How To Adapt A Japanese Game With English Voiceovers

By Spencer . May 26, 2014 . 2:50am


Siliconera readers have played dozens of Japanese games brought over by companies like Atlus, NIS America, Aksys, and Xseed. When a game comes over from East to West, English voiceovers are often added to the game. Siliconera had a casual conversation with Taliesin Jaffe, the voice director of Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed, where he talked about the differences when directing voiceovers for a Japanese game and a Western one.


You’ve worked on a lot of Japanese games. What do you think the difference is when recording voiceovers in Japanese compared to recording them in English?


Taliesin Jaffe, Voice Director: It could not be more different. Wow, I’m trying to think where to start with that one… The big thing when it comes with Japanese games is that they have a lot more in common with anime and anime translation and adaptation than Western games. Western games, there is not really a set system for creating voiceover and foreign performance capture for Western games yet.


But, the nice thing is when bringing a game from Japan or honestly any country is somebody has, on a certain level, done that work for you and figured out the weird nooks and crannies of the game. It just becomes your job to take all of that information and put it in some sort of state where it is actually understandable, consumable, and enjoyable for an American Western audience and then to do the best to create the best simulation of that experience as humanly possible.


And thankfully, anime has given people a lot of tools for doing that. The various way the script adaptations are done are very, very similar to anime. The casting, the performance style. Whereas when you’re given a Western game you kind of have to sit down and start from day one to figure out what is the tone. Where is it coming from? How weird can you get? How funny can you get?


We’ve been doing anime for 20 years so there’s it’s rare for anything to come along that doesn’t make sense, that we don’t already have a pretty decent grasp of. And [Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed] is a very Japanese game.


Ranma 1/2 is a very Japanese cartoon. There is a way to translate it and there is a way to bring it to the U.S. in a very Japanese fashion. Then there’s Cowboy Bebop which is a Japanese take on Western pop culture and we know from that direction you take a slightly different path in the way you cast it and the way people sound and even the jokes you can make. This game is so steeped in anime culture that there is no other way to direct this game than make it an ode to the anime style adaption. I just talked a lot! I had a lot of caffeine.


How did you pick the cast?


TJ: Actually, I didn’t pick the cast.


Tom Lipschultz, Localization Specialist at Xseed: We sort of had a dream list of people who we wanted to work on various roles and Cup of Tea tried to fill that dream list as best as possible. Where they couldn’t they kind of picked people they thought they fit.



Is that usual?


TJ: No, it’s not usual. There are two or three ways it usually happens. Sometimes, especially for anime, you get to go in and set the whole cast yourself and figure out how it’s going to be. Sometimes you submit, this is my least favorite way to do things I admit, you submit like three options for every character to Japan and hope whatever they send back – can I metaphor? Is that OK?


It’s like you’re going to bake a pie and you have three different options for crust, five different options for filling, four different options for the type of salt you’re going to use, three different options for how long it’s going to be in there, and you send them all to different people and they randomly pick one and you hope it’s going to be good. So, that happens a lot where you send it and they like I like that one, that one, that one, and that one. (In a comical voice) Then you say that comes together… kind of OK.


The nice thing about this game and a company like Xseed, and I say this with love and affection, is you’re all nerds. So you actually know who sounds good and you can say who you like. They already knew the sound they wanted and could kind of put that together. That’s a fun way to do it too.


What’s the weirdest scene you recorded for Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed?


TJ: I think you might have just witnessed it! [Laughs] I’m feeling a little dirty.


Was this the strangest thing you had to voice over?


Cindy Robinson, Voice Actress of Nana in Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed: No, I’ve done all kinds of bad things. I’ve been a baby making machine, that was interesting. Do you know Zero’s Last Reward? I’m Zero the 3rd and you know that bunny is all over the place. Zero is probably the weirdest off the wall character I’ve played.


Most of her scenes are not like that. That scene is literally that he’s just hugging her. The game plays a lot with player expectations. There’s a sister mini-game too where you basically get a lot of cut scenes with the sister depending on this weird board game setup thing.




Is this the dirtiest game you’ve done?


TJ: [Laughs] That I’ll admit to. There’s some stuff in Hellsing that I’m not proud of. I’ve never seen anything like this before, I’ll admit. I worked briefly on Moon Phase and it kind of reminded me of that anime, but it’s a lot more fun and playful. The foreign tourists are a little weird. People are either going to love what we did or think we’re crazy.


TL: For context there. The fake vampires in the game, are known as Synthisters. There are all manner of syntheses that are generic NPCs. Among them are foreign tourists from America and China. And we’ve done them to be satires of Japanese tourists.


TJ: That’s such a nice way to put it. [Laughs] That’s such a polite way to put it, thank you. We’re bad people and hopefully people will find it pretty funny. Especially our replacement for the American tourist is a little out there.


