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My Little Visual Novel Can't Be This Homophobic (Or How Queerness Continues To Be the Butt of the Joke in Japan)

Oct 25, 2017
5,768
#1
As a writer for a gaming publication, I play games and write reviews all year long. As my favorite genre, I play a lot of visual novels. Some are good, some are great, some are pretty mediocre. As time goes on being a gay guy, my perception of anything considered offensive gets keener and keener, but the developers over there are either completely ignoring the community or doing a pretty lousy job at it. Here enters Our World is Ended.


I've been playing it for almost a month and waited before finishing the game and getting comments from the parties involved before sharing these scenes. It's a visual novel resembling Steins;Gate in a few ways, with a weirder and more "pervert" group, one of them being a shotacon and the leader being admittedly pervert (don't get me started on the harassment going throughout the entire game involving all girls from the group), except that all it has going for it is being pretty. There's no substance and after 30 hours and a few endings, I'm pretty much done with the game... But these scenes still bother me.

Scene #1: One of the girls tells the group a story about when she used to sing and play songs in front of a train station. Her sister says that she did that because there was a person she liked that crossed that station everyday, and that's why this particular girl would go there everyday. The crew asks what kind of man that person was, her sister tells them that it wasn't exactly a man and the crew replies asking if the first girl like, y'know, girls. Much to my surprised, she just answered: "Nope, my sister is perfectly normal". Not only does the protagonist and the group panic over the fact that one of the girls might be gay, but also her sister shuts that thought by saying that nope, she's perfectly normal.






Scene #2: Three guys from the crew are at a hot spring. The protagonist is checking the leader's body out, as he's more fit than it looked. Then the leader automatically goes into "if another guy is checking my body, he's gay" and follows with "hey, I know I'm a pervert, but I'm not that pervert", outright saying that being gay is a perversion.




These are two scenes I found from the game after finishing three endings. There are other endings and there might be more scenes, but I won't be doing them all anytime soon. I know that there's this ongoing issue with japanese games, being developed for the japanese audience, doing this kind of stuff, where it might or might not be an issue in Japan. Still, with a new company entering the ring every year, there has been several japanese games being localized that otherwise wouldn't a few years ago and there has to be responsibility in both picking which titles to localize and the localization itself.

I've gotten in touch with the person responsible for translating the game and it was clarified that those scenes are literal translations from the japanese version, meaning that what you read is what was meant in the japanese release. He was in charge of translating the game and that's what he did. There was supposed to be an editor that followed that work and edited the script for cohesion, correcting typos and to make it more readable than a direct and cold translation.

I also got in touch with the publisher that told me, after asking if there's the possibility of a patch coming or something in that fashion, that they were see what could be done ASAP.

In a way, everyone has its share of responsibility. A game is not released without passing through the hands of several parties involved, but still, it happened. It's scenes like this, which it's still somewhat common in japanese media, that should be properly localized in a way that, if the original material comes across as offensive, should be edited in order to adjust to another audience. It's a responsibility and a duty for these companies. Am I the only one that's sick of seeing this kind of behavior not only in the original material, but also not being filtered on localization?
 
Last edited:
Oct 27, 2017
7,468
#2
I for one am shocked that a game that uses this as it's official description of it's main character

Sekai Owari

  • Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita
  • Age: 24
  • Birthday: September 11, 1992
  • Height: 178cm
  • Weight: 70kg
  • Blood Type: O
  • Favorite Things: Everything erotic, sake, horse racing
  • Special Skill: Can tell a woman’s bust-waist-hip measurements just by looking at her
  • Role: Main programmer

Founder and main programmer of the game development company “Judgement 7.” He is expected to be the representative of Judgement 7, but due to his perverted personality, he is not very well respected by the other members. He is actually a skilled programmer who creates a super perverted program that no ordinary person can create.



is toxic and shitty.
 
Oct 25, 2017
895
#3
Did you expect anything else from PQube really? They publish all kinds of sexist shit.

