USGamer recently conducted a series of interviews with various video game localizers, and one notable standout was Alexander Smith, who helped work on Final Fantasy X. Of course, the subject of the infamous laughing scene came up, and here we finally get the story of how that extremely awkward and cringey scene came to be.
When asked if he initially thought this scene was stilted or awkward, Smith replied affirmatively and explained the difficulties he encountered while trying to give the game a sense of realism.
‘”Oh, oh, yeah. It’s completely ridiculous. It’s a completely ridiculous scene. And it’s funny: I hadn’t ever really sat back and thought about… the emotional impact of this scene. It’s obviously the lead-up to the thing, “I want my journey to be full of laughter.” It’s very melodramatic, but so much of Japanese drama is melodrama—I mean, I spend most of my time working on games… just trying to pull it back and make it more real, make it more realistic. So, you hit a scene like that and you’re like, “OK, here it’s impossible to make this realistic.”‘
As it turns out, the laughing scene was written because of acting class exercises that writer Kazushige Nojima had performed before.
‘”And, I think, I talked to [Final Fantasy X writer] Nojima-san about the scene, like, “What the fuck’s going on, dude, because this is very strange.” And, “What should I tell the actor? What’s his motivation here? Because, it’s, you know, it’s a very unnatural scene.” And, Nojima-san had basically put it in there because of this laughing, making yourself laugh, forced laughter, is a thing he had been doing, and he had been taking some acting classes. And it’s something that you do in acting classes.”‘
For what it’s worth, the English version of the laughing scene was every bit as cringey as the Japanese one. And like Smith says, “it’s just about the same level of awkwardness. So, that’s a successful localization right there.”
Final Fantasy X is now available on PS4, PS3, and the PS Vita. And yeah, that laughing scene is still the highlight of the entire game.