Is This Really Okay? ~ Concerns of a Visual Novel Reader (Afterword Added)

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There’s been a bit of drama in the Visual Novel community lately with the recent localisation of If My Heart Had Wings by the new Visual Novel publisher Moenovel. Specifically, there’s been much discussion (mostly backlash) over Moenovel’s decision to remove the game’s erotic content.

I’m still figuring out why, but there’s this clear disparity between my views and the views of the majority. Moenovel have copped so much flack over this decision. I haven’t seen it myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they were getting death threats over it. This is hardly a new thing; it’s pretty commonplace to see Otaku getting mad when a release of something differs from the source. Just look at the flack various Anime adaptations of manga, light novels and visual novels get for not being ‘true to the original’. We’ve all been there. But, getting so aggressive over the removal of sexual content? Is this really the same? Is this really okay?

This goes a lot deeper than just the community getting a bit too upset over something I don’t mind. This goes to the very core of the industry. I tote around the term ‘Visual Novel’ quite a bit because I believe it more accurately describes the broad spectrum of the medium without specifying any particular genre, but most people lump these games under the blanket term ‘Eroge’. What does Eroge stand for again? Oh, that’s right, Erotic Game. Aren’t I such a fool for forgetting this simple fact? But, I’ve seen many games which feature no erotic content fall into this ‘Eroge’ labelling. I know it’s just Japan and they often use English words in ways that may not accurately correspond to their original meaning, but that doesn’t stop people’s perceptions. Perceptions of not only the public, not only the fans of these games but even the people who make them. The Eroge industry is built around sex. I dunno if it’s because I’m a westerner or because I was raised to be a bit conservative with my ideas of sex, so I’ve always swallowed my voice. But I feel the need to speak my mind today.

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As you may know, I’m a huge fan of Key’s works. From Kanon to Rewrite, many of these games feature erotic content. But there’s always an all-ages alternative. In the case of Kanon, the erotic version preceded the all-ages version. With Clannad, there was no erotic content, and yet it somehow managed to become one of the most successful Visual Novels ever. Hmm, a bit odd for a sex industry. Little Busters! is a more recent example. The original version of that game was all-ages, but then was later re-released as “Little Busters! Ecstacy“, boasting heaps of added content, such as three new heroine routes, and added H-Scenes for each of their heroine routes. Well that’s all fine and good, except, uh… I don’t read it for the porn. To clarify, I’m perfectly fine with pornography existing in the world. Everyone’s entitled to their own pleasures. But Eroge is a strange parallel world from the foreign land of Japan where the lines between pornography and art become very blurred. Within the Otaku sphere, people even make a distinction between ‘Nukige’ and ‘Eroge’, the former of which is basically Eroge minus the plot. You know, actual pornography. Eroge usually features a complete story, with porn added at the end. I can’t help but feel like this is really weird, though! Let me use an analogy some of us may be familiar with. You’re in your adolescence, you have a character from a show or game that you’ve become fond of. You go to Google their name to look for art, only to discover Rule 34 of your character, much to your shock. It’s very jarring! I won’t criticize people who get off to Rule 34 of their favourite characters, but to me, I feel like there’s something very weird about seeing something you’re familiar with get placed in a sexual context. I feel like there’s a boundary that should always separate entertainment and pornography. No great works of literature ever had to stoop to pornographic exposure of their characters to make their stories work; that can severely damage the artistic integrity of your story. (Recent examples like 50 Shades of Grey aside…) And I know, using words like ‘weird’ really demonstrate just how subjective my experience is! I am biased. I can’t apply this feeling to anyone else, and I know that. But, I still want to try and get my view out there. Doesn’t this seem weird to anyone else to see the boundaries of sex and art or entertainment cross? Surely I’m not the only person who feels this way.

But the next problem with my ranting is that, well, I’m a part of this community. I have adopted these so-called ‘Eroge’ into my life as something I proudly proclaim my love for. Don’t I already resign any right to argue against it? Well, maybe, but I’ve never played a 18+ version of any of the ‘Eroge’ I’ve played. I always opt for the all-ages version, and if it doesn’t exist, I usually wait for it. I’m about to ‘pop my cherry’ with ef – a fairy tale of the two, only because the anime adaptation is pretty much my favourite anime series of all time. (My friend commented on how adorable it was that I “saved myself for my favourite one”, ahaha.) So I’m in a very weird, awkward position here. I’m the western all-ages demographic for Visual Novels. A more niche market doesn’t exist on this planet! And here I am, trying to justify my view, essentially turning my back on the entire community of Visual Novel fans. It’s taken a lot of guts to write this post.

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Let’s go back to one of my favourites, Little Busters!. As I said earlier, Little Busters started off as an All-Ages game, but was later re-released with added erotic content. As a fan of the game, I’m always having a lot of trouble trying to rationalise this in my mind. I know that sex sells, and I know that this industry is built around the belief that sexual content will promote the sales of their games. But I feel like including gratuitous sexual content really damages the artistic integrity of your work. Yes, I do play it for the plot! I played it for the plot before sex was even a factor in the equation. Jun Maeda is one of my idols, and I spend a lot of time wondering if he and the other scenario writers ever imagined their heroines blowing the protagonist while they wrote their routes. I choose to believe that it was never about the sex, and that they wrote these stories to convey deeper messages and touch people’s hearts, like they have mine. It’s really hard being a Visual Novel fan sometimes, being forced to accept the harsh reality of the object of your affection. But it is a business, and they exist to make money, so Visual Novels with erotic content will continue to be distributed. I accept that I can’t do anything about that as one person.

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But something big is happening right now, a small ripple that could lead to a big change in the industry. Moenovel is looking to reintroduce Visual Novels to the west, and unlike previous attempts by companies like Mangagamer, they’re emphasizing the emotional impact of the story over any pornographic appeal. This isn’t a game where you fuck cute girls, it’s a story that will touch your heart. I feel like Moenovel is just the thing I’ve been waiting to see, and so I can’t help but support them as much as I can. They’re aiming to bring Visual Novels to a broader demographic than ever before. They won’t be focusing solely on the core Otaku demographic, but instead expanding to include everyone who can appreciate a good story. In Moenovel’s words, “we want 12 year old French girls who like anime to know about it as well”. I’ve shown my own mother the Clannad anime and she fell in love with it, but I’m afraid of showing her my copy of the Little Busters visual novel because she might get some strong misconceptions from half-naked loli art on the back of the box. I want to be able to engage people like my mother in these stories, the stories that touch my heart unlike anything else. And that’s what Moenovel’s hoping to do with If My Heart Had Wings. Isn’t that a wonderful thing, a noble cause that should be supported?

Apparently not, if I’m to believe what the masses are saying. Throngs of Otaku are coming together to protest against Moenovel’s ambitions. The things I’m hearing include accusations that they’ve ruined the game by not including erotic content, and refusing to buy the game because of it. On the more extreme side, I hear people say that they’re threatening to ruin the industry. I haven’t played the game yet, so I can’t accurately comment on how well the game has been edited. But from what I’ve heard they’ve paid special attention to making sure the censorship doesn’t affect the integrity of the product. They’ve even gone so far as to edit the script and re-voice lines to make sure that they flow of the story isn’t compromised due to the censorship of erotic content. Who could be unhappy with an effort like that? And yet I hear again and again how much of a horrible thing they’ve done by localising this game.

I’ll be blunt. I just don’t get it. How does the removal of erotic content impact your enjoyment of the game this much? I can somewhat empathise with people who get angry over lost content going from source to adaptation, but this is just the censorship of pornographic content. Is clothing unclothed characters and removing gratuitous sex really going to impact your enjoyment of the game as much as you’re leading me to believe? Is it really that bad? Or are you getting a bit too upset over nothing?

