A localization producer named Albert Kao revealed in a Q&A panel at the Anime Weekend in at Atalanta back in 2018, that there were various things that had to be changed in Delightworks and Aniplex’s Fate/Grand Order for mobile devices, including slightly changing the face of Emiya Alter because the localizer apparently believed the character represented blackface. Well, the change has finally taken effect in the English version of the game and gamers have taken notice.
According to Censored Gaming, the change was suggested by Kao to the development team, and the team then proceeded to change some of the art for Alter. Censored Gaming posted up a comparison image via a tweet showing the changes.
The English version of Fate/Grand Order has made a slight change to Emiya Alter’s design to reduce similarities to blackface iconography. You can find a statement from the game’s localization producer about this sort of thing below. pic.twitter.com/t9kVJ1geaf
— Censored Gaming (@CensoredGaming_) January 7, 2019
The text comes from a Reddit thread where some users asked if Emiya Alter was slightly altered in Fate/Grand Order.
Another user commented that there was a Q&A at the Atlanta Anime expo, where Albert Kao had a few choice words about the localization he does on the job.
When asked about the localization influence that the North American studio has on the Japanese development studio, Kao stated…
“”When Emiya Alter came out, everybody was like ‘FUCK, what are you doing, Japan?’ Or when they just cross the line and be like, ‘hey, let’s combine like, loli and tentacles.’ Why, Japan?” For objectionable things, NA will be like “please stop”. Sometimes JP agrees and changes it, sometimes they do it anyway. Which has happened, but he doesn’t have a good example he can talk about right now. Might become a funny story down the line. Speaking of which, he asked if anyone reads Japanese and has read FGO Material V (note: there are translations of a bit of it available on /r/FGOGuide for those wondering); spoiler alert: the creation concept behind Emiya Alter is “what would happen if we put Emiya in prison.” (cue nervous laughter from the room) “No. Exactly. When I saw that – because I got Material V last week – when I saw that line, I screamed in the office.” The Internet exists, that character is out there, and people do fan translations of these things, so people will put two and two together. Sometimes he asks how people feel about Emiya Alter, and it’s generally not a favorable reaction. Even the relatively favorable reactions don’t think he’s ok to, say, post on the side of the Wells Fargo building. So for stuff like that, they have power to say “Japan, please stop, for the love of God.” (Related: Albert got permission to change the “Detroit Emiya” line, so that won’t be as bad…) They don’t want to dishonor artists’ intentions, but…”
So that’s when the studio apparently changed Emiya by making his skin tone slightly lighter and making his lips less pink, as evident in the comparison shot below.
Some people don’t see it as being that serious while others note that this is more like censorship because the localizers had no business to interfere with the developer’s vision for the game.
This isn’t the first time that Fate/Grand Order was modified for regional sensibilities. Back in December of 2018, the game had the characters Shuten Doji, Raikou and Gorgon censored in the Chinese version of the game. There was also some minor coverage added to the character Chloe by giving her blades that hid her camel toe.
And before that the game was censored back in August of 2017 in China as well.
It appears as if these localizers are ever-so-slightly getting into the ear of the developers and staying there, which likely won’t be beneficial for the game’s long-term success.
(Thanks for the news tip Narmy)
(Main image courtesy of tsugu)