Today’s Goals and Jobs – 4/11/2016

Here are my goals and the jobs I’m working on for 4/11/2016. Thanks for all your help and support! Remember to follow me on Twitter to get more updates.

What’s Going On:

I met my goal, here are the translations and Fawful Friday articles:

Kisaragi x Velour C

Foleo x Soleil C

Foleo  x Soleil  B

Deere x Joker C

Deere x Joker B

Deere x Joker A

Kisaragi Skinship Lines

Translation: Interview with Keiko Erikawa

Translation: Games are Poison for Children?

Marx/Marks Character Name Poll

Elfie/Elfy/Elfi Character Name Poll

Today’s Goals

  • Translate as much as I can even if I can’t upload it.

Possible Complications: Holy moley! It took me about 20 tries of reloading to get this “add new post window” to finally appear and who knows how many times it will take until it actually posts it. Something in my area seems to be interfering with my internet connection, because I feel like I’m some modem computer scientists used in the 80s or something. I don’t know if it’ll get better today, but if it doesn’t, I’ll be translating in the background, so that I can upload them all in a batch once it gets better.

How you can help out: Err, pray for my internet connection? Or if you’re irreligious, vaguely hope in its direction?

Jobs I Need Done

  • I will always and forever need people to comment on my translations as much they can.
  • Vote! It’s spoiler free. If you’re waiting for the translation patch, these polls aren’t going to ruin anything for you.
  • I’m going to continue to request help for the method of doing in-page links, because nothing I’ve tried so far is working!

As always, there’s a page to discuss matter with others or contact me about how they’d like to help out with the Fire Emblem Fates project. It’s been updated to a new page for April. You can use that page for April to discuss things with other members in a more general nature. Thank you for all the people who contacted me or contributed so far! Much love and respect! As well, don’t forget there’s also a page for you to request any kind of Japanese information you need, regardless of whether it’s about Fire Emblem Fates or not. This page has also been updated for April.

Translation: Games Are Poison for Children? Looking Back on the Children Who Were Forbidden to Watch TV

子供タイム

Here’s an interesting article that was brought to my attention from that is from the parenting lifestyle site Conobie. This site is known for a variety of interesting topics around family and children. The article in question takes up the topic of managing games when raising children from the point of view of a concerned parent who thinks they aren’t as good for her kids. She talks about the issue from a variety of angles, including very interesting story about parental censorship. The full article is translated below:

Games Are Poison for Children? Looking Back on the Children Who Were Forbidden to Watch TV

Digital devices that weren’t around when we were kids. Lately, new things are coming at an increasingly fast pace. How are you using tablets and games as digital tools in your house? Children love games! Are there not women who get annoyed and blurt out, “All they do is play games …”? This time I would like to think about wise ways to get along with digital tools that tend to become seeds of worry when thinking about raising children. (Conobie / Kaoru Kumano)

“I’m trying my best to get them to experience nature, but as soon as they get home they’re on their iPad (cries)”

I heard these concerns from a certain mother. “I’m trying my best to get them to experience nature, but as soon as they get home they’re on their iPad … ” This mother wants her children to get in touch with nature! And in this way, they’re often trying to create these opportunities for their children. Growing vegetables in their yards, going for walks …

She has two children and both are in the early grades of primary school. Of course, you can also see both of them play with dolls and help out with the housework.

I took a look at the two of them through pictures and thought, “This is good child-rearing time, extremely balanced.” But when she asked me for help about this, I thought, “Hmmm.”

Whether They Get a Chance to Be in Nature, Whatever Their Playing Partner is, In the End Kids Love Games (Laughs)

What made me think, “Hmmm,” is that even for children who get to experience nature in various ways, in the end they pick up on the charm of the games’ freshness and innovation, their colors and sounds. Whether they get a chance be in nature, whatever their playing partner is, in the end kids are attracted to games.

No matter how much a mother warns her kids who get sucked into games, once they know something like exists in the world, when it’s a kid, there are times when they really can’t come to control themselves.

Especially when they see others kids around them getting absorbed into games, that they would want to join in is a constant of human nature.

What Became of the Kids Who Were Forbidden from Watching Regular TV When They Were Younger?

The story will digress for a bit, but … 30 years ago there was a certain child who was raised in a household where it was forbidden to watch TV. Hypothetically, we’ll call that child “Kid A.”

Kid A was of course not only forbidden from watching comedy skits, but dramas and anime too; basically anything that was broadcast on mainstream television. To put it exactly, the parents would censor (laughs) any television program that could be watched and TV that was popular with kids (back then it was The Drifters) was absolutely not permitted to be watched. [Translator’s note: The Drifters were an extremely popular comedy group who appeared in many popular television programs during the 80s. Not that I was alive back then, but even I know about them.]

By the way, Kid A’s household had a Famicom, but it wasn’t for playing Super Mario; it was used to browse the stock market …

When Kid A became a freshman in college, she started watching all the TV she had been forbidden to 24 hours a day, obsessively, in rebellion. She would record all the TV dramas from Monday to Friday. And even when the late night comedy programs would end and the TV would become a sea of static, Kid A still couldn’t turn it off.  To Kid A, everything she saw on those programs was new and fresh.  There was a “space” there that was different from state-run TV, and the very atmosphere and colors used were different.