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Everyone’s entitled to their own pleasures. But I can’t empathise with people who throw so much hate at this company for all the good they could accomplish for the industry. The people who propagate this aggression really come across as elitist perverts trying to justify their lust for anime girls. I’ve wanted to jump ship from the community many times after hearing shit like this, but I’m stuck here, so I may as well take a stance. I don’t believe this is an acceptable response from the community. I know I’m probably in the minority, but I’m certain there are people out there who agree with me, and it’s my hope that they’ll join me in speaking out against this distasteful attitude.

 So, I ask once more: Is this really okay?

Afterword: The primary goals of this post were to convey my feelings on these subjects and to generate discussion. Whether you agree with my view or not, the discussion generated has been very insightful and worthwhile. Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts, I’m glad to have been instrumental in generating this discussion. My view has developed quite a bit since posting, but I’ll leave the post unaltered for now. I won’t be fit to properly respond to people’s comments regarding If My Heart Had Wings until after I’ve played the game myself. I won’t guarantee I will follow this up with a second blog, but this all I can say in response to the discussion for now. As for the issue of Eroge and sexual content, my opinion is continuously evolving, much as a result of the discussion generated from this post. I hope you won’t think too sourly of my emotionally-charged post. I am proud that we as a community are able to have civil discussions on issues we may not always be able to agree on. It’s been enlightening.

About Aspirety

Australian J-geek with a passion for Gaming and Writing. Psychology student, Nintendo/Key/Ryukishi07 fan.
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80 Responses to Is This Really Okay? ~ Concerns of a Visual Novel Reader (Afterword Added)

  1. Blitzwing01 says:

    That was an interesting post!

    Putting aside the issue of morality and whether ero is even necessary, for a moment…
    While what moenovel is doing is a good way to expand the VN market, there’s clearly a demand for the full, uncut, translated version of the game too, and I think that’s why there’s been such an outcry. If they had opted to do a dual release of the full version and the all-ages version, there’d be less online rage for sure -albeit at the cost of their bottom line.

    All-ages VN are typically called “Galge” or “Bishoujo Game” in Japan, and you’re hear those words used over “Eroge” in anime like “The World God Only Knows.” There are certainly some original Galge in Japan that deserve a license and I hope moenovel will tackle those at some point.

    • matty says:

      My feelings are the same as yours.
      It isn’t as if the cut content is considered any less “official,” as they do the same exact thing in Japan (VNs appearing on consoles, particularly).
      A good approach would be to have releases where there are both the mature and the less age restricted release available. Should satisfy the “purist” as well as leave the VN open to reach a broader audience.
      I have a feeling, though, that part of overcoming that obstacle is getting the Japanese companies first understanding that point, then taking action on it (budgeting enough to cover license costs, proper distribution, etc.). Of course, fans will have to put in the effort to buy what’s being released now to give this movement a big push in the right direction.

      • Aspirety says:

        Honestly, I think releasing an 18+ version alongside the all ages version could seriously damage people’s perception of the game. Back to the young French girl example, you wouldn’t want her to stumble upon the porn version looking for the game, that would turn a lot of people away.

    • Kortir says:

      This is exactly the thought process I had reading this post as well. I wholeheartedly support what they’re trying to do, and I’d be quite happy to see VNs made more universally accepted. At the same time, I respectfully disagree with the method used of removing ero content and not offering a dual release for the fans who do want it. It feels somewhat exclusionist to me, and while I’m not going to start writing nasty letters, I do feel like their attempt to make this work is pushing away their existing core clientele. The people yelling and carrying on about it are jerks, yes, but MG and Moenovel should’ve seen this coming a mile away and planned either a dual release or an announcement of an 18+ version coinciding with the release.

      Rage over companies locking out content available normally elsewhere is nothing new. Take Koihime Musou, which locked out the voices until they had sold 2,000 copies. Or JAST’s Family Project, which edited some of the images for the youngest character. It happens again and again, because people don’t consider that history might repeat itself. Or maybe they did, and just planned to hunker down and weather the storm until it goes away while selling enough copies to make it worthwhile.

      As far as whether ero is necessary, I’m not even going to comment. Everyone has their own opinion on the topic, plain and simple. I think in this case it’s more a matter of it just being a poor business decision to effectively alienate a significant portion of the existing consumer base for this market. With luck, maybe next time they’ll find a VN that doesn’t even have an ero version, and everybody can be happy.

  2. I like what I am reading here, but I can partly understand the rage, I definitively read VN’s for the story, not the pr0n. But being the pervert I am(can’t help it) I usually prefer the 18+ version of the VN’s, but that does not mean that I don’t like all-ages ones. I can’t really understand the rage towards Moenovel, I rather support their motions, but I will probably continue to pick 18+ versions when I can.

    Godspeed Moenovel!

  3. voltage says:

    Wow, you totally misunderstood the point of why people are angry about this game. It’s not the fact that ero was removed.. (although some people do prefer it with ero).. if THAT was the only decision made, then it wouldn’t have been such a big deal. But that’s not why.. CONTENT has been cut from the game. Sexual and “crude” humor has been removed from the game. Some scenes have been removed from the game that aren’t hentai scenes. I think it’s unfair to say people are angry because of the removal of ero content.. which, for most people, is not the case at ALL.

    • Aspirety says:

      They’re censoring the game to bring it down to a T rating. Ero scenes are the prime victim. All the cut scenes are sexual in nature. They’re removing sex to appeal to a broader demographic. What don’t I get, exactly?

      • voltageee says:

        Well, I think it’s the gross generalizations about how we want/need h-scenes which is why people are angry about this is what i’m trying to understand. If it was 17+ with only h-scenes removed, then there wouldn’t have been as *much* of a backlash. But the fact that they’re trying to appeal to a “wider” audience by removing content (especially in one route where sexual humor if often used) just doesn’t sit too well with me.

  4. Dark_Shiki says:

    “I feel like there’s a boundary that should always separate entertainment and pornography.”
    Why? Seems like a pretty arbitrary boundary to me–an arbitrary boundary that’s become engrained in our Western society. I gleefully delight in the way eroge destroy this boundary.

    • Aspirety says:

      It’s a subjective feeling. I don’t claim it’s objective at all, it’s what I feel.

    • freeform says:

      It’s not at all engrained within the context of Western entertainment. It’s actually only different for the english-speaking west. Things like exploitation movies, pornographic comic books, and surrealistic sexual animated films were once relatively accepted in places like Italy, France and Germany, but they stopped producing them primarily because the Japanese codified and mastered the art of doing so through both the actual representation of the human form and the capitalist aspect of the physical creation of the art itself.

      That’s another reason why visual novels will never have a meaningful western market, because there’s no precedent for them outside of a japanese context and no western artist interested in telling a story would have any reason whatsoever to use the visual novel form to sell it. There’s no money in it from a western market, because above all VNs are no more involving than reading a book, and there’s no money in it from a Japanese market, because they (justifiably) look down on western creations. I mean, why not just write an actual book? It’s not like we have a cultural respect for voice actors in the west.

  5. pitviper72 says:

    Quite an interesting post here.

    The outcry against MoeNovel is understandable, though I don’t fully support it myself, since I root for any new Visual Novel publisher trying to get into the industry. The issue isn’t the fact that they’re making it an all-ages release, but more the fact that they’re denying everyone the uncut version of the game, and the experience of that version of the title.

    This goes back to the basis of your post: Are the sex scenes necessary? In my personal view, I give this both a yes and a no answer. I think the two of us view sex scenes in an eroge differently. I believe that sex is a beautiful thing, and I don’t deny that it’s a huge reason for me getting into some of the visual novels I do. If it’s believably portrayed for the characters involved, I think that artistically, sex scenes can add a lot of meaning and depth to a story, especially love stories. You mention how the visual novel world is where “the lines between pornography and art become very blurred”, but that is exactly one of its biggest appeals, in my opinion. It’s a world that offers experiences like this that are difficult to truly achieve in other mediums.

