I want to share with the subreddit a personal experiment and some accompanying research that I’ve worked on over the past several months. It was initiated for the sake of satisfying my curiosity and nothing more, but I ended up learning some interesting information which I feel is worth sharing.
It comes in two parts: the first part is a demonstration related to Kolar’s train track theory, and the second part is information on postmortem wound changes which I believe can shed some light on JonBenet’s back marks.
I will include some opinions and thoughts at the end of the post but I want to emphasize that I am not writing this to convince anyone of this theory or any other theory (unless you count “not a stun gun” as a theory). The primary objective is to present what I’ve learned, and the secondary objective is to apply that knowledge to respond to some of the common objections I have seen raised regarding this theory. I encourage you to take or leave what you want from this post and come to your own conclusions.
First, some background:
Note 1: I’ll be focusing only on the two lower back marks. There were other abrasions found on JonBenet noted in the autopsy report (shoulder, lower leg) that may
have looked like the back marks, but we don’t have photographs to know one way or the other. We have a photograph of the abrasion on her cheek, but as the autopsy report indicates only one abrasion in the area and that abrasion looks much larger than the back marks, I don’t find it relevant here.
Note 2: Measurements in US customary units will be converted to metric units and placed in brackets after the original measurement.
During the autopsy the coroner noted two marks on the left side of JonBenet’s lower back. From the autopsy report:
On the left lateral aspect of the lower back, approximately sixteen and one-quarter inches [41.3 cm] and seventeen and one-half inches [44.5 cm] below the level of the top of the head are two dried rust colored to slightly purple abrasions.
The more superior of the two measures one-eighth [3.2 mm] by one-sixteenth [1.6 mm] of an inch and the more inferior measures three-sixteenths [4.8 mm] by one-eighth [3.2 mm] of an inch. There is no surrounding contusion identified.
Photos of the marks: Back marks version 1 Back marks version 2
What else do we know about the marks? A quick gauge using the photo scale in the autopsy picture indicates they are spaced about 3.5 cm apart. 3.5 cm is also the measurement given in Kolar’s book as well as by Lou Smit in media interviews (at least some of the time...see *).
Thanks to u/CommonSearch
we have some fine-tuned measurements to work with: Image of JonBenet's back mark measurements
Outer-to-outer: 3.7 cm
Inner-to-inner: 3 cm (rounded up from 2.95)
Center-to-center: 3.4 cm (rounded up from 3.375)
The left mark: 2 mm x 3 mm
The right mark: 4 mm x 4.5 mm
I think it’s safe to say 3.5 cm is accurate enough.
There isn't a consensus on the shapes of the marks and it seems interpretive to an extent. I’ve seen them referred to in various discussions online as looking squarish, rectangular, circular, or like irregular dots. This is how they are described in the books:
Schiller book: “discolorations of unequal size” What did LE make of the marks?
Thomas book: “two small rectangular ones on the back”
Kolar book: “similar in size and round in shape”
Not much, it seems. They were understandably focused on investigating the evidence surrounding the head trauma, asphyxiation, vaginal trauma, and stomach contents. The back marks as well as the other scratches and contusions found on JonBenet’s body were minor in comparison – my guess is they were viewed as by-products of the assault and not a detail relevant to the solving of the case. It wasn’t until Lou Smit joined the DA’s Office as a investigator that anyone took a special interest in the marks. The Stun Gun Theory
Tl;dr: Smit believed a stun gun made the marks but he was wrong. We know that because:
- A slew of stun gun authorities and experts consulted by law enforcement said so, leading Boulder Police Department and DA Alex Hunter to reject the theory
- Per the opinion of the board-certified pathologist Dr. John E. Meyer, the only pathologist, to have examined and assessed the marks in person, the marks were abrasions, not burns
- The distance between the marks that Smit and pathologist Michael Dobersen produced in their experiment with the Air Taser did not align with the marks on JonBenet
Courtesy again of u/CommonSearch
, here are the measurements for the Smit/Dobersen stun gun experiment so you can see how they compare. The distance between the marks is half a centimeter wider than the marks on JonBenet’s back. Image of stun gun mark measurements
Outer-to-outer: 4.5 cm
Inner-to-inner: 3.2 cm
Center-to-center: 3.9 cm
Both marks: 4.5 mm x 6 mm
For a more in-depth refutation of the stun gun theory, I refer you to comments by u/straydog77
who has done more research into the subject than I have: here
, and here
*: You may have come across inconsistent information about the measurements for JonBenet's back marks online. One possible reason for this confusion is because Smit has, at different times, given different measurements when speaking to the media. Sometimes he used what are presumably inner-to-inner measurements (2.9 cm), and other times he has stated that JonBenet's marks were 3.5 cm, which is closer to a center-to-center measurement. What did other pathologists think of the marks?
One good thing that came out of Smit’s stun gun theory is that it goaded a response from medical experts to speak out and offer alternative explanations, illustrating properties of the marks in the process.
In an interview
on Court TV’s The Crier Report, pathologist Cyril Wecht referred to the marks as “punctate abrasions” and said they could be from JonBenet’s back being pressed on “slight protuberances, projections from a surface…an uneven surface, an irregular surface” as it moved around.
He reiterated the idea in his books Mortal Evidence
and Who Killed JonBenet Ramsey?
, saying the abrasions on JonBenet’s back, shoulders, and leg could have come from her squirming on the concrete floor or against a concrete wall as a part of her attack. Due to the differing size and coloration of the marks he does not seem convinced they are a pattern injury and says that the differing sizes of the marks alone should refute the stun gun contention.
In a 2002 interview with 48 Hours
, pathologist Werner Spitz stated that pebbles or rocks on the floor may have been responsible for the back marks.
In CBS's 2016 The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey
, Spitz noted: “If you look carefully at those two marks in her back, there is a central defect within each of the marks. That defect is from something penetrated through the skin.” This description sounds very similar to Wecht’s opinion that they were punctate abrasions. What have been some other guesses for the sources of the marks?
The speculation found on internet forums has been prolific and creative. Aside from stun guns, other suggestions I’ve seen include:
gravel or rocks, buttons or snaps, thumbtacks, mystery floor debris, rings or other jewelry, spider or snake bites, the teeth from JonBenet’s potholder weaving loom, clasps on a hair barrette, fireplace poker, log grabbing tongs, serving fork, carving fork, carving fork stand, latches or bolts located on the inside the blue Samsonite suitcase, broken Christmas lights, electrical plug, burns from a curling iron, burns from heated hair rollers, cigarette burns, a cattle prod, burns from a deer fence, burns from an electrified toy train track.
Note that many people seem convinced they look like burn marks. The Train Track Theory
With the release of James Kolar’s Foreign Faction: Who Really Kidnapped JonBenet?
in 2012, the case was introduced to a second official-investigator-posited theory for the marks on JonBenet’s lower back.
