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Two Years And Climbing – Post #2: The Chantelise Notes

For the second part of our two-year anniversary post series, it’s time at last to discuss Chantelise and the changes made to it in localization. I am sorry that these notes are so late in coming, especially gvien how short they are, but with everything we’ve been up to, Things kept popping up in the way.

And they are fairly short. By and large, between the fairly straightforward nature of the game and script and the general size of the script compared to either Recettear or Fortune Summoners, there were not a particularly large number of changes made. The flip side of the coin is that there were only two substantial changes made, but they are a bit larger than any change made to either of our other extant titles. Both can spoil the plot of the game to some extent, and so are hidden under the jump. (And remember, reading this post first is a good idea to get a primer on why we do things the way we do.)

Chante: The Nature of Childishness

The first substantial change made was to Chante’s speech patterns; the changes made to her lines went somewhat above and beyond what is normally done with a character in our process, and I feel I need to justify the magnitude of the changes we made.

Both the script itself and EGS’ notes to us call for Chante to be the more “childish” of the two sisters, despite being older than Elise, and yet to still have moments of older-sister clarity and responsibility. In Japanese, the childishness comes across in Chante’s use of short phrases, onomatopoeia and general “childish sounds”. In English, however, this ran the risk of her sounding almost like a mental two-year-old at times, which would have been at overly dissonant odds with her moments of clarity. So I elected to pull more toward a “grade-schooler” sound in English. That is, a kid who talks a lot and I mean a pretty large amount with run on sentences that use up a good bit of the textbox AND ALSO PRETTY LOUDLY SOMETIMES.

Based on the feedback we’ve gotten, as well as my own personal reading of the script afterwards, it worked very well, but it did constitute effectively rewriting the diction of every single one of Chante’s lines. As always, the meaning has not been changed – we actually asked questions of EGS at times to ensure we were getting the meaning of everything right – but on a word-for-word basis, Chante is definitely the most “altered” of the characters I’ve worked on so far and virtually none of her lines in the published CF English version are close to what they are in Japanese.

Also, as a matter of full disclosure, the “shins” running joke is a bit like “Capitalism Ho” – an invention of your humble editor. Chante does occasionally threaten bodily violence on people in a humorous but non-specific way at various points, but her obsession with assaulting shins is unique to the English version.

(Also also, since I imagine it will come up: the Zelda Joke toward the end of the game is one of the few places where Chante’s lines are not altered. That is essentially verbatim from the original script, every line.)

Fortuna: Fortune Does Not Favor The… Mirai?

The other change is somewhat more substantial in meaning, and represents what might be termed a “breach” of policy for CF… as it is, to date, the only time we have completely renamed a character.

The “glasses-wearing former shop owner” character, depicted to the left, was named Mirai in the original script. Some of our more Japanese-familiar readers may recognize this as the word for “future” in Japanese, though the name was spelled out as ミライ rather than as the actual word. We did check with EGS, however, and this was a deliberate bit of symbolism – she is the character who sets much of the plot in motion in order to save “the future”, when our sister protagonists arrive. Her name even forms a bit of a pun/a bit of symbolism in the title of the final chapter, as it is simply titled “mirai” – both her name, and “future”.

This, of course, presented us with a very large problem.

Especially based on feedback received from Recettear, we knew that while most of our fanbase might be passingly familiar with bits of Japanese culture, we absolutely could not guarantee that a majority – or even a significant minority – of purchasers of the game would understand the symbolism if her name was left unaltered. And also, she was basically named “future” in Japanese so to any Japanese player the meaning would be obvious, and it felt like the same should be true of the English version – everyone should be able to get it.

This was further exacerbated by the fact that there are few, if any, names common to the English language (or its cousins) which directly mean “future”. The best I could come up with was Skuld from Norse mythology, which was sufficiently obtuse as to still risk many people missing the symbolism. In the end, I came up with a different solution – we would change not just her name, but in some ways the meaning of her name.

She would become Fortuna, representing the hope that her plans would work out in a “fortunate” way in the future and that, while a gamble, she was trying to break the cycle of “hero creation” and sealing that had been perpetuating itself for who knows how long. The name of the final chapter was even changed to “Fortuna Favors The Bold”, completing the pun and symbolism (and making it very clear to 95%+ of English readers). This was, however, a complete departure from CF’s usual practices and something we previously thought to not do – changing a name, and its meaning, completely.

I ended up agonizing over this idea for weeks (as Robin can tell you with a heavy sigh). We told EGS of the plan and gave them full veto control over it – twice. Both times, they said “yes, do it” – they recognized that it was an alteration, but also that leaving the name alone risked many people not understanding the symbolism without help, while Fortuna would be clear to most readers.

And so in the end, the Fortuna change went to print. I don’t regret it, though it’s still something I don’t wish to make a habit of. And our fans do deserve to know about this – even if it is some time after Chantelise’s release.

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