    However, you also have several good points as well. Sex is not always viewed positively by other people, and it’s true that a lot of visual novels that do have sex scenes are likely still able to tell compelling stories without them. This is why All-Ages versions exist, they do allow a wider audience, and make it easier for one to share the experiences of the stories with others, without having to worry about the presence of sex scenes. This is a very valid truth against sex scenes in plot-compelling visual novels. But then there are those like me, who feel that if the original writers wrote them in to begin with, and they flow well for the characters, it’s a whole piece of the character’s development removed.

    It’s a very complex issue that roots itself in how people view visual novels. I can understand why MoeNovel is doing what they are, but for people like me, who do see value in well-executed sex scenes in a visual novel, that experience is being denied. And this is all just in addition to the very principal of being against censorship that many people into visual novels carry.

    Basically, I say that in an ideal world, both an All-ages and Uncut version of the game would be released side-by-side. Though I don’t mind what MoeNovel is doing, I can say their choice to make If My Heart Had Wings all-ages did honestly make me hesitant about picking up the title. I only had a very slight interest when I first heard about the pick up, but when I heard the ero content was being removed, I wasn’t angry or upset about it, but I can’t deny that my interest in the title lessened afterwards. I do wish them the best of luck though, even though I’m likely not going to pick up this particular title.

    • Aspirety says:

      Film can do sex scenes as art, so it should be possible for VNs to portray ungratuitous sex scenes. The number that succeed is questionable.

      • pitviper72 says:

        That’s not quite the point of what I said, I don’t want visual novels to do sex the same way most films do, doing it like that pushes it outside of the area of “ero”, which I and several others feel most visual novels are comfortably placed in. Yes, it’s debatable how many eroge have believably executed sex scenes, but that part of the issue comes down to a scale of opinion, one which you and I are on opposite sides of, which isn’t exactly the issue I wanted to get into, but rather the heart the visual novel medium has in using detailed sex in its story the way no other medium truly does, gratuitousness be darned. If a visual novel did an artistic tasteful sex scene like a film, then why not just have the story be told as a film? Do you understand? The visual novel medium is the staple medium that blurs the art of storytelling with detailed (pornographic-level) sex…. some may find it gratuitous, but I find it to be a charm at the heart of the medium that I would hate to see it lose, even if it does end up reaching a larger audience that way. But that’s exactly why the whole situation is a conundrum.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Just a couple points

    1) In reality, there really hasn’t been that much outrage, compared to other big events. In reality, people have just kind of been ignoring it. Even now, the torrent has less than 100 active peers looking at Nyaa’s stats, so people aren’t even pirating it in large numbers. It’s behind WEE released a while ago for weekly sales on MG’s all ages store. There certainty are a few people expressing outrage, but people are more just ignoring them

    2.) Compared to the examples in this article there are a number of differences. 1st.) People like the original (or more accurately, the best version available) when something is translated. Eien no Aselia, despite the fan TL being all ages, didn’t have any negative publicity despite being an all ages version of a title with an 18+ version, because the all ages version was simply better. In all the examples you listed, they were optional choices not to get the 18+ version. A quick look at the top of vndb’s chart show the some of the most popular and highest rated titles are generally all ages, like Clannad and Steins;Gate, so it’s not the lack of 18+ content, but rather the removal of content with no option, that is getting blow back.

    3.) More than a few H scenes were cut, first this is an excerpt from an e-mail some guy asked MoeNovel

    1. You plan to remove all sex scenes from the original game. Will they be replaced with any new content, or will they simply skip over the
    sexually explicit part without any other changes?
    1. Yes, all sex scenes will be removed, and no new content wil be added. However, the game will still have a nice story, and the game will not have any awkward endings. Players who have not played the Japanese version of the game will be able to find the game interesting, and safe to play.

    2. There are rumors that kissing scenes or certain aspects of them will be removed or altered as part of the sexual content removal. Will there
    be any changes to any of the kissing scenes (outside of those taking place during sex scenes which are obviously cut entirely) compared to
    the original game?
    2. The kissing scenes will be altered so that it will not show any tongues or lips touching, but will show the back or side view of a couple kissing, as seen under the ‘demo’ section in the official homepage, link.

    3. Similarly, there are rumors about sexual jokes being cut or toned down in order to fit the ESRB T rating. To which extent has the dialogue been
    modified to remove references to sex (apart from cutting out explicit sex scenes)?
    3. The wording has been changed so that there are no sexual jokes. There are, however, minimal slapstick humor scenes left behind.

    4. There are also explicit scenes and images in the original game that were not part of sex scenes, such as bathing scenes. What will happen to
    these scenes and images? Will they be removed? Will the images be modified to remove explicit parts?
    4. Explicit scenes such as bathroom scenes will not show any obvious body parts, and will show characters in towels. Characters will also be covered by water in the bath. There will be no unnatural blocking of body parts, such as a blank-out of parts, or blocks covering body parts.

    Then from /jp/

    I looked over the CGs:

    – 32 H CG removed
    – 1 SD CG removed (the one with the sex joke)
    – 3 CG some variations removed
    – 1 SD CG edited to remove panty shot
    – 3 CG edited to add towels
    – 1 CG edited to remove visible bra under wet shirt

    4.) MoeNovel hasn’t done much to expand the industry thus far. They have mainly targeted the existing VN community, and selling only through 3 companies that also sell H-VNs (although to be fair, PlayAsia is a tad more mainstream even if they sell H-VNs), and their advertising efforts haven’t done much.

  7. Suryce says:

    What Moenovel is doing is a necessary step for the western industry visual novels. Porn sells on the short term, but on the long term you only obtain a niche and closed audience who refuse changes. Like we have now.

    Has everybody forgot about that article in which Minori explained that they are selling less and less games because their niche audience is slowly disappearing? And how they would sell even less if they tried something different because the niche would not buy it, but it is also too late to attract a new audience?

    Why would you want your local market to repeat this mistake by sticking with an economic model that is already dying in the country it came from? That’s suicide!

    The western industry needs to get away from the Japanese cliches in general. It’s ALWAYS romance and sex. The audience is getting formatted. Do something fresh! In my opinion, the industry needs to do things way more extreme than just censoring the porn. You have to look for the next Saya no Uta (during their conferences at Epitanime, Gen Urobuchi and Takaki Kosaka explained that SnU was their most profitable game. Because instead of making big sells just after being released and then dropping considerably, like any other game do, SnU made reasonable sells for a long period of time, which is apparently much better for a company’s finance), or to make it yourself. I know SnU had both romance and sex, but it also had an actual story. It was not about having a virtual girlfriend or crying over her very personal story. It had a great plot, convincing characters, and actually gross or terrifying horror elements.

    The following opinion is a bit extreme, but I think it is a mistake to concentrate on importing Japanese games. The western industry should concentrate on making its own original content, or making contracts with the groups who already do. I don’t think there is anything better than originality in order to open the western VN market.

    And this opening IS a necessity, both from an economic and artistic point of view. If you are pretending to be a visual novel fan, ask yourself: do you really want the media you love to be only about cliché romance and badly written porn? Or do you want it to be more than that?

    • matty says:

      Fair points, but a couple things to consider; Japanese companies need to improve communications (really, just business in general) with western distributors and publishers. Two of bigger of localization companies for VNs, Manga Gamer and Jast USA, have both expressed grievances in doing business with the Japanese companies. If it’s not licensing, it’s money. If not it’s not money, it’s packaged deals (usually with the shoddy sexcom that we are all trying to get away from), etc. As I mentioned in another post, the Japanese have to understand the western perspective, but even if they eventually do, they’re too slow.

      You mentioned Saya no Uta. I just received that title a couple weeks ago. And do you recall when it was announced for western release? Yeah… That’s also something localization companies have to work on. A lot.