In Chapter 33 of his book, Kolar recounts how his retired fellow police officer, Sergeant Harry Stephens, came up with the idea that pins from a section of model railroad track could have been the source of the two abrasions. In September of 2006, while developing his case synopsis for the District Attorney's office, Kolar showed Stephens some video footage of the train room in the Ramsey basement as well as scaled photographs of stun gun probes overlaid on JonBenet’s back abrasions. A few weeks later Stephens mailed him a piece of Lionel o-gauge model railroad track, the same type of track he had spotted in the footage from the Ramsey basement.
I called Harry, and we spoke about the track. “It has three pins,” I said, “and we only have two abrasions on JonBenet’s back.”
“The pins fall out all the time,” he replied [see **]. “Didn’t you ever play with trains as a kid? It’s possible the middle pin was missing when this was used on her back.” [Foreign Faction, p. 384]
As he had done with the stun gun probes, Kolar had scaled photographs prepared of the train track pins overlaid on JonBenet’s back abrasions and found that (unlike with the stun gun) their alignment matched. Overlay of track pins against abrasions Overlay of stun gun probes against abrasions
As an experiment, he recruited one of his officers, Deputy Christine Sandoval, to voluntarily jab and twist the two pins (center pin removed) of the train track section into her palm to see what could be learned. Photo of Sandoval experiment
“The pins of the track left red marks when sufficient pressure was applied, and I suspected that the twisting motion of the twin outside rails could have been responsible for the appearance of an abrasion, especially when considering that the target area was the soft skin of a 6-year-old girl’s back. It was my observation that the twisting motion of the pins could have created the round and slightly rectangular aspect of the abrasions as noted by Dr. Meyer during the autopsy.” [FF, p. 386]
The photo shows reddish marks on the palm that appear to be focal epidermal/interstitial indentations. While the experiment shows the immediate results of what applied pressure from the pins looks like, since there are no followup photos or further descriptions, the nature and duration of the marks are unknown.
I was still left with questions. I wasn't the only one curious about this as I've come across similar inquiries elsewhere, such as this post
on Websleuths as well as this
post on reddit.
So, I thought I'd conduct my own experiment - which takes us to Part 1 in which the Sandoval experiment gets kicked up a notch.
**: Is what Sgt. Harry says true? I consulted "The Big Book of Lionel: The Complete Guide to Owning and Running America's Favorite Toy Trains" to see if it mentioned anything about this phenomenon. On pages 66-67, it says:
A more common condition, the open ends of the track rails will be pried open a little too wide and won't make a snug connection with the track pins. This can happen if you accidentally kick the track when it is on the floor or if you try to pick up a line of several assembled sections of track without proper support and they bend in the air. It can also occur with repeated regular use.
A quick look at some used Lionel train track 'lots' for sale on eBay shows the occasional track section that has a missing pin or two, or a pin that is recessed into a rail such as this one
Part 1: Train Track Experiment
Note: I’m a living, breathing healthy adult and JonBenet was a 6-year-old child with a traumatic brain injury who was near or at death when the back abrasions were inflicted. I knew going in that it was impossible to recreate those conditions, thus any resulting abrasions would likely look different to JonBenet’s.
Note 2: Apologies for the low phone-camera quality pictures and inconsistent lighting and angles. This was far from being a formalized endeavor as I did not anticipate at the time that I would be publicly sharing this insane experiment. Proposed questions: What do abrasions made by Lionel o-gauge model railroad track pins look like? Do they look anything like the abrasions on Jonbenet’s back? Is it even possible to puncture skin with them? If so, how much effort/force does it require? Are there lasting effects and what are they? Here is my experiment:
Step one: Acquire Lionel o-gauge track piece
(mint condition, mid-90s era), pull out center pin
Step two: sterilize pins
Step three: Puncture self with track piece The result: Photo of initial abrasions
As you can see, they initially look like purple/red circular indentations with small dark points in the center.
I’m going to be honest - this hurt like a bitch. It took a moderate amount of effort before the pins broke the skin, but I wouldn’t say it required a large amount of force or pressure. I would liken it to the amount of force I would use to open a stubborn jar lid (very scientific quantification, I know). I used both hands, tried to apply pressure evenly between the two pins, and just pushed down really hard until I felt popping sensations from the pins breaking through skin. Photo of track pins aligned with punctures
Note this photo was taken several minutes after the picture above. The indentations have started to recede at this point.
Within 15 minutes of being inflicted, the indentations have already faded away. After that they start to turn outward into inflamed pink bumps that sort of resemble mosquito bites. Photo of inflamed bumps Another photo of inflamed bumps
After the inflamed bumps recede, the abrasions eventually morph into small reddish wounds with some pink diffusion around them. Photo of reddish-pink wounds
Two days later, surrounding red/purple/blue contusions appear around the abrasions. Over the next few days, the redness begins to fade from around the puncture areas, the punctures themselves scab over, and the contusions remain. Photo of scabbed wounds with contusion
Photo is of wounds six days later. Note pinpoint scabs and surrounding contusion. These were tiny punctures with no noticeable bleeding to speak of when inflicted.
Step four: Repeat step three.
Yep, I did this multiple times, spaced out over the course of weeks/months. I want to give you an idea of how these punctures can vary in appearance, so here are a few different sets of wounds: Additional punctures 1 Additional punctures 2 Additional punctures 3 Additional punctures 4 Some measurements:
I measured two different sets of abrasions with a measuring tape, which you can see here: Photo of abrasion measurement 1 Photo of abrasion measurement 2
I’ll let you gauge for yourself.
Also, in true interwebs sleuth fashion, I made a mock-up of JonBenet’s back marks on a piece of clear tape to place alongside the train track punctures for comparison. I did this by overlaying a piece of clear tape onto a ruler, then, using the measurements provided by u/CommonSearch
, measured out and marked with a Sharpie the two marks as precisely as I could. They are roughly 2 mm x 3 mm and 4 mm x 4.5 mm with exactly 3 cm between them. Photo of mockup marks 1 Photo of mockup marks 2 Answers to my proposed questions: What do skin puncture marks made by Lionel o-gauge model railroad track pins look like?
See above. Do they look anything like the abrasions on JonBenet’s back?
I will leave this up to you to answer for yourself. Is it even possible to puncture skin with them?
Yes and it hurts like a beesh. If so, how much effort/force does it require?
Not much, in my opinion, with the use of both hands. Thinner skin/skin of a child it would likely make it easier as well. For reference I’m a medium sized adult female with barely any upper body strength to speak of. Are there lasting effects and what are they?
