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Since its release in 1997, Final Fantasy VII has gone down in history as one of the most famous RPGs of all time. The original English release, however, was far from perfect, having been wrought with mistranslations and other similar language-related oddities.

Frontline Gaming Japan takes a look at seven of these in this article.

Also see:

 

Ifalna

Final Fantasy VII mistranslations - IfalnaNot a mistranslation, but an easter egg not immediately apparent to English-speaking players: Aerith’s birth mother Ifalna’s name when written in Japanese is “Ifaruna”, an anagram of “Fainaru”, or “Final”, a reference to the game series’ title.

 

Gast Faremis

Source: https://www.skylark.co.jp/gusto/menu/index.html

Similarly, Professor Gast’s name, “Gasuto” in Japanese, is actually supposed to beGusto, derived from the name of the Japanese family restaurant chain. This is hammered in by how his last name, “Faremisu”, is an anagram of Famiresu, the Japanese abbreviation of “family restaurant”.

 

Domino and Hart

Final Fantasy VII mistranslations - Domino and HartMayor Domino retains the same name as his Japanese version counterpart, but his assistant Hart is in Japanese named “Hatto”, or “Hut”. Given how Midgar is constantly referred to (primarily by Barret) as a pizza, the connection should be obvious.

 

Midgar Zolom

This is a mistranslation: With FFVII’s constant references to Norse mythology, it should not be surprising that this is one as well. The monster’s name, written in katakana as “Midogaruzuorumu”, is supposed to be Midgardsormr, meaning “Midgard Serpent”, another name for the world-serpent Jormungand.

 

Bizarro Sephiroth

Final Fantasy VII mistranslations - Bizarro SephirothThis seems to have been a name change based on the original Japanese version’s name, “Ribāsu Sefirosu”, with the translator interpreting “Ribāsu” as “Reverse” and changing the name based on that.

However, given how the boss theme is entitled in Japanese as “Birth of a God” (“Kami no Tanjō”) and how Final Fantasy Record Keeper refers to him as “The Reborn Fallen Hero”, it is apparent that the name was supposed to be Rebirth Sephiroth, or if one corrects the English grammar on the name, Reborn Sephiroth.

 

Safer Sephiroth

Final Fantasy VII mistranslations - Safer SephirothSafer Sephiroth’s name has been the subject of a lot of discussion by fans over the 23 years since the game’s release, with many suggesting that it might have been a mistranslation of “Savior Sephiroth”, or “Seraph Sephiroth”. While the design of the boss does seem to be based on the descriptions of seraphs found in the bible, however, both of these are clearly incorrect when one looks at the original Japanese name: When rendered in katakana, “Savior” and “Seraph” are nothing at all like what the name actually is.

When someone who understands Japanese and knows of the origins of Sephiroth’s name takes a look, it becomes very clear that the name, written as “Sēfa Sefirosu” in Japanese, is in fact supposed to be Sepher Sephiroth, meaning “The Book of Numbers”, referring to the fourth book of the Hebrew bible in which the Israelites head towards the Promised Land. The title was also used by occultist Aleister Crowley in his writings.

 

W-Magic, W-Item, W-Summon

Source: https://prtimes.jp/main/html/rd/p/000000085.000014276.html

The “W” series of materia left many English-speaking players puzzled back in the day, and is the perfect example of why localization is necessary: The names are translated perfectly, but fail to take into consideration cultural differences.  The explanation behind their names is very simple: In Japan, the Roman letter W is very commonly used to mean “double”.

 

Also see:

Final Fantasy VII Remake was released on the Playstation 4 worldwide on 10th April 2020

Did a particular translation error in the original Final Fantasy VII stand out to you? Is one of them still perplexing to you? Let us know in the comments below!

15 COMMENTS

  1. >both of these are clearly incorrect when one looks at the original Japanese name: When rendered in katakana, “Savior” and “Seraph” are nothing at all like what the name actually is

    OMG THANK YOU FOR THIS!! I’ve been arguing with idiots who don’t understand Japanese for YEARS that it’s CLEARLY not savior or seraph but they’re too ignorant and stupid to get it, bunch of damned morons!

    https://www.neoseeker.com/forums/1169/t562566-how-safer-sephiroth-got-his-name/

    “It’s seraph sephiroth because I think it sounds better” go to hell you blithering idiots!

