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2021-06-23 13:17:37

    What are the differences between the original and localization?

    What are the differences between the original and localization?

    Hmm, that’s a very simple question with a pretty lengthy answer! I did answer some similar questions in the past, but that was a long time ago, much closer to when the localization was first released. There are probably a lot of people whose main experience with the game has only been with the localization, and who don’t really know or remember those differences anymore.

    For that reason, I’m going to go into kind of a “masterlist” of things that were changed in the localization in this post. This will be very long, but I really want to explain the whole story behind the localization and its differences from the original to people who might only be hearing about this for the first time. I’m going to cover full spoilers for the game obviously, so be careful when reading!

    Also, please feel free to share this post around, as I think it contains a lot of information that might be interesting to people who’ve only experienced the localization!

    Before I really get into it though, I want to stipulate that the differences I’m covering in this post are mostly going to be things that I believe could’ve been handled or translated better, not every single line that was changed verbatim in the game. This is because a localization’s purpose is incredibly different from a literal translation.

    Where a literal translation seeks to keep as much of the original authorial intent as possible and has the leeway to explain various Japanese terms and cultural specifics to the readers in footnotes or a glossary, a localization is usually much more targeted towards a specific target audience, usually one more unfamiliar with Japanese culture or terminology. As a result, some things in a localization are occasionally changed to make them more understandable to a western audience.

    So, for example, I’m not going to fault the localization for changing Monosuke’s extremely heavy Kansai accent in Japanese to a New York accent in the English dub. It’s much easier for western players to immediately grasp that, “hey, this guy has a very specific regional accent that the other characters don’t,” and it works really well as a rough equivalent. Similarly, localization changes like changing a line here or there about the sport of sumo to be about the Jets and the Patriots also helps get the point across to players quickly and easily without having to explain an unfamiliar sport to western players in-depth before they can get the joke.

    That being said… there were some liberties taken with ndrv3’s translation which I don’t believe fulfill the point of a localization, and which changed certain deliveries or even perceptions about the characters in a way that I just don’t agree with.

    Let me explain first how the localization team actually worked, to people who might be unfamiliar with the process. Ndrv3 had four separate translators working on the localization. When NISA first announced that the game was being localized, these four translators introduced themselves on reddit in an AMA, where they also mentioned that they were by and large dividing up the 16 main characters between themselves, with each translator specifically assigned to four characters.

    Having more translators working on a game might sound like a good idea in theory, but it’s often not. The more translators assigned to a game, the harder it is to provide a consistent translation. Translation is messy work: often there are multiple ways to translate the same sentence, or even the same word between two different languages. If a translation has multiple translators, that means they need to be communicating constantly with one another and referencing each other’s work all the time in order to avoid mistranslations: it’s difficult work, but not impossible.

    However… this didn’t happen with ndrv3’s translation team. It’s pretty clear they did not reference each other’s work or communicate very well, and the translation suffers for it. I’m not just guessing here, either; it’s a fact that various parts of the game have lines completely ruined by not looking at the context, or words translated two different ways almost back-to-back. I’ll provide specific examples of this later.

    Many of the translators also picked which characters they wanted to translate on the basis of which were their favorites—which, again, isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but which does raise the risk of letting character bias influence your work. No work is inherently without bias; all translators have to look at their own biases and still attempt to translate fairly regardless. But because translators were assigned four characters each, this meant that while they might be really enthusiastic about translating for one character in particular, they were less enthusiastic for others. These biases do reflect in the work, and I will provide further examples as I make my list.

    This system of delegation also leaves more questions than it answers. It becomes impossible to tell who translated certain parts of the game, particularly in areas where the narrator is unclear. For example, did Saihara’s translator translate Ouma’s motive video, as Saihara is the one watching it in chapter 6? Or did Ouma’s translator do it, since it’s his motive video? Who translated the parts we see at the beginning of certain chapters, where characters from the outside world make occasional comments? It’s really unclear, and I’m not even sure if the translators divvied up these parts amongst themselves or if only one person was supposed to handle them.

    To put it simply, there were quite a lot of complications and worrying factors about the way the translation was divided by the team, and the communication (or lack thereof) between said translators. It’s impossible to really discuss the main problems that ndrv3’s localization has without making it clear why those problems happened, and I hope I’ve explained it well here.

    With that out of the way, I’m finally going to cover the biggest differences between the original game and the localization, and why many of these changes were such a problem.

    1.)    Gonta’s Entire Character

    To this day, I still feel like this is probably the most egregious change of the entire localization. Gonta does not talk like a caveman in Japanese. He does not even have a particularly limited vocabularly. He talks like a fairly normal, very polite high school boy, and the only stipulation is that he’s not very familiar with electronics or technology due to his backstory of “growing up in the woods away from humans.”

    Gonta does refer to himself in the third-person in Japanese, but I need to stress this: this is a perfectly normal thing to do in Japanese. Many people do it all the time, and it has no bearing on a person’s intelligence or ability to speak. In fact, both Tenko and Angie also refer to themselves in the third-person in the Japanese version of the game, yet mysteriously use first-person pronouns in the localization.

    I wouldn’t be so opposed to this change if it weren’t for the fact that Gonta’s entire character arc revolves around being so much smarter than people (even himself!) give him credit for. He constantly downplays his own abilities and contributions to the group despite being fairly knowledgeable, not only about entomology but also about nature and astronomy. He has a fairly good understanding of spatial reasoning and is one of the first people to guess how Toujou’s trick with the rope and tire worked in chapter 2.

    Chapter 4 of ndrv3 is so incredibly painful because it makes it clear that while Gonta was, absolutely, manipulated by Ouma into picking up the flashback light, he nonetheless made the decision to kill Miu of his own accord. He was even willing to try and kill everyone else by misleading them in the trial, because he thought it was more merciful than letting them see the outside world for themselves. These were choices that he made, confirmed when we see Gonta’s AI at the end of the trial speak for himself and acknowledge that yes, he really did think the outside world was worth killing people over.

    Gonta is supposed to be somewhat naïve and trusting, not stupid. He believes himself to be an idiot, and other characters often talk down to him or don’t take him seriously, but at the end of the day he’s a human being just like the rest of them, and far, far smarter and more capable of making his own decisions than anyone thought him capable of.

    Translating all of his speech to “caveman” or “Tarzan speech” really downplays his ability to make decisions for himself, and I think it’s a big part of why I’ve seen considerably more western fans insist that he didn’t know what he was doing than Japanese fans. I love Gonta quite a lot, but I can’t get over the localization essentially changing his character to make him seem more stupid, instead of translating what was actually there in order to more accurately reflect his character.

    2.)    Added Some Slurs, Removed Others

    It’s time to address the elephant in the room for people who don’t know: Momota is considerably homophobic and transphobic in the original Japanese version of the game. In chapter 2, he uses the word “okama” to refer to Korekiyo in an extremely derogatory fashion. This word has a history of both homophobic and transphobic sentiment in Japan, as it’s often used against flamboyant gay men and trans women, who are sadly and unfortunately conflated as being “the same thing” most of the time. To put it simply, the word has the equivalent of the weight of the t-slur and the f-slur in English rolled into one.

    This isn’t the only instance of Momota being homophobic, sadly. In the salmon mode version of the game, should you choose the “let’s undress” option in the gym while with Momota, he has yet another line where he says, “You don’t swing that way, do you!?” to Saihara, using his most terrified and disgusted-looking sprite. This suggests to me that, yes, the homophobia was a deliberate choice in the Japanese version of the game, as Momota consistently reacts this way to even the idea of another guy showing romantic interest in him.