Initial red/purple indentations last for around 15 minutes, after which the abrasions transform in appearance throughout the inflammation and healing process, from inflamed pink bumps, to reddish-pink diffuse wounds, to pinpoint scabs with surrounding contusion. The abrasions take about a week to heal and the contusions remain the longest. What else did I learn from this experiment?:
- Often, punctures will come out uneven with one being larger than the other, even if you are aware of this tendency and try to compensate for it. Of the multiple sets of punctures I self-inflicted with the track piece, I’d estimate that at least 70% of those resulted in wounds where one was larger than the other. I don’t know the exact physical explanation for why this happens, but it seems there’s a fine balance required to evenly distribute weight/pressure between the two pins.
- The shapes of the wounds/marks can vary based on how you handle the track piece during infliction. For example, if you twist it a little or rock pressure back and forth between the pins while pushing it into the skin, you can end up with wounds that look misshapen or different from one another. If you inflict it at an angle, there's a good chance one puncture mark will come out larger than the other. Even if the pinpoint punctures themselves may be the same size or shape as each other, the morphology of the trauma around the punctures can vary depending on how the track piece was handled. Based on my experiment, I’d say Kolar’s observation from the Sandoval experiment, that “the twisting motion of the pins could have created the round and slightly rectangular aspect of the abrasions” is accurate.
- The shapes of the wounds can also vary depending on factors such as thickness and tautness levels of skin and levels of muscle/fat/bone beneath the skin. Depending on these factors the abrasions can appear anywhere from streamlined to diffuse.
- Puncturing parts of the body with thinner skin requires less effort (and is also less painful).
- The appearance of the contusions two days later surprised me. I didn't realize that, if there were any bruising, they would be so large, and the delay indicates they were deep. This showcased for me the extent of the trauma involved in what seemed like small abrasions and it made me look at the wounds in a different way. I started contemplating the morphology and alteration of wounds and the factors involved, in particular, factors that might be hidden or not obvious somehow. This thought process inspired the second part of the experiment.
Part 2: Postmortem Wound Changes
After the experiment with the train track in Part 1, I put this little project aside and didn't think about it for several months. But questions and thoughts surrounding it began to surface.
By the time JonBenet's autopsy was conducted and autopsy photos taken, over 30 hours had elapsed from her estimated time of death. Ten of those hours were spent overnight in the morgue. With such a prolonged postmortem interval, I was curious if and what postmortem changes could have altered the appearance of those back abrasions. If so, how? And could postmortem changes be influencing the way people interpret and theorize about them?
I spent this past summer down the rabbit hole of postmortem wound morphology to try to find out. I read through numerous forensic pathology manuals, textbooks, and research papers. A bulk of my research was focused on postmortem changes, injury interpretation, and the effects of decomposition on wounds. Not exactly fun summer reading, but I have to say it's an engrossing subject and I learned a ton [907 kg] of interesting new stuff.
I'll spare everyone the cumbersome details and give the most concise tl;dr possible of what I find to be most pertinent: In forensic pathology it is well-known that postmortem changes will distort wound morphology, altering the appearance, shape, coloration, and texture of wounds.
Injury interpretation at autopsy is complicated by the inevitable development of autolytic and putrefactive changes that commence immediately after death. While the precise timing of individual stages is highly variable, the steps in the progression from a fresh cadaver to skeletonised remains are well recognized.
All stages are associated with particular artefacts that have the potential to interfere with injury identification and dating. These range from the simple discoloration of lividity mimicking or disguising bruises, to actual loss of tissues surrounding penetrating wounds from decomposition.
[Byard, R.W. & Tsokos, M. Forensic Sci Med Pathol (2013) 9: 135. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12024-012-9386-2
In addition to the above-mentioned processes of autolysis, putrefaction, and livor mortis, other examples include hemolysis as well as postmortem drying of tissue/drying artefacts. These processes, which are known to occur within a postmortem interval of 30 hours, were capable of altering the appearance of JonBenet's back abrasions. Postmortem Changes to Abrasions
Since accurate assessment and interpretation of injuries and wounds at autopsy are critical in the forensic sciences, such postmortem changes have been extensively documented, researched and are predictable. For example, it is a well-established postmortem phenomenon that abrasions dry out and turn brownish in appearance and may resemble/be mistaken for burn marks.
Abrasions tend to darken and dry after death and can be confused with a burn by the inexperienced physician.
[Handbook of Pediatric Autopsy Pathology. Enid Gilbert-Barness, Diane E. Spicer, Thora S. Steffensen. p. 686]
After death abraded epidermis becomes brown, leathery, parchment like, prominent and stiff and may begin to resemble burns.
[APC Essentials of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology. Anil Aggrawal. p. 170]
It is important to note that postmortem abrasions dry and darken secondary to the lack of blood circulation or body movement. This may lead to false interpretation of the injury as a burn or bruise.
[Manual of Forensic Emergency Medicine. Ralph Riviello. p. 67]
In the dead, as the circulation of blood has ceased, there is no exudation of serum and therefore, the surface gets dried up and becomes hard, acquiring the consistency of parchment and also appears brownish. The dried abrasion often appears to be a much more extensive injury than it was at the time of death.
[Textbook of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology: Principles and Practice. Krishnan Vij. p. 216]
Abrasions produced slightly before or after death cannot be differentiated even by microscopic examination. In superficial lesions or when decomposition is advanced, differentiation is difficult. On drying, abrasions become dark brown or even black.
[Forensic Medicine: Mechanical Injuries. Vardanyan Sh.A., Avagyan K.K. p. 5]
This gives a clear explanation for why the abrasions were misinterpreted, by some, as burn marks.
In addition to the drying/browning effects, abrasions are known to become more prominent after death, becoming enhanced in appearance and darkening even a day or more later.
It is a well-known postmortem phenomenon that abrasions and bruises become more prominent after sometime following death. The appearance of body after a lapse of 24 hours or so following death may be quite different from the appearance immediately succeeding death.
[Textbook of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology: Principles and Practice. Krishnan Vij. p. 284]
Here's an interesting case study of this occurrence: Peri-/post-mortem abrasion on face Same abrasion becoming more prominent after death
[Forensic Pathology: Principles and Practice. David Dolinak, Evan Matshes, Emma O. Lew. pp. 122-123]
Another postmortem change which is known to distort the appearance of abrasions is livor mortis. The general rule is that antemortem abrasions will typically be reddish or reddish-brown in color and postmortem abrasions will be yellowish, at least in areas not affected by lividity. However, in areas where lividity is present, postmortem abrasions will mimic antemortem wounds and appear reddish.
A postmortem scrape in a lividity-dependent region will appear red and may be difficult to differentiate from an antemortem injury.
[Color Atlas of Forensic Medicine and Pathology. Charles Catanese. p. 189]
It may not be obvious in the autopsy photo of the back abrasions, but there was livor mortis present on JonBenet's back. This is described in the autopsy report as "dorsal 3+ to 4+ livor mortis." A better sense of the coloration can be seen in this photo
Due to the abrasions being in a lividity-dependent area, we cannot assume that because the abrasions were reddish in color they were inflicted antemortem.
