To Japan or Not, that is the question.

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Nio
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To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#1 Post by Nio » Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:51 pm

So as I'm starting to pool together ideas for my H VN I began thinking about character names and setting and it got me thinking. Should I Japan or not?

Personally my influences for these games come from the Japanese Date Sims. As a fan of this work it's only natural to want to imitate it. However, I've noticed some VN's here use the Anime/Manga style for characters and even Japanese settings (like classrooms), but use English names? I've found that a little odd.

So where do you draw the line? Have the Anime/Mange character art style with English names or follow a more traditional Japanese setting and naming?

It's hard to divide the two to me, especially if you are using a school setting. A lot of what has made these games/comics/cartoons popular is the iconic cultural references not just the style.

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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#2 Post by Raide » Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:07 pm

Check out Deji's current project, Caramel Mokacinno. Instead of imitating Japanese High School setting that seems to be seeped into our brain, she uses her local/home culture, clothing and naming system as the flavor. It's fresh, and definitely a unique selling point.

It's true that using moe anime/manga drawing style for a foreign (western) setting is kinda weird, no different that using Japanese font for a English literature. So you might be flexible a bit, find a drawing style that support or originated from your culture and fuse it with mainstream moe look.

Just an idea^^

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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#3 Post by Mikan » Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:10 pm

I'm basing my own school experiences as the background of my game, but I have no intention of making available to non-english speaking audiences, and I want my english-speaking audience to be able to see the characters as people and not just "anime character"s, which is why I named them in English.

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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#4 Post by PyTom » Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:11 pm

All things being equal, I recommend sticking with a western setting, rather than trying to put things into a Japanese environment. By leaving Japan, you have the potential of telling stories that wouldn't make sense in a Japanese context... which makes it easier to tell stories that haven't been told before. It also helps to "write what you know"... I've seen stories set in Japan that get basic facts wrong, which tends to tear me out of the story.

Now, there are some games that make sense to set in Japan. Like anything involving shrine maidens. But if you're telling something like a school story or something like that, why not set it in one of the many other countries.

What's more, I generally don't consider anime-style characters to look Japanese, unless the put on a Kimono, Miko outfit, or some other sort of Japanese clothing.

To Nio directly: You have a rather distinctive art style that's all your own. To claim it's a generic anime/manga look is to do a disservice to your own style.
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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#5 Post by Nio » Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:28 pm

Wow, quick replies.

It still seems a little odd that we are then going half-way. Using the general style of gameplay and art but in our own western setting. I'm a purist so that's hard for me to wrap my head around.

It is the cute school girls in their sailor uniforms that pulled my attention to anime/manga in the first place. Then the stories hooked me.

I was, however, in a school many moons ago that used uniforms. Though, today that seems like a rare thing. On a more technical side of things, uniforms provide an ease of not having to draw a character with multiple clothing changes, but I think people might confuse any uniform as a Japanese setting since it's rare in the states.

Then there is the aspect of selling the title. My goal is to go for a game that is as professional as I can humanly produce. I wonder though, if a non-Japanese setting would be as appealing to buyers. Most westerners that are not into the whole anime/mange thing will not care (and there are many that just hate it and the whole style). As it is there are not that many imported and translated so the selection is small.

It's something to chew on though.

@Mikan, I love your style BTW. Very nice.

@PyTom, you're too kind. Thanks. I just hope I can replicate what I did, what, 2 years ago if you were referring to the Blue Laps stuff. It's nothing like the weekly stuff I do on GGA. lol

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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#6 Post by N0UGHTS » Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:39 pm

I say Japan as a setting is terribly trite. And this is coming from someone with experience with original fan-fiction, Japan-fan fanart (since I'm too lazy to say anime/manga/Japanese game fan), and yes, doujinsoft ADVs, Romantic Sims, and VNs coming straight out of anywhere from Japan. Oooh, look at the Japanese schoolgirls. Not interested. They're Japanese schoolgirls and she they have both organs (and I mean both, not trans)? Yawn. Japanese schoolboys? No. I've had enough of them. How about Japanese schoolboys? No. I've had enough of them.

I say go for Japan if you can offer something that hasn't been offered before and you've been there for at least thirty days in a row. If you can't, well... You'll have to hook me in deep to keep me.

Hah... You know I've even read Harry Potter fan-fics where there are random Japanese titles, words, and even phrases in there. I mean, why? Harry knowing Japanese... It's just too... immature, ruins the whole thing.

I know I sound... passionate, but I'm just... just tired of all these fan-stories set in Japan (though this applies to any location) when the authors don't actually know the culture. I understand the culture being very different in a sci-fi setting or so-on, though.

That's just my opinion, though. I'm not sure if anyone else here has been as tortured as much as I've been. XD
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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#7 Post by Nio » Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:53 pm

I'm not one that reads fan-fics. I like the original content, not someone's twisted take on it. That goes back to the purist thing.

I actually started this thread after trying out Mikan's demo. I was a little confused that the characters were in uniforms, in what looked like a Japanese classroom, yet they had English names. Now after reading about it more I see that it wasn't supposed to take place in Japan at all.

My point is that if you are using a style that people can look at and say "oh that's that anime style" then there is some preconceived notions that go with that. I almost think it's harder to split it than not.

