An Explanation For Kara no Shoujo’s Lack Of Voices

By Ishaan . May 20, 2011 . 2:17am

As we reported earlier in the week, MangaGamer’s release of Kara no Shoujo will not include the voice track in the original Japanese game. Head translator, John Pickett, sheds a little more light on the subject over at the MangaGamer blog (portions of the site may be NSFW).


“Because of the unique way in which the extensive voice cast for this game was chosen, the rights to the voices remained with the voice acting agency, and not [developer] Innocent Grey,” Pickett writes. “While both of us did our best to negotiate for use of the voices, the agency refused to accept any of the alternative options we proposed, and demanded an outlandish fee several times larger than the entire cost of localizing this product otherwise.”


“While some may argue that it would have better not to localize this game at all in light of this, we felt differently,” Pickett emphasizes. “Not only is Kara no Shoujo an excellent work on its own, but it also serves as an important link to the new game which Innocent Grey is currently developing, and since they would like to see that brought over as well, neither of us wanted to see the West denied such great games due to one agency.”


He also reveals that Kara no Shoujo needed to be ported over to a new game engine for its English language release, due to the original Japanese engine not being compatible with English text.


Kara no Shoujo is slated for release sometime in Q2 or Q3 of this year, priced at €24.95.

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  • katamari

    Mangagamer also knows very well that a voice patch will most likely be made by fans. So there is no reason to not release this (potential) masterpiece.

    • That’s the kind of thinking that might cause it to be cancelled before it’s even released, you know? You sure you want that to happen? 

      • katamari

        Anyone who has just a little insight in the english Visual Novel/Eroge scene would know that a voice patch will be made. If MG wouldn’t consider that, I wouldn’t take them serious.

        • kroufonz

          magagamer probably also know that there is possibility torrent containing already patched game swimming around the net soon after this game released:p

        • I realize that, but you must understand that the goal of MangaGamer is to publish these Visual Novels legally, as opposed to the us pirating them. I’m sure they do not want such actions to occur because of their idea to release this Visual Novels for us, you know?

          • mirumu

            MangaGamer certainly aren’t going to condone downloading some other company’s intellectual property, but since they neither own nor license it themselves then it isn’t theirs to protect. Besides, as far as the game itself goes pirates will pirate. Better to try and turn them into paying customers than lose sleep over them.

          • Well, my point seems to be either misplaced or ignored. I’m just saying, such comments encourage pirates, and it’s wrong. In the end, everyone ultimately suffers from it.

          • WonderSteve

             It is more like whoever is holding the rights of the voice work but refusing to license at reasonable terms is encouraging piracy.

            Businessman in the content creation business needs to have a global mind set for doing business in this internet age.

          • Scrooge_McDuck

            It’s just an observation. You are acting as if he’s condoning piracy or is planning to do it. He’s just saying that people would.

      • mirumu

        Why would it cause the game to be cancelled? A voice patch isn’t much use without the game.

        • Cause the the release of the game would encourage the piracy of the other company’s voice talents, thus, making them lose money. Wouldn’t this cause them to take further actions to stop the game from being released in the West at all? 

          • mirumu

            I don’t see where anyone is losing money in that scenario. The voice acting agency aren’t making a single yen out of the deal whether the voice tracks are pirated or not.

            Also since the english version doesn’t use any of the voice acting agency’s assets at all, then why would that company have any say as to whether or not the game is allowed to be sold in the west? 

          • Another instance of the situation you say would be this. “My friend isn’t using his thumbdrive, and since he’s not here, I’ll use it then.” Whether it can be used or not, depends on your friend. You need his permission. The release of the game acts as a second party, much like the absence of the friend in the situation above, that encourages the act to be done.

            Thing is, what if they plan to release it in the future? The voices can still be used to earn money. If this fan-made patch gives the voices for free, they would earn less in the future, should they decide to release them.

            Sure, you might say that by not giving the rights, they have pushed themselves out of the picture, but, if the patch were to be released, wouldn’t it have been the game’s fault? For encouraging such a release? This can be used as reason to stop the publishing. Even if they failed to stop this one, I am sure they won’t allow another Visual Novel that includes their work to be released in the future. If the voice patch comes out, that is.

          • mirumu

            The law in most countries simply doesn’t work that way. It it did then no product would ever be sold because everything could be said to encourage the use of some related stolen or pirated product. Buying a microwave might encourage me to steal food from the grocery store. Buying a printer might encourage me to use pirated ink cartridges made in the third world. I’m sure I don’t even need to mention the potential evils of thumbdrives…

            I’m not saying piracy of the voice tracks is okay, but if you think the voice acting agency is going to have any legal comeback on MangaGamer then I’m sure you’re going to be disappointed.

    • mikanko

      Actually wonder if them having to port it to a new game engine that’ll use English text will make it a lot harder for someone to add a voice patch.

    • FreakyYellowBanana

       I’m very much inclined to believe this is the actual reason.

      Or else they could just, you know, just make legal translation patches and create import services for the game. They wont have to localize and butcher any crap either.

  • kroufonz

    well i know that this game using audition to determine the voice cast with 254 people competing to voice 5 heroine in the game :p

    i can understand cost is really big problem for niche developer, but this is this is the 2nd time mangagamer did this, if they did this novoice thing for 3rd time i am afraid we could lose another niche publisher.(personally i didn’t want they’re gone because i am still hoping/dreaming some day they could bring physical release of PS3 VN like To Heart 2 DX+,Fortune Arterial, and CLANNAD, Umineko, Tears to tiara 1&2, utawarerumono 2 etc to the west)

    • I think they are just doing all they can. You must also consider them as a business company, you know? 

      • kroufonz

        i know they try really hard for it bro and i appreciated, like i said “i can understand cost is really big problem for niche developer,”

        but from most of customer pov this is the 2nd time they did this (no matter what the reason is) , for small publisher like them consumer trust is really important and they definitely losing some of the trust with this (since it is the 2nd time), if there is 3rd time they will probably could lost a lot more of their customer. some human could forgive the 2nd time, but most will find it hard  forgive the 3rd,

        i am not blaming them at all, but they should do something to regain the trust  they lost.

        • blah blah

          I doubt many people care much about it having voices or not, especially since it’ll probably get a voice path.
          It would be a nice thing to have, but I think most people into visual novels just want them to be localized even if it means leaving voices out, so I doubt much trust would be lost because of something small like that.

        • Rights to a Voice Actor is something we must accept. We must accept that it is their voice and they or their company decide who can use it. Mainly because it is something produced by that person.

          Now, I know it’s mainly a capital issue, but as I said, you must see them as a Business company. They need to earn so that they can continue their work. You don’t want them to release this game fully then be forced to close down, do you? So, I don’t get why you would lose trust in MangaGamer if, as you said, you understand the reason why they can’t bring it over.

          • Scrooge_McDuck

            It’s just an observation. You are acting as if he’s the one who is losing trust. He’s just saying that people would. 

        • M’iau M’iaut

          And I’d call Kara no Shojo a differnt bird than Kohime Muso. It is a dramatic which means voice work is a far more essential part of the experience. The events lose power when one is only reading translated text.

          I again call into question the entire method of how MG is going about this business. If one is going to say “they don’t need to have the voice work, others will ‘make’ a patch” then why even bother to bring anything over. Others will make a text translation too. 

          If your advantage over the competition is your ‘direct’ line and business arrangements with Japanese companies, shouldn’t you be able to find high quality works without VA issues? The competition is releasing Demonbane and School Days without missing elements so one can’t say the ‘other guys’ are only doing sex romps or the like.

          • Moriken

              “The events lose power when one is only reading translated text.”

            …hm, I don’t recall “real” novels losing their impact because they’re not voiced t hough?

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Of course not, but the printed page does not include the visual and audio aspects of a work like Kara. The VN  is a sum of many parts and taking one of those parts away does affect impact. Even the longest and most complex VN does not reach the length or development (in terms of text) of a novella and barely that of a short story. Everything is needed for a VN to come together.

          • Ren

            But this isn’t a real novel, the way the text is presented and formated is very different. And while I’m not saying it can’t have impact without the voices, the game and the text were created to have the voices together with the text to create it, so taking away the voices would cripple it by design, even if just a little.

          • Actually M’iau, to say VNs don’t come close to the length of a novel is pretty harsh, because almost all of them do. The word count for Koihime Musou, for example, rivals that of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy or Trails in the Sky. Shin Koihime Musou is twice as long as that.

            It is the length of these works that causes such lengthy development time. Your typical VN such as Kira Kira, DearDrops, or Edelweiss, is about 2MB of pure text, or ~350,000 words.

            While yes, there are plenty which are about half that length or less (Almost all of the VNs brought over before MangaGamer entered the scene and the Nitro+ deal was made with JAST), saying the longest VN doesn’t reach a novella is a bit cruel, and belittles the work going into them.

            If I had a nickel for every time I’ve worked on a 100+ page script file…… well, I’d be broke since those are like 3-4 days of work right there. But I’d have a jar full of nickels nonetheless.

          • kroufonz

            the said competitor also releasing the game on disc! ><

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Not trying to belittle the effort or work involved, but would still note folks would call a difference between the two. The length of a single VN story path is less than the text for all of the event paths, and in the case of something like Muso or Trails much is taken up with things non-expository. Yes it still needs translated and is important to the work but most would not consider it part of the telling of the novel.

            I was more trying to note the greater elements of a VN and that taking the voice over work out does indeed impact the experience and does not fully share the creator’s vision.