Responses to Some Common Objections The train track has 3 pins and there were only 2 abrasions.
See footnote ** under the section The Train Track Theory.
I find the idea of a missing pin or recessed pin from a loose middle rail to be a plausible explanation for this discrepancy. Loosened rails in the track sections are a common occurrence from regular use, from rough handling or being kicked if left on the floor. Note that train track pieces were found scattered haphazardly on the floor in various rooms of the Ramsey home. Footage shows HO-scale two-rail train tracks on the basement floor. HO-scale tracks have different width rails that do not align with the abrasions.
The track pieces seen on the floor between the 00:24-00:31 marks in this video
do appear to be HO-scale tracks, or some kind of two-rail tracks, though I'm not certain what exactly they are.
The train tracks on the table
in the basement train room are Lionel o-gauge model. Crime scene video also shows what appears to be Lionel o-gauge tracks on the floor of Burke's bedroom, stills of which can be seen here
. The marks look like burns.
A well-established postmortem change to abrasions accounts for why they resemble burns. The abrasions are different sizes/shapes and therefore likely not a pattern injury from a pronged object like the train tracks.
In my opinion, their being different sizes supports
their being a pattern injury. My experiment with the track piece shows that punctures from the two pins commonly result in irregular sized marks.
In the forensic pathology literature, one can find examples of pattern injuries from barbecue fork puncture wounds which display the same pattern. Stab wound with barbecue fork Case 1 Stab wound with barbecue fork Case 2
As for shape, see the second point under the section "What else did I learn from this experiment?" in Part 1. We don't know how much pressure was needed to make the abrasions, how long it would have taken, or if the train track pins were capable of puncturing skin or producing abrasions.
Enough pressure to fell a 300 lb. [136 kg] man, probably. Or, just a moderate amount of effort by a puny adult female. It takes only a few seconds. And yes they can definitely puncture skin and produce abrasions. We have no idea if or how long marks from train track punctures would have even remained on JonBenet.
In my experiment, the abrasions and associated trauma were lasting and remained until they healed which took about a week.
For JonBenet, we don't know when the abrasions were inflicted, at what stage of wound healing the abrasions were when she died, or if she was even still alive at the time. The initial indentations may have faded away, or she may have died before that could happen. Regardless, the physical trauma of the abrasions would have remained after infliction and been subject to postmortem changes. No track pieces were collected as evidence to verify this theory.
This is correct, and it's a shame no one looked at the time. Not just for track pieces but any
potentially culpable objects or features in the home. This should have been done before seeking objects outside the home.
The experiment with the train track was informative, though I feel the research in Part 2 was more beneficial overall for understanding the back abrasions. Learning about postmortem wound changes in depth allowed me to see the abrasions in a new way - they're no longer puzzling or mysterious. How they look makes complete sense. This applies regardless of what the source of the abrasions may have been.
When I first read Foreign Faction I found the train track theory fairly convincing. I hold the same opinion now, though the basis for that opinion has since been bolstered by what I have learned from this experiment and research.
I find the train track theory convincing because
- the outer pins align perfectly with the back abrasions
- Lionel o-gauge tracks were present in the vicinity of the crime scene where JonBenet's body was found
- the morphology of the abrasions in my train track experiment appears consistent with JonBenet's abrasions, especially when factoring in postmortem changes
- the irregular sizing of the abrasions is consistent with the pattern injury of paired stab wounds from double-pronged implements
- the train track abrasions are punctate abrasions which is what Cyril Wecht referred to JonBenet's back marks as
- in my experimentation and research I have found nothing that would contradict this theory
I have reservations about the train track theory because
- It's nearly impossible to prove with absolute certainty, given the evidence available to us
Based on my understanding and interpretation of the evidence, I lean slightly toward the abrasions being a pattern injury than not. I also lean toward their being a result of a proactive infliction as opposed to an imprint acquired from lying on top of something on the floor. I'm split fifty-fifty on whether they were inflicted before or after death.
In the end, the only thing I am certain of is that the marks are abrasions and that whatever produced them came from within the home, as were all other items used in the commission of this crime. Whether you find the train track theory credible or not, I think Kolar deserves credit either way for being the only investigator affiliated with the case who has sought an explanation for the marks as abrasions
The End. Thanks for reading! I hope you learned something new. If you have any questions about my experiment with the train track, postmortem changes, decomposition, or postmortem wound/injury interpretation and morphology, feel free to ask and I will try my best to answer.
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Putrefaction and wound dehiscence: a potentially confusing postmortem phenomenon. Byard RW, Gehl A, Anders S, Tsokos M.
Postmortem wound dehiscence: a medicolegal masquerade. McGee MB, Coe JI.
Accelerated Autolysis and Putrefaction at Autopsy. Zhou Chong; Byard, Roger W.
We're back, and this time with some hot Splatfest info and the largest post yet! This post is sponsored by the Knight vs. Wizard post-Splatfest dialogue. As it turns out, that's not the only thing that went missing, so this time we're focusing on information that went missing in or around Splatfest dialogue, or got subtly (or not-so-subtly) changed in localization. Or if it's not a global Splatfest, just some plain old fun facts lifted from the dialogue. I hope this post will also provide an idea of what you could expect more information on in future Splatoon titles, and what information will likely remain an inside joke due to being exclusive to the localizations.
If you haven't yet, I recommend reading the previous Off the Hook trivia post
first! It provides some insight into your (hopefully) favourite cephalopods and how their dynamic was changed, which helps in reading this post and understanding why some changes were made. And because there's a lot of fun additional info exclusive to supplementary materials.
The complete post is over Reddit's character limit. Because of this (and to keep the information in the post flowing a bit better), the content for some more minor Splatfest information is relegated to a comment below this post, which I'll link here: https://www.reddit.com/splatoon/comments/c9ki8d/splatfests_fun_facts_and_localization_changes/esz889k/
Sources this time are mostly the in-game dialogue either through Youtube videos or splatoonwiki.org, unless otherwise noted. If there are translations available, I'll try to link those instead. If you have any translations you'd like to see added for future reference, please let me know. Also, the Splatfests may not exactly in chronological order across regions. This will likely be the last post in the Splatoon 2 localization changes series. I hope you'll enjoy yourself!
And once again, special thanks to a friend (who still wishes to remain anonymous) for proofreading, doublechecking a lot of the information, and making this post the best it can be. Note: Not all Splatfests will be listed, because not all of them introduce new or interesting information or characterization. If you can't find a Splatfest, it's likely left out on purpose. For a full list of Splatfests and (most of) their dialogue, please refer to https://splatoonwiki.org/wiki/List_of_Splatfests_in_Splatoon_2. A note on localization
While the rest of this post is kept as objective as possible, I do want to at least share some thoughts on the role of localization in a game. This part is entirely subjective and entirely skippable.
