'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

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zettovyker
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'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by zettovyker » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:58 am

So let me give you the context of this argument. I've talked to a lot of people with giving all the character's voices for the purpose of enjoyment, but it seems other's have taken an educational interest with this as well. All the more for me to keep this as a very fine tuned product as things progress on.

First off: I'd like people to not post a one line reply, I'd actually like some feed back with arguments because it's becoming more and more discussed between friends and what not.

Right though, onto business.

The 'Lilly-Shizune' argument is simply stated in short: People who are blind can not experience Katawa Shoujo as a visual novel. This argument becomes even more heated and debatable when approaching Shizune's arc where people simply do not want to give Shizune a voice to her thoughts/sign language for the sole purpose of breaking source material and premises of character.

The basis reflecting on the relationship that Lilly and Shizune have no easy way of communicating since one is blind and the other is mute, almost disabling the most natural senses of communication (being sign language and voices). This doubles as a negative for Shizune and Lilly who are also in contrast of personality. Next to having this lack of ability to talk to each other, stands the argument that people who are blind can not easily enjoy most books of the world. Upon googling a few resources, it appears that there are impressively a few Manga's in braille, along with comics and the sort. It's now become apparent that it would be slightly unfair for the community of people who can not read Katawa Shoujo to enjoy the story centered around a character who is in also blind. In defense of Shizune, people want to be very legal mind set about it and simply stand by the argument that it is almost defamation of character to give her a voice, and that it would ruin her ambiance and story telling. Both arguments have been made, and both of them strong and emotionally tied to character basis and extended outside source references.

Premises for Argument: Lilly (Give Shizune a voice)

To put it eloquently, to simply make Katawa Shoujo as an audio book would be a long process, but I agree and deem it a worthy cause. It seems like Lilly states it best when she says it's quite hard to find books to read, especially since there are not too many braille books in existence. It also becomes more and more complicated to find books since over time since people simply do not consider to print books in braille. A great reference would be Harry Potter, where they first simply did not want to print any of the books in braille at all. However, this cause somewhat of an uproar for parents, kids, and adults alike. They ended up doing a fundraiser, grabbing the attention of Yahoo! who happened to also support the effort. A memorable, but very overlooked glimpse of how the blind community does not get access to books.

Another good (if not humorous) argument is the "Mewtwo" argument my brother coined. In Pokemon The First Movie, the antagonist Mewtwo clearly has a defined character, voice, and role in the movie. Now, I can attest that almost every one of you recognizes Mewtwo's voice as a character. Though, Mewtwo does not talk with its mouth nor does it sign with it's hands to speak. Being slightly overextended as argument, Mewtwo could be concluded as important as a mute character by being able to speak through psychic ability. In essence, we've all associated Morgan Freeman's voice with his face, and anything that would be said by him could easily be cued up by our brain to understand who is speaking and in what context are they speaking to/from/in terms of feeling. Clearly, nobody has a point with narrating the line "Pokeball Go!" in Ash, Misty, or Brock's voice, proving that voices can indeed bring a new level of connection between characters and receivers. This point ends on that if given the chance, Shizune could as well be remembered as that still calculating and opposite of Lilly despite having a voice, and would actually be a net gain in terms of audience for the Katawa Shoujo community.

[Noted: Understand that Mewtwo is again speaking through psychic ability, but still is a generated voice within your/his mind.]

Premises for Argument: Shizune (No Voice)

Only the strongest of feelings of connection, love, and closeness could bring out such a violent outburst when people even caught wind of Shizune having a voice actor. The first argument is simply that: Shizune is mute, and simply can not speak. This alone, stands pretty strong as a defense to Argument:Lilly wherein that it would be breaking source material. From what I understand, people are viewing Katawa Shoujo as an 'internet baby' where all the developers being the parents, and all the spectators as the internet simply want to protect this child from the brunt assertion of a voice being imprinted onto her without her choice.

Another sound and justifiable argument would be the "Truman Show" argument. Where it can be joked that "If Shizune is alone in a forest, and no one is around, if she sneezes, does it make a sound?" This argument holds water due to the fact that as a character who is mute and rarely makes noises (other than the handful of stated instances in the novel where she makes a few grunts, giggles, and heavy breathing). On that note, the movie "Truman Show" has the context if someone was viewed as one way, in a set and determined lifestyle, if given the chance to break out of character would they? I won't ruin the ending of the movie, but the premises of argument is strong with or without knowing that. Again, following the source material and not breaking character.

Phew. I hope I don't sound too biased, but I'm also between the two at this point. I started out very Shizune mind set about this, but I'm slowly understanding where all the Lilly viewpoints are coming from. I'm curious about all your views on this too...