TL: yeah, we decided we couldn’t have an American tourist if the game is in English so we went with a foreign accent.


TJ: A couple different foreign accents. There may be a Glasgow Scot in there. There may be a Brit and two Chinese tourists. It  works, it’s very weird but it works and at the very least it’s extremely disturbing and I think people will appreciate that. It’s been a lot of fun to work on this game.


Cup of Tea Productions have worked with Xseed for a really long time since Wild ARMs 4.


Danni Hunt, Owner of Cup of Tea Productions: The good thing with Xseed is they know what they are doing so we don’t have to ask them for specifics and they know not to throw specifics at us. I think Wild ARMs was so long ago, it was our first one and we we’re been getting to know each other.


How does Akiba’s Trip compare to a game like Xenosaga?


DH: [Xenosaga] was enormous and it had a lot of in game movies. That almost makes the recording super long because you are recording to picture which is a slower process. This is chunky, that’s for sure. It might be the most characters we have, maybe. 




Cup of Tea Productions did voice recording for Mega Man Legends 3. Did you work on that at all?


TJ: Oh God, I wish!


DH: That was us though. It was almost completed. It was voiced. I can confirm it was almost completed.

Read more stories about & & & on Siliconera.

  • Makoto Yuki

    *lookatMMLegendposter* -> cry a little bit..

  • Shippoyasha

    That Moon Phase reference. Such a classic Shaft anime. Kind of a precursor to the modern styles of Shaft shows.

  • Kotori Itsuka

    Should I get this for ps3, vita or ps4(I don’t have a ps4 :( If tere is a ffxv bunduru with a ps4 then I’ll get that)

    • nonscpo

      It depends on your preference, if you plan to pick up the PS4 version down the road then I guess it makes sense for you to pick up the Vita version first. Once again its your preference.

    • Qunton C.

      PS4 version HAS NOT been announced for localization yet. Keep that in mind.

  • James Hewitson

    Considering that I much prefer the original Seiyuu casts over English dubbing this doesn’t effect me at all, but I understand why they dub as it brings in new fans so it’s all good.
    Just glad it’s dual audio :-D

    • Aesma

      Dual Audio, how I love thee. Shutting up both sides (Jdub vs Edub) without argument.
      …really, while I understand that there are problems with license and money, some companies puzzle me with their decision of not having ‘dual audio’.

      • James Hewitson

        Atlus is the biggest culprit -_-. Thankfully there’s very little that Atlus localises that interests me.

        • Aesma

          Hahaha… well, they had that (not so) ‘small’ company excuse before. …doesn’t really make sense though. …especially since some of the Japanese dub and English translation differs (Especially cultural references)

          The question is, does Akiba’s Trip’s English dub/translation can catch all the references in the game? This is different from normal games. This game is filled with ungodly amount of shout-out and cultural references.

          • James Hewitson

            Haha yes exactly, it’s extremely think in Japanese Otaku culture and as an Otaku myself having an English dub for a game set in Akibahara is just not very fitting or authentic but hey its XSEED’s choice. I mean I’ve already played the hell out of the Japanese vita version so im very curious to see how XSEED translates everything. I will say this for Xseed they are Far more competent than NISA when it comes to translations :-D

          • Aesma

            Agreed. I played the Japanese version too.
            …and I must say, it DID help me when I went to real life Akiba. The building locations and so on are almost the exact match.
            …(un)fortunately there weren’t any ‘vampires’ in RL Akiba.

          • James Hewitson

            Hehehe well I don’t think people would appreciate being stripped in public, although it might be amusing ;-)

          • Aesma

            Hmm… could be used for comedic effect though, if ‘censor light’ exist in real life… Just like in Neptunia…

          • James Hewitson

            Ah yes the censor light that would indeed be funny, just avoid the policewomen….. Or maybe not lol

          • Aesma

            …you know, I just realized how some people will react playing this game. I still recall my choices in the first scene.
            ‘My figure!’
            Game over.
            My reaction, ‘…guess I joked around a bit too much…’

          • James Hewitson

            Yeah I did that too just for giggles, ahem GAMEOVER lol. Yeah agreed for those that aren’t versed in Otaku culture they’re probably going to be like what on earth is going on lol

          • Aesma

            …wait a sec, does USA have an equivalent of ‘figure’? Or will they call i ‘PVC’ or ‘model kit’?

          • James Hewitson

            Well Im Australian so I’m not 100% sure tbh ;-)

          • Aesma

            …oh well, we’ll find out once the game is released.
            …Neptune dakimakura, wonder if they’ll release THAT DLC…

          • James Hewitson

            The Neptune dlc maybe seeing as the Neptune series is being consistently localised but as for Dakimakura probably not.

          • Aesma

            …times like these, I recall the missing ‘Idol DLC’ in Neptunia Victory… And then they localized PP…

          • DanijoEX ♬ the Cosmic Owl

            Probably just “model kit’s”…I’m American and even I’m not sure either. I just refer to as “figures” or “figurines”.

