Localization Editor Highlights Persona 5's Translation Problems Through a Funky-Fresh Website

What, specifically, is wrong with Persona 5's translation? One localization editor is ready to take you to school.

News by Nadia Oxford, .

Persona 5 has received many deserved accolades, but many players believe it falls short in one very important category: Its translation and localization.

Persona 5 Has Ties to Literary History

Before Persona 5's Phantom Thieves, there was Arsène Lupin.

Put simply, games are translated and localized so that audiences outside the game's country of birth can follow the story and characters. Translating a game is a huge responsibility, especially for an RPG with Persona's pedigree. People have a much harder time connecting to a cast that talks a lot of nonsense. Nobody (who's reasonable) expects perfection from localizers, but Persona 5's script is under fire for numerous translation errors, and dialogue that's riddled with plain ol' jank.

Jack Frost still works "Hee-ho!" into his sentences, so that's something.

What, specifically, are the problems? Why are they problems? How can they be fixed? One localization editor and Persona fan, Connor Krammer, put together a wonderfully stylish website that highlights specific moments where Persona 5 goes off the rails. He dissects the troubled sentences, offers possible reasons why they turned out so weird, and suggests replacements.

Krammer makes it clear he's a big fan of Persona 5, and that he understands localizing the game's reams of text is a huge job. But I think we can all agree that "Me close?" is not an acceptable way to ask another character's permission to huddle closer together. Nor should a game based around Japanese culture switch between honorifics willy-nilly, e.g. use "-senpai" and "Mr" in the same sentence.

On the plus side, smoothing out rough text isn't a herculean undertaking. Hopefully Atlus will offer a patch soon.

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Comments 12

  • Avatar for Lonecow #1 Lonecow 9 months ago
    Maybe I just got used to the errors but they seemed to get better as the game progressed. It is still shocking how many blunders there are.

    I didn't read all the website, so maybe they address this but I feel like the biggest misstep was not coming up with a different phrase than "steal their heart". Maybe what they are doing relates to how the Japanese see people's heart, but really it should have been "desire" or "ambition".

    Every time it sounds like they are going to make the person fall in love with them.

    It's such a key part of the game you would think they would have come up with a better phrase that makes sense and doesn't sound quite so corny.
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  • Avatar for Tetragrammaton #2 Tetragrammaton 9 months ago
    Wouldn't hold my breath on a text patch. Every MegaTen game since Devil Survivor Overclocked has left untranslated Japanese text in the game and to this day they remain unfixed. The issues in P5 are not as obviously bad, so Atlus is unlikely to feel the need for a final post-release editing pass.

    I'd love to be proven wrong. :/
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  • Avatar for apoc_reg #3 apoc_reg 9 months ago
    The website and overall attack seems a bit to me
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  • Avatar for Vaporeon #4 Vaporeon 9 months ago
    @nimzy Agreed! I've been playing with JPN voices, but had to switch to ENG for awhile because the palace sounds were glitchy. Couldn't stand how Ann pronounced Kitagawa-kun with an emphasis on the TA. And how stiff Yusuke's pronunciation of Takamaki-san comes off. Don't they know most US gamers are avid anime fans? I don't recall any cringe-worthy pronunciations from Persona 3 and 4, but maybe I'm just overly sensitive to the ENG voices now that I have the JPN audio option, heh.
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  • Avatar for Namevah #5 Namevah 9 months ago
    @lonecow "Steal your heart" rarely bothered me because they're forcing changes of heart (and "change your heart" doesn't fit with the thief angle). "Steal your desire/ambition" sounds more like they're going for the mental shutdown thing the characters try to avoid, too. There might be a better phrase, but I understand Atlus' reasoning for going with that.
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  • Avatar for Lonecow #6 Lonecow 9 months ago
    @Namevah Or "Steal your Crimes" "Steal your Secrets" I'm sure they could have come up with something better if they tried.

    I'm sorry I just don't see how Heart fits into it at all. Might as well just said, "Steal your Hearts, Stars, Clovers, Diamonds and Blue Moons." It's just a meaningless word in the context it is used.
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  • Avatar for mganai #7 mganai 9 months ago
    Unless they somehow managed to get the VAs back in the studio, voiced lines would be out of the question.
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  • Avatar for Namevah #8 Namevah 9 months ago
    @lonecow Heart is more symbolic (they're stealing the object at the center of the person's heart, you could say), but it sounds like you'd prefer a more literal phrasing.
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  • Avatar for Lonecow #9 Lonecow 9 months ago
    @Namevah You can make excuses for it all you want, but I judge game dialogue by how embarrassed I would be for a non-gamer to overhear it. Persona is a series I'm proud of saying I'm a fan of, but when I hear them say "Let's steal his heart" I cringe and expect my wife to make a mocking comment about it from the other room.

    I don't think it is unreasonable to expect better writing from games we consider the cream of the crop, which is usually where Persona sits.

    If I was playing Hyperdimension Neptunia I would fully expect and welcome the ridicule. Not from Persona.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #10 TheWildCard 9 months ago
    @lonecow The "Steal Your Heart" thing sounds weird at first, but I like it. They are forcibly changing hearts after all. Or do you not like that phrasing either?
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  • Avatar for sleepiest #11 sleepiest 9 months ago
    @Vaporeon "Don't they know most US gamers are avid anime fans?" I don't know that they read the site, haha.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #12 brionfoulke91 9 months ago
    @lonecow I'm not gonna make excuses, but I gotta disagree on "steal their heart." I think it was actually a good choice. I think it conveys their intention very well, and just plain sounds good.
    But that's just me.

    Also I kinda resent the idea of expecting ridicule for enjoying Hyperdimension Neptunia, which is actually an okay game. Sure I don't expect as good a localization for it (and ironically it might actually have a better localization than Persona 5!) But no one should expect ridicule for any game preferences.
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