On Persona 5 And Its Localization Controversy: Is It Really Such A Big Deal?




For the past few weeks, my Tumblr and Twitter feeds have been full of one thing: Persona 5. The English release of Persona 5 just came out recently so there’s no surprise for the hype, of course. Being a fan of Persona myself, I’m also excited for the English release since it only means that I can finally play whatever it has in store for me. However, not everyone seems to be happy with its release, since it appears that its localization—its translation and the flow of the script, to be more specific—is subpar and some even  considered it a total fail. But is that really the case?

 

It all started when Nathaniel Chapman, a senior encounter designer on World of Warcraft, said that the localization was “bad” and “wrong” due to a translation error on a Kanji appearing on a piece of shogi that was referenced in the game.

According to Chapman, it would’ve been better if they changed the question and referenced something like chess instead, which will be more familiar to American audiences unlike shogi.


 

 



And of course, there were people who have retaliated against Chapman’s views…


 

 


But Kotaku, being the one who brought the issue into the limelight, got most of the flak.



After Kotaku’s article got published, a lot of people have started to talk about the quality of the translation. The people whom I follow, some of which are scanlation group translators and fansubbers, have gotten into various discussions about this issue. Some have even pointed out that the problem does not only exist on that shogi quiz game alone, but on something else entirely: the whole script.


 


 

 

Translation is an art. We have seen that phrase a lot and it certainly made an appearance while I was browsing several threads about this localization issue. According to Andrea of Accutranslate, “no translators will do the same work ever and that is down to ability, interpretation, and creativity.” And since it also means that the quality of output that each translator does is different, what will happen if we put six translators and eight editors in a single project?


As Atlus said in its blog post, Persona 5 boasted the most number of translators and editors for a team. Despite that fact, Persona 5 also became one of Atlus’ most controversial games because of its localization. Granted, having multiple people in a team makes the work faster, of course. And for a game that has been plagued by delays like Persona 5, time is of the essence. Surely, having more people will be better, right? Where did they go wrong?


 

 


Apparently, that made things more difficult. Not everyone writes the same way, and putting multiple translators on a single game and editing it into one congruent script is prone to a lot of inconsistencies, especially if there are eight people editing it. And just like what Molly Lee of Polygon said, Persona 5 definitely deserved better.

In fact, some people even took that statement to heart as Connor Kramer created Persona Problems, a site that lists all the problems when it comes to the localization of Persona 5.


A screenshot of the site. Apparently, someone was hardcore enough to host a site and write a lot of things just because he wasn’t satisfied with the way Atlus did things.


As what you would expect, the appearance of this site only made the issue escalate even further. People have debated about Persona 5’s translation problems all over social media sites, and if the people at Reddit were any indication, they have mixed thoughts about it.

Amidst all these things, only one thing comes to mind: Is it really such a big deal?

It’s not. For most people anyway.

For people like us who probably won’t even be able to play the game at all because we do not know Japanese, having an official English release is totally a good thing. Not all releases are perfect, and there are definitely ones who are even worse than what Atlus did with Persona. And besides, if you’re able to stand the quality of some fansubs in the mid-2000s, then you’ll probably get through with this just fine, right?

This is most likely a case where the trope Your Mileage May Vary applies. If you’re fluent in Japanese, then play the game in its original Japanese version. If you’re kinda knowledgeable in Japanese, then play the English version and use Japanese audio so that you may know if there are inconsistencies and stuff in what you’re playing. If you’re more of a dub person, then play the game in English and turn on the English audio. It’s as simple as that. Sure, it’s a good thing that the players and Atlus are becoming aware of the issue, but did it really have to reach the point where people need to create a shrine just to rant about stuff? Is it really worthy of having the unnecessary drama, enough to take away your enjoyment of the game?

Well, if we were to take a look at the game’s reviews on Metacritic, Games Radar, and IGN, it seems that most people do not care about this issue at all, despite all the buzz regarding its localization fail. Taking this into account, it probably isn’t such a big deal after all, despite what other people are making it appear to be.

Sources:

One Angry Gamer

Persona Problems

Polygon