In conjunction with various revisions of prohibited content, character name and personality modification in Chrono Trigger —
intentional or not —
occurred as a result of localization. Original Japanese names were sometimes infused with cultural and linguistic puns, subsequently becoming unrecognizable and devoid of context overseas —
character personalities were no better. Whether it was caused by mistranslation, contextual loss, cultural linguistics, or varying distinctions in speech patterns, Chrono Trigger
’s cast of characters underwent some of the largest transformations as they were articulated for North American gaming audiences.
Japanese Name: クロノ Kurono (Chrono, Crono)Across all Japanese publications, the main protagonist has always been romanized as “Chrono.” The North American SNES version of Chrono Trigger only allowed five characters for naming party members, which lead to the “h” being dropped. As such, North American players are accustomed to “Crono,” despite its inaccuracy. In the Japanese iteration, Ayla also refers to Crono as the nickname “Cro,” which eventually catches on among her tribesmen and women.
Age: Indeterminate, late teens
Home Time: 1000 A.D.
Despite these distinctions, what is most fascinating about Crono is the fact that his personality must be totally inferred from gameplay and events that take place, since he never speaks in the video game — yet he is not a mute (playable and non-playable characters speak and respond to him normally). Because of this, character ambiguities are present. While many believe he is “a fearless hero, with bravery bordering on the line of foolishness,” the Japanese Ultimania guide describes Crono as “a natural genius at swordsmanship and possesses an unbreakable will.” From either perspective, Crono is chosen to lead the effort against Lavos, and he does so “whether out of unparalleled virtue or a need to assert his strength.” As such, Crono’s character is completely reliant on the player and can be interpreted in various ways regardless of nationality. This makes his personality fluid yet unmalleable, not to mention freed from translation discrepancies.
Full Name: Princess Nadia "Marle" GuardiaDaughter to King Guardia XXXIII, Princess Nadia (more commonly known as Marle) is quite analogous to her original Japanese depiction — Princess Marledia. She is the stereotypically unhappy offspring of royalty whose attempts to sneak out are numerous. On one of these excursions, disguised in simple clothes, she meets Crono at the Millennial Fair. Although being young and naïve at heart, Marle’s English translation sometimes depicts her as more rude and blunt — establishing traits that were not originally intended. A great example of this is when Marle decides to run away from the castle and her father, King Guardia:
Japanese Name: マール Maaru, Maarudia (Marl, Princess Marldia)
Age: Indeterminate, late teens
Home Time: 1000 A.D.
王「マールディア！With these two side by side, it is incredible to see the stark distinctions between word choice. Marle in the North American localization blames her father for her leaving (and in a terrible way), while the Japanese script does not explicitly point a finger at King Guardia. By saying “here” in the original iteration instead of “you,” and including “the castle” after “I’m leaving” — it is clear that Marle is more upset at the “castle” as a whole. Likewise, the next scene depicts Marle in a more ignorant and abrupt manner:
KING: Princess Nadia!
Marle: I'm sick of being here! I'm leaving the castle!
Marle: I despise you! I'm leaving!
マール「行こう！As evidenced, there is even more of a disconnect, not only is her meaningful reason lost to localization, but arguably it also impacts Marle’s character for the rest of the journey since players will be informed from these actions, as well as others to come.
Marle: Let's go!
Marle: Come on!
ルッカ「行こうって…… どの時代に出るか、わからないのよ！ 今度は帰って来れるかどうかも！！
Lucca: Go...? We don't know which era we'll come out in! Or even whether we'll make it back this time!
Lucca: But we don't know where it will take us!
Marle: That's still fine! Better than this era where Crono was arrested because of me!
Marle: Who cares?! This place stinks anyway!
Full Name: Lucca AshtearBeing recognized as one of the smartest inventors of their time (1000 A.D.), Lucca is a brilliant and eager personality. Her failure to save her mother from a machine accident prompted her to study science; she felt guilty for years after this event. In the aftermath, Lucca became “humorously immodest and outlandish in her exclamations and faith in her own ability.” These qualities are somewhat steadfast between the Japanese and North American releases, but a few mistranslations coupled with the introduction of Western idioms revised Lucca’s character in the North American region. In particular, Lucca seems more direct and witty when she goes to free Crono from his prison cell:
Japanese Name: ルッカ Rukka (Lucca)
Age: Indeterminate, late teens
Home Time: 1000 A.D.
