JRPG Japanese Characters: Yumi!

Me and my lovely character illustrator, shugulupsketches, are ready to introduce the world to Yumi!

Yumi’s design

jrpg japanese character yumi

Yumi is an elf, so she’s got lots of that earthy-colored goodness. She’s got the classic elf-green in her cape, while sporting a brown set of gloves, boots, and tunic that you can ONLY get in the village she’s from, “Erufu no Mura”.

I gave her a beautiful, blond ponytail to express that “foreign” elven beauty. To give her a more feminine look, we added pink and lace to her undershirt and decorated her cape, gloves, and tunic. Knowing Yumi, she probably sewed that pink fabric on herself after buying them from the local armor shop.

I didn’t have a lot of game references that first came to mind, since me and shugulup were able to brainstorm a look for Yumi pretty quickly. When we were having trouble with details, a quick googling or pinteresting(?) of “RPG elf” or “RPG archer” brought up lots of ideas for us to work with.

Speaking of details, that bow of Yumi’s is – you guessed it – hand-crafted and gifted to her from her village’s carpenter.

Yumi’s name

Like all the other protags of JRPG Japanese: A Language Learning Adventure!, Yumi’s name represents the weaponry she uses, “yumi” being “bow” in Japanese. In the game, though, her name is written in katakana “ユミyumi”, to emphasize foreign flair.

Where do you recruit Yumi?

In Erufu no Mura. She joins the party after she is banished from her village.

Her hometown of Erufu no Mura is pretty remote and can only be reached to an adventurer who possesses a boat. That being said, she joins the party with very little knowledge of humans, and in the beginning lacks a few social graces. We’ll see if she warms up to the party…

jrpg japanese erufu no mura yumi's hometown


Side-quest time! (I do this sometimes.) Let’s take a look at her village name to get some Japanese language insight! If we take “Erufu no Mura” in original Japanese, it would look like this (broken up for easier reading):

エルフerufunomura

1. エルフerufu

Let’s start with エルフerufu. Wait, look! It’s katakana! Which means it could be a borrowed word from English. Sound it out! Doesn’t “erufu” kind of sounds like “elf” with a heavy Japanese accent?

To double-check ourselves (because katakana doesn’t ALWAYS come from an English word!), if we copy and paste エルフerufu in my favorite online, Japanese-to-English dictionary, jisho.org, here’s what comes up:

erufu translation elf in japanese english dictionary

Whew, erufu = elf checks out! Good job, hero!

2. no

no is a Japanese particle. To review, a particle is a super important glue of Japanese sentence structure that point out the “who’s doing what” or “what’s being done”.

The no glue can indicate a lot of different things like possession, position or location, or noun-modifying. Like mentioned in my No Nominalization devlog, “We use the HECK out of the particle no all over in Japanese.”

In this case, which of the no usages above do you think the no in エルフerufunomura is?

If you guessed noun-modifying, that’s the most accurate! The question you can ask to double-check your work:

ENG JPN
Q: What KIND of village is it? Q: どんなdonnamuraですdesuka
どんな:what kind
です:to be (English: am, is, or are)
か:marks a question
A: It’s a village of elves. A: エルフerufunomuraですdesu

Here, it’s taking the second noun, mura (village) and modifying it with the first noun, エルフerufu (elf).

If you second-guessed no‘s possession usage, though, you might not be wrong. The question becomes:

ENG JPN
Q: WHO’s village is it? Q: darenomuraですdesuka
誰:who
A: It’s the Elves’ village. A: エルフerufunomuraですdesu

Either one is fine, but it depends on the situation.

3. mura

murais village in Japanese. Picture someplace rural. Maybe rich with agriculture like a farming town. Or maybe a small settlement somewhere in the woods. Any of those, you can call mura and get away with it.


Yumi’s speech style

Yumi uses watashi as her personal pronoun. It’s very standard, used by both men and women, but shows just enough formality for speaking with people we aren’t as familiar with. It’s probably already familiar with us Japanese language learners, but since it’s still important to learn and master, I decided to fit 私 in with the rest of Yumi’s speech style.

Yumi uses polite language such as ですdesu and ますmasu forms of Japanese. Again, this is considered formal Japanese and good to use when speaking with others you’re not as familiar with or want to show a bit of friendly respect to. (I’ll be sure to cover the です desuand ますmasu explanations later in the game, but for now, I won’t go on another side quest in this devlog, I promise!)

Yumi will also include some feminine parts of speech, too, throwing in a sentence-ending わねwa ne or わよwa yo here or there.

As a quick review, there are four playable characters in JRPG Japanese: A Language Learning Adventure!. Here’s our list of revealed playable character personality speech styles:

  1. Young, masculine, informal, humble:  Ken
  2. Masculine, informal, confident: Ono
  3. Young, feminine, cute, confident, informal: ? (Not yet revealed)
  4. Feminine, formal, humble: Yumi

Yumi’s three-word personality breakdown

1. Focused: on the tasks at hand in a calm and patient manner (This makes her an excellent puzzle-solver!)

  1. Analytical: of herself and others, constantly striving to improve (This can come off as snarky from time-to-time!)
  2. Reflective: meditates and checks in with herself from time-to-time to take a deeper look at triumphs, mistakes, and struggles

I’ve given each character of JRPG Japanese a three-word personality breakdown to reflect different qualities needed for language acquisition. The qualities I’ve chosen for Yumi are focused (AKA recognizing the importance of practice, trial-and-error, and being patient with yourself), analytical (knowing and working towards your room-for-improvement areas), and reflective (taking breaks from strenuous study-time to check in with your progress).

These three qualities I bestow upon you, hero! Take heart! By having Yumi on your party, I hope she gives you a little push forward while you study and grow… but I also hope she doesn’t push you too hard!

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