          • Aesma

            Hoo… well, I hope they won’t put anything too strange…

          • Ric Vazquez


          • wyrdwad

            We tried our best. ;)

          • Aesma

            Quite so, thanks for your hard work!

        • DyLaN

          I remember the only time an Atlus localized game have dual audio, that game got region locked so…..

        • Ric Vazquez

          Persona 3 and 4 witj dual audio would have been even better in my opinion.

          • Ritsuioko23


          • Ric Vazquez

            To each his own ;)

      • katamari damacy

        The worst is when they arbitrarily decide to leave out the Japanese audio entirely. They are given the rights to distribute the game, voice track included, and they just arbitrarily decide only to leave in the english dub and remove the japanese track even though there is no more work that needs to be done to incorporate the japanese audio. On the Xbox 360, space concerns is a legitimate issue, but on the PS3 50gb Blu-Ray discs? That’s no longer an issue and there’s no excuse not to include japanese voice tracks if they exist.

        • British_Otaku

          I agree that space isn’t an issue with game releases and hasn’t been one for a long time (given that Arkham Asylum probably had five dubs on Xbox 360 with one disc as well >_>), though I think there are some differing rights agreements or costs from game to game or something…

          Otherwise, it is insane that America got dual audio for Virtue’s Last Reward and Europe got only a Japanese voice over despite us getting the game later.

        • wyrdwad

          See my above response. It’s rarely ever an arbitrary decision, but a legal one, or at the very least a decision that’s been thrust upon the publisher by some outside source.

      • wyrdwad

        It’s not really a “decision” in most cases. With very, very rare exception, games that are dub-only aren’t dub-only by choice, but by necessity — most likely due to licensing issues. The Japanese voice-actors’ contracts may specify “for Japan only,” or the Japanese devs may basically say that they don’t WANT the Japanese voices being used in the foreign game, or there may even be some technical or policy reason. Publishing games in English involves a lot of red tape and bureaucracy, and a LOT of people and approvals and forms and sign-offs and legal fees and… headaches in general. And there are any number of factors that can enter into it.

        But for the most part, I can’t think of any company that’s ever said, “Hey, let’s remove the Japanese voices from this game. They shouldn’t be around anymore.”

        I know we certainly haven’t, and we’ve published our fair share of dub-only titles in the past. We wish we wouldn’t have had to, but sadly, we did — and due to NDAs, we can’t ever really give you guys a proper explanation except to say, “Trust us, we didn’t want to do this.”

        • Aesma

          Indeed, however:

          ‘some companies puzzle me with their decision of not having ‘dual audio’.’

          This part refers to companies such as Atlus. As Persona 4 Arena shows, they are able to bring Japanese dub to other country releases. Yet, they didn’t bring Japanese dub to their other games.

          Well… maybe they managed to do so because Persona 4 Arena isn’t an RPG, though I don’t think that’s the reason. (Personally, I think Labrys’ Kansai accent sounds quite cute and beautiful).

          • wyrdwad

            You can’t really say “Atlus released (Game A) with dual audio, therefore they can release all games with dual audio.” Every single game is different — even games from the same developer. Hell, even games from one’s own parent company in Japan can wind up with the “no Japanese audio allowed” clause written into the contract somewhere, for one reason or another.

            And even with being able to offer dual audio in games like Akiba’s Trip and Killer Is Dead, we’re bound to release titles in the future that feature English audio only. Heck, we’ve already got one slated: the Steam version of Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky will contain only English-dubbed voices. This isn’t because we hate you guys or anything, nor is it arbitrary — it’s just something that we had to do, for reasons we can never really specify due to NDAs and such.

            They can’t all be Akiba’s Trips, unfortunately!

          • Aesma

            I suppose so… A bit disappointing though..

          • Audie Bakerson

            Will second chapter be dubbed?

          • wyrdwad

            It already has been. We recorded voices for FC, SC and 3rd at the same time several years ago. And yes, that means SC will also have English voices only, I’m afraid.

            (Remember, though, the entire Trails trilogy only really has battle voices, and these can be turned off if you so desire, so the effect should be minimal. No version of any of the Trails games prior to Zero no Kiseki features voiced cutscenes,)

          • Audie Bakerson

            Ah, didn’t know you did that. Cool. My concern was more inconsistant dubbing that just dubbing.

    • Ric Vazquez

      Sam here, original seiyuu > eng dub 90% of the time

    • James Darkly

      thumbs up for dual audio.

    • DarkLight

      Wait it’s dual audio?I didn’t even know that XD,welp that just makes it better.

    • Ritsuioko23

      I dislike seiyuu with a passion. I could care less about some Japanese dude when I can hear my Liam.

      • Alexander Marquis Starkey

        As dickish as you sound, I gotta say that Liam is indeed awesome.

