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PS.Blog: "Keeping it authentic: Atlus on the localisation process for Persona 5"

Brandon F

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Jun 7, 2004
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Even before these threads were made, I was -constantly- taking issue with many of the dialogue exchanges experienced in my first hours last night, noticeable enough that I was debating making a longform post in the OT about it(and then I saw the threads logging in to GAF this morning).

Many of the examples that made me take notice don't have screengrabs yet. The exchanges between the investigator and your protagonist during the interrogation scenes immediately come to mind as her questions and your responses are mostly unintelligible and barely constitute a natural dialogue(and are for the most part nonsensical).

That said, much of the game is fine and there are plenty of occasions where the localization isn't problematic. It's just that enough issues persist that it's hard not to take notice. Its very erratic, even with only 2 hours played of the 100+ hour journey.
 
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English editors around the world are crying right now. GAF, don't make me lose any more faith in the literacy of the English speaking world.

Well, it could be worse. We could have a 'perfect English' translation where entire lines are have an entirely different meaning and content than in the Japanese original.
Like in Valkyria Chronicles 1, wonder how many people noticed it there. Playing the game with Japanese audio and the dubtitles was quite an eye rolling experience at times.

Translators sticking too literally to the original has it's share of problems, but at least you can be sure you actually get a translated version of what's in the Japanese script even if stilted, not something else.

Also I think that things get blown out of proportion, if you discount Igor quotes and consider that we are talking about a 100+ hour long, super text heavy JRPG, it's tolerable. Especially considering the 98% of the translation that seem to be good.
 

Aeana

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Well, we could be worse of. We could have a 'perfect English' translation where entire lines are have an entirely different meaning and content than in the Japanese original.
Like in Valkyria Chronicles 1, wonder how many people noticed it there.

Translators sticking too literally to the original has it's share of problems, but at least you can be sure you actually get a translated version of what's in the Japanese script even if stilted, not something else.

Valkyria Chronicles has one of the best localization efforts on the market.

A good translation does not translate words. Words are tools used to express feelings or ideas, and translating them directly instead of getting at the intent of what was said will very frequently miss the mark.
 

Nyoro SF

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Valkyria Chronicles has one of the best localization efforts on the market.

A good translation does not translate words. Words are tools used to express feelings or ideas, and translating them directly instead of getting at the intent of what was said will very frequently miss the mark.

err... what

VC1 in Japanese has a dry script so the localizers went to town on it, but they went at it with a little too much gusto and incorrectly translated chunks of dialogue and rewrote character personalities.

One example; one of the characters is actually portrayed as a villain in Japanese with his text and dialogue, but his tone was changed to be friendly in English, so part of the ending doesn't make sense. Could go on but don't want to go too far off topic.
 
Mar 22, 2015
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Valkyria Chronicles has one of the best localization efforts on the market.
It has serious mistakes in its translation.
Like literally one point in the final cutscene where Alicia says
Rest in peace
instead of happy and thankfully saying ありがとう,イサラ = "Thank you, Isara" when they are escaping on the flying machine and talking about Isara. That's a pretty big deviation in meaning from the original (you could say it even completely misses it), especially considering how easy they could have literally tranlated the sentence and it would have been perfectly fine in all regards ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

And that's something I can still pull out straight out of my memory after two years. There was more.


VC1 in Japanese has a dry script so the localizers went to town on it, but they went at it with a little too much gusto and incorrectly translated chunks of dialogue and rewrote character personalities.

One example; one of the characters is actually portrayed as a villain in Japanese with his text and dialogue, but his tone was changed to be friendly in English, so part of the ending doesn't make sense. Could go on but don't want to go too far off topic.
This, thanks for the writeup, couldn't have it summed up better.
The point I was making in my last post that while we might have a few lines in P5 which sound stilted but still make sense, it could be much worse (especially regarding to comments calling the translation 'bad'). But in several cases people didn't even notice serious issues in the actual translation like in the case of VC (as shown on this page) because the attention is on the Dub/English subtitles (which are 1 to 1 indentical with the Dub VA in VC1) and how they sound/read like e.g. natural (understandably so, unless you play with the Japanese audio and have at least a certain amount of knowledge of Japanese to spot the deviations from the Japanese original). Not to mention stuff like the personality swap that happened in VC1, sadly. Still one of my favorite games, but things like that need to be called out.

