Oni matrix/Translation effort

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A few words from the masters

Most of the research below is mine, so all the "I"s are "Iritscen"s.

TXMPPOSTER3.png Iritscen, hapécat-in-chief

An illeistic version should be fun.

TXMPBOSS2face.png geyser, syndicate accessory

Below is a detailed account of the three major iterations of the Oni matrix translation. Glorious, isn't it?

Translation by Dave (1999)

Notepad page
Notepad page too

In 1999, well before Oni came out, "Dave" on the original Oni Central Forum posted this breakdown of what he could decipher from the background of his Oni notepad. Either Dave was not familiar with Oni's tagline ("A dark future... an uncertain past... no one left to trust."), or he intentionally chose to give a naive translation of the phrases taken from the tagline when he encountered them, perhaps to point out the weaknesses in the Japanese used by Bungie.

I don't know if this has been covered before, but perhaps this is of interest.

I got out my Oni notepad tonight (the freebie from the Action Sack) and the faint Kanji (Japanese characters) caught my eye. Behind the image of Konoko there are faint vertical lines of Japanese text faintly visable. Faintly is the operating word here. There are several words seperated by ones and zeros in each line. After squinting at these line for a while, I managed to translate a couple of them. Now these lines repeat, both within the "sentence" and also across the page. So while there looks like there are about 20 lines or so, there are only six unique "sentences" that I can pick out.

They are:
shinrai ni atai suru hito inai (there is no one I can trust)

kiki (this is the Oni kanji repeated twice) ... kurai shorai (dark future)

kako no aru onna 過去のある女 (a woman with a past)

furu kontakuto akushon ㇷルコンタクトァクシヨン (full contact action)

buramu (blam) korutana (cortana)

warui keikan (bad cop)

Translation by demos_kratos (2011)

Original with transparency.
Against white background for easier reading at full size.

In 2011, demos_kratos responded to Dave's translation when I posted it on the wiki for the first time (along with the japanese matrix.psd image from the Bungie West archives, more complete and more readable than the notepad pages that Dave had squinted at). He (demos_kratos) may have been more focused on the existing translation by Dave than on going over the original image character by character, but he did discover that there was more to the appearance of "Cortana" than just the name.

One thing I can say for sure - They don't know Japanese. Or at least they didn't when the promo was made.

First: While being literally correct it is way too complicated for such an easy phrase. I'd say shinyou dekiru hito ga nai.
Third: The translation is incorrect but I think Bungie meant exactly what translator said. kako no aru onna means "a certain woman of the past" when a woman with a past would be kako ga aru onna or kako wo motsu onna.
Fourth: If you look more closely you will see that there is a phrase korutana wa kuru yo which means Cortana is coming.

Fifth: It is correct, but the word "keikan" is rarely used in Japan. They use "keiji". I'm just pointing that out.

Translation by Iritscen (2014)


In 2014, I finally decided to give this a more thorough look than I did in 2011, since no one else had broken down the image character by character and actually shown their work. My translation can be summed up as:

  1. Oni / a dark future
  2. the past of a certain woman
  3. no one worthy of trust
  4. full contact action
  5. good cop, bad cop
  6. Blam / Cortana
  7. Cortana is coming

Previous to this, no one seems to have noticed the "good cop" in "good cop, bad cop", nor paid attention to any of the binary sequences. Details below, for the dedicated.

Image analysis

There are 42 columns and about 28 rows in the image (that's seven-tastic!). It is not contiguous writing from column to column like the old Japanese style of writing vertically right to left; each column is unconnected to its neighbors. The sequence of columns repeats halfway through, and each column repeats a string twice from top to bottom. So only one-quarter of the image is unique. Here's a masked image that shows the unique portion of the image.

Japanese matrix translated.jpg

Additionally, out of the horizontal 21-column sequence, there are six duplicate columns. I have lettered the 15 unique columns with the letters A to O. Also, some of the 15 columns have duplicated sequences of characters. This leaves, by my count, seven unique phrases, when all is said and done. Notwithstanding that I don't actually know Japanese, I've painstakingly identified the characters, and under "Character transcription" below, I reproduce them as text (handy for anyone else's translation efforts), and then in "Detailed translation", I discuss each phrase's meaning as far as I can ascertain it.

Character transcription

鬼0100暗い将来1001鬼 01過去のある女0101鬼 信頼に値する人いない0101 11ㇷルコンタクトァクシヨン カ0101101001100
oni 0100 kurai i sho-rai 1001 oni 01 ka-ko no a-ru onna 0101 oni shin-rai ni atai-su-ru hito i-na-i 0101 11 fu-ru ko-n-ta-ku-to a-ku-shi-yo-n ka 0101101001100
00暗い将来1001鬼過去の 良い警官010110悪い警官 01010カ01010セ01 011ブラム011コルタナ1 ㇷルコンタクトァクシヨン01
00 kurai i sho-rai 1001 oni ka-ko no i-i kei-kan 010110 waru-i kei-kan 01010 ka 01010 se 01 011 bu-ra-mu 011 ko-ru-ta-na 1 fu-ru ko-n-ta-ku-to a-ku-shi-yo-n 01
10001鬼0100暗い将来 コルタナは来るよ100101 い将来1001鬼過去のある女 0ヌ0101サ0101レ01 10ㇷルコンタクトァクシヨン
10001 oni 0100 kurai i sho-rai ko-ru-ta-na wa kuru ru yo 100101 i sho-rai 1001 oni ka-ko no a-ru onna 0 nu 0101 sa 0101 re 01 10 fu-ru ko-n-ta-ku-to a-ku-shi-yo-n

Detailed translation

Now here is a translation, partly based off the efforts of those who came before me. Each column is reduced to a single instance of its repeating character sequence.