Nekopara is an outstanding example of visual novel translation in the West
When it comes to well-established video game genres in the West, the visual novel might not be the first that comes to mind. Given the massive interest generated around Doki Doki Literature Club, one of the few visual novels to be developed in the United States, Western gamers may not have heard of a single visual novel. Visual novels are further divided into several subgenres, with “eroge” titles like Nekopara being one of the most remarkable in Japan.
There are horror visual novels like DDLCor adventure visual novels like ace lawyer, but many big publishers probably wouldn’t think of touching eroge because of its explicit content. In fact, American publisher Sekai Project, responsible for translating dozens of visual novels, started as a fan translation group that grew over time. Among the many works that can now be found in English, Neko Works’ Nekopara is one of the best examples of how to translate foreign media for Western audiences.
What is Nekopara?
In a world where humans live alongside anthropomorphic cats called Nekos, Minaduki Kashou opens a candy store and welcomes Chocola and Vanilla, two abandoned Nekos he and his sister Shigure found. Nekopara Volume 1 primarily focuses on the relationship between Chocola, Vanilla, and Kashou as the trio run the new venture while trying to keep things professional. The following Nekopara the volumes add new Nekos to Kashou’s personnel roster and delve deeper into the various characters.
NekoparaThe story of is pretty standard compared to other visual novels like Yosuga no Sora, which has more thematic depth. Yet there is no shortage of poignant scenes in Nekopara, like Chocola’s confession to Kashou, and the voice acting injects them with a lot of emotion. Voice actors describe actions instead of mimicking sounds one might hear in real life, which makes them more endearing than they actually are. The voice acting also improves noticeably in each subsequent volume as the series becomes more popular.
Proper translation and E-mote technology make Nekopara an example to follow
There are many examples of translation issues with Japanese games. Fortunately, Sekai Project used fully bilingual translators to Nekopara. The voice lines are only available in Japanese, but the text was available in Japanese, English, and Chinese when released. Unlike other games that are first released in Japanese and then translated overseas, Nekopara is a true collaborative effort between Neko Works and Sekai Project that provides players with quality English script.
The main artist behind Nekopara, a Chinese-Japanese illustrator who goes by the name Sayori, focuses heavily on a “lolita” aesthetic which is complemented by the series’ E-mote technology. Visual novels usually feature static sprites, but the E-mote game engine allows limited movement of certain body parts, adding dynamism to 2D visuals. Nekopara may not be the only visual novel to use E-mote, but it’s certainly a game that uses it to the fullest, from flashing characters and lip-synced voices to more feline features such as Neko tails. .
Corn Nekopara is overtly erotic, the kind of game many wouldn’t expect to find on platforms like Steam, it’s designed in such a way that Kashou and the Nekos develop a relationship of mutual affection throughout each playthrough. This title isn’t the only example of the genre, and western media is also toying with concepts like salacious cat girls via characters like DC Comics’ Catwoman. Yet the path Nekopara treats its subject with care when translating which outside of Japan makes it one of the most successful examples of its genre.
Nekopara – Based on The True Family is in development.
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