By Bryan Smith on July 5, 2015 at 8:30pm
“Fire Emblem Fates” has been under some controversy recently for some unfortunately poor writing as seen by unofficial translators of the game. However, the content itself isn’t the topic of today’s conversation. No, it’s the way that people jumped on the translation without properly giving context to the whole dialogue.
Today’s moral is: Always make sure to check your facts before posting.
What am I talking about exactly? To try to put context to this, this involves the character Soleli, one of the support characters for the game.
Warning: Spoilers for “Fire Emblem Fates,” which isn’t out yet for NA/EU.
Trying not to spoil the game’s main plot, I’ll only mention the support dialogues between Soleil, Corrin (the male Avatar, like Robin was for “Awakening”), and Foleo. What caused this storm of anger was Corrin slipping a spell/powder into Soleil’s drink to make her see males as females. Without context, this seems pretty bad. Before we add context to this, let’s get this straight: drugging people without consent is bad. We at Player Theory do not condone any sort of drugging. A simple fix for this when the game gets translated for English is for Corrin to ask before slipping it into the drink. End of problem (hopefully).
However, that isn’t the only issue people are getting upset with (that everyone can agree on, anyways). There are those who see this as, I am quoting here by others who are accusing Nintendo and Intelligent Systems, a “gay conversion therapy.” You see; Soleil is quite attracted to appealing girls to the point of fainting. With Corrin slipping the spell and gaining the S support with Soleil, she falls in love with his male version. People think that with this support, Soleli is “being cured of her gay.” There are three problems with that. The first thing is that Soleil, at least with more professional translations, describes her as bisexual, where she is attracted to both male and female. Remember Foleo? Well this is what he looks like.
Foleo looks undeniably feminine and is male. Soleil finds out that Foleo is a male and she still finds him cute regardless of his sex. Secondly, she asked for help from Corrin to be around attractive women. Thirdly, and unfortunately, English translations, even by professionals, get lost if someone doesn’t exactly knows the meaning to certain words.
There is a reason why Nintendo, and other Japanese and foreign companies for that matter, tries to translate their own games. It’s because they known that there are connotations to words that seem weird to Americans but are culturally acceptable to Japanese, and vice versa. Americans see sudden increases to ages, as seen in “Bravely Default,” to make dialogues with older characters not so creepy. Another reason is that in Japanese, certain pronouns and wordings have different meanings in their own right, but when translated the words don’t exactly come out in their intended meanings. Some words don’t even have an English equivalent, such as Schadenfreude, which means pleasure in others' pain.
That leads me to an excellently written article by Destructoid user Charasu.. He expertly describes what went wrong when people tried to figure out the meanings of the dialogue between Corrin and Soleli.
In Japan, the phrase "I like you" is usually equated to a profession of love. The more bold phrases such as "Aishiteru" and "Daisuki" mean love, but are seen as rather bold unless already in a relationship. Hence, the term "Suki," or like, is used. Finding the exact meaning of these phrases depends on context, and thus can seem confusing to those who do not understand the culture. The "like a man" phrase also caused some confusion for Jed, as it seemingly implied that her attraction to Foleo is platonic. Soleil says that she likes Foleo, as a man, because of Foleo's insecurities due to people seeing him as being too feminine. This is more implied in this particular support than stated, with other supports expanding on this more, though Soleil is able to pick up on it. Charasu
Translations from Japan without the official context from Nintendo/Intelligence can be tricky to take in. We have to understand that there are different contexts that get lost in translation. Brandon Orselli of Niche Gamer also commented on this. He even provides a full translation of the dialogue that tries to add as much context as possible to the whole thing (though, again, Japanese to English is rather fickle, so take it with a grain of salt).
Now why are we, as in Charasu, Orselli, and me, bringing this up? Considering how faulty translations from people not from the company can get, this should be common knowledge that we might not exactly catch everything. People jumping to conclusions is what caused a backlash in the first place. Yes, while the whole slipping powders without consent thing is still bad, the “converting the gay” thing is rather out of line. Considering that she is all but confirmed to be bisexual (especially with evidence from Foleo and Soleil’s support conversations), her loving Corrin after the powder thing is understandable. Canonically, Soleil can only marry male supports, which makes any argument “she’s a lesbian” moot.
The reason why Charasu made the article was to add clarity to the previous misinformed article made on the same site. The writer, as I have stated before with translation goofs, wasn’t exactly clear on the context of the dialogue. He was simply misinformed and didn’t get the context that wasn’t conveyed from the original Japanese. Unfortunately, misinformation does color people’s perspectives poorly.
Some of the fires that spread the “controversy” started on 4chan and Tumblr. To avoid sending further hate and vitriol to these people, I won’t be linking posts to their blogs. If you are interested in details, see the articles I linked. Unlike Destructoid, which probably only posted it because of news and the like, these posters used the misinformation to spread the “gay conversion therapy” thing in a game that has nothing about it; rather hostilely at that too. Which, well, the usual result for 4chan and Tumblr followed- shit slinging and harassment. Some of them closed off their other media sites because of the backlash.
I hate to say it, but backlash like this comes from misinformation. People don’t take kindly when you claim something that isn’t true. I will still repeat that the powder thing in drink is bad, which a simple edit can fix, but there really isn’t much of a “gay for the cure” argument when there is strong evidence (or strong suggestions) of Soleil being bisexual. She strongly likes women and, as some dialogue suggests, prefers women, but can like men, as seen with Foleo.
Remember ladies and gents: Don’t go spreading something big if you don’t have strong evidence. Always fact check your information, because we may get something that really isn’t a big deal. Also, unless something on Tumblr is the official blog for someone big (like Bryan Konietzko’s Tumblr for instance), don’t use Tumblr, 4chan, or anything that isn't a gaming news site for sources. Just don’t. It’ll save a lot of people time and effort.
Destructoid Niche Gamer Destructoid Bryan Konietzko's Tumblr