Hello everyone! First up, NamDai decided to release a new trailer for Ace Combat 7 at Gamescom. There's little new material in it, but it still provides some food for thought. We're not the kind of blog that does gameplay, plot, or visual analysis, but there's a few things about the localization that deserve clarification and discussion.
"Spare 8! Do not engage the enemy!"
A fine line that lost a bit of data in English. In the Japanese, they forbid Spare 8 from getting into a dogfight with the Flanker, rather than exhorting him not to engage. The result for Spare 8 is the same, but the nuance is different, since it implies that the reason AWACS doesn't want the Super Bug to engage is because the "experimental" Flanker is especially dangerous in a knife fight, and not for some other reason.
"…clearly an illegal and unforgivable violation of our nation's sovereignty."
Maybe there just wasn't enough space to put the whole line in subtitles, but that entire clause is gone. Japanese Cosette simply says that "the great power Osea encroaches on us from overseas, building a titanic orbital elevator within our sovereign territory." I guess we'll see whether it's a trailer-specific quirk or whether the localization team was being bombastic again.
"Concentrate on him! Shoot him down!"
-was in Japanese "Get that guy! We can turn it around if we get that one plane!"
The English lines in this trailer aren't so bad, but they do seem to diverge in ways which are at least mildly important. So long as the final product is good, I think us fans can forgive a few liberties beyond what's needed for good flow here and there, but I hope they're being careful. As you'll see, translating Sunao Katabuchi's work isn't something to be taken lightly.
Sunao Katabuchi recently wrote and directed a wonderful film called In This Corner of the World. It's about the life of a young, newly wedded woman named Suzu Hojo (nee. Urano) in the town of Kure - a major Japanese military port in the Hiroshima prefecture - during the final days of World War Two. It's a simple story of a woman and her extended family told as realistically as possible, with no desire to shock or impress. No more, no less.
With realism as its main goal, it's also an honest examination of the effects the war had on the daily lives and attitudes of the people who lived then. Suzu takes a lot of pride in continuing to live her life as the American bombing campaign continues, seeing the surrender as "giving in to violence," even as the movie makes clear that the war is hopeless and brings only needless suffering. Earlier, Suzu takes cover with her father-in-law Entaro and her young niece Harumi during an American carrier strike against ships in the harbor. Entaro points to an N1K-J Shiden dogfighting an American plane, and expresses his pride in having worked to increase the output of the Nakajima Homare engine powering it to 2000hp. Young Harumi struggles to scream over the engine noise and explosions, "what about the American engines?" The noise consumes her question.
As you might guess, there's a certain thematic through-line between In This Corner of the World and Ace Combat 04, which IGN JP asked Katabuchi about in a November 2016 interview:
– What were the circumstances that led you to be involved with the Ace Combat series?
The people in Namco’s Ace Combat team knew Eiko Tanaka (representative of Studio 4ºC, which produced Princess Arete), and this led to talk of whether or not to have them make the in-game images. When Tanaka heard it was a fighter game, he decided to come and talk with them together, and I get the sense that's where they hammered things out. It was either after the first screening or when we were dubbing Arete, but the very next day I was off to go see a Japanese Navy airstrip in Yokosuka.
– I guess that was your disposition for painstaking research at play. What kind of tone does Ace Combat 04: Shattered Sky [sic] (released in 2001) have, being made in that manner?
Ace Combat 04 is a close up of an ace pilot in the jet age. I knew I wanted to make a story like those you find in military aviation history, so following from that he’d have to be like this, and like that, and when it all came together I figured I could make him the so-called “final boss.” And yet, I wanted to make him a sympathetic person in the highest degree. That’s not really something done in games. But it’s war, after all. Isn’t it a good thing for there to be life in the opponent you’re taking down, and to make the moment when you defeat the strongest foe a sad one for the player? That’s how I thought of it.
– It felt very fresh at the time.
Maybe it’s because I did it without knowing anything about games. Is it really okay to have an enemy pilot, create a neighborhood, have a young boy and girl protagonist become involved, and then have this person appear as the last boss to be taken out? I was torn, but I decided it’d be for the best. Hayao Miyazaki often draws people who fly, but Ace Combat 04 had a ground level perspective: a boy who lost his family when a destroyed plane crashed into his house. This boy can only look up at the sky. Suzu doesn’t fly herself in In This Corner of the World either. She’s the kind of person who doesn’t even fly in dreams or fantasies. The sky above her is where horrors come from. Maybe there’s a direct line from Ace Combat to this depiction. I think people who play Ace Combat will understand.