  • samsneeze

    I think the biggest mistake a person can make when judging a game’s English dub or wondering why there is a dub in the first place is thinking that the game is being localized only for them and their “niche” and “otaku” friends in the West.

    • kaotron

      exactly, I think most of them are just a bunch of jaded anime fans who don’t understand that some people prefer to play a game in a language they understand(even if the voice acting isn’t perfect).

      Many like to point out the exceptionally bad cases of games that did a horrible/lazy job dubbing but instantly dismiss the games with good ones say they prefer the original voices for the character and that having non-japanese VA’s for them instead makes it “disillusioning” somehow…

      • shuyai

        it is actually the oposite, Jdub people never have a problems with Edub, they just say prefer Jdub want wants it as an option. but when ever a Edub people hear people perfer Jdub, they lose their mind calling them weeabos and idiot because they doesnt understand japanese anyway or just state Edub is very good , infact every Gamespot post asking about dual audio ends with being call a weeabos

        Bottom line is everyone has their own opinion just because you think the Edub is good doesnt mean they have to take it as a fact or that shouldn’t perfer Jdub because of it.

        • kaotron

          I’m not saying one language is better than the other, I’m just trying to say that it makes sense to play a game in a language you understand(otherwise you could’ve just imported).

          I have nothing against the people who prefer the sound of japanese voices but to me it’s like saying that I hate the english letters/wording and that I prefer the superior and original japanese alphabet.

          • Chon Pak

            Look, you got to agree with what Herok said here. No one is in the right, you too, is just a very biased person here who is uncompromising on the subject. Your personal preference is good, but your insults will just stir up a whole bunch of hated trash talk.

            Why don’t I help you understand a bit more about how people differs from one another? I am Chinese and I really dislike it when we have crappy voice overs in our language. Very different compared to your situation right?

            A lot of us prefer to watch Western movies, games in their original language with subtitles. The Japanese/Korean games we play are mostly localized in our language but with their original voice audios.

            For me, the appreciation of a different culture matters a lot to me. If not, I wouldn’t even bother learning English because I don’t want to think English is superior than Chinese.

            I don’t want to force foreigners to speak Chinese with me. You are not wrong, it is ok to think that way. However, pressing your own beliefs on others and believing that your personal preference is in the majority is just as bad as those haters. Don’t you think you’ll be put in a better spot if you can try to speak calmly rather than speak like an angry person who is unable to contain his emotions?

            I think people will respect you more for your opinion if you do so. Do you know why this stupid debate is going on for so long? Because of the ridiculous jabs the differing sides throw at each other. When people get mad, their reasoning stops.

            If you want others to understand you prefer having a game localized in your own language in every aspect, then I think you need to learn to understand that others want it to be in their original dub so they can compare it with the subtitles and try to understand the difference in language and culture. :) This is much better than having a continuous debate of who is right and who is wrong, because you’ll never get anywhere.

          • kaotron

            okay, I get it. In the end it’s a matter of preference, apples and oranges.

            I’ve played dual-aud games and watched many animes in sub & dub, they both have their pros&cons and in the end I personally dont care which medium is used to make me understand what’s going on(If I played a dual-audio game that had a default set of jap audio + eng subs I’d be to lazy/wouldnt care to change it, vice-versa) but as I said earlier it’s a matter of preference just like some audiophiles can’t enjoy music unless it’s coming out of $200+ headphones(off topic but you get the point).

            And I don’t think it’s fair to compare animations and video game cutscenes to live-action dubs. I hate live action dubs since almost everything about it is done wrong but the former can easily be edited since it’s animation

          • Chon Pak

            I have made note of video game cut-scenes in my post already though. Also, we have animation dubbed in Cantonese regularly and it’s horrible because of the lack of voice-actors. Most of the time I watch it in subs instead. My cousin plays Japanese games in Chinese subs at first when trying to learn the language.

            Yes, there are people who really can’t enjoy it unless it’s Japanese, but that is a valid reason as well. I, for one, do understand Japanese, but I want subs anyway to see if I make any errors and how it would be translated while comparing the languages in real time.

            People have different reasons for buying a game, and it’s not like everyone is obliged to buy it right? We should be glad it’s localized in the first place, but do we have the obligation to buy it at all costs? No. I think you need to steer your head away from people who wants dual audio. Everyone wants it for a different reason, and if it’s no big deal for you then there is no need to hate the others. If they act bigoted and hateful, then you can just ignore them. Why feel the need to return the hate?

            If there is a game I like, but the options available isn’t of my preference, then of course I won’t buy it. This doesn’t automatically make a person worth to be hated (unless I start the hate, but even so it’s not right).

            I understand your take on this matter already, that’s why it’s enough to let it go. Dual audio does solve this whole debate, there is no need to antagonize anyone. Just like how you don’t care about some trivia matters that others think are important, the opposite is true.

            Think this ends it? I mean we both understand each other’s point. Why don’t we continue to strike some reasoning into others? I know you can do it, if you can manage to understand others (which some cannot do), then don’t you think it’s possible for you to act as an advocate for the stop of this atrocity? You can do it.

        • Herok♞

          Look in this stupid argument both sides are equally to blame. The fans of the original audio aren’t as polite as you claim they are and The fans of dubbed audio aren’t as crass as you think they are. This is just an argument where no one is in the right.

        • DivinePhoenix69

          ” Jdub people never have a problems with Edub”.

          Really? Because afaik everytime a JRPG or anime gets announced for a localization, they are usually the first ones whining about how “terrible” the english voices are, and that they won’t buy a game simply because it doesn’t have japanese voices and resort to pirating it.

          • shuyai

            what i mean is by problem is that Jdub people dont have problem with other people playing with Edub, they dont demand other people to play it in Jdub they just want to play with Jdub on but whether they think the Edub is terrible thats is their opinion. just as you think some game/movie is terrible when someone else think they are great. though i can see why people takes offence in that

            what you are doing is you are forcing your opinion of Edub is great onto other people and demand them to buy the game while rejecting the idea that some people simply dont like Edub.

            and quoting Chon pak

            “People have different reasons for buying a game, and it’s not like
            everyone is obliged to buy it right? We should be glad it’s localized in
            the first place, but do we have the obligation to buy it at all costs?
            No. I think you need to steer your head away from people who wants dual audio. Everyone wants it for a different reason, and if it’s no big deal
            for you then there is no need to hate the others. If they act bigoted and hateful, then you can just ignore them. Why feel the need to return
            the hate?

            If there is a game I like, but the options available
            isn’t of my preference, then of course I won’t buy it. This doesn’t
            automatically make a person worth to be hated (unless I start the hate,
            but even so it’s not right).”

          • Ragnawind

            this is true. I never really even hear the “Jdub” people say they just prefer them. Most of the time, they say stuff like the “Edub” makes their ears bleed and refuse to buy a game that doesn’t have a “Jdub”, especially if it is announced that there will only be an “Edub” for the game. The above person must not see much of what the Japanese dub fans are really like, except maybe in a single place that MAY be like that.

    • Let’s be honest though, who else is going to be playing Akiba’s Trip?

      • samsneeze

        People with a passing interest in it after seeing in a store either online or in a brick and mortar. Or people like me who just like playing games and are willing to give anything a chance.

  • Göran Isacson

    I’m curious what they mean by there existing “no set system” for creating voice overs for English games, which apparently exist for Japanese games. Do they refer to what kind of performances they want, or what kind of tone they want the script to have? I’m mostly just curious what they mean with that “start from day one”, you’d think there’d be systems/tropes in place by now for what kind of voices you’d like from a Western video game (cocky Uncharted-type adventurer, serious Gears of War-type marine soldier, etc).

    Also man, sending out voice demos to Japant… on the one hand, ensuring that the original designers have some input is kinda nice. On the other hand this sounds like the kind of system that could easily go wrong- Japanese sound designers not really knowing what kind of voices work in English since they’re not familiar with the language, the whole process is probably pretty time-consuming, and worst of all: the possibility that the decision comes down to some middle-manager, not an actual voice designer, due to some byzantine buraeucratic rule saying this or that middle-manager needs to make the call… it just sounds like it could get very complicated and very impresice, is all.

    Also, stripping Scottish (blood)suckers: the game. I must admit, that has a catchy ring to it.

    • SerendipityX

      I thought I was only one who noticed that part about sending out voice demos to Japan. Seems like that can easily go wrong in a variety ways that you mentioned. And this is apparently a set system for Japanese games and anime.

      • TheCynicalReaper

        It’s very likely that such a system is the primary reason why we often get the same five voice actors for any given project. The Japanese casters think those voices are our seiyuu and, while it’s kinda like that, it also makes it hard for new blood in the industry and creates a thick barrier of nepotism (like in Japan, really).

        Thankfully Danganronpa and Blaz Blue (mostly) proved we can give other VAs a chance and come out with really good performances.

  • Lusankya

    Zero’s Last Reward. :(
    Cindy, I expected better of you.

    • Barrylocke89

      To be fair, she’s done quite a few dubs according to wikipedia, and VLR came out almost 2 years ago. It would have been nice if whoever edited the interview [corrected] it though.

    • TheCynicalReaper

      I wonder why she didn’t mention Makoto Nanaya. She’s become far more iconic for that lovable character.
      Maybe she just really liked Zero the Third. Shame since that character eventually did blast ALL in the story and just fell by the wayside. Just another failure to heap onto VLR…

    • wyrdwad

      That was either a slip of the tongue on her part, or a typo in the transcription. She definitely knows the actual name, and said it several times.

