Funbag Fantasy has a very colorful world setting. Not extraordinarily complicated with magical airships and time travel, but more leaning on the “classical” side of the fantasy genre. If I had to liken it a console game world, I would say Dragon Quest, or maybe Suikoden. Anyway, a large part of the game’s story has to do with the relationship of humans and demons. Humans have imposed a continent-wide eradication order on the demons after a time of co-existing, but they are rumored to still live on the fringe. So already we can see at the most basic plot level that there is some “us vs them”, “good vs evil” elements at work. Maintaining the word “demon” throughout while glossing over some of the overlaps in Japanese was a bit difficult, but it illustrates the human tendency to classify different races of the occult as simply “demon”, or “evil”, which is certainly the tendency of the people in the game.
“Mazoku 魔族” basically means demon, or demons, in Japanese. Ma 魔 meaning “magic, occult, demonic” and Zoku 族 meaning “tribe, clan”. I stuck with that translation in the story, and rightly so I think. I’ve seen it translated in roundabout ways such as “Race of magical beings” “Clan with supernatural/demonic powers” and things like this, but aside from being too long to be workable, the imagery is too unspecified for the English speaker. In translation, it’s a better approach, I think, to choose a familiar word with established mental imagery, and broaden our scope of the word through good story telling.
Mazoku to a Japanese person is closer to a human than I think the English speaker’s notions, and they are certainly not all evil like people generally think of demons in western folklore. Mazoku can live among humans, and in many cases look almost identical, save their magical powers. This isn’t always the case though, as many take on various, more vile forms. English doesn’t have as encompassing of a word as Mazoku unfortunately, so what I wanted to achieve with the translation was a broadening of the scope of our mental imagery of demons, without having to go to annoying lengths to explain “Some are humanoid beings with occult powers, some are evil some are good, and there’s a bunch of different ranks…”
Without giving away any plot points, I have a feeling that after playing through Funbag, your viewpoint on demons will change. Translation is interesting when it comes to things like this, because based on the decisions of the translator, you can start to think of certain words in new ways you may not have gotten through reading something written originally in English. On the other hand, maybe some of you have certain ideas about demons that will be reinforced by the game, and maybe some will disagree altogether. Either way, by the end of the story, I don’t think anyone would be opposed to having a hot demon succubus as a best friend.
Funbag Fantasy goes on sale on September 9th! Pre-order now to snag it for 10% off!