EDIT: And with that I mean, if they won't censor that, why would they rewrite this?
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,972
#4
The whole time I'm reading the OP, I was thinking, "how in the world did this slide into the localization?" Jesus, that's bad and I seriously considered getting this game when the price lowered on the Switch, but I guess that won't ever be happening.
I for one am shocked that a game that uses this as it's official description of it's main character

Sekai Owari

  • Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita
  • Age: 24
  • Birthday: September 11, 1992
  • Height: 178cm
  • Weight: 70kg
  • Blood Type: O
  • Favorite Things: Everything erotic, sake, horse racing
  • Special Skill: Can tell a woman’s bust-waist-hip measurements just by looking at her
  • Role: Main programmer

Founder and main programmer of the game development company “Judgement 7.” He is expected to be the representative of Judgement 7, but due to his perverted personality, he is not very well respected by the other members. He is actually a skilled programmer who creates a super perverted program that no ordinary person can create.


is toxic and shitty.
I feel like I need a long break from Japanese media.
 
Nov 6, 2017
197
#5
I was really digging the character art from that game, the "not so perverted" guy was serving bare shoulder and unexpected stomach tease, which as a gay guy, i appreciate buy damn...
 
Oct 25, 2017
362
#6
Might be a controversial stance, but I really appreciate it when localizers have the opportunity to tone down specific homophobic elements to something more culturally sensitive.

There's a part in Persona 4 where Kanji, a presumed gay classmate, has to bunk with you and your friend Yosuke. Yosuke says something incredibly mean spirited and homophobic, and you have a dialogue choice to either agree with him or tell him something along the lines of "I'm comfortable enough with my masculinity to not be bothered."

In the Persona 4 anime, the scene plays out disappointingly, with the main character choosing to agree with Yosuke's homophobic attitude.

In the anime's english dub of the same scene, they went with the game's other dialogue choice, of the MC standing up for Kanji.

It's a small touch but does a league of good to situations like this.

For a while before more details came out, I believed a localization team with a deft hand could subtly salvage Catherine's script to be more in line with 2019's attitudes. But good lord, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes right now.
 
Oct 27, 2017
6,390
#7
I can’t help but think there’s a reason why there’s a community of bigots and fascists with anime avatars on Twitter.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,116
#8
Nah if the original game is shitty it should not be censored in the American release to give cover to them. People should know what kind of things they are supporting. If you want to support the homophobia that is happening in Japan than go right ahead but fixing it in localization only makes you feel better about yourself. It does not help the queer people being affected in Japan
 
Nov 2, 2017
1,736
#9
Caligula Effect apparently had some crazy homophobia too

Since I don't play much else besides Yuri and a few Otome games, don't know what its like in other genres, but that's rather sad, but not unexpected. Isn't most Japanese media whether they are JRPG's (Final Fantasy is pretty progressive comparatively speaking) or VN's use this kinda of joke homophobia? Atlus games are notorious for this stuff. I don't see how it's going to change unless culture attitudes shift in Japan.

You should try reading something from the Yuri genre. The last ten years there's been many examples of Yuri VN's that have focused on the LGBTQ community including Kindred Spirits, Tokyo Necro, and Seabed.
 

Theswweet

RPG Site
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
1,590
California
#10
Even outside of the homophobic contents, I have to say - the VN is incredibly horny. Like, even more horny than some actual eroge, and it grates hard. My review won't be up quite yet but it's definitely got more than a few issues as a story.
 
OP
OP
Shizuka
Oct 25, 2017
5,768
#11
You should try reading something from the Yuri genre. The last ten years there's been many examples of Yuri VN's that have focused on the LGBTQ community including Kindred Spirits, Tokyo Necro, and Seabed.
Flowers is amazing, one of the best games I've ever played. At some point, I have to think what's worse as a gay gamer: to not be portrayed in a game or to be portrayed in a negative way.
 