      I think western developed VNs are a good idea. Katawa Shoujo turned a lot of people on into the medium, despite being a mature title with cheeky moments. There are numerous others that have gained some attention, so it could work. Maybe in redevelop the scene down the road. However, that still leaves the Japanese side of it in the dark.

    • freeform says:

      “The western industry needs to get away from the Japanese cliches in general. It’s ALWAYS romance and sex. The audience is getting formatted. Do something fresh!”

      like not have anything to do with visual novels? VNs are, themselves, a Japanese cliche. there is absolutely no reason to believe that they will ever work outside of the context of Japanese pop culture. they aren’t a complex art form, they’re mass consumption trashy lit just like light novels, manga, and anime are.

      this is what constitutes western original efforts, by the way: http://www.okashistudios.com/

  8. freeform says:

    i think the reason for the outcry is pretty obvious: the fan community wants to play a game as it’s original creators made it, rather than have it ‘reinterpreted’ in any way for a western audience. when a translation company removes content, there’s often no way to know just what content was altered and in what way for people who can’t read japanese natively (i.e. people who would buy translations to actually play them rather than simply support the company). when you say they removed ‘ero content’, what exactly does that mean? did they just remove h-scenes that were tacked on to boost sales in japan, did they remove the bath scenes shown in the vndb screenshots and any other instance of nudity, did they alter lines to make them more palatable to western audiences, change sexual innuendo jokes that would be considered appropriate in japan but not in the west, etc. at that point, what sort of standard would they be setting for future releases? most eroge (and as blitzwing01 pointed out, there’s an actual logical reason why most VNs are considered eroge in spite of western misuse of the term) contain material which is integral to the authorial style of writing which, if it were removed, would constitute the altering of the authorial intent by the translator.

    i seem to remember a few years ago that a few of the bigger eroge producers expressed the idea that they weren’t comfortable allowing an external translation company to potentially alter their content in this way. the other big concern of the major eroge producers is that by allowing another company to release their material overseas, they might somehow lose money, so if moenovel goes under (which they very well may, because you can’t “reintroduce” the VN concept to the west any more than you can “reintroduce” anime to the west and somehow erase the adult perception of it, and if you piss off the community then you’re going to lose a potential revenue stream that will make up for the fact that no 12 year old girl’s parents are going to buy her a copy of a VN if they do even the most cursory research on it, and they’ll probably just torrent it anyway) then it’ll just deal another blow to the credibility of commercial translation of visual novels or games of any type.

    i mean, good luck to them, but i’m definitely not going to be playing this, and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with whether it has h-scenes or not.

  9. I don’t personally care one way or the other, but people that wouldn’t give the medium a chance because of ‘some half naked-loli on the cover’ are people with prejudice, and getting rid of that to appeal to them is like promoting their prejudice by altering the product solely to placate them. I could certainly understand why one would not consider that a “wonderful, noble cause.”

    Though I certainly recognize that it’s the best thing to do from a business perspective(though unfortunately the people behind this project have are not taking full advantage of the benefits)

  10. RexXx says:

    Why they dont release a All-Age Title instead of a only western All-age version?
    That is the real problem. The original title dont have a all-ages version.

  11. vnfan says:

    Imagine some persons with the best intentions try to make mafia movies more accessible by taking the violence out. Would “The Godfather” still be one of the best movies ever made without the drastic shootings and killings, that illustrate the live of gangsters?

    The same can be applied to an eroge that focuses on romance, kissing and, in the end, also sex. Is it really ok to alter the source material so much by deleting even sexual humour (which is undeniably a part of youth) and kissing scenes? Even if we ignore the actual h-scenes there’s still so much more that was censored.

    Would there be so much hate if they released a japanese all ages VN?
    Would there be so much hate if they released an all ages version that still has kissing and sexual themes in dialogues?
    Would there be so much hate if they didn’t try appeal to an audience that is completely different from the original japanese audience (young male otakus, not little girls).

    I don’t think so and it pains me that I can’t play this title with the heavy censorship. There are Visual Novels that could be targeted to little girls and your mother. VNs that are all ages and without any sexuality, but please don’t try to forcefully beat a non-suitable romance-driven eroge into that category. That’s an insult to the original version and to the fans of japanese eroge.

    To answer your question, but from the opposite direction: No, it’s not ok what Moenovel did and the hate is justified. Translate suitable all ages VNs if you want to reach 12-year old little girls, but please don’t destroy male-oriented Visual Novels with romance, kissing and h-scenes.

    • Suryce says:

      The thing is, this is not The Godfather. This is a random eroge nobody had ever heard about before and which looks exactly the same as hundreds and thousands of others eroge before it. I haven’t played it so I could be wrong, but I would be very surprise if this game bring anything new to the table of eroge.
      I don’t get why people are getting upset over this. If you want your usual cheesy romance with porn, they are thousands of other games which do exactly that, why do you people care so much about ONE game made for someone else than yourself?

      • freeform says:

        I’d heard about it, I like pulltop games and love their great artwork, and I’d been hoping that some translation group or company would manage to snag a contract to translate their games into english. Now it appears that the license has gone to the worst possible group, one who feels no shame in altering basic story elements. What i’m worried about is whether or not moenovel has gotten a general license for translating Pulltop’s works, or was it just for this one relatively minor game in the catalog

  12. I see your point and I agree to an extent, but there are more issues about this release than just the removal of ero, and there is a whole bunch of different nuances that both “warring camps” of VN fans do not notice (or prefer to ignore).

    Myself, I’m a story junkie through and through. I do have a tendency to overlook all-ages titles sometimes (I addressed that personal flaw in one of my own posts), but on the other hand, I can’t remember the last time I actually *read* a sex scene in a VN. I mostly click through them quickly without paying much attention to all the groans and moans and vivid descriptions. I don’t care about mosaics in ero scenes, sometimes I actually prefer them censored. Neither do I use VNs for, you know, sexual release. Never did, actually. TMI, I know, but I want to clearly point out where I stand on the general issue.

    And yet I will not buy this VN. The release sets off too many alarms:
    – Translation/editing quality is reportedly lacking. Not something that would stop me on its own, but it is just another factor.
    – “Risque” content is removed, including dialogue and kissing. This one really depends on the overall tone of the VN, and can potentially be crippling. What would, say, Edelweiss be like without all its adolescent humor? Not to mention that a whole bunch of all-ages VNs often include jokes and references to adult situations, which are potentially subject to censorship. Some people reported that the original VN is not exactly light on risque content, so the scale of censorship could be quite significant.
    – There is no original, Japanese all-ages version. Honestly, if there was one, and it was unaltered in localization, that would be more than enough to sway me. But when content is altered (possibly significantly) specifically for the Western market, which was never a priority for any VN company ever, it raises all sorts of questions. Moenovel say that they added new content in place of removed scenes, and even provided additional voices for those scenes, but I can’t believe Pulltop invested in it as much time, money and effort as they would for a Japanese all-ages adaptation.
    – Moenovel’s approach to the business side of things screams incompetence. They want a new audience, but there is no evidence of strong marketing, and all the current outlets selling the VN online (J-List, MangaGamer, Play-Asia) are also offering 18+ content, making it easy to scare off a portion of this “new audience”.

    So yes, it’s not just the question of having or not having sex scenes in a VN. The problem with If My Heart Had Wings is complex, and most of the backlash could have been avoided if the company had a better understanding of potential customer base and allowed for feedback and communication at an earlier stage. But just like basically all other Japanese companies who were trying to break into the Western market by themselves, Pulltop/Moenovel made a lot of obvious mistakes, including hiring a walking PR disaster that answered all those concerned emails. And if they did such a poor job in all other areas, I just can’t trust them with delivering a translation/localization/”trimming” that’s worth my money. For me personally, to support them now with a purchase is to support a shoddy job. I will not do that.

  13. Klashikari says:

    The absence of erotic content in a given VN isn’t exactly a problem by itself (I personally don’t care that much about such content to begin with).

