Localization Micro-Review: Iwaihime

Iwaihime on Steam

Platform: Steam
Publisher: ShiraVN
Genre: Horror Visual Novel
Text Language: English, Japanese, Chinese
Audio Language: Japanese
Localization Style: Literal
Stock Translations: Semifrequent

Pros: Script is generally easy to read with proper English style conventions; some good adaptation choices; avoids most of the hallmarks of shoddy localizations that plague the medium (and Ryukishi’s other works in particular—a breath of fresh air compared to any of Mangagamer or Witch Hunt’s efforts)

Cons: Scattered mistranslations and grammatical pitfalls; unfortunate adherence to Japanese sentence structure and idioms/phrases; some sections feature very stilted dialogue and poor flow; few characters have well-developed or believable character voices; in many places the localization fails to adapt things that are far more foreign to English readers than other things they did choose to adapt

Misc Notes: Removed honorifics and reversed name order; PC port has only the bare minimum accessibility features; English script can often feel extremely repetitive to the point of exasperation (but no more banal than the original text)

Verdict: Passable

Localization Credits:
English Localization by Lemnisca LLC
Translation & Direction: John Hooper
Editing: Tyabann
Testing & Proofreading: Sasha “Sachibelle” Schiller, Alex “Ajogamer” Orkin

Localization Micro-Review: SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions

Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS
Publisher: Square-Enix
Genre: RPG
Text Language: English, FIGS
Audio Language: English
Localization Style: Liberal
Stock Translations: Few

Pros: Solid efforts made to imbue flavor in a relatively dry script, fairly good understanding of formal/antiquated English, and good implementation of in-universe naming conventions

Cons: A few mistakes in translations of tutorials and system-related text that show the localization team were not given context or reference copies of the game, only one character given a truly unique and memorable character voice while all others mostly blend together

Misc Notes: While the fact that such a low-budget game received a dub at all is certainly impressive, the recycling of single voice clips with every action taken in combat will make you abhor certain quirkily translated quips that are amusing the first time, but grating by the fifth (though this is more the fault of the programmers than the localization team). That being said, this is still by far the most competent SaGa localization in recent memory, and should be commended as a vast improvement over the poor efforts Square-Enix delivered in Romancing SaGas 2 & 3.

Verdict: Good

Localization Credits:
Editors: Alan Averill, Jeremy Parish
Translators: Jasmine Bernhardt, Stephen Meyerink, D. Scott Miller
Localization Support: Roy Blakely, Dermot Creegan, Hiroko Minamoto, Yutaka Ohbuchi, John Ricciardi

Localization Critique – Raging Loop

NOTE: The following critique contains minor spoilers. However, care has been taken so as not to include any screenshots or plot details that would spoil major elements of the game when divorced from in-game context.

Platform: Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Publisher: PQube
Genre: Visual Novel
Audio Language: Japanese
Text Language: English/Japanese

It’s a strange thing to say that a game “shouldn’t be localized.” To the average listener, it just sounds like shameless gatekeeping from the type of self-congratulatory elitist who thinks they’ve more of a right to experience a given work than those who haven’t dedicated years of their lives to learning the language. And to be sure, this doesn’t hold true for Raging Loop when considered as a multi-faceted work of art. The game has undeniable merits that transcend the boundaries of language, resulting in a story that many fans of horror novels and “whodunnit” mysteries will find inherently compelling, regardless of whether or not they can pick up on every cultural nuance. And indeed, all translations lose some amount of information conveyed by the source text, simply by virtue of being translations.

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Localization Micro-Review: Dragon Quest XI

Image result for dragon quest xi

Platform: PlayStation 4, Steam, Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Square-Enix
Genre: RPG
Text Language: English, FIGS
Audio Language: English
Localization Style: Liberal
Stock Translations: Very few

Pros: Flavorful, witty dialogue; solid voice work; unique and varied dialects for each locale

Cons: Some of these dialects are borderline offensive caricatures of non-native English speakers; a few legacy translations from past games that don’t quite hold up

Misc Notes: Translated in British English, which entails a few grammatical quirks that may seem like mistakes to American players at first glance

Verdict: Great

Localization Credits:
Localisation Division
Localisation Team Producer – Atsuko Hirose
Localisation Project Manager – Izumi Watanabe
Localisation Assistant Project Managers – Marie Imai, Koki Tozawa, Ko Suzuki
English Lead Translator – John Taylor
English Translators – Timothy du Heaume, Christopher Orr
Localisation Supervisor – Kay Miura
Casting Director – Martin Vaughan
Voice Director – Jon Ashley

Japanese to English Localisation Team
Editor – Oli Chance
Translators – Mark Boyle, Geraint Howells
Additional Translation/Editing – Morgan M Rushton

Localization Micro-Review: Pokémon Shield

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: RPG
Audio: No voice acting – a design choice that feels painfully outdated.
Loc Style: Literal
Honorifics: No (Removed, Adapted)
It Can’t Be Helped: Present and accounted for – but in a game meant to reflect British English, this stock phrase fits in better than it would otherwise.