You might think that’s the end, but Kid A is me. In the end, I continued to be addicted to TV until I was around 26 and then had a reverse rebellion and returned to a life where I don’t watch TV. (laughs)

TV and Games Can Cause Harm, but They Must Surely Also Have Merits

My case may be an extreme example, but for me, somebody who experienced life at both extremes, when you intentionally integrate TV or games into your life, I think there is a merit to it, personally.

It is just but one example, yet when you’ve watched a drama with a truly captivating script, things like the lines, the way the music was used, they can remain in your memory for years and even decades. As well, if you were to take a bad way of looking at it, when you lose and the protagonist’s life is revived in a game, it links to a less serious view of human life. However, if you take a good way of looking at it, that can foster a mental attitude that accepts challenges and knows that you’ll be okay even if you fail.

In TV and games, there is a charm to the sound and the movement that is not there with books or pictures, is there not?

Of course, you can taste those charms in other things. For instance, you can listen to good music, watch a play, or play sports. Even in books, you can imagine that “space” from the voices of the dialogue, the scenery and the colors coming from the prose.

There is a certain logic to that, I think. However, I think you can’t say that because “I don’t play games” or “I don’t watch TV” that this ability to appreciate such things will not be cultivated.

Why Should We Watch TV or Play Games? Let’s Have Our Children and Parents Think of the Merits and Demerits Together

In the end, TV and games are digital devices and a medium where information comes flying at you from somewhere else.

Of course, you can get into them in a very involved way at your own will, but it’s possible to become a passive agent easily. As well, I think it’s also a medium where the possibility of addiction is strong … where you want to stop, but can’t.

Why should our children experience games and TV? Should we let them use iPads and game applications? I think it’s important for yourself and other spousal units to think about the merits and demerits of digital tools. Of course, I recommend that once your children have come to an age where they can think about it, that you do it together as a family, parents and children.

“Why do you want to play this? What types of good things does it have?” I think if you ask these questions, you will get to hear the surprising feelings of your children and it won’t just be “because it’s fun.”

Whatever the Rule, Be Careful of These 2 Things!

When you decide what axel your family will follow around the use of digital tools, then it’s just putting it into practice. Because these are family rules, there’s no need for you to be led astray by the opinions around you.

However, I’d like to warn you about 2 things, not just for kids, but for adults as well.

1. It’s best to stop using digital tools 2 hours, if possible 3 hours before sleeping

The backlight from digital devices (basically the light that hits from behind the TV or game console, PC or smart phone) stimulates the nerves in the sympathetic nervous system which governs things like excitement and nervousness. For human beings, unless the parasympathetic nervous system of nerves that governs relaxation and drowsiness is not in a good condition, it will not let you enter into sleep. In other words, if you’re touching digital devices just before you go to sleep, it can lead to you not getting to sleep.

2. The angle of your neck

Not just with TV, but with tablets and smartphones, it’s likely that you tend to use them with your neck facing down. If you’re facing that way for a long time, it can become a factor in headaches or shoulder cramps, to the extent that there are now symptoms named “smartphone neck.” If you try to use them with a posture that’s facing straight on, you won’t get worn out.

In Conclusion

 How about it? It’s best if you use digital tools like tablets, games, TV and such well to fulfill your lifestyle like a modern person and aren’t used by them. Talk about it with your family, keep in mind the things that you need to be careful of and wisely interact with digital tools!

We often hear so much about GAMES WILL DO to your children and not much about what PARENTS CAN DO for their children with games, don’t we?

Translation: An Interview with Keiko Erikawa, the Pioneer of Games Marketed Toward Women

Keiko Erikawa

Keiko Erikawa has one of the longest careers in video gaming, having been around since its early inception and is still active today. She’s done many, many interviews, but I thought this one by Famitsu done on June 29th of 2015 asking about the Angelique series and her neologistic Neo Romance genre, which many overseas gamers are not aware of, would be of most interest. So brew up whatever drink you prefer, settle down in your favorite sitting device and learn how one of gaming’s pioneers pretty much single-handedly created the otome genre of romance games about pretty guys marketed toward women, as I translate the Famitsu interview in its entirety below.

An Interview with Keiko Erikawa, the Pioneer of Games Marketed Toward Women, Is There Going to Be “Surprising Announcement” Sometime This Year!?

Last year Koei Tecmo Games’ “Neo Romance” brand faced its 20th anniversary. We had Keiko Erikawa talk to us about the path from the birth of its first game Angelique to today and the future developments of Neo Romance.

Talking about the trails that lead to cultivating a new genre and the development from here on

Angelique, Harukanaru Toki no Naka De (Amidst Faraway Times), La Corda D’oro … … the series of women-marketed games that Koei prides itself on is called Neo Romance. The Ruby Party, or the development team where the female staff of the same company gather, has worked on these games and they’ve been known, with their high quality and media mix features, for capturing the hearts of many fans and developing from there. In September of 2014, it faced its 20th anniversary.

