Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Boy and His Fushigina Blobby

I didn't even realize it until I read a post on Gamespite that the Japanese version of A Boy and His Blob had a few changes from its original American incarnation. The most obvious is that the stupid looking stick figure boy now looks a lot more adorable, although the rest, at least from the few minutes I played, seemed to be the same. The title is "Fushigina Blobby: Blobonia no Kiki", which basically means "The Mysterious Blobby: Trouble on Blobonia." It was published in Japan by Jaleco.

What I did notice is that the stuff you feed your blob are no longer "jellybeans", but rather simply "candies". What's more, a lot of them have changed. This makes sense, because the flavor and its transformation type were usually linked by some kind of meaning, a few of which involved cultural or linguistic understanding. I went through the original batch of candy you get at the start to compare them to the English versions, and found some interesting stuff, even though I can't quite parse all of it.

Licorice (Ladder) = Apple (Hashigo) - I don't see the connection here. "Licorice ladder" is a nice bit of alliteration, but I don't see or get anything in Japanese.
Strawberry (Bridge) = Nashi (Hashi) - A "nashi" is a type of Japanese pear and rhymes with the word for bridge. Easy enough! I never understood the English one - how are "strawberry" and "bridge" connected, other than them sounding nice together?
Cinnamon (Blowtorch) = Curry (Gas Burner) - Both are spicy, obviously. Curry is just more recognizable in Japan than cinnamon, perhaps?
Vanilla (Umbrella) = Kinoko (Kasa) - "Kinoko" means mushrooms, which look like umbrellas, don't they?
Apple (Jack) = Nikki (Jack) - In English this is a reference to the "Apple Jacks" cereal. I'm not even sure what a "nikki" is, much less the correlation.
Tangerine (Trampoline) = Purin (Trampoline) - A "purin" is a type of Japanese custard. Trampoline is pronounced "to-ro-po-ri-n", with the last part of the word sounding similar to "pu-ri-n".
Root Beer (Rocket) - Champagne (Rocket) - Maybe just another case of something the Japanese are more familiar with? Champagne works better, honestly, because it reminds me of a cork popping off, more similar to a rocket flying into space. Root beer just reminds me of fizz.
Ketchup (Catch up) - Coffee = I guess this is just another gross candy, since the blob won't actually eat it. I'm not sure what the pun on coffee (pronounced "koo-hii") is supposed to be, if any.
Punch (Hole) - Donut (Ana) = Self-explanatory....donut hole. I think I like this one better, too.

The rest - Cola, Coconut, and Honey, are all the same. I guess if I'm bored enough at some point, I'll try to get the other candies and see what they're called.


  1. Awesome write ups - I've always been fascinated by how Western games are localised for the Japanese market (one of the reasons I've always wanted the Japanese Star Control 2). It's interesting especially to compare it to how Japanese games are changed for the West. Are there fundamental elements which are required in each?

    Is the apple candy actually "apple", or "ringo"? I guess ringo kinda rhymes with hashigo...

  2. "Hashi" also means "bridge" in japanese, maybe that's where they got the connection to "ladder" from.

  3. Whoops, maybe I should have read the second candy too. Still, it might also be possible for the first one.

  4. "appuru" -> "up uru"?

    Because you go "up" ladders? Sorry, no idea. I think you'd need a native speaker to comment on how it sounds to them to really get to the bottom of all this. It's a lot like what Blaustein said in that audio interview - to the Japanese a lot of English words/names have a foreign quality. To have used the English for apple, there was either a screw up, or something subtle... Perhaps.

  5. That "uru" part probably doesn't mean much - usually means "to sell", but I certainly wouldn't doubt the "up" part, because it would be pronounced the same way in Japanese.

  6. Regarding Strawberry and Bridge: "Straw" rhymes with "Draw". Drawbridge.

  7. The stick figure boy, I believe, is actually supposed to resemble Pitfall Harry. David Crane designed both games.

  8. Apple could be "Up(English)+ru(Japanese word ending)...
    Never heard of "Nikki" but checking a dictionary suggests it's a variant of "Nikkei", meaning Cinnamon in English... I still don't see a connection though.
    Coffee... Alot of Japanese abbreviations are created with two symbols each from two seperate words. If the words you start with are the English "Call Him" and abbreviate them Japanese-style you get something like "CaHi" ("ko-hi"), which in Japanese is spelt just like Coffee.

  9. Saa. The coffee is probably just because it gives "Blobby" a burst of energy to catch up to you.

  10. I think the reason why "Coffee" means "Catch-up" in Japanese version is that the pronunciation of "Coffee" is similar to the Japanese word "Koi (こい, 来い)" which means "Come here".

    "koi" is the imperative form of "kuru (くる, 来る)" which means "come".

    Here is the page of "kuru" and its conjugation in Wiktionary.

    来る - Wiktionary
    Appendix:Japanese verbs - Wiktionary

    I think it's a littile difficult for Japanese Kids to come up with the link of "Coffee" - "Call him".