Twisted Wonderland ENG vs JPN, is Trey’s “Paint the Roses” a Mistake? and more The English dialogue might seem to be mistaken sometimes, but some of that is, actually, accurate translations of the meaning behind the characters’ dialogue; they just aren’t saying what they mean.

In order to understand the language rules that are being broken, let’s have a quick rundown of what the rules actually are.

Japanese has four alphabets:  ・Romaji (the Roman alphabet) ・Kanji (adapted from Chinese kanji, have evolved over time) ・Katakana (phonetic symbols for words adopted from other languages) ・Hiragana (originally based on kanji, these are also phonetic symbols)

Here is a screenshot of Ruggie using all four alphabets in a line of dialogue: Green for the romaji, red for the kanji, purple for the katakana and blue for the hiragana.

In video games, novels, manga, subtitles and any place where there is kanji, there will often (but not always) also be smaller hiragana or katakana written nearby to tell the reader how it is pronounced. This is called “furigana”.

For example, the kanji 猫 would have “ねこ” written over it. The kanji means “cat” in English, and the hiragana ね is read as “ne”, while こ is read as “ko”. So 猫 = ねこ = neko = cat.

Furigana’s purpose is to tell the reader how to pronounce kanji.  Here are some examples of furigana in everyday life: In Kuroshitsuji, Zelda: Breath of the Wild and this public park, all kanji have furigana. In the Twst novel, only some do, as it is aimed at an older audience.

Now that we know what furigana is and how it’s used, here is how Twst is using it for wordplay: The most obvious examples in the game are the characters’ unique magics.  When Trey uses his unique magic on JPN-server, for example, this is what we see:

The command itself is inside the 『quotation marks』, where we see a combination of kanji (in red) and hiragana (in blue). Above it are a small line of furigana that are, in this instance, written in katakana.

The kanji/hiragana phrase is read as “bara wo nurou”, which should be what the furigana above it is saying, and would be what they would be saying in a normal situation, but they aren’t.

If you have your audio on you know that Trey is saying, aloud:  “Doodle Suit”, with “suit” referring to a “suit of cards” and “doodle” being just that, as his magic is overwriting (or “doodling” over) other people’s magic.

And if you’re on the ENG-server, you know that Trey’s unique magic has been translated as “paint the roses”, which doesn’t match his audio clip at all.

And that is because “Doodle Suit” is the katakana, while “bara wo nurou” is the hiragana/kanji beneath it. And “bara wo nurou” means “let’s paint the roses”. Twst is telling us that “Paint the Roses” is what Trey is actually saying, but he is pronouncing it as “Doodle Suit”.

This is no different from writing your name as “Alice” but telling people it is pronounced “Bob” (and that is actually a thing that happens with names in Japan–we call them kira-kira-names, which means “shiny names”--but that is an entirely different thread ww)

English doesn’t have four different alphabets for authors to use to say “this is what the character is saying aloud, but it’s not what they actually mean”, so translators have to decide on which set of text to use for each person’s unique magic on a case-to-case basis.

Riddle, for example, has a voice clip that matches the English-language translation of his unique magic, “off with your head”...mostly. When Riddle uses his unique magic on JPN-server, this is what we see:

Just like Trey, a combination of kanji (in red) and hiragana (in blue), with a small line of katakana above it that is supposed to be telling us how it’s pronounced, but is instead introducing entirely new sounds altogether.

The actual command itself is read as “Kubi wo hanero”, but Riddle is pronouncing it as “off with your head” (which is what it says in the katakana), so in his case the words he is saying and the English-translation of his unique magic match, while Trey’s do not.

(“Mostly” because “kubi wo hanero” is the literal line said by the Queen in the Japanese dub of Alice in Wonderland. Like the English version “off with his/her head”, it is a command to a third, unspecified person, but ENG-server chose to match to Riddle’s voice clip instead)

What we end up with is three different things happening every time someone uses their unique magic on ENG server: 1. What the character is saying out loud (the katakana) 2. What they actually mean (the kanji/hiragana) 3. How it was translated (or, sometimes, rewritten)

For Jamil, he says “Snake’s Enticement/Invitation” but pronounces it as “Snake Whisper”, which was rewritten as “Snake Charmer” (this is not what “snake charming” is in Japanese, which is 蛇使い, while Jamil’s unique magic command is 蛇のいざない, so ‘charmer’ is unique to NA)

And unique magic isn’t the only place where Twst takes advantage of the various possibilities offered by furigana. I went through Books 1 to 6 on the JPN server and took screenshots of every instance of furigana, and here are the most interesting results (no book5+ spoilers)

In the prologue, one of the first things Crowley says is “You’re not supposed to go through the door by yourself”, except he is pronouncing “door” as “gate”. This is not the last time he does this— it might be a hint of some kind about how it is that people show up at NRC?

To illustrate that Leona is speaking in a muffled way as Ruggie forces him to smile, the bottom row of hiragana is gibberish sounds, while the furigana above is what he’s actually trying to say.

Floyd says the word “legs” and “us” aloud, but what he actually means are “fins” and “mer-people”.

Jamil says “Kalim” aloud, but what he actually means is “the heir of the main house”. This is a particularly significant use of furigana, as it illustrates what the word “Kalim” represents to Jamil, beyond being just Kalim’s name.

There are dozens of other examples–at least 197 according to the excel sheet I made–but a lot are just cute things like Grim pronouncing “other people” as “other monsters” and explanations of the slang used by Jack and Epel. (Book 6 uses it in a stunning way, It gave me chills)

(Note: Twst is, of course, not the only series ever to do this. This kind of wordplay can be found in almost every form of Japanese-language media there is, and is often used to make puns that are wholly undetectable in any other writing system.)

(If you’ve ever come across a line in an anime or manga that seems bizarrely awkward or crudely mistranslated, there’s a chance that it is just the translator doing their very best with what they’ve got as they try to stuff the flexibility of four alphabets into one.)

I think the ENG team is doing a great job, especially given the depth of the material, the difficulty of preserving so much symbolism and wordplay, and the no-doubt very curious rules and restrictions being imposed upon them by a certain mouse in the mirror. /endlongthread

Follow us on Twitter

to be informed of the latest developments and updates!

You can easily use to @tivitikothread bot for create more readable thread!
Donate 💲

You can keep this app free of charge by supporting 😊

for server charges...