The Zeal Archives

Mystic Knights: Swordsman, Sorcerer, Sycophant [Book 3, Chapter 5]

The Zeal Archives
Mystic Knights: Swordsman, Sorcerer, Sycophant [Book 3, Chapter 5]
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This is it, the end of our intrepid crew… just kidding! Trapped in a cage of worlds new and old, our heroes must devise a cunning escape plan that will require everything that they know about the world of Chrono Trigger… probably! At the very least they might need to call in help from some unexpected friends…

In our world, T and G attempt to unveil the storied past of the trio of misfits Ozzie, Flea, and Slash… if they had one?! In particular:

  • What we actually know about these characters (surprise! It’s… not a lot). More interestingly, how differences in localization can dramatically alter how the characters are perceived (with a bunch of examples)
  • A tiny bit about localization in the 90s, and in particular, Nintendo’s localization policy
  • A lot of speculation around what we don’t know about them, and why such ‘small’ characters (relative to how long they are in the game) have such a big impact. Also, why Flea is the best.

Editing, scripting, and podcast visual design by Nick Terwoord. Special thanks to Square Enix for making that game that we love, Chrono Trigger ...and for not suing us.

Episode Cast

Alphabetically, by actor:

  • Dan Charrington (aka The Video Ninja) in the role of Ozzie
  • Manda Whitney in the role of Azala
  • Nick G in the role of his fictional self, “Magus” and discussion host
  • Nick T in the role of his fictional self, “Slash”, Robo, and discussion host
  • Patrick "TrickyLove" Moylan in the role of Nizbel III
  • SMZeldaRules in the role of Lucca Ashtear and “Flea”

Musical Credits

Special Announcement: The Race Against Time

The Race Against Time is a twenty-four hour marathon to do two things: raise money for charity, and beat all the endings of the greatest game ever made: Chrono Trigger.

On August 14 and 15, 2021, we’re raising money for Trans Lifeline—a grassroots hotline and microgrants 501(c)(3) non-profit organization offering direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis. Join the Nickscast family and friends as we embark on a magical journey to save the world of Chrono Trigger and our own all while giving away fabulous prizes.

