By Operation Rainfall Contributor / May 24th, 2016
Otome has gained popularity in recent years which probably has something to do with the fact that Steam has made it easier for the developers of these dating sims to get their games on the popular PC platform. One of those publishers is the Japan based company Dogenzaka Lab. They are responsible for localization of such visual novels as My Secret Pets!, Destiny’s Princess and The Men of Yoshiwara series. Oprainfall had the opportunity to interview the company to get to know a little more about their localization process and what’s to come for the future of otome in the West.
Could you tell us a little bit about Dogenzaka Lab for those who don’t know?
We are Japanese game provider. Our mission is to provide the customers with the best Japanese games.
What drives your team to localize these visual novels in the West?
The visual novel is one of the most popular genres in Japan. We want people around the world to enjoy the games in the same experience, so the main character of Tokyo School Life is a young foreign exchange student.
You’ve worked with 4th Cluster and M2 Co.,LTD to localize their titles. Any chance we’ll see any more of their games like the sequel to Campus Notes?
Yes you will. We have introduced our new game Malus Code in our most recent announcement.
You recently announced 3 games (Pub Encounter, My Secret Pets, Destiny’s Princess: A War Story, A Love Story) for Steam and then announced another The Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya not even a week later. Is there a reason you’re bringing over so many otome games at once?
We felt a certain reaction when “The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya” was released last year, so we started preparing to release Otome games. That’s why there was a rush to release the games in April.
Do you feel like the otome genre is doing well in the West?
The best is yet to come.
It’s only just begun.
The genre of otome is often prejudged and criticized by some in the west. How do you market the visual novels to be able to grow your audience?
We understand the situation. It might be difficult for us to have a big-budget product (e.g. with voice over) However, there are many users who enjoy our games, so we will continue to do our best.
With the amount of Japanese text these visual novels have, how long does it take usually to localize an otome in the West?
It takes about 2 or 3 months for translation and about 1-2 months to import the text into the program.
How close does your team stick to the translation of the Japanese text? Do you take any creative liberties that could potentially change the mood or tone of a scene?
We think it’s important to use translation that sounds natural to native speakers of the target language, rather than literal translation of the Japanese.
Fans are very vocal about the otome that they want localized. Do you listen to what fans are asking for and try to bring those titles West?
Some are possible and others are not because of our budget. We’ll start by doing what we can do.
Is it harder developing for mobile or PC?
There are different difficulties, but we think that mobile has more limitations.
The Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya is a sequel to The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya. Will you release any more sequels to your games like Pub Encounter or My Secret Pets?
If the games gain popularity, we want to release sequels!
Otome is known to be a product mainly for women but do you feel that men can play it too?
There are various otome games, some emphasizing “love story”, “story development” and so on.
We think that men could enjoy a “story development” game, for example, “Destiny’s Princess“.
Pub Encounter is a different than the usual type of otome games because the men are significantly older than the usual twenty-something cast. Was that your inspiration for choosing to localize this game?
Various otome games are sold in Japan. “Pub Encounter” has been released for users who are bored with the scenario where the main character always falls in love with handsome guys.
What is Dogenzaka Lab’s plans for the future?
We’ll try to commence sales many localized otome games and Original Visual Novels, as well as the different types of video games.
So what otome games would you like to see come West? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to check out all the titles Dogenzaka Lab’s has to offer.
Dogenzaka LabMalus CodeMy Secret PetsOtomePub EncountersThe Men of Yoshiwara