In the meantime, it seems like a good time to talk about Type-0 some more!
Part 3: The Content
I keep forgetting that people like to know what things are about. I guess after having worked on it for so long, it's hard to imaging anyone not knowing, and besides, anyone who was going to play the game was going to find out anyway, and I don't know if telling people what it's about will change the minds of those who weren't going to. But it's interesting, so let's go ahead.
First, I think we need to know the setting. Final Fantasy Type-0 takes place in the world of Orience, which is divided into four crystal-states, each ruled by (you guessed it) a Crystal. We really liked this for two reasons: first, it hails back to the earlier Final Fantasy games (and our favorite, Final Fantasy IX), where there was always a search for the four elemental crystals. And second, this time the Crystals were also based on what Wikipedia calls the Four Symbols, known in Japan as the Shijin, or those four major gods from Chinese mythology that keep showing up in anime. It brought us back to our Fushigi Yuugi days (and in fact, there is a chocobo named Chichiri; he dies, like everyone else), which was extra magical because the Fushigi Yuugi novels were our first foray into the world of Japanese-English translation.
So you have four crystal-states: the Dominion of Rubrum (with the Vermilion Bird Crystal), the Kingdom of Concordia (Azure Dragon Crystal), the Alliance of Lorica (Black Beast Crystal), and the Empire of Milites (White Tiger Crystal). Anybody who's familiar with the rules of console RPGs will spot right away that the antagonist of this story is Milites. (Empires are evil, kingdoms are good, but Concordia isn't the good guys.) The heroes of our story live in Rubrum, where they are blessed through the power of the Vermilion Bird Crystal with the ability to use magic. People with strong magic powers go to Akademeia, where they train as cadets to hopefully one day become Agito, the legendary savior of the world. And the best of the best cadets are Class Zero, an elite force trained by Dr. Arecia al...something. I don't remember her last name. (You might be surprised to know how often we refer to glossaries, even when translating manga (in which case "glossary" means "the last volume we translated").
But nobody trusts Class Zero because they don't trust Arecia, so the other members of the Dominion government assigned two new members to Class Zero, Rem and Machina, to keep an eye on them. While all this is going on, the Empire is running around wreaking havoc on the world, and the game starts when they make it all the way to the heart of Rubrum in an attempt to steal the Vermilion Bird Crystal as part of their attempt to take over the world. And there you have it. Class Zero fights them off, and everything starts to unfold from there.
Most of the story is moved forward by Machina, also known as Stupid Jerkface. Okay, so maybe he's not necessarily a jerkface, per se, but he makes bad decisions. Very bad decisions. Very, very bad decisions. And everyone is all like, "Oh, poor Machina. He's just so nice, it makes him make bad decisions." And we're like, "No! He is not nice! He's stupid and selfish and acting out of fear!" Fortunately, one person realizes (late in the game) that Machina is an idiot, and that's Machina. But at least someone acknowledges it.
Interestingly (at least to us, because we're obsessed with voice actors), Machina is played by Hiroshi Kamiya. When we found that out, we were like, "Oh, he's that guy that's in some stuff." We hadn't really heard much of him, so we didn't have an opinion of him one way or another. Then we showed up in like EVERYTHING we watched, as someone who really could stand to have his head stepped on (by a Gundam). Machina of course was included in this description of his characters. And then he was Yato, and now here we are (whatever that means).
Oh right. Another important aspect of Orience is that whenever somebody dies, the Crystal erases that person from everybody's memories. So whenever characters remember the dead, they tend to be more puzzled than sad. Only then a lot of the time they start to feel bad that they don't feel sad, and it just gets all kinds of complicated.
Anyway, we did spend a lot of time with these characters, so that may or may not be why we feel such a strong attachment to all of the voice actors in the game...although a big part of that might have something to do with most of them also being in Kingdom Hearts. For example, Eight is voiced by Miyu Irino (Sora), Izana is Keiji Fujiwara (Axel), and Lean Joker is Kouki Uchiyama (Roxas). Oh right, and most of Class Zero are named after cards. There was some discussion over whether or not we should change the spelling of Ace's name, because apparently nobody calls anybody "ace" sincerely anymore, so therefore people will laugh at the constant insult. We thought it wouldn't be any different than us joking about keeping Hope alive when we were playing Final Fantasy XIII. ("Whatever you do, don't lose Hope!" Bwahahaha.)
