By Steve Baltimore / April 26th, 2017
XSEED Games Tom Lipschultz is pretty well known by fans for being a strong advocate against censoring content in their games. It appears he has decided to remove his name from the credits of all future localizations because of change made to the upcoming release of Akiba’s Beat. Below is a post he made in the XSEED Games forums detailing other minor changes to the game and the issue that lead him to this decision.
With the release of Akiba’s Beat imminent, I felt it was only fair to publicly document some of the changes from the Japanese to English versions of the game that have been made during the localization process, along with the reasons for these changes. I’d previously stated to you guys, before many of these changes had been made, that the game would be released uncensored in English, and I think by most definitions, that statement remains true — but a few of these changes are definitely borderline (one in particular), so full disclosure seemed warranted here.
Also, as one final disclaimer: these may not be all the changes that were made during localization, they’re just all the changes I specifically remember. Any other changes made were likely very minor and completely in keeping with normal localization practices, meaning they were made solely to convey the meaning of the Japanese more clearly to English-speakers (things like correcting grammar or spelling on phrases or names that were already in English, or fully translating a name that was originally Japanese written out in English lettering in order to aid comprehension during key story scenes).
So, without further ado:
“Miké Nyanda” –> “Miké Musumeda”
“Hisayoshi Otoda” –> “Hisayoshi Onda”
Both of these name changes were unfortunate victims of working on a game while it was still in development. For the majority of the localization process, including when voice-recording began, we had only ever seen the game’s text without hearing any of it spoken in Japanese. In most cases, this was fine… but in these two cases, our readings of the kanji were off, and we had absolutely no idea until after we’d already recorded English voiceover of numerous characters speaking these names aloud. In Miké’s case in particular, too, I don’t think we really COULD have known, since her last name is 娘田, which cannot possibly be read as “Nyanda” under ordinary circumstances — it’s just because she’s a cat-girl maid that “Musume” (daughter) is apparently read as “Nyan” (meow). 😉 We tried to keep good humor about this, though, parodying it a few times in system text, including in one of the trophy names (the trophy for completing Miké’s side quest is called “Nyanda tte?!” in our version of the game, which might get a chuckle — or a groan — out of any Japanese speakers reading this). It’s also worth noting that this change only applies to the English — if you play with Japanese voices, all characters will of course still say “Nyanda” and “Otoda,” even if the accompanying dialogue box reads “Musumeda” and “Onda.”
“Futoshi Futoi” –> “Chunk Widebody”
“Hosomi Hosogawa” –> “Twiggy Slims”
These are minor NPCs who help advance the story during chapter 2, and come up here and there during side missions as well. They’re depicted as pop idol otaku obsessed with character Riyu Momose, and their Japanese names are utterly ridiculous — basically the equivalents of “Fatty McFat” and “Thinny Thinsworth.” You can kind of guess what they look like! Because their names themselves were such obvious jokes, we reluctantly decided it would be best to preserve that in the English, and after some office-wide discussion, we came up with the English monikers “Chunk Widebody” and “Twiggy Slims.” Both of which are, IMHO, pretty glorious (which I say without egotism, since I wasn’t the one who came up with either of them, but major props to my coworkers who did!).
“Rippyon” –> “Mippity Mop” (generally abbreviated to just “Mippity” after the first few times it’s spoken)
Pop idol character Riyu Momose is often referred to as “Rippyon” by her fans, which is a portmanteau of her first name “Riyu” and the onomatopoeia of rabbits jumping, which is “pyon-pyon.” The only equivalent onomatopoeia that exists in English is “hippity-hop,” and “Rippity Rop” didn’t quite sound right (it sounds like Scooby Doo saying “hippity-hop”!), so we combined that sound with her last name “Momose” instead to form the nickname “Mippity Mop.”
Graphical Sign Text
Unlike with Akiba’s Trip, Acquire did not obtain the license to depict most Akihabara businesses by name in Akiba’s Beat, instead opting for parody names (Go Go Curry –> Goo Goo Curry, Gamers –> GameMarz, Animate –> Animart, Card Kingdom –> Card Queendom, etc.). The vast majority of these have been kept as-is, though a few have had grammar mistakes corrected, and a small handful have had English translations added to them (there’s a key location in the story called Violet Eden, for example, which is marked with a sign that initially only displayed Japanese; it now displays both Japanese and English).
