Supipara localization team interview by Lolinia – Developers: minori – Publishers: MangaGamer
Once again, the fine folks at MangaGamer allow this humble reviewer to step into their halls and do another interview. This time, we delve into the game known as Supipara, aka SPPL. At the time of this interview’s writing, the game has yet to be released and the review copy I received from MangaGamer does not activate until the day it releases, so this will be a non-spoilering interview. Now, I could tell you what I already know about the game, but I’ll leave that to the people who worked on it. However, I will say this: It is a game developed by the same people who did Eden*, ef – the first tale, and ef – the latter tale; I have no doubt that on a personal level, I will love this game. Without further delay, here’s the interview, everyone!
Waaaaaaah. Hello, there! Hope I didn’t keep you all waiting too long. An old friend of mine came back from Japan and distracted me all day with food and movies! But I’m here now. *winky face* Why don’t you all introduce yourselves to the lovely audience?
DS55: Hello! You may have seen me in the credits for ef and eden* as “R. Stuart,” and I go by the “DS55” handle online. I was the translator for Supipara.
Kai: Hi there! I’m Kaitlyn, but I go by Kai or Kaitsu. I was the editor for Supipara.
- What was your favorite process about working on SPPL?
Kai: While I had fun editing it, I think my favorite part was reading the comments from our beta testers during localization. The ending isn’t what you would really expect, so when they finally finished, I saw things like, “What? Is that it?! I want more!” or “That went a different direction that what I was expecting…” It was quite amusing!
DS55: There are lots of fun moments in the process of localizing a title. I would definitely agree with Kai that one of the best points in the process is when the beta testers finally see it, and you get to see the first reactions of somebody looking at the nearly finished product. Up until that point it’s mostly staring at spreadsheets, with or without the game open to the side, which doesn’t really feel the same. By the way, I was also the beta testing manager for this title, too!
- What does SPPL mean? Or, alternatively, what does it mean to you? For me, it’s Smiling Pretty Princess Llama. … Okay, I made that up on the spot to make you laugh. Did it work?
Kai: It means “Smiles, Peace, Passion, and Love.” It’s quite a fitting title when you consider each word is meant to represent one of the female heroines. We know Sakura and Hotaru represent “Smiles” and “Peace” (that latter being horribly ironic when you consider how much of a sadist she is), and I’d imagine we will eventually find out which girl symbolizes “Passion” (my guess is Momiji) and “Love” once those chapters are properly funded through the minori fundraising campaign.
DS55: Ditto what Kai said! For anyone having trouble finding the connection, the Japanese for “Smiles Peace Passion Love” would work out to “スマイル/ピース/パッション/ラブ” or “sumairu/piisu/passhon/rabu” in katakana. With that said, minori does seem to like to leave their titles which follow this naming convention up for interpretation. Ef, for example, had a number of different phrasing attributed to it. To name a few: Ever Forever. Eternal Feather. Ebullient Future. If “Smiling Pretty Princess Llama” has some personal meaning for you, then why not!
- How does it feel to bring games from Japan over to an audience that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to play and enjoy them?
Kai: It’s exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. I’m eager to see other minori fans dive into SPPL’s story and enjoy it as much as I did. For me, it’s also really cool to technically be the first person to read Supipara in English before anyone else, and put my own blood, sweat, and tears into it. But at the same time, I can’t help but think, “Oh my god, I could have done this better! I need to redo that whole section” or what have you. It’s difficult to step away from it, because I really want people to connect with it as I had, but I know there’s only so much that can be done without removing the creative integrity of the product.
That being said, I’ve been keeping an eye on various social media streams just to see what the general consensus has been, and so far it’s been well received! It’s… quite a relief.
DS55: Kai keeps taking my answers! To elaborate a bit further though, we do try as hard as we can to make sure that the final experience feels the same for English speakers as it did for the original Japanese audience. When the big release date finally arrives, and you see people excitedly tweeting about how they’re going to download it, then sharing messages and laughs about scenes they enjoyed online, it’s pretty great.
- Got a favorite character? From the promotional images alone, I think I’ll love the blonde haired one. From that one image of her holding out her hand, she looks like she’s got a sharp wit about her… and maybe a sharp whip, too.
Kai: I absolutely adore Alice. I had originally fallen head-over-heels for Sakura, but I gradually grew more and more infatuated with Alice as the story progressed. The mysterious aura about her really tickled my non-existent pickle. 😉
DS55: I definitely find Alice interesting, but the biggest surprise for me was Momiji. When I sat down to play the game for the first time, I wasn’t entirely convinced I was going to enjoy her character. Suffice to say, she ended being one of the funnest. One of our beta testers fell for her so hard he basically centered his entire Tester’s Corner around her. I really hope we’re able to get a full chapter focused on her produced!
- Have you worked on any of the other minori games? If so, which? If not… well uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh… favorite color?
Kai: In addition to editing Supipara, I was a beta tester for ef – a fairy tale of the two and eden*.
DS55: I’ve been involved with minori titles for a long time now. Ef’s localization was a bit chaotic due to the shift from fansub to official release, but I ultimately translated the vast majority of Miyako’s route, around ¼ of Kei’s route, and all of Chihiro and Mizuki’s routes. I also did the entirety of eden*, including the Plus+Mosaic version, and all of Supipara Chapter 1. It’s definitely been an adventure over the years.
- This question is more for the people who want to get to know the team better rather than hear about only the game; therefore, I ask this: What inspired you to do what you do? Be it translation, editing, etc. What made you want to do it? (As to not be unfair, I did write an article explaining to the best of my ability why I choose to review VNs mostly. If you want, you can read it here.)
