Originals and Localizations: a discussion thread


History-Loving Princess
Jun 13, 2020
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(This is applies to all games/movies/shows/books from other countries so basically a discussion about translations and mostly localizations of said media.)

So what I've found interesting is that there were media back then that were drastically altered for Western audiences (henceforth, localization). For example, Japanese version of Animal Crossing had a different title in the Japanese one. Shinto and Japanese mythology references were entirely cut out or altered in the Western release. Or Mario Kart 64 having actual parodies of real life logos in the Japanese release, the "Welcome to Mario Kart" isn't in the Japanese version instead are children from what I'm assuming shouting "Mario Kart" with a different announcer for the selection menu. If you're interested in watching the Japanese version gameplay, you can watch the longplay below:

All and all, I do find some concepts of localization actually interesting, with some localizations turning it into an slightly different game/movie/show/book.
For example, 4Kids is definitely notorious for it's drastic localizations of anime. With some later anime's localizations have onigiri completely replaced with sandwiches, donuts, burgers, you name it. I've always thought that is interesting and funny at the same time.

If you find any interesting comparisons between the Original version and Localized version on any media, feel free to share it here.
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I feel like localizations are generally at their finest when it's done for the humor in the source material—puns and wordplay rarely translate well directly, so generally to best convey the spirit of the original, some liberties have to be taken. Dragon Quest is incredible at this imo. It's so full of puns and alliteration that it's a bit over the top, but as someone who loves those things it's perfect for me. I can't think of any specific examples off the top of my head, but I know there's a lot of added puns where there weren't originally and vice versa. Sometimes it can fall a little flat (maybe the super serious emotional moment was not the best place to add a joke) but overall I feel like they do a great job of keeping the general ~feel~ the same.
There's also a lot of character name changes in Dragon Quest, which feels kinda arbitrary/pointless to me when it isn't part of a joke or theme, but it's not a huge issue for me.
For example, Jade's name in the Japanese version of DQXI is actually Martina, which I actually like a lot better for her than her English name! On the other hand, Hendrik's original name is Greg. He's supposed to be a pretty imposing character, and I think his English name conveys that better than his original does. "Gregory" might've been a more faithful way to get that same vibe across, but I don't want to nitpick.

Rune Factory 5's localization I think handled name changes rather well, for the most part! Most of the characters kept their original names, however, Ryker's name was changed from Luka in the Japanese, due to another character whose name is, in both versions, Lucas. The names are pronounced and spelled very differently in Japanese (Ryuka/リュカ and Ruukasu/ルーカス, respectively), but in English they're virtually the same. This would've been... confusing, to say the least, so I think it was for the best that one of their names was changed for the English release. And another character's name was changed so we wouldn't have two dwarves named Doug in the same game (also pronounced and spelled differently in Japanese: Dogu/ドグ and Dagu/ダグ ), which again... would've been very confusing. 😅

The only localization changes that really grate on me are when the story or characters' personalities are changed drastically from the original. It's like... please don't make me learn an entire language just to get to experience what the actual story was supposed to be, thanks. When it comes to translation/localization I strongly believe in trying to preserve the spirit of the original however possible, even if that contradictorily means making changes sometimes, so changing things out of a belief that it would appeal to international markets more is a major pet peeve of mine. 🙃
It bothers me from both a creative standpoint and a humanitarian one—I don't think eliminating all instances of cultural differences in a piece of media is a good way to increase cross-cultural empathy and understanding. Also, people's interests and preferences aren't a cultural monolith like localization decisions like these make them out to be. I wouldn't mind it so much if the original version was more easily accessible to an English market as well, but at least in the case of Japanese media this is almost always not the case, obviously due to language barrier, but also due to the difficulty of finding/purchasing a Japanese copy from overseas.

Also, I tend to see this in more recent releases, but sometimes localization teams seem to have a bit too much fun with the script and insert memes into serious stories, in settings that don't make sense for real-world meme references. It just feels unprofessional to me and reminds me of the days of terrible fan-translated manga where you'd see Naruto characters or whatever saying "omg" and "lol nope" in neon orange font.

Good lord I rambled on about this subject. If anyone read all of this, bless you.
(wow, never thought I'm gonna resurrect this thread from the dead but) here's an interesting video showing side-by-side comparisons between the Japanese version and the international version. The international version is basically localized from Dobutsu No Mori+ which is basically a "definitive" edition on the Gamecube.
i really could not stop myself from suddenly thinking of the original Persona localisation.

first of all, they altered alot of character and persona names to more western sounding names, and changed the currency system from yen to dollars. it is slightly unnecessary, but not a big deal. they also altered the main casts appearances for whatever reason. this is completely unnecessary, but not a massive deal considering most of the characters had minor things altered (hair colour, clothes, ecetera.) however, "mark"s new character design was something else. they changed his ethnicity, and his skin colour from white to black. the reason being to make him "seem more American" to western audiences. it is truly beyond me how this was considered, let alone approved. this localisation is also riddled with errors and typos, and also cut out a whole part of the game. thankfully, the PSP port localisation is nothing like this.

Ace Attorney also sprung to mind.

Ace Attorney was designed to be set in Japan. this was changed in the localisation to be set in America, specifically an alternate Los Angeles more influenced by Japanese culture due to looser immigration laws (this is said by the localisation team themselves). fans of the series simply refer to it by "Japanifornia".