Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Lady in Green

Because I’m determined to make a habit of documenting name goings-on with Nintendo characters, that’s why.

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: K├Ânigin 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.


  1. C. C. S.9:17 PM

    I think your hypothesis about "Merelda" being a shortened form of "Esmeralda" is spot on, but would add that the change from "Meralda" to "Merelda" could be due to likening her name to that of another Nintendo princess: Zelda.

    Also, one needn't resort to Roslina's Japanese name to make her fit the pattern; her English name does so just fine. At first glance, "Rosalina" looks like it could be Italian for "little rose" (although that would actually be "Rosina"); however, the true etymology of the name is quite different. "Rosalina" is a Latinate form of "Rosaline," itself a Medieval variant of "Rosalind," which comes from the Germanic roots "hros" ("horse") and "linde" (soft, tender) and the spelling of which was influenced by the Latin "rosa linda" ("beautiful rose") (see below for a link to a great etymology of names site). So in sum, it has links to the ideas of roses, horses, softness/tenderness, and beauty, all of which are generally considered quite feminine.

  2. C. C. S.9:22 PM

    Correction. Although all are feminine, the pattern was for small, pretty, or sweet, which they still fulfill: roses are all three, horses are considered pretty by most, and softness/tenderness tend to be equated with small and/or pretty things.

  3. Thanks for the clarification. I had just always assumed Rosaline and its variants were related to the word rose. And good catch on the Merelda/Zelda similarity. And Merelda does look like Saria, after all.

  4. Anonymous5:20 PM

    When I looked at Merelda I thought she was a wario version of Daisy. Rosalina is just a mario version of Zelda. I noticed that Rosalina had a slimmer gown like zelda, and has a solemn attitude.

  5. Anonymous7:30 AM


    Thats all there is to it, there just 'wariofied'