So I wonder if it's better to just do something almost completely non-Japanese style all together. But to be honest, that sort of loses the point of why I like these kind of games. >< I'm going in circles I know.

I'd also like to do a magical girl type story sometime, I don't know how that would work in a non-Japanese setting. I guess all the story types that come from there are so ingrained my skull that I have a hard time being original. lol

I don't really know if there is an answer to this.

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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#8 Post by Raide » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:17 pm

Answer? No I don't think we're all here to discuss a perfect objective answer to something. Basically it falls on effective design choices. For your project do you want to maintain the original Japanese High School concept because it's been proven to be successful, but with probability of becoming just-another-japan-imitating game? Or do you want to produce another setting that comes from your local culture with a possibility of confusing people if the execution is not right, or becoming something fresh that is a plus in your game?

If you want the fresh option, that means you should research on your local culture; architecture, school system, local culture references, clothing, naming, social system, economic, technology and all that you took for granted all this time. XD

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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#9 Post by Nio » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:25 pm

A good point indeed. Not only that, but I have to choose a style. If you look at my little gallery you'll see I have 2 styles of sorts.

The more "gerneric" style:

Image

and an obviously anime influenced style:

Image

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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#10 Post by Deji » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:26 pm

I think that setting a story in japan with characters with japanese names is childish, unless either
A) you're japanese
B) you've been in japan long eough to know the culture
C) you're telling a story that NEEDS to take place in japan for plot reasons.

I used to draw characters who had japanese stories when I was 14 and just getting into manga/anime. I remember my family, my friends and teachers saying "Why do they have japanese names and live in japan? Why can't you make a story that happens here with people with normal names we see here?" and I remember saying "because japanese stuff is cool and stuff from here is lame and has nothing to do with anime style!".

Then I grew up! But I still find my place lame and the names here lame when I try to translate them into english and show them to other people.

Try basing your game in your own experiences and your surroundings. If you want to draw girs in uniforms, then create a private school where people wear cute uniforms. Or you could always go and create a world-that-is-not-supposed-.to-be-the-Earth with whatever setting you like xD;

Now, japanese schoolgirls are something other otaku are familiar with, while your own experience might be something they're not familiar with. try to find a balance point between the cliche-proven-100000-times-imitation and your own experiences/knowledge and what the plot needs..
Check out Deji's current project, Caramel Mokaccino. Instead of imitating Japanese High School setting that seems to be seeped into our brain, she uses her local/home culture, clothing and naming system as the flavor. It's fresh, and definitely a unique selling point.
The names I chose for the characters were as random as I could find XD; As i mentioned, I find my own culture names to be lame when put between english words xD; I guess it's my own national 3rd-worldish inferiority complex ^^;;; That's why there are no names like "Juan Perez" or "Mario Torres" or "Adela Carvajal" XD;

Astre@ *points to signature* Has a Highschool setting, indeed, but it does take place in my country, even in my own city (without saying so, of course), and the whole setting is based on the experiences me and my writer had in highschool.


Now, again, if you're just looking to make a sex-for-the-sake-of-it-with-no-plot game, I doubt it matters what the setting is xD;;;
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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#11 Post by Raide » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:38 pm

Both your drawing style has around the same proportion and hair... So I think the key difference between your generic and anime-influenced is... the lips! Try to experiment with that. Giving your character clothes that anime characters in Japan hardly wear would also help to make things look clear.

It all goes to design solution. What kind of game do you want to make? How do you want people to perceive it as? What element you want people to enjoy the most from your game? As with Deji said, if you want to make sex-focused game, setting and plot will be secondary or nothing much important^^

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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#12 Post by Nio » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:39 pm

@ Deji: I don't disagree with you. It makes sense, but if you're going to do your own regional setting etc, then why draw in the anime/manga style? You should do your own style, no?

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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#13 Post by N0UGHTS » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:42 pm

Ah, so you're asking mainly about art style, not setting... m(_ _)m Sorry, sorry.

If you want your game to appeal to a more general Western audience, you might actually have to inject a little contemporary Western art-style in. I suggest looking at Tetsuya Nomura, Dead or Alive, Akira, Hayao Miyazaki, Bob Rafei, Satoshi Kon, and Le Chevalier D'Eon (Buahaha!).
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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#14 Post by PyTom » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:44 pm

Nio wrote:@ Deji: I don't disagree with you. It makes sense, but if you're going to do your own regional setting etc, then why draw in the anime/manga style? You should do your own style, no?
This may not be the case for Deji specifically, but for a generation of artists that have grown up with manga and manga-influenced works, it may be the case that a manga-influenced style _is_ their art style.
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Re: To Japan or Not, that is the question.

#15 Post by PyTom » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:47 pm

Nio wrote: On a more technical side of things, uniforms provide an ease of not having to draw a character with multiple clothing changes
I don't think it's a big deal to have a single outfit of clothing for characters in a game. I mean, if you look at Futurama, each character wears the same outfit all the time, unless they have some reason to dress up in a costume. Similarly, each character in Kanon has one set of casual clothes which they wear all the time.

Is this realistic? No. But it is forgivable, and as long as the story is compelling enough people will be willing to forgive you a lack of outfit diversity.
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