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Fang - Half Wolf, Half Jerboa 0% Weasel

#1 User is offline Pengi 

Posted 18 August 2017 - 05:50 PM

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This is something that's been bugging me for years, so I did a little investigating.

In the early days of Western Sonic fandom it was common knowledge that "Nack the Weasel" went by the name "Fang the Sniper" in Japan, but it was still generally accepted that he was in fact a weasel, despite not really having any weasel-like features.

If I recall correctly it was around 2002 that Western Sonic fandom became aware of Fang being half wolf, thanks to the now defunct Sonic Dimension fan site run by Japanese fan BULK. It was a veritable treasure trove of Japanese Sonic lore and information and BULK would often answer questions from English speaking fans, although his English was limited.

I believe there was some confusion at the time about how Fang's species was listed on the Sonic Dimension profile. Either through language barrier miscommunication with BULK, or just plain assumption, we all just sort of settled on the idea of Fang being half wolf and half weasel. The wolf part explained the muzzle and the sharp tooth, so his design started to make a little more sense.

I got thinking about this again earlier today and decided to search the Japanese Internet for any information on Fang. All the relevant results backed up Fang being a half-breed, half wolf specifically, but I kept getting weird auto-translations for the second species.

I got in touch with a friend who knows Japanese and asked him about a sentence on the Japanese "Sonic & Tails 2" Wikipedia page. He translated it as:

Quote

"A character called Fang the Sniper, who is a half breed of wolf and jerboa rodent, debuted."


I then showed him the species listing on the old Sonic Dimension profile page. He said that from what he could tell, they had turned the two words (okami and tobinezumi) into a compound. This might have been the source of the confusion all those years ago.

I asked my friend if he had any idea how Sega of America could have landed on weasel as his species. He said that it might be due to the association between rats and thieves not really being a thing outside of Japan. So in place of the "rat = thief" association they went with "weasel = weasely/devious".

Anyway, here's what a jerboa looks like:

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Long ears. Long feet. Zig-zaggy tail. Known for being able to jump very high.

And here's the kicker. That guy right there is specifically a four-toed jerboa. Fang only has four digits on each hand.

Posted Image

Boom.

The only mystery left is where the Japanese fandom actually got the species information to begin with.

#2 User is offline Nicky Ali 

Posted 18 August 2017 - 06:18 PM

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I would've just assumed Fang was a wolf, especially considering the appearance of the wolf custom character in Forces, but Jerboa makes sense I guess.
This post has been edited by Nicky Ali: 18 August 2017 - 06:18 PM

#3 User is offline Cooljerk 

Posted 18 August 2017 - 06:50 PM

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View PostPengi, on 18 August 2017 - 05:50 PM, said:

Fang only has four digits on each hand.


I'm willing to bet money that there is some japanese media out there where this is not true, because hands with four fingers is essentially an ethnic slur in japan.

#4 User is offline Blue Spikeball 

Posted 18 August 2017 - 06:55 PM

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Fang is half-jerboa? Heh, I've always wondered why he had those ears and tail, not to mention the four fingers on each hand. This explains it. It also explains why he's called Fang the Sniper when most Sonic characters are called "*name* the *species*". Just "Fang the Wolf" would be incorrect, and "Fang the Wolf-jerboa" doesn't roll off the tongue.
This post has been edited by Blue Spikeball: 19 August 2017 - 02:42 AM

#5 User is offline Pengi 

Posted 18 August 2017 - 07:05 PM

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View PostCooljerk, on 18 August 2017 - 06:50 PM, said:

View PostPengi, on 18 August 2017 - 05:50 PM, said:

Fang only has four digits on each hand.


I'm willing to bet money that there is some japanese media out there where this is not true, because hands with four fingers is essentially an ethnic slur in japan.


On the Sonic Drift 2 box he has five digits on each hand. But in the character art in the manual he has four digits.