    • People have probably chosen not to listen to you because you’ve called them morons. Perhaps a change in strategy might make your knowledge more accessible to others.

      • I’m calling them morons YEARS after the fact now BECAUSE they pulled that nonsense, and I’m now calling you a drooling idiot for shooting your mouth off on things you know nothing about. Stupid dumbfuck.

      • the WHO has stated COUNTLESS times that gender dysphoria is NOT a mental illness. however, video game addiction is, so you should probably get that checked out, kid.

    • The FF7 translators were shit and the 7R translators aren’t any better, they changed the names of Climhazzard and Dolphin Blow and other random shit for no reason at all and mistranslated a load of important story points like Aerith saying the Sephiroth on the highway isn’t a clone replacing it with random swearing. Like literally, on the highway in JP Barret says “it’s the same guy (clone) from the Shinra tower” and Aerith says “no it’s not” but in EN Barret says “hey asshole” and Aerith says “don’t”, literally what the fuck. Then again Squeenix hires “”translators”” by asking for fanfiction submissions so it’s not surprising that they wind up with idiots who can’t translate and just replace everything with their OC fanfic garbage. What the fuck is wrong with these people?

  2. I’m going to post this here instead of R*ddit because
    1) This is less of a reply to the guy who said this nonsense and more me wanting to say something about this garbage which people are constantly regurgitating
    2) R*ddit is an anti-intellectual echo chamber shithole where only popular opinions are allowed regardless of how stupid, ignorant or misinformed they are

    >I think the most important thing to know about FF7’s translation is that it was done by a single guy over a period of like, weeks. He basically got a fuckton of text dropped on his desk, which he had to work nonstop to get through. IIRC, dude slept in his cubicle working on it. It sucks, of course, but it’s not like it was done out of malice or ineptitude.

    It was ineptitude you idiot. Go look at the Legends of Localization videos. The person who translated FF7 clearly barely understood Japanese and was so unprofessional that the ENGLISH is filled with mistakes. And it’s also Square’s fault for not hiring better or more translators.
    Get lost with your stupid retroactive apologistic bullshit. “No it doesn’t suck because translation is difficult” there is no fucking correlation between those two you fucking moron. There are plenty of good translations for millions of other things. The cold hard fact is that FF7’s translation is shit.

    >For all we know, Square gave Ted Woolsey a list of pre-translated names and locations ahead of time. After all we know there was communication between the original dev team and Woolsey where they agreed Aeris sounded better in english than Aerith, which is why her default name is patched to Aeris on the name selection screen.

    “For all we know” Square is a JAPANESE COMPANY you drooling idiot, why would they know anything about English? They left the English stuff to the guy who supposedly understood English and he fucked it up.

    And Woolsey isn’t the fucking translator on FF7 you moron so you aren’t even fellating the right guy.

    Fucking pathetic.

  3. ““Sēfa Sefirosu” in Japanese, is in fact supposed to be Sepher Sephiroth, meaning “The Book of Numbers”, referring to the fourth book of the Hebrew bible in which the Israelites head towards the Promised Land.”

    This makes no sense at all. The 4th book in Hebrew is not called Numbers, it’s called “bamidbar” (=in the desert). Sephiroth are something completely different (a Kabbalistic concept). The word for numbers, as in digits, would be “sifrot” not “sefirot”. They’re completely different words.
    If anything, it MIGHT be “book of the spheres”, but that’s not a specific concept, and has no relation to the Promised Land or anything.

    • LMAO! Literally everything in your post is wrong dumbass!

      >The 4th book in Hebrew is not called Numbers

      WRONG.

      “The Book of Numbers (from Greek Ἀριθμοί, Arithmoi; Hebrew: בְּמִדְבַּר, Bəmiḏbar, “In the desert [of]”) is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah.”

      >Sephiroth are something completely different (a Kabbalistic concept). The word for numbers, as in digits, would be “sifrot” not “sefirot”. They’re completely different words.

      WRONG.

      Numbers is an alternate translation of emanations according to Crowley’s Kabbalistic writings, and
      “Sefirot (/sfɪˈroʊt, ˈsfɪroʊt/; Hebrew: סְפִירוֹת səp̄îrôṯ) The term is alternatively transliterated into English as sephirot/sephiroth, singular sefirah/sephirah etc.”