キサマ、何者だ！The inclusion of two North American-specific idioms and an extra exclamation mark creates this difference in characterization, highlighting Lucca’s spunk and humor. Another interesting example is earlier on in the story, when Lucca’s father, Taban, introduces Lucca to a crowd that has gathered to watch her teleportation device. As opposed to the changes above, the English script forgets to point out her sharp-mind and brilliance, instead only mentioning her beauty as an individual:
Who the hell are you!?
Who the heck are YOU?
Lucca: You're in my way! Sleep for a while!
Lucca: Get outta the way!! Take 5 you mugs!
ルッカ「どう？ ルッカ様じまんの使いすてドッカンばくはつピストルのお味は？ さあ、こんな所とはさっさとおさらばしましょう！
Lucca: Well? How's your taste of the great Lucca's prideworthy Disposable Burst Blast Pistol? Come on, let's get out of here, quick!
Lucca: So, what do you think of my Zonker-38? Pretty cool, huh? Let's blow this joint!
タバン「こっちに転送されるって夢の様な装置だあ！ こいつを発明したのが頭脳めいせきさいしょくけんびの、この俺の一人娘ルッカだ！Another quality that suffers through the North American localization process, is Lucca’s ability to withstand even the greatest of trials:
Taban: You're transferred to over here. The device works like a dream! The one who invented this my very own sharp-minded daughter, abounding in both brilliance and beauty, Lucca!
TABAN: ...and you'll get teleported here! It's the masterwork of my beautiful daughter, Lucca.
ルッカ「こ、こんなところで私のサイエンスが…… 負けてたまるもんですか……。Finally, Lucca uses a very respectful form of Japanese when first speaking to Marle (this is somewhat apparent in the English script), but instead it is referred to as modesty and not speaking formally:
Lucca: A-as if I can just let my science lose... at a time like this...
Lucca: Science has finally failed me.
Lucca: Most humbly, Princess Marledia...
Lucca: Your Highness, er, Princess...we...
Marle: I'm telling you, Marle's fine!
Marle: Please call me Marle!
Lucca: W-well then, Marle... Please observe.
Lucca: Well then, Marle... Observe!
Marle: Eeek! Lucca, that's AWESOME!
Marle: Wow! Lucca! You're amazing!
Lucca: O ho ho ho...! E-excuse me...!
Lucca: Ain't it the truth! Oh, um...I mean...
マール「話し方もふつうでいーの！ ルッカの方がスゴいんだよ！ 私は王女かもしれないけど、なんにも出来ないなだから。
Marle: You can talk normally, too! You're more amazing than I am! I might be a princess, but I can't do a thing.
Marle: Enough with the false modesty! You have a real gift! I would trade my royal ancestry for your genius in a heartbeat!
Full Name: GlennKnown in North America officially as Glenn, but later as Frog, his Japanese name, Kaeru, is a play on 「蛙」 "frog" and the verb 「変える」 "to transform". This already amusing name, is further characterized by another pun (in which kaeru means “able to keep a pet”) used during a playful scene with Crono’s mother:
Japanese Name: カエル Kaeru (Kaeru: meaning 'frog', 'to change', or 'to return')
Age: Indeterminate, late 20's to mid 30's
Home Time: 600 A.D.
ジナ「………。 クロノ…… うちでは、そんな大きなペットはかえませんよ。Besides losing these witty puns, Frog's character became markedly different from the original as a result of localization. Being characterized as a formal knight with Medieval speech patterns (some of which being grammatically incorrect), Frog was a completely distinct personality from Kaeru who “was a little more rough around the edges and direct, unafraid to speak his mind [and] take a verbal potshot at his enemies,” and is the only party member who curses. Kaeru also forgoed the Elizabethan speech present in Frog. In addition, Kaeru is referred to as 「勇者様」 yuusha-sama (as opposed to 「勇者」 yuusha), which is a more respectful form of the english equivalent “hero.” Examples of Frog’s speech patterns are replicated down below:
Gina: ......... Crono... We can't keep such a large pet in our home.
