Final Fantasy isn't a video game series, it's a religion. And like all great religions there are some rather large issues of translating from the original language to a new one. It used to be a lot worse, as if the people tasked converting the Japanese dialogue to English didn't really have a grasp on either of those two tongues.
Sometimes it's just a hilarious omission, such as a boy in X that meant to say, "I'm gonna be a blitzball player when I grow up," but instead says, "I'm gonna be a blitzBALL when I grow up." That one even has its own Facebook. However, in IV the bard really was spoony. That was just three Japanese translators being weird.
Most of the time the missteps in language don't really add up to much, but sometimes they can change the whole meaning of characters and stories. These are the five that had the most impact.
Final Fantasy V took a very long time to make it to America, only appearing in the States as a part of the Playstation release Final Fantasy Anthologies in 1999 despite having debuted in Japan in 1992. Fan-translated bootlegs had already sprouted up by then, but the PS1 game was for all intents and purposes the first attempt at an official translation.
The final boss is Exdeath... he's a tree that that is also a dark knight that is also a collective of evil spirits. Just go with it. His name is a little silly for a being of such immense power, but it does make some sense. After all, it could be argued that he is composed of the ex-dead.
But the more likely explanation is that his name is supposed to be Exodus, which considering the series' preoccupation with Jewish mysticism and the Old Testament would be more typical. An esper based on him in XII was named Exodus in English, and their Japanese names are identical. As Exdeath is himself the tale of exiles finding a new home, dark parallels can be drawn between his existence and the leading of the Israelites out of Egypt by Moses.
Here we have an example of a mistranslation that is actually better than the original. General Beatrix of IX is the most powerful and loyal knight in the kingdom of Alexandria. However, over the course of the game she comes to realize that the kingdom has become corrupt, and switches sides to aid the heroes in their quest to save the world.
Her theme is "Rose of May," and plays whenever Beatrix has a revelation. In some instances it's translated as "Loss of Me," which is loads better.
Each revelation brings Beatrix closer to the realization that the kingdom has changed while she has not, and represents the corrupted Queen Brahne losing her loyalty, as well as her losing her own illusions. Later, she enters a relationship with another knight, Steiner, which forces her to lose herself to previously unfelt emotions. "Loss of Me" is a much better title.
As far as translations go, VII is pretty good, but did manage one significant booboo. You find Tseng, leader of the villainous Turks, severely injured at the entrance of the Temple of the Ancients. After being attacked by Sephiroth, who plans on using an artifact in the temple to summon a devastating meteor, Tseng repents of opposing Cloud and his team and gives him the key to the temple to stop Sephiroth.
This is his last appearance in the game, and most Playstation players thought he'd died from his wounds until he showed up alive in the spin-off film Advent Children almost ten years later. This was backed up by a quite from one of his associates who accuses Cloud of "Doin' in her boss."
This wasn't what was meant. The PC release fixed the quote to bring it closer to its original meaning by having the character say Cloud had, "Messed my boss up." Tseng did escape the temple, recovered, and eventually became a major force for the protection of the planet.
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In VI, Setzer is a world-renowned gambler and the owner of the world's only airship. The party attempt to recruit him to attack the evil Gestahlian Empire by switching a beautiful opera singer that Setzer plans to kidnap to be his wife with the rune knight Celes.
After Setzer discovers the ruse, he orders the party off his ship, but finally relents. In the original translation he says, "The Empire has made me a rich man," before finally agreeing to help in the fight. Diligent fans may have noticed in the Game Boy Advance remake, the line now reads, "The Empire has been bad for business." The latter is correct.
In the first context, Setzer is a man that casts off a significant source of wealth to do what's right, where as in the second he's just a greedy pig that wants the Empire out of the way because of the damage they do his operation. It doesn't change the fact that by the end of the game he is a dedicated hero who is one of only three characters you actually have to bring to the final battle, but it does sort of make you hate him a little more in the beginning.