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Midnight Puppeteer Translation Notes
Those almost sound like words, yet I have no idea what they mean. (Spoilers for the entire game.)
The Japanese title of the game is "Mayonaka no Ningyoutsukai," and Midnight Puppeteer is just a literal translation of that. However, as you can tell, Mayo's name is in it/comes from it, kanji and all.
But there's kind of an extra pun in it that I'm almost sure is intentional. The game is all about the power of the Puppeteer, which Mayo inherited from her mother, leading to her being pursued by the Eye of Truth. At least once, they word this as Mayo having the power "within" her.
Thus the crux of the game is, indeed, "Mayo no Naka no Ningyoutsukai" ("The Puppeteer Within Mayo").
I didn't translate anything on the title screen notebook or the one in the flashback because it wasn't important enough and would probably look out of place.
The title screen has "Puppeteer" in the corner and says 目 (eye) all over the place. The flashback one also has many "eye"s, as well as "injury" and "(flower) vase." (Implying that even if Miki came from a different Eye of Truth facility, it also had a vase puzzle.)
The thing about conveyor sushi bars and non-conveyor ones ("mawaranai o-sushi," non-revolving sushi) is basically like this. Conveyor sushi bars - where the food just comes down a conveyor and you grab it - are fast food. Non-conveyor sushi bars are more like normal restaurants and promise better quality.
Since this is probably not so much "common sense" for most people outside Japan, I tried to make it clear that non-conveyor bars had "the good stuff" whenever it came up.
Maybe unsurprisingly, the quiz game has quite a lot to note translation-wise.
I was iffy about Yamamba, but wasn't sure what else to do with her. It's improved by the fact that she appears earlier in the game as part of a puzzle, so you have a perfectly good in-game way of knowing her name.
My most major change was the "gateball stick" to a croquet mallet. Gateball is actually a variation on croquet anyway, and since it's pretty unknown outside of Japan, I felt like it needed to be changed. The sprite has the same shape, but was recolored slightly.
Even if I did change it to something a little more accessible, I kind of feel like the gateball stick was meant to be sort of a "stumper" in Japanese as well. Mostly due to the question about scoring, as it's the one question to require notable outside knowledge (even including Yamamba).
The original "scoring" question asked how many points could be scored in one game of Gateball, the answer to which was 25. I just went with a similar question for a croquet ruleset that seemed pretty well-defined.
Some things remained the same against my better judgement: the "cyarrot" and "berr" questions were already in English, and thus meant to be tests of your English spelling abilities. Certainly couldn't be asking people about Japanese words, though...
The "chocalate ice scream" question, however, was a test of observation that used similar-looking characters to throw you off. So that ending up being pretty similar in translation with the minor typos.
Throughout the game, people generally call the Eye of Truth a "kyoudan," a religious organization. That's... sort of an unwieldy phrase to use all the time. Thus, depending on context, I usually translated it as "church," or, when the people talking don't appreciate them, "cult."
While their focus is apparently on imbuing more people with ESP, they do seem to worship their Leader to an extent: the organization is implied to crumble after the Leader's death, and their facilities are filled with traps because of his tastes.
Shun generally called Mayo "ningyoutsukai-chan," which became "little Puppeteer." Not especially notable, I know, but I was briefly considering something silly like "Puppetette."
I didn't want to translate Yohta's name on the charm because it felt out of place, so I just had to make Sohta mention that it said Yohta on it. Less subtle, unfortunately, but oh well.
Of course, the charm saying "Yohta" is a fairly key thing; without it, the player wouldn't be led to believe that Keito is Yohta, the same thing Sohta believes - and upon learning more about Yohta, they wouldn't be wondering who this boy is and why he has a charm with that name on it.
And then when Sohta actually calls him Yohta, the fact that the charm said "Yohta" on it would come out of left field. So, uh, yeah.
When Miren says she'll "smash [Ishikawa's] egg head," it was originally a pun on his name: "ishiatama" is literally "stone head," and means "inflexible person."
Moboy was just "Mobii-kun." Yeah, not much to say there. Also, Mobiac is a totally made-up name, and Mascarpone didn't mention any "source" for it when I asked about preferred English spellings, so there probably isn't one in particular.
It still makes me think of McDonald's, though. (Old Mobiac had a farm...)
So now let's calculate some years, just for the heck of it.
The save screen tells us that Mayo is 16, Masper is 0, Sohta is 36, and Keito is 9. Sohta in the flashback where he meets Miki is 18. For some reason there's character data for Miren and Shun too, which says they're 21 and 19, respectively.
According to the files on them in the main mansion, Miren was kidnapped at age 11 on March 29th, 2003, and Shun was kidnapped at age 9 on July 28th, 2003.
These dates used to be a) for some reason, only visible if you returned with Sohta later, and b) messed up - it originally said Shun was kidnapped in 2006. (Miren was also kidnapped two years earlier, but her "current age" was shifted accordingly.) But now they make sense, seeming to place the game in 2013.
So, it's 2013. That puts Miki's escape in 1995 (eighteen years ago).