  • idrawrobots

    I have to wonder why you wouldn’t simply make the “American” tourists, Americany.

    • nonscpo

      They were probably scared they would offend their audience, remember that there are some xenophobic elements in Japan some of the jokes could have been derogatory towards them.

      • idrawrobots

        And you don’t think anyone playing a very Japanese game set in Japan cannot handle that?

        • nonscpo

          Oh I absolutely beloved so in fact the audience might even find some good social commentaries in it. But if they did that it would lose its mass appeal which is what Xseed is going after in this game.

    • darke

      Because they’re selling to an “American Western audience”. If they’re talking about ‘american’ tourists, it’s quite likely they’re following the “ugly american tourist” stereotype; which isn’t the most nice perspective on things…

    • Barrylocke89

      Maybe they figured that it wouldn’t translate as well with an English dub. It’s kind of like how in Japanese dubs the go to foreign language is English, but since they’re already speaking in English in an English dub, they make the foreign language Spanish or something else.

      • TheCynicalReaper


    • Yeah, they probably could’ve used goofy American regional accents (Southern/Midwestern, etc.) and gotten the same result. Unless they changed the visuals, it’s probably pretty obvious which characters are supposed to be American anyway.

      Frankly though, I have a hard time imagining that much of this game’s target audience will be playing it with English voices to begin with.

    • wyrdwad

      Actually, we left the accents up to the actors. We literally told them something along the lines of, “You’re playing an American tourist in Japan. In the original, you speak in broken Japanese peppered with poorly-pronounced English words. You’re hot-tempered and kind of stupid. Basically, you’re an offensive Japanese stereotype of a dumb American tourist. If you have an offensive accent you want to use, please use it.”

      And the results were tremendous. ;)

      • idrawrobots

        If you are for real then what you said came off much better than what was said in the interview, and seems more in line with what I expect from good localization.

        • luckgandor

          wyrdwad is always for real. XSEED is super special awesome for many reasons, one of which is they’re always open and honest with us.

    • TheCynicalReaper

      It’s about what’s uncommon to the American ear that can be used easily. An American trying to speak Japanese comically is funny, but it doesn’t work in a translation where English = Japanese. Therefore they switched to comical accents that are less common than the American accent.

      Otherwise the game’s foreigners would only be populated by Red Necks (and Chinese, which is still in) accents, which doesn’t make sense since typically actual thick accented red necks wouldn’t get near Japan and it’s more bland than the variety they have now.

      • TheCynicalReaper

        btw “red neck” is different from “southerner”. A Southerner is just a dude who lives in the south whereas a “Red neck” is Deliverance-level “squeal like a pig”

  • kaotron

    I never understood this internet war around sub vs dubs in these games. In the end it’s all just matter of preference, some like hearing the language they understand(the reason the game had to be localized and translated in the first place) and some just love hearing japanese voices(and use their imagination to believe it’s some kind of amazing fantasy language).

    I’ve heard of people who dropped a game just because it didnt have dual audio while for me it’s gameplay first and story telling second while voice acting doesnt even make a third.

    • PreyMantis

      I agree. For me, as long as the voice acting is great, there’s no complaint. A good example of this is Virtues Last Reward; no matter which language you use, they’re great all around because the voice acting don’t make you tear your hair apart from the bad VA.

    • DS23

      As long as the original VA option is there I’m happy.

    • The war is a necessity so that we don’t get lazy dubs like this:

      That said, there are plenty of good dubs but I enjoy that there’s some color to people having opinions so that we see this less and less. Keep in mind, before the turn of the century our dubs were pretty…eh.

      • kaotron

        yeah, this is my favorite example of one of the most lazily done dub jobs ever. It sounded like they just picked up some random people off the street and paid them a few bucks(or cents) to put zero effort in the voice acting.

        But I find the atrocious VA in chaos wars as more of a rare abomination than a real example of how normal quality dubs are.

        • Anymore, you’re correct, but it wasn’t always like that. Some of the earlier 80s and 90s (yea, 80s) dubs are pretty terrible in some games/anime/etc.

          And as for Chaos Wars I believe that was an in-house/in-family gig…hence why it sounds so terrible.

        • oh it wasn’t random people… rumor has it it was the “casting director’s” (and I use that term with great embarassment in this case) Family whom he picked to do the english voiceovers.

          Talk about saving money, he probably payed them all a trip to the &^%$’n Sizzler after ward for a “Job well done” and called it a day. @[email protected]

          • kaotron

            seriously, I’ve heard about cheaping out but that one seriously cuts the cake. Most lazy(or under budget) directors would usually just settle for the voiceless text with a little typing beep sound.

      • DragKudo


    • Crazy_O

      “I never understood this internet war around sub vs dubs in these games.”

      Going on to be understanding to one side and strawmanning the other. After that it’s “just because”… and how unworthy it is of your consideration, not that you made that clear in your first part.

