"The Legend of Zelda" Manual Story
Translation Comparison Table

The following table compares the story given in the manuals of the Japanese and English versions of "The Legend of Zelda." The Japanese text comes from the Famicom Disk Version of "The Hyrule Fantasy: Zelda no Densetsu." This table gives the original Japanese, romaji, a literal translation, the official U.S. translation, and notes.

Translation comparison done by Johan, Zethar II, and David Butler for The Legends of Zelda.
Last Modified: 4/11/2003

Japanese Romaji Literal Translation Official U.S. Translation Notes
遠い昔、世界がまだ混迷の時代。 tooi mukashi, sekai ga mada konmei no jidai. A very long time ago, the world was still in an age of confusion. A long, long time ago the World was in an age of Chaos. The kanji "konmei" connotates confusion or chaos.
ハイラル地方にある小王国には、神秘の力を持つ"トライフォース"と呼ばれる黄金の三角形が、代々伝えられていた。 HAIRARU chihou ni aru shyou oukoku ni wa, shinpit no chikara o motsu TORAIFO-SU to yobareru ougon no sankakukei ga, daidai tsutaerarete ita. In a little kingdom, located in the Hyrule region, generations had told about the golden triangular Triforce, which hold mysterious powers. In the midst of this chaos, in a little kingdom in the land of Hyrule, a legend was being banded down from generation to generation, the legend of the "Triforce"; golden triangles possessing mystical powers. Note that the Japanese doesn't explicitly put Hyrule "in the midst of this chaos." But of course this is implied, since the whole world is in an age of chaos. Also notice that this all takes place in a little kingdom in the "Hyrule region." "Chihou" is an area, locality, district, or region.
が、ある日、世界を闇と恐怖よって支配しようと企む大魔王ガノンが率いる魔の軍団がこの国に攻め込み、 "力"のトライフォースを奪った。 ga, aru hi, sekai o yami to kyoufu ni yotte shihai shiyou to takuramu dai maou GANON ga ukiiru ma no gundan ga kono koku ni semekomi, "chikara" no TORAIFO-SU o ubatta. One day, the Great Demon King Ganon, who planned to rule the world with darkness and fear, led an evil army corps and invaded the kingdom and snatched the Triforce of Power. One day, an evil army attacked this peaceful little kingdom and stole the Triforce of Power. This army was led by Ganon, the powerful Prince of Darkness who sought to plunge the World into fear and darkness under his rule.

The Japanese version implies that Ganon took an army corps (a small subdivision of a larger army, set aside for a special purpose), invaded Hyrule with it, and snatched the Triforce of Power with his own hands. The U.S. version implies that Ganon ordered his whole army to invade Hyrule, which then took over Hyrule, stole the Triforce of Power in the process, and then carried the golden triangle back to Ganon. I think the original version makes it clear that it was Ganon who took the Triforce of Power with his own hands.

Also notice Ganon's title. This is the same title Ganondorf is given in OoT. "Dai maou" is formed of three kanji: "dai" meaning big, "ma" meaning devil, and "ou" meaning king. Together, "maou" means devil, presumably the king of demons himself. The "dai" adds a sense of greatness. OoT translates this to "Evil King," which kind of has the same sense as "great demon king." "Prince of Darkness" kind of deviates from the original meaning a bit, since Ganon is not a prince.

邪悪な支配を恐れた小王国の姫ゼルダは、もう一枚残された"知恵"のトライフォースを守る為、それを8つの小片に分け、各地に隠した。 jyaakuna shihai o osoreta shyou oukoku no hime ZERUDA wa, mou ichimai nokosareta "chie" no TORAIFO-SU o mamoru tame, sore o yattsu no shouhen ni wake, kakuchi ni kakushita. Zelda, the princess of the little kingdom, had feared the wicked rule (by Ganon). In order to protect the other Triforce, the Triforce of Wisdom, Zelda divided it into eight parts and hid those in various places. Fearing his wicked rule, Zelda, the princess of this kingdom, split up the Triforce of Wisdom into eight fragments and hid them throughout the realm to save the last remaining Triforce from the cluthes of the evil Ganon. It is unclear whether Zelda feared Ganon's rule by his army, or by the fact that he had the Triforce of Power. Perhaps it was the first, before he got the Triforce, and then when he got the Triforce of Power she feared it even more and hid the Triforce of Wisdom.
と、同時に、もっとも信用のおける自分の乳母インパに、ガノンを倒してくれる勇気ある人物を探すよう命じ、密かに脱出させた。 to, douji ni, mottomo shinyou no okeru jibun no uba INPA ni, GANON o taoshite kureru yuuki aru jinbutsu o sagasu you meiji, hisoka ni dasshutsu saseta. And, at the same time, she ordered her most trusted person, her own nursing mother Impa, to secretly escape and search for a person with the courage to defeat Ganon. At the same time, she commanded her most trustworthy nursemaid, Impa, to secretly escape into the land and go find a man with enough courage to destroy the evil Ganon.

"Uba" means wet nurse or nursing mother. In other words, Impa literally cared for and breastfed Zelda when she was a baby. Compare this with "nursemaid," which only implies that she is a kind of nannie who looks after Zelda.

