Mr. Needlemouse Makes an Appearance

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Gryson, Jan 24, 2021.

  1. Linkabel

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    Yeah, I was wondering about that too. Even the Japanese box art for Sonic 1-3 have the "Sonic Team Presents" branding.

    Edit: And the Sonic CD cover has it as well.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
  2. The Joebro64

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    No, and I feel like this is the kind of attitude that makes these misconceptions thrive. This is why the Wikipedia pages called Sonic Team the developer of Sonic 2, CD, and 3&K for a decade in spite of the fact that this was demonstrably false. They may have called themselves Sonic Team, but as an actual, tangible entity, Sonic Team did not exist for five years after Sonic 1 was released. We know which teams really developed the games.
     
  3. Blue Spikeball

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    I didn't say anything about Sonic 2, CD or 3K. You claimed that Sonic Team didn't exist until 1996, and the "Sonic Team" name wasn't an "official designation" prior to that, which is rather dismissive of the fact that the team that made Sonic 1 officially called themselves that in the released product.
     
  4. Dek Rollins

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    While I don't disagree with the sentiment that the Wiki pages should carry specified factual info, I think saying that Sonic 1 wasn't developed by Sonic Team is needlessly playing semantics. The teams on each game were headed by mostly the same people, so I see no reason for us to stop referring to them as Sonic Team colloquially just because that wasn't technically a real department at Sega. The fact that each game is "presented by Sonic Team" on the box art leads me to believe that calling themselves that was officially approved on some level, even though it wasn't a designated team within the company yet.
     
  5. Linkabel

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    I think most wikis have it right btw, with stating that Sonic Team was not an official division prior to 1996, but clarifying that it was a branding before that and the core people thought of themselves as Sonic Team.

    (Even if they were back by other teams)
     
  6. The Joebro64

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    Then you should have specified that, because your post made it sound like you were referring to all of the classic Sonic games.
    No, it isn't dismissive. It's simply a fact. Yes, the team added a "Sonic Team Presents" message at the tail end of development. But they weren't Sonic Team as we know them today. Maybe if you spent years researching these things and having to correct them like I have, you'd see this differently.
     
  7. David The Lurker

    David The Lurker

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    I feel the only place it'd fit on the Sonic 1 development page is as a caption underneath any of the images that have the original "Mr. Harinezumi" text. But I'd make the argument that "Mr. Needlemouse" should be missing from the development page entirely. The best place for it would be where Sega made use of the name - as the codename for Sonic the Hedgehog 4. Sega wholeheartedly embraced the mistranslation at that point, so it feels like the best place to explain why Needlemouse was ever a thing in the first place. Either way, I agree the Needlemouse page doesn't need to exist. Have it redirect to somewhere, and the misconception can erode over time.

    I'm not into this idea. Because where would the line be drawn? It could easily be turned into a sprawling mess of a page, putting down misconceptions that most people would go "Um. Are you sure most people thought this was a thing?" The idea of the wiki is to update it until it's the most accurate resource that exists, correct? That by having The Facts, the mistruths are slowly cleared up. Maybe if this was the wiki of ten years ago, it'd make more sense, but personally, it doesn't feel like it belongs. There are pages on the wiki where individual misconceptions can be cleared up, and having one huge list seems a little redundant. Not to mention there's no need to catalogue every small one that's ever been. Not on Retro, at least.

    Let's be honest, the reason this is confusing is because Sega has made it confusing. Yes, "Sonic Team" wasn't officially named by Sega. They were a group who worked close together in a way they hadn't before, and gave themselves a fun little nickname that ended up appearing when you turned on the game. Someone at Sega had to sign off on that - it wasn't hidden in the code. Their real names were hidden, but not "Sonic Team." Even more, it was placed on the cover art, which meant they wanted it to be important. Someone must have seen the worth of that name, and then continued to use it.

    The name wasn't used on every Sonic game that came out in Japan over the next few years. It was on the core titles - 2, 3, Knuckles, and CD - and two Game Gear games, Sonic 2 and Sonic Drift. "Sonic Team" went missing as branding on the rest of the Game Gear titles. What was the reasoning behind that? They didn't slap "Sonic Team" on every game with Sonic's face. Maybe someone from the original game complained when they noticed Drift? Maybe it was an oversight and it was too late to fix it? Who knows.

    Either way, Sega clearly wanted people to think that the team behind the first game were involved in those subsequent installments, even if the core three members never teamed up for a Sonic game again. What makes it more confusing is that, when Sonic Team did become its own studio, the four Mega Drive games were listed as Sonic Team games. You look at the booklet they handed out at the Tokyo International Forum unveiling, they're listed as part of their gameography. When you insert Sonic Adventure into a CD-Rom Drive, there's a text file that has a "series bibliography" which lists the four Mega Drive Titles, Jam, and Adventure. They were retroactively made part of the catalogue. Except for CD, guess that came even later.

