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

Jan 20, 2010
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The originator of this site just made a seppuku!

I am an expert myself...still I don't know how much is your knowledge of Japanese language, which is overflowing with the nuance and beauty of an ancient civilization. In Japan, you can not be successful if you disrespect your superiors with unrespectful speech (as expected of America). When a translator missed that nuance by taking a liberty, he loses face for himself and his ancestors. If so, submission is the only way to redemption!!

When they heard about this, a fan of anime and JRPG will no longer buy products where this guy was translation! This is HUGE. Your trifle laughter won't hurt me, because I know that this man now made the whole fanbase his enemy!

Translator who made this website: publicly apologize and delete it from internet or you can say to your career: "Saraba!"
 

TheBryanJZX90

Member
May 4, 2012
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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.

I mean, the website had dozens of examples and you came up with two things you take issue with. And you were wrong about one of those two. Seems like you're the one nitpicking.
 

Majora

Member
Jan 23, 2008
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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.

Considering you didn't seem to understand the difference between 'trifle' and 'trifling', perhaps you're not the best person to be commenting on whether a professional translator is nitpicking or not?

The examples he gave all seem very understandable to me. The game's localisation is by no means a disaster but there are definitely plenty of weak spots. Surely, surely, no-one is going to defend this:

...Are you hallucinating from an overdose? I won't put up with you if you're simply joking around.

It's true that what he did were deplorable crimes from... indulging his desire. He confessed to it all.

I doubt something as dangerous as your group could've been pulled off with orthodox methods.

Skillful infiltrations and escapes to all manner of places...

There's even the possibility that you used special tools and had someone who manufactured them...

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

Start by telling me what you all schemed...

But how did you discover such horrible deeds that were hidden all these years in such a short time?

Fine. Continue telling me about Madarame's case. Keep it concise and only of the truth.

This is borderline incoherent gibberish. Even while playing the game this scene leapt out at me as appalling localisation. Many of the interrogation scenes feature very poor grasp of the English language.
 

Zakalwe

Banned
Mar 28, 2013
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tetrisforkicks.com
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

Nothing about what I wrote suggests I don't care...

The problem I have is the obvious hyperbole involved. I know exactly what to look for here and I see it, but it's nowhere near enough for people to be calling it a "failure" or to consider returning their unsealed copies because of it.

It may be below the standard we expect, but it's still an incredible game. Just as you should be able to critique the things you love, you should also avoid blowing things out of proportion when there are issues.
 

Mendrox

Member
Jan 4, 2012
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What is even worse than this localization problem for many is that the game only has an ENGLISH LOCALIZATION! Like ever Atlus game which I don't mind, but many of my friends don't even look at the games when I tell them it's only in English. That is a way bigger problem for me.
 

nOoblet16

Member
Feb 1, 2010
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Liverpool
Yeah, love the game, but holy hell a lot of the translation is horrible. The Japanese stock phrases are what probably bother me the most, as expected of a sub par translation.

But there are a few, especially one at the end of the game which pissed me the hell off because it took me out of a really badass moment. Spoilers for the final dungeon, right at the end:
When Grail Igor says that you failed, and humanity is fucked he mentions that he underestimated you. That makes no sense, by the context of the line he should be complaining that he overestimated you. He says shit like this twice IIRC.

Still love the game, but yeah especially coming off of Yakuza 0, one of the best localized titles of all time, this was a serious disappointment.
It makes sense and I don't see what's so hard to understand there (absolute end game spoilers).
He always believed humanity was fucked and he also believed that the MC would always fail. This is why at the end he says, it seems Igor was right all along. Hence he underestimated the MC because he never thought MC would actually succeed and that humanity would unfucks itself.
 

Applecot

Member
Jun 13, 2012
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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.

There's definitely a good number of examples which I'd disagree with. Use of so called "stock translations" being one of them where it really can't be helped that the original Japanese text itself uses the exact same lines. While it's a more uncommon turn of phrase in English it's one of those situations where best choice is probably to keeps some of the anachronisms of the original language. There are plenty of examples in other languages where certain phrases do not have good sounding or even consistent translations; and I think it's an unfair criticism.