Pros: It’s clear an active effort was made to present the text in British English to match the setting. (Whether this effort was overseen by actual British people remains to be seen.)

Cons: Outside of the British slang, the text is often bone-dry. Katakana loanwords like ストイック and シビア are frequently misinterpreted as 1:1 equivalents of the corresponding English words, much in the same way an amateur would translate ビッチ as “bitch.”

Misc Notes: It’s clear the localization team was rushed to meet deadlines for a worldwide simulrelease, a trend that I sincerely wish would die.

Verdict: Palatable

Localization Credits:
English Localization – Yasuhiro Usui, Mayu Todo, Yuriko Iwasaki, Mikiko Ryu, Bryan Olson, Yohei Sugiyama
English Translation – Hisato Yamamori, Jillian Nonaka, Jordan Blanco, Sayuri Munday, Shawn Williams-Brown
English Editing – Blaise Selby, Rei Nakazawa, Kellyn Ballard, Julia Ryer
English & European Localization Support – Jeff Hines, Tadasu Hasegawa, Peter Bagley, Robert Colling, Marvin Andrews
English Localization Support – Yuki Hirata, Yoriko Marusich, Akiko Kasugayama, Kris Copeland
Special Thanks (Localization) – Michael Bales, Thomas Candland, Katia Percca Ragas, NOE Communication Coordinator Group

Localization Micro-Review: Valkyria Chronicles

Platform: PlayStation 4
Publisher: SEGA
Genre: Tactical RPG
Audio: Japanese, English
Loc Style: Liberal (Faithful)
Honorifics: No (Removed, Adapted)
It Can’t Be Helped: No confirmed instances

Pros: The team clearly prioritized natural English for the sake of the dub. The text is spirited and matches characters well. Lots of creative lines to write out redundancy in the source text. (“Rest in peace” in place of “Welkin…” comes to mind.)

Cons: Minor nitpick time— I’m not a fan of how some honorifics were adapted in this script. I found it jarring that an otherwise calm and stoic character like Isara would refer to anyone with a nickname as dorky as “Welks” (though I guess they had to do something with “Nii-san”). Likewise, his nickname for her is “Is,” which looks less like a nickname and more like the English word. A side character also got to use the colorful “Welkies.” Cringe all around.

Misc Notes: Missing commas abound, as well as the occasional odd line break in the text boxes, such as one line that was just “Well,” by itself. The character epilogues in particular had a lot of egregious typos.

Verdict: Very Good

Localization Credits:
SEGA of America, Inc.
Localization Manager – Shunpei Hashimoto
Senior Localization Producer – Patrick Riley
Associate Producer, Localization – Christopher Kaminski

SEGA Europe Ltd.
Head of Studio Localization and ESD – Charlie Harris
Head of QA and Localization – Ghulam Khan

This Wikipedia article states that Alexander O. Smith was involved with the ADR process, but unless we somehow missed it, his name is not present in the credits in the 2018 PS4 port. That is the closest thing we have to an actual named translator for this title. Sad!

Localization Micro-Review: Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Nintendo)

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: RPG
Audio: Japanese, English
Loc Style: Liberal (Faithful)
Honorifics: No (Removed)
It Can’t Be Helped: At least 4

Pros: The team clearly prioritized natural English for the sake of the dub. The text is spirited and matches characters well.

Cons: Listening to it with Japanese audio, there are times when the information in the source text is condensed or cut entirely for the sake of streamlining the English. Sometimes this makes sense, like when the order of sentences needs to be shuffled or switched between text boxes for flow, but other times the discrepancy can be jarring.

Misc Notes: Some references to Sylvain hitting on men (including Ashe, as well as men in drag) were written out—possibly this was done to avoid making a mockery of LGBT content, or the implication thereof. That said, they also took out a few flirtatious exchanges between female characters (Leonie/Lysithea, Dorothea/Ingrid), so I can’t help but be a little suspicious as to why that might be.