#6 User is offline Cooljerk 

Posted 18 August 2017 - 07:21 PM

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View PostPengi, on 18 August 2017 - 07:05 PM, said:

View PostCooljerk, on 18 August 2017 - 06:50 PM, said:

View PostPengi, on 18 August 2017 - 05:50 PM, said:

Fang only has four digits on each hand.


I'm willing to bet money that there is some japanese media out there where this is not true, because hands with four fingers is essentially an ethnic slur in japan.


On the Sonic Drift 2 box he has five digits on each hand. But in the character art in the manual he has four digits.


Possibly because, at that point, the game gear was relegated as a kid's side console in japan, I guess it wasn't as closely scrutinized. In fact, I guess Fang has never been in a high enough profile game for that to actually matter.

The 4 fingers thing has become a lot more well known in recent years, too, which probably compells artists to shun 4-fingered designs even more now.
This post has been edited by Cooljerk: 18 August 2017 - 07:21 PM

#7 User is offline SoNick 

Posted 19 August 2017 - 02:26 AM

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Huh, that's pretty neat! I had always assumed that the tail design was just something the artists had done to give the character more personality; I didn't know that tails like that existed in nature

#8 User is offline Hitlersaurus Christ 

Posted 19 August 2017 - 08:31 AM

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If you think of the size of a wolf and the size of a jerboa this becomes pretty messed up.

#9 User is offline Tiberious 

Posted 20 August 2017 - 06:31 AM

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Considering the fact we have a hedgehog that's bigger than a fox, I'm willing to wager that the wolf and jerboa parents were of roughly similar stature.

#10 User is offline synchronizer 

Posted 20 August 2017 - 07:39 PM

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Crash Bandicoot was designed such that it didn't matter that he didn't look anything like a bandicoot. What was important was making him easy to see on the screen. (The choice in animal type probably doesn't mean much.)
This post has been edited by synchronizer: 20 August 2017 - 07:40 PM

#11 User is offline Blue Spikeball 

Posted 20 August 2017 - 08:24 PM

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Even Crash had a few bandicoot-like features (the ears, muzzle and light belly fur), though. They didn't randomly give him cat ears or a rabbit tail.
This post has been edited by Blue Spikeball: 20 August 2017 - 08:33 PM

#12 User is offline Miles Wolf 

Posted 22 August 2017 - 01:39 PM

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The fact of Fang being a jerboa is very plausible, but the wolf thing... It sounds more like an interpretation of the character ("it looks like a mixture between wolf and...").

I know it isn't, but it sounds a little weird... As the first post says, we should know where they got the species info from.

#13 User is offline Pengi 

Posted 23 August 2017 - 09:48 PM

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From TOUMA:

私はトビネズミをモチーフにデザインしました。ですが、海外ではイタチと紹介されていたと思います。

Watashi wa tobinezumi o mochīfu ni dezain shimashita. Desuga, kaigaide wa itachi to shōkai sa rete ita to omoimasu.

---

A precise translation would be nice, but the gist is that he designed him as "tobinezumi" (jerboa [any rodent of family Dipodidae]). He also mentions him being introduced as a weasel abroad.


The "half wolf" part of the old "Sonic Dimension" fan site profile remains a mystery for now, as does the trivia about him liking meat. Maybe an old magazine like "BEEP! Mega Drive"?

#14 User is offline Cooljerk 

Posted 24 August 2017 - 12:40 AM

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Desu ga, not desuga. Ga is a particle.

#15 User is offline Hitlersaurus Christ 

Posted 24 August 2017 - 01:56 AM

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There's no spaces in Japanese, so it doesn't really matter. Attaching particles to the end of a word when using romaji is uncommon but I've definitely seen it used before.

Anyway I couldn't find any specific source for Fang's species when looking through the manuals that have been scanned here, but hearing from the designer himself leaves no real room for doubt as far as the jerboa part goes. I'm not sure about the wolf part, but TOUMA also designed a character of his own called Fangwolf that bears a bit of a resemblance so it's likely.

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