The criticism of the use of problematic on the other hand is entirely valid and a good number of examples could have been improved just by swapping in the word troublesome. Possibly a case of Japanese translators who tend to stick to a favourite word.

Other general complaints about word / grammar are also somewhat valid but also a little too nitpicky considering there are plenty of examples where even Western games have grammatical / spelling / other wording issues. There are however examples where'd I'd consider the critique given almost overboard; almost to the point where it starts to miss the point of the text. "Me near, OK" (ちかく、おっけー). True; people don't speak like this in English. The critique however entirely missed the point of the line and how it captures some of the character's personality.

I do definitely agree with some of the criticisms wording and flow. A fair bit of the original meaning or tone is lost in the localisation which you might pick up if you have a rudimentary understanding of Japanese. A good number of Sae's lines and the dreadnought question are particularly egregious examples of where the localisation has just gone off the rails and been overlooked by the editors. I actually think the entirety of the interrogation scenes were so bad; they were done by one person and wholly neglected.

There's also issue with general character personality, the wording choice leads to them sounding a bit dry and the language could have been punched up a bit. Being familiar with the stereotypes used in the genre I could infer what the characters personality "type" so to speak. But having to infer might be a bit of a stretch. I felt Futaba was one of the characters that was done quite well capturing her quirky and eccentric nature a bit; and was thoroughly amusing.

Personally as a dual language speaker who crosses English and Chinese a fair bit during speech there are plenty of times where my English comes out unusually because of how I'd consider speaking in Chinese and vice-versa. I'd disagree with the sentiment that the English version needs to be word perfect in English if you start losing the original feel of the text. Considering this game is on the same vein as a VN I'm pretty happy with the script overall but felt it lacked a fair bit of polish.
 

kromeo

Member
Oct 21, 2015
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London
Regardless of the merits of the argument he's actually making, that site is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen
 

TheContact

Member
Jan 22, 2016
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So by the guys standards then Terra is not a good localization because it was created by preference of the localizer and not the original intent of the developer (name was Tina in Japanese)
 

nOoblet16

Member
Feb 1, 2010
15,340
0
915
Liverpool
What is even worse than this localization problem for many is that the game only has an ENGLISH LOCALIZATION! Like ever Atlus game which I don't mind, but many of my friends don't even look at the games when I tell them it's only in English. That is a way bigger problem for me.
I don't understand, what's the issue here? What language do you want it in?

The game released half a year later because of localisation...to one language. I'm not sure how long it would have taken to localise it in several different languages given the fact that these are not Final Fantasy games with enormous budget and resources.
 
Jun 19, 2013
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So by the guys standards then Terra is not a good localization because it was created by preference of the localizer and not the original intent of the developer (name was Tina in Japanese)

That's a name change because Tina was not deemed "exotic" enough. It's not really comparable to what's going on with P5
 

Lynx_7

Member
Apr 27, 2013
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I don't understand, what's the issue here? What language do you want it in?

French? Italian? Spanish? German? That + English should be at least the baseline for a WW release. Tales of is done on a shoestring budget and even they had the decency to translate Berseria to 8 languages (not including the japanese release). They don't have to dub every single one of them, English and Japanese voices are fine, but translating the text should be the bare minimun.
It's about time Atlus starts giving more of a shit to their international audience because they're not that niche anymore and should start acting like it. Ask for Sega's assistance in these issues if you must.
 

Alucrid

Banned
May 30, 2009
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So by the guys standards then Terra is not a good localization because it was created by preference of the localizer and not the original intent of the developer (name was Tina in Japanese)
Where did you get that from? The part where he describes literal translations as poor?
 

YianGaruga

Banned
Jun 1, 2009
25,236
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French? Italian? Spanish? German? That + English should be at least the baseline for a WW release. Tales of is done on a shoestring budget and even they had the decency to translate Berseria to 8 languages (not including the japanese release). They don't have to dub every single one of them, English and Japanese voices are fine, but translating the text should be the bare minimun.
It's about time Atlus starts giving more of a shit to its international audience because they're not that niche anymore and should start acting like it. Ask for Sega's assistance in these issues if you must.

Es kann nicht geholfen werden
 

Venfayth

Member
Apr 11, 2011
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People need to understand that we can have nuanced opinions about a game. Persona 5 is probably going to be my game of the year - in a year in which I've played and loved BOTW, Horizon, and Yakuza 0.

I'm still disappointed in the localization of the game. It's not being hyperbolic to say i think it's poor or bad, and it also doesn't mean i don't enjoy playing the game. (and the fucking website linked in the OP actually emphasizes this, if only people would read it instead of cherry picking the harshest generalized statements)

If people would just read what those of us who are criticizing the game are actually saying instead of imagining some fantasy where people are only being ridiculous they might actually learn we just want a higher standard. It's almost as though they lack the reading comprehension to interpret our opinions without making them into a caricature of our intent.

I earnestly implore all of you to visit that site open mindedly to try to understand specifically the types of things that are disappointing in the localization, while keeping in mind it's still a fantastic game and that most of us who are the harshest critics still love it.

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.

If people were swayed by the number of threads something has instead of by actually reading the words inside the threads then you might be right. Thankfully I think most people have brains.
 

hemo memo

Member
Sep 13, 2011
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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 hope you're not serious.
 

Venfayth

Member
Apr 11, 2011
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I hope you're not serious.

I agree. The localization is clunky and it can be awkward in spots, but large swathes of the game are fine. If you're interested in the game you should pick it up.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't criticize it. We can ask Atlus to do better.
 

zelas

Member
Nov 18, 2014
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And yet the second line in the site says "How Atlus fails fans of a landmark JRPG"
You can fall just short of a level of quality without being complete garbage. There are points on the scale between trash and perfection.

You fanboys really need stop with the ridiculous knee jerk defense. It's not helping anyone to ask for imperfections, some objectively so, to be ignored. You guys are basically saying Atlus shouldn't look to raise the quality of it's next product.
 

PsionBolt

Member
Oct 24, 2012
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I appreciate the effort that has gone into this, both in research and presentation. It's nice to have these sorts of things well-documented. When the story is told by Twitter and /v/, it automatically comes with a muddy feeling of half-truth, even if unearned. This site should go a long way in dispelling that.

To say it more topically, "the rumoured picture... To think I'd see it here, on the internet. Such a place, of all places."

[OP links to a handy website that has compiled 20 pages of fucked-up lines and explained in explicit detail why they're fucked up]

"IDK MAN EVERYTHING I SEEN IS PERFECT IDK WHAT THIS GUYS ON ABOUT"

This, this right here, is a far greater tragedy than the localization itself. It's disheartening to see so many people boldly and proudly proclaim that what has been set before them does not exist. This mindset is becoming more and more pervasive in society.
 

ElFly

Member
Sep 3, 2006
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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.

I guess that either the Sae-interrogating-you stuff was all done first, or just done by a different person that did not work in the rest of the game

but of course, this implies that originally interrogating Sae was not written like that in the original game too, which is a strong assumption

would not be surprised if a lot of the game delays came from restructuring the game around the Sae interrogation format
 

Sciel

Member
Aug 18, 2009
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850
You can fall just short of a level of quality without being complete garbage. There are points on the scale between trash and perfection.

You fanboys really need stop with the ridiculous knee jerk defense. It's not helping anyone to ask for imperfections, some objectively so, to be ignored. You guys are basically saying Atlus shouldn't look to raise the quality of it's next product.
I have no issue with the translation/localization of P5 being subject to critique. In fact, i've refrained from commenting in this thread because I am in agreement with some posters.

That said, I quoted that phrase beause I found it very much hyperbole. Could they have done better? Yes. Is it a complete failure? No.
 

Arkeband

Banned
Mar 11, 2015
11,981
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I'm maybe 25 hours in and it's been pretty shit so far. I feel like some fans are giving the bad localization a pass because they want the game to have a high metacritic score or are otherwise biased. Eventually the dust will settle, just as it did with FFXV, and this game will be remembered as a stylish, competent JPRG with shoddy translation, which is more than FFXV can say.
 

gun_haver

Member
Apr 23, 2016
1,978
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Reading this has helped me understand why Persona 5's dialogue had stood out to me as being poor and repetitive, and why so many of the characters seem to lack distinct personalities. I'm kind of enjoying some of the characters regardless, cos some personality shines through anyway - Futaba is a good example - but it seems impossible to deny that the translation could have been better, and that it is probably the translation which is holding the story back.