    The English version more or less kept the salmon mode comment, but removed the use of the slur in chapter 2 entirely. Which I have… mixed feelings about. On the one hand, I am an LGBT person myself. I don’t want to read slurs if I can help it. On the other hand, I really don’t think the slur was removed out of consideration to the LGBT community so much as Momota’s translator really wanted to downplay any lines that could make his character come across in a more negative light.

    This is backed up by the fact that both Miu and Ouma’s translators added slurs to the game that weren’t present in the original Japanese. Where Miu only ever refers to Gonta as “baka” (idiot) or occasionally, “ahou” (a slightly ruder word that still more or less equates to “moron”), her translator decided to add multiple instances of her using the r-slur to refer to Gonta specifically, and on one occasion, even the word “Mongoloid,” a deeply offensive and outdated term. Ouma’s translator similarly took lines where he was already speaking harshly of Miu and added multiple instances of words like “bitch” or “whore.”

    To me, this suggests that the translators were completely free to choose how harsh or how likable they wanted their characters to come across. Momota’s translator omitting just the slur could maybe pass for a nice gesture, so people don’t have to read it and be uncomfortable—except, that’s not the only thing that was omitted. Instances of Momota being blatantly misogynistic or rude were also toned down to the point of covering up most of his flaws entirely. His use of “memeshii” against Hoshi (a word which means “cowardly” in Japanese with specifically feminine connotations, like the word “sissy” in English) is simply changed to “weak,” and when he calls Saihara’s trauma “kudaranai” (literally “worthless” or “bullshit”), this is changed to “trivial” in the localization.

    Momota’s translator even went so far as to omit a line entirely from the chapter 2 trial, which I touched on in an earlier post. In the original version of the game, Ouma asks Momota dumbfounded if he’s really stupid enough to trust Maki without any proof and if he plans on risking everyone else’s lives in the trial if he turns out to be wrong. And Momota replies saying yes, absolutely, he’s totally willing to bet everyone’s lives on nothing more than a hunch because he thinks he’s going to be right no matter what.

    This is a character flaw. It’s a huge, running theme with Momota’s character, and it’s brought up again in chapter 4 deliberately when Momota really does almost kill everyone in the trial because he refuses to believe that Ouma isn’t the culprit. But the localization simply omits it, leaving Momota to seem considerably less hard-headed and reckless in the English version of the game. If anyone wants proof that this line exists, it is still very much there in the Japanese dialogue, but it has no translation whatsoever. This goes beyond “translation decisions I don’t agree with”; omitting an entire line for a character simply because you want other people to like them more is just bad translation, period.

    3.)    Angie’s Religion

    In the original Japanese version of the game, neither Angie’s god nor her religion have any specific names. She refers to her god simply as “god” in the general sense, and clearly changes aspects of their persona and appearance based on who she’s trying to convince to join her cult. Everything about her is pretty clearly fictionalized, from her island to the religious practices her cult does.

    Kodaka’s writing with regard to Angie is already a huge mess. It feeds into a lot of harmful stereotypes about “crazy, exotic brown women” and “bloodthirsty savages,” but at the very least it never correlated with a specific religion or location in the original version of the game.

    This all changed when Angie’s translator, for whatever reason, decided to make Angie be Polynesian specifically and appropriate from the real religion of real indigenous peoples native to Polynesia. That’s right: Atua is a real god that has very real significance to tons of indigenous peoples.

    In my opinion, this decision was incredibly disrespectful. It spreads incredible misinformation about a god that is still very much a part of tons of real-life people’s religion, and associates it with cults? Blood rituals? Human sacrifices? It’s a terrible localization decision that wasn’t necessary whatsoever and to be quite frank, it’s racist and insensitive.

    As I said, the original game never exactly had the peak of “good writing decisions” when it came to Angie; there are still harmful stereotypes with her character, and she deserved to be written so much better. But associating her with a real group of indigenous people and equating a real god to some fictional deity that’s mostly treated as either a scary cult-ish boogeyman or the punchline to a joke is just… bad.

