OPINION: On the Censorship of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

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Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE | "Pinup" idols

Gravure modelling is something that isn’t easy to explain to people who aren’t familiar with it to begin with, but the closest equivalent that I can draw to Western society would be pin-up models. They’re often younger women, posing in revealing outfits, where the goal is to sell the model herself rather than any particular product. It often lacks the forwardness and aggressively sexual nature of similar Western modelling, setting it apart from most things you could find in North America. From that point of view, it does provide some reason why Nintendo would change the dungeon to something players would be more familiar with – if it weren’t for the fact that the game is set in modern-day Japan, where gravure modelling is very much alive and well. Nintendo of America’s decision to censor the images found in the dungeon makes no sense from a ratings or story perspective.

Minor changes were made to Kiria and Tsubasa’s outfits in each of their first music sequences, with Kiria now wearing pants to cover up her exposed panties and Tsubasa wearing a new top that covers up slightly more cleavage. But, by far the strangest change is to one of Tsubasa’s late-game outfits, one styled after a wedding dress. In the Japanese version, the top is quite open, showing off a fair amount of her upper chest and cleavage. See the localized version below:

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE | Wedding Dress

The only thing they changed was the color of the exposed skin, making it white so that it looks like it’s covered up. They didn’t really hide her cleavage, they just made it a different color. This isn’t even the most revealing costume in the game, and others were preserved unchanged in the Western version. Most notably is Tsubasa’s default Carnage form, which shows off a lot more skin and cleavage than the wedding dress, but was preserved in the same form as in the Japanese version. Another one is a light sundress that also shows more skin than the wedding dress, and was also unchanged.

I don’t get it. If they were changing outfits to make them cover more skin, why would they not at least be consistent?

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE | Tsubasa Carnage Form

Lots of skin showing, yet still uncensored.

More than anything, it shows just how little Nintendo of America knows its own audience. No matter how you look at it, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE was always destined to be a niche game – even in Japan, the somewhat mediocre sales numbers show how small the audience for it is. It will likely only appeal to fans of both series it comes from, and even then only those who weren’t alienated by what it turned out to be, chances are a group of people who also have an interest in Japanese pop culture; people who will notice when changes are made in localization, and care greatly about a work’s authenticity to its source material, especially for Japanese titles. Nintendo forgot to avoid further alienating the game’s already small fanbase, who already don’t trust them after their treatment of Fatal Frame: Maiden of the Black Water, Bravely Second, and Fire Emblem Fates, among others.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE | Kiria Idol Outfit

Nintendo, is it worth it to sacrifice consumer trust for your own goals? To desperately try to widen a game’s target audience, while hanging the audience it already had out to dry?

It should be noted that I still think Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is an enjoyable game, that I would strongly recommend. However, given Nintendo’s dubious behaviour with the localization, I totally understand not wanting to support them. If you can find a used copy, and you think that this game looks something you might be interested in aside from the controversy, I would suggest that you give it a look.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.

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