    We can get weirder about Sonic Team. Go to sonicteam.com right now. You look at their list of games. Oh, there's Space Channel 5. United Game Artists made that!...but they merged into Sonic Team later. I guess they're a Sonic Team game now? I don't know anyone who would call that a Sonic Team game, but in casual conversation, I'd call Sonic 3 a Sonic Team game. Even though, yes, it was a group of Japanese developers who worked at the Sega Technical Institute, hiding in their own offices avoiding the American staff as they worked on Spinball and Comix Zone.

    oh this is probably the easier way to say everything i said above
     
  8. Blastfrog

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    I've rethought my position. I think it's necessary to list misconceptions that official sources take for granted in the appropriate context (such as discrediting "needlemouse" in the Sonic 1 early development article and the Sonic 4 article), but a dedicated catch-all misconceptions page is probably going to go off the rails eventually and be a needless distraction.
     
  9. Cooljerk

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    So, just wanted to comment on all this as someone who took several years of japanese in college. "Needlemouse" is not a mistranslation, it's a very japanese-style transliteration pun. Needle Mouse for hairinezumi is precisely the kind of translation pun a native japanese speaker would make, because of the way these kinds of compound loan words in japanese work. For example, the word for electric refrigerator is 電気冷蔵庫, broken up literally "lightning cold box," and the japanese love to point this out. This is why in Kirby 64, grabbing the spark (lightning) and ice (cold) power ups turns you into a refrigerator -- something nonsense in the west but a typical pun in japanese. These kinds of transliteration puns are all over the Japanese language. There is even a specific term for this kind of pun - 駄洒落, literally "word play," which are also known as 親父ギャグ, or "old man gags" which are the equivalent of western "Dad jokes."

    Calling this a "mistranslation" because Yuji Naka didn't use the pun himself is a stretch. It very likely was *not* Americans who committed a mistraslation, but native japanese speakers at sega who used the transliteration as a pun.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2022
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  10. Gryson

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    In my opinion (as someone who speaks a bit of Japanese), this is as straightforward a compound-word-based mistranslation as you will ever see. (along the lines of translating "breakfast" as 断食を破る, literally "to break a fast").

    When it comes to translation, we always have to consider first "What was the intention of the source text?" Here, there can be no doubt that "Mr. ハリネズミ" as it is written should be translated as "Mr. Hedgehog" (and, based on Naka's response, that was the intention of the creators).

    If it were written in Japanese as "Mr. ニードルネスミ" or in some other creative way, then a good translation would take that into account and do something creative in English like "needlemouse". That's not the case, though.

    As for who translated it, it doesn't really matter. This is likely a classic case of someone knowing just enough words to do a bad translation. This kind of bad translation is so prevalent in Japan that anyone who has lived there won't be surprised by it for a second, so it's certainly possible a Japanese person knew ハリ was "needle" and ネズミ was "mouse" and put the two together, without ever thinking that maybe it's not the same compound in English.

    But even if this was intended by the translator as some kind of wordplay, it's still a bad translation because that wordplay was not present in the original Japanese.
     
  11. Cooljerk

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    It would actually take *more* knowledge of Japanese to transliterate Harinezumi into "needle mouse" than "hedgehog." Your example of a ニードルネスミ is straight Romaji, the kind of mistranslation one doesn't need to know japanese to make. ハリ meaning "needle" and ネズミ meaning "mouse" are not common japanese spellings, and not something someone without intimate knowledge of japanese would make. Both are in katakana, indicating a foreign loan word. The way ハリネズミ is written invites comparison to "Needle mouse" specifically to japanese people because ordinarily mouse is written as 根住 and needle is written as 針. It is only in the very specific katakana spelling of "hedgehog" that you get pointed out that the word is made up of two componds like this. As in, the word "Hedgehog" specifically invites the kind of dajere word play that "needle mouse" is, more so than other japanese words.

    Hence the inherent pun. "Hedgehog" in japanese is written in a way that, to japanese people, points out the obvious 駄洒落 (word play). Someone who doesn't know very much japanese, is not likely to make the "needle mouse" connection, where as for Japanese people it's a lay-up pun. It is unlikely that someone not versed in the language would have the ability to split up a compound word made up in *katakana* and decipher the oyomi readings of the words. I could *maybe* buy that if harinezumi was written 根住針 as you could pop the individual kanji into a jdict and stumble upon the words "needle" and "mouse" but I'd doubt someone not well versed in japanese would even think that ハリネズミ is a compound in the first place.

    The joke pun is inherent to the original japanese spelling of the word. It is essentially a pun built into the language.
     
  12. kitsunebi

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    I don't think this is correct. Some animal names are usually written in kanji, but others are almost always written in either hiragana or katakana. I've never seen the kanji 根住 used to mean "mouse" (I believe it's used for people's names only). "Mouse" is one animal which is almost always written in either hiragana or katakana. Likewise, "hedgehog" - I've never seen it written as anything BUT "ハリネズミ." The word harinezumi doesn't invite comparison to "needle mouse" any more than the English word "dragonfly" invites comparisons to flying dragons (or a fly that looks like a dragon.) It's just it's name, simple as that. Yes, a hedgehog IS sort of like a needle-covered mouse, but that isn't what goes through people's minds when they hear the word. I think people are reading WAY too much into this.