    4.)    Ouma’s Motive Video

    Some of the decisions taken with Ouma’s translation are… interesting, to say the least. In many ways, he feels like a completely different character between the two versions of the game. This is due not only to the translation, but also the voice direction and casting.

    A lot of his lines are tweaked or changed entirely to make his character seem much louder, less serious, and less sincere than the original version of the game. Obviously, Ouma lies, a lot. That’s sort of the whole point of is character. But what I mean is that even lines in the original version of the game, where it was clear he was being truthful via softer delivery, trailing off the end of his sentences, and seeming overall hesitant about whether to divulge certain information or not are literally changed in the localization to him pretty much yelling at the top of his lungs, complete with tons of exclamation points on lines that originally ended with a question mark or ellipses.

    Tonally, he just feels very different as a character. The “sowwy” speak, lines like “oopsie poopsie, I’m such a ditz!”—all of these things are taken to such ridiculous extremes that it feels a little hard to take him seriously. Even in the post-trial for chapter 4 when Ouma starts playing the villain after Gonta’s death, a moment which should have been completely serious and intense, the mood is kind of completely killed when the line is changed from him calling everyone a bunch of idiots to him calling everyone…. “stupidheads.” These changes don’t really seem thematically appropriate to me, but overall, they’re not damning.

    What is damning, however, is the fact that Ouma’s motive video is completely mistranslated and provides a very poor picture of what his motivations and ideals were like. I still remember being shocked when I played the localization for the first time and discovered that they completely omitted a line stating that Ouma and DICE have a very specific taboo against murder.

    Literally, this is one of the very first lines in the entire video. The Japanese version of the game makes it explicitly clear that DICE were forbidden to kill people, and that abiding by this rule was extremely important to them. By contrast, the localization simply makes a nod about him doing “petty nonviolent crimes and pranks,” without ever once mentioning anything at all about rules or taboos.

    This feels especially egregious in the localization considering Saihara later uses Ouma’s motive video as evidence in the chapter 6 trial and states there that Ouma and DICE “had a rule against killing people,” despite the game… never actually telling you that. It not only skews the perception of Ouma’s character at a crucial moment, it also just straight-up lies to localization players and expects them to make leaps in logic without actually providing the facts. So it winds up sort of feeling like Saihara is just pulling these assumptions out of his ass more than anything else.

    I actually still have my original translation of Ouma’s motive video here, if anyone would like to compare. Again, translation is a tricky line of work, and obviously not all translators are going to agree with one another. But I consider omitting lines entirely to be one of the worst things you can do in a translation, particularly in a mystery game where people are expected to solve said mysteries based on the information and facts provided to them.

    5.)    Inconsistencies and Lack of Context

    As I mentioned earlier, there are many instances of lines being completely mistranslated, or translated two different ways by multiple translators, or addressed to the wrong character. This is, as I stated, due to the way the translation work was divided by four separate people who appear to have not communicated with each other or cross-referenced each other’s work.

    One of the clearest examples of this that I can think of off the top of my head is in chapter 3, where Ouma mentions “doing a little research” on the Caged Child ritual, and Maki in the very next line repeats him by saying… “study?”


    On their own, removed from any context, these would both potentially be correct translations. However, it’s very clear that the translators just didn’t care to look at the context, or communicate with each other and share their work. The fact that characters aren’t even quoting each other properly in lines that are back-to-back is a pretty big oversight, and something that should have been accounted for knowing that four separate people were going to be translating various different characters.

    This lack of context causes other, even more hilarious and blatantly wrong mistranslations. At the start of the chapter 3 trial, there is a line where Momota mentions that he couldn’t perform a thorough investigation on his own “because Monokuma disrupted him.” In the original, Ouma responds and tells Momota that he’s just using Monokuma as an excuse to cover for his own flaws. However, what we actually got in the localization was… this.