MOM: Dear me...! Crono! How many times have I told you to keep your pets outside!!
カエル「ああ。きっと、この部屋のどこかに、かくし通路がはずだ。 そこから奥へ行けるだろう。 These next two passages contain grammatical errors:
Kaeru: No problem. I'm positive there's a secret passage somewhere in this room. I'll bet we can get in the back from there.
Frog: Mayhap a hidden door lurks nigh? Let us search the environs.
カエル「お前はしあわせ者だぜ…… こんなにみんなに思われて…… しあわせ者め……
Kaeru: You're a lucky guy... cared about like this by everyone... lucky bastard...
Frog: Thou art a lucky lad. Thy friends be loyal and true!
カエル「リーネ様を守りきれずめんぼくしだいもございません。 The “-th” verb ending should only be reserved for third-person singular subjects, these include “he,” “she,” and “it.” As such, “I hath” is incorrect and should instead read “I have disgraced thee.”
Kaeru: Unable to protect lady Leene to the end, I have lost all honor.
Frog: I failed to protect Queen Leene. I hath disgraced thee.
カエル「グランドリオンをなおせる者は、もうこの世にはいないのだ……。The phrase above should read — “Nary a soul remaineth to mend the Masamune.”
Frog: There's no one left in this world anymore who can fix the Grandleon...
Frog: Nary a soul remains to mend'eth the Masamune.
Full Name: Prometheus, R-66YRobo, also known as Prometheus and R-66Y, is a male humanoid robot that was created before 1999 A.D. in order to serve and study humans. Robo is essentially the same between localizations; he is a strong, intelligent, and anxious being, struggling during the course of the game over his purpose in life. Robo, although existing as a robot in Chrono Trigger, is imbued with emotions, just like any other human — with this attribute being explicitly depicted throughout the story, especially in his friendship with Lucca:
Japanese Name: ロボ Robo (same as in the English version)
Age: Indeterminate; over 300 years upon discovery, over 700 years by end of Chrono Trigger, over 15,200 when seen in Chrono Cross
Home Time: 2300 A.D.
ロボ「ワタシの足をあげマス。 バランス良好、超小型の２足ほ行パーツデス。 ワタシにはキャタピラでも付けてくれれば…… 気を落とさないでクダサイ。What is surprising is that this fact is missed altogether in the English script, regardless of previous emotional exchanges between characters, whereas the Japanese iteration considers Robo a sentimental being capable of expressing feelings:
Robo: I WILL give her MY legs. They ARE well-balanced ultra-miniaturized bipedal walking parts. If you would just attach caterpillars or something similar to ME... PLEASE do not be depressed.
Robo: I'll give you my legs! They're lightweight and well balanced. You could mount some treads on me instead.
Lucca: Thanks. I have such a good friend...
Lucca: Thanks, you're such a good friend.
Robo: Friend... I, a robot...
Robo: A...friend? Me, a robot? You called me your friend?
ロボ「ワタシは親がいないので子を愛する気持ちがわかりまセンがこの文章は何か……あたたかいデスネ。Besides this significant change, Robo was also given robot speech patterns developed for any and all robots found within the Japanese version of Chrono Trigger. This language is Japanese written in all katakana. Katakana are fragments of more complex kanji, which makes them much harder to read in Japanese. Some robots are easier to understand than others, with Robo being the easiest to comprehend and relate to (these katakana fragments are capitalized in the Japanese literal translation to represent this speech pattern). Although being so fluent, he tends to have trouble with pronouns and conjugated endings, not to mention that he makes robot sounds whenever he speaks. In comparison, the North American iteration of Robo has no such linguistic differentiation.
Robo: I have no parents, so I do NOT understand the feeling of loving a child, but this text IS somehow... warm.
Robo: Although I have no emotions, there is something warm and cozy about this letter.