More literal and close to the source localisations do have pretty big advantages, staying true to the original script and characterization being two of them.
 
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Like literally one point in the final cutscene where Alicia says
Rest in peace!
instead of ありがとう,イサラ = "Thank you, Isara" when they are escaping on the flying machine. That's a pretty big deviation in meaning from the original, especially considering how easy they could have literally tranlated the sentence and it would have been perfectly fine in all regards ¯_(ツ)_/



flashbacks to endless discussions about the final fantasy x ending :(
 

luffeN

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Valkyria Chronicles has one of the best localization efforts on the market.

A good translation does not translate words. Words are tools used to express feelings or ideas, and translating them directly instead of getting at the intent of what was said will very frequently miss the mark.

I am not sure about very frequently, but it does sound clumsy doing a direct translation, although direct is probably also a bit exaggerated. That would probably fall into the category of Google translation. The general idea is to read the sentence once and then localize it so that you don't have to look at it again, ideally speaking. Something like "transcreation".
 

Ponn

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Mar 10, 2005
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VC1 in Japanese has a dry script so the localizers went to town on it, but they went at it with a little too much gusto and incorrectly translated chunks of dialogue and rewrote character personalities.

One example; one of the characters is actually portrayed as a villain in Japanese with his text and dialogue, but his tone was changed to be friendly in English, so part of the ending doesn't make sense. Could go on but don't want to go too far off topic.

Who? I didn't know this and never felt anything was off in the game. I really don't follow these type of translation discussions so never knew this about VC and now i'm intrigued.
 

SolVanderlyn

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I mean, you're one of the people who prefer Final Fantasy Tactics's original translation (riddled with inaccuracies as it is) over the one made for War of the Lions, apparently because of a notion that the original translation is closer to the Japanese original

So you probably just has great taste in localizations tbqh
Yes, I agree

Nowhere in that post do I say the original translation's inaccuracies were acceptable, I just preferred its straightforward approach, even if the superfluous WotL translation was of higher quality. In fact, I wasn't even talking about the OG PSX translation in that post, but rather the direction I would have preferred them to take with WotL, haha.

I've yet to play P5, but nothing about the captured quotes stands out as particularly offensive or even unnatural, especially considering it apparently comes from the overly flowery Igor.
 

Aeana

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I am not sure about very frequently, but it does sound clumsy doing a direct translation, although direct is probably also a bit exaggerated. That would probably fall into the category of Google translation. The general idea is to read the sentence once and then localize it so that you don't have to look at it again, ideally speaking. Something like "transcreation".

The point is that it's clear that people in this discussion seem to care more about whether a character's words are represented "accurately" rather than their intent, which will, yes, very frequently lead you to a suboptimal result. You use the tools of a given language to communicate. The words you say aren't necessarily perfect approximations of what you're thinking, either. If a translator can get at what the character is trying to say and express it naturally in the target language, then they will get a better result.

tl;dr: people are way too concerned with whether the translated text covers all of the words in the original text, when that isn't what's important.
 

Arkeband

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It's strange that even very literal Dragon Quest translations (before they got uber-whimsical) never seemed this clunky.

But then again, Persona dialogue is already in some wacky in-between-verse when Japanese honorifics are appended to everything in English.

I guess I'll wait and see how weird it feels.
 

M0nochromatic

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Speaking of translations that went to far, FFXIV's english localization team rewrote and mishandled one of the coolest side characters in the game. It was so botched that it got to the point where the writers killed that character off because of how out of sync they were with every other version of the game.

I'd rather have an awkward but authentic translation. Beauty and flow are important, but those things do not take priority over the truth.
 

Hydrophobic

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I don't have any strong opinion about the localisation yet as the game is huge and these could be ultimately very small chunks of a game with a lot of text. But please, if you speak english, stop telling me that


this is a natural phrasing in English. I have never heard someone say they will 'answer someone's expectations'. In fact, this phrase is probably a localization of

期待に応える

which is just about literally 'answer (someone's) expectations'. When I put that phrase into google, the first result is a J-E web dictionary that says the primary translations are to live up to expectations; to meet expectations.
 

