ALttP Japanese/English Translation Comparison

The goal of this feature is to compare the text of "A Link to the Past" with that of its original Japanese version, "Kamigami no Triforce." This is done by aligning the text of the story and enemy descriptions in tables. People who know Japanese better than I do have translated the original Japanese text quote by quote, allowing a comparison to be made with the "official" English translation given in the American game by NOA. So far, we have been able to compare the text for the manual story, and for most of the in-game text.

Manual Story

» Download ALttP Manual Story Translation Comparison Table
Created by Johan, Zethar II, and davogones
Last Modified: 8/25/2003

Listed below are brief descriptions of the most interesting differences between the Japanese and American versions. The complete table, with more detailed notes, can be downloaded above.

  • The U.S. version has extra, unnecessary rubbish about how it's "beneficial and entertaining" to study myths. This establishes the author of the American version of the manual as somebody who is looking at Hyrule's history from a distant, objective, somewhat skeptical point of view. The Japanese version just tells the story straight.
  • A parenthetical comment says that the word "Hyrule" was made from the root of the word "Hylia." This means Hyrule was named after the Hylians.
  • The Japanese version of the creation myth is more like the one in OoT: the gods descended to a world of chaos. The American translators were creating their own story when they said that the gods "descended from a distant nebula to the world."
  • The Japanese only says that the Triforce was created as a "symbol" of the god's power. It says nothing about a "small but powerful portion of the essence of the gods " being held inside the Triforce.
  • The Japanese version of the creation myth just says "the world" (sekai), it doesn't say the "world of Hyrule." Hyrule is not equated with the world in the Japanese ALttP manual, though it is equated with the world in the OoT version of the creation myth.
  • There is parenthetical documentation saying the creation myth came from the "Genesis Preface," supposedly a part of some Hylian scroll.
  • There are significant differences between the Japanese and American names of the forces of the Triforce. "Ruler" or "conquerer" of power, instead of "forger of strength." "Administrator" or "governer" of wisdom, instead of "keeper of knowledge." And "forger" or "temperer" of courage, instead of "juror of courage." The Japanese titles seem much more appropriate, and the American version mixed up which one was the forger.
  • The Triforce, as a whole, carries three "Monshou" ("crests" or "emblems"). The Triforce literally holds three "crests," which are like drawings, images, or symbols. These crests obviously correspond to power, wisdom, and courage. Thus, it seems, these crests correspond to the crests we see in OoT and TWW - the type of Triforce symbol where only one piece is glowing. In theory, each crest is a symbol that, when it appears on your hand, shows that you have a certain piece of the Triforce. Later, however, the crests are said to have a spirit or soul. So maybe they are more important than we think. In fact, these "crests" might even correspond to the Triforce pieces themselves, or the powers contained in them. We're not sure.
  • "Seichi" = sacred place, holy ground, the Holy Land. The American verson translated this to "Golden Land." But this is the same term used in OoT for the Sacred Realm. So, the Golden Land = the Sacred Realm.
  • The Japanese version says the Hylian people have magical powers because they were chosen by the gods. The U.S. version attributes this to their "magic infused blood," which loses the original sense of being a chosen people.
  • There is a part in the American manual which talks about old buildings being associated with the Triforce, and might have even housed it. But the Japanese version is talking about Hyrule being the area related to legends about the Triforce. Not any specific buildings.
  • The Japanese version does not attribute the poem about the Triforce to the Book of Mudora!
  • According to the American manual, "Many aggressively searched for the wish-granting Triforce, but no one, not even the Hylian sages, was sure of its location; the knowledge had been lost over time." But the Japanese version doesn't say the Hylian sages forgot the location of the Triforce. In fact, people knew it was in the Sacred Realm, and were searching for the entrance! This fits in much better with OoT.
  • A high mountain people is supposed to exist during Ganondorf's time - the Gorons?
  • Japanese version doesn't say the thieves are skilled in the black arts.
  • The Sacred Realm is said to literally be another world. However, it is also said to be "somewhere in the world." This may seem contradictory, but it depends on how you define seichi ("the world"). The Sacred Realm can be a completely different world than the one Hyrule is in (like Termina), but nevertheless be in the same "universe," in the sense that the two worlds are connected (again like Hyrule and Termina).
  • The names "Dragmire" and "Mandrag" are simply not in the Japanese text. Which explains why these names did not appear in OoT or TWW. It just says that "the man's name was Ganondorf, and his common name was Ganon of the race of evil thieves." The thieves are not "enchanted" either, so Mandrag is totally out of place.
  • The Japanese manual has a line the American version does not: "Indeed, the King of Evil Ganon, the one who has threatened Hyrule so, was born at this time." According to Zethar, the way this is written is more of a reference to how the Japanese see ALttP as a prequel to LoZ and AoL, because we're already suppose to know who the King of Evil Ganon is. This supports the view that Ganondorf and Ganon are one person. It was at this point that Ganondorf became Ganon.