Japanese Name: エイラ Eira (Eira, Eyla, or Ayla)Ayla’s North American rendition is very akin to her Japanese roots. She is just as strong and as capable, and is known as the chief of her village, Ioka. Though her vocabulary is considered rude and primitive in both versions, Ayla’s intellect and passion are the very core of her being. She utilizes a unique Japanese character 「あたい」 for “I” and “me” that is feminine and tough. This context is lost however, and along with added censorship of her appearance — Spekkio’s description of Ayla, once censored, became “sweetheart” instead of the original’s “sexy babe” — and sexual preferences in the North American localization creates a different image of Ayla:
Age: Indeterminate, early- to mid-20s
Species: Early Human
Home Time: 65000000 B.C.
エイラ「お前達も 強い。 エイラ 強い者 好き。 男でも 女でも。By skirting around the suggestion above, Ayla’s sexual nature is altered and detached from her original character. This is very similar to Ayla’s inquisitive and worried exchange with Marle concerning Marle’s ability to breastfeed (which is mitigated in the English script):
Ayla: Yous strong too. Ayla like strong people. Man, woman, not matter.
Ayla: You strong too. Ayla respect strong people. Men and women.
Marle: Oh, is THAT how it is?
Marle: Oh, brother...
Lucca: I d-don't swing that way!
Lucca: Where have they been keeping her?
エイラ「おう すだつ！ エイラにもそれ わかる！ プテランもすだつ。 時たてば すだつ！ マールも すだつか？ それすごい！This alteration diminishes two admirable traits pertaining to Ayla’s character, which are her desire for knowledge and her honesty; she appears to be troubled about Marle and her breast-size, pointing out that she may experience issues while nursing future children. Ayla, not knowing that this may be considered rude or embarrassing to Marle, asks her openly about her predicament — ultimately revealing to players a great deal about herself and her personality.
Ayla: Oh, leave nest! Ayla understand that too! Pteran leave nest too. Time pass, leave nest! Marle leave nest too? That great!
Ayla: Ayla know about leaving nest! Time pass, grow big, leave nest! Ayla leave nest! Dactyl leave nest too. Marle leave too? Big change!
エイラ「すだつ！ ねねする！ 子供うむ！ おっぱいやる！ そしてまだ 子がすだつ！
Ayla: Leave nest! Make baby! Bear kids! Give boobs! Then kids leave nest again!
Ayla: Leave nest! Have baby! Baby grow big! Leave nest too!
エイラ「オマエ だいじょぶか？ おっぱいないな……。
Ayla: You be okay? No have boobs...
Ayla: Sure you ready leave nest? Not too big yet.
Magus (The Magus, The Demon King)
Full Name(s): Magus, Janus ZealHeir to the Kingdom of Zeal and brother to Schala, Magus was born Janus, a shy and introspective spirit. His birth name in Japanese is a homonym 「ジャキ」 jyaki, which means “imp,” “evil spirit,” or ”devil,” and foreshadows his treacherous activities during 600 A.D., while his other name (more accurately his title) 「魔王」 maou, translates to “Demon King” or “Magic King.” These original names serve to expose players to the characterizations of Jyaki and his implied betrayal, as well as Maou and his supreme leadership — unfortunately these linguistic elements were not translated during the North American localization, meaning the loss of helpful context and important imagery. This is especially apparent in the following scene, where a young boy at the Millennial Fair describes the history of Guardia:
Japanese Name(s): 魔王 Maou, meaning 'demon king' or 'magic king', ジャキJaki
Age: Indeterminate, around 30 (Radical Dreamers)
Home Time: 12000 B.C., 600 A.D.
エヘヘ、ボク知ってるよ。 何びゃく年か昔、魔王軍とすごい戦いがあったんだって。 もしその戦いに負けてたら今こんなお祭りはなかったってうちのママが言ってたよ。The English script instead refers to the Demon King as a “Wizard,” and also disregards important information concerning the fact that if Guardia had lost the battle against this King, chaos would have ensued.
Eh heh heh, I know about it. I heard there was an awesome battle with the Demon King's army hundreds of years ago. My mom says if we'd lost that battle, there wouldn't be a festival like this now.
What's the big deal? So what if we won a war against a Wizard hundreds of years ago!
