Translation FAQ

We receive many inquiries from people interested in how Cherry Tree High Comedy Club (CTHCC) was localized and so we have gathered the following handy, dandy FAQ to the main points of the translation!

 

Q. What was the translation approach?

Q. Did the Tezuka Productions work on the localization?

Q. What changes were made? How close is it to the Japanese?

Q. What was the original Japanese title for the game and why did you change it?

Q: Why / how did you change the character names?

Q. What are the original character names and their English equivalents?

Q: How did you explain elements like there being a Japanese shrine and castle in a US setting?

Q. Please give an example of how the humor was localized.

Q. I have a question about the CTHCC translation – where can I ask?
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Q. What was the translation approach?

We made a deliberate decision to follow the approach of what is widely perceived as the ‘best in class’ game localizations: the Phoenix Wright / Ace Attorney series.

The Ace Attorney series titles are ‘Westernized’ rather than straight translated. So, just as Ace Attorney Westernized character names and transplanted the game from ‘city somewhere in Japan’ to Los Angeles, CTHCC character names were Westernized and the setting changed from ‘town somewhere in Japan’ to ‘town somewhere in the USA’.

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Q. Did the Tezuka Productions work on the localization?

Yes, indeed. Nyu Media staff have a LOT of translation experience , but there was too much text in Cherry Tree High Comedy Club for our small team to handle and stay on schedule. We were fortunate enough to be able to engage the very capable Tezuka Productions, who worked on translations of the Phoenix Wright / Ace Attorney series and were able to perfectly match the tone of the game and our translation direction.

The various sections of the script (NPC, character scenarios, system messages, etc.) files were divided between Nyu Media and Tezuka Productions; we both finished our respective sections, then Tezuka Productions made an editing pass over the entirety of the dialogue.

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Q. What changes were made? How close is it to the Japanese?

Tweaks were made to make the English flow, but we worked hard to maintain consistency with the Japanese dialogue, in meaning and especially the tone. Tone is particularly important in CTHCC not only because of the comedic nature of the game, but there is pathos in each of the character’s storylines – usually some kind of sadness they carry that is explored and resolved.

In Japanese, the game is light-hearted and fun along the way, with some sad or reflective beats and then the emotional pay-offs come when the characters are recruited. We believe we’ve done a good job of preserving these in the English localization.

The dialogue itself is faithful to the Japanese and there were no changes to the plots or story. The characterizations are the same as the Japanese, even for the Merry family who were Canadian (and therefore foreigners) in the Japanese version, but changed to Swedish in the English version – culturally they are Swedish, but they still speak with accents and have the same personalities traits as their Japanese counterparts.

The only in-game graphics that were changed were shop signs and one of the conversation topic icons: the ‘History’ topic was a spinning top, which is iconic for traditional culture in Japan, but means little overseas; this was replaced with a scroll for the regular dialogue menus.

By far, the biggest changes were 1) the overall setting and, for consistency’s sake, the character names, food names, etc. and 2) the humor only where the Japanese humor would have been awkward or simply not worked well in English.

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Q. What was the original Japanese title for the game and why did you change it?

 The original Japanese title is 漫研 (“manken”, also まんけん in hiragana), which is a contraction of 漫才研究部 (“manzai kenkyuubu”) and which loosely translates as “comedy research club”. It’s an unusual combination of kanji and most Japanese people 1) wouldn’t understand it just from the phonetics and 2) if they saw the kanji would presume it is short for 漫画研究部 (“manga kenkyuubu”), which means “manga research club”. In fact, one of the characters in the game does just that.

 Thus, the game’s name was localized to ‘Cherry Tree High Comedy Club’, as it’s easier to understand and a bit more explanatory of the tone of the game than ‘Manken’.

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Q: Why / how did you alter the character names?

For why, see ‘What was the translation approach?’

The approach we took was to prioritize conveying the sense of the original name or else capturing something of the character’s personality, as opposed to simply coming up with a name that sounds similar to the Japanese pronunciation.

