A Collection of Random Translation Notes From Seinarukana

March 22nd, 2016


Has it really only been three years?

Since Seinarukana's apparently finally gone golden master, I guess it's probably time for this post, although nobody has literally said anything to me about anything, so hell if I know anything about its actual status. Two major caveats here. One, that I haven't looked at the scripts since 2013. This is all put together from hazy memories and notes made three bloody years ago. I backed up all my files to an external drive over a year ago (and exist on svns too, so backups a plenty). Two, Makoto went through all the scripts and made his own changes, we discussed some terminology/translation choices, but I honestly don't feel like digging up whatever the final outcome of them was, and they may have changed further without my knowledge/input anyway.

One thing that'll no doubt be almost completely lost in translation is extremely cultural. The major rules of the setting are based around the Buddhist concept of Dharma names. Except that they usually call them Orichalcum Names for whatever reason. Not always though… They're also wildly inconsitent with what they are in between the story and the gameplay portions. Anyway, there are really only about two and a half important ones. The first of which basically translates to "cleanse/purge precept," which is a direct reference to that Buddhist concept. For a while, that was translated as "Absolution", but that got co-opted by another character in a different context where it fits so so much better in every way, so ended up as Apostasy. That admittedly gives things more of a Christian than Buddhist vibe, but works spectacularly with both the game's Fourteen Sick brand of darkness within nonsense. It also matches excellently with the other main one, which a basic translation would be "Rival." Nemesis is just too perfect a translation there, especially with the Greek roots that apply perfectly in just about every way. The original Japanese is just a boring word for "enemy" though, with none of the same religious overtones.

Another thing that deserves a little more than a short bullet point is something I have not once seen translated correctly in the English speaking world, so I mistranslated it even more, but on purpose, so that makes it totally fine. Background first. The setting is a multiverse called the Time Tree, with branch worlds all over that you spend the game sailing to and from in a highschool perched on a giant space whale that sometimes also rides on itself. Please don't think about the writing in this game too much unless you want an aneurysm. Anyway, all direct interactions with the Time Tree itself and most of its lingo is in the form of a computer metaphor. There's a terminal used to access it, a log of its data, the main control is in the root, etc.

Anyway, to the point, the ubergods who work on it are known as the 管理神. That's a combination of "management" and "god", however, it's actually the term 管理者 with the kanji for "person" replaced by "god." This isn't an unusual thing to do. Baldr Sky comes to the top of my head that does something similar but in the opposite direction. While that can mean something like "manager" or "landlord," in the context of computers, it means "administrator" or "root user." The correct translation for 管理神 is Administrators, capital A. Full stop. Unfortunately, there's no way to make that not sound silly in English, and the game's tone isn't such that you can break the fourth wall a little to call attention to it ala the Auditors of Discworld. So in the end, it was changed to something with a little more oomph in place of accuracy.

And now, a torrent of far more minor things. Not at all comprehensive. There are many, many more things not listed below, although admittedly, a lot are the more boring "This is a Japanese saying/concept/food that does not work in English." I also have choice words I could share about the plot structure and certain endings, particularly Ruputuna's, Nozomi's, and Narukana's, but I'm probably supposed to be supporting this thing, even if I'm almost certain the statute of limitations on that has long since expired.

If you combine the kanji for Zetsu and Nozomu's names, you get "despair." Such darkness!

According to a dummied out scene, the Spirits apparently eat the Permanent Wills you give them (localized as Eternal Relics).

Approximately none of the Permanent Wills are translated correctly, largely due to string length issues, but also because most of them are utter nonsense like "The Edge of the Horizon" or "The Greenness of a Spring Meadow." I made those up just now. Too lazy to check for some truly bizarre actual ones. I wouldn't be surprised if they were literally just random kanji strung together.

Some Orichalcum Names exist but will never be seen because characters join already having the higher level versions of them.

Combat lines (at least as text) exist for every defensive skill, but they'll never be seen because the "current HP after taking damage" line is always used instead.

ブロテクションレッド (Brotection Red) is an awesome typo.

フェースシール (Face Seal) is also an awesome typo for a skill that doesn't even exist.

At least one battle quote (for an endgame boss) doesn't match the actual skill name. Editing is super hard apparently.

There are at least 10 other sets of lines for skills that don't exist.

Aevum is a much awesomer translation of 悠久. Learn your Latin!