    I don’t even have words for how badly this line was butchered (though I could make several hilarious jokes about Monokuma “over-compensating”). Presumably, this happened because Ouma’s translator saw Ouma’s line without any of the lines before it or the context of what Momota was saying, had no clue who Ouma was actually supposed to be talking to, and just ad-libbed it however they could, even though it literally makes no sense and doesn’t even fit into the conversation.

    There are other similar instances of this, too. For example, did you know that the scene after Saihara faints in chapter 2, just before he wakes up in Gonta’s lab, is actually supposed to have Ouma talking to him? The narrator is unnamed, but there are several lines just before Saihara wakes up where Ouma tells him “come on, you can’t die on me yet!” and keeps prodding him and poking him to wake up. This is never explicitly told to you from the text… but it becomes pretty obvious when you look at the context and see that a huge CG of Ouma looking over Saihara as he starts to wake up is the very next part of the scene.

    In the localization, however, Saihara’s translator pretty clearly had no idea what was happening or who was supposed to be talking to him, because they translated those lines as Saihara talking to himself, even though the manner of speech and phrasing is clearly supposed to be Ouma instead.

    I could go on and on listing other examples: Tsumugi makes a joke in the original about Miu being able to dish out dirty jokes but not being very good at hearing them herself, but it’s changed in the localization to Tsumugi saying I’m not so good with that kind of stuff,” and a line where Momota protests against Maki choking Ouma because she’ll kill him if she keeps going is instead changed to him saying “you’ll get killed if you don’t stop!” In my opinion, the fact that this is a consistent problem throughout the whole game shows that the translators weren’t really communicating or working together at any point, and that it wasn’t simply a one-time mistake here or there.

    6.)    Edited CGs and Plot Points

    I have made an entirely separate post about this in the past, but at this point I don’t think anyone actually knows anymore: the localization actually edited in-game CGs and made some of them completely different from the Japanese version of the game. I’m not accusing them of “censorship” or anything like that, I mean quite literally that they altered and edited specific CGs to try and fix certain problems with them and only ended up making them worse in the process.

    In chapter 5, Momota gets shot in the arm by Maki’s crossbow when trying to defend Ouma, and Ouma gets shot in the back shortly afterward when attempting to make a run for the Exisals. These injuries are relevant to how they died, but they’re not actually very visible in the CGs of Ouma and Momota shown later in the chapter 5 trial.

    There are a whole bunch of inconsistencies with the CGs in chapter 5 in general: Momota gives Ouma his jacket to lie on under the press, but is magically still wearing it when he emerges from the Exisal himself at the end of the trial (I like to think he snuck back into the dorms Solid Snake style to get a new one from his room before joining the trial), the cap to the antidote is still on the bottle when Ouma pretends to drink it in front of Maki and Momota, etc. None of these things really deter from the plot though, and so I would say they’re fairly unimportant.

    However, for some reason, NISA decided that “fixing” at least some of the CGs in the chapter 5 trial was necessary. They did this by adding bloodstains to Momota’s arm while he’s under the press, to better show his injury from the crossbow…. and in doing so, for some completely inexplicable reason, they changed the entire position of his arm. Here’s what I mean for comparison:


    This is how Momota’s arm looked in the original CG from chapter 5, shown when the camcorder is provided as evidence that it’s “Ouma” under the press.


    And this is how the localization edited it to look. I can understand and even sympathize with adding the bloodstains, but… changing the entire arm itself? Moving it to be sticking out from under the press? To put it nicely, this change doesn’t make any sense and actually makes it harder to understand Ouma and Momota’s plan.

    The whole trick behind their plan was that nothing was supposed to stick out from under the press, other than Momota’s jacket. They waited until the instant when the press completely covered every part of Momota’s body, arms and all, and then performed the switch to mislead people. But the edited version of the CG in the localization just has Momota’s arm sticking completely out, hanging over the side, meaning it would’ve been impossible for the press to hide every part of it and the whole switch feels… well, stupid and impossibly easy to see through in the localized version.