Translators and localization teams are often faced with difficult choices. Puns that can't be translated, cultural references you may have to change or omit, or even how to translate sentences so the tone and flow remain intact. As a translator, there's more to it than just getting the meaning across. And in some cases, the localization will feature major changes from the source material. This can be to appeal to the audience you're translating it for, but also because of cultural differences in what content is deemed acceptable. For a cool and in-depth example on how these changes are approached, you can read Localization and Ace Attorney
, a blog post by Janet Hsu - one of the people who worked on the Ace Attorney series localization, who is now the Localization Director of Capcom Japan. Even if you haven't played the Ace Attorney series, it's a fun read.
Whether you agree or not with changes in a localization (for any game), there's inevitably going to be some kind of tradeoff between accuracy and relatability when translating certain lines. By appealing to a broader market, you'd be able to sell more copies of the game, but also lose something the creators of the game intended. What I personally don't agree with for the localization of Splatoon 2 is how many things the localization added that weren't originally there, or bits of information about the world or characters that were removed even though there was no cultural or linguistic conflict in keeping them. Examples include (from the previous Off the Hook trivia post) dialogue pertaining to Pearl's unnaturally loud voice, Marina having learned the Inkling language from Pearl initially, and some lines about Marina's affection for heavy machinery. But most importantly, the significant changes to Off the Hook's dynamic in the English and Japanese versions of the game, some of which eventually even had to be reworked to fit the game's actual intent
. This had left a few people wondering if either Pearl and Marina actually dislike each other, or if they're just putting on an act for their brand. But neither of these is the case in the Japanese version.
I've also seen a fair deal of speculation threads on what certain casual mentions could mean for Splatoon and its universe, based on information that is exclusive to the localization. Examples include Marina's narwhal landlord (Unicorns vs. Narwhals), if we'll ever see Pearl's best friend if it's not Marina (mentioned in The Reef's localized stage announcement dialogue where Pearl took her best friend to a cake shop and Marina doesn't remember going to one), or why they bothered replacing Callie and Marie if Off the Hook is just going to be the same anyway - for example, here are some sentiments on Reddit from two years ago
and one year ago
. I think adding information like this can create unfair expectations for the next game. Since these changes are not known to the game's original development team, it makes the localization's additions unlikely to be expanded upon. And by removing some information, it can become confusing down the line if the game eventually ends up relying on the removed information for its story - see the note on the Fax Machine below, and the Friends vs. Fam Splatfest changes.
In the end, Splatoon is not the story-heaviest game, so this may sound like an overreaction to a game for kids where you play an anthropomorphized squid and shoot other squids with ink. But decisions like these are not exclusive to Splatoon. Players can end up disliking parts of a story or entire characters because of how they're written, when the author intended for the writing to be something else (or even the exact opposite in some cases) - I personally think the responsibility of writing an enjoyable character or a terrible one lies solely with the author, and reinventing a character dynamic or large portions of dialogue should only be done during localization when the situation actually calls for it. A note on the Fax Machine
You may have noticed this thing
appearing on the screen before every Splatfest announcement. It was in Splatoon 1 as well, but it looks a bit different
in Splatoon 2, as it now has a bunch of extra talismans on it. However, despite it appearing every time and playing a significant canonical role in Splatfests, it's never actually talked about in-game (besides Sunken Scroll 24 in Splatoon 1, but it doesn't mention what it is) - but it does
come up a few times in the Japanese version, so it's worth elaborating on first for context.
The fax machine is how both the Squid Sisters and Off the Hook receive the subjects for the current Splatfest. The messages it receives are from 12.000 years ago, when humans were still around. The idea is that the messages are sent from the Squid Research Lab (or rather Nintendo's HQ), which is the canonical reason for Nintendo's Splatfest announcements matching up with those in Splatoon's future world. Here's a part of an interview with the developers
, translated by Nintendo Everything:
Inoue: “The world of Splatoon takes place 12,000 years after the present time and the Squid Sisters are those who receive messages from 12,000 years ago. Like there would be a discussion ‘rice or bread?’ in current time, and those words fly to another planet and bounce back for them to receive. Those divine messages come from kami-sama [kami means a god, sama is a honorific like -san].”
Nogami: “Kami-sama is written as ‘paper’ when using kanji [kami has several meanings, two of which are a god and paper], so the topic of Splatfest comes as a fax-like paper. That’s where the name kami-sama comes from (laughs).”
To that effect, the original role of your other favourite cephalopods (the Squid Sisters) was to function as shrine maidens tending to the fax machine and spreading its messages. With a translation from a different Nintendo Everything article
“The staff was very particular on the dialogue, like ‘Marie doesn’t say a thing like that’, so some adjustments were made. Originally, before they were idols, they were called ‘shrine maidens’ and their role was to transmit divine messages from god to people.” First Splatfests - Cake vs. Ice Cream (NA/EU), Rock vs. Pop (JP)
, has a translation
You can read the English version's dialogue
and the Japanese version's dialogue (translated)
on Splatoonwiki. Nothing too interesting happens in the Japanese version this time. This is the first time the English version brings up Splatfest law:
Marina: Well, I guess that settles it. Ice cream is officially better than cake.
Pearl: Well, I don't know if it's "officially" better...
Marina: Actually, according to chapter 3, paragraph 5 of the Splatfest rules, it is.
Marina: Ice cream is now legally better than cake. It's the law, Pearl.
While it'll come up again in a few later NA/EU Splatfests, it's not in the JP version of the Splatfest. It's unlikely that Splatfests officially
deciding which subject is better will be a larger point of contention in future games, but as it comes up more often in localized dialogue it's likely they'll also put references to it in the localization of a future title. If you read the rest of the dialogue, you'll also note a common theme in the announcements - the NA/EU versions of Splatfests generally have Off the Hook debate why they don't like the other team's choice, and in the JP version the focus is more on the pros of their own teams. The EU localization mostly follows NA's localization, but when NA/EU Splatfests are different the EU version usually draws on more of the available canonical information.
There's also an additional exchange between two of the localization producers who worked on Splatoon 2 available on the Nintendo Treehouse Tumblr page
, which is worth a read. Mayo vs. Ketchup (Global)
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation
The Splatoonwiki link has the English version and a translation for the Japanese version. Here too the localization mostly differs in condemning the other team over motivating the choice for their own team. Also, in the Japanese version it's mentioned Pearl puts mayo on everything. While this is missing here from the English version, it's instead referenced later in the Flight vs. Invisibility Splatfest.
The Japanese version also possibly has the shortest victory dialogue ever, clocking in at 4 lines total. Flight vs. Invisibility (NA/EU)
- Splatoonwiki link
In this Splatfest's introduction, the dialogue's tone's a lot more in line with the Japanese version, though Marina still has some pretty special ideas on what to do with invisibility. Also, Pearl has the following line referring to the previous Splatfest:
Pearl: If I ran out of mayo while frosting a cake... FWOOSH! Grocery store.
