The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is, in the opinion of this scribe, one of the finest games ever made. The adventure can be tackled in a variety of ways, but the ending brings it all together in one intense showdown, which naturally has Legend of Zelda lore fans interpreting and discussing various implications. Now there's been chatter around potential differences in the ending between the Japanese text / dialogue and the English equivalent - let's break it down.
Spoiler warning - this article is about the ending of the game, don't read on if you don't want to know more.
Let's just break down the key quotes that people are talking about, first, before we get into whether there's actually any issue with the localisation or lore. The following is from legendsoflocalisation.com, bold emphasis added.
|Japanese Version (basic translation)||English Version|
|He’s an embodiment of hatred and grudge that arose in distant antiquity and revives again and again no matter how many times he’s destroyed.||Ganon was born out of a dark past. He is a pure embodiment of the ancient evil that is reborn time and time again…|
|This form was born from his obsessive refusal to give up on revival…||He has given up on reincarnation and assumed his pure, enraged form.|
|If set free upon the world, it would result in a tragedy surpassing the one 100 years ago.||If set free upon our world, the destruction will be unlike anything ever seen before.|
The question of revival and resurrection is the key here, with the initial suggestion that the English version suggests a finality to Ganon in this battle, whereas the Japanese text suggests the usual 'Ganon will always be revived' narrative. Oddly, the table flips in a later scene.
For starters, not all fully agree with the translations and, as a result, whether there's an issue here at all - the issue being that it's unclear whether it's a 'final' defeat of Ganon. Even taking the interpretations as they are you could argue there's not actually inconsistency here, just semantics - the second screen says the threat of 'Calamity Ganon' has passed, not just plain-old Ganon. Likewise "he has given up on reincarnation" from the English scene could just refer to that moment, in that he's given up in that battle.
Perhaps some handy clarity comes from the article's comments section, via 'joeymartin64', below.
So the “for now” WASN’T in the Japanese version! Interesting!
Skimming some other responses has me thinking about it in another way now: The Hyrule Compendium states the Calamity Ganon boss we see is a not-yet-finished physical body:
“Hibernating within a cocoon, it attempted to regenerate a physical form after Link awoke but was forced to confront him in an incomplete state.”
It’s playing fast and loose with words like “revival” and “reincarnation” and even “regeneration”, but perhaps the English line could mean that he’s only given up on THAT SPECIFIC body/reincarnation/regeneration/etc., rather than the whole concept in general.
That would actually harmonize it somewhat with the Japanese line; since Link has prevented the physical body we see from being completed, his desire to revive going out of control as a result of that could then be interpreted in a “you done pissed him off” kind of way.
No idea what the Japanese version of the Hyrule Compendium says, though.
It's all quite fun and interesting to debate, in any case. All told we're not convinced there's a big inconsistency in localisation here, but the fact it's being talked about reminds us of how passionate and engaged fans of the IP can be.
By all means share your own theories in the comments!
Thanks to all that sent this in.