    However, while I find particularly inane that so many people loathing a company for such decision, there are actually issues I can see with such decision, especially if it becomes a trademark policy for the editing company.
    Simply put: besides the enjoyment for some people in +18 content, the bigger problem for me is that there is absolutely no guarantee that the product that was sold to you is actually fitting the author’s view of the story he has written. Of course, I won’t claim that most ero scenes have a “meaningful” purpose whatsoever. That being said, some scenes are actually not void of actual development (be it romance and other possible themes with these), which are basically denied right from the get go.
    Past the possible point it could turn on the readers or not, the fact the content of a product has been altered doesn’t mean the final product is actually complete to its broad definition. Furthermore, if adult scenes were to be removed, is there any guarantee that other scenes/dialogues weren’t edited/removed for the sake of being politcally correct?

    We then proceed with the annoying issue related to censorship in general. Frankly, unless you have actual japanese knowledge and the original eroge at your disposal, there is no way for you to actually figure out that something is missing, unless the editing job was just plain bad.
    Following this train of thought, whereas readers have no clear idea if the translation is faithful or not, the acknowledged absence of a certain part of the product confirms already that it is “not the same as the original story” and could possible deviate way more than just the H scenes being cut.

    I find that particularly worrying that a story is altered due to some “arbitrary reasons” without any alternative available for those who can’t read Japanese to begin with.
    Whereas you could definitely deal with Key VN without the ero scene absolutely doesn’t prove that every other story based eroge will work this way. And whereas some people really should just buy Nukige if they are just worrying about H scenes in general, I also believe that truncating a VN this way is absolutely not the best option to deal with adult content, and could severely dampen some peculiar titles (such like Saya no Uta for instance).
    As such, you are absolutely not safe from any further changes.

    I personally think that the format does -not- need to be all age in order to expand further its audience. The very reason is that the original format is niche to begin with, and you hardly see anything that force japanese companies to release all ages titles all the time. In fact, I find the western audience situation weirdier as: some people ask for all ages for VN in general, it basically means they just can’t acknowledge such titles for mere short scenes that could be skipped quickly with CTRL (in a perfect world, a H scene disabling feature would be available but that’s another story).
    By the same logic, not to be rude or anything, but I don’t see the point of introducing VN to 12 years old kids and all, exactly because they are -not- the intended public the japanese companies had in mind. Suffice to say, trying to sugarcoating a niche format like that in such fashion puzzles me to no end.

  14. Reasoning says:

    I believe the reason there are people unhappy with the remake of the game is because the original game that was popular (yes, that includes the 18+ content= sex, nudity, sex jokes, sex talk , etc) is being cut and remade into something that might not have gotten it 10/10 of whatever rating it is.

    Even in the western industry, if something as significant as rape/incest is used in a plot for a movie or game, unless it is significant for the stories development, it will be cut out. If it is significant enough for the story to function as a whole, it will be left in.

    However what Moenovel is doing, is remaking a game that was catered to the 18+ fans even though it received a very high review by being that 18+ game. They aren’t simply taking out the 18+ content, they are taking out anything that could resemble sex (sexual humor, sexual interest, kiss scenes, maybe even holding hands for crying out loud).

    Even though I love any game with a good story (fate stay night, Clannad, etc.), I cannot stand the way they handled the game by removing it’s originality and making it something different.
    It almost feels like they are discriminating against the western culture by not letting us see the product in its full glory. (Just imagine if your country is censored to the point where even Pokemon has censorship. That’s how it feels to many undiscriminating VN lovers whether its all ages or 18+)

  15. Lonesylph says:

    Apparently you didn’t understand the whole situation in the first place. See this thread at JAST forum as an example of actual response from VN fanbase www. jastusa. com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=251931 because you missed or misunderstood a lot.

    People are mostly protesting against censorship, not removal of ero scenes in particular. Many people, including me, are against censorship on principle, regardless of what is being censored. Community response about boycotting this release and fearing that it may ruin the future of the industry is justified by this alone. VN fans don’t want to see things censored right and left.

    Also, in this particular case removal of ero scenes is a seriously bad thing because in “If My Heart Had Wings” they do play an important role in story and character development. If they wanted to localize a 18+ VN and try to sell it to a wider audience, then they sure chose poorly.
    But not only that, they didn’t only remove ero scenes. They have also removed all sexual humor, edited all scenes with nudity and even edited scenes with kissing! VN fans are saying that this title is “ruined” because of excessive censorship that goes way beyond sex scenes, all in a title where erotic content and related themes do play an important role.

    As a side note, Japanese VNs are mostly made for an adult audience, not kids. They are made with the assumption that the person reading them will have an understanding of an adult person. Trying to adapt them for kids by cutting ero content is a flawed approach for many reasons. Even if it is a title where ero can be removed painlessly, the chances are it still won’t be very well suited for young and inexperienced audience.

  16. PabloC says:

    I can see where your arguments are coming from. They somewhat remind me of what I was thinking about sexual content at the very beginning, when I was getting into Visual Novels myself. I was also interested in stories and I didn’t care about hentai at all back then. Oh, and I also like Key’s works. ^^

    That said, I completely disagree with you. :P
    It seems that you completely missed the main points of all that rage against MoeNovel. I doubt anyone would seriously complain if it was just about removing a few token, fanservice sex-scenes. However, that’s not the case here.

    First of all, from what I have heard, KonoSora is one of the VNs that treat sex not as simple fanservice, but as a part of romance and character/relationship development. Now, if you didn’t have any experience with mature 18+ VNs (don’t confuse with porn), it’s understandable that you have no idea what I’m talking about. Read Ef, it has some good examples of sex scenes that are well written and are an integral part of a story and a perfectly natural consequence of romance. That’s not a rule of course, there are many nukiges and story-oriented VNs with unnecessary, fanservice, token H-scenes too, but classifying ALL sex scenes automatically as a “porn for otaku perverts” is a mistake.

    Secondly, if it was a normal VN with just one or two token H-scenes at the end of each route, cutting them wouldn’t be a big problem. But again, from what I heard, this title isn’t as low on sexual content as a typical story-oriented VN. Some routes apparently rely on sex quite heavily, as it’s the part of the plot, not a random fanservice. If they left sex-scenes off-screen it would have been fine, but it seems that they cut/rewritten them entirely.

    That’s not the end of the problems though – they also censored kissing scenes, modified dirty jokes, etc. etc. In other words, they went way too far with censorship. Removing all even remotely mature content from a fundamentally mature story IS a big issue. And that’s what the rage is all about. Extensive censorship of a story originally aimed at adults, to make it suitable for little kids is a rather ridiculous idea, don’t you think? What would happen if somebody heavily modified a gory horror (“The Saw” for example), to make it suitable for all-ages rating? Come on, that’s just silly. XD

    Your examples with Key VNs aren’t exactly good – those titles were initially all-ages, sex-scenes were added later. Also Key is horrible at handling sexual contend, so those scenes are generally awful (I did read 18+ Kanon… -.-‘). Changing an initially 18+ story with (apparently) well integrated mature content into a 12+ title is a completely opposite situation.

    If MoeNovel wanted to appeal to wider audience, there are several all-ages VNs out there to choose from. Heavily censoring titles originally aimed at mature audience is not exactly the best idea. But from the screenshots that I saw, it seems that translation quality is a more glaring issue than the censorship…
    Oh well, personally I don’t care about that whole issue too much anymore. I have already decided to read the original version quite a while ago, just because I can. :P

    Oh, one more little complaint – you have used the term “great works of literature” and mentioned “50 Shades of Gray” in the same paragraph. That’s just… wrong.

    • Aspirety says:

      Oh god you’re right. I DID put those in the same sentence. I feel dirty…
      Thanks for your reply though, you do raise some excellent points. I haven’t played any 18+ games so my interpretation is limited to what I’ve heard, and I haven’t played this game so I can’t judge how well it was adapted to a western audience. But I’m just happy to be raising intelligent discussion over this.

