Did you sometimes forget that KS was not Japanese?

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NoOne3
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Re: Did you sometimes forget that KS was not Japanese?

Post by NoOne3 » Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:50 pm

Nekken wrote:There's this idea in modern conflict-theoretic sociology that using conventions from a culture you were not born into is equivalent to mocking that culture.
I'm not sure about malicious mocking part, but sometimes effect might be strange, to humorous.

I remember watching some Anime, set in a fantasy version of Japan (Edoish period I would call it), where a christian sect was present among the natives. The whole plot involved strong issues of cultural clash, religious zeal, persecution because of faith and such. It became real strange when the christian priest, invoking power of the cross summoned a christian dragon, to aid them in battle, and also using other kinds of christian magic. The whole movie was full of this kind of elements, symbols, legends, taken whole from western culture, and warped until barely recognizable, because it was told in a Japanese-Anime way.

So, as for
Nekken wrote:I think this is part of why KS got a much more negative reaction in Japan than elsewhere.
I'm not sure about how strong the reaction really was (or how strong was the positive one in "the rest of the world"), but I agree it might be a factor there.
Last edited by NoOne3 on Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

Benkei
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Re: Did you sometimes forget that KS was not Japanese?

Post by Benkei » Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:33 pm

I can't say I ever forgot that it wasn't Japanese, but ... there were certainly moments where I was alerted to just how English (language) the origins of the script were. Hisao's self-conscientiousness with "I see" was probably the most common one. Every time I read those scenes, I couldn't help but to think, "This just isn't going to work if they make the switch to なるほど! ^_^;" For the most part, though, I would say that the game felt like it might have been made in Japan by Japanese. It doesn't mean I forgot while playing that it was a non-Japanese creation, but just that the team did a good enough job with the names, hobbies, activities, and so on to persuade us that this story was taking place in Japan and not in Europe or the United States or anywhere else in the world.

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Otakumon
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Re: Did you sometimes forget that KS was not Japanese?

Post by Otakumon » Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:09 pm

It's obvious that it was written in english and not a crappy machine translation that you see in a lot of Japanese eroges. Another obvious difference is in the H-scenes. If it were a Japanese eroge the girls would end up covered with 5 gallons of semen and spend the whole scene talking about how big it is, how hot it is, and how full thier wombs are. So no, it's just not possible to confuse it with a typical Japanese eroge, though there are some that are well done and don't get all outlandish like that.

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gekiganwing
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Re: Did you sometimes forget that KS was not Japanese?

Post by gekiganwing » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:42 pm

The closest examples of "neither eastern nor western" VNs that I can name are Roseverte's games. They're created by a small team of people, including both native English and Japanese speakers.
Otakumon wrote: Another obvious difference is in the H-scenes. If it were a Japanese eroge the girls would end up covered with 5 gallons of semen and spend the whole scene talking about how big it is, how hot it is, and how full thier wombs are.
Since I've been kind of "meh" about porn games over the last few years, it took me a few minutes to remember a sex scene that didn't match your description. Then I remembered the fan-translated version of Rance 1. It's an adult RPG from 1989 which has surprisingly brief sex scenes. I remember several which started very quickly, and then ended after about two boxes of dialogue.

Paddy

Re: Did you sometimes forget that KS was not Japanese?

Post by Paddy » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:41 am

I was trying to forget that it was Japanese - or Japanese-imitation.

If it's going to be done by Westerners, EVEN if it's in an Eastern style, I think it should take place in the West. Like English or Cyrillic instead of hirigana and kanji. Herbert (short: Herb) instead of Hisao/Hicchan. Amy instead of Emi. Perhaps a roadside diner in rural Nevada or Colorado, rather than a teahouse in rural Japan. Etc etc etc.

I'm not exactly sure what my point is. Just a style preference, I suppose.

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Radien
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Re: Did you sometimes forget that KS was not Japanese?

Post by Radien » Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:19 pm

This was often at the forefront of my mind, because I've studied Japanese for 3+ years and I'm familiar with a lot of the peculiarities of the Japanese language that often come up. Also, I've watched a lot of anime, and I know that any time a joke or a figure of speech turns up, there's a possibility that they had to do some creative translation to get the idea across. It's gotten to the point where, when reading/listening to any Japanese-to-English translation, I can pick out certain points where I know they were dealing with a common yet awkward phrase that doesn't translate well when taken literally.

