by AJ Adejare
Recently, there have been uproars about the translation of Love Live School Idol Festival. The popular game, coming under the School Idol Festival to the United States in May 2014 and published by Bushiroad and KLabs America , went through localization like other games. The problem, some of their localization choices removed context that imply homosexual relations. Nerd Lab recently showed the comparison in translation for some of the characters:
In the Japanese script, Nozomi says “You don’t want to? If you don’t then it’ll just be me and Elicchi, the two of us all lovey-dovey heading home.”
KLab America then released a statement concerning the translation:
We have reviewed the English version of Love Live! School Idol Festival in light of our gamers’ thoughtful and heartfelt comments. Overall, we think that our localization effectively conveyed both the content and tone of the original. We also think that perhaps we could have done better with the translations of some of the dialogue. We view our relationship with our gamers are very much a two-way street: we hope to provide fun and entertaining games and are always open to feedback (including constructive criticism) where we can do better.
We would also like to address one specific concern raised by some gamers, namely that we were engaging in self-censorship by removing or softening some playful same-sex banter from the English version. This absolutely was not our intention. We localized the game based on our interpretation of the original anime contents, but at the same time, we also respect our gamers’ interpretations as well. We take to heart the comments from some of our gamers who felt we were dismissing them in some way by some of our translations. We truly regret any hard feelings that we may have caused. We love our games and our gamers and don’t want any of them to change!
While localization is hard, some people have of course taken issues with their choice in translation. Moreover, looking at some of their choices in dialogue, you can’t help but question how they could even drop the sub-context of homosexual relationships as compared to the fan translated literal dialogue. Take a look at this other dialogue from NerdSpan:
In the original Japanese script, she says “I don’t mind at all even if we’re both girls.”
Yeah, it becomes harder to defend. To me, the biggest issue is the following: It has taken one year for this issue to be even addressed. In it, may people may have downloaded it, deleted it, and walked away not knowing if this game was properly translated or the liberties it took to get to that point. With this faux pas going to this extent, you could make the argument for straight-washing (an act where you force heterosexual norms and implications on characters that otherwise do not imply that). One counter argument is that in the efforts to gender neutralize the game, the translation lost a lot of context. That’s also fair, which then leads to the question of having to play it straight with localization versus trying to bring out the meaning of the text
We’ll see how this plays out in the future.
The game is out for Android and iOS and here’s a trailer for the game: