11

In episode 9 of the second season of Log Horizon, when...

Shiroe died and appeared on the unofficial 14th server of Elder Tale, the test server, which was set to be on the Moon instead of on the Earth,

... he checked the location and the dialog was mostly garbled up, saved for the location name Mare Tranquillitatis.

Can the garbled up text be decrypted, or are they simply garbage?

16

Yes, the garbled up text is the result of mojibake, where the original text in Japanese, encoded in Shift-JIS encoding, is decoded by Windows-1256 encoding.

If you ever open up a Japanese web page or text file encoded in Shift-JIS encoding (2-byte character set) under some Western encoding in Windows (1-byte character set), you will see high frequency of ƒ paired up with some other character in the resulting view. Since I observe that there are Arabic characters in the image, I used one of my existing text file which is encoded in Shift-JIS and tried opening it with Arabic (Windows) encoding in the browser, and I found out that Arabic (Windows) or Western encoding has the same mapping for ƒ and Œ (which is another common character in the garbled up text).

After comparing to the properly rendered location status window and some guesswork, I managed to decode the garbled up text into proper Japanese text (the brackets 〈 and 〉 are added for clarity and not decoded from garbled up text):

〈サーバー〉
月サーバー
〈ゾーン〉
月サーバー
〈区分〉
個別ゾーン/モンスター出現なし
〈その他〉
戦闘行為可能区域
 全特技使用可能
 進入許可/制限あり
 退出許可/制限あり

Translation:

<Server>
Moon Server
<Zone>
Moon Server
<Classification>
Isolated zone/No monster
<Other>
PVP allowed
Special skills allowed
Entry restriction/Restricted
Exit restriction/Restricted

Appendix

To cross-check the result, you can use the following piece of Python 3 code:

garbled = 'ƒTپ[ƒoپ[\nŒژƒTپ[ƒoپ[\nƒ]پ[ƒ“\nŒژƒTپ[ƒoپ[\n‹و•ھ\nŒآ•تƒ]پ[ƒ“/ƒ‚ƒ“ƒXƒ^پ[ڈoŒ»‚ب‚µ\n‚»‚ج‘¼\nگي“¬چsˆ×‰آ”\\‹وˆو\nپ@‘S“ء‹Zژg—p‰آ”\\\nپ@گi“ü‹–‰آ/گ§Œہ‚\xa0‚è\nپ@‘قڈo‹–‰آ/گ§Œہ‚\xa0‚è'
print(garbled.encode('Windows-1256').decode('Shift-JIS'))

Below is the view-only source1 of the mojibake for comparison with the image:

1 The text below contains U+200E Left-to-Right Mark to prevent Arabic characters from rendering right-to-left and changing their shapes based on their position. Another problem that prevents straight copying is due to the presence of U+00A0 No-Break Space, which is converted to space when copied from browser.

ƒ‎T‎پ‎[‎ƒ‎o‎پ‎[‎
Œ‎ژ‎ƒ‎T‎پ‎[‎ƒ‎o‎پ‎[‎
ƒ‎]‎پ‎[‎ƒ‎“‎
Œ‎ژ‎ƒ‎T‎پ‎[‎ƒ‎o‎پ‎[‎
‹‎و‎•‎ھ‎
Œ‎آ‎•‎ت‎ƒ‎]‎پ‎[‎ƒ‎“‎/‎ƒ‎‚‎ƒ‎“‎ƒ‎X‎ƒ‎^‎پ‎[‎ڈ‎o‎Œ‎»‎‚‎ب‎‚‎µ‎
‚‎»‎‚‎ج‎‘‎¼‎
گ‎ي‎“‎¬‎چ‎s‎ˆ‎×‎‰‎آ‎”‎\‎‹‎و‎ˆ‎و‎
پ‎@‎‘‎S‎“‎ء‎‹‎Z‎ژ‎g‎—‎p‎‰‎آ‎”‎\‎
پ‎@‎گ‎i‎“‎ü‎‹‎–‎‰‎آ‎/‎گ‎§‎Œ‎ہ‎‚‎ ‎‚‎è‎
پ‎@‎‘‎ق‎ڈ‎o‎‹‎–‎‰‎آ‎/‎گ‎§‎Œ‎ہ‎‚‎ ‎‚‎è‎

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