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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by metalangel » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:05 am

zettovyker wrote:People who are blind can not experience Katawa Shoujo as a visual novel.
If they are using a computer, they almost certainly have a Braille Display like this or even this.

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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by zettovyker » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:13 am

metalangel wrote:
If they are using a computer, they almost certainly have a Braille Display like this or even this.
Hrm, I also assume that everyone who can afford one, also would enjoy an absolutely free and well created story as well. This also implies that the computer could recognize the distinct font of Katawa Shoujo, let alone be compatible with the Renpy overall.

Its nice to know that the ability exist, but clearly not everyone can afford a $7000-$18000 electronic book reading system. Even if it's just for an amazing read.
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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by Csihar » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:34 pm

That was a little tl;dr for me at this time of morning, but let me just say that I read KS in the different characters' voices (in my head, that is), and Shizune's basically just had a bunch of reverb on it. Actually, I tried a few times to stop reading Shizune's lines in a voice for authenticity's sake, but damn it, I just couldn't do it.

So, uh, for whatever that's worth.
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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by metalangel » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:02 pm

zettovyker wrote:
metalangel wrote:
If they are using a computer, they almost certainly have a Braille Display like this or even this.
Hrm, I also assume that everyone who can afford one, also would enjoy an absolutely free and well created story as well. This also implies that the computer could recognize the distinct font of Katawa Shoujo, let alone be compatible with the Renpy overall.

Its nice to know that the ability exist, but clearly not everyone can afford a $7000-$18000 electronic book reading system. Even if it's just for an amazing read.
They are more likely to cost just over $2000 from what I've seen, not $7000. They're amazing and conplex pieces of equipment, a long term investment. If the user doesn't have one I don't understand how they're going to have the use of a computer in the first place, unless your idea is that the blind user is to sit and listen to the dialogue, hitting space to trigger the next line.

You can also get screen readers which read the screen's content to you (there's one built into Windows) but I don't know how well they would work for someone with no vision. Someone with low vision like Kenji probably would use one together with a magnifier - there is a guy in my old office who has a special magnifier screen because of his very low vision.

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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by CNB » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:25 pm

On a more light-hearted tangent, I now cannot stop imagining Shizune's dialogue being delivered in GLaDOS' computer voice (of Portal infamy).

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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by themocaw » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:10 pm

CNB wrote:On a more light-hearted tangent, I now cannot stop imagining Shizune's dialogue being delivered in GLaDOS' computer voice (of Portal infamy).
Oh. Hi, Hisao. So, how are you holding up? BECAUSE I'M A POTATO!

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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by zettovyker » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:18 pm

CNB wrote:On a more light-hearted tangent, I now cannot stop imagining Shizune's dialogue being delivered in GLaDOS' computer voice (of Portal infamy).
Huh... Actually... myes, this could amusing as a side thing to do. While not going into the final plans, I am definitely reminding myself to do that.
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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by Nekken » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:15 pm

Honestly, I oppose voice acting in video games (and in this one in particular, because the devs appear to oppose it and this should be respected). But the accessibility issue is potentially a valid one: I don't see anything in RenPy's documentation about support for any kind of accessibility APIs, and so it might not support Braille terminals or screen readers. The engine experts would have to weight in on this. It would certainly be ironic if this game couldn't be enjoyed by one of its own characters.

That said, if voice acting has to be done for this game, then it must be done with the same kind of sensitivity and respect for the subject matter that the original devs had: a game like this deserves nothing less. That makes Shizune a thorny issue.

On one hand, Shizune is not mute. She doesn't use her voice often, and never to speak words, but there's a gasp here, a giggle there, and other voiced sounds from time to time. If there is to be voice acting, then these should be voiced alongside everything else. On the other hand, Shizune does not speak, period, and this actually turns out to be an important part of her character. To have her voice her own lines cannot be done without coming across as extremely offensive. And frankly, rightly so: "give Shizune a chance" is white-knighting of exactly the sort that this game speaks vehemently against.

But are these really the only ways to go? Must Shizune's lines either be left silent or instead voiced by her? I believe there's another way, one that builds off of conventions already used in other media.

The thing is, almost none of the text attributed to Shizune in this game is actually her own words. Virtually all of it is translated from her signing and interpreted by other characters. This yields another way to render her lines: rather than use Shizune's voice, do it using the voice of whoever is interpreting at the time (usually Misha, but in Shizune's route Hisao interprets from time to time). This is already a common solution in film: when someone signs, either the signer or the person being signed to reads the signs aloud (unless neither can speak, and even the narrative often introduces a third party who reads the signs aloud). It's even consistent with Misha's habit of reading aloud what Shizune signs even if Shizune isn't speaking directly to anyone else.

