Localization Drift and Hidden History in Castlevania: Nocturne

This post has minor spoilers for the first season of Castlevania: Nocturne, except for one paragraph that goes into the end of the season in somewhat greater depth, but I’ll throw in an extra spoiler warning for that one.

The English localization of Final Fantasy VI features a boss called Wrexsoul that, once defeated, yields the summon Alexander. It’s just one subquest of many in the game that rewards you with a summon, so there’s no reason to read a special relationship between this particular boss character and this particular reward, but it seems like there actually should be one. In the original Japanese, Wrexsoul’s name is アレクソウル or Arekusouru — or literally “Alex soul,” the implication being that defeating this boss somehow frees up Alexander (アレクサンダー or Arekusandā) to lend you his power. You are, I suppose, fighting the soul of Alexander.

The English version may lose the boss’s connection to Alexander, but it still works as a pun, though your mileage of it may vary. In the sequence where Wrexsoul is encountered — a nightmare being had by Cyan, one of the party members — you’re told that Wrexsoul is the amalgamation of people who died in a war. Furthermore, Cyan is having this bad dream because he’s tortured by the death of his wife and son. Souls aren’t being wrecked, exactly, but they’re not thriving. And maybe because it works on this level, Ted Woolsey’s rendering of the name has remained in subsequent English localizations even when other text has been changed to better reflect the original Japanese script.

To me, it’s a good example of how localized names can sometimes diverge so far from their source, whether by accident or by design, that someone experiencing the translated product may not understand what is being referenced. That might seem like a bad thing, and I’d wager there are some purist gamers out there who grit their teeth when they encounter a localized name that obscures the creators’ intentions. From my perspective, however, these localization choices can result in a new name and maybe even a new entity — and that can open the door for more creativity.

Read the rest here:

Localization Drift and Hidden History in Castlevania: Nocturne