  • The American manual gives the name "Imprisoning War." Depending on your preference, a more appropriate name would be "Seal War," "Sealing War," or "War of Sealing."
  • According to the American manual, " in time evil power began to flow from the Golden Land." This doesn't quite cover it. The Japanese word here, "jyaki" is interesting. "Ki" is one of those hard words. It is used for energy (which the Chinese like to call chi) and for how one is feeling. So it roughly translates to "mood" or "spirit' (in the sense that somebody is in good or bad "spirits"). "Jya" means wicked or evil. So "jyaki" can be translated to "malice" or "evil mood." It's something that seems to affect the land itself when it spreads. You can think of it symbolically as a cloud of darkness spreading over Hyrule.
  • According to the American manual, "greedy men were drawn there [the Golden Land] to become members of Ganon's army." The Japanese version says nothing about the greedy persons (not men!) actually becoming member of Ganon's army. They just disappeared into the spreading cloud of Ganon's malice.
  • According to the American manual, the King ordered the Knights and Sages "to seal the entrance to the Golden Land." In the Japanese version, he ordered them to seal the source of evil. It doesn't say he explicitly ordered the entrance to the Sacred Realm sealed. In fact, in OoT, the evil spreads out from the temples of Hyrule, not from the entrance to the Sacred Realm.
  • The Triforce being inanimate is not given as the reason for its inability to give moral judgement. Rather, it is because only the gods can judge between good and evil. The point is that neither we nor the Triforce is a god, so we can't really judge.
  • A divine oracle (or a "divine message" from the gods, i.e. God's voice) told the people to make a mighty sword, supposedly long before the appearance of Ganondorf. They did not create it by themselves in response to Ganon's rise to power. The Master Sword is indeed older than we thought, since later the sages aren't even sure if it existed and had to search for it. When Ganon came to power, the Sages searched for the Master Sword as well as a Hero. This means it was not created at the time of Ganon's rise, and thus that the sword can be legendary in OoT.
  • The Master Sword is supposed to repel the evil one who would steal the Triforce, not "powers granted by the Triforce." So it does not, as we previously though, merely repel Triforce magic; it repels ANY evil!
  • A strong body does not strictly seem to be necessary to use the Master Sword. The Japanese version just says that only a true hero can use it. The language implies that we're not necessarily looking for THE hero. Anybody who is a true hero can use the Master Sword. That's why Zelda can pick it up in TWW - she's not THE hero who has been chosen to defeat Ganon, but nevertheless, she is A true hero.
  • The attack on Hyrule Castle is described very differently. American: "Ganon's evil army swarmed from the tainted Golden Land into Hyrule and attacked the castle." Japanese: "Ganon's malice was enclosing on the royal palace." And instead of waging war "on this evil horde," they instead "threw open a heroic battle with the evil one" (Ganon). So it can almost be said that it was only Ganon's malice that attacked the castle, and they were only fighting Ganon. However, "Ganon's malice" is probably a synonym for Ganon's evil army of monsters. The exact details are only implied; we are only told that Ganon was responsible for the battle.
  • Agahnim is a priest, not a wizard!
  • According to the American manual, "the king of Hyrule, after counsel with his sages, ordered an investigation of the Imprisoned Dark World." In the Japanese version, there was no counsel with sages. Rather, the King had the seal studied, and when no change was found, the people prayed to the gods (as in TWW's history).
  • The Japanese version says Agahnim appeared like "a comet." This probably means that he showed up in Hyrule very quickly. It might also be an allusion to Agahnim appearing to descend from heaven in answer to the people's prayers.
  • The King proclaimed Agahnim to be the "second coming of the seven sages." ("Sairai" = return, second coming, second advent, reincarnation.) It seems Agahnim was thought to be returning the power of the sages to Hyrule. The descendants of the seven sages were still around at this time, but according to the maiden in the Ice Palace, "we who carry the blood of the seven wise men do not possess strong power any more." It could be that there were no true sages around at this time. Nobody in ALttP claims to be a sage; rather, they are "descendants," or "members of the bloodline."
  • The American manual leaves out an important line: "Yet, left in charge of the country, Agahnim began to govern Hyrule in place of the King and abuse his political power as he saw fit." Tis does not say that Agahnim killed the King, he just "replaced" him. There is no mention of the King's removal in the U.S. manual, just in the intro and in the game.
  • According to the American manual has to break the seal by using "the life force of the descendants of the Seven Wise Men." In the Japanese version, however, he has to "sacrifice the maiden descendants of the seven sages." This explains why he is kidnapping only maidens, and also explains the urgency. This also gives insight into what happened between OoT and TWW. However, we're left wondering why he didn't just kill them right away, or if he did, why he didn't escape right away.
  • The American manual calls Agahnim Ganon's pawn, but the Japanese manual does not! This makes me wonder whether Agahnim is ever called a pawn in the Japanese game. If he isn't, this would incline us more to believe that Agahnim is truly Ganon's alter ego, and not a separate person.

