Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Is Pretty Darn Different In Japanese

I played a lot Xenoblade Chronicles 2 before its release. I had to wait until after its release to download the Japanese voiceover DLC. Using the in-game cutscene viewer, I rewatched every cutscene I’d seen so far in the game, in Japanese this time. I made a video cataloging some of the little differences I noticed in the first two chapters.


If you’ve seen my Final Fantasy VII video series (available here in handy playlist format), you know that I love little differences between localized games and their originals. I made a similar video for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which, unlike Final Fantasy VII, has voice acting, so you don’t have to suffer through me reading the lines out loud.

A lot has changed since 1997, when a lone human individual translated the entirety of Final Fantasy VII in a few weeks. I found a lot of stuff different in the English localization of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I’m not saying any of it is bad, just that it’s interesting.


I’ve divided the video into four sections. For your convenience, here are some timestamps.

0:00: A brief introduction and a word on “Solidsnakeism.”

1:29: “Religion Scrubbing,” in which we discuss numerous spiritual references that the English script blatantly obscures.

4:16: “Name Polishing,” in which we examine the original Japanese names of some of the many characters whose names were changed in the English localization. (This section contains a lengthy interlude on ancient Chinese astrological symbolism.)

7:06: “Punch Buffing,” in which we discuss a few of the places where the English version is punchier than the Japanese. (Nia is a bit meaner in English.)


10:08: “Punchwashing,” a word I made up a long time ago to describe jokes that localization waters down. There’s a particularly racy one in here.

In closing, I am enjoying this game a lot. It’s huge and I like the battle system. That’s not me being sarcastic. I mean that. Please stop tweeting your hate at me (I’m @108, by the way).

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!

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These videos are so hilarious and I can’t get enough of them, omg, please do more.

I’m not fluent in Japanese (I’m probably around JLPT-3 level) but I’ve picked up on A LOT of the differences you pointed out. Pyra/Homura in particular comes off as a very different character between the English and Japanese versions. In JP, she’s extremely polite, feminine, and very soft-spoken. But in English, I feel like both the localization of her dialogue and her voice casting makes her sound more headstrong and protagonistish.

Overall it seems like the localization team might have been trying to mitigate the way the average Westerner would respond to her over-the-top sexy character design by making her a little bit more of a “strong female character” type. I don’t really know how I feel about this change, because on one hand I think her design is really absurd and sexist, and on the other hand I really don’t support them putting a “spin” on the character like that either. Maybe because I can speak decent Japanese and I lived in Tokyo in college, it’s actually easier for me to just accept the Japanese version of her, as opposed to the half-assed attempt at “fixing” the Japanese sexism. Assuming of course that’s what they were actually trying to do - I am ultimately just making guesses here.

Anyway, at least I’m one of the privileged few who can turn the Japanese voices on and still get a good chunk of the original intent behind the characters and story. I did the same thing with Persona 5 when I started coming across its translation word salad moments and I don’t regret it at all.