Oct 25, 2017
11,023
#12
I for one am shocked that a game that uses this as it's official description of it's main character

Sekai Owari

  • Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita
  • Age: 24
  • Birthday: September 11, 1992
  • Height: 178cm
  • Weight: 70kg
  • Blood Type: O
  • Favorite Things: Everything erotic, sake, horse racing
  • Special Skill: Can tell a woman’s bust-waist-hip measurements just by looking at her
  • Role: Main programmer

Founder and main programmer of the game development company “Judgement 7.” He is expected to be the representative of Judgement 7, but due to his perverted personality, he is not very well respected by the other members. He is actually a skilled programmer who creates a super perverted program that no ordinary person can create.


is toxic and shitty.
What a shitty world we live where this is the character that's supposed to make the audience go "oh yeah, that's just like me, i identify with this guy!"
 
Oct 21, 2018
98
#14
Japanese people use the english word "normal" as their version of "straight" when pressed for their sexuality. I've seen it multiple times and it never fails to piss me off.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,807
#16
Casual sexism and homophobia is basically the price you have to pay for showing any interest in Japanese media.

It's tiresome, but most people seem not to care (we still get daily posts gushing about Persona 5, which is downright hateful trash).
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,244
Amsterdam
#19
God damn it's like they live in the 90s still. People, stop buying these games in release and wait for reviews on the matter because it's really shit to encourage the development of this kind of narratives in games.
 
Jan 10, 2019
432
#23
I can understand the reasons for why one would want the localization to smooth over or ameliorate these kinds of things, but that doesn't really fix the original problem and the harmful effects of the product on the japanese LGBT+ community. The localization isn't the bigger issue here but the original writing.
 
#24
What a shitty world we live where this is the character that's supposed to make the audience go "oh yeah, that's just like me, i identify with this guy!"
I don't think that's the intention. Most of the VNs I've read don't really go for main characters you're supposed to identify with. Some let you control their actions in key moments but you're mostly along for the ride. It's also not uncommon to have multiple protagonists each with their own quirks. The whole self-insert thing is more of a dating sim thing, for obvious reasons.
 

L Thammy

Spacenoid
Member
Oct 25, 2017
13,315
#27
I can understand the reasons for why one would want the localization to smooth over or ameliorate these kinds of things, but that doesn't really fix the original problem and the harmful effects of the product on the japanese LGBT+ community. The localization isn't the bigger issue here but the original writing.
Localization can't fix the damage caused by the original text, but it can kill the wider spread of it.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,116
#28
Localization can't fix the damage caused by the original text, but it can kill the wider spread of it.
Does it though? I dont think containment is a viable strategy for dealing with this kind of bigotry. It's the same idea to me as leaving places like 8ch alone so that it is contained there. Why even buy the game at all? If you do that you just allow the bigotry to multiply and get worse while you feel better about yourself while making no difference
 
OP
OP
Shizuka
Oct 25, 2017
5,768
#29
Does it though? I dont think containment is a viable strategy for dealing with this kind of bigotry. It's the same idea to me as leaving places like 8ch alone so that it is contained there
When I saw these scenes and knowing that the original material means what it was said on the western version, I see two issues here: the first one being that the original material is homophobic/offensive and the second one being that the publisher decided to maintain said homophobic/offensive scenes as is. One can be solved, which is why I contacted the publisher before creating this thread, but the other one is a far more complicated issue than just patching a game.
 

L Thammy

Spacenoid
Member
Oct 25, 2017
13,315
#30
Does it though? I dont think containment is a viable strategy for dealing with this kind of bigotry. It's the same idea to me as leaving places like 8ch alone so that it is contained there
I'm not saying that it solves the problem, I'm saying that localization also plays a role in determining the extent of the damage, so it also bears responsibility if it doesn't fix the issue.

