If you’re a fan of Ace Attorney, you’ve no doubt seen the above webcomic by Katie Tiedrich. It’s a fun little jab at how the Japanese Gyakuten Saiban games take place in Japan, but their localized Ace Attorney versions take place in Los Angeles. In a post on the Capcom Unity blog, Janet Hsu, who has been involved with the Ace Attorney localizations for years, explains the change.
Below is Hsu’s explanation regarding the switch from Japan to Los Angeles, and her thinking behind it:
When I took over the series’ localization direction starting with the second game, one of the first things I had to deal with was what to do with Maya’s hometown and all the mysticism surrounding the Fey clan. It was then that I created a little headcanon for myself (which I suppose is actually real canon now for the localized version): while “Gyakuten Saiban” takes place in Japan, the Los Angeles that “Ace Attorney” takes place in is an alternate universe where anti-Japanese sentiments and anti-immigrant laws were not enacted, and Japanese culture was allowed to flourish and blend into the local culture in the same manner as other immigrant cultures.
Not counting budget and time restraints, this little headcanon has pretty much dictated what I would keep as Japanese and what to completely localize. For example, anything related to Maya’s clan and the Kurain Channeling Technique is pretty much guaranteed to stay Japanese because that’s her heritage while Japanese foods that are not commonly known in the West will probably be localized in the interest of keeping the game from needing a 50-page explanatory booklet.
The rest of the blog entry is chock full of interesting facts about the development of the original Ace Attorney trilogy, such as how Sister Bikini had to be made short in Ace Attorney 3 to save on memory resources. I highly recommend reading it.