worth playing because of the translation. Get some dang ol perspective man.
 

Maledict

Member
Feb 16, 2013
8,779
1
600
I've just had a look at some of the examples and they're really stretching it. The whole thing exudes arrogance by someone who doesn't fully understand the difference between trifle and trifle. I don't know, this just seems petty.

I'm enjoying the game, but as someone who doesn't watch anime and whose very early on in the game, the dialogue simply isn't right. People just don't talk this way.

It doesn't make the game feel 'japanese', it makes the game feel stilted and odd.
 

KuroNeeko

Member
Jul 22, 2009
3,695
0
0
Osaka
Ok wait, I agree... so disagreeing with my first comment...
Well I actually misinterpreted the meaning intended regarding translation. I was looking at "Translation" in that comment as if it was "Localisation". My bad.

S'all good, mayne.
Not like I need much of an excuse to talk about localization / translation. lol ^^
 

sanhora

Member
Aug 12, 2014
240
0
260
Some people care far too much about a few pieces of bad grammer in a 100 hour game

In 20 hours I've noticed Kamoshida get called a scum and that was it

I've just had a look at some of the examples and they're really stretching it. The whole thing exudes arrogance by someone who doesn't fully understand the difference between trifle and trifle. I don't know, this just seems petty.


Did you guys even read the whole thing?

That's not to say it's unreadable, or completely without merit. But for a massive RPG from a highly successful franchise, it falls incredibly short of the standard it should be held to. A video game is a professional work, no different from any other form of media. Yet no other form of media would ever get away with the number of errors found in Persona 5's English script.

This isn't the 1990s, when localization was still young and error was endemic. Nor is Persona 5 a small game, or an insignificant one.

Nothing is gained from not telling someone that you know they are capable of better. Defensive fans should realize that the majority of people criticizing Persona 5 for this are huge fans ourselves. We're not shitting on Atlus, we just want them to realize they can do way better.
 

AndersK

Member
Jul 26, 2016
1,121
0
0
Great read. I guess I'll return my unopened copy. Damn shame.

Maybe it'll get retranslated in a re-release.

I'm kinda stunned at how such a dialogue heavy game got a 94 metacritic rating with such a wonky translation. It seems like Dark Souls 2 all over again.

What? No, no no. It got that score because it's the best JRPG in years.

Dark souls 2 has received criticism for the overall feel Of the combat and plenty of other things not living up to DS1. That's disagreeable, certainly, but P5 is mechanically superior in damn near every aspect to P4G.

Skipping this over sometimes wonky phrasing is like skipping Bloodborne because there's fewer weapons. Its an issue for some people, sure, but just not...the thing to take away from this?
 

Elephant

Neo Member
Jul 1, 2016
244
0
0
Nottingham, UK
Did you guys even read the whole thing?

Do you not think a lot of the examples given are unreasonable and are stretches in an attempt to prove a point? I'm not denying that some errors exist, but the article writer is calling out Atlus for things that are his/her own misunderstanding.
 

TheBryanJZX90

Member
May 4, 2012
5,506
2
435
Do you not think a lot of the examples given are unreasonable and are stretches in an attempt to prove a point? I'm not denying that some errors exist, but the article writer is calling out Atlus for things that are his/her own misunderstanding.

The only example you mentioned was "trifle" which clearly was a grammatical error. It should have at least been "trifling matters."
 

Zakalwe

Banned
Mar 28, 2013
16,905
6
0
tetrisforkicks.com
So what percentage of the game is poorly translated?

I've put 25 hours in and I've noticed it every now and then, but nowhere near enough for this to be some kind of failure.

I'm not saying we shouldn't critique, but when we have people ITT suggesting they'll return their copy now perhaps things have been blown out of proportion a little?
 

vocab

Member
Feb 12, 2009
16,535
1
0
Both nier and persona 5 both have glaring issues in this regard. Nier is way worse. Its 2017 and were still getting poorly timed dub titles. Yay. Anime industry has come a long way but apparently japanese games havent. Persona 5 has a few dumb wording here or there but its not totally bad. Obvious issues when you play with japanese audio for sure.
 

g23

European pre-madonna
Sep 18, 2006
2,823
0
0
Isn't some of FFXV's localization pretty "foreign" as well. I think this is just the nature of Japanese and anime centric media in general.
 

MCD

Junior Member
Nov 9, 2006
15,372
1
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Did they do it because the fanbase is ok with anime-like translation or is it because translation like FF12 (by Alexander O Smith I believe) super expensive?
 

MatrixMan.EXE

Member
Sep 1, 2014
9,210
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475
I only started to notice this properly when I switched to JP voices. Some of the things that are said aren't represented properly in the English text at all, which sometimes completely changes the intended tone of the sentence. There's also some phrases or words that are said but then not translated accurately or literally, which as a Japanese speager is quite jarring to me. Completely understand where this article is coming from. Great read.
 

Murkas

Member
Jan 17, 2011
3,223
2
0
Abominous is a perfectly cromulent word.

Joke may not work now that cromulent is in the dictionary.
 

Elephant

Neo Member
Jul 1, 2016
244
0
0
Nottingham, UK
The only example you mentioned was "trifle" which clearly was a grammatical error. It should have at least been "trifling matters."

Mainly because i'm not going to dissect the whole thing for a forum. I actually updated my original post to give another example, as a reply to someone else, regarding the upside down "07734" not reading hello. When anyone who has ever owned a calculator knows this to be true. It's nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking.
 

True Fire

Member
Oct 9, 2013
6,627
2
310
All of these threads about P5's localization are going to start making people think it's incomprehensible or something. Like Final Fantasy XV's Chapter 13, which wasn't even that bad.
 

Zakalwe

Banned
Mar 28, 2013
16,905
6
0
tetrisforkicks.com
Bingo

I mean, have 250 hours on it and the platinum trophy, the art book, etc. BUT I also have N1 on the JLPT and have been in translation/loc for 6 years. The ball was dropped here.

How bad is it really though?

Because I'm playing the game and for the vast majority of text things seem to be perfectly fine... (25 hours in).

All of these threads about P5's localization are going to start making people think it's incomprehensible or something. Like Final Fantasy XV's Chapter 13, which wasn't even that bad.

Exactly... the game is nowhere near as poorly translated as some are making it out to be.
 
Jun 19, 2013
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How bad is it really though?

Because I'm playing the game and for the vast majority of text things seem to be perfectly fine... (25 hours in).

Not even saying it's 1990s level bad or anything, just that for a game like this it's noticeably sub-standard. Can't even really speculate on the cause (personnel, budget, orders from above) but someone in the decision making chain made some bad ones.

It stands out more to those who are more familiar with the processes, like any similar area of specialization would. If you don't care then cool