A few others have been changed altogether for one reason or another, however. These are the ones I can specifically confirm have been changed:
“Maidears” –> “Maidiators”
This maid cafe name was translated as “Maidiators” back when we’d only seen it written in Japanese, and as it was included in voice-recorded lines by a number of actors before we were shown the English sign text that read “Maidears,” we were forced to keep the localized name “Maidiators” in the final build. Yet another casualty of working on a game while it’s still in development! (I like our name, though! It has character! Heheh)
“Nutar Kebab” –> “Star Kebab”
To be honest, I don’t actually remember why this change was made. I know it was brought up that the original name sounded an awful lot like the word “neuter,” but as I was the lead editor on this project, I would’ve never accepted a graphic text change for that specific reason. I think there’s some wordplay during a quest in which a pun or reference is made based upon this shop name, and the name change was made to accommodate the English localization of that wordplay — but I haven’t been able to locate the line in question, so it’s possible I’m misremembering this. As it stands, this is a change I can’t quite pin down the reason for anymore, and I offer my personal apologies if anyone is taken aback by it.
“KKK witches” –> “ACQ witches”
This is the most egregious change IMHO, and is one that I kind of turned into Senran Kagura censorship debate: the sequel. The original was a parody of “NKK switches,” a Japanese light switch manufacturer based out of Akihabara. I personally felt “KKK witches” was pretty funny for its shock value, but when I mentioned it to my coworkers, they… were not as amused. For various reasons (some of which do include legitimate localization concerns, but most of which involved personal offense, worries over offending others, or worries over stores not carrying the game due to this “controversial” inclusion), they were insistent upon the name being changed. And of course, I fought this as best as I could, since I saw the forceful change of this as an act of censorship (minor though it be, and even understandable though it be). In the end, however, it was Acquire themselves who voluntarily changed it to “ACQ witches”… sort of. We only ever got as far as emailing them to let them know that the KKK is a well-known abbreviation for a hate group in America, and asking them if the name “KKK witches” had any specific meaning in Akiba’s Beat, and the conversation never progressed beyond that point before Acquire simply changed the sign text and sent us a new build. Because of this, calling this an “act of censorship” is indeed rather questionable — though not unwarranted, I feel, since (1) we would’ve asked them to change it if they hadn’t done so voluntarily, (2) our email did not directly ask them to change it, but… I mean, how else were they supposed to interpret us asking about it at all? And (3) the Japanese version still retains the “KKK witches” moniker, with the change only made to all English versions. It is due to this change, and specifically due to my initial misconception that we’d directly asked the devs to change it, that I asked to have my name removed from the credits of Akiba’s Beat, and thus — in accordance with company policy, which I was well advised of beforehand — removed from XSEED’s company credits altogether, meaning I will not be appearing in the credits of any future XSEED title. Ken was willing to let me post about this publicly, as with my previous grievance regarding the removal of character ages in Senran Kagura, but he insisted I cite the policy in question so you guys know exactly why my name will not be appearing in XSEED titles from here on out:
Since the whole XSEED team is credited on each project by our official company title rather than anybody’s specific role on an individual game (such as “Localization Editor” in all credits regardless of if the person did any editing on that particular game or not), we cannot be selective about which games people are credited in. If someone is ashamed to be associated with one of our games, then they are ashamed to be associated with the company as a whole and won’t be credited in future games either.
It’s a bit of a shame, but I feel it’s a good symbolic gesture on my part, showing my commitment to my principles on this matter. And honestly… I’m perfectly fine with being the “ninja localizer” of XSEED, fighting the good anti-censorship fight from the shadows. ;)
If I come across any other notable changes in localization before release, I’ll post them here in a reply. As you can see, most of these are basically nitpicks, but I just… didn’t feel like I’d be doing right by the anti-censorship fanbase if I didn’t at least let you guys know in advance that some changes had been made (particularly that last one). Whether or not you count any of these as censorship yourself, and what you do with that information, is up to you! But I hope you’ll still support us, as this game has been an absolute behemoth to localize, and we’d love to see our many months of work appreciated by the fanbase. We did the very best we could to make sure the English text and voices in Akiba’s Beat are the best they possibly can be, and we’d love to hear what you guys think if and when you play it.
And if you have any comments or questions about these changes, please don’t hold back! As long as you’re respectful of the opinions of those who disagree with you, I say let us have it! 😉
Personally, I think this change is pretty minor, but I have nothing but respect for Tom. I Hope he continues his fight to keep the games they localize as close to source as possible and censorship free.
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