Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy VIII, Square’s PlayStation RPG starring teenage mercenaries caught in a cycle of witches and wars. If you have played the game, you might remember that protagonist Squall is associated with the phrase “Whatever…” Even if you haven’t played the game, you likely know how associated with that one word Squall is in his dialogue.
Localizer Clyde Mandelin, who works for Funimation but you might know best for his work on the Mother 3 fan translation, decided to take a look at Squall’s best associated line and how it compares to the game’s Japanese script. Now, localizations are not literal, so giving Squall a bemused affectation in the English version is not strange or even necessarily worse, but it is interesting how the small changes tweak his character a bit.
In the fifteen instances of Squall saying “Whatever” in English, very few are effectively the same in Japanese, Mandelin found. More often than not, Squall was giving an apologetic yet sarcastic “Well, excuse me” comment in response, rather than his more apathetic and dismissive “Whatever” line.
You can check out Mandelin’s Legends of Localization page for a detailed breakdown of every instance of the line and also his other insights into the world of video game localization. You can also find Final Fantasy VIII in surprisingly few places because for some reason it’s not a game Square Enix decides to port all that often.
[Source: Legends of Localization]