4Tran

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Speaking of translations that went to far, FFXIV's english localization team rewrote and mishandled one of the coolest side characters in the game. It was so botched that it got to the point where the writers killed that character off because of how out of sync they were with every other version of the game.

I'd rather have an awkward but authentic translation. Beauty and flow are important, but those things do not take priority over the truth.
Sure, but nobody ever said that you could only have either a localization that scans well or one that is accurate. It's perfectly possible to have both, and that's what we should expect from professional developers.
 

M0nochromatic

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Sure, but nobody ever said that you could only have either a localization that scans well or one that is accurate. It's perfectly possible to have both, and that's what we should expect from professional developers.
When we can have both, sure. The problem is no language perfectely translates into another language, and translators often have to lean one way or the other. In those instances, l'm saying I would prefer they lean towards authenticity rather then accessibility. At least when it comes to characterization and themes. The localization of jelly donuts and hamburgers doesn't bother me as much.
 

Nachos

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The point is that it's clear that people in this discussion seem to care more about whether a character's words are represented "accurately" rather than their intent, which will, yes, very frequently lead you to a suboptimal result. You use the tools of a given language to communicate. The words you say aren't necessarily perfect approximations of what you're thinking, either. If a translator can get at what the character is trying to say and express it naturally in the target language, then they will get a better result.

tl;dr: people are way too concerned with whether the translated text covers all of the words in the original text, when that isn't what's important.
I think of it this way: if a writer could find a better way of expressing something, they'd be the first to abandon their own words. An adaptor (wherever they fall on the literal-liberal spectrum) needs to respect author intent, but purely literal translations almost never do that. Getting precious with the original word choice only makes for a worse product.
 

Curufinwe

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That is not realistic for a game of any significant scale. I mean it's like saying you should only have one concept artist for all monster designs to maintain consistency. Sounds good on paper but when you have actual deadlines... not so much?

The 8-4 credits for Neir Automata are fresh in my mind
that's where I got finally stuck
, and they have a lot of translators for a much smaller game.
 

DrROBschiz

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Just another case of someone being unable to cope with reasonable criticism.

No joke

This is one of the most fascinating topics on the site

And its a topic that can be reasonably argued both ways.

I stand by the "translation as art" side of the aisle. Converting the language to speak more aptly to those consuming it is a hell of a task but totally worth it when done right
 

Taruranto

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Speaking of translations that went to far, FFXIV's english localization team rewrote and mishandled one of the coolest side characters in the game. It was so botched that it got to the point where the writers killed that character off because of how out of sync they were with every other version of the game.

I'd rather have an awkward but authentic translation. Beauty and flow are important, but those things do not take priority over the truth.


lol, which one? FFXIV is pretty infamous for the weird rewrites of many story moments.
 

4Tran

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When we can have both, sure. The problem is no language perfectely translates into another language, and translators often have to lean one way or the other. In those instances, l'm saying I would prefer they lean towards authenticity rather then accessibility. At least when it comes to characterization and themes. The localization of jelly donuts and hamburgers doesn't bother me as much.
The problem is that this isn't really where the tradeoff is made. Generally, when you have a clunky localization like Persona 5 seems to be, it's not because the localizers consciously wanted to avoid being overly colloquial. What's happening is that they're taking the Japanese dialogue and just keeping it wholecloth. It very much feels like they didn't have enough time to iron out all the kinks.

I stand by the "translation as art" side of the aisle. Converting the language to speak more aptly to those consuming it is a hell of a task but totally worth it when done right
Definitely. Once upon a time, I tried to read the translation for one of my favorite books and I couldn't last more than a few pages because of the decisions of the translator. Ideally, you'd want a localizer whose writing is as good as the writer of the original work. And that's going to be hard to achieve if the original is well written.
 

DrROBschiz

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yeah for all the criticism we have to submit that converting media for other languages and cultures at comparable quality needs just as much talent as the original creators...

damn son
 

Bronetta

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Just another case of someone being unable to cope with reasonable criticism.