Which approximately implies the same thing as the Japanese version in the Mayo vs. Ketchup Splatfest. Warm Inner Wear vs. Warm Outer Wear (JP)
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation
A cross-promotion with a real world company, this time with Uniqlo
- a company that designs, manufactures and retails casual fashion, which has overseas outlets these days as well. Pearl prefers the inner wear for mobility and making it easier to match with your favourite clothes, while Marina finds outer wear more convenient because it's quick to put on. After the Splatfest, Pearl mentions that Team Outer Wear also had great mobility and will try wearing outer wear afterwards. As we'll see more in later Splatfests, there's a few occurences where they get excited about each other's teams. With Lemon vs. Without Lemon (JP)
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation
This Splatfest is specifically about putting lemon on deep-fried food or not. In it, Pearl's surprised Marina doesn't use lemon, and purports that Marina's still a child as adults would enjoy the refreshing sour taste of the lemon. (Pearl and Marina are 21 and 18, respectively.) And apparently Marina makes really good fried chicken, according to herself.
As this is not a promotional event, you could assume the Splatoon universe still has live chickens. This is mostly interesting because the game takes place 12,000 years in the future, and at least humans and cats (save for the Judd Bros.) went extinct already. But since this is mostly a contemporary cultural thing, I doubt this will ever actually come up again. Film vs. Book (EU)
- Splatoonwiki link
This one's worth mentioning because Splatfest law comes up again in the results dialogue:
Pearl: AWWWW YISS! The shining silver screen crushes the puny paper pawns! Action vs. Comedy (Global)
Marina: Oh, no... What's going to happen to my free time now?
Pearl: You'll have way more of it! The movie tells the same story in half the time!
Pearl: Splatfest law says: movie night at nine. Tonight. And you are GOING to have fun.
Pearl: NO BUTS! Clear your schedule, Marina! We've got a lot of watching to do!
Marina: I can feel a headache coming on already...
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation
Since it's a global Splatfest, we can finally talk about localization changes again! As with most other global Splatfests, the English dialogue has no common ground with the Japanese dialogue.
The English version has the following line for Pearl, which is likely a reference to the comedy show The Big Bang Theory
, which gained notoriety on the internet for its liberal application of laughing tracks and also has a nerdy character named Sheldon:
Pearl: I don't wanna hear Sheldon tell nerdy crab jokes in front of a laugh track!
Meanwhile, Marina makes a point out of how a lot of action movies have a similar plot:
Marina: And why's the hero always gotta come out of retirement to stop her nemesis?
Marina: And then it turns out that her partner was the true bad guy all along! GASP!
Marina: The hero wins, but she gets chewed out by the chief for destroying a city block.
Marina: Sound familiar?
Pearl: Yeah, that's one of my favorites! Actually, that's all of my favorites...
The Japanese version is very different. In this version, Pearl and Marina talk about movies they recommended to each other, and how they enjoyed each other's recommendation. Right after the Splatfest, Pearl wants to go see the sequel to an action movie with Marina, though Pearl also promised to see a year-end drama special with her on the same day the action movie sequel comes out. They both can't decide which they'd rather see first, so they leave it up to the Splatfest results. Team Comedy ended up winning, and Marina invites Pearl to a movie night at her place for binge watching a 7 season drama series' DVD box set.
It's worth checking out the dialogue yourself via the Splatoonwiki link. While references to Off the Hook doing stuff together in their free time (and actually enjoying it) have been removed a couple of times in the past, it's uncertain why the entire dialogue was changed. Changing all of the dialogue happens for other Splatfests as well, even if they don't have such references. Challenger vs. Champion (JP)
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation
This Splatfest is in reference to the Splatoon manga
. It's mostly interesting because Pearl and Marina ended up cheering for each other's team as well, so choosing a Splatfest team is not strictly competitive, as you've also seen in Warm Inner vs. Warm Outer and more Splatfests later down below. The addition of Splatfest law contradicts this (up to the final Splatfest, which is affected by its addition), as it turns the celebratory nature of Splatfests into something which suddenly has consequences. Flower vs. Dumpling (JP)
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation Note: 'Flowers over dumplings' is a proverb meaning function (dumplings) over aesthetics (flowers)
In this Splatfest, Pearl starts off complaining about her consecutive Splatfest losses. In the JP region, Marina had won 6 in a row. She mentions that while she has fun, she's bummed out she hadn't gotten more support. Pearl's fairly gracious about this losing streak, which is worth mentioning because she acts like sore loser a couple of times in the localization. Pearl actually wins this one, too. Chicken vs. Egg (NA/EU)
- Splatoonwiki link
This is the Splatfest with possibly one of the most frontpaged lines in Splatoon 2
. In that regard, the localization has raised a lot of awareness for Splatoon 2 by adding lines like these, as it's easy to share them out of context and enjoy them even if you haven't played the game. If you first got into Splatoon 2 because of a Reddit frontpage image, you may thank the localization for it. Also, Splatfest law comes up for the third time:
Pearl: You know the Splatfest rules, Marina... Latest Model vs. Popular Model (JP)
Pearl: The chicken officially came before the egg. BOOYAH!
Marina: Actually, I think most scientists would disagree wi–
Pearl: The chicken came first, Marina. The Splatfest proved it.
Marina: I'm just saying that genetic mutations over the course of many generations–
Pearl: YOU'RE IN DIRECT VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 SECTION 2 OF SPLATFEST LAW!
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation
A cross-promotion with Nike. Pearl supports the latest model because according to her it's always evolving, like Off the Hook's music. Marina's more of a fan of designs that have been perfected over the years, and aims to build a long-loved Splatfest stage with that philosophy in mind. Pearl takes a jab at Marina for having more enthusiasm here for stage design than music composition. Interestingly, these reasons mirror both team's motivations for the final Splatfest, with Pearl being in favor of change while Marina prefers sticking with a familiar situation that has worked out in the past. Salty vs. Sweet (EU)
- Splatoonwiki link
In this one, an indirect reference is made to Pearl being older than Marina. While not too interesting on its own, it is worth pointing out that while it's brought up a couple of times across EU/JP Splatfests, the NA version doesn't bring this up at any point to my knowledge. Or I've missed it.
Pearl: Which corn would you pop for? A salty, savory delight? Unknown Creature vs. Advanced Technology (JP)
Marina: Or a sweet cinema classic?
Pearl: Salty, of course! I'm representin' for the MATURE audience, here, not kids.
Marina: Adults like sweet things, too, Pearl. Plus salty popcorn makes me so thirsty.
