The script text referenced throughout is from the Chrono Trigger Retranslation Project via the Chrono Compendium, completed in script form on March 30, 2007. This fan translation, thanks to KWhazit, creates "a clearer portrayal of Chrono Trigger as intended by its Japanese creators," that forgoes, "Nintendo of America's censorship standards," and overrides the video game's inability to hold all of the original text when translated to English. Please note that blue text is used to highlight specific Japanese characters and differentiate the North American Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) localization script.]
In accordance to Nintendo of America’s censorship guidelines, any depiction of explicit religious symbolism, such as crosses, pentagrams, and the word “god,” were strictly prohibited (except for references of Roman mythological gods which were deemed acceptable). Because of this restriction, various references in Chrono Trigger including “divine light”, “heaven,” “god,” and “holy power” were never articulated to North American gaming audiences, ultimately eliminating these fragments of Japanese culture. However, it appears that certain undertones and remnants of Shintoism are present, albeit they are metaphorical in nature and should be reflected upon in a hypothetical light.

The most noticeable changes to the North American translation are the omissions of certain words and phrases. For example, a Tech (technical) move revised in the video game was “Shining,” which inflicts “ultimately holy damage on all enemies” this Tech now reads as “Luminaire - ultimate damage on all enemies.” Even Crono’s magical element is changed to “Lightning,” instead of “Heaven.” Along with this, any instance of “god” or “gods,” 「神」 kami, is removed and replaced with an equally empowering title like “mighty” or “infamous”:
ボッシュ「魔神器が吸い上げるエネルギーが大きくなればなるほど女王は正気を失っていった……。 海底に眠る不死のラヴォスに女王は人としての心を食われてしまったのじゃ……。

Bosch: The greater the energy that the Nether Relic sucks up grows, the more the queen loses her sanity... The queen's human mind has been consumed by the immortal god Lavos that sleeps beneath the ocean...

MELCHIOR: The more energy the Mammon Machine absorbs, the further the Queen degenerates. Her spirit has been stolen by the infamous immortal, Lavos.

Along with this, certain descriptors like “divine” and “holy” are revised:
女王「続けるのだ、サラ! あともう少しだ……。 わらわは永遠の生命を手に入れる! わがジール王国は神の光につつまれるのだ! ククク……。 アーッハッハッハッ……!!

Queen: Continue, Sara! Just a little more... I will obtain eternal life! My Zeal Kingdom shall be enveloped in divine light! Ku ku ku... Ah, hah hah hah...!!

QUEEN: Don't stop Schala! We're almost there... Immortality will be ours! Zeal will have the glory it deserves! Mwa, ha, ha... Too long have I waited...!
ここはフィオナの神殿。 400年前、魔王との戦いで砂漠化した森をよみがえらせたフィオナ様とロボ様をまつった神殿です。 この神殿の奥には、ご神体であるロボ様が安置されています。

This is Fiona's Temple. It is a temple dedicated to lady Fiona and lord Robo, who made revive the forest that was turned to desert in the war with the Magus 400 years ago. Within this temple, the holy relic of lord Robo is enshrined.

This is Fiona's Shrine. Here we give thanks to Fiona & Robo for replanting the forest 400 years ago! The remains of the lofty {Robo} are enshrined in the inner sanctum.

By using the word “shrine” instead of “temple” above, the North American release chooses a more flexible term that has a nonreligious meaning defined as, “any place or object hallowed by its history or associations,” whereas a “temple” depicts, “a building devoted to the worship, or regarded as the dwelling place, of a god or gods or other objects of religious reverence.”[1] [2] What is most interesting, however, is the fact that in Shinto belief, 「神体」 shintai refers to an object in which the spirit (also translated as kami) of a god-like power resides.3 They are repositories for worship, but are not to be confused as physical manifestations of kami. In fact, the duration of Robo’s enshrinement also implies the strongest form of worship, only reserved to those who have greatly impacted the world:
“Thus, [in Shintoism] objects of worship are limited to those which are closely associated and have great influences on human life. In the case of human beings, all people are revered after their death at their home as ancestral Kami. However, people whose spirits are enshrined after death are limited to those who have had a great contribution to a community or the state. People who are enshrined during their lifetime are especially limited to those who have enormous spiritual power over human life.”4

As such, this line suggests that the populace revered Robo and considered the robot to be an inanimate object that was animated by a kami  but because this was censored, this Shinto practice is lost indefinitely in the West.