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Additional Notes

Background: What we know… maybe

  • Oftentimes, background of the game is mechanical (i.e. written into the code), from first-hand sources (e.g. game text, game guides, interviews, notes in related media) or from third-parties (e.g. fans)
  • In the case of these three characters… there’s actually a lot that we don’t know!
    • Normally we could ‘mine the appendices’ via Chrono Cross… but this trio is only featured as an optional part of New Game Plus
    • Similarly, not featured much in fan made games: Flames of Eternity or Crimson Echoes
  • Even though Ozzie, Flea, and Slash feel ‘big’ in the context of the game, it makes sense that there’s not a lot on them. They’re not in much of the game!
  • Speaking of small changes, there are lots of little ones between English and Japanese versions of the game:
    • This is… pretty common with Akira Toryama’s characters
    • In the pre-release, even more Toriyama-esque: Still Vinegar, but also Weiner (Slash) and Ketchappa/Ketchup (Flea)
    • Curious if the line is the same in Japanese (e.g. Vinegar is in a pickle)
    • In Japanese, names are themed after condiments: Vinegar (Ozzie), Soyso/Soy Sauce (Slash), Mayone/Mayonaisse (Flea)
    • In English, names are themed after rock band members: Ozzie (Ozzie Osbourne; vocalist from Black Sabbath), Slash (Saul Hudson, AKA Slash; guitarist from Guns N’ Roses), Flea (Michael Balzary, AKA Flea; bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers)
  • ...However, some other differences in the localization change a bit more of these characters than you might expect
  • Ozzie
    • ...Also makes it much clearer that “Magus” is a title, not a name
    • ...Also in the Japanese, clearer that he stole all the gear from Magus’ castle
      • English: “You're nothing but common thieves! Anyone who tries to steal my treasure is looking for a VERY cruel death!”
      • Japanese: “Come forth, my servants! Make mincemeat of these bastards who are trying to take back the treasure I carried off from Magus Castle!!”
    • English: “These unique items make us INVINCIBLE!”
    • Japanese: “With these sure-kill items we have equipped, we'll beat you bastards to a bloody lifeless unrecognizable pulp!”
    • English: “Magus! You lied when you said you wanted to create a world of evil! You used me!”
    • Japanese: “Magus-sama...... Are you bent on beating me? Was our dream of fighting together and creating a world of Demons a lie!?”
    • Talked about him at some length in the previous episode, and also in our episode on Zombor… but wait, there’s more!
    • Minor: In the Square with Ozzie’s statue, supposed to be a straight rip-off of Magus’ song in the cathedral, but translated differently in English
    • More interestingly, and this ties to Magus, when you meet Ozzie at his fort, he addresses himself as “the great magus Vinegar”. Vain AF!
    • Also, Ozzie is… uh… a lot more vicious in Japanese. Regarding their unique charmable items, from the fort:
    • ALSO also, less villainous at the same time?
  • Slash
    • “literally termed 'outside method sword fighter'. Two dictionary entries might apply to 外法: one is a Buddhist term for heresy, the other is a sort of demonic arts linked to tengu or using skulls”
    • Frog: It's been a while. Dark Arts Swordsman Soysaw......!
    • Soysaw: I never even thought that you would come this far, Glenn.
    • Soysaw: If Cyrus hadn't been there back then, you would have had the same fate as well.
    • Soysaw: Same as the corpses earlier!
    • Soysaw: Pretty good. Guess I'll get serious for the first time in a while.
    • Soysaw: But without Cyrus, will you......
    • Soysaw: Be able to take me!?
    • Soysaw: Well done......! But being beaten fighting for Magus-sama......
    • English: At first I really didn't want to slice and dice ya, but now it sounds kind of fun!
    • Japanese: I am reluctant to cross swords with my former liege and one whom I revered...... But if this too is fate, I doubt I can help it!
    • In fantastical form, Slash has a much more elaborate name than in English. Instead of ‘the swordsman’, he is “the Dark Arts Swordsman”
    • Also, Frog and Slash are way more respectful of each other. Instead of the mean-spirited “Sir Slush” comments and antagonism (also, way less cocky), you get this exchange:
    • And after the warmup:
    • And in defeat:
    • AND when facing off against Magus at Fort Ozzie, we get these differences:
    • (Generally getting serious shonen / DBZ vibes)
  • Flea
    • In Japanese, this is intended to be almost sickeningly cute. A rough translation would be to end each sentence with “don’t you know?”
    • Unclear what the nature of the feelings is; given the general vibe of the three generals in the Japanese version, probably romantic
    • Minor: In Japanese, ends sentences with ‘yo ne’; a play on their name (may-yo-ne)
    • In the same vein, Japanese has many different ‘levels’ of speech and pronouns to refer to the self. Flea uses the ‘tough’ female tone of dialogue and the ‘atai’ pronoun, like Ayla (minus the ‘speaking live a cave woman’ part).
    • “During English localization, the nature of Flea's character was partially lost due to Nintendo of America's strict policies on "sexually suggestive or explicit content.". Feminine signifiers, such as a feminine manner of speaking, tildes, long vowel marks, and heart icons were absent in the English version”
    • Also, the Flea “Vest” (originally, Flea Bra / “Bustier”; concept art is a pushup bra)
    • In a quiz from Chrono Trigger Ultimania, apparently Flea has feelings for Magus??

A Brief Interlude: Localization (in particular, in the 90s)

  • Why the big difference in characterization between English and Japanese versions?
    • Cartoon vs anime vibes
  • Nintendo’s Code of Conduct, specifically. Legends of Localization has a good overview but to briefly cover the broad strokes (regarding the packaging, in game content, or instruction manuals):
    • No sexually suggestive or explicit content
    • No random, gratuitous, and/or excessive violence, including domestic violence or abuse
    • No graphic illustration of death
    • No excessive force in a sports game (really)
    • No stereotyping (religious, ethnic, racial)!
    • No profanity or obscene gestures
    • No drugs (or drug related ads, like in sports stadiums)!
    • No politics (wtf)

Speculation: What we don’t know

  • That’s… pretty much all we know about the characters though!
  • Why are these three nothings so Team Rocket-ly latched in my brain?!
    • Is this the power… of the Chrono Trigger?!
    • More positively: Why do these characters feel so much bigger than they are?
  • What was the point of Fake Flea? Slash’s warm up?
    • Padding? Building up the characters?
  • Are they strong? Are they weak?!
    • As previously: Ozzie is strong (Necromancy, barriers) and weak (pushover)
    • Strong-ish, but tossed aside pretty quickly
    • Team Rocket-esque
  • Why were they generals / elites?
    • Like, what were they responsible for?!

What is the Zeal Archives?

The Zeal Archives is a monthly podcast exploring the A-Z of the world of Chrono Trigger one bit at a time—two parts audio drama, one part discussion podcast, one hundred percent love letter to one of the best JRPGs of all time!

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