The writers of the original are at fault for the original script.
The individuals involved in localization are at fault for leaving in the issues in the original script as they spread it to a wider audience.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,342
#31
I can understand the reasons for why one would want the localization to smooth over or ameliorate these kinds of things, but that doesn't really fix the original problem and the harmful effects of the product on the japanese LGBT+ community. The localization isn't the bigger issue here but the original writing.
Well, that’s assuming the scene is as bad in the original as it’s in the localized version. While I certainly don’t expect a game like this to have any kind of progressive themes, we shouldn’t discount the possibility that a bad localization made the line even worse than originally intended.

E.g. user Tranq said that the English word “normal” is used to mean “straight” in Japan. While that’s an unfortunate choice of words to begin with, it might not actually have the same negative connotation to Japanese people than it has to English native speakers. It’s possible the original used “normal” as a neutral way of stating the characters sexuality, while the localization team messed up by not realizing that using “normal” in English too is a false friend where “straight” would have actually been the better choice to get the original’s intention across.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,116
#32
When I saw these scenes and knowing that the original material means what it was said on the western version, I see two issues here: the first one being that the original material is homophobic/offensive and the second one being that the publisher decided to maintain said homophobic/offensive scenes as is. One can be solved, which is why I contacted the publisher before creating this thread, but the other one is a far more complicated issue than just patching a game.
Sure and I'm saying that I think the solution 2 can potentially lead to exacerbation of problem 1. Changing the localization is good for the people playing the localization but that doesnt mean that the creators intent with that content changed.

I guess my opinion is that if the homophobic content makes you uncomfortable why would you still support them just because they changed things for you only.
 
Oct 31, 2017
1,810
#33
Am I the only one that's sick of seeing this kind of behavior not only in the original material, but also not being filtered on localization?
Western localizers should be able to read the room and know that leaving in homophobic ideas does not reflect well on them. Really wish Atlus had modified the scenes with the gay men to make them not the harmful gay predator stereotype that they were left as.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,759
#34
I remember seeing a couple of screenshots of this and thinking the game seemed to have some style so I'd keep it on my radar. Can safely say that I won't be bothering with it at this point.

It would be nice if this stuff had been caught and changed during the localisation but that wouldn't really make me feel any better about the game.
 
Oct 25, 2017
818
#35
Good post, hope they follow through and look into patching those parts out. That game always looked like a horny Steins;Gate rip-off but I didn’t expect the casual homophobia. Really tired of played out tropes like this in VNs and other Japanese games.

I also hate seeing the loan word "normal" used to describe heterosexuality, it still happens quite a lot in Japanese media. I’m sure the intention isn’t to be hurtful in many of those instances, loan words like this one often take on a life of their own and I doubt many Japanese people think about the implication that using that word makes homosexuality "abnormal".

But this is definitely something that should have been changed during localization. I found the original version of the second scene you described on YT. It’s like the translator told you, a pretty direct translation of the content.


The reaction by the third guy and the protagonist’s panicky defense where he assures them that he's "decidedly normal", followed by the girls making fun of him from the other side of the bathhouse makes it even worse and cliched. Did the translator leave that part in as well, including the comments where one of the girls uses the word abnormal and another one talks about being sick to her stomach just from imaging it?
 
Last edited:
Oct 27, 2017
1,021
Brazil
#36
Censoring that kind of shit shouldn't be the answer. All it does is hide the ugliness of the creators, and allows them to keep normalizing that kind of thing in their country of origin. It allows foreign consumers to ignore the bigotry just so they can enjoy their game. If the publisher feels like that kind of content does not represent them, they should release a note stating why they will refuse to work with that developer, and warning others to do so as well. By hiding it, all they do is profit from the work of a group of open bigots.
 
