Why didn't they translate "nerai"?

“Nerai” means “to take aim” in Japanese. Anyone know why it wasn’t translated? Any theories?

Was it to make it seem cool and mysterious, like a private language between Azel and Atolm? (If so, kind of weird to use Japanese for it.)

Was it just a mistake? If so, why was it subtitled in romaji instead of the original hiragana?

Also, the English subtitle has it as “ne-rai”, but the Japanese subtitle is ねらえ,“nerae”. This is is some variation on “to take aim”. But my Japanese isn’t good enough to know what and it’s not in my dictionary.

The actual spoken dialogue sounds more like “nerai” to me but I’m far from an advanced Japanese speaker. On the other hand, maybe Azel actually says “nerai” and “nerae” at different points?

I’m not a fluent speaker, but my understanding is that ‘nerai’ (ねらい) and ‘nerae’ (ねらえ) are different conjugations of the verb ‘nerau,’ (狙う) ‘to aim.’ ‘Nerai’ would translate as ‘aiming,’ while ‘nerae’ is hypothetical tense and would mean something like, ‘if I aimed.’

It sure sounds like Azel is saying ‘nerai’ and not ‘nerae’ when she commands Atolm, so maybe that’s why the former made it into the English subtitle. Why it wasn’t translated and why there’s a discrepancy between the spoken and subtitled Japanese lines are great questions.

Nerae isn’t a hypothetical. I asked my friend (who is a native Japanese and English speaker) and she explained that “nerae” is a casual imperative, like telling someone informally to take aim. (Which makes sense - it’s formed similarly to ganbare, a word lots of casual Japanese students might be familiar with.)

Also, she told me that “nerai” doesn’t work in that situation. It’s like saying “to take aim” instead of telling Atolm “take aim”. So the original Japanese subtitle is correct.

But it sure does sound like Azel is saying “nerai” when you listen to her…

Oh, yes- it’s hypothetical and also imperative informal! I apologize for any confusion I created. You’re right, it makes much more sense as the latter.

‘Nerai’ is continuative, right? So it can’t really stand alone, so to speak, yet it seems to be what Azel says. I’m only proficient at an elementary level, so if a native speaker can’t explain the discrepancy, I don’t think I’ll be able to make much headway here.

I can’t see the hypothetical in that link you sent. I asked my friend if it’s also the hypothetical form and she said: “No? What? Hypothetical? No.” So… maybe not?

EDIT: Oh it is indeed in the link you sent. My apologies. I asked her again, and she said “Wow, you’re right. I really can’t think of how we’d use that. To me “nerae” would always be an imperative.” Anyway, this is a digression and doesn’t help us solve the mystery of “ni-rai”!

I also played her a video of the Atolm battle. Even though it sounds like Azel says ねらい (nerai) to my dumb foreign ears, she listened to it twice and said she’s definitely saying ねらえ (nerae). So the Japanese subtitle is correct.

The more I think about it, the more it sounds like the translators listened to the Azel dialogue and thought it sounded like she was saying “ni-rai”, and just wrote that down. That would explain the weird hyphenation too. On NeoGAF once someone told an anecdote saying they knew one of the people who wrote the localized script, and according to this person they didn’t speak Japanese - they just got a list of every Japanese line in the game already translated literally into English and had to try as best they could to rewrite them in natural English. Maybe something got lost in translation with this particular line.

Hey guys, I have been asked a question about this and I noticed some have translated this by ‘Rain death on him’. This translation is even used here on the website so is this officially accepted as the true meaning for Ne-Rai?
Or someone’s assumption?

That’s not at all what the line means in Japanese, so someone either made it up entirely or just decided to get very creative with the translation. I put it down to fan enthusiasm.

Incidentally, I’ve asked a few more Japanese people about this, including a Japanese language teacher and a professional Japanese-to-English localizer, and 1) none of them have any idea why it wouldn’t have been translated and 2) none of them had ever heard of “nerae” being used as a hypothetical, despite what that one dictionary site said.

That translation was used in the official UK Sega Saturn Magazine #31.


Thanks for posting the original source where this came from.

Well now that I see this, it’s not clear if Rain Death on Him is actually a translation for Ne-Rai or a more visual description for the “Berserker rage” spell, nothing refers to the Ne-Rai phrase, what do you think?

EDIT: “when she prepares” might be the Ne-Rai phase… but it’s not explicitly said.

It’s a bit tricky here, did they talk to the dev team to offer this wording or is it something that sounded good and they decided to add in the article. Hard to tell.

Yeah, thanks for that source.

It’s very unlikely the SSM guys were able to talk to the dev team, and in fact in the review the writer even mentions he doesn’t speak Japanese, so my best guess is that someone just made something up.

Yes, I agree “translation” is not the right word here. It’s a description of what Berserker Rage is like (and a good one at that). Atolm’s lasers are effectively death to all but the strongest if you get caught beneath a shower of them.