Game Quotes

» Download ALttP Game Quotes Translation Comparison Table v1.1
Created by KWhazit and davogones
Original translation available on KWhazit's web site
Last Modified: 10/7/2005

Here is a list of important changes. For more detail, download the complete table above.

  • Names:
    • Agahnim: "AGUNIMU" is more like Agunim.
    • The Sanctuary is a church, and the loyal sage is a priest. This is a different term for "priest" than the one used for Agahnim. The kanji mean something like "holy father", but Aghanim's mean "master of rituals."
    • Aginah: "AJINÂ" has a soft "j," unlike the implied hard "g" in "Aginah."
    • Death Mountain is called "HEBURA" (Hebra) Mountain. "Death Mountain" is used to refer to the version of Hebra Mountain in the Dark World.
    • Dark Palace: "yami no shinden" is the same name as the Shadow Temple in OoT.
    • The Pendants are actually "crests," the same word for crest used for the "crests" of the Triforce in the manual.
    • The Book of Mudora may actually be the "writings of Mudora," which seems to imply that it's a collection of writings by somebody named Mudora.
    • The word for "medal" in the Magic Medals is translated to "medallion" in OoT.
    • The flute is really an ocarina.
    • The Titan's Mitts are actually just more powerful gloves.
    • The "clothes" is the same word in OoT translated to "tunic."
    • Cane of Byrna: "BAIRA" is more like Baira or Byra than Byrna.
  • In the original, it is common knowledge that the maidens were sacrificed by Agahnim. In the NOA version, this unpleasant detail has been carefully edited out in every instance. For example, instead of "sacrificing" the maidens, Agahnim is said to have "worked his magic." The girls aren't "sacrificed," they're "kidnapped" or "missing."
  • When the kid in Kakariko calls Sahasrahla "the grandpa," this obscures the fact that the original word, "ojisan," can be used to refer to any old man, not necessarily one's actual grandfather. In this case, this was likely the original meaning. In the GBA version of ALttP, this was changed to "old guy."
  • When describing the descendants of the sages, the word "shison" is used. This word means descendant, posterity, or offspring, which seems to imply actual blood descent, not just a passing down of a title. The issue still seems open to interpretation though.
  • "Ma zoku," which translates to "evil race/group/tribe," is used to describe Ganon's followers. This is the same word Agahnim uses after he sends Zelda to the Dark World, when he talks about the "Tribe of Evil." I find it likely that the tribe of evil is just a reference to Ganon's followers, not to some larger group as some have speculated.
  • According to the NOA translation, " Three or four generations ago, an order of knights protected the royalty of the Hylia." This translation, however, is far too specific. The original word, " mukashi," translates to "olden days," "antiquity," or "once upon a time." So all we know is that the Knights were wiped out in a huge battle long ago.
  • The knights are not called the "Knights of Hyrule" in the original. They are simply called the family of Knights.
  • The old man on Death Mountain seems to be saying that the Seven Sages sealed either one special warp tile, or all of the warp tiles. It's not clear what sort of warp tile is being referred to.
  • KWhazit has an explanation for the rolling ball guy on Death Mountain: "'GORON' is the sound of something heavy rolling. 'GOROGORO', the "sound" of something changing frequently (like his mind), is also the sound of a small round thing (like a ball) rolling... make more sense now?" Incidentally, this seems to explain how the Gorons got their name in OoT: rolling around is one of their pastimes.