Games marketed toward women didn’t exist 20 years ago. What kind of work and struggles were there in creating a new genre and continuing to work in it? On top of that, what kind of new development are they thinking of from now on? We asked Ms. Keiko Erikawa of Koei Tecmo Games.

*This interview was published in the 2015 June 25th edition (on sale June 11th) of Weekly Famitsu Magazine.

Koei Tecmo Games CEO and Honorary President Keiko Erikawa

A business woman who supported Koei Tecmo Games and it’s predecessor Koei from the time they were founded. The woman who gave birth to New Romance and started up the Ruby Party development team at Koei Tecmo games. Currently, while she is involved in management on one side, she’s also deeply taking part in game making.

She Had Held onto the Concept of Games Marketed Toward from 30 Years Ago

――Congratulations on 20 years of Neo Romance. Today I think I’d like to inquire about all sorts of stories to you, Ms. Erikawa, as someone who was able to see the birth of games marketed toward women from then until today. To begin, please tell us what you think the impetus was to create the first Neo Romance, Angelique, around 20 years ago.

Keiko Erikawa (below, Erikawa)  Angelique went on sale in September of 1994, but the impetus was well before that. It was over 30 years ago that I developed The Investment Game and Combat together with Erikawa (Yoichi, also CEO and Honorary President of Koei Tecmo Games), but at that time all the customers were men.

Games were seen through men’s eyes. That’s when I came to think, “I’d like to create games marketed toward women” for women.

――Well before Angeliqe went on sale, you had the plans in mind for games targeting women then.

Erikawa Yes. At that time, in the development offices, there was only one woman, so I thought first we’ve got to hire more women. So then around the time right after we had released Nobunaga’s Ambition in 1983, we began looking for female developers. At the time there were only a few women who who were learning programing in the sciences, so we hired women from the humanities. Of course, we left up the scenarios to women.

――So you’re saying 10 years past since you started hiring women to the time that Angelique was finished?

Erikawa It took some time for the female staff to get used to making games. Because at the time it was common place for everyone you hired to have never developed a game before. So it took quite some time from the place where we started hiring women to the time when we could start up the Ruby Party development team.

――Certainly just because you’ve hired women doesn’t mean you can expect them to immediately take on the development of an unknown genre. As you continued to feel your way along, how did you come to develop Angelique?

Erikawa At first I thought if we’re going to make a game marketed toward women, we’d better put our whole weight into making it for women. The protagonist had to be a cute girl and her clothes had to be red. The interiors should be girly and pink. I myself actually don’t really like pink, but my daughter absolutely loved it. Then, because we wanted to have all sorts of lovely men appear in the game, we set the theme as Greek myth and created male characters with a ton of individuality. But it wasn’t much of a game. It had become something that wasn’t very fun if you looked at it as a game. (laughs)

――And why was that?

Erikawa Even though we were finished with the scenario, it wasn’t a romance game. We had done a weak job of creating gameplay where you achieved goals and compete. From there on it was time for Erikawa the game-making pro to make her entrance. I had them decide on a game system, and Angeliqe became a game where you could enjoy romance by competing with your rivals while you gained the cooperation of the guardian saints.

――What kind of reaction was there to Angelique when it went on sale back then?

Erikawa  Because as a game, there had been nothing like it before, it’s not like it sold like gangbusters. But from all around us, the praise was amazing. Saying, “There’s finally a game for women!” we were taken up by all sorts of media. “This is a great job you’ve done here for us,” we received a lot of letters from female users like that. I was glad we had piqued the interest of a lot of people. Except, like I said before, it didn’t become a big hit like the stuff for guys. But because I had understood it would be that way, that’s why I thought it should have a media mix from the very beginning.

――Before you even released the game?

Erikawa Yes. I thought that we couldn’t express everything in this setting we had gone through so much work to create in just a game. We released a drama CD around the same time that the game went on sale. Moreover, we thought around that period that we wanted to do anime and events too.

――You had thought to awaken female users to the new genre for them by preparing all sorts of content.

Erikawa That’s right, even if just a little of them were there, I wanted all of the female players to have fun. Within the company, there were opinions like, “The market is small and therefore even if we created games marketed toward women, they wouldn’t sell,” but I thought, “There is a market.” I’m glad that I kept holding on to that thought till it got through.

A Storm of Controversy From Fans in the First Held Event

――Speaking of the media mix in Neo Romance games, the events with the voice actors holds a special impression.

Erikawa The first event we held was in 1995. It was at a hall in Roppongi called Velfarre and was graciously sponsored by NEC. It was pretty nuts on the day of the event.  Customers were lined up in looooooong lines and even the police had to come.

――It was a time when even the management of such events was something you were feeling out.

Erikawa We thought of doing all sorts of things for the content of the event, but decided on a good atmosphere of combining ballet and music. The opinions from customers were split.  Some said, “It was totally great!” Others said, “This is totally different from what I expected!” The latter thought that it was different from the hardened image they of Angelique they had developed in their minds. So then our staff got scared away. They said, “There’s so many opinions against it, let’s not do another event.”

――What, they said to just limit it to one event?

Erikawa  There were some who said, “I want to do another event,” and even though it might need a little brushing up, it was said that “the customers will get angry with us.” Nobody would address a plan and I pushed it forward with an order from the top. I thought it’s quite difficult to create content marketed toward women when there’s no previous example.

――However, with you as the pioneer of Neo Romance, there has been a great deal of events with the voice actors until now.

Erikawa At the time, nobody had ever heard of the idea of doing a media mix among other game makers. The troubles of that time spur our liveliness now, I think.

Female Game Developers Increase from the Opportunities Brought by Neo Romance

――It’s been 20 years since you started up Neo Romance games, but how do you think the situation of female users changed since then?

Erikawa  Now with consoles and smart phone games, there’s lots of games aimed toward women and we have made a place for women to enjoy games. To the same extent, the way we look at games for women has improved, I think. The hurdle for male voice actors has risen and I think it’s rather tough for the voice actors.

――Because it’s an age where they’re expected to have presentation skills, sing and perform.

Erikawa It really is tough! But when I see voice actors splendidly rise to my expectations, I feel like I’ve seen the possibilities of voice actors in a whole new way.

――From the perspective of a creator, how has the situation for women changed?

Erikawa It’s really changed for female creators. Perhaps it’s best to say it has the feel of a generational leap? There are many people for whom Neo Romance was the impetus for them to enter engineering departments and many who aimed to enter the industry because they liked Angelique, and they come to try out for our entry tests. It’s a story that makes me grateful.

――You’re saying that Neo Romance became a motivating factor for women developers in the gaming industry to increase.

Erikawa Yes, it’s quite a happy thing.

――Ms. Erikawa, you’ve said for a while, that you “want to support women in their progress in wider society,” did you mean that among the backdrop of making games marketed toward women, you wanted to urge the hiring of women?

Erikawa  That’s true. Among the world, when it comes to how much women are venturing out into wider society, Japan is one of the countries that is very late. If women work well with men in their jobs, 1+1 can become not just 2, but 3. There are a lot of Japanese women who hesitate a lot, and there some men who aren’t good at working under women, but if women contribute more to society, it can become a nice society. I do want to create more managerial roles for women in our company. I want the women reading this article to be active, whether they’re doing jobs or raising children. In order to do that, I want them to learn more about their bodies and think hard about how they want to live their lives. I’ll be supporting them.

Aiming For Even More Accomplishments At the Crossroads of 20 Years

――From here on out, I’d like to ask more about Neo Romance games in the future. After facing a 20 year anniversary, what do you think you’d like to challenge yourself on in terms of plans from now on?

Erikawa Not long ago, we held an orchestral concert to commemorate the 20 year anniversary. We prepared videos related to the titles, called the voice actors and meticulously prepared every part and the reception was absolutely amazing.  I thought these events really have been accepted. From now on, at the crossroads of 20 years, I’d like to open up a new avenue for events and hold those. I want to try plans like traveling around the holy places in La Corda D’oro or Harukanaru Toki no Naka De (Amidst Far Away Times) where you can have a real experience. I want to create content that both men and women can enjoy.

――You’ve been planning Angelique Retour as a 20th Anniversary title, tell us about what this is.

Erikawa It’s a remake of the first Angelique. I’ve been creating it, thinking I want to fly to ever greater heights without betraying the setting.

――It looks like there are characters who didn’t appear in Angelique.

Erikawa Please look forward to it, because I want people who are touching Angelique for the first time and those who have long enjoyed it to have fun.

――Other than Angelique Retour, there are some expecting a new Neo Romance title, thinking it’s about time, how about it?

Erikawa I want to create new IPs. Because our company’s mission is to always keep creating new things. We’re continuing our plans for it, but because we’re trying all sorts of things, it will take 2 or 3 years. Even though it only takes other makers about a year to create them.

――But I think it’s because you put that amount of effort in making them well that the Neo Romance series has continued for 20 years.

Erikawa Thank you. There truly is so much I want to create. But because there is a limit to how many employees we have, I can’t do it all at once. Of course, I’d like to develop Angelique and comparatively new IPs like FabStyle and Geten no Hana (Flowers Under Heaven).

――It looks like there’s various plans in progress, so we’ll look forward to it. What is it that you want to especially pour your strength into?

Erikawa For me, it’s the progress of Geten no Hana (Flowers Under Heaven). I’ve been thinking I definitely want to do this. Then next, a new collaboration. I think I might be able to guide us to some projects that will surprise everyone. Please do look forward to them.

Erikawa is always interesting to listen to. As one of the people who’s been around since the dawn of the gaming industry, there’s a lot more she’s been involved in and has had an important role in, but those interviews will have to come at a later date.

Today’s Goals and Jobs – 4/6/2016

Here my goals and the jobs I’m working on for 4/6/2016.  Thanks again to everybody who is helping out. It’s always appreciated. Remember to follow me on Twitter to get more updates.