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
1,681
#37
Try the first Flowers VN. While it's a Victorian-style yuri VN, aimed mostly at males, it has some interesting stuff going about being gay in a very conservative environment. Aside from the protagonist there are two main characters, and of them is a very repressed lesbian girl dealing with emotional trauma that it's about to get outed by the other MC. That means being expelled from the Catholic High School they're attending, of course. When the protagonist gets wind of it she gets furious about the blackmailing and when the blackmailer (which is also a closeted gay, but she thinks being gay is wrong) is about to use an homophobic slur towards the other girl the protagonist almost
beats her.

It has also a very interesting dinamic with the protagonist being bi and questioning hew own sexuality and if it minds at allto like girls or guys if she's happy. She also has to deal with its fair share of emotional pain, which makes the love story tragic in style.
 
Oct 13, 2018
450
#38
Yeah, localization does nothing but hide potentially ugly aspects of Japanese culture (or any culture) and just let's them escape foreign criticism. I prefer seeing it, if only to be able to criticize and hopefully change attitudes.
 
Nov 2, 2017
1,736
#39
=
Try the first Flowers VN. While it's a Victorian-style yuri VN, aimed mostly at males, it has some interesting stuff going about being gay in a very conservative environment. Aside from the protagonist there are two main characters, and of them is a very repressed lesbian girl dealing with emotional trauma that it's about to get outed by the other MC. That means being expelled from the Catholic High School they're attending, of course. When the protagonist gets wind of it she gets furious about the blackmailing and when the blackmailer (which is also a closeted gay, but she thinks being gay is wrong) is about to use an homophobic slur towards the other girl the protagonist almost
beats her.

It has also a very interesting dinamic with the protagonist being bi and its fair share of emotional pain, which makes the love story tragic in style.
Suoh is not bi. I don't mind Bi Yuri prots at all, but there's zero implication she likes men at all. Except she thinks Russel Crowe is handsome.

The first time she's around other naked girls she can barely even think straight cause her horomones are on fire, and she says straight out the only person she's been sexually attracted too is another girl.

And Flowers is aimed towards females. The art style is extremely Otome-esque, and the author/creator (a former wrestling Champion, i'm not making this up) said as much.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,681
#40
=

Suoh is not bi. I don't mind Bi Yuri prots at all, but there's zero implication she likes men at all. Except she thinks Russel Crowe is handsome.
In the few years she goes to school she receives an invitation that ends up as a trap to mock her by the boys at the school. A little after that she secludes herself from the world and has very little contact with males or females.

I think it's heavily implied that when she finally decides to enter high school she has no defined sexuality. She's high in hormones till the very last straw of her raven hair, yeah, and I very much think her arc is about overcoming trauma and be able to be intimate with someone, it's just a coincidence that she attends an all-female school.
 

IamFlying

Banned
Member
Apr 6, 2019
32
#41
First, I must confess I don't have much knowledge of Japan. The most I see from japanese culture is only through games and anime TV shows made there.

My perspective on japanese gaming culture builded through these media: Regarding sexuality the japanese gaming culture is very immature: Homophobia, the fixation on very young girls, the strange behavior when it comes to touching other people.

And it feels like it got worse in recent years, even formerly "normal" japanese game series like Fire Emblem or the newest Xenoblade Chronicles now include these elements and it dampens my enjoyment of these series to a point where I decided not to play them anymore.

Xenoblade2 has cut scenes that could be straight from a cheaply made soft porn (stripper outfits jointed with big breasts and slow camera movements around the body) and together with the childish looking characters it looks and feels not only cheap but sometimes "creepy".

I don't mind sex in games. If developers want to include sex they should do it. I can play Bayonetta and smiling about the hilarious overdrawn sexuality that look and feels not "sexy" anyway but like a sarcastic comment on sexuality. I can ignore or sometimes even enjoy games with elements of sex. In contrast Xenoblade2 story looks like it is aimed at a young audience (the first two games has more mature stories and characters) but nonetheless includes even more of these strange pornographic elements.

And the way many japanese games includes sex feels like 13 years old talking about sex, to say it nicely, not so nicely said it sometimes appears as if some grown man that are sexually stuck in their puberty writing/designing many of these games and that is where the homophobic elements have their source too.