    Now, if you asked your average Japanese person to translate ハリネズミ into English, they may very well come up with "needle mouse" by breaking the word apart into components they know the meaning of, since outside of people familiar with Sonic games, "hedgehog" isn't a word many Japanese people know. This is no different from a Japanese person guessing that the English word for "fireworks" is "flower fire" or "fire flower" by breaking the word apart into components whose English translations they're familiar with. So the only way this makes any sense (if it was done intentionally) was if someone wrote "needle mouse" in English, for the benefit of Japanese readers who would in their mind translate "needle" to "hari" and "mouse" to "nezumi" and then say "a-ha! "Needle mouse" means hedgehog!" But the idea that any of this was done intentionally as some sort of pun by or for Westerners makes little sense.
     
  13. Gryson

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    You're way overthinking this.

    There is the direct equivalent example for English-Japanese: "hedgehog". It would be flat-out wrong to translate "hedgehog" to Japanese as 生垣豚 (literally "hedge" + "hog").

    "Mr. Needlemouse" has the same energy as "Sonic, Hog of the Hedges". It's laughably wrong.

    I want to reiterate for the audience who might be confused: "Mr. Needlemouse" is never an acceptable translation of the Japanese that Ohshima wrote (”Mr. ハリネズミ”).

    By the way, you seem to be misunderstanding the meaning of dajare (駄洒落). This is a specific type of wordplay in Japanese that involves homophones or near-homophones (アルミ缶の上にあるみかん, for example).
     
  14. nineko

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    Ironically, that's what I've been doing in the past two decades with my "I am the Holy Cat" user title.

    The character in my avatar is Kamineko, written 噛み猫, which means "the biting (噛み, kami) cat (猫, neko)", but I purposely mistranslate it as if it was written 神猫, which reads the same, but means "the holy (神, kami) cat".

    Still better than 紙猫 ("the paper cat", also read Kamineko).
     
  15. RyogaMasaki

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    Hoo boy.. So as someone who lives in Japan with permanent residence and uses the language literally every day as a matter of survival... 'Needle mouse' is a bad translation. Whoever first translated it was a Japanese person who didn't have 'hedgehog' in their dictionary or a Westerner who excitedly recognized 'hari' and 'nezumi' and didn't look into it further (or didn't have harinezumi in *their* dictionary).

    Cooljerk's notes about oyaji gags and dajare are correct, but I ask: where is the joke with harinezumi? Kitsunebi drew the comparison to 'dragonfly,' which I think is apt. It's not a dad joke and it's not a pun. It's a reference to what the creature looks like. A hedgehog does, indeed, look like a rodent with a bunch of needles. It's a compound noun, like doghouse or football or sunrise or haircut...

    PROTIP: katakana does not always mean a loanword. It's probably best thought of as italics.
     
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  16. Gryson

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    I wasn't sure what you were referring to and went back and checked:

    This is 100% incorrect. Katakana is used for the scientific names of plants and animals.

    You need go no further than the wikipedia page for hedgehog in Japanese to see it is written in katakana:

    https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/ハリネズミ

    Also, the kanji you wrote for mouse is incorrect (that's a person's name). The actual kanji for "mouse" (鼠) is rare and isn't on the Jouyou list of common kanji. You'll almost never see it in Japanese. Katakana is basically always used for 'harinezumi' (really, a quick google search will show this).

    Or... someone who had just enough Japanese to think they were being clever?
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2022
  17. Hitlersaurus Christ

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    So, I read this post yesterday and was originally going to respond but got distracted by other stuff. Now it seems like I’ve been beaten to the chase by quite a few people but yeah… This is wrong. And I can’t let someone be wrong on the Internet — that would be against my Poster’s Honor.

    I just got back from living in Yokohama for over half a decade and while I’m not a native speaker or even close to fluent by any means, as someone who regularly makes stupid word jokes in Japanese I can confidently say you’re mistaken.
    The majority of what I was originally going to say has already been said more eloquently by the previous few posters, so I won’t try and dogpile or anything, but as a bad pun/oyaji gag enthusiast I want to make a few things clearer about puns/wordplay.

    This is not dajare or oyaji gag. It’s not even a pun. 電気 is electricity. 冷蔵庫 is the word for refrigerator because that’s what a refrigerator is: a box that keeps things cold. Electric icebox isn’t a pun in either English or japanese. It’s just a thing.
    The developers of Kirby weren’t making a play on words, they were thinking “what’s a power that combines electricity and ice?” And decided an electric fridge made sense.

    Dajare are a type of play on words but not every play on words is dajare. Mr. Harinezumi definitely isn’t.

    An oyaji gag would be something like イカじゃないか?It means ”It’s a squid, isn’t it?” but the wordplay comes from the end of the sentence sounding like the subject: ika janai ka?
    They’re dad jokes but they’re more comparable to the punchline of a popsicle stick joke than “hi hungry I’m dad.”

    A hedgehog is a mouse-like animal covered in needles. There’s no pun. No punchline. That’s just what it is.
     
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