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[EDITORIAL] Udon Entertainment’s Kiseki Series “The Characters” and “The Illustration” Artbooks

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I apologize in advance for the quality of my photos. Cell phone camera and all.

I was eager to pick up these books to support a good opportunity of something, even if it’s a little questionable choice to release them to English speaking fans when only 1/5th of the games featured in them has been released- and major spoilers for future games of the series are contained within the books. I was eager to be able to sit down and gush about the books all over again, but I didn’t expect to find some of the things that I came across when I got into my Amazon box.

With the Japanese book on the left, you can see its dustjacket.

With the Japanese book on the left, you can see its dustjacket.

Each book was wrapped in plastic wrap to protect it, so that was lovely… but the first thing I noticed when I pulled them out is that they didn’t have the smooth printed dust jackets that you will find on the Japanese versions. After handling the books, in fact, I think they feel of lower quality in their bindings. The spine feels way more fragile in the Udon books than the original Japanese Softbank books.

The Japanese book is on the bottom- you can clearly see a binding difference.

The Japanese book is on the bottom- you can clearly see a binding difference.

Print-wise, they’re beautiful books. The colors are as bright and vibrant as in the original Japanese, and the images are just as crisp. The individual pages are slick and have a good texture to them. There are no complaints about them. I still only have my issue with the binding. I feel like I can’t open the book all the way to admire even to the inner points of the images without damaging the spine, as I mentioned before.

Japanese book on the right. The only reason the colors are lighter on the left is because of my desk lamp.

Japanese book on the right. The only reason the colors are lighter on the left is because of my desk lamp.

If these books were there for the art, then that would be it. It’s a done deal, and they’d be a decent alternative to the Japanese versions.

However, it is unfortunate to say that this is where my praise ends on these.

The Legend of Heroes The Illustrations does not have this issue, as the book has a majority of artwork.

This will focus mostly on the translations found within The Characters artbook.

I will be sure to mark spoilers, since there will be quite a few in here.

The translation has signs of laziness and a severe lack of proofreading throughout it. I find myself wondering if Udon even had an editor look over the book after it was complete. Most of these nitpicks are just that- nitpicks, but in the end, as the Kiseki series is extremely context reliant on its terminology, it may have done them a favor to have someone familiar with the games working on the books. Regardless, it’s extremely obvious that this was not the case in this release.

For the most part, things with FC are decent. There are some names in FC that were not following the standards set forth by XSEED. I’m not seeing any glaring errors in the translation specifically, thankfully. Some names like Ein Selnate, the heroine of the Carnelia books is now Ayn Sernate (and “Carnelian” – despite XSEED’s release of the Carnelia books) and Auslese has become Ausleze.

One of the big glaring errors though is definitely in spoiler territory, so please use the spoiler cut for the example. (Spoilers from SC and 3rd.)

[spoiler]
What was originally listed in the books as 七曜教会 星杯騎士団 has been translated to ‘Septium Church Dominion.’ (‘Septium’? Another term that’s different from XSEED, as I believe they were using ‘Septian’.) There’s no mention of the actual name of this organization, known as the Grals Ritter, at any point in the book.

Now, this tells me for sure that they were definitely getting terminology somewhere, as the Dominion is never called ‘Dominion’ in katakana. It’s usually shown as 守護騎士 when it comes into place. Funny enough, Kevin’s description from Ao no Kiseki in the book actually uses 守護騎士 in it. –otherwise, that’s one of the few usages of the term that would be Dominion anywhere in the book.

This is a pretty strong error as they are using one term to name an entire organization, when the term is, in fact, actually a name of rank within said organization.

Which also leads to another interesting note about the blurb of text for Kevin- which is also proof that they are unaware of the games.

His blurb, in Japanese, reads- 千の守手に込められた 守護騎士の決意と覚悟, but has since been translated to “The conviction and dedication of a protective knight with tons of experience.” – this is glaringly wrong, as the original phrase is using ‘Sen no Mamorite’ which is Kevin’s new codename, or alias. The ‘tons of experience’ simply misses the meaning of the line entirely, as it was never saying that in the first place.[/spoiler]

Again, yes, it is nitpicky- but this is a game series with a lot of key information, which will leave players confused when they find these revelations come the later games (if we get them) and find that they are, in fact, incorrect.

There is never any mention of the Crossbell Guardian Force in the book- in fact, they are now lumped in with the rest of the Crossbell Police Force Department.

Of course, with this I found myself distracted from the original trilogy details, and save for some issues, there are some things to nitpick over.

