An Interview with Aniplex of America on preserving Kinoko Nasu's vision for TSUKIHIME -A piece of blue glass moon-
During Anime Expo 2023, RPG Site reached out to Aniplex of America about the companies then-recent announcement of the official localization of TSUKIHIME -A piece of blue glass moon-. Graciously, the team's own Albert Kao opted to respond to our questions of how the team is tackling the historic tale's official translation; the care that the team is putting into making this release a reality.
RPG Site: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. We greatly appreciate all of you bringing TSUKIHIME: -A piece of blue glass moon- to the west officially. To start off, please introduce yourselves. How did you get involved with the localization industry and what is your background with the Type-Moon IP?
Albert Kao: My name is Albert Kao and I am the manager overseeing the Digital Contents team at Aniplex of America. My team handles the marketing and publishing of TSUKIHIME -A piece of blue glass moon- along with my counterpart at our Tokyo headquarters. I’ve been in the video games industry for close to ten years.
I started out as a translator and then transitioned to QA. After that, I started learning about the production side of things when I came to Aniplex of America as a production assistant. Eventually, I found myself involved with Fate/Grand Order as its localization producer, which led to the wonderful opportunity of publishing both Witch on the Holy Night and TSUKIHIME -A piece of blue glass moon-. I got into the TYPE-MOON universe with Fate/Zero and I fell in love with how Fate portrays historical characters and weaves them into this unique tale. From there I went back and got my hands on as many TYPE-MOON works as possible.
RPG Site: The author of TSUKIHIME -A piece of blue glass moon-, Kinoko Nasu, has a peculiar type of writing style. How would you describe it and what are the challenges in localizing his script into English?
Albert: Kinoko Nasu-sensei’s writing is the embodiment of the idea that the devil is in the details. Therefore, I believe every single sentence serves a purpose, so we have to approach each line carefully and not simply translate them as is without looking at the overall context. Especially with TSUKIHIME, where players have to read the story carefully and make decisions in the branching story. So, after we translate everything, we have to go back and make sure all the little nuances and hints are localized properly.
RPG Site: TSUKIHIME: -A piece of blue glass moon- is a remake of the legendary 2001 visual novel that was only ever released officially in Japan. Still, it managed to find an audience internationally over the years and many people have fallen in love with its cast. What are some things you consider when you’re bringing these characters to life in the English script? Are there any peculiar quirks or mannerisms in their speech that you keep in mind when localizing the script from Japanese to English?
Albert: Well, like I said earlier, every sentence is important. Because sometimes the translators don’t get to see the full picture until they are much further in the script, there are times when the translators will add their own interpretations to the story in order for it to make sense or flow better. This is not a phenomenon unique to TSUKIHIME’s localization. However, I believe Nasu-san’s unique writing style is what keeps the readers engaged in the narrative, so I have instructed the editors to make sure not to disturb that dynamic and to be careful not to add in their own interpretation, but instead to preserve the style in which Nasu-san writes.
RPG Site: There has been a lot of discussions about localization in video games over the last few years. Many people in the industry have shared their insight in how localization differs from a 1:1 direct translation and how the localization process has evolved over time. What has the localization process been like for TSUKIHIME: -A piece of blue glass moon-? At what point did you learn it was going to be receiving an English localization and what were your reactions in learning that?
Albert: The localization process for TSUKIHIME is to preserve the writer’s intent and context in language the target audience will understand and feel is natural. So we spent more time on editing in the localization process than anywhere else to achieve just that. When we found out about the project the team was absolutely ecstatic about it. Perhaps one of the most impactful titles ever, and after two decades, we finally have a chance to bring it to Western audiences.
RPG Site: As you’ve been adapting the script to TSUKIHIME: -A piece of blue glass moon- to English, have there been any characters you’ve grown fond of, since the project started? What aspects about them compel you towards them?
Albert: There is one character I grew to like a lot by the time I finished all the scripts for TSUKIHIME, but that’s spoiler territory so I can’t really say who just yet (laughs). I encourage the readers to pay close attention to each line of dialogue. You might discover your own favorite character in the most unlikely fashion.
RPG Site: TSUKIHIME: -A piece of blue glass moon- is slated to release sometime in 2024. What do you want readers to keep an eye out for when they read it? Are there any specific sections or segments in the story you want them to pay special attention to?
Albert: The battle scenes. TYPE-MOON has mastered the art of manipulating the graphical elements, weaving in music at the perfect time, and mixing it all with descriptive text. This creates a genuinely thrilling experience when our main characters face off against powerful foes. This is what makes TYPE-MOON visual novels unique and I hope the readers will enjoy these scenes.
RPG Site: Once again, we thank you for your time to talk to us about TSUKIHIME: -A piece of blue glass moon-. Please take this time to give a final message to everyone. If there’s anything the English localization staff wants to tell players, feel free to do so!
Albert: It’s been more than two decades since the release of the original Tsukihime. Since then, it has become one of the most beloved titles around the world, and the original visual novel wasn’t even officially localized. I hope through the localized version of TSUKIHIME -A piece of blue glass moon-, we can invite more people to experience this tale and the unique presentation that TYPE-MOON is known to craft so masterfully. Whether you are new to the franchise or a longtime fan, I am sure you will enjoy this fantastic tale of love and mystery.