It might be worth pointing out that one of the game’s prototypes did in fact have a few lines from the original translation still intact, before it was rewritten. This is an example of how localization isn’t the same as translation. What matters is that the original meaning is intact. In this case, at least it doesn’t take anything away in terms of understanding the story. The impression I have is that in this case, perhaps the original translator had difficulty translating the line and just left it in as-is. I also had the impression that the English writer didn’t even have a complete translation available, and at times had to take a wild guess at what the characters were saying.

Can’t agree here, I’m afraid. Replacing “take aim” with gibberish leaves none of the original meaning intact.

edit: or perhaps you weren’t saying that and I misread you.

To clarify: I definitely wouldn’t translate it like this. What I was trying to say (but I wasn’t very clear), is that compared to how some key lines of the game had their meaning completely altered in the English version, this is a very minor thing.

I’m referring to the scene in question here, the CGI sequence where Edge leaves Azel behind and heads into Sestren (around 3:27). I only have a limited understanding of Japanese, so you can judge the translation here better than I could.

EDIT: what’s truly baffling is that the game’s prototype had fairly accurate translations for the lines in question. So I have no idea why the English script was altered:

Original version

Azel: When you leave for Sestren, I will destroy this Tower. Sestren will not be able to escape.
Edge: I won’t let you. Azel, what will happen to you?
Azel: I am… the only one… that can destroy the Tower.


Azel: When you leave for Sestren, I will destroy this Tower. Then they can escape safely too.
Edge: I won’t let you. …What will happen to you, Azel?
Azel: I do not know, but I will be okay… It is not that I will die…

Especially for the last one, I just can’t see why it was altered in the retail release. Obviously it needed to be rewritten as it’s a very literal translation, but why was the meaning altered completely? Unfortunately, even that prototype already has most of its lines rewritten. So we don’t have access to the game’s original translation.

EDIT: In the case of Azel saying she “loves” Edge, that does seem like an intentional rewrite, much like how Edge says “she’s beautiful” instead of the original “A human?” when he first sees Azel. I think the writer assumed the game’s English audience needed their usual love story.

Well, according to that one GAF anecdote, the dialogue was translated literally at first, then given to one (or maybe two?) people to rewrite to make it sound natural. Those people didn’t speak Japanese.

I’ve never worked in localization, but as it happens I have professional experience writing for AAA games, and I find it very, very easy to believe that the people who rewrote it 1) probably had no writing experience 2) probably weren’t very good at writing 3) made a lot of bad “creative improvements”.

Ok, this is interesting. Going through my older notes, I noted that in the prototype “Ne-Rai” was in fact translated as “Rain death on him”. So it was at one point either translated or rewritten like this, but it didn’t make it into the final version. I also remember that even the UK and NA versions of the game had small differences in the script.

I think we can safely assume that the conditions under which the game was localized were less than ideal. In any case, it’d be nice to get a better localization for the game if SEGA ever does re-release it.

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Draikin, your bringing this up has me thinking about another instance of change that I’m curious about and has been a bit of a thorn in my side for awhile – the Heresy Dragon Program’s parting words (46:25):

Original: …Thank you…and…sorry. (…Arigatou…soshite…sumanai) (…ありがとう…そして…すまない)

Localization: …Thank you, we must go.

The Dragon Program’s apology in the original version gives this scene a seemingly emotional component that was lost in translation. Though exactly what he’s expressing regret over is unclear (at least to me, with only a very basic understanding of Japanese), his words here convey more of a sense of caring than they do in the localization, where he gives me the impression of being rather unfazed by the situation.

Though it’s not nearly as big of a change as Edge and Azel’s overt romance, I do think it’s a shame that the original meaning of this line was compromised…especially considering the Dragon Program has so few of them in which to establish his character. To me, his conversation with Lagi in Orta feels more natural as a follow-up to his original portrayal in Saga than his localized one.

Edit: Do you happen to know what this line was like in the prototype, Draikin?

This was definitely one of the changes that stood out for me. In the Japanese script, the Heresy Dragon seemed to apologize for what was about to happen to Edge now that the Divine Visitor left him. It’s largely implied that the Divine Visitor (the player) was the only thing keeping Edge alive, and we were basically using him as a tool. Edge was totally unaware of that. Perhaps the goal in the English script was to leave Edge’s fate in doubt.

I’m fairly certain I checked this line and it was the same. Much of the script had already been rewritten. Some minor differences from the ending sequence:

Original version

Heresy Dragon: Now, it shall end…
Edge: This voice… the dragon!?
Heresy Dragon: The will of the ancients… It is now with me… The Divine Visitor must destroy me. …That is why I have returned.


Heresy Dragon: Now, it shall end…
Edge: This voice… the dragon!?
Heresy Dragon: The ancient ruins, Everything is now with me… Now, kill me, ‘Absolute Guest’. …That is why I have returned.

It seems unlikely that anyone would care enough for this to happen within Sega. It’s more likely to happen via a fan translation (as with Shining Force III), if at all.