      You never understood this war? Read your post. You start them.
      Why not just be happy that it’s dual audio and let the people complain and make their voice heard if they have criticism and different values? They don’t have an obligation to spend money on something they think doesn’t produce the value they want. It’s just that easy.

    • Alexander Marquis Starkey

      There is also those of us who touchy when people outright call an amazing dub bad because they prefer the original Japanese…I guess it could be likewise for the opposing side, but eh. Point is, I will White Knight against anyone who says Blazblue’s dub is bad, and just plain snap at some who insults Code Geass’s dub.

      • kaotron

        Yeah, for me it doesnt matter if japanese was the “original” voice, language shouldn’t matter if a translation is done properly.

        And I really liked the dub of BB and geass but if I were to say one thing I dont like about some dubs is that there should be a bigger variety of voice actors since most animes dub groups recycle the same few voice actors in the business to the point where you hear the same guy in every show

  • Rayhan PromisedGallery

    i still wonder how does niche Japanese games like NieR and Drakengard 3 manage to get such fantastic english dub

    • Laith Rem

      Square Enix.

      • Square Enix isn’t exactly infallible as far as voice acting goes. Remember Vanille from FF13?

        • DragKudo

          What about het? She was annoying but it was still nice. :)

        • Her voice was great, all the flak came from FF players who weren’t familiar with the ‘genki girl’ archetype and resulting voice that accompanies it from japanese culture.

          They simply tried to replicate that into Vanille into her american dub role but it just simply didn’t catch on to those who weren’t aware of the intended outcome.

          I’m one of the few “americans” that liked her voice, it fit her “character” perfectly.

        • DavidWVNVV

          Vanille’s voice was perfect for the character. She was SUPPOSED to sound annoying and fake in the beginning of the game, because Vanille herself was putting up an annoying and fake facade. Her genki girl demeanor wasn’t real. She was acting that way to conceal the guilt she felt over Dajh, etc. She pretended to be perky and cutesy in effort to hide her inner turmoil from the rest of the cast and herself.

          In interviews, Vanille’s actress explained how much she connected with the role, particularly because of the way in which Vanille put on a fake smile to hide from people. She was abused as a child and claimed she behaved the same way in response to it. Only later did she realize that everyone found her fake peppiness unnatural and off-putting. That’s exactly the same thing she accomplished with her portrayal of Vanille. It was nuanced, and it was good.

          You may not have liked the character, but that doesn’t mean the acting itself was bad.

    • Ni ~Algidus~

      Square Enix my friend. even the first drakengard had a fantastic dub.

      “A wise man chooses death before war. A wiser man chooses not to be born”

  • Masa

    Dual audio, thank God, wouldn’t have bought it otherwise, last jrpg
    i bought with English voices was awful *Tales of Xillia*

    Quit the game a few hours in as my ears
    pleaded with me to stop torturing them.

    • Sapitntapit

      I thought the English voices in Xillia were pretty damn solid, and I usually enjoy the Japanese voices more.
      Except Milla. That lisp…

      • DavidWVNVV

        It wasn’t just the lisp. It was that they needed to run a de-esser on her voice (or something). Xillia had weird audio compression, and it made the sibilants in every character’s speech sound exaggerated. Unfortunately, it also turned MIlla’s actress into Cindy Brady. It’s a shame, because if you look her up on YT, she doesn’t actually sound that lispy in any other roles. It’s just Xillia.

    • dam4rus

      sadly, I found the voice acting the best part of Xillia…

  • Herok♞

    Next time you get an opportunity to talk to a localization team, can you ask how they feel about people not wanting to play a game because one audio track is missing, I feel it would be interesting to see how they view that from the prospective of the business.

    • I doubt the people in the localization department would have too much to say about it; that issue comes down to the developer and publisher for a given title. Localization just works with what they’re given.

      • idrawrobots

        Well, I know what Brittany Hatsuu Avery thinks of people that refuse to buy game because there is no physical version.

        • darke

          Yeah, to tie this into the thread, the ‘no physical version’ whine is quickly getting to the point of ‘no JP voice’ whines on this forums.

  • I find this interview very interesting to read, thanks for it Siliconera.

  • JohnNiles

    Aww yeah, I love interviews with the Big(?) Four.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    Great Interview :D I wanted to be a voice actor…lets just say most of them said my voice was best used as a Villain or Boss of a game or anime…

    I already stated my Rant about the Sub vs Dub wars so I’ll leave it out of this.

  • I really can’t wait for this game. I prefer the original Japanese voice actors over the English voice actors anyway, so it would not make any difference to me.

  • I wish Taliesin would do more conventions; he seems like a really amusing and interesting guy. I’d love to hear some anecdotes about Evangelion, Hellsing or Street Fighter. Too bad he’s stuck here talking about Akiba’s Trip.