  17. Vick says:

    Why they don’t just sell the game without porn content but with the possibility to download it online for free when you bought the game?
    It’s simple and all people are satisfied like that. Everybody can buy it, and those who want the 18+ version would download it.

  18. Player says:

    >I know I’m probably in the minority, but I’m certain there are people out there who agree with me, and it’s my hope that they’ll join me in speaking out against this distasteful attitude.

    Yes, I haven’t said anything until now, but I’m someone out there who has agreed with you from the beginning of this controversy. Please allow me to vent here.

    People have gone to extreme lengths to characterize MoeNovel’s translation as terrible when it’s really not (from what I’ve seen). It’s true that MoeNovel themselves overestimated the quality of their translation, but people who read scanlations and light novels online are used to far, far worse (and KonoSora is a better story than most of those manga and LNs anyway).

    I saw someone in a /vg/ thread post about the process of buying KonoSora, and only receive 3 responses, all of them to the effect of “Shut up stealth marketer, no one’s buying your trash.” In other words, these people won’t allow someone to anonymously indirectly state that someone is buying KonoSora, yet they themselves are anonymously spamming the idea that no one will buy KonoSora.

    Frankly, I feel that the reason people are so vehement about ridiculing MoeNovel has to do with them stepping on the toes of existing “players” by not directly cooperating with them and essentially rejecting their business model. They’re being ridiculed for having no ero for the same reasons that MangaGamer is ridiculed for having too much ero. Unless you’re delivering polished translation masterpieces of “critically acclaimed” visual novels, there’s a certain part of this community that will won’t let a mention of your company pass without cutting into the conversation to make sure everyone knows that your company is incompetent and/or condescending and doesn’t deserve to stay afloat. The most harsh and dismissive critics probably know that many of Japan’s best eroge companies produce all-games versions of their games for consoles and yet they haven’t withdrawn support for those companies, but those same critics make a special effort to bully MoeNovel.

    Pulltop/MoeNovel seems to have gone to great lengths and personal expense to respond to questions from potential buyers, re-record voices, edit CGs, etc. all in order to appeal to a wide audience while alienating as few people as possible, so it’s a shame that an impressionable minority has been working to destroy MoeNovel’s reputation through word of mouth in the weeks leading up to KonoSora’s English release. Although I doubt that KonoSora would have sold well anyway. They really do have the right idea targeting mainstream anime fans, but the hurdle is huge, and Steins;Gate on Steam is the only thing I can see clearing it. And I’m waiting to hear people’s impressions of the content which replaces the ero, to make sure that it isn’t actually awful, before I consider playing it.

    • Reasoning says:

      I think you didn’t understand most of the problems people see with this game being translated to english and censored…

      I’ll recap what everyone who complained have at least said once in their post.

      ->>> DO NOT translate a 18+ Visual novel made for and meant for adults to ALL age versions. If it was made as an all age version and adult version side by side sure, but by trying to dumb down the 18+ version of an original masterpiece is like taking Mona Lisa and saying she needs a mustache cause that will make it more appealing to others! (without proof too)

      By translating an 18+ Visual Novels masterpiece they have destroyed any chance other companies like Manga gamer might pick it up and translate it as an original uncut version, which is a very sad day for those of us who love great visual novels regardless if they were meant for 12+ or 18+.

      • Player says:

        >I think you didn’t understand most of the problems people see with this game being translated to english and censored…

        No, I even addressed the exact point you made.

        All-ages does not mean it’s being dumbed down or had its original vision destroyed. You can’t judge whether KonoSora has been mutilated until you see the changes they made. Games like Dies irae Amantes Amentes and Yoake Brighter than Dawning Blue are even superior versions of the original in terms of storyline but which happen to have erotic developments edited out. In contrast, Duel Savior Destiny just has a few dumb shower scenes instead of the sex scenes but it doesn’t affect the story at all, and that’s likely what will happen with KonoSora here. Thinking that any form of “censorship” means destroying the original story, even if it’s a seemingly ridiculous decision like editing a wet t-shirt, is plain wrong.

        The main purpose of my post was to point out the role of people who take such positions in order to justify their spamming stealth marketing / boycott / etc. on 4chan to counter anyone who expresses a positive opinion. They’re basically just executing the goal of killing any potential hype MoeNovel could hope to achieve. Moreover, even if someone really holds and want to stick by the opinion that MoeNovel is mutilating KonoSora, you should find it odd that in no way does their way of expressing it look like what you and other people in this blog’s comments say–rather than being a moderated argument, it’s merely a one-sided list of scornful condemnations which is resurrected every time someone days to take the first step toward what could become positive hype for MoeNovel.

      • Reasoning says:

        For some reason I cannot reply directly to your comment @Player so let me enlighten you on the fact this story “If my heart had wings” is moderately to highly evolved around adult humor and topics. One of the heroine routes involves so much if it they needed to completely change her story lines to make it work. I am not complaining about some graphic censorship or 18+ censorship. I’m simply annoyed they would prefer to translate an 18+ game into a 12+ game when it’s originally made as an 18+ game. There are many other good All age games they could have translated and kept everyone happy.

      • Player says:

        Your view of what it means to “completely” change might not mesh with others/reality. Have you considered that the emotional interplay may account for a lot of the story? The problem is that you don’t (or at least “didn’t”–this controversy has lasted past the release date) actually know the specifics of how the plot will be changed. If this were a documentary on the porn industry I would understand your perspective, but it’s obvious that this is a charage.

        Ask yourself if you’d still have reacted by villifying the developer if you were a Japanese fan and you heard about Amantes amentes or Duel Savior Destiny. If the answer is yes, then realize that typical Japanese fans will look at you like you’re crazy (or rather ignore you, they being Japanese). Fans may have some useful tips for MoeNovel here and there (such as “hire a good proofreader”), but they’re mixed in with so much baseless defamation that MoeNovel would have difficulty finding them.

      • Player says:

        I take back “but they’re mixed in with so much baseless defamation that MoeNovel would have difficulty finding them.” Looking at MoeNovel’s Twitter, it seems they’re both paying attention to all the feedback and capable of discerning judgmental and relativistic opinions from valid criticism.

  19. wavedash says:

    I understand your point of view, but I disagree. Neither you nor I can definitively say that an h-scene does or does not contribute to a visual novel’s story or character development. This is art and entertainment; it doesn’t get more subjective than this. To me, it’s not about wanting to see porn. It’s that it just makes SO MUCH sense to either ask the player if they want h-scenes, or to release an all-ages and 18+ version.

  20. cyth says:

    I haven’t checked the drama you mention, but let me tell you this: from reading this article, I honestly believe that you simply don’t profoundly understand why erotic games have an audience that loves them. I’ve always viewed eroge as a medium that brings out a whole spectrum of emotions that regular, non-erotic or non-pornographic stories don’t offer. It’s an exotic mashup of different genres, definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but certainly interesting and unique. If these games are supposed to be dating simulations, then guess what? Dating includes sex more often than not. Sex is also not an emotionless venture, even though regular pornography and MTV try to desensitize our youth into thinking it is, especially between people who care about each other. So I don’t completely understand the need to label erotic game fans as “elitist perverts trying to justify their lust for anime girls.” If you were trying to be provocative because you have a blog, then congratulations, but don’t think for a second you made a valid point. Emotions and sex go hand in hand in a real relationship. Perhaps the way you argued your case isn’t as extreme as the other side of the visual novel fandom is trying to, but I think a bit of understanding from both sides would go a long way to maybe find common ground where both tastes can coexist?

    Besides, I don’t think they’ll sell much copies, and not at that price. Even regular erotic titles have trouble breaking even. Until they do, it’s useless to cling to newly found moral high grounds.

    • Aspirety says:

      First, I wasn’t calling people elitist perverts. I was just stating that that was the impression I was getting. Secondly, I resign that I haven’t played any 18+ games myself, so it’s entirely possible that eroge can handle sex scenes tastefully. In the end, I’ll just have to play If My Heart Had Wings myself to respond.

      • Reasoning says:

        Please go play Ef- tale of two cities
        The uncut 18+ version.
        It will let you understand Visual novels aren’t always better when it’s cut towards the general audience.

        Just imagine a world where every movie/game/story/book was dumbed down to the mind set of for 12 year olds. Would you ever get those engaging stories like Harry potter? Sure at first she made it for 12 year olds, but eventually the story was made towards 16+ purely because it would create more dynamic to the story.

  21. Tsun2Yan says:

    Hmm, an interesting post, but I will have to say that I disagree with most of your arguments. (And I will preemptively apologize for the ridiculous size that this reply will surely hold.)

    Firstly, from what I have seen, the removal of the erotic content is only half of the outrage, the other half lying in the low quality of the translation. And believe me, the translation isn’t very good. This backlash over the low quality translation isn’t just Otaku’s rage over censorship attempting to find a more decent outlet under the guise of attacking the translation either, there was similar backlash over MangaGamer’s release of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Kira Kira, both of which had a similarly bad translation.

    Also, on the point of the removal of the sexual content, I would first like to say that I despise (yes, that’s right, despise) when people say that ‘sexual content damages the artistic integrity of your work.’ I really think that this just reeks of typical western erotophobia, I mean, would the Lord of the Rings become suddenly less of a classic because there were sex scenes in it? Would Jane Eyre? 1984? Or, for movies, what about Titanic? In fact, a lot of Hollywood movies do contain sex scenes. Not only that, but with the massive amount of content in a Visual Novel, the percentage of story that is sex actually ends up about the same if you compared some Visual Novels and Movies. For instance, the sexual content actually makes up less of the story in Fate/Stay Night than it does in the first Terminator movie. And, if you look at many, many paintings throughout history, it become quite clear that sex and art are both intertwined with each other, as it should be considering that sex is probably one of the most natural things that humans can still do in a world built around artificiality.

    On my second point on the removal of sexual content, I think that it is backlash worthy for the simple fact that it is censorship. Censorship, at least in my opinion, is never forgivable- whether it is censoring details on how to kill someone, how to bake a cake or sexual content, it is never justifiable to censor another artist’s work. Now, if Pulltop were to release an all ages version in Japan and then MoeNovel released that particular version, there would not be nearly as large a backlash. You can even see this to be true with Jast’s release of Eien no Aselia being of the all ages version, and that had almost no controversy. Why, you ask? Because they translated an all ages version that already existed; they did not censor another person’s work. Also, more specifically on this particular game, one of the routes feature sex quite prominently for the actual plot, so yeah, that route just won’t (and I can say this, I’ve read the novel in Japanese) work without at least one of the sex scenes in there without changing the entire route. In fact, this is what mostly concerns me about them saying that they’ve changed the scripts to make it work without sex, because what I infer from that is “we’ve changed an entire route, making it completely different from the original story because we didn’t want to release it with sex.”

    Also, just one more thing before I conclude this monster of a reply, I would like to say that it is just incredibly unfair to compare a typical Visual Novel company to Key. I mean, especially after KyoAni’s adaptations of their works, they have been inordinately successful with the sales of their works, far more than just about any other developer could even dream of selling in their best year. Hell, just look at Minori, who tried to mimic Key’s success with all ages works by releasing Supipara without sexual content, only for it to be a financial flop, despite how good the actual game is.

    Well, anyway, I feel like I’ve written an entire article myself here, so I should probably stop already. But yeah, I’m actually not as annoyed as most other people seem to be, probably just because I’ve already read KonoSora, but I do sympathize with the outrage that has sprung up around this release.

  22. UmikazeVN says:

    Part of the problem is that removing sexual content interferes with the story in this particular title. One of the routes revolves around a “friends with benefits” relationship.

    I also think that people wouldn’t be quite as up-in-arms if MoeNovel had chosen a title with an existing all-ages version. All Japanese versions are 18+, while the sole English version is edited down to 12+.

    • I have to admit that I am actually quite curious about how they will handle this particular route, as it’s definitely one of the cases where the sexual content and the story content were fairly intertwined. I think it can be done, but it will require a fair bit of creativity to pull it off well.

  23. Vladz0r says:

    Just a few main points:
    Plot points were rewritten by MoeNovel themselves, rather than original writers, so this differs from companies like Key who revise and reimagine their OWN stories to remove or add appropriate sexual content.

    Another glaring issue is the rough translation of the visual novel. It’s simply not that enjoyable to read because of how stiff and almost machine-like the translation is at times.

    I don’t read my VNs for the h-scenes either. I usually skip through them if they’re in the VN, and just recognize their purpose in in the story. (ex. Fate/Stay Night). The thing is that they went out of their way to revise a lot of the “inappropriate” jokes, and removed and censored some CGs that had kissing scenes in it, which I’m pretty sure would lessen the emotional impact. I don’t think I would’ve teared up as much in Haruka or Kud’s route from Little Busters without the kissing scenes prior to those., but MoeNovel is going so far as to remove those kinds of scenes. That being said, Little Busters! and If my Heart Had Wings are different stories, and if this localized visual novel promises to deliver that level of intimacy and story interaction after so much heavy revision, I would play it.

    It’s still a new release, and people seem rightfully skeptical based on how much was removed, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of people who have played both the original Japanese and the All-Ages English version to be able to give a fair assertion of whether or not this VN’s story has truly been butchered or not.

    • Player says:

      Sorry, do you have a source on the plot points not being planned or written by the original writers? Since I read that they were re-recording voices for the new lines, I just assumed that MoeNovel was bringing in the Pulltop staff for this.

  24. My issue, is I don’t like it when a company changes something from the original without giving me, the adult paying customer the option of said original. It seems on the outside like they caved to western stereotypes by covering anything that could even remotely be thought of sexual. The kissing, bath scenes, a wet shirt? They left out the choice of an all ages and 18+ game because they could have done both. People I think would have not been as mad if they would have removed useless sex scenes and brought it down to say Ranma 1/2 levels instead of treating use, the gamer as if we can not handle it. They basiclly made a point of people can’t handle even normal nudity and intimacy and that is what irked me.

  25. Not read one Eroge that tactfully handles the pron.

    It is either, Good story, characters etc, that get absolutely ruined by the H scenes, oh a setup that is basically shallow and leads up to H scenes. Better off without it imo.

    I don’t mind sex being apart of a story though, but don’t do a complete 180 on characters etc, needs tact.

  26. Nandemonai says:

    Because you took the time to write a non-inflammatory, lengthy, well-thought-out blog post, here is a giant wall-o-text reply :)

    There’s really no polite way to say this, so I’m just going to come right out and say it: That is a very selfish point of view. You admit you’ve wanted games like this for a long time, and say you’ve been because the demand hasn’t been met – then immediately turn around and advocate denying others the exact same thing. (While, I might add, admitting that those others vastly outnumber you.) All the while insinuating that *your* preferences are obviously better than *their* preferences.

    The exact same old song was used to justify all kinds of things from the gutting of comic books, to the Supreme Court saying unanimously ‘sure, you can censor movies. They’re not protected by the First Amendment at all, I mean, gosh, we’d have to give First Amendment protection to the THEATER! (1)’ I really don’t see any difference between your post and older generations past denouncing Rock and Roll, or dancing, as sinful. We’ve heard it all before, we’ll hear it all again. This call for censorship has been misguided and harmful every time it’s ever come up before; why should it be different now?