Verdict: Very Good

Localization Credits:
Localization Management – Nate Bihldorff, Reiko Ninomiya, Rich Amtower, Ann Lin, Tim O’Leary, Scot Ritchey, Morgan Ritchie
NOA Localization – Erika Webright Arlot, Ana Celeste Ascanio, Michael Benedetto, Gabriela Bergollo-Drouyn, Kay Cal, Yanett Cepeda Valor, Rich Comegys, Owen Cooney, Ron DelVillano, Ethan Dill, Audrey Drake, Katie Dunlop, Raymond Elliget, Steven Grimm, Daniel Harris, Paloma Hernandez, Dutch Hixenbaugh, Noriko Kaji, Ryan Kindel, Lars Knudson, Matthew Niemi, Kento Oiwa, Ayaka Osakabe, Carolina Quesada, Brian Reed, Beth Studer, Kindra Timmerwilke, Rob Tunstall, Scott Willson, Alex Zarza
Localization Support – Miya Seeley
Translation (English) – Patrick Joyce, Eren Baykal, Danielle Jorgenson-Murray, Ben Kaestner-Frenchman, Jo Legge, John Mullen, Benjamin Roffey, Greg T. Sadownik, Claudia Smith

Alicesoft Translator Arunaru Cuts Ties With MangaGamer

On October 23, 2019, well-known visual novel translator Arunaru announced via Twitter and TwitLonger that he would be stepping down from his current project, Alicesoft’s Rance 10, due to a payment disagreement with localization publisher MangaGamer.com.

In his TwitLonger post, Arunaru describes the work climate at MangaGamer, citing “poverty wages” and unreasonable workloads:

The maximum rate for a translator at MG is currently 1.75 cents per character, a raise from the previous max rate of 1.5 per character back in 2016, as I recall. What many would consider a normal, comfortable rate for more ordinary fiction translation jobs is 4000 characters a day, at which rate you would be making $70 a day and something like $17000 a year if you dared to take vacations. The rate I received when I first started with MG was 1 cent per character, so $40 a day and maybe $9700 a year, which would be below what you’d make at a minimum wage job. For reference, every project I’ve taken from another company, even back when I was fairly new at it, paid at least 4 cents a character.

His struggle is one familiar to many translators within the video game industry, but especially the visual novel scene, where the amount of text to be translated is proportionally larger on average.

Following Arunaru’s announcement, other translators took to Twitter to show their support. “This is far more common than people want to admit. This is the kind of chaos so many of us in the loc industry have had to deal with,” writes Sachibelle, translator for the Muv-Luv series. “It shouldn’t be allowed to continue going.”

What Arunaru and Sachibelle have in common, however, is that they both fear for the inexperienced translator who may be preyed upon by MangaGamer and similar companies.

“Beyond just the actual work MG hires for, many workers will provide free additional labor because they want to see their project succeed,” Arunaru writes. “MG is also more than willing to take advantage of that passion if you show it.” He details his own transition from fan translator to official translator as a word of caution to others in the field.

You can follow Arunaru on Twitter here. Here at Nihonsei, he has our full support.

Localization Micro-Review: Tales of Hearts R (BANDAI NAMCO Games)

Platform: PlayStation Vita
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games
Genre: RPG
Audio: Japanese
Loc Style: Liberal (Divergent)
Honorifics: No (Removed)

Pros: Wildly creative script that makes stale JRPG tropes more entertaining.

Cons: The game was clearly localized for a dub it did not receive. English script often does not match tonally with the Japanese audio (dramatic screams rendered more tamely, etc). Some names were changed for no clear reason.

Misc Notes: Beryl’s speech frequently contains mixed-up words/phrases. I assume the team had a reason for doing this, but I frequently had to re-read her lines because of it. Not necessarily a poor choice, but one I personally didn’t enjoy. It’s possible this would have been less distracting with an English voiceover.

Verdict: Good

Localization Credits:
Lead Localization Producer – Jeremy Clark
Assistant Localization Producer – Shintaro Noda
Localization Supervisor – Shoko Doi
Senior Manager, Localization – Ryota Toyama
Senior Localization Producer – Minako Takahashi
Translation Services – 8-4 Ltd.

SEGA Translator/Editor Katrina Leonoudakis Announces Involvement with “Persona 5 Royal”

Leonoudakis announced her involvement via Twitter on August 17th.

On August 17, 2019, SEGA localization employee Katrina Leonoudakis tweeted that she was “super excited to be working on” Persona 5 Royal, an updated version of the original Persona 5 with new story content added.

The credits of the original Persona 5.

Notably, Leonoudakis was not listed in the original game’s credits, so it appears that this will be her first time working on the title.

As of this writing, SEGA has not clarified whether the many glaring errors in the original Persona 5 localized script will be revisited.

Persona 5 Royal is scheduled to release in “Spring 2020,” meaning the localization team will have approximately six more months to work on the new content. Best of luck to the Royal team.