ANONYMOUS;CODE Localization Producer Interview — Translation Process, Welcoming for New Fans & More

Following Spike Chunsoft announcing that they would be publishing the MAGES-developed visual novel ANONYMOUS;CODE for Western audiences later this year, we received the opportunity to interview the game’s localization producer, Yu Namba.

Our website’s founder, Azario Lopez, discussed Namba’s history with the Science Adventure series, the progress of the localization, and other tangentially related facets.

Azario Lopez: Okay. So your background includes many Persona titles that have been released in the West. How are those years of taking on those types of projects kind of prepared you for something a little more nuanced within the visual novel genre? Was that challenging for you?

Yu Namba: To be totally honest, my localization philosophy is to be as authentic to the original game content as possible while making the localized games as accessible and enjoyable to everybody.

So that stance has never changed, honestly, from day one when I started out as a translator all the way up to right now. So the same thing goes with ANONYMOUS;CODE. We’re trying right now, our very best to maintain the coolness of the title while still not having people have a question mark on their heads saying, “What is he saying?”

On top of that, it’s kind of interesting how this game is also mainly based in modern-day Japan. ANONYMOUS;CODE has a lot of scenes in Tokyo in the 2030s. So a little bit into the future from where we are, but a lot of locations like Shinjuku or Nakano, those are all there.

AL: What has been your experience with the Science Adventure series?

YN: Well, my former coworkers were avid fans of STEINS;GATE, and they told me stories every time we went out to drink and whatnot.

But as for me, I will say ANONYMOUS;CODE was my first entry in the series, which I had to play multiple times. But from there, I had to do some research on other Science Adventure titles because there are a few cross-references, some cameo appearances, etc., that we didn’t want to mess up in the presentation.

However, me being a newbie in the series, we heavily relied on the translator for this title. His name is Andrew Hodgson, who’s also known as Steiner. He was the main translator for STEINS;GATE, and he has a vast knowledge of the series overall. So yeah, he was a great asset to this title’s localization.

AL: Being a newcomer, what’s your general reception to the series?

YN: I enjoyed my time playing the game, and I am really enjoying localizing the game as we speak. I also like having a bunch of English voice actors put their flavor into the game to make ANONYMOUS;CODE even more approachable to a wider audience than what we weren’t able to do in the past.

AL: On that point, does having an English actor representing these characters cause you to approach localization differently?

YN: Not really, but the main focus is always going to be text. Even with voice, if the original text is not good, then the end results may not be as appealing.

But on top of that, by adding voice, we add more character to the story, and to the cast, of course, which you won’t be able to get just from reading the text or listening to the Japanese voice. So, yeah, we explored a lot of different things while recording English voices for this game.

AL: Did you ever provide notes to the audio team to make sure some scenes were more emphasized than others?

YN: Well, the director, from my perspective as I listened to the recording sessions and supervised a little bit, he’s really into this. I know he read through the entire script several times himself, and he gives a lot of information about the lines to the actors as we record. And also, if there are some parts where we’re not exactly sure, like what kind of nuance the line has, we always have the Japanese voice that we can play as a reference as well.

AL: Western fans have been quick to dismiss the quality of this English localization. Is there anything you’d like to share that can assure them they don’t need to worry?

YN: So this kind of goes back to talking about myself in my past works, but I think it’s always good for multiple sets of eyes to look at the project.

If we have like a single translator who does all the work for the game, we see it through that translator’s perspective. But sometimes, if we have another person who can understand both languages, let’s say Japanese and English, then we can check for errors, maybe make some lines better sounding, etc.

So I was always an advocate of having multiple people involved. and the same goes for ANONYMOUS;CODE, where we have Andrew Hodgson being the translator, we have the editor teaming up with him, and then we have our own editor on Spike Chunsoft’s side and myself taking a look at the work as a whole. So hopefully, by doing so, we have upped the level of the game’s caliber in terms of localization. Fingers crossed.

AL: Do you think this is a good place to start for new players?

YN: I believe so. I think I’m a prime example. Of course, I knew a little bit about the series, but this was the first title that I experienced in full, and I really enjoyed it, and it made me want to learn more about the other titles in the series.

So I’m hoping that the same will be true for all the newcomers who would be willing to try this title out. They won’t be disappointed, and I hope that we won’t disappoint the existing fans as well.

AL: Do you know the character count for this project?

YN: I don’t have the exact number, but in terms of recording, I think we started somewhere in February 2023, and we’re still ongoing, and it looks like we’re going to keep going until April or, like, towards the end of April. So there’s a lot.

AL: Is there anything you’d like to share with people awaiting the English release of ANONYMOUS;CODE?

YN: Yeah, so the biggest thing that we’re doing for the Western release is, you know, adding the English voice. We took time working with the studio to pick an exceptional cast of voice actors, and we’ve also focused on having the English conversations in the game as funny, serious, and intriguing as possible. To reach new fans and current fans and also for people who will be interested in listening to their favorite voice actors in this new game. We’ll have to see how it goes, but I’m very confident in this title.

In case you missed it, check out our recent Anonymous;Code coverage, comprising a new trailer, release date information, and English dub casting.

ANONYMOUS;CODE will launch westward for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam on September 8, 2023.

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