syntactic nonsense

Ted Woosley sometimes comes under [rather harsh!] criticism for his translation of the game as it was released on the SNES. I imagine he was under some pressure to censor the game somewhat given the intended audience, but overall I like his translation, and I believe he did a good job to preserve the tone of the game.

But one scene that stands out as being inaccurate---again, I feel that this is due to pressure on Woosley to censor the game---is Celes' attempted suicide upon waking in the World of Ruin and experiencing the [actually evitable] death of Cid, whom she has come to lean on as her only family and her sole remaining friend. A more accurate translation of this scene goes like this:

"There were others on this island when I came to, but they're all dead now. One died quickly, another went mad and killed himself, another died of sorrow, one drowned himself, and the last one jumped off the cliff at the North Cape."

"They're all dead. Locke is gone, too....I'm so tired of this world."

Meanwhile, the original translation we're treated to in the SNES version of the game, as well as the port that later came out on the PlayStation, goes like this:

Cid: Those others who were here...when they were feeling down they'd take a leap of faith from the cliffs up north...perked 'em right up!

Celes: Everyone's gone...Even Locke, who promised to watch over me. The world's slowly ebbing away...

The English version released on the GBA is somewhere between the two, semantically.

It goes without saying that the more accurate translation is a lot darker and bleaker, a far more horrifying but realistic portrayal of a World of Ruin, a world of madness and despair.


some context

Celes is often given a hard time for giving in to her suicidal urges, even if the attempt ultimately fails. I think, in part, the translation plays a role in this opinion. In the original English version, the other survivors' own suicides are presented as leaps of faith rather than desperate attempts to leave the World of Ruin. This exaggerates Celes' own choice to jump from the cliff's edge.

First of all, we need to pay attention to the context surrounding Celes' choice. She has awakened into a world totally devoid of hope: her friends are dead, the earth is broken, she is trapped on an island possibly for the remainder of her life. She believes that she can at least live out the rest of her days with Cid, who is family to her; but in the end, he dies as well. This leaves her completely stranded.

So, imagine: a deserted earth, an isolation with no hope of end on a tiny island, the guilt close at hand that she had been so close to preventing the entire end of the world. The people she has come to love are all gone. The legacy before her: one went mad, one died of despair, one drowned himself, one jumped off the cliff and into the sea. These aren't people falling apart over little things. These are people reaching out for a kinder end when nothing lies before them but madness or death, after having survived a greusome apocalypse that seems to drag on. By this point, it is no longer about strength and weakness.


on that note

Suicide has different meanings culturally than the one with which we English-speakers are most familiar. While in the modern Western world we unfortunately tend to interpret suicide as a cowardly act (rather than as a last ditch effort to end an unlivable amount of pain, which is what it normally is), in other places it's honorable and sometimes practical.


he did the best he could

While the "leap of faith" idea isn't accurate to the original text, it does give a more direct meaning to what Celes goes through during her suicide attempt. Whatever the dialog box says, Celes still awakens on the shore with faith---faith that Locke and the others persist somewhere in the world, and that she must find them. And thus her true strength comes to light: there is no reason to believe that her companions still live, there is no evidence that she will be able to find them; yet, she makes the leap of faith: she makes her goal, and she pursues it.


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