For example, Hibisu Mairu (ひびす まいる) is a pun that means ‘every day a smile’ & our equivalent was ‘Miley Verisse’.

Karasuyama Chitose (からすやま ちとせ with the surname meaning “Crow Mountain”) is an unusual and well-to-do-sounding Japanese name and our equivalent was Octavia Richmond.

All of the English character names have some rationale or basis such as above.

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Q. What are the original character names and their English equivalents?

Here is a list of all of the CTHCC character names (not all appear in-game) and their localized equivalents:

 

 [********* Minor Spoiler Alert *********]

 

Hibisu Mairu (日比須まいる)           Miley Verisse
Nanaho Hoemi (七穂歩恵美)           Harriet Sinclair
Nagiwa Yoriko (凪羽頼子)           Sara Croft
Inubou Amane (犬坊天音)           May Bonbon
Mitsuki Haru (美月ハル)           Cindy Smith
Ravian Merii (ラヴィアンメリー)           Vivian Bergman
Hanatsuki Yoshiki (花形良基)           Tyler Perez
Kamikata Shinnosuke (守方紳之介)           Curtis Campbell
Karasuyama Chitose (烏山千歳)           Octavia Richmond
Fukumi Kusuko (福見九州子)           Elise Faircloth
Kusunoki Kaoruko (楠木薫子)           Dina Delaney
Tobita Tamae (飛田給)           Rebecca Ward
Inagi Takashi (稲城孝司)           Mikey Pebalz
Marian Merii (マリアンメリー)           Marion Bergman
Manyutei Rakutarou (漫遊亭楽太郎)           Stan the Comedy Man / real name: Clarence Campbell
Gengorou (ゲンゴロー)           Roland

 

 [********* Minor Spoiler Over *********]

 

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Q: How did you explain elements like there being a Japanese shrine and castle in a US setting?

With very few exceptions, all uniquely Japanese elements have plausible context / explanations or make sense given the localization. This includes elements such as the timing of the school break, the presence of a Japanese shrine and shrine and castle, etc.

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Q. Please give an example of how the humor was localized.

 In every case, the priority was made to preserve the original Japanese joke unless it did not or could not be made to work in English. For example, Miley referring to herself and Harriet as ‘Heroines of Justice!’ and punning between “Manken” as a Manga Club and as a Manzai Club were retained. Also retained were Japanese cultural references where we felt they would be recognized by most Western players, such as references to Phoenix Wright, Street Fighter and Death Note.

In areas where the Japanese humor did not work, we replaced it with humor that stayed close to the tone or sense of the original Japanese. In some cases, Western popular culture references were used, such as Star Wars, Batman, Monty Python, net memes (not many!), etc., but not to the point of becoming obnoxious or indulgent.

Here is an example of a cultural change:

In this scene, Miley & Harriet are in their room; the phone rings, Miley answers and ad libs some humor to the person on the other end:

Literal English Translation

Miley     Who’s there? Oh… it’s you.
Miley     It seems that the president wants to take us on.
He’s a fool…
Harriet  ?!
Miley     Yeah, I know. It’s just the kind of thing he’d come up with.
Miley     Okay, bye. La jodaso stiana.

 The above dialogue is in reference to a symptom of the fictional “High School 2nd Year Disease”, a Japan-only meme that originated from a radio show & explains why many high school kids of that age have over-inflated sense of self. (“La jodaso stiana” is a fictional sign-off code for people involved in the fake conspiracy implied by the above dialogue.)

Without any idea of the reference, this would be confusing to most non-Japanese players. In the localization, we retained the presidential level intrigue while shifting it to a video game reference:

 Localized English

Miley     Who’s there? Oh, it’s you.
Miley     The president was kidnapped, you say?
Harriet  ?!
Miley     Why yes, I believe I am a bad enough dude to rescue the president.
Miley     I’ll take care of it.

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Q. I have a question about the CTHCC translation – where can I ask?

 If you have any questions, or to discuss the above, please come post at the official translation thread at the Nyu Media Forum HERE.