    Again, this shows a total disregard for presenting the facts as they actually appear and actually makes things more difficult for English players of the game, because they’re not being given accurate information. I really don’t understand why these changes were necessary, or why the bloodstains couldn’t have just been added without moving Momota’s entire arm.

    7.)    In Conclusion

    This has gotten extremely long (nearly 10 pages), so I want to wrap things up. I want to specify that my intention with this masterlist isn’t to insult or badmouth the translators who worked on this game. I’m sure they worked very hard, and I have no idea what time or budget constraints they were facing as they did so.

    Being a translator is not easy, and typically translators are not very well-paid or recognized for their work. I have the utmost respect for other translators, and I know perfectly well just how difficult and taxing it can be.

    I am making this list because these are simply changes which were very different from the original version of the game, and which I believe could have been handled better. Personally, I disagree with many of the choices the localization made, but that does not mean that they didn’t do a fantastic job in other places. I absolutely love whichever translator was responsible for coming up with catchphrases and nicknames throughout the game: little localization decisions like “cospox,” “flashback light,” “Insect Meet n’ Greet,” and “cosplaycat criminal” were all strokes of genius that I highly admire.

    I only want to stress that the Japanese version of the game is very different. Making changes to the way a character is presented or portrayed means influencing how people are going to react to said character. Skewing the information and facts presented in trials in the game means changing people’s experience of the game, and giving them less facts to go off of. Equating fictional gods to real-life ones can cause real harm and influence perception of real indigenous peoples. These are all facts that need to be accounted for before deciding whether a certain change is necessary or not, in my opinion.

    If you’ve read this far, thank you! Again, feel free to share this post around if you’d like, since this is probably the most comprehensively I’ve ever covered this topic.


    What do you think about NISAmerica's localization of Ouma's lines in general, especially in chapter 5?


    Both of these questions deal with pretty muchthe same issue, so I’ll be answering them both together. Also, Ouma’slocalization in particular is something I’ve been wanting to discuss ever sinceI got to about midway through Chapter 4 in particular, so now that I’m finallyfinished playing the localization in general, I’m glad to have a chance to talkabout it specifically. I’ll be saving my thoughts on the rest of thelocalization for other posts, but for this one in particular, I really do wantto talk about what happened to Ouma’s characterization in particular.

    First and foremost, I want to say: these are mypersonal thoughts on the matter. I’m not here to bash on other people’stranslation work, moreso with the amount of effort and detail that’s requiredfor translation. Some of the errors that occurred throughout the course of thelocalization were not, in fact, due to any one translator but were instead thenatural result of what happens when you have four translators working ondifferent characters—that is to say, a simple lack of context and communication.Several lines were drastically mistranslated simply because the translatorsdidn’t know what the character immediately beforehand had said, and this causedsome confusion in the process.

    However, it is a fact that much of Ouma’scharacterization, particularly in Chapter5, suffered as a result of this localization and the translation choices that weretaken. In fact, some of the most important, plot-relevant scenes concerningOuma were translated in a way that I believe makes it much more difficult forpeople who have only played the localization (and therefore had no access tothe original lines) to understand his motivations, his thought process, or hischaracter in general.

    This entire post is going to be very, very long,namely because I tried to go in-depth and double-check all the originalJapanese text before writing. I’ve bolded some of the points I felt were mostpivotal to what the localization messed up. Huge spoilers for the whole gameare under the read more, so be careful if you’re trying to stay spoiler-free!

    Continua a leggere

    I’m such a sucker for that good found family content 🥺💕💕 and while dad!reigen is god tier stuff I’ll admit I have a ~special~ appreciation for folks who let reigen in on that familial love via serimama too. He’s touched but he doesn’t know how to act when on the receiving end of that mother henning haha