What’s Going On

I met my goal of translating 5+ support conversations, another skinship dialogue and responding to feedback! I’m getting pretty consistent, I think:

Belka x Benoit C

Belka x Benoit B

Belka x Benoit A

Belka x Benoit S

Belka x Marx S

Kazahana x Tsukuyomi C

Hisame’s Skinship Dialogue List

I also posted an article about increasing standards of strictness when enforcing laws meant to “protect the children” in Japan. Read about it here.

Today’s Goals

  • Continue translating what I can
  • I hope to start some new polls soon, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have to do it tomorrow

Possible Complications: I’ve got a pretty big job I must complete today, so that will eat into translation time. When you do see the translation they’ll probably be later on.

How you can help out: Any help you can give polishing the translations above or the ones I’ve done before is always greatly appreciated. You can see updates for all the changes I’m making in the Changelog.

Jobs I Need Done

  • As always, feedback on translations and polls is always appreciated.
  • Since nobody is going to the Project Help page to chime in about honorifics in Byakuya Kingdom, I figure I’ll create a poll page. I think it will go up tomorrow, please remember to participate.
  • It would be nice to know how to do in-page links so I can link to a specific character listed on the character page as it grows, but I’m not sure how to accomplish that within WordPress. If you know how, let me know someway.

As always, there’s a page to discuss matter with others or contact me about how they’d like to help out with the Fire Emblem Fates project. It’s been updated to a new page for April. You can use that page for April to discuss things with other members in a more general nature. Thank you for all the people who contacted me or contributed so far! Much love and respect! As well, don’t forget there’s also a page for you to request any kind of Japanese information you need, regardless of whether it’s about Fire Emblem Fates or not. This page has also been updated for April.

Today’s Goals and Jobs – 4/5/2016

Here my goals and the jobs I’m working on for 4/5/2016.  Thanks again to everybody who is helping out. It’s always appreciated. Remember to follow me on Twitter to get more updates.

What’s Going On

I met my goal of translating 5+ support conversations, another skinship dialogue and responding to feedback! Woo, I think I’m getting the hang of this:

Belka x Marx C

Belka x Marx B

Belka x Marx A

Leon x Marx C

Leon x Marx B

Leon x Marx A

Flannel’s Skinship Dialogue List

Since the Star Ocean 5 interview was so long and I couldn’t complete it at all and do Fire Emblem stuff and complete my workload, I decided to split it into two parts and upload the next part later in the week. Part 1 is here.

Today’s Goals

  • Mostly consistency, doing 5+ support conversations plus skinship dialogue
  • Respond to feedback and update translations with corrections
  • I hope to start some new polls soon, but I’m not sure if I get to it today

Possible Complications: Gotta get that payola to keep this site going, you know! So of course, today like Friday and Sunday involves completing freelance work and managing time here.

How you can help out: Any help you can give polishing the translations above or the ones I’ve done before is always greatly appreciated. You can see updates for all the changes I’m making in the Changelog.

Jobs I Need Done

  • As always, feedback on translations and polls is always appreciated.
  • Since nobody is going to the Project Help page to chime in about honorifics in Byakuya Kingdom, I figure I’ll create a poll page. If it goes up today, please participate.
  • It would be nice to know how to do in-page links so I can link to a specific character listed on the character page as it grows, but I’m not sure how to accomplish that within WordPress. If you know how, let me know someway.

As always, there’s a page to discuss matter with others or contact me about how they’d like to help out with the Fire Emblem Fates project. It’s been updated to a new page for April. You can use that page for April to discuss things with other members in a more general nature. Thank you for all the people who contacted me or contributed so far! Much love and respect! As well, don’t forget there’s also a page for you to request any kind of Japanese information you need, regardless of whether it’s about Fire Emblem Fates or not. This page has also been updated for April.

Interview Translation Part 1: I Want to Create Soul Food for the Fans. An Interview With Star Ocean 5 Creators Shuichi Kobayashi, Hiroshi Ogawa and Akiman

Star-Ocean-5

Earlier this week, the infamous matome blog Hachima Kikou posted an excerpt of an interview from 4Gamer about Star Ocean 5 in which the consideration of certain female characters’ designs was raised. It was revealed that their clothing has been changed both due to internal Japanese pressure and overseas feedback. Miki’s clothing change received a lot of attention, but personally I must admit I found it odd that Fiore’s clothing change received comparatively little.

The actual interview though, is much longer and covers much more than that, and as I received a request to translate it all, here is the first part. As the entire interview is gigantic, I’ll post part 2 later. For now, this first part covers mainly the beginning stages of development and character design.

I Want to Create Soul Food for the Fans. An Interview With Star Ocean 5 Creators Shuichi Kobayashi, Hiroshi Ogawa and Akiman

Star Ocean 5 – Integrity and Faithlessness (below, SO5) is about to release on March 31st (the PS4 version, the PS3 version is on April 28th).  The latest entry in the series that meshes science fiction and fantasy together in one setting features a system that seamlessly links movements on the field with battle and private actions (events that occur between characters).

We shall deliver the contents of a chance we got to speak to this game’s producer Shuichi Kobayashi, director Hiroshi Ogawa and character designer Akiman. Since this release comes after a seven year gap from the previous Xbox360 verson’s release, it appears as if there was various troubles and effort involved in starting up the plan for the game and its development work.