What I do not understand, however, is the lack of editing found throughout the entirety of this book. Terms and names that are the same are not spelled the same later on in the book. Organization comments a character earlier are incorrect at first, then correct later. This makes the book feel like, after a certain point, it was slapped together in a rushed attempt to push it out before XSEED’s releases of Trails in the Sky FC and SC went out on Steam this year.

One such example would be both of the Vanders: Muller and Zex Vander. Or Vander and Vandarl as written later in the book.

Vander and Vandarl. Not really in the same family anymore?

Vander and Vandarl. Not really in the same family anymore?

In the Zero and Ao no Kiseki section, there are many more inconsistencies. Lloyd Bannings is referred to as belonging to the “Special Support Section Factory” – though none of the other members are given this prestigious distinction. Even when Lloyd is brought up again for the Ys vs Sora no Kiseki section, they have his information correct.

Special Support Section "Factory"?

Special Support Section “Factory”?

Another case of this inconsistency is Randy Orlando being as it is, then Shirley and Sigmund with the name ‘Orland.’ There’s also the fact that they refer to the jaegars in the book as ‘Hunting Party’ as a proper term, it seems.

I am capable of going through the book to find more and more of these, but at this point, it’s probably just going to get repetitive. I will, at least, show the last two that really made me wonder what was up with the people working on this.

Arianrhod with her name being spelled as Alyanrhode, is the first. She is named after a real mythological character- Arianrhod is a part of Welsh mythology in the Mabinogi. Even performing searches for the name written out as it is in katakana (arianrod), will bring up the name in Google.

Alyanrhode? Or Arianrhod?

Alyanrhode? Or Arianrhod?

Of course, a good argument is looking at the way Falcom spells the names of their characters, such as Drothy and Blblanc (which is also kept in the book, as well)- but looking at the Ao no Kiseki website shows that their spelling of Arianrhod’s name is consistent with the Welsh spelling.

And last but not least is probably the one that caused the most joking and humor on twitter earlier tonight after I posted the photo of it earlier- and it was the name of Zane’s martial art (泰斗流) ended up being translated as Clam Dip Flow. While “Clam” is a typo from “Calm” – I’m not sure there’s much better ‘flow’ in the correction version.

"Clam Dip Flow!"

“Clam Dip Flow!”

There are just no words, but it’s a good way to end off at least.

In the end, with these books, they are pretty books, I’ll give Udon that. What I don’t know about is the durability of the books. I suspect that I will be returning to my Japanese books more often since I think the spines can handle the regular abuse they get from being used as reference for one thing or another.

Last, but not least, I will admit that the poor editing and the mistranslations that are found throughout the Characters Book really bother me and have been a disappointment. I don’t like doing point scales, but I’d almost say that I’m glad to get these to support Udon’s endeavor, but they were really expensive for what I got- especially as the Japanese books have the same price point. I’m flinching at my wallet and wishing that I had chosen to not buy them at the same time, and wait to buy one and then the other after another paycheck or two.

I don’t like saying that I’m going through “buyers remorse” over a Falcom product, but unfortunately, I am at this point. It’s not like I wouldn’t buy them eventually, it’s just that I had to buy them together.

Also, we apparently have Lecter Arandor now. Yet another new spelling, I guess.

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4 comments

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  1. kingtacchan

    Thanks for the editorial! I was planning to get a copy of each books to show my support of my favorite games, but I think I’ll have to postpone it to wait if they will ever create revised editions…
    Just curious, did you order Udon’s Ys the Artbook too? I am waiting for my copy but I would certainly be upset if there were mistakes like those. Thank you.

    1. Kirsten Miller

      I haven’t ordered it yet, but I’ve heard that Udon has consulted XSEED Games to make sure terms and names line up to what was used in the games.

  2. Kernviter

    Appreciate the frank editorial! My question is as a non-Japanese speaker that has only played FC, but has become enamored with the Kiseki series as much (if not more) for the world building aspects as much as the plot (and plot twists) and has essentially been getting by with sporadic forum posts (thanks so much for all the spoilers on the Marvelous Forums, literally has been making my month), will this sate my appetite for more information and spoilers, shoddy translations or not? I have a feeling that I’m not the only one in this position.

    1. Yotaka

      Don’t know if you’ll see this but when I get my hands on a copy I’m planning on doing a more in-depth analysis of the translation changes on the forum in the topic I created (assuming I haven’t already seen all the important stuff here). You can take a peek at it right now and the amount of spoil-tagged stuff should give you an idea how much potential there is. There’s not a lot of text so the book will raise more questions than it answers if you’re looking at it from an FC-only perspective but that’s what the ‘ask us’ topic is for.

      Pity UDON couldn’t have run this by a few fans first, or Falcom. I’m pretty certain they wouldn’t have approved of ‘Liscia’.

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