This fall, Nintendo will release a new Wario game: Wario Land: Shake It!, which features the morbidly obese anti-hero venturing off to find treasure and, to a lesser extent, rescue a damsel. Given the title and the fact that the game is controlled with the Wiimote, it should surprise no one that the gameplay involves super fiesta maraca-like waggling action. Initially, the game’s new damsel character was presented to the world, she bore her Japanese name — or, at least, an English approximation of her Japanese name, Melfull. Which means nothing in English, though it could be some strange way of saying “full of honey” in the same way that the name Melissa refers to honey. But it probably doesn’t. Even worse, the name can be also be translated as Merfle, which sounds downright un-queenly.
here she is — little miss problematically named
More recently, Nintendo began advertising the game to English-speaking audiences and, in doing so, has presented a new Anglo-friendly name for this woman: Merelda, which probably isn’t a translation of either Melfull or Merfle but at least sounds enough like it that it shouldn’t be confusing for the people with reason to discuss proper names in the game’s English and Japanese versions. (Me, basically.) After a moment, I realized that the name was either a shortened variation on the name Esmeralda — which means “emerald” and which is appropriate, given the character’s profound greenness — or just a variation on the world emerald itself. This keeps her in line with the Mario universe tradition of naming female characters after things that are small, pretty, or sweet. (Case in point: Peach, Daisy, Rosetta (Rosalina’s Japanese name), Syrup, Tiaramisu (which counts for two and surely must be the name of a drag queen somewhere), Shokora (whose name is Japanese for “chocolate”), Eclair, and a whole lot of others.) Her profile here also notes one more of her names: Königin Midori, which the Germans shall call her and which oddly uses a Japanese word — midori, meaning green and surely familiar to most of us as the melon liqueur.
My take: Call Melfull, Merelda, Midori or her whatever you like, but I can’t help but to think of the minor Tiny Toons character and Marvin the Martian offspring Marcia the Martian every time I see her.
Am I the only one who sees it? Mentally switch all the pink and purple to green.