Friday, November 26, 2021

The Shenmue Prophecy: Comparison of All English Versions To Date


We have previously carried out an analysis of the Shenmue the Animation trailer that was launched recently at New York Comic Con (NYCC) 2021. 

This time, we will examine the prophecy wording that Shenhua recites as this trailer plays, and see how it stacks up against the various other English versions that have been published to date. 

Related links:

  • Shenmue the Animation Trailer Breakdown: Part One
  • Shenmue the Animation Trailer Breakdown: Part Two
  • Shenmue the Animation Trailer Breakdown: Part Three
  • Shenmue the Animation Trailer Breakdown: Part Four

  • Prophecy Versions to Date


    Update: the prophecy that is played again at Shenmue I's ending has differences in wording compared to the one in the prologue, so I have added this version.

    Versions of the Shenmue prophecy to date have been seen in:
    • Shenmue I (the prologue that plays before the title screen);
    • Shenmue I (at the end of the game);
    • Shenmue II (before the title screen & in the Stone Pit);
    • The Shenmue III "Prophecy" trailer; and
    • This Shenmue the Animation trailer.
    However when it comes to the English translation, while the meaning is retained, they are not identical to each other in wording.

    Below, I have separated the prophecy into 10 parts. As will be see, not all parts appear in every version;  a hyphen "-" mark is used to indicate if a part does not appear in a particular game or trailer.

    For example, the first game does not include the lines that describe the dragon and phoenix, which are introduced from Shenmue 2 onwards; on the other hand it contains the line "And thus the saga... begins" which is not uttered in the subsequent games.

    To help gauge how faithful the wording of each version is to the original Japanese meaning, I have given a fairly literal translation at the top of each.

    General note: the Japanese text is written in a poetic or literary style in its use of vocabulary and grammar, as if the words were written long ago.  Hence it is fitting that the English versions also assume a somewhat a poetic turn of phrase.

    ① その者、東の遠つ国より海を渡りて現れり。

    Sono mono, higashi no tōtsu kuni yori umi o watarite arawareri.

    Plain translation: He shall appear from across the sea, from a far-away eastern country.
    [Shenmue I: prologue] He shall appear from a far eastern land across the sea.
    [Shenmue I: ending] He comes from a far eastern land across the ocean.
    [Shenmue II] From a distant land in the East, from across the sea, he shall appear.
    [Shenmue III] From a distant land in the East... From across the sea, he shall appear.
    [Anime trailer] Coming across the sea, from a distant land in the east, he shall appear.

    Comment:

    The game's use of "from across the sea" sounds more formal, and perhaps more fitting for a prophecy, than the anime trailer's use of "coming across the sea". However all meanings are consistent.


    ② 若者、秘めし力、未だ知らず。

    Wakamono, himeshichikara, imada shirazu.

    Plain translation: A young man who does not yet know his hidden strength.
    [Shenmue I: prologue] A young man who has yet to know his potential.
    [Shenmue I: ending] A young man who is yet to realise his own potential.
    [Shenmue II] He does not know of the strength hidden within him.
    [Shenmue III] He does not know of the strength hidden within him.
    [Anime trailer] A young man, unaware of his own strength.

    Comment:

    Most versions translate the Japanese word chikara as "strength", although it could also be translated as "power". Shenmue I's use of "potential" is rather more vague.

    ③ 彼の身を滅ぼすことも、彼の願い、叶えしことも

    Ka no mi o horobosu koto mo, ka no negai, kanaeshi koto mo.

    Plain translation: It could both destroy him and realize his wishes.
    [Shenmue I: prologue] This potential is a power that could either destroy him or realise his will.
    [Shenmue I: ending] This potential is a power, that could both destroy him, as well as ensure his will is realised.
    [Shenmue II] The strength that would destroy him... The strength that would fulfill his wishes.
    [Shenmue III] The strength that would destroy him. The strength that would fulfill his wishes.
    [Anime trailer] A strength that can both destroy him and bring his dreams to fruition.

    Comment:

    I personally like the rhythm formed by the repetition in Shenmue II and III for this line. The anime trailer's phrase "bring his dreams to fruition" perhaps feels more suited to someone achieving an aspirational goal than a young man chasing down his father's killer.  


    ④ その者、勇み立つ時、我を求めん。共に荒れ野の道を行かん。

    Sono mono, isami tatsu toki, ware o motomen. Tomo ni areno no michi o ikan.


    Plain translation: When he has the courage, he will seek me. We shall go together along the path through the wilderness.
    [Shenmue I: prologue] His courage shall determine his fate. The path he must traverse fraught with adversity.
    [Shenmue I: ending] Perhaps he will achieve the balance that will mark him as a man of courage. The path he must traverse is fraught with adversity... and filled with expectations.
    [Shenmue II] When he is ready, he shall seek me out. And we shall brave together the rocky path.
    [Shenmue III] When he is ready, he shall seek me out. And we shall brave together the rocky path.
    [Anime trailer] -

    Comment:

    Shenmue I is rather creative with its wording for the first part, with the wording "His courage shall determine his fate", while Shenmue II & III are close to the direct meaning.