If I look at western RPGs I can roll my eyes at the dumb and immature writing in Witcher2 or the Mass Effect series when it comes to sex, but at least the characters behave and look like mature people and these elements there still feel not as dumb and cheap as the sex elements in most JRPGs.
 
Dec 1, 2017
2,592
#43
And the way many japanese games includes sex feels like 13 years old talking about sex, to say it nicely, not so nicely said it sometimes appears as if some grown man that are sexually stuck in their puberty writing/designing many of these games and that is where the homophobic elements have their source too.
The games are aimed to kids and teenagers, as you are kinda expected to stop playing console gamed when you are an adult. As for the fanservice, I think that come across as cultural differences as they're shows aimed at kids with the same level of fanservice as Xenoblade 2, or worst. You only need to look at Fairy tail or One Piece, where it airs around the same time as the Pokemon anime.
 
Feb 1, 2019
262
Spain
#44
Both of the examples you mentioned in the OP are from the characters being homophobic. Not like you don't have all the right to be disgusted, or believe the writers may share the same trashy ideas (from what you told us, I can totally see it here) but I will never agree with this type of censorship. Does that mean you can't have characters with flawed views on society in your work?
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,183
#45
Nah if the original game is shitty it should not be censored in the American release to give cover to them. People should know what kind of things they are supporting. If you want to support the homophobia that is happening in Japan than go right ahead but fixing it in localization only makes you feel better about yourself. It does not help the queer people being affected in Japan
Nah, as a gay man id have been 100% happy with the predators being removed wholesale from Persona 5. It existing in a localization is doing nothing but hurting us because no one gives a shit enough to change.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,183
#46
Both of the examples you mentioned in the OP are from the characters being homophobic. Not like you don't have all the right to be disgusted, or believe the writers may share the same trashy ideas (from what you told us, I can totally see it here) but I will never agree with this type of censorship. Does that mean you can't have characters with flawed views on society in your work?
Yes, real world bigotry has no place in anything unless explicitly demonized
 
Oct 30, 2017
151
#47
=

Suoh is not bi. I don't mind Bi Yuri prots at all, but there's zero implication she likes men at all. Except she thinks Russel Crowe is handsome.

The first time she's around other naked girls she can barely even think straight cause her horomones are on fire, and she says straight out the only person she's been sexually attracted too is another girl.

And Flowers is aimed towards females. The art style is extremely Otome-esque, and the author/creator (a former wrestling Champion, i'm not making this up) said as much.
That sounds interesting, I hate it when Yuri is aimed at men as it always seems to be kinda creepy that way.
 
Oct 25, 2017
9,264
New Jersey
#48
There's plenty of backwards attitudes in Japan to go around unfortunately. The right wing social aspects of Japan are unfortunately the ones that get the most eyes the more niche the property is.

In America, wokeness regarding progressive attitudes regarding sexual orientation is a fairly recent phenomenon. like the woman's rights movement was decades past, it was something that Japan never actually went through.

At the same time however, i also recognize that to say there isnt a large contingent of progressive people in Japan would be wrong, and there's been plenty of media to that end as well, long before it became mainstream to support inclusivity in the west. Its just a very weird and difficult situation to parse.
 
Nov 2, 2017
1,736
#49
That sounds interesting, I hate it when Yuri is aimed at men as it always seems to be kinda creepy that way.
I mean, most Yuri's even when there aimed at men, always end up attracting a large female fanbase.

Take Valkyrie Drive (the most pervy Yuri borderline/hentai series available) was initially aimed at men, but the director was shocked to find out they had a huge following of lesbian fans, and was happy about it.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,191
#50
I was soooo tempted by this cause I love visual novels and the aesthetic/use of color in this game. Was hesitant though cause the trailer made it look like it didn't have much going on outside of waifu pandering.

Thanks for saving me $50.