Cid's Medium-Size RPG Censorship Rant
Okies. Basically, I started thinking about this back when DeJap released their Tales of Phantasia translation patch. They included some dialogue which was... quite out of the ordinary. (Those who have played the translated game know EXACTLY which scene I mean.) For those who haven't, it was... well, quite explicit. Suffice to say that such a scene would NOT have made it overseas in its current form if it was released by an official company.
There are lots of people who LOVE this. "Down with censorship", etc., etc. But in my eyes the picture's a good bit deeper than that. Yes, perhaps Namco's original idea of the conversation might very well have gone like that. But it's certainly possible to have translated the scene a bit less... frankly. In fact, I saw it done myself by an alternate group.
DeJap's version is probably more literal. But I do *not* think it's more accurate. I think the original writers would not have wanted it translated literally, and that's due to cultural differences and what I call shock value. In Japan, people are far more frank about things of a sexual nature than in the West. Having this conversation in an RPG probably didn't cause any sort of stir there. But here these sort of things (as much as we claim to think otherwise) do still cause comment and sometimes can cause shock and alienation of the audience.
So when the original translators wrote that scene, they just intended to explore a facet which had nothing taboo about it. Translating it literally changes it into a scene which *does* cause shock. So in my opinion, by taking the literal translation you're actually changing the intentions of the authors. That's why we call it "localization" instead of "translation" - you're changing all kinds of references to fit into the new locale.
I'm not all for censorship; I think Nintendo's changing "Holy" to "White" or "Pearl" was stupid. I think Enix's changing Star Ocean 2's alcoholic drinks into tea was stupid. I think playing down Cecil and Rosa's love in FF4 was also stupid. But those are all surface issues which just mean that they want to play to a younger demographic. But changing the mood into something more palatable to more people is, I think, quite understandable.
Agree? Disagree? Think I'm nuts? Let me know!