Final Fantasy VII's Barret Is Solid Snake In Japanese, Mister T In English

Let's Mosey: A Slow Translation Of Final Fantasy VIILet's Mosey: A Slow Translation Of Final Fantasy VIIPart Japanese grammar lesson and part meditation on the impossibility of a "perfect" translation, Let's Mosey presents a "slow translation" of Final Fantasy VII.

I’m playing Final Fantasy VII in English and Japanese at the same time. I’m noticing a lot of little differences. This is part two of what is now, officially, a series.

Last time, we got through just two lines of dialogue. We get through a lot more in this one.

Advertisement

You’ll see some discrepancies. Barret talks differently in the Japanese version, where he’s more Solid Snake than Mr. T. Cloud has a catchphrase that doesn’t consistently translate over. And in at least one relevant moment, a line of Japanese text just doesn’t make it into the English version.

The primary reason I spent a whole 10 minutes poring over just one line of dialogue in the first episode was to illustrate just how terse Japanese is—a lot of nuance fits into very few characters. Translators of these old-time text-only Japanese role-playing games had to make every English letter count to fit dialogue into the tiny text boxes. What I’m doing with this series isn’t criticizing or even smack-talking the original translation. No, I totally applaud the efforts of the translator who crunched under a horrifying deadline to get Final Fantasy VII finished. Heck, thanks to that translator, I got to play the game in 1997. These videos, then, exist to look at the meaning that couldn’t make it into the little text boxes. Though uh, yeah, in this episode, we do find a text box the translator forgot to translate.

Advertisement

As the video disclaims in its early seconds: Warning: Some of the Japanese you may learn in this video might never be useful to you.

I make videos for Kotaku. I make video games for myself and my friends. I like writing fiction. Someday I will publish a novel. Who knows!

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

One thing that I always thought was strange was when people said that Barret was a stereotype. I didn’t understand why. Sure, I could more or less see it in the looks, but his backstory and his devotion to his surrogate daughter always pushed him away from stereotype-land for me.

Then I remember that I played the game in Spanish.

Don’t get me wrong, it also had a godawful translation in Spanish (literally ALL translations of this game were), to the point it became popular and even memetic in Spain in the time before memes as we know them today became a thing. But at least, it didn’t reproduce the whole Mr. T schtick. He spoke normally. Well... as “normal” as the translation permited him, that is, but that applies to all the characters.

Advertisement

Advertisement