So far, I'm fairly satisfied with the way Katawa Shoujo approached it. In order for it to be as authentic as possible to Japanese culture, being set in Japan, they had to attempt to make it feel as though it really WAS translated from Japanese, especially in the parts where characters speak "English" (mostly Lilly's path). Since I think they did a fairly good job, it makes me wonder how often they thought about the Japanese translation of what they were writing.

One of the reasons I am not fond of fanfiction for Japanese anime and games is because westerners writing about Japanese characters tend to end up producing something particularly awkward. It takes a lot of effort to get it right, and even more effort (and skill) to keep it from feeling heavy-handed and deliberate.

A lot of the time, I feel the KS writers took the "safe route" by covering subject matter that applies to (and interests) both Japanese and western audiences. They were able to delve further into Japanese culture than they otherwise would, though, because almost all of their western target audience is comprised of people who already have an interest in Japanese popular culture, and a cursory understanding of the well-known trends.

I think the real test will be when the game is finally translated into Japanese. A good deal of it will depend on the skill of the translators, as always, but the better the writing, the less awkward it will be to make it palatable to the Japanese audience.

I really do look forward to its Japanese translation, because the name of the game has caused some backlash among Japanese Ren Ai fans, and I want them to be able to play it in their native language and see that the game itself is not only unoffensive*, but eye-opening.

* Unless, of course, you're a prude.

Of course, many of the Japanese Ren Ai fans will be happy to just judge the game without actually trying it, but even among Japanese otaku there ARE reasonable people out there. But I have no illusions: in Japan there is a lot of prejudice against westerners. Katawa Shoujo even represented some of it in people's reactions to Lilly and Akira.
Paths completed so far (in order): Emi, Hanako, Shizune, Lilly (good endings)

Currently playing: Rin's path

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encrypted12345
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Re: Did you sometimes forget that KS was not Japanese?

Post by encrypted12345 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:23 pm

Paddy wrote:I was trying to forget that it was Japanese - or Japanese-imitation.

If it's going to be done by Westerners, EVEN if it's in an Eastern style, I think it should take place in the West. Like English or Cyrillic instead of hirigana and kanji. Herbert (short: Herb) instead of Hisao/Hicchan. Amy instead of Emi. Perhaps a roadside diner in rural Nevada or Colorado, rather than a teahouse in rural Japan. Etc etc etc.

I'm not exactly sure what my point is. Just a style preference, I suppose.
How should I put it? On the surface, it does look like the typical Japanese eroge. You have a wide variety of heroines in a high school, some who look European for no clear reason, and a individual path for each of them. (Hilariously, this is one of the few school-based VN that even try to make the hero and heroines over 18. A lot of other visual novels just have a little disclaimer before the game starts up that says every one is over 18 and never mention the exact age.) The hero is more or less an average high schooler, and you have the comic relief male friend.

However, the execution is just so different. Watch or read The World God Only Knows and you'll understand what I mean. Typically, the relationship-based choices in a typical VN are quite obvious. Of course you take care of the heroine if she is sick if you had to chose between that or peeling oranges with your teacher. They make the single choice in Shizune route look subtle (Hilariously people still fall for it :lol:). The choices in Katawa Shoujo are much more complex and influence the protagonist's thoughts rather than having such an obvious effect on the plot.

Furthermore, compared to other visual novels, Katawa Shoujo is really, really character focused. Even the way the plot unfolds and the choices in a path relate to the personality of the heroine in question. In contrast, a lot of VNs are plot focused and compensate for weak characterization with an emotional plot. That's usually fine, but if the characterization is too weak, then the whole reason to care about the plot falls apart. Sure, the plots of Katawa Shoujo are mundane, but we can care because Katawa Shoujo has such rounded and relate-able characters.

Lastly, it just has so many subtleties. Shizune's route is the biggest offender of this, but all the routes require either some real-life experience related to the heroine's route or a bit of analysis to fully appreciate. Other VNs just don't have nearly as many subtleties. They don't make you think, at least not as hard. Even the sex scenes have a significant amount of depth.

