Learning Japanese Through Xenoblade Chronicles

Bet you didn't know this: those strange symbols that appear on your sword in Xenoblade Chronicles? They have a name: kanji. (Although I imagine they could also be hanzi, given how kanji were formed, but for now, I'll proceed on the assumption that they're kanji.) OK, you probably knew that already, but do you know what that shit means? Exactly. Well, I'm here to chronicle what these symbols mean with this very list. Now, then, as I'm still playing through the game, this isn't going to be complete, at first and will be updated rather sporadically. Also, given my lack of skill with Japanese and the fact that a lot of these kanji are pretty stylized, these may amount to nothing more than educated guesses (albeit very carefully taken educated guesses). That in mind, let's dive right in.

Update: when searching for "Xenoblade Chronicles list of kanji" on Google, this is the first result. Truly, I have arrived.

Yet another update: I've just noticed the lack of a spoiler warning of any kind up until I added the last kanji. The hell's wrong with me?

List items

  • Kanji in question: 読.<p><p>

    Meaning: Read.<p><p>

    Used for: loading screens. My guess is that it's saying that it's reading the disc.

  • Kanji in question: 盾.<p><p>

    Meaning: shield.<p><p>

    Used for: the Shield art, predictably. Turns out those symbols wouldn't be so mysterious if Shulk had access to a dictionary.

  • Kanji in question: 斬.<p><p>

    Meaning: slash.<p><p>

    Used for: the Buster art, AKA "the one art you'll use 90% of the time simply because of the damage it dishes out".

  • Kanji in question: 機.<p><p>

    Meaning: machine, mechanism, opportunity.<p><p>

    Used for: the Enchant art. Gotta give the developers credit for choosing a kanji that works so well with this situation. (The Enchant spell allows you to damage Mechon, and is always the first Monado art you use in a fight against them.)

  • Kanji in question: 疾.<p><p>

    Meaning: rapidly.<p><p>

    Used for: the Speed art. Really not a lot to say about this one.

  • Kanji in question: 破.<p><p>

    Meaning: break, defeat, destroy, frustrate, rend, rip, tear.<p><p>

    Used for: the Purge art, which is the Telethia version of Enchant. Wow, this was a hard kanji to find. Usually, I have some idea as to where to start with these, but this one was so stylized that I had to go look it up in a Japanese Xenoblade wiki.

  • Kanji in question: 人.<p><p>

    Meaning: person. <p><p>

    Used for: I'm not sure, actually. I haven't seen it used with any abilities, but it does show up when Shulk unlocks the full power of the Monado and all those plot twists are thrown at him. So...there's that.

  • Kanji in question: 轟.<p><p>

    Meaning: boom.<p><p>

    Used for: the Cyclone ability. Come on, Xenoblade! This was WAY too stylized for me to make out. That curve at the bottom shouldn't be there! I thought 求 was part of this one, somehow!

  • Kanji in question: 神.<p><p>

    Meaning: god.<p><p>

    Used for: jamming the Monado into Zanza's Panzer-Dragoon-plagiarizing ass, er, head. And we finally return to a kanji that I could actually read without resorting to wikis of any kind. Why are there as many story-only kanji as there are?

  • Kanji in question: 喰.<p><p>

    Meaning: eat.<p><p>

    Used for: the Eater ability, which I'm just now finding out is a thing I missed. Turns out I skipped the hell past it in my playthrough. Does that mean there are other things I missed? Does Shulk get more arts? Does Riki get a cutscene that makes him important to the plot? WHAT AM I MISSING!?

  • Kanji in question: 鎧.<p><p>

    Meaning: to put on armor. (It's not the type of kanji that's used in words...<a href="http://jisho.org/kanji/details/%E9%8E%A7">or ever.</a>)<p><p>

    Used for: the Armor ability, which is what Shield should have been in the first place. How many effing Monado arts did I miss? Hopefully, this is the end of it.

10 Comments

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Esauofisaac

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Edited By Esauofisaac • 

I haven't gotten far enough to see the other kanji since I just started, but the one that you listed for the Buster is incorrect. The kanji used there is not 新 but 斬.

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Video_Game_King

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Edited By Video_Game_King • 

@Esauofisaac:

*checks Xenoblade wikia just to be sure* Damn it.

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Esauofisaac

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Edited By Esauofisaac • 

@Video_Game_King: Hey, no worries. They look close anyways, it's easy to get them mixed up. :D

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Video_Game_King

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@Esauofisaac:

My kanji skills at the time were definitely enough to spot the difference between them. I blame Xenoblade stylizing the hell out of them more than anything else.

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Mento

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Edited By Mento  Moderator • 

It's actually Zanzanese. By an astonishing coincidence both of those languages are exactly the same.

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Video_Game_King

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@Mento:

I'm guessing Zanzanese is Japanese without any of the pesky honorifics or polite tenses or anything like that? So it's pretty much anime Japanese? How did I circle back to a stunningly obvious conclusion?

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Edited By Mento  Moderator • 

@Video_Game_King: You want to talk about only just reaching an obvious conclusion, it wasn't until this week I realized how similar the plots of Xenoblade and Mass Effect are (or the plots of their respective antagonists, to be specific). Horrible flying things killing everyone in an endless cycle of destruction and rebirth? So some dude at the top doesn't have to worry about humans becoming too smart and coming after him?

Wait... what was the plot to Final Fantasy X again?

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Video_Game_King

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Edited By Video_Game_King • 

@Mento:

The same as Pac-Man, if I remember correctly. Samsara all over the place!

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Edited By Mento  Moderator • 

So you're saying the ghosts were being led by a shadowy figure to stop Pac-Man from becoming too powerful? Because if he ate too much of that fruit he would've eventually grown so strong and knowledgeable he'd end up destroying the maze-like prison to which he was confined, causing a catastrophic kill-sc... oh my god.

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@Mento:

Exactly. Don't you remember the old arcade cabinets with "It's Clyde time" written on the side?