4Gamer: Thank you for speaking with us today. I think you’ve still got work left to do on the PS3 version, but I want to hear your feelings right now as you’re about to release the PS4 version.

Akiman: It’s been a while since I’ve been in charge of the graphics all the way to the in-game UI, so I’ve been happy to be able to be involved with the game in every respect. I’m not good at depicting heaps of people, so this job, where I have to draw seven people certainly was a study for me.

Hiroshi Ogawa (below, Ogawa):We still have work left to do, but the feeling of “immense relief” has been huge with this release. Part of that is because I’ve been involved with the series since 2003’s release, Star Ocean Till the End of Time, and when this title was announced, the reaction was more than I anticipated. I’m glad to be putting a period on the project, because I’ve always felt this nervousness and pressure involved with the job, thinking, “I have to create it with a genuine sense of meticulousness.”

Shuichi Kobayashi (below, Kobayashi): I want to look back on it as something of a difficult pregnancy, but after the PS3 version, we have to work on the overseas version, so I don’t feel like it’s “finished.” In the first place, there’s so much we still want to do with Star Ocean, so once the development work has a period put on it, I believe it becomes the “thinking” turn in the battle. Once SO5’s jersey has been retired after every player’s impressions and the sales come out, it’s time to think about how to continue the series.

4Gamer:Just then, used the word difficult pregnancy, but from the first announcement there was a delay of one month for the PS4 version and two months for the PS3 version.  What part of development needed that delay? In this one, the game enters events and battle seamlessly from the field and on top of that in battle a maximum of seven characters can participate, so I imagined that tuning that bit would take some time.

Kobayashi:We did do some balance tuning, but we received some time to add in some new elements in response to feedback we got from our demo at Tokyo Game Show 2015. To put it more concretely, during battle we added the ability to “step,” and while moving in the field the ability to “dash.”

4Gamer: So you were still adding new elements even during that period? Now development is at its climax.

Kobayashi: Well, yes. I had argued with Ogawa quite a bit, that adding the step move would not be for adding tactics to battle, but as an improvement to the feel of play, and that’s how we brought it in.  And because of that, it’s not like you could say the gameplay has greatly changed.

Ogawa:We added an element where you can start a new battle with the character you ended the previous battle with. When we initially announced it, it was something that we wanted to put in, but there were problems with that and a seamless system, so we weren’t able to realize it at the time of the demo. We got a lot of opinions from people who played it, so we thought to implement it in that time period.

Kobayashi:When the development had reached a climax and we had come to a point where we saw the remaining number of things to do, we were able to reach a decision and say, “If we had a month, we could add this.” At the beginning, we had too much to do and couldn’t see that far forward. I was the one who came out with it, but the actual work was tough and in the midst of it, honestly I regretted the delay. (laughs) It was one hellish month.

4Gamer: Just because you’ve delayed it, doesn’t mean you’ve got the time to relax, I’d say it on the other hand it means the things you have to do have increased.

Kobayashi:In the titles up till now, if you fixed a certain part, like battle or events, then it was all good, but this time because it’s all connected together seamlessly, if you add a change to one part, that influence comes out in other areas you don’t predict.

4Gamer:Ah, that sounds like it takes lots of time and hands.

Kobayashi:On consoles, there are people who aren’t connected to the internet, so I thought I wanted to squash as many bugs as humanly possible and checking everything was a pain.

Offering Akiman, “the designer with the will and the power,” the job twice

4Gamer:In the last interview we heard the story of how you’ve been involved with this title’s character design from the first days of development, but I would like to hear how you decided on hiring Akiman from all the other designers you could choose.

Kobayashi:All right, this time I thought I wanted to continue development jobs in a different style than what has been usual up to this point and and have the character designer and 3D model production unit play catch with each other, reflecting each other for the game and illustrated characters. And that’s why, I thought I’d like to work with designs that have “the will and the power,” and what immediately came to mind was Akiman.

Akiman:Actually, the first time I got an offer from Kobayashi, it didn’t fit into my schedule and I totally turned him down. After that, I received another offer, and I was a little surprised, because until now there weren’t really many cases like that.

Kobayashi:The first time I met him, I had talked one-sidedly of our schedule, and I felt as if I had only spoken of my situation, and so I thought to offer again, by asking what kind of thing might work?

Akiman:And the second time, it had just been around the time that I had lost a job I thought I would have to put all my energy into.

Kobayashi:And then we had a little more detailed conversation and it was at that point that we got his attention. Inside my head, I had already decided I would pester him at least three times.

4Gamer:It’s the “Three Acts of Gratitude.” (laughs) [Translator’s note: This refers to a famous scene in Sangokushi or Romance of the Three Kingdoms and is an expression wherein someone pays special reverence and politeness to someone to get them to do something.] So that’s how enamored you were of Akiman. Now I’d like to ask you Akiman, for the designs you did in this game, if you have a character you are most partial to, or there’s a character that took a particularly long time to develop, please tell me about it.

Akiman:I had a little trouble with Miki. I pretty much designed all the other characters from scratch, but with Miki there was a certain basis for her design. There were various levels of trial and error with that.

