Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is not a disaster on the level of Norn9: Var Commons, but it is interesting to compare the PS3 vs Vita script vs the Japanese text.
While the previous games were published by Aksys Games, Idea Factory bases its script off of their localization. And by “bases”, I mean “makes heavy use of it”.
So without diving too deeply, here are some general translation notes found in both versions:
Honorifics are not used. “Ronin” is used over “roshi”, and “samurai” over “bushi”. Sen’s “Okiku” is just “Kiku” (or “Kimigiku”). Shinpachi’s nickname of “Shinpatsusan” / “Shinpatsan” (しんぱっつぁん) is “Shin”. The dialogue often tends to be a slangy, like “bring your A game”. (I fully admit a few lines do sound funnier in English.) The guys often tend to sound more affectionate than the direct translation. The shortened form of the main enemy alliance, Sat-Cho, is replaced by either just using “the Satsuma”, “Choshu”, or both. “Kinmon (incident)” is never used, which is another term for the Hamaguri Gate Rebellion.
Considering that a good, 50, 60+% of the game is directly copied from the previous versions, the dialogue should be improved this time around since all they have to do is re-edit it.
Unfortunately, it really feels like the localization team did not know how to prioritize. “Let’s make this line sound prettier! Reorganize this line! What, it’s due soon? Oops…”
One thing that was changed throughout the script is that Demons and Furies are now capitalized. Also, while Aksys tended to use descriptions like “direct retainer to the shogunate”, Idea Factory uses “jikisan” or whatever.
Interestingly enough, the Water of Life’s English name is said in the Japanese script to be “(the) Elixir”. Of course, Idea Factory deletes this line and only reveals its Chinese name. The game also does a pretty nice job of showing that some characters speak in a Tosa accent.
Here are some sample sentences from Stories of the Shinsengumi (first) versus Kyoto Winds (second):
“Couldn’t he have chosen a better time to leave the city?”
“Was now really the best time to leave the city?”
“Cold moonlight glared back at me from the bare blade of a drawn sword. My eyes followed the blade up, to the arm that held it, clad in a coat of light blue.”
“The cold reflection of moonlight upon a blade glared at me, and my eyes followed it to the arm that held it, clad in a coat of light blue.”
“I had left the frying pan, yes, but I was now in the fire.”
“I may have escaped the schemes of the ronin, but I was ensnared by something much darker.”
“I’ve no wish to kill him either, but we can’t discount the chance that he could reveal information about us.”
“I’ve no wish to kill him either, but ignoring the unlikelihood of his trustworthiness is foolish.”
“Well that’s not a very nice thing to say.”
“As expected of a fighter.”
I chose lines that were different for these examples, but, again, plenty are identical. So how did this relatively easy localization go awry?
#1: Typos. Missing words. Grammar errors.
HIjikata. Commrades. Solarplexis. Provokation. Nobunaga Obu. Kaoru Nagumi. Warriros. Infromation. Okida.
“We have no intensions on aiding the Satsuma they are successful in overflowing the shogunate.”
“Although Demon’s are forbidden…”
“Wheether I’m going to take action or not, I first find out why this was all happening in the first place!”
In addition, “” are often missing. Missing both is rare, but missing one is fairly common. Words are sometimes forgotten to be capitalized.
#2: Bad copy-pasting.
It’s pretty obvious what happened. Kyoto Winds uses a much larger font, so what took one text box in Stories of the Shinsengumi may take two or three in Kyoto Winds. So when breaking up the dialogue, things were missed.
In the prologue, Okita asks Chizuru if she’s going to thank him. Idea Factory forgot the matching line that goes with this statement.
In the line below, it’s the same as Aksys’, only Idea Factory forgot the section in . Makes a big difference in who is relaxed!
“Harada had started to sweat and I could see his movements slowing, [while Shiranui looked] as if he were doing nothing that required more exertion than a relaxed stroll.”
#3: Didn’t make updates to the script.
Yes, it seems like the team decided to pretty up some of the dialogue, but then didn’t take care of the rest of the script.
For instance, Okita addresses Saito as “Hajime-kun”, but in their first entrance in the Hakuoki game, he uses “Saito-kun”. Kyoto Winds corrects Okita’s line to say “Hajime-kun”, but English text still has “Saito”. This kind of given/family name switch is prevalent throughout the game. Inoue calls the chief “Isami-san”, but most of the dialogue shows “Kondou”.
In another example, the Stories prologue, Hijikata says, “Just take their blues. Yamazaki can deal with the rest.” In Kyoto Winds, this sentence is kept, but in Japanese, Hijikata doesn’t mention Yamazaki at all! Come on, geez.
However, in Idea Factory’s credit, they did update some “Chizuru” to “Yukimura”. Maybe those were caught because of the fact her name is now voiced?
#4: Seemingly random Japanese.
Torii. Takechi-Sensei. Nishiki Flag, which had been translated throughout the rest of the game as “Gold Brocade Flag”. Ikedaya, which has always been known as the Ikeda Inn.
#5: Odd phrasing, often repetitive.
“They were the eyes of a Demon princess looking dignified opposite from her opposition conversant.”
#6: Vague or incorrect subjects.
In the English version, Kimigiku if they’ve heard of her (Kimigiku), when she really means heard of Sen (and possibly herself). In Japanese, Iba mentions the “upset people” of the tea shop, but in English, the script says “upset lady”, just meaning Chizuru. A “their village” is supposed to be “our village”. There’s another line that I’m pretty sure mixes up who is doing the attacking and who is being attacked.
Also, in Japanese, Souma calls Chizuru “Yukimura-senpai”. In English, he generally just uses “Yukimura”, but “Miss” will sometimes be added. Only problem is he doesn’t always know Chizuru is a girl! There aren’t a lot of good replacements for “senpai” in a non-school setting, but perhaps something like “Head Page Yukimura” would have kept it gender neutral but shows how respectful Souma is?
Again, a lot of this I could chalk up to typical errors when working with a large game script, but when a good portion of the adaptation is already done, the script should be better than before!!