Speaking of Ace! He is played by our beloved Yuuki Kaji! Eeeeeeee! ...But strangely enough, we didn't really care about Ace that much. That might be because, of the fourteen members of Class Zero, Ace was one of the two that mostly the other translator worked with. It wasn't until later (around the time the third Koe no Ouji-sama CD came out) that we fell in love with Kaji-kun.
And speaking of the characters we didn't spend much time with. The other one was Nine, and I'm bringing him up as a way to illustrate how Artistic Differences came into play. Nine is hilarious, which is only to be expected, because he's played by Daisuke Ono. Ono-san also played Shizuo Heiwajima, who may or may not have been the inspiration for his super-cliched Japanese hoodlum persona. Everything he said had one or more of "aa?" "oi!" or "kora!" (generally translated as "huh?" "hey!" and "hey!", respectively (that's not a typo; oi and kora are both typically translated as "hey")), and we loved it. We did get to translate some of Nine's lines, so before things were finalized, we translated his interjections as "ah?" (it just sounds more hoodlum to us than "huh?"), "yo!" (it's so perfect because it's oi backwards), and "punk!" Even we were surprised at how well it worked every single time. And it was hilarious, as we're sure it was meant to be.
However, the other translator on the team and the mentor didn't think it would go over so well. They decided to scrap the entire thing and...just have him swear a lot? we think? They may be right; it might not be such a good thing for North American audiences. Athena and I will be the first to admit that we have unusual tastes. So they did it differently, and from then on, if Nine had lines in a section we translated, we'd tell the other translator so he could go over them. That being the case, we never really found out how that ended up.
...By which I mean, we never really knew what Nine's middle stage was like. We saw what happened to him after the final editor got to him. The final editor is more of a literalist when it comes to translation, so all of Nine's interjections were reinserted, but not exactly as we had them. We like to think it's just because they forgot what we had it as, but more likely it's because "punk" is too risky a liberty. And so in the final version (at least in the recorded lines; we think the written lines may have all been tweaked after they decided they were going to release the game in English after all), Nine says "huh?" for "aa?", "hey!" for "oi!", and "yo!" for "kora!" (If you ever find yourself playing the game, try switching in "punk" for "yo." It's awesome. Or maybe you'll like the other way better.)
Anyway, we had a lot of fun with the characters we did work with. I think Jack (played by Kenichi Suzumura (Demyx)) was the most fun to translate. Cinque was really fun, too. She was one of three characters for whom we turned to our sister Celeste for inspiration on how to write her speech pattern. The other two were Cater and Sice. They were all different aspects of Celeste. Cinque was for when Celeste was being the typical blonde airhead, Cater was normal Celeste, and Sice was mean Celeste. Interestingly, there is a character named Hoshihime in the Japanese version whose name eventually ended up as Celestia for the English version. But Celeste doesn't talk fancy like she does, so we didn't use our sister as inspiration on that one.
And this has nothing to do with translation, but if you can find a picture of Qator, do it. His shoulder pads cracked us up every time, because he's so tall, and they could totally slice somebody's face off if he wasn't careful! Like somebody walks up behind him as he turned around, and they're so short (because he's so tall), that the shoulder pads go "slice!" and the other person's all, "Aaaaaaaaaaugh!" and Qator's all, "...Sorry." Apparently we have a sadistic streak.
Anyway, we hinted at it with the chocobo thing, but there's a lot of death and destruction in this game. Like a lot. And yet, we have a hard time thinking of it as a depressing game. We have an LJ post somewhere where I talk about how we were feeling bad about something, and then we watched a DVD of the opening movie of Type-0 and somehow it made us feel so much better about life. I think that, even with everything that happens in the game, it still has this core hope that shines through. Maybe it's in one of the lines we kept seeing associated with it: "You can't choose how you're born, but you can choose how you live, and how you die."
Today I'm thankful for finally getting to tell people about Qator's shoulder pads (I guess epaulet is the more accurate term? I don't know; I'd have to look up a picture), having a lovely lazy Saturday, fond remembrances of translating Type-0, having delicious Palmer's chocolate eggs, and it being just about time for the general women's conference of the LDS church.