It also allows for some interesting effects. For example, we know that Misha doesn't do anything to distinguish her words from Shizune's, because Hisao complains that because of that it's sometimes hard to follow who is speaking. That should be preserved in Misha's voice acting, but what about Hisao's own interpreting? Might he decide to somehow distinguish between his words and hers, and if so, how?

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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by zettovyker » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:34 am

Nekken wrote:The thing is, almost none of the text attributed to Shizune in this game is actually her own words. Virtually all of it is translated from her signing and interpreted by other characters. This yields another way to render her lines: rather than use Shizune's voice, do it using the voice of whoever is interpreting at the time (usually Misha, but in Shizune's route Hisao interprets from time to time). This is already a common solution in film: when someone signs, either the signer or the person being signed to reads the signs aloud (unless neither can speak, and even the narrative often introduces a third party who reads the signs aloud). It's even consistent with Misha's habit of reading aloud what Shizune signs even if Shizune isn't speaking directly to anyone else.

It also allows for some interesting effects. For example, we know that Misha doesn't do anything to distinguish her words from Shizune's, because Hisao complains that because of that it's sometimes hard to follow who is speaking. That should be preserved in Misha's voice acting, but what about Hisao's own interpreting? Might he decide to somehow distinguish between his words and hers, and if so, how?
Ten points to Nekken...dor.

Thank you very much Nekkan, its post like these that I was hoping for. I happen to also agree with you. That is both a respectable solution to stay true to the essence of Katawa Shoujo, yet it would also is an excellent solution to getting this to an overlooked audience. You've got me considering how to go about this... perhaps having Hisao read Shizune's lines to himself, as if he's thinking them aloud? This way, it shows someone is speaking and he could carry a conversation with 'himself'.

All that said, it does sound like a daunting task to be critical of the quality of things at hand. Challenge accepted.
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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by MoonShadow » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:49 am

If Katawa Shoujo is made in an audio book, there will be a narrator, right? In fact, the narrator is Hisao. So, we just need to have Hisao's voice. When he can't understand Shizune, he could simply say "Shizune is signing" to remplace the [...] we have in text form. If Misha is translating, she has her own voice. And as soon as Hisao can understand Shizune, the dialogue should use his voice, since that's what is happening in the story: he sees Shizune signing, then he translates it in his head. We, the spectators (or listeners, for an audio book) are in Hisao's head, and we hear his thoughts in his voice. So, Shizune's "voice" should be either Misha or Hisao, depending on the context.
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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by metalangel » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:47 am

If you use Hisao's "voice in his head", how will you distinguish between when he is thinking what he is signing to her, what he is "narrating", and what he's seeing when she signs back? And then another character turns up and Hisao talks aloud to them. That's four things you'd be hearing with his voice that would need to be clearly distinguished from each other to avoid confusion.

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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by MoonShadow » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:18 pm

Well, best way I see to fix that is to have Hisao thinking "I say", "I sign", "Shizune signs", "Misha translates" before narrating what they said.

On the four examples you used:
- When he is thinking what he's signing: I sign to Shizune "Bla bla bla".
- When he simply narrates, no need to say more. Maybe he could say "I think" a little more often than in KS, if only to avoid confusion.
- What he's seeing when Shizune is signing: Shizune signs to me "Bla bla bla".
- When he talks: I answer Misha: "Bla bla bla".

If Katawa Shoujo was a real novel rather than a visual novel, all of what I said would have been used, since in a normal novel there is no picture showing who is talking (or signing), and there is no names in color either. In KS, the usual "Misha says:" was remplaced by Misha's name in pink on top of the dialogue box.
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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by metalangel » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:56 pm

They use square brackets around the dialogue when it's been signed, don't they? A bit like how comics use < and > to indicate dialogue translated into English for the reader's benefit.

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Re: 'Lilly-Shizune' Voice Over Argument

Post by zettovyker » Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:12 pm

Yeah Shizune's signing is indicated by [bracket like this] but again, considering it for a audio book, how would we distinct her narration? Would it simply be an echo-like voice of Hisao/Misha as they translate for Shizune? Or would you think there should be a clear indicator, as in an extra line inserted to say something along the lines like-

Hisao: "Shizune signs to me: [___]"

or

Hisao: "I watch as Shizune spoke, [___].

In Misha's case, she naturally doesn't indicate who's speaking which like her character. But Hisao who becomes more tactical and aware like Shizune, would probably mention who is speaking in some way. Either through a direct line, or perhaps with a audio effect to indicate that he's translating her words and reading them in his mind, like an actual book would be read.

Any suggestions on this?
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