Before we delve into our main topic, here’s a rundown of what Fire Emblem Expo II is for the uninitiated. (If you already know, skip ahead!)
In the November of last year, Fire Emblem series developer Intelligent Systems announced it would be bringing back Fire Emblem Expo in May 2020—appropriately named Fire Emblem Expo II. Like the original Expo, it was a fan-focused event to hold art exhibits, onstage music and play performances, and hotspots for buying all-new merchandise. It was like a Fire Emblem paradise, and sure to be a hallmark for the series’ 30th anniversary this year as fans create new memories together.
The key visual for Expo II, as seen on its official site.
It’s accompanied by a tagline meaning: “To the world of Fire Emblem, together!”
Sadly, Intelligent Systems later announced cancellation of this event due to coronavirus concerns a month prior to its planned schedule, which would’ve taken place at the Zepp Namba in the city of Osaka, Japan. While it was a tough move to go through, Intelligent Systems did share offerings to make up for the loss, like broadcasting the original 2019 Expo concert on YouTube and selling tailored merch on the Fire Emblem Online Shop (including a CD album with music from the event, Fire Emblem Premium Arrange II, which would be used for a Tap Battle event in Fire Emblem Heroes). In the end, bits and pieces of Expo II still ended up with fans even if the event itself didn’t actually take place.
Among the things Intelligent Systems did in their efforts to keep the spirit of Expo II alive was publish the scripts to a number of stage dramas which were to be played at the event on the Expo II website for all to read, which brings us to our main topic!
Each stage drama is an all-new short story starring a group of characters, acted out by their voice actors with appropriate background music. Commonly released on CDs, they are also played exclusively at in-person events, and the stories we have to share today are thanks to the published Japanese scripts, and those scripts being translated by a fellow fan passionate enough to bring all three of them to English!
Big thanks to bomb_some_dodongos via Reddit who gave us the chance to use their hard work as a base and deliver it in our own engaging way for readers to digest. We here at Serenes Forest are using the in-game portraits to help visualize the different tones of their lines, since there’s no audio to go with these stories. We hope our readers can enjoy each story thanks to this format emulating the Fire Emblem experience! They can be found at the following pages within each game’s respective hub:
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses – A Lively Arts Festival Meeting
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance – A Brother and Sister Shelter from the Rain
- Fire Emblem Awakening – The Box the Merchant Forgot
To close out today’s feature article, we spoke with our guest bomb_some_dodongos for a short while about the drama stories and a little of themselves. We recommend reading this quick interview after checking out the stories above!
Q: First of all, how did you get to where you are today? It’s no secret that you’re a fan of Fire Emblem, but we’d love to hear your story about how you got into the series in the first place, as well as your journey to translating Japanese content like the Expo II stage dramas.
A: These are two stories that I find pretty fun, and love to share!
I first got into the series because of…a TV commercial for Path of Radiance! It immediately piqued my interest. Once I finally got a chance to play…it was love at first sight. It’s probably a normal story for most, but I almost never paid attention to commercials, so I find it pretty amusing.
I got into translating because back in 2012, many fans thought Awakening might never get a localized release, and I wanted people to be able to experience the game so much I challenged my intro level Japanese to its limits and started translating support conversations. It seems impossible nowadays to think Awakening might not have gotten a localization, but it was a real fear at the time after New Mystery of the Emblem was skipped over.
Q: Overall, which of the three Expo II drama stories is your personal favorite? For me, I enjoyed Awakening‘s the most, for it being a story that’s especially entertaining for fans familiar with multiple installments in the series. It was also fun to see a more playful and impish side to Lucina, a character who we normally see more seriously.
A: Picking a favorite is so hard it’s almost painful. I’d probably have a different answer every other week if I was asked regularly. For today at least, I’m going with the Awakening one—it’s so fun, and implies that at least Anna knows about our modern world!! It’s great to see the writers having fun with the games’ lore, and it opened up so many possibilities for some fun fan content. As a fan creator, that’s always a huge bonus for me.
Q: Beyond Expo II, the Fire Emblem series has told a number of other short stories through audio drama, including those based on The Blazing Blade and Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, and it’s a safe bet we may continue to see more of them released. Do you have any hopes for a particular kind of drama story that Intelligent Systems could come out with in the future, be it on stage or on CD?
A: I don’t have any specific wishes for stage/drama stories, because being surprised by what kind of story we’ll see next is half the fun! Fire Emblem is a series that hasn’t gotten much story content outside of the games in recent years, so I’m hungry for whatever we can get. I just hope to see all the games represented relatively equally. That’s what always matters most to me whenever there’s an opportunity for all the games to be represented, like these dramas, or other examples like new FE Heroes characters and merch.
Q: We’re really impressed with your translations. It’s clear to us that you put a lot of work into the stories so that all of the dialogue could retain their intended meanings from the original Japanese text, despite multiple different characters speaking in their own unique ways. Do you have any advice you could share for anyone interested in pursuing a similar talent?
A: Aw, thanks, I’m blushing!
My favorite advice to give is actually to study English! Be it through games, TV shows, books…just choose whatever matches the kind of content you want to translate. Make notes, mental or on paper, of the word choice, expressions, etc. This way, you’ll know what “natural English” in media actually looks/sounds like for different character types, and so on.
Then, I suggest translating in two steps—first, get a clunky translation down and a deep understanding of the meaning in your head, then second—completely set aside the original Japanese, to focus on editing to natural-sounding English. If you trip up or have to pause to continue reading, you probably need “smoother” wording.
I actually have a second degree in literature and creative writing. I never intended for my Japanese and lit majors to overlap, but do they ever!!
Q: Thanks so much for your time both in bringing the Expo II stage dramas to a new audience and sitting down with us as we look back on them. Fire Emblem is a beloved franchise of over 30 years with all kinds of fans, and we’re fortunate to pass along these three stories which appeal to a broad range. If you have any final message that you want to share with our readers, including letting them know where they may follow for more similar content straight from you, now’s your chance!
A: And thank you so much for having me!
Thank you as well to all the readers out there! There’s nothing I enjoy in life more than translating, and the fact that I can bring joy to others at the same time makes what I do all the more perfect.
My only remaining hope is that all people who would be interested in my translations receive word of my works. I translate everything Fire Emblem, with my current main projects being original Japanese vs. localization game script translations and analysis, an FE4* novel translation, and the last 5 volumes of the FE4 Oosawa manga. You can pick your preference and find me on Tumblr and Twitter as Leif of Leonster Translations, or check my Google Drive once a week for updates. Do note though that Tumblr is easiest for me to use, so it gets updated first.
I’m almost always taking requests for translations too, if you have an idea or a question, drop my tumblr an ask! It usually takes a month or 2 or 3, but I always answer every ask that comes my way.
*Editor’s note: FE4 is a term used by some Fire Emblem fans which refers to Genealogy of the Holy War, the fourth game in the series.
That wraps up our interview with bomb_some_dodongos, the fellow fan who helped bring these three stories to English. If you enjoyed any of them, let a friend know and pass it on!