Myth: Dr. Clark’s gendering in Metal Gear Solid was a translation error
Fact: The original Japanese script for Metal Gear Solid had Naomi refer to Dr. Clark using a masculine pronoun.
By Ravi Singh, Posted on May 08, 2014
When Dr. Clark was revealed to be none other than Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’s Para-Medic, fans with a good memory screamed “RETCON!” Rightfully so, as the former FOXHOUND medical chief killed by Gray Fox was referred to as a male in Metal Gear Solid:
Campbell: Dr. Clark…
Naomi: Yes. He started the gene therapy project.
Snake: And where is he now?
Naomi: He was killed in an explosion in his lab two years ago.
However there has been an explanation given by fans that Dr. Clark’s identity is not a retcon because Dr. Clark was supposedly referred to with gender-neutral pronouns in the original Japanese script. It’s not like a translation error hasn’t happened before with this title. Indeed, with regards to the excerpt mentioned above, the pronouns used in the corresponding Japanese lines from the script do not specify Dr. Clark’s gender.
The explanation is a myth though and in truth there is no error in translation as the Japanese script for Metal Gear Solid does in fact have Naomi refer to Dr. Clark as a male… just a bit later in the story than when the excerpt above takes place. I had Junker HQ‘s Marc Laidlaw look at the lines from the Japanese script where Dr. Clark is mentioned. You may remember this piece of a conversation:
Naomi: Dr. Clark? …No…that was my brother. Afterwards I covered it up and helped him hide out…”
The corresponding Japanese lines:
Marc explained that Naomi’s line in the Japanese script directly translates into, “Dr. Clark? …No…that was my brother who killed him. Afterwards I covered it up and helped him hide out…” Specifically its the Japanese word 彼 (kare), a masculine pronoun, that is used to refer to Dr. Clark.
The myth could have perpetuated for a number of reasons. Fans may have simply analyzed the part of the script where Dr. Clark is first referred to as a male in the English script and did not bother to look at the rest of the Japanese script. There also could have been confusion over this 1up interview with Ryan Payton made shortly after the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots:
I ran into another problem of gender with Para-Medic, who was referred to as a male “Dr. Clark” in MGS1…. But those technicalities aside, I’m proud of how consistent the MGS world now stands.”
It’s true, Sunny’s gender as Olga’s child in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was kept gender-neutral in the Japanese script. It was in the English translation where the child is referred to as a male. Regarding Dr. Clark though, Payton is not claiming another problem of translation, bur rather, “another problem of gender.” Para-Medic being the same individual as this Dr. Clark is a retcon, no matter what language you speak.There are 7 comments in our discussion thread.