MP (militarypenguin) wrote,

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Muramasa the Demon Blade vs. Muramasa Rebirth translation observations (Momohime’s Story Acts 1-3)

I played Muramasa on the Wii a while back. While the game was fun to play, it was a bit of a letdown in terms of storytelling and characters compared to Vanillaware’s previous title, Odin Sphere. As it turned out, however, a lot of it was to blame on the cut-and-dry Cliff Notes-style translation provided by Ignition, so I was pretty thrilled when I saw there was going to be a meatier translation in the Vita remake.

I’m playing the remake right now, and as it’s been a while since I played the Wii version, I was curious how they compared. Some of Aksys’s new translations are simply lengthier descriptions of what the characters in the Ignition one were saying (since the original descriptions were so bafflingly short compared to how long the characters’ voices would speak) but many show some really significant differences. I’ll be talking about the latter, with the Wii version screenshots on top, followed by the Vita version. (I also apologize for the fuzzy quality of the Wii screenshots; I just screenshotted what I could immediately find on YouTube).

This is does not document all of the differences between the translations, just the one I found to be most noteworthy. I’m doing this purely for fun because this kind of thing fascinates me. Muramasa was also apparently an extremely difficult game to translate, so don’t take these criticisms of the Ignition translations as potshots at their efforts. Their script is perfectly readable (some may even prefer its less wordy approach to Aksys’s revised script), and I really do appreciate that they brought this game over here at all.

The first lines in the beginning scene with Momohime are more or less the same, with the Aksys translation giving more details about the circumstances. So, not a whole lot to dissect there. Where it starts getting interesting, however…

While the man before us is described to us as the “Evil Monk” and his appearance clearly intends to back up that description, the “Hello Jinkuro” is a bit of a throw-off. He’s hostile towards Jinkuro, but his statements don’t register as much of a threat, and these vaguely-described “holy barriers” aren’t much to go off on; in fact, it seems to imply there’s ways to escape–just go past the areas not covered by holy barriers. In turn, reducing Jinkuro’s background to an unspecified series of “crimes” ends up undermining both how much of an impact Jinkuro’s actions have had on the people, and reducing any kind of “whoever this Jinkuro guy is, he’s clearly really, really not the good guy here” impression we’re getting that it’s building up to.

Here, the monk (now described as “sinister” as opposed to outright “evil”) isn’t simply hostile towards Jinkuro, he’s out for his blood; Jinkuro is likely no different from a demon in his eyes, as “depraved blasphemer” would tell. Any suspicion that there may be any places sealed off by holy barriers is also eliminated here as the monk tells us the whole country is covered in them.

An expected response. So expected…it could really come from anyone’s mouth. In short, we’re not given much about Momohime’s character here. Still, it’s just a simple response; are we expected to get much out of a confused character trying to correct someone on her identity?

Apparently, yes! Here, Momohime still asserts her identity, and her stutter carries the same confusion and bewilderment about who this man is accusing her of being, but her speech is much more dignified, one that would appear to belong to someone of royalty, especially with how she establishes her background. And hey, wouldn’t you know it, it’s because she is royalty!

This one’s funny on its own because of how basic it is and how much of a good sport Jinkuro is about being forced out of Momohime’s body. He just kind of rolls over and accepts it. But it’s not nearly as funny if you don’t look at the revised translation…

Jinkuro’s pretty agitated about his predicament, and “that damned priest” in particular; a bit of a far cry from his humble “I have been forced out of your body.” You’ll notice how the characters are given much more distinct voices in the revised translation, and this is especially apparent with Jinkuro. More on that later when we get to more dialogue with him.

In the Wii version, Jinkuro is once again pretty accepting of his fate. He got forced out of Momohime’s body? Annoying, but it’ll remedy itself. He possessed the wrong person? Just roll with it. He’s still forceful, however, so he doesn’t give the impression of a nice person–but not necessarily the criminal he’s been built up to be.

And in the Vita version, Jinkuro is once again pretty pissed about his fate. He’s also a bit of a dick; was it necessary to say “I have no sympathy for you”? Nah, but because he’s Jinkuro, he’ll say it. Because he’s a dick.

This…doesn’t say much, since it looks like he was already a resident of that place, despite being a monk. Not an insult to his appearance or anything, just the conclusion I’d jump to.

Ah, this explains everything; this guy was once an ordinary human. And he’s not risking the possibility of eternal damnation–no, he knows he’ll have no other place to go but Hell. He presumably gave up his soul in order to enter a state powerful enough to defeat Jinkuro.

This comparison made me burst out laughing. Jinkuro sounds genuinely concerned for Momohime! Even his follow-up line about any harm coming to her soul will cause her body to die seems to place priority on Momohime over himself. Bear in mind if you haven’t played the game, this is still extremely early on where Momohime and Jinkuro barely know each other, and Jinkuro’s impression of Momohime so far is…well…see the earlier screencap.

Even if he doesn’t sound concerned for Momohime, he still sounds uncharacteristically fearful.

Jinkuro is agitated at things not going his way once again. Even with his life on the line, he’s more irritated that he has to go fetch Momohime than fearful for what may happen to him. The fact that he named a specific monk is important too; we saw Rankai earlier, and we’ll be seeing him again soon.

We reach the part I was most looking forward to comparing! Unless you know of Yoshiwara (I didn’t), why Jinkuro is calling Rankai pathetic will be completely lost on you.

And here we have a nice, juicy example of how much of Jinkuro’s filthy mouth got lost in translation in the Wii version. Unless you know what muff-diving is (I didn’t), this part will also be completely lost on you.

