Way back when, localization of Japanese RPGs was the norm. Details like signage and food references were anglicized, shifted from kanji and kana, from rice and Japanese-style bread.
These days, localization teams are a bit more subtle. (One notable exception: the Ace Attorney series. They’ve localized the games in the most over-the-top manner possible, and good on them for it!) Even so, many favorite heroines and heroines have vastly different tastes in America than they do in Japan.
Zell is a hyperactive, air-punching, twitchy SeeD from Final Fantasy VIII. He’s known for his love of hot dogs, especially those in Balamb Garden’s cafeteria.
Usually the cafeteria runs out before he can get some, but that doesn’t diminish his passion. Zell was modeled as a comic bookish character: brash, excitable, prone to fits of overenthusiasm. His foodie inclinations are no different.
At the end of the game, Zell finally has a chance to hoard and eat his beloved food. He’s so frantic about consuming it, he nearly chokes. But he’s not eating hot dogs. In the final cutscene, he’s seen stuffing his face with… bread.
In the original Japanese game, Zell was a huge fan of flavored breads.
These jam- and paste-filled breads are a trope in Japanese popular culture. In real life, these breads are quite popular. They can be found in convenience stores, at festivals, and in school cafeterias.
Melonpan, or melon bread, doesn’t taste like melon. Instead, it has a crunchy cookie shell encasing a fluffy center. Calpis, a lactic drink manufacturer, released a special-edition summer bread this year. It’s tart and acidic, with a yogurt-like flavor. Curry bread is filled with Japanese-style curry, breaded in light panko, and deep fried.
Zell’s love of flavored breads is much more understandable than a love for hot dogs—unless said hot dogs were organic, or flavored with unusual spices, or covered in delicious toppings!
For being such a rice-based culture, it’s interesting to see how Japan has embraced bread.