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation
A cross-promo this time with JAMSTEC, or the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, complete with Splatoon 2's own rendition of their logo
(and here's the original
for reference), this one's different from other cross-promos because it's for a public interest company. In the introductory dialogue, Marina gets really excited about the technical specifications of the strange ship
appearing on the Manta Maria stage, which is the real-life drilling ship Chikyuu
. Meanwhile, Pearl is more excited about the mystery of the unknown, a characteristic that also comes up in the final Splatfest. Raph vs. Leo, Mikey vs. Donnie, Raph vs. Donnie (NA/EU)
While the dialogue isn't too exciting, this is the first and last cross-promo Splatfest in Splatoon 2 overseas. What was also special here is that these Splatfests only had a week between them. In it, Marina picks Team Donatello for his technological prowess, being a tech enthusiast and engineer herself. Hello Kitty vs. Cinnamoroll, My Melody vs. Pompompurin, Hello Kitty vs. My Melody (JP)
At approximately the same time as the Turtles Splatfests, Japan had a similar promotional event going on for four Sanrio characters: Hello Kitty, Cinnamoroll
, My Melody
. I didn't link all three Splatoonwiki pages here because the first one is untranslated and the second one doesn't have the dialogue.
In the first of these Splatfests, Pearl considers the battling advantage of Cinnamoroll's ability to fly with his ears. Pearl also mentions that Hello Kitty can apparently DJ, and jokingly mentions that she wants to compose a track with Hello Kitty when she gets the chance. She immediately had to mention it's a joke and comforted Marina afterwards, as Marina took it seriously and was on the verge of tears. This is worth mentioning because it reflects the tone common in JP Off the Hook's banter, which is never intentionally hurtful.
Splatoonwiki doesn't have the stage dialogue for My Melody vs. Pompompurin, but you aren't missing out on much for that one. Here's a video
for the curious. The announcement dialogue for the last one's a fun read
if you like wholesome interactions, there's a translation available. It also mirrors the dialogue for the Flower vs. Dumpling Splatfest. Also, the Splatfest art was nice, too.
It uses a pastel palette which Sanrio's known for. Squid vs. Octopus (Global)
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation
Since Pulp vs. No Pulp
doesn't have much going on, we're skipping it in favour for the next global Splatfest! This one happened exactly one year after the release of Splatoon 2, and followed after the Octo Expansion, which was released about a month earlier. It also let Team Octopus play as Octolings even if they didn't own the Octo Expansion, which may have contributed to them winning the popularity contest.
Since it was after the Octo Expansion, and since both the EN and JP dialogue avoid explicitly mentioning Marina's an Octarian, it can be assumed they're still hiding this fact from the general public. Since Octolings are now also in Inkopolis Square, Marina mentions this theme could be confrontational given the recent changes in Inkopolis. However, there is an odd change. In the English version, it's mentioned Pearl learned about octopuses in history class (EU) or school (NA). In the Japanese version however, it's mentioned that they both learned about squids and
octopuses in history class. They're a different kind of squid and octopus as the ones that went extinct, which is fairly obvious considering our contemporary squids don't turn into rapping DJ-ing humanoids. The localization seems to make it a point to pretend octopuses and Octolings in general just don't exist, which is weird if you consider the Octo Expansion is over by now. Note the following exchanges, one where Pearl stops Marina from slipping up:
Marina: Well... It could be a bit...confrontational, given the recent changes in Inkopolis.
Pearl: Changes? You mean the weird hairstyle fad?
Marina: OH! Right... The hairstyle fad...
And then Marina almost gives it away again a bit later:
Marina: An octopus could be hiding right under your nose, AND YOU'D NEVER KNOW IT...
Marina: I mean... If they weren't extinct, of course!
While Pearl may be trying to protect Marina's identity here, there's a few points worth considering in addition to these exchanges:
- The NA/EU versions only mention octopuses went extinct, and left out the squid part
- The above two exchanges try to steer away from mentioning the fact there are octopuses/Octolings in Inkopolis Square at all, where the JP version doesn't talk about this event - it just talks about the now-extinct squid/octopus species
- In the JP version they also talk about dishes that were made with squid/octopus, which is also removed (though its removal makes more sense since squid/octopus dishes aren't as big overseas)
All in all, it feels like rather than just protecting Marina's identity, they're making it sound like Octolings are
actually the same species as the extinct octopus, and are pretending they just don't exist in Inkopolis right now. This is a bit of a stretch though, so I recommend reading both versions on Splatoonwiki yourself to note the differences and keep the information for both in mind.
In the JP version, there's also an short remark about how there's an actual rule against bringing more than one kind of weapon into battle. Adventure vs. Relax (EU)
- Splatoonwiki link
In the results of this, it's the fourth time Splatfest law comes up, though this time it's EU exclusive. The European localization(s) do generally follow the North American one.
Pearl: Well stop lamenting, get packed and say goodbye to the coconut-sipping life!
Marina: Not my sippy coconut! That's the best part of the trip! How will I manage?
Pearl: You'll survive. And Splatfest law says you can't complain about it either!
Also, this happens:
Marina: I can see it now. The sun, the breeze in my tentacles, a quick dip in the ocean… Trick vs. Treat (Global)
Pearl: Marina, did you forget that we LITERALLY DISSOLVE in the ocean or somethin'?
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation
As not much happens in Tsubuan vs. Koshian
, it's on to the next global Splatfest! In this one, something similar happened to Action vs. Comedy. For the JP Splatfest Pearl wants to dress up in scary costumes with Marina to scare people for Halloween, while Marina wanted just wanted to wear matching costumes and have a candy party evening. They use the Splatfest to figure out which of the two it's going to be. Team Treat won, but Marina got Pearl excited for it anyway since she was still going to prepare costumes for both of them. Unfortunately both of these interactions were removed in the English version. Though the Splatoonwiki page also lists the datamined text for if Team Trick would've won, which was closer to the original sentiment. Hero vs. Villain (Global)
- Splatoonwiki link
, has a translation
This one's a cross-promotion with Smash Bros. Ultimate. In the JP version, Marina gets profound about how it's not up to someone to decide what's evil, before admitting she took it from a manga she was reading. She doesn't want to spoil the rest so she can watch the anime adaptation later with Pearl. The English version gets some similar points across, but doesn't have Pearl relent on her stance. Marina being a manga enthusiast here was removed. though having Marina be a fan of comic books could've been a replacement for it. Fam vs. Friend (Global)
- Splatoonwiki link
This one's a bit longer since Splatoonwiki has no translation available. While this Splatfest does have some endearing dialogue in the localization, it did leave out some additional info for Marina as a trade-off. The part that Pearl considers Marina family is there in both versions, but the leadup is a bit different considering the first half of it is removed. In the JP version, Marina's participating in a 3-day long DJ event coming up shortly, with Diss-Pair's DJ Warabi
(from the tracks Seasick
) and SashiMori's DJ
PAUL (from the tracks Chopscrewey
), although he wasn't mentioned by name in the Splatfest. Pearl mentions it's gonna be a huge event since they're all up in the music charts, and Marina tries inviting Pearl to be a special guest at the event, but is interrupted before she can finish asking.