DS55: This answer may be a bit long winded, so thank you for bearing with me. I first started studying Japanese way back in middle school, since my school district offered lessons. My Japanese teacher was probably the best I ever had in my entire grade school career, so I attribute getting into this field entirely to him. I ended up enjoying studying the language so much that I wanted to do more with it, and eventually got into fansubbing as a means of practice. I started with whatever random anime I could get my hands on, and also learned how to do timing, typesetting, and encoding so I wouldn’t have to rely on other people to produce a finished product. Funnily enough, this is why I usually end up being the one to do the final OP subtitling work for most of our announcements at MangaGamer. Up to this point is probably a fairly common origin story in this field, I would say.
One day, I came across NNL’s fansub release of “Wind.” There weren’t very many full translations of visual novels back then, so I decided to check it out. This was my introduction to minori. After enjoying it, I was looking forward to their fansub of “ef” next, but it ended up getting dropped. NNL’s website at the time said they would be willing to resume the project if a translator was willing to pick it up, so I started checking the site periodically over the next few months to see if there were any new developments. After a while, I decided to take the plunge and contact NNL myself, intending to at least finish Miyako’s story, which is the first part of the first game. Everything went so well, one of the other members decided to work on his favorite route of the story as well. Ultimately this snowballed into us completing the full translation for ef. After enough time passed, we got in touch with minori and MangaGamer, and made an official release possible.
Using all of that as a frame of reference, I would say the fun of working on something that other people enjoy, the people and connections you meet and make along the way, and the overall positive effects doing this work has had on my life would be the reasons I do what I do!
Kai: (Epic response ahead!) To be quite honest, it was all a fluke. The summer before I started college, I found ef – a tale of memories and ef – a tale of melodies on some rinky-dink fansub site and I absolutely fell in love with it. I started looking into it more and realized the anime had been adapted from a visual novel. I didn’t know what visual novels were, so I just went on my merry way and expected it to eventually come stateside. A few weeks later, through some weird turn of events, I met the head translator for the ef – a fairy tale of the two fan translation team, DS55. After reading it in its entirety, I craved more minori goodness and volunteered to work on NNL’s next fansub project: eden*. That’s when things really started getting interesting! Through various email exchanges, and a cease and desist letter or two, ef went official! A good chunk of the NNL team migrated over to MangaGamer, and I started beta testing visual novels for them.
Since ef was my first visual novel, I expected other games to utilize a similar level of visual quality that also focused on more story-centric elements, but boy… was I wrong! Right out of the gate, I was assigned to We Love Master as my first official beta testing assignment. I didn’t quite know what to think at first, but it really opened my eyes to a whole new form of media. Later, I worked on other erotic visual novels like Cum On! Bukkake Ranch, Harem Party, and Orion Heart. I was fortunate enough to also work on titles like DEARDROPS, Tick! Tack!, Really? Really!, and Princess Evangile.
Over the last six years, working with MangaGamer has become a huge part of my life. I started editing titles like Bokuten and Princess Evangile W Happiness, I’ve designed several of our hardcopies and panel presentations for our convention appearances, managing our dealer’s room booth at Anime Boston and Anime Weekend Atlanta, and worked on de-censoring and localizing the HCG/UI for Princess Evangile, Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome, and our recent Otakon announcement, HapyMaher.
In the end, what it really came down to was dumb luck. I never thought I’d be in the position I am in now, but I fell in love with my job because everything turned out the way it did.
- I want to ask a ton of questions, personally, but I know you all have another project you may still be working on. *cough* Bokuten *cough* Oh. Did I mention something? *shifty eyes*
DS55: Haha, yes, I’m also the translator for Bokuten! This title has been a long time coming now, and I’m excited that the translation and edit is finally complete. I wrote my Translator’s Corner for our blog just the other day, although I’m sure it won’t go live until we near the release. This is a title that will really rip your heart out. Save for the angelic element, it also takes some pretty realistic looks at love, and how every choice you make comes with elements of give and take. I would implore anyone who enjoys the dramatic portions of minori’s titles to give it a try once it comes out!
Kai: Ahh, Bokuten. Luckily, DS55 and I have completed our parts, so all that’s left now is porting and beta testing. Those aren’t exactly easy tasks, nor can they be done overnight, but I’m excited to see the finished product and cannot wait to see how it’s received.
- Last question, this time not about some other game. I promise. Really. Bok- *shot…. Misses* Okay. In all seriousness, though, I’m looking forward to Supipara a ton. And looking forward to more chapters in the future. Especially since sales of SPPL, Eden* and both ef games go to help paying for more SPPL chapters, eventually getting some English-first releases. How much are you looking forward to that day?
DS55: I think we can both safely say “very forward!” Knowing that the English fanbase will be responsible for making Supipara a reality is a very exciting thing. Working on the sequels before they’ve even been released for the public will definitely be a unique experience, too. Here’s hoping it happens very soon!
Kai: Soooo much. I’m excited to read the remaining chapters, and to share minori’s once incomplete story with the world. I’m sure it will be a long, (potentially) bumpy road ahead, but I’m confident things will work out.
- This has been a great experience and I thank you for putting up with my goofy butt, today. Any last words for the readers?
DS55: I just want to thank everyone that continues to show support for both MangaGamer and minori. Your support is greatly appreciated!
Kai: Thank you everyone who has supported myself, DS55, all of the MangaGamer staff members, and our partners over the years! It really means a lot. ;__;
Well, folks, that was the interview. I love writing up these interviews with MangaGamer and I hope to do more with other publishers of VNs soon, as well. It’s fun to get to know the people behind the scenes and such. As always, stay tuned to Twitter from @TaisiHyuuga (The Interviewer) and @TDrastikMeasure for more on things gaming and gaming adjacent! And keep an eye out on the @MangaGamer twitter, as well! I hope you enjoyed this interview and look forward to a review of SPPL in the near future!