Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pantalones Giganticus (Or, the Devil Himself)

A little monster, quite literally, may be terrorizing my beloved, upcoming Smash Bros. Brawl.

ashley the strange, basically

I know, I know. Most people who read my blog could give a damn about the above witchlet or this video game or video games in general. But trust me on this one — there are interesting things going on here and I'm using them to touch on some of my pet interests: language, translation, urban legends, religion, unnecessarily close readings of lyrics and weirdly hidden counterculture messages in popular media. Just trust me.

Tonight's update at the Smash Bros. Brawl blog revealed that Ashley's theme from WarioWare: Touched! will be one of the game's musical tracks — and in an up-tempo, big band reconstruction, too. Personally, I'm happy. The original tune stands out in my mind as one of the more memorable video game songs I've ever heard. That's saying a lot, both because I've played a lot of video games and because music in them tends to verge somewhere between forgettable and irritating. Even more notable: Ashley's theme has lyrics. And they don't suck. I somehow doubt she'll be making a playable appearance. Nonetheless, this post makes for an interesting one at the Brawl blog in that Brawl designer and blogger Masahiro Sakurai refers readers to its Japanese version. There, you can hear the Japanese singer for Ashley's part — younger, sweeter and entirely less saucy. This strikes me as being noteworthy because, by and large, international video game companies either try to eliminate differences between different area's versions of the same game or just not mention them.

Just because I think it's a clever little ditty, here are the lyrics to Ashley's theme. (The parts sung by Ashley herself are italicized. The non-italicized lines are sung by a Disney's Haunted Mansion-style host of ghouls.)
Who's the girl next door living in the haunted mansion?
You better learn my name 'cause I am Ashley!
She knows the darkest spells and she brews the meanest potions
You might be the ingredient I seek

Don't let yourself be fooled by her innocent demeanor
You should be afraid of the great Ashley!
She doesn't play with dolls, and she never combs her hair
Who has time for girly things like that?

Eye of newt, I cast a hex on you
Grandma's wig, this'll make you big
Kitten Spitz, soon your pants won't fix
Pantalones Giganticus!

Oh no, not again!

She could rule the world, and still finish all her homework
Everyone knows that I'm the greatest Ashley!
You better watch your step or she'll cast a spell on you
I turned my teacher into a spoon

I must flip through my spellbook, and yes it's true
I don't have as many friends as you.
But I think you're nice and maybe we could be friends
And if you say no, you're toast

Who's the girl next door living in the haunted mansion?
You better learn my name 'cause I am Ashley!
Just remember this when you see her on the street
I'm the cruelest girl you'll ever meet
And for the sake of comparison, here's the lyrics to the Japanese version, translated into English. (Credit goes to GameFAQs contributor Enigmapoeia and his awesome video game song lyrics guide.)
Everyone's most popular person in the world
It's all about her Ashley
Everyone turn around to see her glance
It's only natural for Ashley, that's me

Everyone has an admiration throughout the world
It's all about her Ashley!
The great Ashley's magic is so supreme!
It's a party tonight!

EnOre Bmu N — it is a laughter spell
Si O I Ra Wn — what could be that spell?
I Ed A M — I don't remember this one
Ah! It's detestable! I'm getting bored!

Everyone's most popular person in the world
It's all about her Ashley
There are no impossibilities with the great Ashley
Nothing is strong to me!

The sea of the night sky has plenty of s
I am all alone
I want to make friends with everyone
How should I be good?

Everyone's most popular person in the world
It's all about her Ashley
The great Ashley's magic is so supreme!
It's a party tonight!
Far different, these two versions, but that could just be the translation. I can't help but pay special attention to the fact that the Japanese version contains a hidden backwards message in English. See that string of nonsensical letters in the third verse? It's the one part of the song that isn't normally sung with Japanese lyrics. (In the original, even Ashley's name approximates "Ashuri" more than "Ashley.") If you take the individual word parts and read them backwards, they spell "Made in Wario is number one." (Made in Wario is the Japanese name for the series of games we call "WarioWare" here in the States.)

That hidden message makes for a cute little footnote in all this, but it would seem to add credibility to the still-likely-false rumor that the English version of the song contains a Satanic message when played backwards. Yes, backwards messages from the Devil hidden in music is, like, one of the most played-out urban legends ever, I know. But the fact that Ashley herself comes off as a fairly evil character — in the games, her companion is a small impish demon named Red and she does live in a haunted mansion, after all— makes for a package that amounts to a cross-continental tangle of weird. It's a well-documented fact among Nintendo nerds like myself that Ashley's English theme, when played backwards, includes a line that sounds remarkably like "I have granted the kids to hell" or "I have condemned the kids to hell" or "I grant the kids to hell" or "I condemn the kids to hell." (This YTMND posting of it choses the first interpretation, but in the tradition of seeing pictures in clouds or the Virgin Mary in toast, you can take it however you like.) The only reason that anyone ever stumbled onto this fact is that the game the song debuted in included a mode in which various theme songs could be played at a tempo the player himself controlled. Odd, no? It might almost seem as though the programmers wanted the supposedly hidden message to be found. Allow me to explain: The game in question, WarioWare: Touched!, employed an usual control scheme in which players only used a stylus and the Nintendo DS touchscreen to play. In other words, no buttons, just various swipes and jabs with the little plastic pen-like instrument. The game also included various unlockable "toys" that basically showed off what one could do with said touchscreen. One of these toys was a record player, which could be used to play selected in-game music. And by swirling the stylus in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, one could either speed up or reverse the music, much as one could with a real-life record player. To some, the fact that Nintendo would have included such a feature further bolsters the notion that this whole backmasked secret message was intentional.

It wasn't. I don't work at Nintendo nor have I checked this out with any of the nice people who made this game, but I feel pretty safe in stating that the crazy conspiracy theory of Ashley-as-the-Devil and Nintendo-as-satanists amounts to utter bullshit. As far as urban legends go, however, it makes for a pretty good one.

For the one of you who actually made it to the end of this post, here's a clip from WarioWare: Twisted! featuring Ashley's intro sequence and her English theme song.


6 comments:

  1. I want to know how you sing something like "EnOre Bmu N" in English or Japanese.

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  2. Good point. But those are the lyrics, I’m told. I’ve never heard the Japanese version of the song.

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  3. Anonymous5:57 AM

    If you reverse those leters it looks like it says 'numbor one'.

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  4. It actually says "Made in Wario is number one."

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  5. One minor correction; the character first appeared in WarioWare Touched, and the video is from Smooth Moves. Never the less, nice article, and you're right, the messages were not deliberatley placed there. One other point though... I think the darker version of the character being in the translations is actually due to a common phenomenon in translation, where characters are made more 'edgy' or generally 'more serious' or even just 'darker' in the US versions of a game or such like, while the Japanese versions of these things are cute because cuteness is actually generally more popular with a Japanese audience. Or maybe it's just that they needed to change the song to fit the backing music as the directly translated English version of the Japanese lyrics didn't work with the timing (because translations and dubs in video games usually don't re record the music, making the translation more a job of trying desperately to match the timing and such of the original game version.

    As for the speed up record by spinning it manually via the touch screen implying it was intentional to find a message... I'd say it's more to do with how WarioWare Touched is a demo of the touch screen and microphone features, and how the respective other games in the series are meant to be like tech demos for the systems they're on.

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  6. This little shit knows how to sing. Hell yeah.

    BTW, I listen to it in SSBB Ost

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