Pearl notices that Marina's been busy with her DJ friends, and she's happy that Marina gets to spend more time with them. Pearl mentions wanting to spend time with her family this year, and Marina's visibly bummed and asks if she doesn't want to spend time with her friends. Pearl says that while she enjoys the busy atmosphere, she wanted to relax with family this year instead. She wanted to invite Marina to come along, but Pearl mentions it can't be helped since Marina's busy and keeping promises to friends is really important. Marina then gets confused, wondering if she misheard that Pearl mentioned wanting to spend time with family. That's when Pearl cuts in and says that being Off the Hook, they're basically family already, and Marina reacts like this
. After that, Marina mentions the Splatfest is cancelled because both of them are on Team Family.
As a result of not having this lead-up, the localization retains only some of this interaction, as the focal point of the JP dialogue was Marina thinking they were just good friends. It ends up taking Marina less by surprise:
Pearl: Plus, you don't have to front around your family. You can just be yourself.
Pearl: Oh... Well, uh...
Marina: That's great, Pearl. I'm glad your family makes you happy.
Pearl: And you know what, Marina? You and me?
Pearl: We're Off the Hook! We're totally family!
Marina: Awwwww. In that case, I'm going Team Family too!
Marina: Sorry, everyone. Pearl and I have both chosen Team Family, so...
Marina: THE SPLATFEST IS CANCELED!
In addition to not admitting Marina has other friends too, this is also a change to how both of them perceive their relationship with each other. As such, it's one of the more noteworthy Splatfest changes. Knight vs. Wizard (Global)
- Splatoonwiki link
, translation in separate links
Here it is! One of the motivations for this post existing. The gist of the JP version is that Pearl and Marina plan on playing the co-op mode for the new Fresh Fish
game together, and talk about the classes they want to pick for it and why - this was removed in the localization. While both versions are consistent on them having written the theme song for the game, in the localization Pearl doesn't remember the game at all, while in the JP version she's surprised the game's out already. I recommend just reading through both versions for this one.
For the results, nothing was actually translated. However, there was actual dialogue for this. For comparison, here are translations for the Splatfest introduction
, Team Knight
and Team Wizard
victory dialogue, as provided by Twitter user and squid superfan @NeoNamuro. If you're @NeoNamuro and you're reading this, hey! I love your artwork.
Here's the English version as sourced from splatoonwiki.org since it's short enough to fit in:
Marina: WIZARDS! Hare vs. Tortoise (Global)
Marina: HA! I guess chivalry truly is dead.
Marina: I'm proud of you, wizards! We live to cast another day!
- Splatoonwiki link
While similar in a lot of respects, the part where they tell each other "that's just like you" is more about appreciating characteristic qualities for both of them in the original, whereas it's used to deliver ribbing remarks to each other in the localization. Going by the rest of the dialogue, it's one of the last things you'd expect JP Marina to say to Pearl.
@NeoNamuro has translations up again for the introduction
and the results
, though these are written to be more in line with the localization where possible. Narwhal vs. Unicorn (NA)
- Splatoonwiki link
Here it turns out Marina's landlord is a narwhal and Pearl doesn't believe narwhals are real, but more importantly it contains some omnious dialogue:
Marina: I guess Team Unicorn was too busy tooting their own horns to show up!
Pearl: Yeah... Nice one, Marina.
Marina: Uh, Pearl? You feeling OK?
Pearl: You ever just feel like...something big is coming?
Pearl: It's almost like... the end is near.
Marina: Yeah, I feel it too...
Marina: But whatever happens, we'll always have each other's backs. Right?
The datamined text for if Team Unicorn would've won is similar, but has Marina sulking instead of Pearl. I won't put it in here due to space constraints, but it's up on Splatoonwiki if you want to read it.
Neither the EU nor the JP version have anything similar to this. While most likely a reference to the last Splatfest, it's possible the localization team has additional info on the next game and is foreshadowing it here. If the latter is the case, it's unknown why this is the only version to do that. We'll have to find out in a few weeks which one it is. Chaos vs. Order (Global)
- Splatoonwiki link
It's the Splatocalypse! There's a translation available in this Reddit post
, though there's still some notes to be made here that needed the context of the other Splatfests to make sense. As noted, Marina's much more worried about this Splatfest in the Japanese version, and at no point does she change her mind to say that this Splatfest is going to be really fun. The tone at the end of the JP version is noticeably resigned.
Marina's on Team Order to preserve the status quo and to protect the place she made for herself in the world, while Pearl would rather shake things up, which threatens Marina's stability (and to her, Off the Hook continuing to exist as is, which is Marina's primary source of happiness). Pearl's tone in the JP version sounds a bit more like she's not aware how important this is to Marina, rather than dismissing her concerns due to annoyance.
The localization has worked Splatfest law into this last Splatfest as well, making it likely that Splatfest law will show up in future localizations. However, because of the addition of Splatfest law, there being real consequences to a Splatfest is not exclusive to this final one. It's worth noting that this is the only
JP Splatfest with actual consequences. But since Pearl's attitude in this final Splatfest is comparable to previous Splatfests where there were no consequences, it makes Marina's concerns much more relevant.
If you visit the Splatoonwiki link, it turns out the results dialogue is still very bare-bones, possibly to prevent datamining; this is the only Splatfest to do so. It's possible that the dialogue will be patched in at the end of the Splatfest. My own theory is that there'll be a non-traditional ending to this Splatfest that doesn't end in Inkopolis Square on the regular news, so we'll never actually see the 'regular' post-Splatfest dialogue. I also believe that no matter which team wins, it'll lead to events that make the winner regret their decision in the inevitable follow-up. However, tone and localization-exclusive foreshadowing aside, this is still just my own speculation.
One thing that didn't carry over as well is that the tone for the JP dialogue is that Marina's much more serious in considering the possibility of Off the Hook breaking up as she seems to think Pearl's reasoning could mean she'd get bored of Off the Hook as well, and sounds more like a potential farewell. In addition, the final Shifty Station
is called 'Dear Senpai' in the Japanese version, and Marina always refers to Pearl as senpai. The stage name is 'Eternal Friendship' in most of the European versions, whereas it's 'MC.Princess Diaries' in the North American version. All in all, it looks like this could potentially be a pretty sad Splatfest.
As to not end on the lowest note ever, here's a cute picture by @bbdd808
If you still haven't had enough Off the Hook, consider stopping by /StayOfftheHook
for a limitless supply of squids. There's even a Discord in its sidebar, and it could use some extra people!