    This line is skipped completely in the anime trailer. 

    ⑤ 待ちて願え。

    Machite negae.

    Plain translation: I shall wait and wish.
    [Shenmue I: prologue] I await whilst praying...
    [Shenmue I: ending] I await whilst praying...  
    [Shenmue II] I shall wait...
    [Shenmue III] I shall wait.
    [Anime trailer] -

    Comment:

    Shenmue II and III choose to ignore the wishing / praying aspect.

    This line is also skipped in the anime trailer. 

    ⑥ 邂逅は我の古よりのさだめなり。

    Kaikō wa ware no inishie yori no sadame nari.

    Plain translation: This encounter has been my destiny since long ago.
    [Shenmue I: prologue] for this destiny predetermined since ancient times.
    [Shenmue I: ending] for the realisation of this destiny pre-determined since ancient times.
    [Shenmue II] This encounter has been my destiny since ancient times.
    [Shenmue III] This encounter has been my destiny since ancient times.
    [Anime trailer] As it is written upon the stars, from long, long ago.

    Comment:

    The anime trailer version gets a little creative here, but stays true to the meaning.

    ⑦ 地より現れし龍が、暗雲を誘い、天を覆うも、

    Chi yori arawareshi ryū ga, kurokumo o izanai, ten o ōumo,


    Plain translation: A dragon appears from the ground, bringing forth dark clouds to cover the heavens.
    [Shenmue I: prologue] -
    [Shenmue I: ending] -
    [Shenmue II] A Dragon shall emerge from the earth, and dark clouds shall obscure the heavens.
    [Shenmue III] A dragon shall emerge from the earth, and dark clouds shall obscure the heavens.
    [Anime trailer] A dragon shall rise from the earth, conjuring dark clouds to blot out the heavens.

    Comment:

    This line is not part of the Shenmue I version of the prophecy.

    The anime trailer gets closer to the Japanese phrasing with the use of the word "conjuring" to indicate that it is the dragon which is causing the dark clouds to appear.

    ⑧ 舞い降りし鳳凰、その翼に拠りて、紫風を生むが如く、

    Maiorishi hōō, sono tsubasa ni yorite, shifū o umu ga gotoku,

    Plain translation: A phoenix swoops down, as if creating a purple wind with its wings.
    [Shenmue I: prologue] -
    [Shenmue I: ending] -
    [Shenmue II] A Phoenix shall descend from above, its wings will create a purple wind.
    [Shenmue III] A phoenix shall descend from above. Its wings will create a purple wind.
    [Anime trailer] A Phoenix will descend from above, delivering purple wind, with a flap of its wings.

    Comment:

    This line is also omitted from the Shenmue I prophecy.

    All versions are close to the Japanese meaning.

    ⑨ 漆黒の夜は広がりしも…明星はひとつ…燦爛と輝く。

    Shikkoku no yo wa hirogarishimo,,, myōjō wa hitotsu... sanran to kagayaku.

    Plain translation: The pitch-black night unfolds... but the morning star shines brilliantly, alone.
    [Shenmue I: prologue] A pitch black night unfolds with the morning star as its only light.
    [Shenmue I: ending] A pitch black night unfolds with morning star as its only light.
    [Shenmue II] In the midst of the pitch-black night, a morning star shall glisten, alone...
    [Shenmue III] In the midst of the pitch-black night... a morning star shall glisten, alone.
    [Anime trailer] Yet, even as the sky is devoured by darkness, a single morning star radiates its bright light.

    Comment:

    This line describes the morning star (the planet Venus), set in the night sky.

    The anime trailer version adds a little flair over the game versions, expressing the pitch-black night as the sky being "devoured by darkness".

    ⑩ 長き物語は今、始まれり。

    Nagaki monogatari wa ima, hajimareri.

    Plain translation: The long tale now begins.
    [Shenmue I: prologue] And thus the saga... begins.
    [Shenmue I: ending] And thus the saga... begins.
    [Shenmue II] -
    [Shenmue III] -
    [Anime trailer] That long winding tale shall now... begin.

    Comment:

    Among the games, this line was only uttered in the first. It makes sense that it would also be included in the anime trailer version of the prophecy, which starts from the beginning of the story.

    I have a fondness for the the original wording of the Shenmue I version. The anime trailer's line has the same meaning but the phrase "long winding tale" seems a slightly unnecessarily wordy alternative to "saga".


    Final Comment


    Based on the changes in wording this time in the anime trailer, it can be assumed that the translators chose not to reference the previous versions.

    However, as we have seen, all English versions of the prophecy, including the one in the anime trailer, express the spirit of the original; which wording sounds best is largely a matter of preference. Which do you prefer?

    Become a Patron!

    No comments:

    Post a Comment