Sohta's professor actually said in the Japanese version that the Eye of Truth started up "in the late 20th century," but... he says that in 1995. That IS the late 20th century. So that didn't make much sense.
Thus, I decided to change it to "about a decade ago." This sounds about right, given how their leader was alive from the creation of the Eye of Truth to just before the start of the game, Ishikawa was also one of the founders, and Sohta (age 18) knows nothing about it.
So, the final timeline: In the 80's or so, there's a sudden interest in ESP and the Eye of Truth is born. They eventually go from being well-intentioned to kidnapping children to put in ESP training programs. They kidnap "Miki" and awaken the Puppeteer powers in her.
Kamikura crushes on "Miki" and helps her escape in 1995. Sohta finds Miki (giving her that name) and later marries her, having Mayo in 1997. The Eye of Truth continues kidnapping children, including Miren and Shun in 2003.
As the Eye of Truth acts around Ikarugi Village from their mansion facility, the villagers grow to distrust them. Mrs. Kishikawa takes a stand and leads the village against them, and they're driven out of the area in 2011.
However, right as the cult does leave, Kishikawa's son Yohta falls off a cliff to his death. Regardless of whether it was an accident or not, Mrs. Kishikawa refuses to accept he's dead, and one day starts treating a dog from the forest as Yohta, which the villagers go along with.
Miki dies from an illness in 2012/2013 (half a year before the game). She uses her powers to "create" Masper just before her death, so he comes alive just after. (We're told this was accidental, so I imagine she was hugging a teddy bear and wishing for someone to help Mayo after her death.)
Mayo is distraught, but Masper helps her through it. However, Sohta pretends that he can't see Masper because he doesn't want to get Mayo into this stuff, leading Mayo to think he's just a figment of her imagination (though Masper probably doesn't quite think that's true).
The Eye of Truth continues its business until the Leader dies in 2013. Miren, Shun, and I guess also Kamikura (or some superior who tells them to do this) quickly devise a plan to revive him by kidnapping the daughter of the escaped Puppeteer Miki.
They sabotage Sohta's car (or use powers in some way) to get them to come to the mansion. Sohta gets caught in a trap and Kamikura, reminded of his crush on Miki, decides he wants to help Mayo and Sohta get away.
From there on, everything is pretty straightforward. I mean... as straightforward as the game is.
And then later, Mascarpone posted an actual chronology. But I'll leave the above as-is for posterity. Note, though, that they caught the error in Miren and Shun's kidnapping dates and fixed them, so what I said about that no longer applies.
October 17th, 1958: Kirisaku Ishikawa born
December 1st, 1976: Akari Gonda born
June 26th, 1977: Sohta Michino born
March 9th, 1979: Miki Michino born
December 9th, 1980: Seiji Kamikura born
1980s: Eye of Truth founded
April 2nd, 1992: Miren Takahashi born
1995: The Puppeteer escapes the Eye of Truth facility
March 21st, 1996: Shun Moegi born
November 15th, 1997: Mayo Michino born
March 29th, 2003: Miren Takahashi kidnapped
July 28th, 2003: Shun Moegi kidnapped
July 9th, 2012: Yohta Kishikawa dies
July 10th, 2012: Eye of Truth branch #3 abandoned
November 15th, 2013: Miki Michino dies of illness
2014: Eye of Truth's leader dies
May 12th, 2014: Mayo Michino kidnapping incident (Midnight Puppeteer)
Also, a sort of bonus. The scrapped illustration of the man making a hospital visit was part of an unused puzzle, one part of which still remains in the game, floating out in an inaccessible event. I actually did translate it just for completion's sake, but here's the summary.
Sohta and Masper are together for this puzzle, and the unused event is in the passage outside the room Sohta is put in, so it seems they were going to have some more time together around that section. It's about a book called "The Man Who Never Broke a Law."
When they find the picture, Masper believes that the main character, Goro, is a "jerk who let his wife die" and is visiting his son as an obligation. But Sohta has a different view of things, and feels that there's something to be learned comparing the book and the picture.
Sohta then explains his theory about the story: Given the moon in the illustration and the title "Late-Night Visit," Goro was actually breaking the village's law against going out at night to visit his son.
Goro testifies in the story that he watched his wife die, and says she was "faint of breath" when he came home. However, Sohta figures this was a lie; rather, she had been killed in a robbery before he arrived.
I'm not entirely sure why (the book probably would have explained it), but this lie started off his act of "never breaking a law." I would guess he said something like "It was late, so it would be against the law to go call a doctor - so rather than break a law, I let her die."
Before his wife died, she visited their son on weekdays, as Goro was busy with work and could only visit on weekends. However, Goro decided he would make late-night visits on weekdays in her place, because he felt he was the only one who could support his son now.
This truth about the story was to be used for a touch panel somewhere, answering certain questions about the story in the right way.
As far as character development goes, the puzzle would have helped Masper and Sohta bond a bit. Sohta also remarks that he can "only see a caring father" in the picture, no doubt feeling like he has the same responsibility to look after Mayo.
However, it's easy to see why it would be removed due to including a rather involved separate story with thematic relevance at best, and how the answers are directly given to you in a rather long conversation analyzing the story.