Localization case study: Naruto Online and Fairy Tail

We localized two games based on popular animes, Naruto Online and Fairy Tail, into Russian. We’ve included both projects from publisher 101XP in this case study to show how important it is to be familiar with the source when translating something that’s part of a franchise.

The task

Localize two games and their promotional materials that are based on popular franchises where the fans know every detail.

Naruto Online — from Chinese to Russian, 280,000 characters.
Fairy Tail — from English to Russian, 100,000 words.

Naruto Online is a browser-based MMORPG set in the world of the famous anime. The developers, Bandai Namco, reverently put an exceptional amount of detail from the Naruto universe into the game, so there were no concerns about the quality of the original. The game world is vibrant and exciting, full of quests, clans, and heroic characters—in short, everything that fans of the genre love.

We were tasked with localizing a Chinese game for a Russian-speaking audience (including fans of the anime). There were more than 280,000 characters in the project, including promotional materials and announcements.

A project with an existing fanbase—like an anime or manga—requires an editor who is in touch with the subject matter, someone who knows it well, since projects like these are their own world with a ton of episodes and characters. Fortunately, we have editors like that on the INLINGO team. One of them is Evgenia Nekrashevich.

Evgenia Nekrashevich
Lead editor

Naruto was pretty easy for me to work with, since I’m familiar with most of the characters. Back when I was still in school, I binge-watched the first season and read all of the manga that had come out so far. That was quite a few years ago, though, so I encountered a lot of new characters in the game as well. But it was still much easier to grasp overall than it would have been if the story was unfamiliar.

Evgeniy Gilmanov


The familiar font style from the Chinese version (above) was kept in the Russian
version (below).

Interface elements in the Chinese version…

…and in our localization.

Like Naruto, Fairy Tail is an online game based on the manga and anime of the same name. The world of Fairy Tail is inhabited by wizards who band together in guilds and take on various jobs involving magic.

Evgenia Nekrashevich
Lead editor

Fairy Tail is a younger series, and there is a little less information on it, so I had to learn a lot from scratch. The localization from English to Russian took less time than was the case for Naruto—there were 100,000 words (Naruto had almost three times that), plus announcements and other documentation.

The most interesting thing was that I hadn’t really watched or read Fairy Tail before, I had just heard about it. I had to read 500 chapters of manga in just a few days, because the game’s storyline mirrored it almost exactly, including the dialogues. But the game’s creators managed to mix up names and events a few times, so I corrected them in the Russian translation to correspond to the manga.

Evgeniy Gilmanov


The Fairy Tail interface in English.

And in Russian…

There were tricky parts, of course, but that’s what makes a project interesting. The hardest thing about working with popular projects is that there is no one universally accepted translation for any of the names. There are translations from the manga publishers, from the TV channels, and fan translations that everyone has already grown used to. And they are all slightly different. The editor’s job is then to find and choose the version that fits the meaning best while still being acceptable to diehard fans.

When you have a large volume of text to translate, it’s crucial to come up with a clear plan and tightly control the work done by the team. This is because if the translation is even slightly behind schedule, then the editor is left with less time to do their part, and that’s how deadlines get missed. So, before we start these kinds of projects, we do thorough preparations: analyze the text, start making glossary entries, and draw up a schedule of file delivery dates for the translators and editors.

Approximately 280,000 characters were translated from Chinese for Naruto
Online. Most of them were dialogues and descriptions.

The second (and possibly even first) most important point is having a great translation team. We usually try to choose translators who have translated games in the genre before—every translator in our database has a portfolio, and the project manager uses that information to choose the translators most suited to the project. Every translator has their own preferences, too: some know more about military strategy games, some are huge fans of anime. But all good translators know how to use Google, find information on fandom wikis, know all there is to know about tags, and can even write poetry if the need arises.

And speaking of poetry, there was one project we were working on that had a dueling mechanic. One of the characters involved was a mechanical owl who spoke in rhyme, so our translators wrote lines that rhymed in Russian as well:

Twoo-whoo! It’s time to learn to duel.
My ancient poems make the rules!
I’ll show you how: I’ll sing a song!
You fire when the word is “wrong.”
This land once had a magic Queen,
who kept a palace in the wood so green.
In time the golden crosses came,
and soon we all forgot her name.
Indeed it’s wrong that we forget,
but the sacred doe may appear to us yet.
And once again, upon that throne,
a Queen will sit, and rule alone.

У-ху! Пора учиться бой вести!
Инструкции в стихах у нас в чести!
Я песню вам спою, внимайте!
Услышите «нельзя» — стреляйте!
Здесь королева правила когда-то.
Дворец был зелен, всюду пахло мятой.
Когда пришли кресты златые к власти,
исчезла королева… Вот несчастье!
Нет, забывать о ней никак нельзя!
Но, может, лань-богиню встречу я?
И королева вновь взойдет на трон,
чтоб править до скончания времен.

And, of course, the key to a top-quality translation was well-coordinated work with the client. Their prompt responses helped us make sense of even the tiniest details in the game. We’re working on new projects with this client now, and that strong sense of teamwork between us remains.

Key project points:

  • 280,000 Chinese characters translated for Naruto Online;
  • 100 000 English words translated for Fairy Tail;
  • Complete localization of in-game texts, marketing materials, and updates;
  • Selection of translators and editors who were familiar with the source material to ensure they knew the lore behind both games.

Feedback from the client

I’m very grateful to INLINGO’s editor for her incredibly responsible approach and constant attention to the details and recommendations that we sent.

Yulia Basova
Editor, 101XP

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