  • The old man on Death Mountain specifically associates the Moon Pearl with the Hero. So getting this item seems to show him that Link is the Hero. (This is left out of the NOA version.) The maiden in the Swamp Palace says that the Magical Mirror is an item that only the Hero can master. (The NOA version changes this to " you have magical powers, which only The Hero can make the most of!") The NOA translation seems to be de-emphasizing the Hero's special connection to certain items.
  • The inscription on the Master Sword pedestal talks about "Cataclysm's Eve." This seems to imply that the Cataclysm hasn't happened yet. The original Japanese, however, seems to imply that the hero will arrive when the Cataclysm has already begun, when it's just getting started.
  • According to Sahasrahla, the shining of the Master Sword is actually Link's power. This is left out of the NOA translation.
  • The tree in the Dark Palace area says that all greedy people became monsters. In the NOA version, he only says that this happened to himself.
  • In the original, the prophecy of the Great Cataclysm told by the maiden in the Skull Woods says that if an evil-hearted person gets the Triforce, he will become the cause of the Great Catastrophe. Thus, it is implied that the Great Catastrophe will come after the obtaining of the Triforce, and will be a separate event. The NOA translation, however, can be interpreted to mean that the obtaining of the Triforce is itself the Great Cataclysm.
  • It is stated several times that the maidens inherit the power of the Seven Sages. This is left out of the NOA translation.
  • The original doesn't literally say that Agahnim was Ganon's "pawn." It just says that he used him, which may or may not mean the same thing. He may have been little more than a puppet, whereas "pawn" seems to imply that Agahnim was a complete person, separate from Ganon and subservient to him.
  • The original says that the maidens were no longer of use, while the NOA version does not.
  • From reading the NOA version, it might be confusing why the Dark World is a "closed space." From the original version, it is clearer that the Dark World is "bound," meaning that the Sages' Seal limits where Ganon can go.
  • Ganon calls Agahnim his " bunshin," which is like a copy, or your other self, or when you split yourself into two people. It implies that Ganon and Agahnim were the same thing in a way. For example, bunshin is used in OoT to describe one of the Poe bosses in the Forest Temple: "Meg - one of the Poe sisters. If she splits into multiple images , you need to figure out which one is the real one." So Agahnim is kind of like a copy or shadow of Ganon.
  • The "Essence of the Triforce" is actually the Triforce's spirit ("sei"). This is probably the same spirit as in the manual when it says that Triforce's spirit whispered to Ganondorf when he got the Triforce.
  • One should not read too much into NOA's translation when it says Ganon is "totally destroyed". "taoreru" means to collapse, to break down, to fall, to die, to succumb to, to fall senseless, to be ruined, and doesn't necessarily say anything about complete and utter destruction. It cannot be inferred from the Japanese version that Ganon will never return after ALttP, as some have speculated. In OoT, this word is nearly always translated to "destroy," never "totally destroy."