      >and has no relation to the Promised Land or anything.

      WRONG.

      “Numbers begins at Mount Sinai, where the Israelites have received their laws and covenant from God and God has taken up residence among them in the sanctuary. The task before them is to take possession of the Promised Land.”

      This is the exact same kind of stupid ignorant bullshit I’ve been fighting for the past two decades. Stupid idiots who know literally nothing making up all kinds of ridiculous bullshit that goes against established fact and trying to push it like it’s the truth. Get lost and inject yourself with bleach like your precious president tells you to.

    • This is not the remake. They promised expanded but unalteresd plot for five years and what we got was a suffed game that someone wanted to turn into the new Kingdom hearts because that’s they only game they know how to make and even tried to shit on the die-hard fans by making an allegory with the whispers and the people who, Nomura KNEW, wouldn’t like the game. Now SE is trying to cover up the plot by copystriking videos with the ending while the gameplay embargo has already been lifted. You know why? because they KNOW people who are die-hard fans will not buy the game once they realise the twist in the plot and they want to avoid that. No gameplay uploader forces anyone to spoil themselves. They expect you to pay for this crap and when you realise how crap the plot is, it will be too late for a refund for a full priced game 🙂 You’ve been scammed,next time do proper reasearch instead of blindly trusting SE. Deal with it. I’m just glad I decided to wait and see, saved me 60$

    • You clearly know nothing about Kabbalah stuff by occultists like Blavatsky and Crowley huh?

      >many Occultists keep and maintain a “Sepher Sephiroth” or ‘Book of Numbers’, which functions as a numerological dictionary.

      >The Flaming Sword is a comprehensive, unique treatise on Gematria, revealing the pre-religious Gnosis and its relation to Thelema. In addition to the substantial Sepher Sephiroth (‘book of numbers’)

      >Crowley realized Blavatsky ‘ s mythic Chaldaen Book of Numbers by publishing an extended number language dictionary known as Sepher Sephiroth ( Hebrew for ” Book of Numbers ” ) .

      Not to mention how obvious it is that Sephiroth is SUPPOSED to be a reference to the book of numbers given his NUMBERED CLONES. The Reunion brings the NUMBERS together into one making his final form the culmination of them. And the Kabbalah influence is also obvious given how Xenogears was made at the same time and was in fact the base for FF7. In fact Sakaguchi was the producer on Xenogears and both Kitase and Nomura are listed as helping out in the credits.

      Why on earth are you trying to argue against something this painfully obvious, holy shit. This much evidence in your face and you struggle to come up with nonsensical half-truths and straight up lies to deny it. What is wrong with you?

  4. I just want to point out, even the Ars Technica review says the FF7R translation is a load of steaming shit.

    https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2020/04/final-fantasy-vii-remake-spoiler-free-review-our-kind-of-cloud-gaming/

    >If you’ve come to expect Square Enix to botch its games’ translations from Japanese to English, you’ll feel right at home with FFVIIR’s most glaring flaw. Most of the game’s brand-new conversations include at least one failure to naturally translate something, whether it’s a colloquialism or some other turn of phrase

    >FFVIIR’s script is largely a mess, so much so that this entire article’s length could have been consumed by examples. If you come into this game without an appreciation for the original characters and their established archetypes, you’ll be particularly confused by what the love for this old game is all about.

    >the game’s English translation suffers from frequent leaps in logic and too many awkward phrases.

    > here’s a request: do me a solid and hire a new translation team next time, won’tcha?

  5. Translation is a field of con-artists. There is no possible way for a translator to convey their translation to the original creators. So, obviously, the field is inundated with lazy people who realise they can very easily get a paycheck for not much work as long as they talk the talk. At best, you can look at the reception of previous work, but some absolute stinkers have been praised because the original story shines through the mistranslations and gibberish. Similarly, great translation jobs have left translators blacklisted because the game didn’t do well in another market. Additionally, being a good translator requires humility, because you have to understand that your opinions and ideas don’t matter because it’s your job is to express someone else’s, but a lot of game translators are actually not translators but failed writers who get kicks from turning existing stories into their own “original” stuff. Many of them then go on to Twitter to brag about how they’re improving the shitty Japanese writing and it’s just pure disgusting.

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