Also note that, although written INPA, Japanese people tend to soften the N sound for these kinds of words, so it comes out sounding like the western M sound. This is why it is written "Impa" in the English translation. Similarly, words like "senpai" are often transliterated to "sempai."

これを知ったガノンは怒り、姫を捕らえてインパに追手を放った。 kore o shitta GANON wa okori, hime o toraete INPA ni otte o hanatta. Upon hearing this, Ganon got angry and seized the princess and released a pursuit party of underlings after Impa. Upon hearing this, Ganon grew angry, imprisoned the princess, and sent out a party in search of Impa. "Toraeru" means to seize, grasp, capture, or arrest. Compare this with "imprisoned."
森を抜け山を越え、必死の逃走を続けたインパだが、ついに力尽き、ガノンの手下達に囲まれてしまった。 mori o nuke yama o koe, hisshi no tousou o tsuzuketa INPA da ga, tsui ni chikara tsuki, GANON no teshita tachi ni kakomarete shimatta. Impa fled desperately through forests and over mountains, but finally, her strength exhausted, Ganon's underlings surrounded her. Braving forests and mountains, Impa fled for her life from her pursuers. As she reached the very limit of her energy she found herself surrounded by Ganon's evil henchmen.  
絶対絶命!・・・・・・と、その時である。 zettai zetsumei! ...to, sono toki dearu. Now Impa was to be killed! ...but, at that time something happened. Cornered! What could she do? ... But wait! All was not lost. The phrase "zettaizetsumei"is subtle. Literally, "zettai" is like absolute or inevitable, and "zetumei" is like destruction or death. The phrase is used for a situation where there doesn't seem to be a way out, not necessarily one involving death.
1人の少年が現れ、巧みに手下達を混乱させ、インパを救い出したのだった。 hitori no shounen ga araware, takumi ni teshita tachi o konran sase, INPA o sukui dashita no datta. One young boy appeared and skillfully confused the underlings. Impa was rescued. A young lad appeared. He skillfully drove off Ganon's henchmen, and saved Impa from a fate worse than death. Compare "confused" to "drove off." The Japanese seems to imply that he diverted them with a clever trick, but the U.S. version makes it seem like he jumped out into the open and drove them away by sheer force. Kind of odd when you consider that Link doesn't have any weapons at the beginning of the game.
彼の名はリンク。旅の途中でこの事態に出くわしたのだ。 kare no na wa RINKU. tabi no tochuu de kono jitai ni dekuwashita no da. His name was Link. He came across this situation during his travels. His name was Link. During his travels he had come across Impa and Ganon's henchmen.  
インパは彼に事の一部始終を話した。 INPA wa kare ni koto no ichibushijyuu o hanashita. Impa told him the whole story. Impa told Link the whole story of the princess Zelda and the evil Ganon.  
正義感に燃えるリンクは、姫の救出を決意したが、"力"のトライフォースを持つガノンに対抗する為には、ぜひとも"知恵"のトライフォースの小片を集め、完成させなくてはならない。 seigikan ni fueru Link wa, hime no kyuushitsu o ketsui shita ga, "chikara" no TORAIFO-SU o motsu GANON ni taikou suru tame niha, zehitomo "chie" no TORAIFO-SU no shouhen o atsume, kansei sasenakutehanaranai. Burning with a sense of justice, he was determined to free the princess. But to do this, and oppose the owner of the Triforce of Power, Ganon, the bits of the Triforce of Wisdom had to be gathered. Burning with a sense of justice, Link resolved to save Zelda, but Ganon was a powerful opponent. He held the Triforce of Power. And so, in order to fight off Ganon, Link had to bring the scattered eight fragments of the Triforce of Wisdom together to rebuild the mystical triangle.

The U.S. version is a bit more wordy. The Japanese version doesn't call the ToW a "mystical" triangle, but this is of course implied since the Triforce is stuff of legends.

Also notice the word used to describe the fragments. "Shouhen" means a speck or bit. So the fragments are little things, despite the fact that the in-game graphics show rather large ToW fragments (almost as big as Link himself). The game couldn't possibly show the fragments to scale.

さもなくば、ガノンの住む"デスマウンテン"に侵入することすらできないのだ samonakuba, GANON no sumu "DESU MAUNTEN" ni shinnyuu suru kotosura dekinai no da. If not, an invasion of Death Mountain, where Ganon lived, would fail. If he couldn't do this, there would be no chance Link could fight his way into Death Mountain where Ganon lived. Compare "invasion" with "fighting his way into."
果たしてリンクはガノンを倒し、姫を救うことができるだろうか。それは君の腕にかかっている。 hatashite RINKU wa GANON o taoshi, hime o sukuu koto ga dekiru daroo ka? sore wa kimi no ude ni kakatte iru. Can Link accomplish the task of defeating Ganon, and helping the princess? It is up to your own ability to do this.

Can Link really destroy Ganon and save the Princess Zelda? Only your skill can answer that question. Good luck. Use the Triforce wisely.

Compare "ability" with "skill." Also note how the U.S. version adds "Good luck. Use the Triforce wisely."