All in all, the Demon King is articulated as more calm, sinister, and calculating when compared to Magus. When he is threatened by Kaeru (Frog), the Demon King is more detached and does not view Kaeru as a threat, whereas, in the North American localization, Magus seems more agitated and vulnerable, especially with the inclusion of multiple exclamation marks:
魔王「ほう……。 きさまがグランドリオンを……。 だが今度は他の者達が、足手まといにならねばいいがな。In this next example, the Demon King uses a sarcastic tone, mocking Cyrus in the Japanese iteration. It feels malevolent and evil, while Magus appears less shrewd and more combative:
The Demon King: Oh...? You have the Grandleon... But this time, it would be for the best if those not involved don't get in the way.
Magus: Ah...! The Masamune!!! I bet you're just dying to use it!
魔王「よゆうだな、サイラスとやら。 人の心配などしている場合か……？Even the Demon King’s intentions are muddied, especially when he is still named Jyaki:
The Demon King: Such composure, Cyrus, was it? Is this any time to worry about another...?
Magus: You'd better worry more about yourself, Cyrus!
長老「賢者様から聞いたのじゃがジャキ様はサラ様をもこえるすごい魔力をひめているらしい。しかし、女王をくるわせ、サラ様を苦しめるその力をきらい、心ごと……その力を閉ざしてしまっているのじゃ。From this depiction, Janus is seen as devious and secretly attempting to gain power from Lavos. This however, is definitely not the case, since it is reinforced in both Japanese and English renditions that he despises Lavos and chooses to reject his own magical powers.
Elder: I heard from the Philosophers that lord Jyaki hides an incredible magical power that surpasses even lady Sara. However, he hates that power, which drives the queen mad and torments lady Sara, and along with his heart... he has shut that power away.
OLD MAN: The Guru of Life said that Sir Janus has stronger powers than even Miss Schala! Janus must be using her and the Queen to get Lavos...
Later on, the option to recruit the Demon King becomes available and if you choose to take him with you when he is stationed at the End of Time, he responds very differently between the Japanese and English scripts:
魔王「足手まといになるようなら殺すぞ……。These instances and more reflect a divide between the Demon King and Magus. While one is manipulative and cruel in spirit, the other seems more blunt and aggressive. Without a doubt, these distinct personalities impact Chrono Trigger’s narrative structure, as well as the dialogue and interplay between various characters.
The Demon King: I'll kill you if it seems you're going to hinder me...
Magus: Now we've got a winning team!
Extra CharactersAlthough referred to as “Mom” in the English script, your mother actually has a name, which is Gina, in the original Japanese script.
Ozzie, Slash, and Flea (the three strongest henchmen who work under Magus) are Western references to musicians — in order, these are singer John Michael “Ozzy” Osborne, guitarist Saul Hudson, and bassist Michael Balzary whose stage name is Flea. These names were altered due to cultural barriers surrounding the original Japanese script, which included an ongoing joke concerning condiments — Vinnegar (Ozzie), Soysaw (Slash), and Mayonnay (Flea):
魔王には恐ろしい手下がいる。 ビネガー、マヨネー、ソイソーの３人さ。 できることなら、あいつらとはかかわりあいにならない方がいい。 血もなみだもないバケモノどもだよ。Later on, you meet a character named Tata, but in Japan the name is Tarta — clearly referring to tartar sauce. This new name adds to the already prevalent condiment joke, up above. It is also important to note that in Japan, tartar sauce’s base is made from mayonnaise, sometimes vinegar for added flavor, and every now and then soy sauce is mixed in as well. On an interesting side note, this condiment naming system is most likely a reference or a nod to Akira Toriyama’s previous work with Dragon Ball, in which most character names were derived from food — examples include “Kakarot” (carrot), “Vegeta” (vegetable), and “Gohan” (rice in Japanese) to name a few.
The Magus has three fearsome subordinates: Vinnegar, Mayonnay, and Soysaw. You'd better not get mixed up with them if you can help it. They're cold-hearted monsters.
Magus has 3 fearsome henchmen, Ozzie, Flea, and Slash. They're tone-deaf, evil fiends!