At least once, a character explicitly leaves a room while still remaining in it. Editing is super duper hard.

I originally translated Murakumo (aka Kusanagi) as "Heaven's Cloud" and really like how that works with another important Eternity Sword, but I'm pretty sure that was overturned from on high. It's one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan. The mirror appears in passing. The jewel doesn't appear at all. Not really sure what's up with that.

They miscopied a shared line between route splits, so in Katima's route chapter, someone declares that the baddies are attacking something that doesn't exist.

And yet, in Ruputna's route chapter, they didn't copy/check the nickname that the villagers had for her in the previous chapter, so they get it wrong the entire chapter.

Through the end of chapter 10, characters spontaneously know things that they have no actual way of knowing because they happened off screen. Somehow, nobody on the writing team noticed this.

In chapter 11, more miscopying between quasi-copied scenes between routes where they seem to have forgotten that not everyone's Eternity Sword is a held weapon.

Nozomu straight up lies about past events in Narukana's climax stuff. Or more likely, Xuse's writers forgot what they wrote for the referenced scene.

In Japanese, the "divine language" used in the opening scene is incomprehensible runes. That couldn't be used for the localization for engine reasons, so it's been changed to a normal font and the vocalizations written out.

If you actually compare the divine language with the translation (unlocked on NG+), you learn that certain names are titles, not actual names.

There are a couple lines where the "translation" of an entire sentence is one word from it. (eg Divine languge: 「……ルツルジ、デマジノ・ジ・ファナオン」 Translation: 「……ルツルジ」). So apparently "デマジノ・ジ・ファナオン" translates to " ".

Another great one. Divine language: 「ソスノ・ニハ・ソスノ・クララス:アジエス、ネサイム、ヒアミカ・エクソス、ワ、レラ・ユミナス」 Translation: 「……名を奪う」. This stuff is practically out of a sitcom.

On game load, the weird runes that appear are the divine language originally used in the game's first scene (displayed as an image, not text). They say "Loading."

Internally, the red-haired woman is referred to as Yunii. That's not her actual name.

There are a ton of scripted auto-battles that are dummied out. I actually went through and implemented a bunch of the early ones, but some had comments like "voices not recorded, so removed" or "battle too difficult" for them, which is kind of inexplicable to me.

The official transliteration of "null" is "naru." Nice try, Xuse.

Score calculation on stages was all kinds of messed up. The only way to get an S rank was to get an SS in 2/3 categories and an S in the third, or an SS in all but a character died. An S in all three got you an A rank. The numbers were changed so that your overall rank is whatever your lowest rank in the three categories on the stage is. Doddler made a spreadsheet (S = 80 originally, finalized at 95, unless it was rolled back).

Skill definitions are a MASSIVE mess because they're all defined uniquely so there's no consistency enforced. Each level of each skill has a unique definition for each character. There's too many issues to list. My rule was to fix problems as they were found, but I believe that was overturned and some (all?) of my fixes even rolled back. I'm not sure though. I'll only list some of the most egregious errors that I found.

Every enemy's Passion skill does the completely wrong thing. Its effects are copied from the previous skill on the list.

In a "supposed to lose" battle, the enemy AI will go to sleep if the boss doesn't kill you with its super attack because it has only one use of it and the AI says to use nothing but that.

(Enemy) Flame Swing V and VI provide a buff instead of a debuff because they're missing negative signs.

Black skills in general are a mess. Sol's debuff extra attributes that they're not supposed to. Enemy versions don't debuff as much as they're supposed to (identical amounts to lower levels). Nobody gets the III version of a skill. Etc.

I wanted a cap on HP-percentage-based damage skills (especially black) because stat multipliers are applied to them, so on Super Hard when you have big multipliers, they're ridiculously broken and make bosses that have very high HP laughably trivial because you're doing something like 25% HP * 4.5 as base damage, ie 113% of the boss's max HP (minus defense mitigation), but I'm pretty sure that was rolled back.

Most of the Cryst Skills on Super Hard are misnamed as I/II, but have the correct attributes.

Except for the White Cryst. Some (all?) of her skills on Super Hard are incorrectly defined as the Normal difficulty version of the skill, which makes them completely unusable.

The debuffs on Fire Bolt are wildly inconsistent. Jatzieta's is much greater than everyone else's and debuffs more stats than everyone else's, and most enemies provide only a marginal debuff compared to PCs.

