Interview: Date A Live’s localization involved keeping the anime adaptation in mind

It is a good time for visual novel fans. Titles that previously remained exclusive to Japan have been venturing outside of the borders. This means older games that are quite notable and well-received are getting a new shot at a wider audience through ports and remakes. Date A Live is one such series. People worldwide will get to know more about Spirits with Date A Live Rio Reincarnation, thanks to Idea Factory International.

To help you prepare, Michibiku caught up with Noba Nakayama, Idea Factory International’s Localization Manager, to talk about Date A Live. We went over the challenges that come with preparing a visual novel based on a property where the anime may be better known than the game and about the visual novel localization process.

Michibiku: Date A Live can have something of a complicated storyline. How will the localization take this into account and help introduce it to players?

Noba Nakayama, Localization Manager, Date A Live: Rio Reincarnation: Lots of notes… lots and lots of ‘em. Also, we have a proofreader to make sure we are consistent in the plots.

Funimation has localized the Date A Live anime series. Will its localization influence Date A Live: Rio Reincarnation?

NN: We take that into account, but the IP holder also trusts us with our localization. So in the end, we localize it in a way that’s best for the project.

What do you think makes Date A Live: Rio Reincarnation a title people outside of Japan might enjoy?

NN: I feel like this game is targeted at those who enjoys the slice of life stories and appreciates Japanese novel-based stories.

Has localizing Date A Live: Rio Reincarnation been made easier or more difficult by the series’ worldwide notoriety?

NN: Definitely more difficult. There are a lot of expectations, and meeting the fans’ expectations does add a lot of pressure. We understand the fanbase is very passionate.

We even had a tester who found out that we were working on this mention during our review, “If there is any title that defines me, it’s this one. So please, pleeeassse take good care of this project.”

So yes, the pressure was real. But it’s always great to take on the challenge. We truly hope everyone enjoys it.

What’s the most challenging thing about localizing Date A Live? How are you handling it?

NN: For this project, we have to fight time. We have multiple people on the project, so we had to provide a glossary to make sure everyone is on the same page on terminology. We have a proofreader who is making sure the localization/voice is smooth. We had to collaborate with the Japanese IP holders to get approval on the direction of our glossary. We had to be mindful of localization of the anime. This project definitely brought our localization department closer.

How is the visual novel localization different from other genres? What’s tougher? What’s easier?

NN: The difference is the vast amount of text. But what makes it easier is debug.

Usually for an RPG, we have to take various factors into account. Are the UIs working? Does the item description match with what it says it does? Are the items working? And so on.

For visual novels that allow players to choose their path/ending, [it] makes the debug process relatively easier to manage. We mainly focus on text fixes, rather than actual gameplay.

We also don’t have the extra factors such as voice recording usually, so I won’t have to be checking sound files and creating voice scripts. It’s definitely one less thing to worry about. However, when we do voice recording for games, it’s always fun to meet the voice actors and work with the sound studios.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. Thanks to Noba Nakayama for taking the time to talk to us! Date A Live: Rio Reincarnation will be released on the PS4 and PC in the West in Summer 2019.

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