NIS America Issues Statement After Localizers Claim to Change “Sexist” Japanese Humor to be “Culturally Appropriate”
NIS America has issued a statement denying that the comapny engages in censorship of their localized titles after team members made contrary claims.
NIS America has issued a statement denying that the company censors titles during the localization process after two members of the The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III localization team stated that they engaged in editing of the game’s “sexist” Japanese humor.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III editing Coordinator Eric Mort and Project Coordinator Moët Takahashi made an appearance on a January 14th Twitch live stream titled NISA News: Trails of Cold Steel III with Editing Overlord Eric and Project Overlord Moet, to answer fan questions about the upcoming Switch release of the latest game in the series.
In response to a fan inquiring “How often do you run into jokes that don’t work in English, and how do you go about redoing them?”, Mort and Takahashi state that it happens “all the time,” and their solution to certain jokes was to “try to kind of work around, things that might be a little sexist, for example, in Japanese humor, and with those things we like to make it more culturally appropriate for our players.“
“Q: How often do you run into jokes that don’t work in English, and how do you go about redoing them?
Mort: All the time.
Takahashi: All the time! Like, why Japanese puns? But Eric here is extremely talented in kind of manipulating Japanese puns, even in Japanese sometimes. I think it’s scary.
Mort: I’m slowly learning how to say things that make people cringe in Japanese.
Takahashi: It’s hard. I think that’s is part of localization, because whether it’s a joke or not, we have to make sure that it makes, like all the text makes sense, not just in the language, but in the culture that we’re translating to.
Mort: Sometimes it’ll be jokes, Japanese jokes, that have different values than we do.
Takahashi: So, things we try to kind of work around, things that might be a little sexist, for example, in Japanese humor, and with those things we like to make it more culturally appropriate for our players.
Mort: And that doesn’t mean it has to be made less funny, either.
Takahashi: No, not at all. We can work in something even better sometimes.”
Answering a follow-up question, Mort confirms that the localization team does not regularly speak to Falcom when writing the script:
“Q: How often is the team in contact with Falcom through the localization process?
Mort: Mostly when we’re working on the text, we don’t contact them about that a whole lot, like I said sometimes we’ll have questions that we just can’t figure out, but most of the time it’s logistic stuff, you know for like, the backend programming.”
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Following these statements, fans were outraged, feeling that the localization team was engaging in censorship, seemed to have free-range in their editing process, and were making changes unapproved by the original development team. Amidst the outrage, a Japanese video game culture news outlet Operation Rainfall reached out to NIS America for comment on the situation, receiving a response from the company’s Public Relations Coordinator Erin Kim who denied the claims and stated that the company “does not engage in censorship or overzealous editing”:
“NIS America does not engage in censorship or overzealous editing. We stand by our dedication to the authenticity of our localization efforts to properly contextualize a title within a localized framework for an English-speaking audience.
Erin Kim | *Public Relations Coordinator *
*NIS America, Inc.*”
According to Operation Rainfall, they “couldn’t find a single player that played this game in Japanese and English that could point out any major changes to the text.”
The response did not satisfy fans. YouTuber HeroHei reacted to NIS America’s statement saying, “It’s an absurd response to me.”
He added, “Why did they even respond? If that was the answer they were going to give, they shouldn’t have even responded. Why even bother? Why even waste your time? This is just rude in my opinion. Doubling down, completely deflecting the criticism.”
What do you make of NIS America’s response? What do you make about Eric Mort and Moët Takahashi’s original statements?