Another major localization change is that all skill descriptions were originally just random flavor text that may or may not have been useful. Now, they have a standardized second page listing their actual effects in bullet point fashion.

If you're on Ruputna or Naya's route, remember to read the descriptions for the unique skills they get, because apparently when Xuse ran out of development time, that's where they decided to put those two characters' entire plots.

Fun times that I am eager to never go through again, although the godawful editing job on the behemoth in many ways rivals Seinarukana's editing issues. Spring season preview is about half done, but I want to finish translating the script I'm on before getting back to it. Aiming for probably Monday evening. Back to work.

Posted in Unimportant Crap | 7 Comments »

7 Shouts From the Peanut Gallery

  • Haba says:

    Interesting read. Digital archaeology at its finest.

  • rbb says:

    Regarding the divine language and its translations, I actually find it less silly. I mean, it’s at least susceptible of literary justification.

    Remember this is a god’s language. Gods are immortal, eternal, pretty much by definition. So they have absolutely no need for “efficient” communication.

    So you can consider the extremely long-winded divine language sentences as mostly structural or syntactic chaff; redundancy, from an information-theoretical perspective.

    Such a low-entropy/low-throughput/high-redundancy language is no issue for a god.

    Of course the idea is nothing original. Think of Tolkien’s Ents, for example.

    Another idea about gods and languages takes things in the opposite direction: a language of such bewilderingly high-entropy, so extremely packed with meaning, that knowing a single word would equate to divine illumination, apotheosis. Some call this “the name of god”.

  • Sanjuro says:

    “In Japanese, the “divine language” used in the opening scene is incomprehensible runes. That couldn’t be used for the localization for engine reasons, so it’s been changed to a normal font and the vocalizations written out.”

    That must have been fun. How much longer did that take you?

    Aroduc says:

    Well, I had the transcription, so I started with a base by just transliterating the kana, but then I had to listen to how they actually pronounced all of it and cross check things like sentence structure between the two, so at least a couple hours despite there only being about 50 lines in it.

    Sanjuro says:

    You should have done what “professional” translators for console games do and added 50 lines of memes instead.

  • Blah Blah Blah says:

    I’ll be blunt. I was never on board with you doing Seinarukana, Aroduc. I don’t like your style when it comes to personal edits or as a translator for this game that have a lot of Asian religion (chuuni) undertones and culture. You’re the type who have the tendency to localize in heavy dosage, generally a bit too liberal that don’t respect cultures in moderation, honorifics at all, or even peculiar speeches.

    Eien shinken (Eternal Divine Sword) translate, or better yet make its users be able to understand other world’s languages in language(s) its users is familiar with (Japanese in this case). So there’s really no reason to overly localize or omit honorifics here. Some characters speak third person for a reason (cute Narukana for example) but knowing you I’m sure you changed that into first person.

    Anyways, with these notes I think some of my fears have been proven. I won’t go through everything, but I”ll comment on what I have qualms about the most:

    *)So unless I’m misunderstood it, Permanent Wills is going to be translated as Eternal Relics? Why?
    *)You seriously translated Murakumo…. I really hope that wasn’t overturned.
    *)Am disappointed the God Divine Language’s runes won’t be kept.
    *)I hope your cap on % skills was overturned and reverted back.
    *)Skills text AND flavor text are important. Flavor text is most important since Xuse has a tendency to put world-building and backstories/foreshadowing/PLOT into them so I hope you didn’t mess with them.
    *)I also really hope you and JAST tried to accurately translate Orichalcum names. Like flavor text founded in skill descriptions, a lot of Orichalcum names do wonders for world-building. A number of them are especially important on that front, some being Euphoria’s Orichalcum names. If String length is a problem there should have been a way to add another page to remedy that.

  • Random joe says:

    “One thing that’ll no doubt be almost completely lost in translation is extremely cultural”.

    No, that’s religion, not culture. I know of at least three forms of Dharma that many faithfully follow across North America.

    Obviously not as prominent as the major western faiths, but hardly so unknown that it could be consider a cultural barrier.

    It would be like replacing Jewish terms and names to Christianity just to pander to those that don’t have much education regarding Jewish bbeleifs and history.

    Ultimately it seems a waste, and skews the context and feel of the original story.