Yuritopia is almost here! Have you checked out Kindred Spirits‘ demo yet? It gives a little introduction to all of the characters in the game, and in this blog post I’d like to talk about the process of capturing those characters’ voices in my translation.
If you’ve played the demo, you’ll know that the game’s primary narrator is Yuna, but that there are plenty of scenes from other characters’ perspectives, too. Kindred Spirits has a pretty diverse cast, and getting the voices right for each of these characters was a really challenging part of translation (and editing!). Of course, there’s almost always some amount of humorous dialogue (and puns, oh god, the puns) when you’re translating a visual novel, but Kindred Spirits has a really conversational narrating style compared to something like, say, Kara no Shojo 2, which has pretty dry narration for the most part. This made it a lot of fun to work on but also meant my editor, Pi-R, and I had to be in pretty constant communication about everything, and had to do a lot of revision… so much revision… to make sure we were really capturing all the characters’ voices and personalities and keeping everything consistent through the game’s shifts in perspective.
The titular “kindred spirits” were two characters we really wanted to sound unique. Since they’re from different eras than all the other characters, we wanted that to reflect in their dialogue and narration. So Sachi, who died in the 30s, avoids most modern slang and colloquialisms, and approaches new terminology with a cautious hesitance, sounding out newfangled terms like “cell phone.” She’s a soft-spoken, mature character, too, which contrasts nicely with Megumi’s brash energy. Megumi was a character who really grew on me a lot over the course of the project, since she was so much fun to write. She and Yuna have some really good interactions with each other, and Pi-R and I spent a lot of time making sure all of the snarky exchanges between the two of them were perfect. Megumi also died in the 80s… which was an opportunity we didn’t miss (though I promise we didn’t go too overboard with the 80s slang…!).
For most of the other characters, we tried to give them sort of realistic “teen girl” voices with little adjustments for formality, girliness, and things like that. Then there are the few characters who are… well… let’s say, really unique. Kiri (the math dork), for instance. You know those tumblr text posts that have kind of evolved their own grammatical rules so that they’re barely comprehensible but hilarious? That was kind of my approach to Kiri. She has a habit of letting her train of thought go careening off into crazy rambling, and most of our struggle with her was getting a good balance between intentionally awful grammar that was still actually understandable. I was excited to see a lot of positive reactions to her intro scenes in the demo, so I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks of her antics later in the game!
The other standout “unique” character in the game is Youka, and she’s another character people seem to have enjoyed in the demo. Obviously she’s got the whole “rocker” thing going for her, which presented a lot of good opportunities for puns and musical references, but Youka, like Kiri, has a pretty atypical way of expressing herself too. To put it simply, she’s bad at it. Youka (bless her heart) is kind of an idiot. As someone who also struggles to express herself using words, I didn’t have too much trouble approximating Youka’s little half-sentences into, uhh, y’know, the kinda words someone like that might use to say… stuff. Plus she’s got this kinda masculine way of talkin’ that meant a lotta condensed words (like lotta) an’ leavin’ off the ends of words ’cause who’s got time for proper enunciatin’? Not Youka!
It was really a dream come true being able to work on Kindred Spirits. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks about it. I hope you enjoy all the puns!
Kindred Spirits will be available on MangaGamer.com at midnight (EST) Friday morning and on Steam a few hours later. See you in #yuritopia!