PS Blog: How Atlus USA Localized Persona 5

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Senior Project Manager for Atlus USA, Yu Namba, has written a post for the PlayStation Blog detailing parts of the translation process for Persona 5.

Hi, everyone! Since I first joined the company as a translator in 1999, I’ve been involved with the localization of all the Persona titles and their spin-offs, including Persona 5 — which is out today!

When asked to write about the localization of P5, I thought about my methodology and whether things have changed as I devoted myself to bringing Japanese games to the Western audience for the last 18 years, and I realized: my goal has always been to deliver games in the most authentic and enjoyable form possible.

P5 was a monster in terms of localization scope. it boasted the most number of translators and editors on a team, and everyone spent countless nights making the English version of P5 a reality. We set the general direction of the localization and settled on key terms and ideas atOooo the beginning of the project, so everyone had a clear guideline when working on their assigned tasks. Whenever a big issue arose, it was brought to my attention, and I gave the team my feedback. As project lead I had to make the final call, but I made sure that I looked at the issues from different perspectives.

When localizing a Japanese game, there’s always something that simply won’t make sense to the Western audience if translated word for word. Similarly, there may be lines that are too long to fit in the text window or the time allotted in a scene. What to keep, what to cut out, what to change, what are the consequences—it’s always a tough call, and the approach is different for each person. But the process becomes a bit easier to handle when the entire team is on the same page. I’m really fortunate to be at Atlus, where everyone in the company shares the same vision.

Persona 5, as a game, is the pinnacle of the series. From battle system and social sim to playability and UI, it has remained true to its origin but every aspect of the game is at its best. The same can be said for localization: it’s the best English rendition in the history of Atlus USA thus far. I’m sure everyone who already purchased the game will enjoy it, and I really hope that people who haven’t heard of the series before will give it a try. This game will take your heart.

Persona 5 was released for the PS3 and PS4 in Japan on September 15, 2016. It was released for the PS4 in Traditional Chinese on March 23, 2017. It released in North America and Europe on April 4th, 2017, and will release in Korean in 2017.

PlayStation Blog

The Art of Persona 5
Prima Games Prima Games (2017-06-27)
  • sillyfudgemonkeys

    Darn, thought this might bring up why they removed Anne’s e (and no it’s not the text space that was the problem)….but still they did a great job with everything else. Thank you Atlus.

    • BrokenSkullZero

      probably to facilitate differentiating Anne (like An like cAN or An-neh) in the western world
      I know one of the localization team members and she did tell me they not exactly are sure why Atlus Jp chose Anne to when the name in pronounced “ahnn”

      Ann is still pretty much said the same way in most of USA.

      • sillyfudgemonkeys

        Yeah but…Anne/Ann can be pronounced both ways (Ann Harbor takes the “cAN” route). And I’ve heard Anne pronounced “ahn” before. And that’s the spelling “Anne Watanabe” goes by if they need a real life example.

        I asked my Japanese roommate and she said it might be because “the author might have wanted to show off how she is more foreign” which is why they chose that spelling. But if they were to actually spell it in english they would have to go with “An” cause that is the romanji spelling (tho Ann/Anne/An all sounds the same in Japanese, and I’ve seen all three spellings associated with her Kanji….and my roommate told me that you don’t HAVE to use the normal readings of kanji apparently. As some people use the kanji 男 but they tell people that their name is Adam, so Anne using the An/杏 Kanji but telling people her name is “Anne” could be that reason).

        But if they’re already pronouncing everything in Japanese, and that’s the spelling Japan chose, I still don’t understand why they didn’t just keep it with the “e.” They still had to tell people that “Ann” was pronounced “ahn”….if they were already going to do that why not just have the “e”? :/

        I also spoke to a translator (who was following this series) and he said that they felt the missing e was jarring and didn’t know why they removed it….it just feels like it was unnecessary for them to remove it (esp if they were going to address the pronunciation anyways), and possibly taking extra energy (considering they had to remove the “e” from all promo art of her instead of just leaving it)….

  • NoctisOugiBoogie

    After 15 hours I can say that yeah the localization is pretty good!

  • Irving Lee

    Can’t say it’s the best they’ve done. There are a lot of too literal translation, and it comes across as weird and awkward in English. It doesn’t help that the original Japanese game is considerably more dramatic than P3 and P4.

    Overall the dub is good, except for Futaba, who’s been completely turned into just another generic teenage girl. It stands out even more since the other VAs are doing a great job.

    A lot of reported issues and bugs with the Japanese audio track, though.

    • Crispian11

      “A lot of reported issues and bugs with the Japanese audio track, though.”
      What issues? I’m legitimately curious since I haven’t experienced anything out of order.

      • sillyfudgemonkeys

        The audio doesn’t sync, and music will randomly play when someone is talking. Is one thing I’ve heard. I think it’s cause they had to program an option in there and that might have created bugs. :/

      • Irving Lee

        I haven’t used the voice track since I’ve already played the game in Japanese, but a lot of people are reporting that sometimes the sound doesn’t come out unless for random background sounds, voices coming on top of each other, characters’ voices coming from other characters, and so on. It’s a mess.

        • Crispian11

          I must have gotten lucky then because I haven’t experienced any issues. I hope they fix it for those that do have problems.