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  #211  
Old 2008-08-27, 11:44
GreatSaintLouis GreatSaintLouis is offline
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I think the problem with English acceptance (from a market perspective) of visual novel games is that the companies who are/were trying to release the titles--Hirameki, a few releases by Peach Princess and some of the stuff from MangaGamer--are doing so in a market where a strong misconception has already been formed about the 'hentai games'. Anime is a very small niche in the general entertainment industry, and visual novels are--for better or for worse--a very small niche in the anime industry, as far as fan demographics can be considered. Thus far, the perception of the genre has been, thanks to Jast/Peach Princess/G-Collections etc., that they are simple porn games not too dissimilar from porn anime such as Bible Black, La Blue Girl, etc.

The basic assumption that you'd get from a general anime fan most likely goes something like this: 'anime-styled' character designs + PC software = hentai game. The problem is now that companies are attempting to release these same types of titles that are either not porny or have the adult-oriented stuff relegated as a minor part of a larger and more engrossing story. The public perception is already well set, and if the market for visual novels is going to open up, it's going to have to take some different marketing and a hell of a lot of word-of-mouth to get the casual anime fan to revisit PC titles in this field.

To be fair, I think Hirameki was the only one doing it right. While Peach Princess made an excellent choice in the aquisition of Yume Miru Kusuri (and could have a more lighthearted hit on their hands with the upcoming Princess Waltz), they didn't bother to market it as anything different than any of their other releases. The reality of their back catalog, fanboy frothing about Kana aside, is that most of their titles with the supposed emphasis on story are simply second- or third-rate games that lack the writing or polish of things like Yume Miru; let's not even think about things like all the X-Change games and whatnot. They do know how to cater to their established market very well; it's just that titles that would have an appeal beyond diehard fans of the Jast are not made out to be much different than the company's typical offerings, and so in a nepotistic cycle only people occupying this very niche of niches--that is, people with an interest in the Japanese visual novel scene beyond "lol, hentai maid catgirl!"--are aware of these first-rate titles that squeak out between the cracks, and that's because we're looking for them.

Mangagamer seems to be making a similar mistake. Games like Suika, D.C., and even Edelweiss are listed right alongside Tasty Shafts and Suck My Dick Or Die; to an unknowing anime fan (as in the English-speaking world that's the closest thing to a target demographic we have) they're going to see those titles, think "Oh, another hentai game company" and probably not give the time of day to a handful of titles they see as trying to tack an unnessicary story onto the porny bits. Obviously, it's a real challenge--how do you make a point that despite the adult scenes the real emphasis is on the story, especially in a market where an inflexible duality of "porn/not porn" is the only reality? Hirameki was coming the closest to breaking out of the current conception of visual novels in the fanbase with their emphasis on under-18 releases that were sold in the anime section of places like Suncoast, but they shot themselves in the foot with that terrible DVD format, and before you knew it the company had imploded leaving titles like Hourglass of Summer and Ever 17 largely unknown. They could have been a sort of gateway drug for the casual anime fan into other (not necessarily under-18) quality releases; if Mangagamer plays their cards right I could see them possibly doing something similar on the strength of Da Capo alone, but it'll take some marketing work on their part.

So to get to an inevitable point that I think I was trying to make, at this stage in the game thanks to marketing, I'm not sure the casual anime market is even a viable one for visual novels at this time. The hardcore porn game market, yes, because as I said before you'll have people picking up the something like Yume Miru because they loved Narcoleptic Catgirl Maid Screwtoy 3, but most of the casual anime market will just pass them by as "oh, those hentai games." And for all one could tell with the marketing, it's hard to fault them for that.

I think I just rambled a lot.
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  #212  
Old 2008-08-27, 11:55
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Kasurot Kasurot is offline
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I agree for the most part with your analysis of the industry in the US. I think one thing you missed, though, was the fact that a large percentage of the games that are based around love stories are about high school kids. Even the small amount of nudity they have in those games isn't going to make it in the US. Under 18? Not going to happen.

I know some changed the characters to all be 18 years old (Seasons of the Sakura) or changed the setting to a college theme. Both work but take away from the story.

Also, in G-Collections defense, they have translated quite a few story based games. Figures of Happiness, Heart De Roomate, Kana - Little Sister, Private Nurse and Crescendo come to mind.

As you said, though, they are listed right in the middle of all their other games that are just hentai games. And mainstream media like EGM doesn't appear to be helping much. If you want, take a look at their opinion on visual novels. Of course, their brainiac Seanbaby was the mastermind behind the article.

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Last edited by Kasurot; 2008-08-27 at 11:58.
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  #213  
Old 2008-08-27, 12:05
GreatSaintLouis GreatSaintLouis is offline
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See, I've never liked any of G-Collections story-based games. Coming from a literary background, the writing just seems flat, full of holes, and uninspired. However, I will concede that yes, they are at least attempts to get past some of the conglomerate's more lowbrow releases--but as noted, there's little done on the company's part to distinguish the two areas.