There's another phrase that I haven't seen pointed out as being used far too much - 'I'm not down with that!'. Loads of people say it, all the time. Yeah, it's fine on its own, but it is used in a robotic way to mean 'I don't want to do this' or 'I don't agree' or 'This is wrong' - not specific to the context. It is used categorically to describe a negative reaction to anything whether it is a suggestion of something to do, a personality trait somebody has, or any other subject. It's just weird and a good example of what the translation gets wrong.

This also helps explain to me a bit why some of the central concepts relating to the story seem so poorly defined. Ideas like 'stealing someone's heart' - I mean, it doesn't make enough sense even if you accept the hokey supernatural concept completely. It is poorly defined, and what makes it worse is the characters just repeat the same poorly defined phrases over and over and over again.

Bah. Anyway. The translation is a dang mess, that's a shame.
 

DNAbro

Member
Nov 18, 2013
15,118
1
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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.

this is the dumb reaction to have to this. Even with the often wonky translation, it's still the best RPG i've played in years.
 

Acid08

Banned
Feb 4, 2008
40,963
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Bay Area, Cali
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've seen this sentiment a bunch in here and it made me realize how damaging anime subs have actually been in this case. Normalizing these stock phrases as acceptable in English is really shitty. They don't work in English and they aren't even good at conveying the intent of the original. I even had to realize that, to the website's point, my familiarity with them made my brain just smooth over most of this and that's not okay.

Rushed simulcast/fan subs shouldn't be what we look to as normal or good. We need people who can actually adapt and write this stuff at a high level to push all of our expectations up.
 

soundtrack

Member
Oct 8, 2012
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520
While I agree that P5's translation is sub-standard in terms of Atlus' output, the writer of this site goes out of his way multiple times to point out that readers will usually make sense of a nonsensical literal translation anyways. That doesn't excuse the actual translation errors, but I think out of context these cherrypicked examples seem like a larger issue than they actually are while playing the game.
 

soundtrack

Member
Oct 8, 2012
205
0
520
Maybe it'll get retranslated in a re-release.

You either play the translation we got or learn JP to play the original. I can't imagine Atlus taking on another ground-up effort to address the fundamental issues with the translation.
 

Holundrian

Unconfirmed Member
Nov 1, 2014
4,238
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This is an amazing thread. Thanks for sharing. Going to dive in.

Edit: Mmmh I don't know now I feel stupid for listening to people downplaying stuff.
Am I wrong to be disappointed in reviewers again with this? I feel like something like this should have been mentioned in all the reviews(I know some of them did but again a large number didn't even make mention of it).
Is it unrealistic for people to catch on these flaws without specialized training? To me it kind of doesn't but I don't know.
 

Zeouterlimits

Member
Apr 2, 2007
16,810
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0
Ireland
www.skynet.ie
Great site, a commendable* summary of the very obvious -occasional- translation problems.

* = if perhaps a bit oddly targeted to make a website for one game's localization issues, but that's more of a societal norm thing than it being an actual problem
 

AtomskEater

Member
Oct 6, 2007
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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?

Exactly one person, with plenty of people jumping in to let them know that's a dumb response to threads that anyone with a modicum of reading comprehension can see are not advocating the return of copies of the game.

I always feel like what's the point of being on a forum if you're not going to take time to read and understand what's actually going on in any given thread, anyway.
 

petran79

Banned
Sep 17, 2012
10,395
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Hope Atlus releases a patch to fix the aforementioned grammatical errors and typos.
 

sonicmj1

Member
Dec 2, 2007
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Hope Atlus releases a patch to fix the aforementioned grammatical errors and typos.

Typos can be fixed, but many of the grammatical errors occur in voiced lines. To patch them properly, they'd have to get more studio time.

I wouldn't count on any changes happening short of a Golden-style rerelease.
 

Curufinwe

Member
May 20, 2009
31,241
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725
The translation is great, it's so overblown that people are even talking about this. There must be a lot of people that only play Persona and don't touch other Japanese games so they're not used to it.

