Localization Isn't Censorship, And The Difference Is Important


A localizer at XSEED had their name removed from an upcoming game over the deletion of KKK reference, raising fiery debates over intent and "censorship."

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/localization-isnt-censorship-and-the-difference-is-important


I have to say this is maybe the single most bizarre story I have seen about the “Localization Is Censorship!” nonsense. I have to assume that this guy just wanted to leave his job and used this to make some kind of ill conceived point.


This guy seems like most of the worst stereotypes surrounding the anime/jurp fandom. Lord knows the industry doesn’t need dudes like that.


This story was incredible nonsense from start to finish


This underscores the extent to which a certain group of translation “purists” aren’t really especially interested in preserving creator intent. Instead, what they’re focused on is maintaining edgy or sexual content in games-- whether or not that’s what the creators want.

These devs didn’t want to reference the KKK, but this translator insisted on keeping the reference, because to do otherwise would supposedly be censorship (who is being censored is not clear). While we’re at it, devs probably don’t want their fluent Japanese text to come out stilted when translated into other languages, but a lot of folks insist on that too.

I think this partly stems from a conflation of censorship in the colloquial sense vs the ethical sense. Colloquially, people understand censorship to mean something got toned down or changed from its original or first-draft form. Ethically, censorship is when a person is restricted from expressing themselves as they wish. These can overlap, but they’re not the same, and it’s a problem when the two ideas are treated interchangeably.

Because this group misunderstands censorship to mean any instance of toning content down (even voluntarily or cooperatively), they foster an environment where changes during the development/localization process are praised if they make the game racier and condemned if they make the game tamer. Your final draft is never allowed to be less bloody or horny than your first draft, or there’ll be hell to pay.


i have a ‘friend’ that needs to see this… but i dont have the balls to just post it on his wall… what do fam?


The translator in question has a long history of…questionable defenses of “artistic integrity” when it comes to, say, the ages of certain characters in certain games, and the sexualization of said characters


Send him a letter bomb.


Put it on his wall anyway and enhance his life. Maybe he’ll realize some things abour himself. Who knows?


There is nothing that rankles me quite like calling “censorship” on localization changes that are made with the blessing of the IP holder.

Just because something is changed because it doesn’t play in North America doesn’t mean it’s suddenly eroding all of our freedoms and we’ll all be in some gulag tomorrow, or something.

I love both anime and JRPGs and I’m honestly embarrassed to be part of this fanbase sometimes.


Localization is pretty tricky thing to cleanly do and many things will get in the way. However, in this case there a proper reason for a change and the guy was being too “purists” about it. You have to look carefully at the subject matter and see if it going to work in a translation.


Imo Waypwnt was spot on in the case of this particular dude. He picked a fuckin bizarre hill to die on.


My favourite thing about this entire matter is that these sorts of people are doing everything in their power to be upset:

If people point out something and a developer changes it, they scream “censorship.”

If a developer sees something themselves that they decided should be changed, or if people say “Hey, did you consider _________” and the developers agree and make the change, they then scream self-censorship."

You literally can’t win.

They cry and cry and cry about the artistic intent and vision of the game, but even when someone making the game says “Hey, this change was something we wanted to do” they still get upset.

Because, you know, it was never about censorship and 100% always about people whining to get exactly what they want.


I really do try to see where people are coming from when it comes to just about anything, and I do somewhat understand the concerns over “censorship,”(emphasis on somewhat) or whatever term is more appropriate, but this just seems like indignation in search of a moment of political actualization, like a horny dude outside a nightclub picking a fight with everyone. In this case though, that dude tried to land a punch, stumbled, slipped on a banana peel, fell in a garbage can, and then blew his load in the midst of all the excitement. Also, he’s now banned from the nightclub forever. In other words, just kind of a waste of everyone’s time, and worthy of no small amount of ridicule.


This is a top tier metaphor right here, good work. :smiley: