The case of the missing elephants
A lot of the e-mails you get from survivors in Burning Rangers are kind of boring. Many of them are variations on this theme: "Thank you Burning Rangers for saving my life!"
But several survivors send messages that tell a goofy little story. Here's one from Mission 1's Hiroko Losey.
Message 1: Hello. If I had been killed in the fire, my 42 lovely kitties would have lost their means of livelihood. Thanks a lot. MEOW!
Message 2: I've counted again and again, but there are only 39 kitties present. 3 are misssing! Please, Burning Rangers. Please find my babies! I cannot live without them!
Message 3: Hello. 3 missing kitties were found under my bed. Silly me. Please disregard my last e-mail.
It's a little odd to have 42 kittens, right? Do you have to acquire them all at once? And it's also odd that you would email the firefighters who rescued you some time in the past about finding them before you look under your bed.
The messages from Mission 2's Scarlet Fonda are at least twice as odd.
Message 1: Thank you for saving me. If I had died, my 84 pet ducks would have died too! My pets want me say thank you too. If you have time, stop by, OK?
Message 2: 12 of my 84 pet ducks have disappeared! Burning Rangers, will you help me find them? I'm so worried, I can't sleep at night!
Message 3: Guess what! I found my 12 missing ducks! I found them hiding in the barn down the street. Sorry for making such a fuss about the whole thing. I'll write again soon.
It's the same story, but with ducks instead of kittens and a barn instead of a bed. Is it a joke? Did the Sonic Team member writing these messages run out of ideas?
In Mission 3 you can rescue Susan Gray, and... uh oh, it's happening again.
Message 1: Thank you very much for saving me. When I came back home, my cat gave birth to two kittens; one male, and one female. I named them Shou and Tillis. Nice, isn't it?
Message 2: Emergency! Shou and Tillis are gone! You must find them! Oh, I mean, my Shou and Tillis, the kittens. Isn't it confusing?
Message 3: I found them! They are hiding in the bathroom. Uh, sorry for the trouble.
This is a little different. Two is a normal number of kittens to have. But then they get lost and found in the same way as the other kittens and the ducks. It's still not clear whether these messages being similar is supposed to be funny or whether it's just the product of somebody struggling to come up with 183 fake emails.
But let's look at the Japanese versions of Susan Gray's messages...
Message 1: Thanks so much for your help! If I had died, my 126 Naumann elephants would have run wild! I cry with gratitude every day. Our little Naumanns also say thank you. Don't hesitate to stop by if you're in the area.
Message 2: 36 of the 126 Naumann elephants have gone missing! Please, Burning Rangers - look for our Naumann elephants! I can't sleep at night while they're out there crying for help!
Message 3: The 36 Naumann elephants have been found. They were hiding in the bathroom. I was so surprised. Why did they think they could run away from me? Sorry for the inconvenience. See you!
I don't speak or read Japanese, so my translations above (which are sort of the average of a few machine translators) probably aren't exactly right. But this one is definitely a callback! It's now clear that the whole series of messages is a joke that's getting more and more absurd. Naumann's elephants are (a) giant, and (b) extinct.
The Japanese versions of the kitten, duck, and elephant emails are even more similar to each other than the English versions. They all have the "don't hesitate to stop by" in the first message, the bit about not being able to sleep at night in the second, and the "sorry for the inconvenience" in the third.