Cherry picking lines out of context is your definition of reasonable criticism?
 

Protome

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How is promoting a game that's only on your platforms interesting?

I don't think it's promoting it that they find interesting, it's how. A blog post about one of the weakest aspects of the game is not really how most people advertise their games.
 

M0nochromatic

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lol, which one? FFXIV is pretty infamous for the weird rewrites of many story moments.
Introduced in 2.0, and takes on a somewhat larger role in 3.0 -
Haurchefant
Here's a link to the story about it.
The problem is that this isn't really where the tradeoff is made. Generally, when you have a clunky localization like Persona 5 seems to be, it's not because the localizers consciously wanted to avoid being overly colloquial. What's happening is that they're taking the Japanese dialogue and just keeping it wholecloth. It very much feels like they didn't have enough time to iron out all the kinks.
And the more I see of Persona 5's translation, the more I have to agree with that criticism. I know that literal translations lack subtlety and nuance. It's why I try to stick to using the term authenticity. I don't mind the use of Japanese honorifics and suffixes in the English text and dubbing. I find value in trying to emulate the experience as accurately as possible. Grammatical errors and poor sentence structure doesn't play into that all. It's just a shoddy job.
 

Koyuga

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10 hours into the game and I'm not really seeing any problem with the dialogue, it fits right in with persona 3 and 4. But I guess maybe that's the problem? Idk it seems very standard anime game fare to me.
 

Nimby

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Some of those lines posted didn't stand out me. It gets rough on occasion, but it's being blown way out of proportion IMO.

These teenagers are the most straightforward wordsy teens I've even met though. Ryuji is a bit better than Ann, but even he has some odd lines that just sound like something a teenager would never say to another teen.
 

piratethingy

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Idk no Japanese so who knows but I do take issue with everyone using Igor's lines specifically as examples.

It'd be like people making fun of Yoda's lines in the Japanese dub of SW because his syntax isn't correct Japanese.
 

bigjig

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Yeah from what I've seen it's an average localization effort at best. I do have some sympathy for them seeing as Persona is a series that is so rooted in Japan and their cultural norms so overly westernizing the localization would also seem weird. It is too literal from what I've seen though, although this might be caused by having too big a translation team to establish a uniform translation style throughout.
 

Mandoric

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Idk no Japanese so who knows but I do take issue with everyone using Igor's lines specifically as examples.

It'd be like people making fun of Yoda's lines in the Japanese dub of SW because his syntax isn't correct Japanese.

The problem is that you don't understand any Japanese, so you're missing both a big part of the unsettling inability to be pinned down and winding rise and fall of what he SHOULD be, and also so many of the indicators that those examples are just word-by-word dictionary lookups.

A good Igor should sound something like zombo.com delivered as if reading The Raven. These clips sound more like the introductory paragraph in the manual for a discount microwave oven.
 

Wolf Akela

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http://i.imgur.com/iyVSavR.jpg?fb[img]

flashbacks to endless discussions about the final fantasy x ending :([/QUOTE]

I only heard about that thing with FFX recently. Love the ending as it is in English, but I thought the original was a lot better. [spoiler]Yuna saying "Thank you" shows that she's moving on from Tidus. His reaction to those words was pretty apt too.[/spoiler]

As for the topic, are there even ANY kind of literal translation that works? I've only done super super basic study of Japanese, but even from that, anyone can say literal translation is impossible.
 

Lindsay

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Jul 21, 2004
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yes teh localization isn't great, but i havent minded it. 20 hrs in and the game is fantastic. i'd take this localization over no localization...
Said it before but this is a terrible sentiment to have.

"It's vaguely legible which is still better than nothing!"

Keep on letting publishers know it's cool ta keep on lowering the bar, guys!
 

Yabberwocky

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I'm disappointed to say that, coming off Nier Automata's localization, Persona 5 does feel a bit bizarre. I was a bit frustrated with how FFXV's localization felt quite stilted at times last year (and pleasantly surprised by WoFF's), but P5 makes FFXV feel downright organic. I honestly don't remember having this issue in P3 or P4, though I'm sure there was the odd line.