The whole high school romance thing is a really creepy artifact of the main Japanese market for the games, which seems to be men from their early 20's to their late thirties and even beyond. I suppose one could go into some kind of really deep cultural psychoanalytic mode and speculate that maybe these kinds of stories are a sort of vicarious reimagining of the high school lives of the players that were less than spectacular etc. (grad thesis paper anyone?), but the big issue is in translating these concepts here. Japan's a lot more lax on the animated portrayal of underage people than the US is, which leads to all sorts of strange game changes such as turning a high school into some sort of formal university for 20-somethings. This isn't really fooling anybody, and I'd imagine that would be the sort of thing that could get you dirty looks from the cashier were these games sold in stores.

Another problem is that for the most part, the English-speaking fandom seems to taper off around the mid- to late- 20's, with the majority of anime and manga marketed towards an arguably sub-20 crowd. The prime demographic for these games in the Japanese market is barely even represented in the English world, which also makes the games a tough sell, as you're trying to catch the intrest of the portion of the fanbase that can legally purchase them.

Last edited by GreatSaintLouis; 2008-08-27 at 12:11.
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  #214  
Old 2008-08-28, 00:45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kasurot View Post
I agree for the most part with your analysis of the industry in the US. I think one thing you missed, though, was the fact that a large percentage of the games that are based around love stories are about high school kids. Even the small amount of nudity they have in those games isn't going to make it in the US. Under 18? Not going to happen.

I know some changed the characters to all be 18 years old (Seasons of the Sakura) or changed the setting to a college theme. Both work but take away from the story.
Actually, for any software in Japan to be approved by the Ethics Organization of Computer Software (aka ソフ倫), don't the Japanese game makers have to claim everyone is 18+ anyway? (Though what a 18 year old is doing in middle school is a good question... XD)
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  #215  
Old 2008-08-28, 05:02
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Kasurot Kasurot is offline
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Just a quote from wikipedia: "The majority of bishōjo games involve anime girls and not pictures of real-life girls. Several reasons for this exist. First, the artistic style of anime allows a noticeable sense of femininity and a great sense of fantasy, something that is not obtained with images of real women. Second, since many characters in bishōjo games are minors (or at least have the behavior and physical proportions of minors), the use of the anime style allows the studios of bishōjo games with adult content to avoid the penalty of Japanese child pornography laws, which do not prohibit the simulated representation of characters under 18 years of age. Even so, it is common to find the packages of these games affirming that, theoretically, all the characters are over 18 years old."

So, I guess sexual animations of characters younger than 18 is legal in Japan. According to NationMaster the same is true in US Law. I didn't spend a lot of time investigating this, so they could both be wrong.
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  #216  
Old 2008-08-28, 10:09
zalas zalas is offline
 
 
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It looks like it's kind of weird in Japan. There are laws in many prefectures preventing the sale of adult games that do not pass EOCS verification, but it doesn't look like there's a national law mandating EOCS compliance. The EOCS apparently bans certain things that would imply underaged children for characters involved in sex, such as those red backpacks elementary school kids would have, or mentioning "elementary school girl" or "junior high school girl", etc. According to the Japanese Wikipedia, since 2005, characters whose height are shorter than 5 heads are also prohibited from partaking in sexual activities.
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  #217  
Old 2008-08-28, 12:33
GreatSaintLouis GreatSaintLouis is offline
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Whatever the legal precedent, it's either really really lax, or the police et al. are more concerned with following the exact pedantic wording of the law itself. As any trip to Toranoana or White Canvas will prove, there's plenty of doujin that, to any rational observer, cannot possibly feature girls of anything close to legal age. The metaphor concerning grassy fields and the playing of baseball is apparently extended to include the possibility of practice games in the sandlot, as it were. I can't recall seeing any commercial games (as doujin aren't subject to the EOCS restrictions, I believe) with such blatantly underage characters, though the art style in many games--Nekoneko's Sanarara is one that pops to my head--is intentionally designed with that sort of underage look while the scenario is obviously dealing with much older characters.

Of course, Japan has a history of of laws regarding pornographic or explicitly sexual content being only enforced to the very pedantic letter of the law rather than the spirit of such; in postwar cinema for example, it was illegal to show pubic hair and such a law was thought to prevent movies with any kind of sexual or pornographic content from being shown. The filmmaker's solution? Shave the actors. It's the same in modern Japanese pornography or eroge and the mosiacs, or the black bars in doujin works. It's an interesting contrast between certain facets of the American legal system in which case the law is sometimes interpreted in a spirit that goes quite beyond its actual wording, and the Japanese laws in which the letter of the law preempts any spirit in which it was written.
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  #218  
Old 2008-09-10, 17:34
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Quote:
11 Sep 2008
Dear supporters,
We have updated the schedule of the upcoming titles. We are very sorry for the delay of the schedule. We have been working hard to improve the quality of the translation of each title. We'll anounce our new translation policy soon.
I don't know why they announce release date 'cause they're always pushin back, some titles seem to be released in 2009, and Edelweiss who was supposed to be released today was pushed back to 20 of this month, at least they keep the release dates of Dacapo and Suika the same, maybe that could be the last chance to see what happen to Mangagamer
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  #219  
Old 2008-09-11, 00:34
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