Ogawa:For Miki, we had already implemented a prototype for the basis of her character model in early development.

Akiman:It’s probably best to use the series other works for reference when designing characters, but when I looked at Star Ocean 4, the lines used to draw the characters were so intricate ……

4Gamer:The characters from 1-3 weren’t all that complex though.

Akiman:Yeah, that’s true.  In the end, my illustrations became quite complex with line work, but it took a long time to get it all to come together. When you’re illustrating and have a lot of lines, it can become a bottleneck. (laughs)

4Gamer:You took the illustrations from 4 in your hands and that just happened to connect to the character illustrations of this title.  Speaking of that, in the last interview, we heard about Kobayashi’s reservation about odd-numbered title’s having a main character with blue hair, so he asked you to do that, didn’t he?

Akiman:Yes. I gave Fidel blue hair like he had in the planning documents. For every character, I first start by choosing their color. Since 7 of them will be acting all together at once, that was in order to suggest which one is which by one glance. For instance, for the smallest character, Lilia, I made her a yellow so that would stand out.

4Gamer:Certainly, when I look at the official site, it’s easy to understand.

Akiman:Because if the player think “where is he?” for even a second, the game’s fun is lost. Today’s console’s games have such a great power to express things, we could have brought out a black-type character that we couldn’t have done before, but instead I didn’t and chose colors that would stand out.

4Gamer: Certainly, if there’s that many characters, black might be hard to see and not stand out. Is there anything else Mr. Kobayashi asked of you, Akiman?

Kobayashi: “How does this character act and what do they do?” I wanted him to make it so you could tell from their appearance.

4Gamer: Like someone looks like a magician and someone looks good at martial arts … that kind of thing?

Akiman: We truly made Fiore feel like a traditional magician, but when I presented the rough draft to them they were absolutely delighted about it, and I thought, “I’m really on the same wavelength of this development team.” (laughs)

4Gamer: Now that you mention it, Fiore’s design really makes an impact.

Kobayashi: It was OKed on the first try. (laughs)

4Gamer: Had you been holding on to a design like that for a while?

Akiman: No, I just got the idea on a whim. This series’ magic users are typically erotic* or so I’ve been told, and that’s where the idea was born. Lately in the game industry, if you put out a female character with lots of skin showing, you’ll have to eat up time to correct it, so I then decided to go with the principle of, “She’ll be erotic, but won’t be revealing too much skin in terms of total area.” … It actually turned out we got a CERO C!

*The setting is that Fiore shows off her pride in her high level shaman magic by exposing her skin and the runes she has on it.

4Gamer:Whoa, wait a minute, the reason for the rating couldn’t have been just Fiore’s clothes, right? (laughs)

Ogawa: Nope, most of the reason was Fiore’s clothes. (laughs)

Kobayashi: And then, from overseas, we had this feedback about Miki, “it’s not good for teens to be wearing sexual underwear,” and so we increased the amount of cloth covering her.

Ogawa: That was really a shame. I felt bad about it. (laughs)

Kobayashi: When we designed the 3D models from the base of Akiman’s design, and added texture to it, the voluptuous quality of it increased and I was bit surprised.  “I wonder if this is okay for  inspection?” I thought. (laughs)

Ogawa:That’s because when we put them up in their 3D model form, their proportions were a little squashed and the feeling of body fat being emphasized became really strong.

Akiman:When something based on geometry gets stuck onto something that was organic, that will happen. (laughs)

4Gamer:Akiman, you’ve been involved with games since the time they were pixel graphics, but as the power to express things in these consoles has grown, I bet the methods of production and character design have changed.

AkimanIt has changed. Back then, you’d draw illustrations to help players’ imagination. “On the screen right now is a collection of dots and that’s supposed to be a girl,” that type of thing.

These days the amount of information in games is so huge, if you don’t include as much information into your illustrations as time allows for, then they’ll be overshadowed by the environment around them on the screen.

Kobayashi:Just a while ago we were talking about how the 3D model team and and the character designers played catch with each other, but to put it more concretely, first Akiman would draw a character, based on the 3D model of the character that would be created, it would be returned to Akiman, Akiman would draw illustrations of them standing or for PR use based on the 3D models … it was that type of back and forth.

4Gamer:From the stance of an amateur, they’re probably thinking why take the time to do things twice, why take such an approach?

Akiman:I wanted to make the difference between the in-game characters and their illustrations as small as possible. As well, because there were others who added details to characters beside myself, I thought it best to unite all of the feeling we were trying to bring about.

KobayashiI asked him to get near to the balance we’d have with the 3D models when drawing the illustrations. When you do it that way, when the player sees the Fidel shape they recognize it as Fidel, whether that’s an illustration or 3D model. That way we can perhaps keep it like past series entries where you don’t feel the difference.

4Gamer:So when you first designed the characters and when the final design came through, what parts changed?

Akiman:If we’re talking Fidel, it was his hair. At first, it flared out more and the behind was like Cyborg 009’s Joe Shimamura with wild shaved spiky hair, something like that. When it became a 3D model, while they did accept that image, the prickly parts were smoothed out into a more natural feeling and from then on, the illustrations followed that kind of hair style.

4Gamer:So both the 3D modellers and the illustrators gave each other influences and it became like it’s current form.

Akiman:That’s right. SO5’s 3D models have a unique charm to them. It’s not photo real, or comical. The illustrations I draw are have tall proportions, but when they become 3D models, they are squeezed and shrunk and it feels like the amount of visual information per unit increases. Since the screen is longer on the sides, I suppose it’s also best that they shrink. Seeing the character I’ve drawn be reborn, I think I’d like this new power too. (laughs)

4Gamer:Of course. To return the discussion a bit, Akiman said there was a base for the prototype of Miki’s character model from the days of early development. Why wasn’t that Fidel?

Ogawa:It had been a while since the last game when we decided to start work on the sequel, so the first hurdle was deciding how we should approach making the visuals. Should we make them photo real, or like cartoons … we’re talking about the direction of how to represent them materially. When you think of that from that point, the most appropriate decision is to start thinking of this problem with a girl, because when it comes to getting the size of their eyes, the balance of their parts and the amount of defined features in their faces, the hardest characters are them.

Akiman:When we say it’s photo real or toon, that’s to make it easy to understand, but actually, for each work, the most appropriate art style ends up changing slightly.

I personally think cartoonish manga is the type of drawing that has evolved to involve the least amount of effort when you want to tell a story. Is it best to represent things in a manga art style where you draw each frame by frame, or would it be best represent them with computeristic expressions … you always have to think about stuff like this.

For SO5, I thought it would be interesting not just to aim for a simple cartoonish thing, but search for the most appropriate art style, and I like this way of doing it.

4Gamer:And with an aim to search for those points that can’t be expressed in words, Akiman and the design team’s back and forth boiled those character design’s down.

Akiman:That’s it. Perhaps after SO5 is released, we’ll have words to express what the art style is like.

KobayashiThere’s an easy part to toon shading, but I noticed that the type of drawings that make players excited have things that are different from that. Especially, when the it’s a setting for adventure, you want the background to be dense with detail. We argued quite a bit how to depict this. Of course I oversaw each character, but until the “final form of the pictures” came out with all the background and lighting, I couldn’t confirm that the choices I made were right and there was a time spent being quite anxious.

When I showed Akiman the test version of an event scene between Miki and Fidel, he said, “This Miki is cute,” and I remember being incredibly relieved.

Akiman:When Fidel started moving around in-game and the remaining 6 characters came running out of the woodwork, I thought it felt so fun … like the type of fun you have when on the way home from school you all go to a department store and buy stuff to eat.

That’s it for now. Tune in later for Part 2.

Today’s Goals and Jobs – 4/4/2016

Here my goals and the jobs I’m working on for 4/2/2016.  Eternal gratitude to all the people who have reached out in support! Remember to follow me on Twitter to get more updates.

What’s Going On

I met my goal of translating a lot of support conversations, six to be exact, and another skinship dialogue list! Ryan’s got his groove back, baby! You can find them below:

Elfy x Elise C

Elfy x Elise B

Elfy x Elise A

Camilla x Odin C

Elfy x Zero C

Gray x Ignis C

Deere’s Skinship Dialogue List

As well, with Fawful Friday, I posted two past articles/translations I did: one, a summary of Japan Parliament member Taro Yamada’s response to the UN’s latest attack on free speech within manga, anime and games in Japan, and the other an older translated article about the Fire Emblem Fates localization controversy.

The last Fawful Friday article, a translation of an extremely long Star Ocean 5 interview at 4Gamer was so long I couldn’t finish it. Paying work got in the way and if the stars align, it should be done today, so check back this even if you were looking forward to that.

Today’s Goals

  • 5+ support conversations
  • Start doing some more Skinship dialogue for the translation patch team
  • Respond to feedback and update translations with corrections

Possible Complications: Work.

How you can help out: Of course, I always need help from English speakers to improve the English fluency in my translations. Perhaps there’s nothing you can suggest to improve? Even posting “This one looks okay” on a page with no comments will help me out, so if you’ve got a few spare moments, help me out! You can see updates for all the changes I’m making in the Changelog.

Jobs I Need Done

  • Know a Fire Emblem fan who would appreciate this place? Know somebody who wants to read accurate information about Japan or request it? Spread the word! I need all the eyes I can get.
  • As always, feedback on translations and polls is always appreciated.
  • On the Project Help page a discussion has been started about translating honorifics for Byakuya Kingdom’s characters, since they ostensibly take place in a fictional Japan. Go there (link right below this) and lend your thoughts to the conversation. I’ll of course change to whatever the strongest consensus is.

As always, there’s a page to discuss matter with others or contact me about how they’d like to help out with the Fire Emblem Fates project. It’s been updated to a new page for April. You can use that page for April to discuss things with other members in a more general nature. Thank you for all the people who contacted me or contributed so far! Much love and respect! As well, don’t forget there’s also a page for you to request any kind of Japanese information you need, regardless of whether it’s about Fire Emblem Fates or not. This page has also been updated for April.