Paddy

Re: Did you sometimes forget that KS was not Japanese?

Post by Paddy » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:04 pm

encrypted12345 wrote:*snip*
I agree with all this...

It's just...

I would have liked to see a European/American/Western-style game, told in Western terms, describing a world of Western culture. Nothing against Japan, but... obviously, it's been done before. I've never seen an anime set in America or Europe - I mean, accurately. The Japanese stereotype America and Europe, too, you know. :?

It would have been nice to see an anime withing the West, that accurately reflected the West.

But it's just a preference, I guess.

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Radien
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Re: Did you sometimes forget that KS was not Japanese?

Post by Radien » Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:27 am

Paddy wrote:I would have liked to see a European/American/Western-style game, told in Western terms, describing a world of Western culture. Nothing against Japan, but... obviously, it's been done before. I've never seen an anime set in America or Europe - I mean, accurately. The Japanese stereotype America and Europe, too, you know. :?

It would have been nice to see an anime withing the West, that accurately reflected the West.

But it's just a preference, I guess.
Well, visual novels aside, have you tried western "manga?" There are a number of comic book artists who draw their comic in a style influenced greatly by Japanese manga. It can work, to some extent, but there are a number of problems that tend to pop up.

The first problem is one that KS overcame: creating character art of high enough quality that it doesn't look like a pale imitation of what Japan has mastered. But they're not the only people to replicate the manga art style in a way that feels natural. I have read several western comics that take place in western settings despite the Japanese art style.

Sometimes it feels right, but all too often, it feels like an awkward imitation.

Here's an example of a comic I used to read which employs a pseudo-manga style of artwork:

== Jackie's Fridge ==

The art is decent, but the imitation of Japanese trends just feels so deliberate... and it looks all the more forced because the style didn't come from the culture which it represents. Generally, I think artists who seek a sort of "style fusion" are much more successful, as they end up with something which, if not totally original, at least feels a little more personalized.

On the other hand here are two examples of comic artists treading outside of their culture of origin. The two are polar opposites, in some ways:

== Sparking Generation Valkyrie Yuuki ==

A comic about a Japanese student who becomes a "magical girl" superheroine with powers based on Norse mythology. Having a Japanese student with English dialog interacting with Norse mythological figures ends up being extremely awkward. What's more, the author obviously didn't know enough about Japanese daily life, and ended up shoehorning the story into a non-existant private school with a western-ish name.

Then we have this comic, which is very nearly the exact opposite of the above scenario:

== Tsunami Channel ==

It's a Japanese online comic drawn and written by a Japanese artist, and set in Japan... what makes it unique, though, is that it's all written in English. The artist tries really hard, but there are just too many Japanese jokes that simply don't translate into English, and some of the conventional plot devices of this kind of comic strip end up feeling really weird when read in English, in my opinion.

So anyway, I don't see anything wrong with using manga-style art for a game in a western setting, but the more elaborately you overlap your styles, the more difficult it is to make it all work together. It's like trying to incorporate ramen and sushi into a meal of stew and biscuits. It's just a tough thing to pull off

Now, as for Katawa Shoujo, it had the distinctions of 1. being based on a concept and character art created by a Japanese artist, and 2. being created by a team comprised of people from around the globe. Interest in Japanese pop culture was probably one of the unifying factors in a relatively diverse crowd. (Of course, you can always ask them about that yourself if you get the chance.) So that may be one of the rare characteristics that allowed it to succeed, and to feel so earnest.

Right now, Katawa Shoujo is the most successful non-Japanese portrayal of an anime/manga-style story set in Japan that I have seen so far. They really, really did their homework, and it shows. They identified dozens of pitfalls they could have fallen into, and put together many different ways to navigate the minefield and avoid nearly all of the awkwardness. I'm impressed that a trip to Japan was part of the development, but I'm also satisfied that they took the time to understand it as well as possible. (It makes me really curious how many of the developers are functionally fluent in Japanese, actually...)
Paths completed so far (in order): Emi, Hanako, Shizune, Lilly (good endings)

Currently playing: Rin's path

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