(Muff-diving means pussy-eating.)

So if you don’t know what an oiran or Yoshiwara are (I didn’t know either), this whole place will be lost on you.

This is thoroughly remedied in the Vita remake, which both clarifies the area as a pleasure district and why this particular courtesan reacted to Momohime (….besides bursting into her place without warning, but that’s just an accepted aspect of RPGs that’s seldom put into question).

On that note, apart from oiran, any and all references to courtesans are nowhere to be found in the Ignition translation.

I originally wasn’t going to bring this up, but I saw topics of people asking who Asagiri was, some who were expecting her to show up as a major character. I can’t remember what my own response was back when I played (I barely registered any of the plot, come to think of it), but I also likely wouldn’t have been certain of what conclusion to come to about Asagiri and Jinkuro’s relationship unless I’d looked up information on oiran and Yoshiwara. It’s enough to throw one off that it’s worth mentioning.

And with that little clarification, the mysterious relationship evaporates. Some may find this a disappointment, as I’d also seen players express excitement at putting together the pieces of the puzzle and seeing how it all lined up, but Muramasa isn’t a story intended to be ambigious. And, hey, it’s a nice bit of character-building for Jinkuro–he’s a guy who enjoys having sex, but also doesn’t forget the names of the ones who mean something to him.

Continuing on the Asagiri track, in the Ignition translation, we approach a bit of an anticlimax as we see Asagiri is simply an NPC who had some kind of history with Jinkuro. What is it? Does it matter? Apparently not to Jinkuro who, once again, shrugs off fate not going his way.

And here we see a brief, yet significant moment of Jinkuro not being his usual self-centered, blunt self. He expresses sorrow and sympathy for Asagiri’s unfortunate fate, gets contemplative of their present matters, and shows that he sees Asagiri as more than just someone to fool around with. It’s, as far as I know, the first and last scene we get with Asagiri, but it’s enough to get something of a window into an unusual spot of Jinkuro’s mindframe.

Jinkuro’s logic is sound, urgently encouraging his comrades to move forward if they wish to make any progress in their quest.

Whoa, totally different take here. Jinkuro snarks at their risky predicament, and his reasoning for facing the monster doesn’t have anything to do with getting answers, simply just wanting to play a game of tempting fate so he can get a look at it.

Jinkuro sounds downright heroic here, accusing the monster of looking “harsh” and “cruel” as though they aren’t attributes he, Jinkuro, shares. He’s also placing priority on Momohime once again over his own needs, ready to take what doesn’t belong to the monster away from him.

And once again, no traces of heroism to be found in Jinkuro’s words in the Aksys translation. He’s taken aback by his appearance, but not because he looks “cruel” or “harsh,” but simply because he’s just an unappealing site. He doesn’t politely request Wanyuudo “return” Momohime’s soul, he demands he give it to him, calmly telling Wanyuudo he’ll just beat it out of him until he gets it.

This one’s pretty confusing in its phrasing, because it sounds like Rankai is referring to an individual other than himself, and apparently one he was very close to if his hatred for Jinkuro for what he did to Kogorota is any indication. It’s a little similar to Ignition’s translation of the Asagiri subplot in how it accidentally builds up the expectation of another major character.


The Aksys translation clarifies that Rankai was that swordsman, and also providing a much clearer explanation for why he hates Jinkuro so passionately, to the point he’s unable to find peace with himself.

In a twist, the Ignition translation depicts Jinkuro as being pretty ruthless here. Despite Asagiri being implied to be someone special to him in the Ignition translation, here he much blows her off entirely without so much as a goodbye.

Granted, the Aksys translation of this dialogue doesn’t have Jinkuro say goodbye to Asagiri, either. He does, however, give their relationship closure, first by warning her of what will happen should they meet again, then by giving her a gentle nudge to pass on.

Jinkuro seems awfully noble for a known criminal. First he expresses his awe at Yukinojo’s talent, then expresses sorrow that he’ll have to kill him, then he tops it off with justifying murdering him as a means of defense….wait a minute, did Momohime somehow re-possess her body in the midst of battle?

Ah, there’s the Jinkuro we know and love. He seems more mildly irritated that Yukinojo isn’t dead yet than genuinely impressed. While he still compliments Yukinojo’s prowess, it’s killed pretty quickly by his follow-up statement.

Is that Jinkuro being chivalrous?

Nope, he’s misogynist. And pretty impatient what with wanting to get the killing of Yukinojo out of the way.

Ignition Momohime is not impressed by Ignition Jinkuro’s attempt at chivalry.

And Aksys Momohime just isn’t having any of it. Where before she was stuttering and bewildered at the hopeless state she was in, here she lets her anger out and her royal status shine, assertively tearing down Jinkuro’s accusations limb from limb. Just a little later, Momohime will force Jinkuro’s soul out of her body, impressing him and giving him second thoughts on his initial view of her as a weak girl, but it’s clear that Momohime putting her foot down here is really the spark that lit the powder keg.

Ignition Yukinojo gives a straightforward explanation (one I was able to “get” more than Aksys’s translation) but Aksys Yukinojo provides the extra juicy details. Momohime’s sister is also mentioned for the first time, this time as Yukinojo’s initial choice for a bride before being rejected by her, making her mention of the fact that she was killed less out of the blue.

Similar to the above, but this gives a different spin on Yukinojo’s character. While in the Ignition translation, Yukinojo simply explains the shogun commanded the plan to be carried out, in the Aksys translation, Yukinojo admits it to be his fault regardless, playing more into the guilt he expresses at how Momohime’s father and sister met their ends.

(Likely to be continued.)
Tags: muramasa
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