Akiba's Beat localization changes

Discussion in 'Akiba's Beat' started by Wyrdwad, Apr 26, 2017.

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  1. Wyrdwad

    Wyrdwad XSEED admin

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    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:


    Character Names

    "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:
    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! ;)

    -Tom
     
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  2. Leon Tekashi

    Leon Tekashi Active Member

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    Thanks for being up front about the changes as usual Tom and it's completely understandable on why you guys decided to change the KKK Witches to ACQ Witches, considering what they sound like and the history behind it.
     
  3. ddd-kun

    ddd-kun New Member

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    That is...rather incredible, man. I have to admit this is rather impressive and difficult a choice for anyone to make. I kinda have to wonder how the rest of your coworkers are considering the instance and the results.
     
  4. Wyrdwad

    Wyrdwad XSEED admin

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    I'll probably find out tomorrow, since I think the majority of them don't know about this yet. This post will likely be the first they hear of it. ;)

    (Well, the first they hear of me opting out of XSEED's company credits, that is. They certainly have heard plenty from me about the issue itself!)

    -Tom
     
  5. Cqef

    Cqef Member

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    I just hope you won't see that as an opportunity to quit from you job at XSeed further down the line, we need people like you to fight the good fight, y'know :oops:
     
  6. Tiamat

    Tiamat Member

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    That really didn't need to be changed. I appreciate that you are open about this stuff Tom.
     
  7. Yunyo_Tovah

    Yunyo_Tovah Member

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    It is very honorable of you to post all of this ahead of time. I will be honest on my end and say I don't really mind any of those changes and I would be hard pressed to call it censorship (despite being sensitive about that sort of thing). A lot of these seem like victim of circumstance changes and not over-reactionary censorship that we're accustomed to seeing. So I wouldn't hold any sort of guilt over them.
     
  8. Ringwraith

    Ringwraith Well-Known Member

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    I don't really want to rag on anyone personally, and it might seem that way here, but it's more going to a semantics thing in general (at least I hope comes off that way, I'm not so good with words). However, I feel compelled to say changing a joke which flat-out doesn't work in English, both because the original reference is lost, and because the attempted pun ends up associated with a hate group in the anglosphere instead of light switches, is completely okay and is simply localising?
    The original intent is "sly reference/joke with off-brand company name" becomes "name-dropping a hate group for some reason?" for most people and that's totally not the plan here.

    Additionally, you have to tread a very fine line whenever you're doing "shock value" humour of any sort and it generally needs more supporting context to actually be considered amusing by many people instead of falling flat at best, so I'm not sure the translation really works for most people either. Which leads back to the problem with the intent being 'mildly amusing off-brand name' if you're getting a bunch of reactions which aren't mild amusement, then it's not that funny? It's something else entirely, it's turned something you might smile at to something you'd frown at instead, and that seems pretty counter to it?

    Being ACQ instead, something that the developers changed themselves without any prompting other than the hint that KKK is an acronym to avoid, means it's now an off-brand reference still, but now to their own company instead, meaning it's something international audiences can recognise, rather than a foreign company they'd know nothing about.
    Seeing as they didn't inform anyone of the significance of this, I imagine it's not got any plot relevance, so it's rather inconsequential, and just set dressing poking fun at a company name.

    I hope I've said some incredibly obvious things, because I don't want to come across like I'm on some sort of offensive, and merely elaborating on the kind of thing that is how localisation is intended from what I know. I'm not even sure what the point is, if someone has found a point I made, I may need to be informed!
     
  9. Leon Tekashi

    Leon Tekashi Active Member

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    I mean... Would you rather have folks over here getting mad at XSEED/Acquire for making a small reference to the KKK?
     
  10. Ringwraith

    Ringwraith Well-Known Member

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    That certainly puts it more succinctly.
    There's not a lot to gain there, and it's not even a reference to light switches or a company at that point, and a lot more to lose.
    Also I don't think it's very funny either, in my mind, you might as well just blurt out "KKK <noun>" randomly without context, and I don't think many people around you would be amused.
     
  11. Leon Tekashi

    Leon Tekashi Active Member

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    Right, which is why changing it to ACQ for the international version is a good idea. To the people that's going to bitch about this should get some perspective.
     
  12. TJF588

    TJF588 New Member

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    I'd argue the "big" change here is as much, if not more, localisation than censorship. Going off reading this, for Japanese players it's more a parody of a store than invocation of a hate group (though "KKK Witches" certainly is jabbing at them). However, overseas where knowledge of their domestic franchises are lower, this distasteful association may only serve to sour a play experience in ways the original audience would be less likely to experience.


    As to the replacement? "JKK" is straightforward enough, replacing "Nippon" with "Japan", with a joke bonus of "just kidding, okay?" from text shorthand (or, for the weebs out there, "*joshi kousei*"). If you'd wanna get real cheeky, "MTT", eh?


    What I'd be more embarrassed over is all those *kanji* misreadings; hear on out, get some pronunciation guides offa the devs.

    Aside: Is "ACQ" a callback to Marcelous!'s prior moniker?
     
  13. Wyrdwad

    Wyrdwad XSEED admin

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    No, ACQ is a reference to this game's developer, Acquire.

    Also, you all bring up very good points. I think I addressed some of them in my answers to a brief interview with Kotaku's Cecilia D'Anastasio, though, who used segments of my answers for an article she posted on that site today, but has given me permission to share my full answers with you here.

    Here were her three questions, and my responses to them:


    - XSEED's stance on credit prevents you from being credited on future XSEED localizations. Why are you making such a drastic move over something that many might consider insignificant?

    It’s tough to explain. First of all, I do agree that this is a really insignificant change in the overall scheme of things, but the reason it struck me so personally is not because of what the sign says, but because of the reason it’s being changed. It’s not being changed to aid the player’s comprehension (though there are absolutely some in our office who make very valid points as to why it’s appropriate to change for localization reasons, which I don’t want to downplay or discount), but to avoid offending people and to avoid the possibility of retailers protesting the game’s release. Which I understand from a business standpoint, but to me, games have always been an artistic medium first and foremost, not a business. And I don’t think it’s right to make any change, no matter how minor, for the purpose of “sanitizing” a game. It’s a practice shared by a lot of publishers, and it upsets me deeply every time it happens, even when it’s something I also find distasteful or offensive.

    Ultimately, my decision to remove myself from the game’s credits (and thus future XSEED credits as well) was made as a symbolic gesture inspired by that classic quote, generally attributed to Evelyn Beatrice Hall: “I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It.” I wanted to make a statement, and – apparently – I succeeded, to some extent. Whether or not this was an overreaction on my part remains to be seen.


    - Why are you still staying at XSEED?

    Because XSEED has gainfully employed me for over seven years now, my coworkers are all great people (even if I strongly disagree with them on a lot of things), we work on great games, we have a really solid approach to quality localization, and… I mean, I’ve been given carte blanche to air my grievances in public! What other company would even consider something like that? The downside of facing censorship issues bothers me on principle, sure, but there are a mountain of upsides to counterbalance that, and I really can’t stress enough that overall, this is a great company to work for, and the people here really do care a great deal about video games.


    - Would you consider this censorship even though Acquire changed the source text?

    It’s very much a gray area, and I’m still debating in my head whether or not it counts as censorship. I think it does, though – again, because of why it was changed. We asked Acquire about it, but our email made it clear that we were uncomfortable with the sign as it stood, so it came as no real surprise that they were willing and eager to change it in the interest of good business relations. Yet, by that same token, if it really meant a lot to them, they might have insisted on keeping it unaltered, meaning it obviously didn’t matter to them and thus wasn’t censorship.

    When I first requested to have my name removed from the credits, I actually didn’t know we’d never specifically asked Acquire to change this – I assumed we had. If I’d known that then, I might not have ever suggested removing my name from the credits. Then again, I still might’ve! And either way, because this is such a gray area, I don’t entirely regret my request. If nothing else, it’s bringing censorship back into public discussion, and I think that’s important, since I feel it’s a problem we – as an industry – really need to talk about. In my own backwards, awkward way, I’m hoping I’ve opened the topic wide enough that maybe some good will come of this in the future.


    -Tom
     
  14. saloz94

    saloz94 New Member

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    Thanks for sharing this up front,but in the end it never really bugs me. As long as the story is the same and the characters act like they are suppose to im fine.
     
  15. Wyrdwad

    Wyrdwad XSEED admin

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    And they definitely do. I think localization-wise, we did a pretty damned good job overall, and hope people really enjoy the game.

    -Tom
     
  16. Leon Tekashi

    Leon Tekashi Active Member

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    I understand censorship sucks but we have to consider that between the East and West, there will be cultural differences. Although, I do admit that some censorship is ridiculous. However, thhis is one of the cases where I don't mind because of the meaning behind that acronym. I'm not offended but again, there's history behind thaat acronym that will definitely start something.
     
  17. Terro

    Terro Well-Known Member

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    GAG is sure making it sound like Tom quit/got fired from this. It's ummm yeah...
     
  18. Leon Tekashi

    Leon Tekashi Active Member

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    And that's the sad part. Tom is willing to talk to the consumers about stuff so why can't they talk to him directly to avoid misconceptions?
     
  19. Terro

    Terro Well-Known Member

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    A lot of people nowadays would rather argue their own side/beliefs on what they read than have a civil discussion, whether they agree with it or not. (I think that's a problem in many places online right now, in general).
     
  20. Leon Tekashi

    Leon Tekashi Active Member

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    And that's also sad. Because this is the internet, people love being vocal because most of the time, they're anonymous. And because they're anonymous, instead of having civil discussion, they just love spouting their own beliefs as you said without listening to others' view on things. They just love one uping one another.
     
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