  • Samken

    Usually, most people in the anime fandom, prefer subs to dubs due to the perceived lack of quality of English dubs or poor selection of the voices (Voice actress X voice doesn’t match to Character Y).

    In my country (Brazil, by the way), you often enough have the “power of choice” in which language you can consume determined media.

    In movie theatres , American made movies as a rule, come with dub (Portuguese) or sub (English with PT subtitles) options, so the consumer can choose witch version of the movie he/she’ll watch. BD movies routinely are multilingual.

    Most First Party Games (SONY, and by a less margin Microsoft), do give you the option to change the written and spoken language of the game to multiple languages. Even some third party games gave you that Option here, Assasin’s Creed 3 and Black Flag, Call of Duty Black Ops 2, Transistor are more recent examples.

    Brazilian dubs are considered the second best in the whole world (Losing only to Japan), To be an actor in Brazil you usually have to do an undergrad in Acting (4 years), go to a technical school (1 Full Year, and do a graduation impromptu), go to about 6 acting Workshops (About 3 years worth, 1 workshop is equivalent of 6 months in your acting career), or begin your acting career at an early age (You do not need to be a registered actor to work as one, if you’re underage), and when you get to 18 years old, just attach supporting documents (recommendations from previous employers help) proving that you indeed had a career as an actor before 18. They’ll analyse it (for a fee of course) and give you an answer, they usually approve it people that had at least 10 works under their belt (Dubbing, Radio Acting, TV acting, Commercials, anything to media related works and images counts)

    After you’re a fully pledged certified actor (Unless you’re below 18), THEN you need to do a specialization course in Voice acting (Usually 6 months to a year), after that you can begin to work as a voice actor.

    And Even than, it’s a long road ahead, people usually begin as background voices, then graduate to supporting characters and after 3-5 years in the scene they usually get their 1st main role.

    So normally, most Brazilians love dubbed works, and down here it’s the reverse, people fight to have MORE dubbed games, outside of Sony and Microsoft control, most games are still unilingual (English Only).

    Again, it’s usually due to the perceived lack of quality in English dubs outside of mainstream media or games. So, to the average foreigner, that understands basic written English, they don’t care if the voices are in english, japanese, french, german or whatever . They just care about good voice acting, and you don’t FEEL that in English dubs in niche games.

    • 無尽合体ブランタコブスキ

      Just adding onto what you’ve said.
      Popular Japanese voice actors can really push the sale of a game as well. It’s really disappointing sometimes to find that a game you’ve been anticipating with your favourite voice actor is getting dubbed without the option for Japanese voices.

      • … yes, thats exactly how I fell about it…

        PS: I dont understand why ppl must dub and transalte at the same time? Kinda pointless playing a game in english with voices ALSO in English…(unless its a children and does not know how to read, then I would understand…)

  • DavidWVNVV

    I love that XSEED is so forthcoming about the localization. I previously had zero interest in Akiba’s Trip, but learning how much has gone into the dub has changed my mind. Already went ahead a pre-ordered :) It’s great to hear that Taliesen Jaffe is involved, too. He was responsible for some of the best anime dubs of the last decade, including R.O.D. the TV and Hellsing, and I’m confident he’ll get the most out of his actors for this project.

    If you’re listening, XSEED, thanks for putting in the effort this time! It may not matter to other people, but for me at least, the quality of the English dub can decide whether I buy a game or not. I like hearing things in my native language, but not if the acting is cheap and phoned-in like it is in many lower-end JRPG releases nowadays. It sounds like you guys have gone above and beyond instead of just farming out the project to the lowest bidder in LA. I’m sure it costs more, but you’ve earned at least one extra sale because of it :)

  • Rinkawa Erion

    I have nothing against English dubs. But most of the time Japanese dubs are way better. As a fan of Japanese anime I really prefer anime-ish games to have Japanese dubs. There’s probably only one game that I prefer English dub over the Japanese and that Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (That voice of Lezard is epic…too bad he has a diff VA in Sylmeria)

  • Morricane

    I feel games (or anime, movies) that take place in “real life” Japan instead of some made-up fantasy world are much harder to transfer to another language. After all, you can’t transfer culture-specific wordings and all of that – so either you try and it becomes unnatural. Or you “westernize” everyone and that comes off as unnatural. Not much of a choice there. – the same goes for any other culture-conversion, of course. American movies with Japanese dub are equally hilarious :)

  • TheCynicalReaper

    Alright you got me! I’ll play the first run through with English VAs.
    Man I love the passion involved in the behind the scenes. Too bad they don’t have Making Of dvds as a common LE or pre-order item.

  • Aaron K Stone

    I remember Cindy as Aversa and Libra.

  • :/
    Take the Jp-Voices out and Im not buying this… anymore.
    (Glad I already read somewhere the game comes with both audio options, although I only need one)

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos