A new Japanese learner takes on JRPGs

Words/kanji covered: 兄: older brother お兄様: older brother, but respectful 大丈夫: all right, in good health かしら: I wonder? 玉座の間: Throne room 声: voice したような: I don't know this and I need help 誰: who

Resuming from the previous day, we pick up at: お兄様大丈夫かしら

お兄様(おにいさま): Respectful phrasing for an older brother. 兄 alone means older brother, and both お and 様 are added for extra respect. You might recall who もにか's older brother is. 大丈夫(だいじょうぶ): All right, in good health. かしら: “I wonder?” This is equivalent to かな, but かしら is used more by women (according to Wikipedia). So that's something I'll need to be mindful of!

So: “I wonder if my respected older brother is in good health” would be an awkwardly phrased English version of this.

玉座からしたよう。。。

玉座の間(ぎょくざのま): throne room! I love this one – the first two kanjis are “jade” and “seat” and they mean “throne” together. 間 means room, so this is “throne's room” – but we'd say “throne room” in English. 声(こえ): voice. したような: I'm having a hard time with this one. From Wikipedia: “Na or naa at the end of a sentence is a variant of ne, implying more reflection.” I'll roll with it. That leaves したよう as the verb of the sentence. However, I can't find this thing anywhere. Machine translation gives me “as if” and “like” depending on how much of the sentence I give it. “From the throne room, like voices...”

“だれかいるの?”

First of all: no kanji here! In searching, I find that this is a somewhat common sentence, sometimes written as “誰かいる” – which would mean “is somebody there”? The の ending here is another part of feminine speech. Apparently の in this case can be used with falling intonation for a statement, or rising intonation for a question. I'm guessing that もにか would say this with rising intonation here. Anyway: 誰(だれ): the pronoun “who”. いる: a form of “to be”.

That takes us to the end of the first scene! Next time, we'll listen in on the voices from the throne room, and probably actually meet our 主人公 soon after!


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Words/kanji covered: いやな: unpleasant/disagreeable 天気: weather だ: casual です

Today, I'm going to get into Katrina's intro. It's the shortest intro sequence, but there's still quite a bit of dialogue, and it begins now!

I'll start with the very first scene and work my way through only a few lines. I'm still very new to 日本語 grammar, so this will take some time.

The scene: inside a castle on a rainy night. A woman – モニカ, not カタリナ – looks out of a window.

モニカ in a castle, looking out of a window

モニカ: 「いやな天気だわ。。。 お兄様は大丈夫かしら」

モニカ then walks over to a large set of double-doors and listens.

モニカ: 「玉座の間から声がしたような。。。 だれかいるの?」

And then the scene changes.

Let's break down the grammar here!

いやな天気。。。

いやな: this is an adjective. Japanese has multiple classes of adjectives – い-adjectives and な-adjectives seem to be the first two classifications people learn, and fortunately for us, this is clearly an example of a な-adjective! It means “unpleasant” or “disagreeable”.

天気(てんき): means weather. The kanjis mean “heaven/sky” and “mood/spirit/atmosphere”.

: this is the casual form of the well-known verb です – see this link.

: I'm not certain about this one, but Wikipedia says it's a particle that establishes an emotional connection.

So armed with our findings, I conclude that this sentence is saying “the weather is disagreeable”, and that モニカ has an emotion about it.

My time is short today, so I'll cover the rest in the near future. Thanks for reading!

#learningJapanese


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Words/kanji covered: 得意: strong point, forte 武器: weapon, asset 剣: sword 大: large 小: small 槍: spear 弓: bow 体術: martial art 決定: decision/decide

Now, for a part I've been looking forward to: weapon selection!

A selection screen with nine choices

First, let's get the upper-left prompt done. 得意武器 seems to be two words – 得意(とくい) means one's strong point or forte, and 武器(ぶき) is weapon or asset. Notice that 武 makes its second appearance here – in the last post, it was part of 武人(ふじん, soldier). We know everything else here – the game is asking us to choose the weapon we'll specialize in.

For weapons, we have nine choices. Let's get to it immediately!

剣(けん): sword. (The kanji can also mean blade, or clock hand.) 大剣(たいけん): large sword. 斧(おの): axe. 棍棒(こんぼう): club or stick. 小剣(しょうけん): the kanji indicates small sword. In-game, these are épées and rapiers. 槍(やり): spear. 弓(ゆみ): bow. 体術(たいじゅつ): martial arts. なし: nothing.

I choose bow.

Now we go to the final confirmation screen:

Confirm choices screen

Here we see a bunch of statistics and a prompt to confirm our decision. At this point, I'm eager to get to the game, so I'll skip all of the statistics for now. I will note the prompt at the bottom uses a new verb – 決定(けってい), which requests that we decide. The decisions are yes or no. I've usually seen “no” written as いいえ, so だめ is new to me.


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Words/kanji covered: 宿星: Star of fate; zodiac 星: star 狩人: hunter 学者: scholar 王者: monarch 武人: soldier/warrior 商人: merchant/trader

We have two more steps before the game officially begins, and this is the first one:

A screen presenting five kanji-intensive choices

We have a prompt in the upper-left corner, and five rows to choose from. Each row has two different words on it.

The prompt is very similar to one we've seen previously. Instead of choosing a 主人公, though, we'll be choosing a 宿星(しゅくせい) – a star of fate, or a zodiac!

From top to bottom, we have: (use this for English: https://www.neoseeker.com/romancing-saga-3/Starting )

歳星(さいせい): Jisho gives me “Jupiter” for this. The official English translation uses “Artemis”, so I'm suspicious. 狩人(かりゅうど)の星(ほし): 狩人 means “hunter” and 星 means “star”. Each one of these rows ends in の星.

螢惑: this one isn't turning up in online resources for me. English version uses “Athena”. 学者(がくしゃ): scholar.

鎮星: Wiktionary tells me that this is a historical form of Saturn. English version uses “Zeus”. 王者(おうじゃ): king/monarch.

太白(たいはく): this is the first clear win in the star name column! It means Venus. English version uses “Ares”. 武人(ぶじん): soldier/warrior.

辰星(しんせい): Mercury (in ancient Chinese astronomy)​, according to Jisho. So I'm guessing that the ones I couldn't find are also ancient Chinese terms for planets. RS3 isn't going easy on me here! English version uses “Hermes”. 商人(しょうにん): merchant/trader.

According to a random Quora answer, the five planet words here are all ancient Chinese names for planets. So I'm not going to commit them to memory today.

I'm choosing to put Katrina under 辰星、商人の星. Next time, we'll choose our character's primary weapon, and learn more 漢字 for all of the weapon choices!


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Words/kanji covered: 侯爵: marquis 流浪: wandering 王族: royalty

This will be a shorter entry due to the holidays! Last time we covered the four women, and this time we'll cover the men.

Julian, Thomas, Mikhail, Harid

ユリアン: 20歳, シノンの開拓民, and トーマス: 22歳, シノンの開拓民. Julian, 20, and Thomas, 22. Like Sara and Ellen, these are “pioneers” from Shinon. Other sources translate this as “settler” instead of “pioneer”, I've learned.

ミカエル: 27歳, ロアーヌ侯爵. Mikhail, 27. 侯爵(こうしゃく) means “marquis”. You recall from last time that モニカ is the 侯の妹 – younger sister of the marquis – and if you guessed that ミカエル is her older brother, you're right!

ハリード: 33歳, 流浪の王族. Harid, 33. 流浪(るろう) is apparently a level 59 word on Wanikani, so I won't see it there for a while. It means vagrancy or wandering. 王族(おうぞく) is common and means royalty. So... nomad of royalty, or royal nomad!

I'm going to choose カタリナ as my character, since her introduction is short. Next time, we'll choose her class and starting weapon. See you then!


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Words/kanji covered: 開拓民: pioneer (but I'm not 100% certain) 侯: marquis 妹: younger sister 貴族: aristocrat

Tonight we're going to learn about these eight characters! We'll start with the ladies: Sara, Ellen, Monica, Katrina

サラ: 16歳, シノンの開拓民. So her name is Sara, she's 16, and her other info has something to do with “Shinon”. The kanji after “の” stumps me at first, since neither Wiktionary nor Jisho recognize it. I would rather not rely on machine translation, but in this case I use Papago and it gives me 開拓民(かいたくみん) – “pioneer”. So Sara is a pioneer in Shinon, at least unless someone corrects my translation here.

エレン: 20歳, シノンの開拓民. Ellen, 20, also a Shinon pioneer. Let's dive into these kanji now – 開 means “open”, 拓 means to open land or to clear land, and 民 means people.

モニカ: 19歳, ロアーヌ侯の妹. Monica, 19. The katakana in her description is also a place, but “侯” is appended directly to it. “侯” was hard to type with romaji – I was only able to produce it by typing out 侯の妹(ほうのいもうと) in its entirety. In any case, this translates to “marquis” or “daimyo”, and 妹 is “younger sister”. Monica is the Loanne Marquis' younger sister.

カタリナ: 24歳, ロアーヌ貴族. Katrina, 24. Loanne again. 貴族(きぞく) means “noble” or “aristocrat”.

I'm out of time, so we'll cover the men when I have time tomorrow!


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Words/kanji covered: 主人公: protagonist 選: choice 性別: gender 男: male 女: female 歳: age

Today I'll get to choose a character – and if time permits, I'll get to set their class and preferred weapon type.

There are eight characters to choose from as your main character – four men and four women. I'm familiar with this screen from the English versions of the game, so let's see how it looks in 日本語:

Character select screen showing four playable woman characters

I'm guessing that some of these words will be useful, so let's start translating!

First sentence: 主人公選んでください

主人公(しゅじんこう): This translates as protagonist, or main character. The three kanjis seem to mean, respectively: main/lord, person, public/official. 選んで(えらんで): According to jisho.org, this is the “connective form” of the verb 選ぶ(えらぶ), which means “to choose”. The kanji 選 means “choice”. ください: I learned this one earlier from Wanikani! It means “please give me.” I'm surprised they didn't go with 下さい, which is how WaniKani taught this phrase.

All told, it makes sense to read this sentence as “please choose the main character.”

Next, we have 性別(せいべつ): this means gender. 性 by itself seems to also mean gender or sex, and 別 means difference.

For our choice of genders, we have 男(おとこ, male) and 女(おんな, female).

Each character is then listed with her 歳(とし, age), and a very short description. I'll translate the descriptions when I have time later today.


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I launch the game and pass the usual studio logos. Behold, the Romancing SaGa 3 title screen:

Title screen showing New Game, Continue, and...

Wait, WHAT?

The first two are obvious. But the third throws me off. I've seen games in Japanese that use katakana for “options” or “config” – I am quite surprised to see kanji this early in the process.

So let's look them up!

First, I use the “Chinese Handwriting” Android app to trace out the kanji and get the characters copied. Then, I turn to Wiktionary: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/設定#Japanese

Here's what I learn: 設 means: establish, set up, prepare 定 means: determine, fix, establish, decide 設定(せってい) overall has a few possible meanings, but for computing specifically it means configuration.

As an English speaker, I quite like that the word for “settings” is pronounced “settei”. That one's gonna be easy to remember.

(For future blog entries, I'll be going through this same process each time I encounter a new word I don't know. I won't detail the entire process each time.)

There are five more opening menu screens to navigate before the game itself begins. Some will go by quickly, and some will absolutely blast me with essential RPG terminology. Hopefully we'll learn a lot from this!


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I have been studying Japanese for weeks now, which means that it's high time that I attempt to play a Japanese RPG!

For my first attempt, I shall use Romancing SaGa 3. I chose this specifically because it doesn't have lengthy cutscenes, and because its vocabulary (hopefully) will cover a lot of fantasy and RPG terms.

Things to do: 1. Get the game on Steam (I have the Switch version, but my access to that system is very inconsistent). 2. Figure out where to host images for this blog. 3. Be ready to do a LOT of translating.


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