Further along in the storyline, however, Robo has a revelation that may very well be an implied connection to Shintoism:
ロボ「カクシンは持てませんが誰かが何かを私達に見せたかったんじゃないかと……。 ゲートを通していろんな時代の何かを。 もしくは、その誰か自身が見たかったのかもしれマセン。 自分の生きて来た姿を思い返すように……。

Robo: I cannot be CONFIDENT about it, but could they not BE the work of someone who wanted to show us something...?Something in multiple eras spanned by Gates. Alternately, MAYBE that someone wanted to see this something personally. As though to think back upon the way their own life went...

Robo: I have come to think that someone, or something wanted us to see all this. The different events over time, that we have witnessed. It is almost as if some entity wanted to relive its past.
This someone, 「誰か」 dareka, is referred to more explicitly as “the Entity” in the North American localization; the mysterious being is speculated to be the planet which “is re-living the unpleasant memories of its past, which results in the creation of . . . Gates to certain eras.” However, within the context of Japanese culture, this dareka similarly shares the same character of kami, which refers to the aura of divinity that manifests in rocks, rivers, animals, trees, places, people “anything that can inspire a sense of wonder and awe in the beholder, in a way that testifies to the divinity of its origin or being, can be called kami.” Because of this, it is discernible that Shinto belief was preserved in the form of the planet being represented as a kami -- regardless of its metaphorical nature:
カエル「しかしだ…… この思い出の持ち主はよっぽどラヴォスにえんがあるんだな。 どの時代もラヴォスにからんでる。

Frog: Anyway... whoever's behind these memories is really tangled up with Lavos. Every one of these eras involves it.

Frog: Lavos playeth an integral role in the fortunes of this Entity...

魔王「……。 で、誰だというんだ、そいつは?

Magus: ...... Well, who's this someone, then?

Magus: who is this Entity?

ロボ「誰の思い出かはわかりマセン。 もしかしたら人ではない…… もっと大きな存在かも知れマセン。 それがわかる日が、ワタシ達の旅の終わりの時かもしれマセン。 ……そろそろ、ねマショウカ?

Robo: I do NOT know whose memories they are. Perhaps not a person... MAYBE a larger existence. The day we understand that MAY come when OUR journey ends....SHALL we call it a night?

Robo: It is unknown, whose memories these are. It may be something beyond our comprehension. Our journey may come to an end when we finally discover the identity of the Entity.... ...shall we turn in for the night?

As Robo foreshadows, the player discovers even more evidence of what the being’s existence truly is. Gaspar's last line in the original "This is a battle between the planet and Lavos!" is much more specific than the use of "the world" in the North American version, and considering this usage of the word “planet” elsewhere, it is sensible to make a connection between the planet and the Entity, and one between the Entity and kami. This is why, it is probable that the notion of Shintoism is apparent to the Japanese gaming audience, whereas it has little to no bearing in the West which is primarily dominated and informed by monotheistic principles (although this “Entity” may serve as a symbol to Westerners of God and His hand in the affairs of the universe).

Interestingly enough, the presence of a religious architectural structure was deemed acceptable in the North American localization of Chrono Trigger. It is known as an “abbey” in the Japanese release and a “cathedral” in the North America. Renaming this structure to “cathedral” is incorrect since what is depicted in Chrono Trigger is most likely a monastery or convent which houses three nuns and a spiritual mother or Abbess of sorts. On the contrary, a cathedral (although this term is often applied to large churches, regardless of their functionality as a cathedral) is “the principal church of a diocese, containing the bishop's throne.”5 It is a place of great central power, which although it is imprecise  nevertheless assumes that this structure is the central religious structure in Guardia. It is also important to note that the term “cathedral” may be more familiar with younger individuals in North America, in the end being the more logical choice in terminology for localization.

In light of these distinctions, it is clear that religious symbolism and jargon were very much altered during the North American localization of Chrono Trigger, completely divorced from their original significance. On the other hand, it is also plausible to say that Japanese culture in the form of Shintoism and the nature of kami was kept intact, unknowingly being articulated to North American gaming communities, despite heavy censorship standards.

Works Cited:

[1] "shrine." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 28 Jul. 2015.

[2] "temple." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 28 Jul. 2015.

[3] "shintai". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 28 Jul. 2015

[4] Garfias, Robert. Kami. N.p.: n.p., 10 May 2002. PDF.

[5] "cathedral." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 28 Jul. 2015.

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