That's utter nonsense. I play plenty of other Japanese games besides Persona, and this game's translation has more obvious errors in it than any Japanese game I can remember from the past decade. Just last night Ryuji said:

"He here?"

The drop off in quality between this and all the P4 games is incredibly obvious.
 

FluxWaveZ

Member
Jul 24, 2012
38,083
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That's utter nonsense. I play plenty of other Japanese games besides Persona, and this game's translation has more obvious errors in it than any Japanese game I can remember from the past decade. Just last night Ryuji said:

"He here?"

The drop off in quality between this and all the P4 games is incredibly obvious.

What's wrong with "He here?"

Isn't that just omitting the "Is" part from the beginning of the phrase? I've seen that used many times colloquially, and that's certainly how I'd expect Ryuji to say it.
 
Jul 7, 2011
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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.

the hyperbole in this post holy shit
 

Jake2by4

Member
Apr 2, 2016
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Ryuji looking through the forums and saying " Oh, come on! It's in English" is funny considering if it is set English.
 

Curufinwe

Member
May 20, 2009
31,241
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I'm near done with P5 and I only heard some of those weird lines in the first hour or so of the game. It didn't take me out of the game or anything nor did it hinder my enjoyment of it. I love JRPGs and the Persona series so I get if fans can get passionate about it, and as for why this guy is going this far in-depth into the problems of the game is fine, but I believe if kind of silly. I don't care if "Sakamoto" or "Takamaki" are slightly mispronounced. If you're losing your mind about that, you're a silly person and I don't care what you have to say about dubs. I'm all in for objective criticism for a game I love to death but with all controversy over some poorly translated lines in an 100+ hour game with over thousands lines of dialogue, I'll give the Atlus translators a pass here.

You are an apologist for shoddy voice direction and objectively poor localization, and I really don't care what someone with your low standards and hyper sensitivity to criticism has to say.
 

Zakalwe

Banned
Mar 28, 2013
16,905
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tetrisforkicks.com
Exactly one person, with plenty of people jumping in to let them know that's a dumb response to threads that anyone with a modicum of reading comprehension can see are not advocating the return of copies of the game.

I always feel like what's the point of being on a forum if you're not going to take time to read and understand what's actually going on in any given thread, anyway.

Yes, it's one person, but it's the pinnacle of the hyperbole surrounding this. Plenty of other people are being just as ridiculous.
 

Linkura

Member
Aug 16, 2016
5,462
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This is borderline incoherent gibberish. Even while playing the game this scene leapt out at me as appalling localisation. Many of the interrogation scenes feature very poor grasp of the English language.

I wonder if there was one person who barely knows any English who was put in charge of all of those scenes.

People who say it gets better are wrong... it doesn't. There was a particular scene with the main villain near endgame that was nonsensical gibberish.
 

MikeBison

Member
Sep 15, 2016
1,525
1
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UK
Average play through of about 100 hours and there's what amounts to like 2 minutes of wonky lines.

Shit is way overblown.
 

Neku89

Member
Nov 12, 2013
340
0
0
Italy
So by the guys standards then Terra is not a good localization because it was created by preference of the localizer and not the original intent of the developer (name was Tina in Japanese)

Wasn't this exactly the opposite case? Square chose "Tina" because to the Japanese audience it's an exotic name, and Woolsey changed it because "Tina" is way less exotic-sounding for the West...
 

Trojita

Rapid Response Threadmaker
Feb 9, 2009
37,882
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Ehh the exam part of the game is super dumb. If the game was teaching you the Japanese history and idioms then it'd be aight. But the quizzes just throw questions at you there's no chance you'd know. The game clearly expects some of those to be common knowledge, but they aren't. So don't ask about the American Revolution, but maybe ask about Admiral Perry, or something an American might've encountered.

I thought the questions this time were the easiest of the last three games. Now the Persona 3 class questions......
 

Spyder_Monkey

Banned
Aug 6, 2014
8,133
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410
Colorado
Between BoTW's framerate, Persona 5's translation, and Andromeda's faces what else will come out to contend these three as gaming's most overblown issues of 2017?
 
Oct 28, 2005
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Isn't this a case of Translation vs. Localization? They're very different things.

I'm 60hrs into P5, and it feels like a good translation--but lackluster localization.