    • mirumu

      I’m kind of torn on this myself. I agree with you that it isn’t a good look, and that Manga Gamer shouldn’t be making a habit of it. At the same time though, if all the those who own the assets won’t all come to the party then Manga Gamer’s hands are really tied. I imagine they’re as frustrated about this as anyone.

      Part of me would rather see them bring over other titles without these problems instead, but it sounds like they’ve developed a good working relationship with Innocent Grey and are thinking forward to future titles too. In that sense this may pay off in the long run. For now I’m inclined to give MG the benefit of the doubt here.

  •  Aaah, legal copyright issues…

    One of a video game localizer worst nightmares.

    • kroufonz

       more like money issue

      • Well, we could say that legal copyright issues are a particular kind of money issue.

        In any case, it’s the one that affects localizing more directly.

      • Unfortunately, you are only as strong as the legal and contracts team you can afford to pay for, and you’re only good for the budget you actually have.

        It’s a sad mess, but contract and copyright law is a mess on a good day. It’s not going to get any better either, if you have any experience with the recent pushes either.

  •  Honestly, I have a lot of respect for Mangagamer. They’ve really cleaned up their stuff and have been bringing over so good games (outside of the normal sphere of super ero stuff).

    If this is what they have to do to get it brought over, so be it.

  • Aoshi00

    Need 360 port w/ voices :)…

    • Ladius

      Won’t happen I think, this game is extremely heavy on gore. 

      • Aoshi00

        Hm… will see… if the gore is too explicit though, game is probably not for me.. I’m playing Chaos;Head Noah now and some parts do gross me out a bit lol.. I just think VNs & achievement are perfect for each other :) It’s just that the art looks so good, I guess it looks like it’s very heavy or gore and sex.. a console port might just tone down those things, like how all the Saturn and Dreamcast eroge got watered down and turned into just dating sims, like Doukyuusei or Kakyuusei..

  • Pichi

    Keeping this in mind for for the other consoles and such that there is more to it than space issues for bringing Japanese VA over. Hate it when the royality price is high like that. Some fans may not undertand it. 

  • WonderSteve

    I will still buy it. This is one of those few non-cliche VN titles that deserve support.

    I really hope Ef will have voices

    To whichever voice acting agency that refuse to sell the right at reasonable term, you can go burn in hell.

  • Exand

    This probably isn’t so much about “outlandish” fees, but about North America companies still undervaluing great voice acting done by professionals who practice and hone their craft only for voice acting.

    • Really….now. Oh wait, were you being serious.

  • Ladius

    It’s really sad that the voice recording company isn’t able to understand the reality of the western vn market and prefere to have no money than a little sum just to avoid being seen as cheap.

    Personally I don’t care though, I will buy this game as soon as it’s released and the MangaGamer crew and Apoptosis have all my gratitude for their work, especially since porting the game to a new engine must have been far more difficult than the usual localization.

    I hope people understand that the refusal to support official localizations is exactly the reason this market is so small and publishers can’t afford to buy the rights to the voiceovers without losing money. We can support those games and spread the word hoping that one day the market will be good enough to see decent sales or we can feel entitled and boycottpirate, but if we do that we shouldn’t be surprised when other games won’t have voiceovers or when we will lose official localizations altogether.

  •  Not surprising at all. This isn’t the first time this has happened to them :V

  • Phlo

    Wait, they had to port it over to a new engine? Wasn’t the fan-translation they snapped up over half a year ago almost ready to release?

    • Bascially the TL was done, but they were having serious problems with the engine. Quote a guy who was on the team, Izmosmolnar

      “Naturally we did.
      Originally, we (due to our image editor Vodka’s idea) asked Mangogamer to inquire Innocent Grey that, was the reason of their C&D is that they want to release official stuff outside Japan, or they just followed Minori & co’s suit with last year’s craze. They immediately said they’re very interested in licensing their games so we joined forces with the two other parties after that.We kept a low profile due to it being voiceless (AFAIH they were bugging the voicecompany since last summer but they didn’t wanna budge), and due to how MG is the one who should be announcing it, not us (especially since they’re the one deciding the release date anyway).Near completion isn’t quite accurate though, when the C&D came and we halted to see what we were gonna do, there were still truckloads of stuff to do before it being release worthy.”

      • Phlo

        Oh, I had no idea. Thanks for the detailed reply!

  • PrinceHeir

     will wait for the Voice patch :D

    i mean all they have to do is get the JPN version and extract the voices from the folder right?

    so no worries, still thanks a lot Manga gamer for bringing it here :P

  • AdrianHeng

     I’ve never heard of this game, but I just have three words to say: Unofficial Voice Patch.

  • Allerina

    Doesn’t matter if there’s no voices in the game by mangagamer. Just wait some month, and people will create an unofficial voice patch, I’m sure of it.
    Though, I’m not concerned, I read it in japanese a long time ago. Good luck, MG, official localizations are really problematic, eh? 

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