The Crooked Man Translation Notes and Theories
What it's like translating a game into the language it was trying to be, and what's probably going on in it. Major spoilers present in both!
Liveplace: bla bla bla
The game would like you to believe it was originally made in English, and that the characters' liveplace is America. As such, literally all images except for the warning in the intro were originally in English, all the names are English, etc.
In some cases Uri did fine with this, but not so much in others. "I'm waitin' for you," the ending names, that school newspaper... the list goes on. However, it never actually causes confusion or anything, and it often adds charm. So I left the pictures and most other things like that alone.
...I guess it does mean I need a disclaimer that it's not strictly my translation to blame for those parts.
The lyrics for the rhyme in the intro were always English. However, a Japanese translation is used in the game proper, and I had to come up with the rhyming "additional verse" in Scene 4.
"SINK," "Under the Bed," "HELP ME," "I'm waitin' for you," the text in the bar, and the daughter's hints all had Japanese translations in message boxes.
The pages of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were unchanged. I considered blurring the text to simulate the "okay no way I have to read this" feeling Japanese players had, but...
"I'm not some kid scared of the Boogieman!" and "You're as brave as Captain America!" were literal translations. Uri is silly.
The deal with the name "D" was always D/Dreamer/his grade. But the "D:" part, I imagine, was not intentional.
The weird voice clips in Bad End 2 were obviously unchanged, but the text on screen was in Japanese.
Fluffy gave the reason for his name similarly in Japanese, but "fluffy like a towel" used the Japanese word
"four-four time" "fuwafuwa."
"If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking" used a Japanese translation of the poem. I'm glad Uri credited Emily Dickinson, because I would not have recognized it otherwise.
The FAMILY puzzle required no real changes on my part. I imagine it's a bit easier for English players, as the English word "family" was never used in the Japanese.
What a Sissy.
The plot in the hotel revolves around the idea that David is, as Paul says in the prologue, a "sissy" for not being able to forget about Shirley. The original word for this was "memeshikute," which has the kanji for "woman" in it twice and basically just means "to be effeminate."
Sissi's name was given in plain English via the scene name as "Sissy" (the Japanese being "Shishii"), so that made the sissy/wuss/etc. translation pretty evident.
But having that be her name just seemed even weirder than D or Fluffy. Those two are just strange names, but Sissy is... well, sort of an insult. Thus, I made it Sissi so that the intent was still clear, but the name was slightly less dumb.
Plagiarism: It's a Crime
Criminal Behavior: A Psychological Approach is a real book. However, for who knows what reason, the game claims it's by the made-up (?) author Ivan Abelitsev. So, uh... I figured I'd just keep it that way.
In real life, it's by Curt & Anne Bartol. I apologize to them on Uri's behalf unless it was intentional for some bizarre reason. I mean, it is a pretty bizarre game.
On a similar note, Professor Andrew's essay is copied directly from a random essay online. Well geez, if he plagiarized papers, who cares what he thinks about D?!
The MacGahan Man
I feel like the similarity of "MacGahan" and "magatta" (crooked) was intentional. Just saying. SURE IS WEIRD FOR A GAME THAT'S CLEARLY IN ENGLISH THOUGH.
And lastly, two just-silly things about the translation that come to mind:
In Japanese, Paul told David "that gloominess could grow mushrooms!" That's an actual Japanese expression since "jimejime" means gloomy, but also damp. I changed this to "you'll have your own personal rain cloud" since that's something that makes sense in English.
Before the fight in the school, David says the monster's followed him "who knows how many miles." But in Japanese, that was "kilometers." VERY AMERICAN. (It is America, given the George Wythe thing.)
Of course, later in the hospital, Uri gets it right and has Fluffy and David measuring themselves in feet, so... I guess they use feet and kilometers in Japanmerica. 3280.84 is such an easy number to remember!
So what does this game MEAN??
The game doesn't give a very clear explanation of who or what Sissi, D, and Fluffy are, and I feel like that's somewhat intentional to allow player interpretation.
I'm not super into Silent Hill theories, but I think you could consider them somewhat similar to the supporting characters in SH2, only it's Duke rather than the main character.
Sissi is a facet of Duke that represents how he couldn't get over his girlfriend leaving him. And, um... maybe he got scared pretty easily too, I dunno.
D (which could've actually been Duke's nickname in school) is a facet that covers his failure to achieve his dreams, and how after long enough, he starts feeling like "what's the point?"
Fluffy is a facet that relates to the sickness and death of his mother - including how he lost faith that she really loved him.
Why Fluffy and Not Me...
The game brings some attention to how the monster goes after Fluffy specifically in the hospital, which confused me at first. I eventually realized (and Uri confirmed on her blog) that it relates to the page about Duke wanting to "kill his child self."
This sentiment is also reflected in the cat whose kittens were killed before birth, and the crooked man eating the embryo model.
The fact the crooked man pursues Duke's desires implies it's actually another facet of him (and unlike the other three, it does resemble him).
More clear than the role of the companions is that the crooked man represents depression, which drives the people he "follows" to suicide.
What David observes about the rhyme is that the crooked man was surrounded by crooked things, which could relate to how depressed people see the world.
In the hospital, we see that John Smith hung himself to "escape" the crooked man. And, just as he warned, the psychiatrist was then followed and hung himself as well.
When David is literally in the crooked man's clutches on the roof of the hospital, he says he is a crooked man and wants to shoot himself, consumed by his painful experiences.
After conquering the monster at Duke's house, David says he'll continue to live through any sorrow - that he won't turn to suicide.
And of course, as we see when David finds Duke in the attic, the crooked man actually resembles a hanged person.
It's left rather unclear if there's just one crooked man "spawned" by Duke, or if anyone depressed like him is being followed by a similar monster. The John Smith/psychiatrist story makes it seem like there was a crooked man "incident" almost totally separate from Duke, so the latter seems more likely.
David also mentions hearing the crooked man whisper when he was sad, implied to be before he even moved into the apartment, meaning he probably had his own.
It seems that telling Sissi and D the right options helps David and/or Duke with their depression, though it ultimately doesn't keep the latter from committing suicide.
From the second playthrough ending: "While trying to console [Duke], I realized. The things I said to him were what I wanted someone to have said to me..." While this could refer to what David's saying to Duke in that conversation, this may mean he was indirectly consoling Duke through the companions.
Don't End Up Like Duke
In many respects, including those which the companions represent, David was like Duke. The game makes that extremely clear, so I won't bother going into the similarities. Since David looked to be headed for suicide, Duke tried to help David - at least we might assume that was his intent.
There's one somewhat-out-of-place book in each area, which the code of the game actually describes as "hint books."
The book in the hotel discusses how "they" - monsters like the crooked man - go after the soft-hearted, so as to drive them to suicide.
The book in the school discusses how someone could both hate and like another (see also: the "inconsistent" message in the bar). Duke doesn't like David because of his similarity, but helps David so he won't end up the same way.
The book in the hospital, the Emily Dickinson poem, is extremely fitting: helping David so that his life "is not in vain" is a perfect description of Duke's desire.
Birdy Couldn't Fly
While the bad endings on the rooftop are pretty straightforward, the first two bad endings are a lot more... abstract in their consequences.
In the first one, telling Sissi she should stop crying about it seems to do nothing to help Duke and/or David's depression, which could be why the crooked man kills them both.
The second is similar; telling D to keep trying doesn't help matters at all. The crooked man thus says it was David who "killed [D] and himself," because he couldn't help either of them.