Thursday, December 24, 2015

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 - A Dichotomy of Dialogue

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 was a surprise hit of 2015 for me. Despite carrying the Revelations subtitle, it did not have very much in common with the first game - the "Revelations" subset of Resident Evil games seems to be an attempt to create entries in the series using a smaller budget, allowing Capcom to experiment with new game mechanics that may seem out of place in the newer, action packed titles. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Revelations 2 is its absolutely absurd dialogue, particularly from the character of Moira Burton, who has the honor of gracing us with the term "moist barrel of fucks," which certainly doesn't sound like something a normal human being would say. The Resident Evil series is known for its cheesy dialogue, and it seems like they became totally self aware of that fact in this entry, writing ridiculous lines for the characters on purpose and frequently calling back to the "classic" bad dialogue of the original games. It's worth mentioning that Barry Burton, one of the supporting cast of the first Resident Evil game, was the source of a good portion of the game's infamously stilted dialogue, giving us now well known lines such as "I have THIS!" and "You were almost a Jill sandwich!" Barry returns as a protagonist in Revelations 2, and the writers are aware of his awkward infamy, frequently creating lines for his character to say that sound similarly ridiculous to the way he spoke in his first appearance.

Revelations 2 was released as a five part episodic game, and each episode was treated as an episode of a television series, complete with episode recaps and previews. I played each episode through twice as it released; once in English, and once in Japanese. I wanted to see whether or not the colorful dialogue was a localization choice or not, and, if not, what the original Japanese dialogue was like. Before I began, I did some research as to what language the script was written in first. Resident Resident Evil expert News Bot came to the rescue, claiming that "The Japanese script is the default canon in this series. It's usually written first but it was the opposite for REV2. Despite coming later, the Japanese script is still the 'canon' one." With this in mind, I delved into the two scripts, trying to keep an open mind as I did so.

Moira Burton: Perhaps one of the most vulgar characters written into a game... at least in the English version.
The results of my investigation showed similar scripts with very marked differences. While the English script took its ham and cheese and ran with it, the Japanese version took itself more seriously, much more like the original Resident Evil titles. Here are the posts I made while playing through the various scenarios.

Episode 1 - Claire

Alright, so I just finished Claire's scenario with Japanese voices on:

The dialogue has no ham or cheese at all. It takes itself very seriously and is presented as such. Moira is essentially a different character. She talks like a punk teenager, but not an overtly profane kind of punk teenager. No swearing. More stuff like "Aw, man" or "Come on". A couple of examples (paraphrased):

English: "What in the moist barrel of fucks-"

Japanese: *Distressed* "What is this place?"

English: "Fucking technology!"

Japanese: "Ugh, this is the worst."

English: "Fucking Barry! All he ever does is push back-"

Japanese: "Barry is the worst. He's always-"

Most of the F bombs are replaced with "saiyaku" which essentially means "the worst", or "this is the worst." The one line where she complains about Barry "granny swearing" is nonexistent, as far as I can tell. Nowhere near as vulgar. Claire is mostly the same, but sounds much more mature and motherly in Japanese, which is reflected mostly in her manner of speech but also in her voice itself.

Oh, the "Terr" doesn't have to end with "orist" line was definitely not in the JP dialogue. I don't remember what was said exactly. Something along the lines of "you can always count on us." Something you might hear in a real ad. No agency would EVER let the English one pass through, haha.

That said, I absolutely love Barry's English VA and dialogue, and I felt that Natalia's was great, too. I'm about to play through his segment in Japanese, so I'll give my impressions of that soon.

Episode 1 - Barry

Ok, finished Barry's scenario in Japanese. It is largely the same script with very few minor differences. The character's personalities are conveyed the same way, as well. Much less of a change coming from Claire's scenario. The "master of unlocking" callback to Resident Evil 1 is obviously missing, replaced with a generic "now we can get through" type of line. Two noticeable instances that stuck out to me:


Barry: What a pretty name.

Natalia: What's your name?

Barry: My name's Barry.

Natalia: Barry?

Barry: That's right, don't wear it out.


Barry: That's a nice name.

Natalia: What's your name?

Barry: My name's Barry.

Natalia: Barry?

Barry: Nice name, isn't it?

This came off as snarkier than his English dialogue. 

Another one that only makes sense if you've heard Japanese Moira:


Barry: Well, that was the really long way around...


Barry: That was a long way around. How terrible.

The "how terrible" he uses is the same "saiyaku" catchphrase Moira uses throughout her segment. The way it was translated conveys the sarcasm in his Japanese statement very well, but it was interesting to see that little nod to his daughter. I guess they didn't want sweet old Barry swearing up a storm. Another minor difference is that when Barry mentions Uroboros, Natalia doesn't screw up the name in the Japanese version. She sounds confused, but pronounces it correctly.

User Forneus claimed at this point that the "English dialogue seems like it has more personality. Moira sounds like a real person in English. Japanese version sounds stilted from those lines." 

I had this to say in return:

It may seem that way from looking at a script, but she is just as filled with personality in the Japanese version. There were a couple of instances where she seemed to show more emotion than the English Moira (like when you see the bodies hanging from hooks - she sounded genuinely disturbed here as opposed to moderately uncomfortable). You have to play it to see what I mean. Go ahead and try - the voice option is right there in the options menu! The main difference is in the lack of profanity. What they swap it with makes her seem not necessarily like a generic character, but more like... I dunno, a female version of Bill or Ted from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, but less dumb. That's probably a poor analogy, but she is very "teenager" in the Japanese script.

Moira's voice itself is much closer to her English counterpart than Claire's, however. Claire's Japanese voice is much more soothing, and sounds older. Not sure if I like it better or worse. It's a unique take on her character.

Episode 2 - Claire

One thing I noticed is that Pedro is (surprise) portrayed differently. He doesn't say "balls" (obviously, as that's not really a thing in Japanese) or swear, but rather has lines like "Oh man" or "This is bad". One line I remember is this:


Pedro: "Gabe abandoned us! What are we gonna do?"


Pedro: "Gabe still isn't here? Do you think he ran away!?"

He seemed more hesitant to jump to the conclusion that Gabe abandoned them in Japanese. 

Another example of how Moira is portrayed differently:


Moira: "Chill the fuck out!"


Moira: "Calm down! Don't give up yet!"

In English, she sounded frustrated and condescending, while in Japanese, she sounded frustrated, but then tried to calm Pedro down in a positive way.

The most stand-out change in the script came from Gabe.


Gabe: *Defiantly* "We're not a bunch of lab rats!"


Gabe: *Exasperated* "I feel like the main character in a Kafka story."

Kind of a random change to make...

Overall, Gabe is mostly the same, Claire is the same, Moira is very different, Pedro is kinda different. 

At this point, News Bot asked: "Have you looked at Claire's absurd dialogue upon meeting Natalia? It's completely out of character. Maternal character with lots of experience with children suddenly forgets how to interact with children."

My response: I just finished Claire's scenario, and that segment was the same in Japanese. So her out of character behavior is the fault of the script writers, not the translation. She didn't sound as forceful in Japanese, and showed more concern than demand. That part in particular reminded me more of somebody's mom asking them tons of questions before they leave the house. "Do you have a coat? Do you have gloves? Where are you going? When will you be back? When-" etc. Nagging mom stuff. But, that also applies to how her Japanese voice actress portrays her as a whole.

Episode 2 - Barry

Played through Barry's scenario in Japanese. There was literally no difference other than one line spoken by the monster stalking you:


Monster: "You are false..."


Monster: "I will not forgive you."

Other than that it was exactly the same, almost word for word.

Episode 3 - Claire

Playing through in Japanese had the least amount of notable differences in any Claire scenario yet. I can't think of a single line worth noting. Besides the usual Moira not swearing, of course.

I stopped comparing the two scripts here, as life obligations got in the way and the differences in dialogue became less and less apparent with each entry. It was certainly interesting to see how the Japanese script took itself more seriously, as the English dialogue has since become well known for being over the top. Personally, I feel like the English cheese has its place, and I don't mind it so much in a game like Resident Evil, but if I had to choose, the Japanese script is the more preferable of the two. It feels authentic and natural, like it's going for a genuine horror vibe, and it doesn't feel contrived like you might expect. I actually got a much greater RE1/2/3 vibe from the Japanese script, even though the original games had cheese in their translations, too. Probably because the original games were all taking themselves seriously, and this translation goes all out and is pretty unapologetic in its... er, "creative" liberties that it takes. But it's not like they're worlds apart, either, aside from Moira's personality shift.

Perhaps I'll give the second half a game another run through, some day, and take more notes on the differences that the script shows between the two languages. As it stands, I feel like the notes I took give us a pretty good idea of what both scripts are like.

1 comment:

  1. thanks. i hate english locazation. that's why i played japanese version it was much better.