I don't think a localization should drastically be changed from the original intention, but it should read well and have a naturalistic flow in the language it has been translated into. As people have said, it feels very literal and not quite cohesive.
 

Holundrian

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Nov 1, 2014
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I see no problems so far. People like to complain about everything these days. Sad!

The only sad thing are people too stupid to recognize legit criticism and fanboy it up.
I learned Japanese for Persona and can I recognize issues. Like Jesus can we like not be blind to stuff like that. Doesn't mean this ruins the game but really for absolutely every game there seem to be people defending the most idiotic things. MEA animations, FFXV story, P5 streaming limitations, etc etc like what is wrong with you people.
 

clarknova156

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It's really odd how Altus has handled this game as a whole for global release. I get that a monster game of this size has a huge localization effort behind it but when you include Altus telling streamers and Youtubers to fuck off or get a strike and just the odd nature of this explaination/sorta apology.

Persona 5 is a great game but Altus is really really trying make me really not like them and thus not support.
 

WaterAstro

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20 hours in it so far, and I have to say that localization has done a great job.

Sure, there may be a few lines that are off, but everything I've seen so far make sense and doesn't seem convoluted. I understand a lot of Japanese phrases from self taught, and I don't hear anything that's completely off that I would get a lot when watching anime fansubs.
 

RedAssedApe

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I personally didn't bat an eye on the igor quotes as I thought it fit the character. I probably wouldn't have noticed if this wasn't mentioned in the other thread tbh.
 

faridmon

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The only sad thing are people too stupid to recognize legit criticism and fanboy it up.
I learned Japanese for Persona and can I recognize issues. Like Jesus can we like not be blind to stuff like that. Doesn't mean this ruins the game but really for absolutely every game there seem to be people defending the most idiotic things. MEA animations, FFXV story, P5 streaming limitations, etc etc like what is wrong with you people.

I just accepted the fact that there is literally defenders for everything. Just criticising MEA is hard enough not to be chastised by people who simply yell ''But I am having fun, so stfu''

Some of those lines posted didn't stand out me. It gets rough on occasion, but it's being blown way out of proportion IMO.

These teenagers are the most straightforward wordsy teens I've even met though. Ryuji is a bit better than Ann, but even he has some odd lines that just sound like something a teenager would never say to another teen.

I've played for three hours and, so far, I have zero complaints regarding the localization. Just wanted to make my voice heard (no pun intended).

20 hours in it so far, and I have to say that localization has done a great job.

Sure, there may be a few lines that are off, but everything I've seen so far make sense and doesn't seem convoluted. I understand a lot of Japanese phrases from self taught, and I don't hear anything that's completely off that I would get a lot when watching anime fansubs.

Lol you 3 have the same Persona avatar
 

Fjordson

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I've definitely noticed that the dialogue is super clunky at times.

I'm still early on, but yesterday I remember a line about a bus with passengers driving down the wrong lane as "A bus driving down the opposing lane with its customers!". Just a lot of examples like that of stuff that doesn't sound natural in English.

It's a bummer because because the actual voices are fantastic. I think the cast is really great. But they're working with a pretty awkwardly written script.
 

staticneuron

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I don't have any strong opinion about the localisation yet as the game is huge and these could be ultimately very small chunks of a game with a lot of text. But please, if you speak english, stop telling me that



this is a natural phrasing in English. I have never heard someone say they will 'answer someone's expectations'. In fact, this phrase is probably a localization of

期待に応える

which is just about literally 'answer (someone's) expectations'. When I put that phrase into google, the first result is a J-E web dictionary that says the primary translations are to live up to expectations; to meet expectations.

TBH, there is nothing wrong with that quote. It is just that it isn't common. People either say "live up to" or "meet", but that quote shouldn't melt any native English speakers mind.

For clarification I think I am about 15 hours in. Nothing that took me out of the game yet. (except using customers on bus instead of passengers, technically not wrong but still noticeable)

Yeah no... I am not even a native speaker and I found the translation to be clunky. There is a difference between authenticity and Google translate.

To liken what I have seen of this game to google translate is hyperbole. Google translate is often VERY literal and usually doesn't make sense in translation.