    People get unrated versions of movies all the time. Nobody bats an eye anymore. They were worried people might at first, but they don’t. I personally find movies like Hostel totally repugnant, yet you will never find me suggesting that the torture porn genre ought to be censored.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say there is less sex-per-hour-spent in the original game than the average James Bond movie. (I just tried to look it up; I’d suggest not doing so ;)

    I would fully support releasing an all-ages version AND an 18-+ unrated version. I can fully get behind the fact you would like to get access to some of the very good stories that have been written. So do I. But I reject the false dichotomy. Opposing censorship only when things you want are being censored, isn’t opposing anything. Everyone wants different things, and I see no reason they shouldn’t be able to get what they want (2). Nobody is trying to censor statements like ‘I like puppies!’. And if nobody ever pushed back against censorship we’d still have married couples sleeping in twin beds on TV.

    As for why I’m so upset:

    1) Their plan is doomed to fail. They’ve already failed to get the game into retail stores. They’ll fail to get it anywhere else.
    2) When their plan fails, the Japanese companies probably take their ball and go home
    3) I want more games from Pulltop because Princess Waltz was awesome
    4) I’m probably never going to get them because of 2) and because I am ethically compelled to boycott anything MoeNovel savages.

    I’m angry at them because they denied me things that I want, and their entire plan is to deny me many more things I also want and to encourage everyone else to do the same thing.

    1 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_Film_Corporation_v._Industrial_Commission_of_Ohio – Wasn’t overturned for over 35 years.

    2 – I’m going to point out I am excluding child prawn from that statement. That is an entirely different can of worms and I would rather not go anywhere near it. This is already incendiary enough :D

  27. I guess I would leave comments about two separate but related things (with a small side-comment about a third).

    First, there’s the difficult topic of the “line” between “literature” and “pornography”, and whether “stoop[ing] to pornographic exposure” “severely damage[s] the artistic integrity of [the] story”. That’s a rather heavy allegation, and one that I personally can’t really support. I think this line of thinking is partly rooted in our upbringing; in many modern societies and religions, we’re taught growing up to see sex as this giant taboo that is inherently dirty and almost shameful. As such, there is typically a rather pronounced separation between “things that are wholesome” and “things that are perverse”. Pornography certainly exists, but it’s widely seen as basically serving only one purpose: a shortcut to quick sexual arousal. And thus presents the conflict of story-driven eroge: it blends two elements that many people were raised to treat as oil and water. But I don’t think this is what was intended by most of the creators. The two elements are generally intended to be symbiotic: the story enhances the sexual content (providing emotional depth to the scenes), and the sexual content enhances the viewer’s attachment to the characters (providing a physical/sexual connection that taps into the emotional bond). This is the rather unique balancing point that story-driven eroge strives to achieve; successfully achieving this balance is itself an “art”.

    Now, with that said, it is certainly quite possible to establish a deep bond with the characters in these stories without taping into the sexual element, and it is completely understandable that some readers prefer to experience the stories in this way. The fact that many of these works can completely stand on their own without the sexual content supports that the stories have enough depth that they do not necessarily *need* to rely on the sexual element to establish the connection with readers. If the sexual element is a barrier to your own personal emotional experience, then it is only getting in the way; this is why even eroge have the CTRL key. By the same token, some readers may prefer stories that combine the “two dimensions”, as this is the rather unique blend that you can essentially only find in eroge, and not in many other media like anime, manga, LNs, mainstream TV/books, etc.

    Second, the issue of why some people are so upset about this. Perhaps surprisingly, I actually don’t think this generally has much to do with the points I stated above. Here I think the firestorm is more about “censorship”, and being made to feel that — due to outside social pressures — we are being provided with an inferior product without the option of accessing the work as originally envisioned by the creators. The anime/manga/eroge community has a long history of “activism” on this issue, with a great deal of anger directed at any company that dares to cross the line. In this particular case, we have a bit of an interesting example, because MoeNovel is a division of the Will conglomerate, and is working directly with Pulltop on creating what is essentially a new official release of the game specifically for the Global market (complete with new voice acting to match the new content). This is really not so unlike what happens when games are published for all-ages releases in Japan, perhaps on consoles or PSP/Vita. Many of the original staff, including the original writer, have commented on and offered their support for this project. However, in the minds of the protesters the issue remains, since Japanese customers still generally have the option of purchasing the original work in their own language, whereas International customers are only being offered the edited version. If MoeNovel had released the game in two different versions (general release, and so-called “uncut”), I think much of the controversy would have been silenced. However, I’m sure that MoeNovel may also be concerned about the negative publicity that could result if the connection is made too strongly between what they’re trying to pitch as a “wholesome work” and what others would certainly see as “porn”, for the reasons I outlined earlier. The developer’s/publisher’s concerns, however, may not be enough to assuage the anger of those protesting this “censorship” (deliberately in quotes) as unreasonable and not worthy of support.

    Third, I will also say that I played the original game in question in its original Japanese form. To give my personal opinion about the game, I can say that I found it to contain a very enjoyable concept and story, and I certainly think that the plot itself will hold up well even if you take the sexual elements out (and indeed, it is an excellent choice for an all-ages game in that sense). I can also say that that most of the actual “sex scenes” in the game were not necessarily required to convey the “plot” of the game (although at least a few of the scenes were rather strongly connected to the emotional and narrative development of the characters). However, I would also speculate that the overall tone of the story will change slightly by removing all the “adult humour” from the game; it risks making the characters seems a bit more childish and a bit unusually “chaste” for their age. However, not having played the English version (yet?), I can’t really do a direct side-by-side comparison to say just how big of an impact the edits had on the emotional tone of the plot — even though I suspect that the plot presented can still be effective.

    Well, that was really long, but I hope it provides some food for thought from the other side of the issues. Regarding the “protesting”, I wouldn’t say that I’m all that personally invested either way, but I can see that both sides of the argument have merit. I suppose one view is that the continued pressure on MoeNovel could result in them relenting and finding a way of releasing the original unedited version through another means. But, the price of this is a bit of a campaign of possible misinformation that could directly hurt the company trying to make this happen. So it’s a bit “lose-lose” in that sense.

    • I should also say, in the time I took to write this, a whole bunch of new comments appeared (probably late-approvals), so some of what I said may be redundant now. Sorry for the walls of text! ^^;

    • Aspirety says:

      Thanks for your input relentlessflame. I always love hearing your thoughts on various topics, and once again I find myself agreeing with all of the points you are making. You put it very well, and have given me a lot to think about.

  28. aaeru1 says:

    i know someone who is planning to work on a patch to re-add the sex scenes and ill probably end up translating them if no1 wants to… (dont want to -_- )

  29. rablazone says:

    Reblogged this on Rabla Zone and commented:
    Pretty much my entire opinion on the VN thing. Great read.

  30. Silvachief says:

    Wow, lots of comments. I won’t pretend i’ve read them all, so i’m probably repeating some of what’s already been said here.
    I really like your post. It makes a point that I hadn’t really considered before, namely that the mere existence of an 18+ version could harm how the all-ages version is seen. I can imagine how damaging it might be were a (to use your example) 12 year to find out their favorite VN characters are actually engaging in R18 activities.
    It’s caused me to rethink my opinion a little, but I find it hard to get past the fact that moenovel is released what is essentially an incomplete product. It’s admirable that they’ve gone so far as to revoice things to make them flow better (which I hadn’t known about, and shows dedication that all producers of all-ages variants should have), but it doesn’t change the fact that something has been lost. Like many others I don’t mind the lack of H-scenes, it’s the removal of other content that annoys me.
    That’s enough about moenovel, since i’m probably just rehashing what’s already been said, but i’d like to comment on your aversion to H-scenes (which I understand completely). I really don’t mind H-scenes in VNs (with the exception being when they are taken too far (Saya no Uta), or made to be the focus (Nukiges)); to me they’re just the culmination of a relationship. I think that by avoiding VNs with H-scenes you are doing yourself a disservice, as a number of the greatest VNs I have played (G-Senjou no Maou, Fate/Stay Night, Sharin no Kuni) all have them. If you don’t like the scenes at all, you are usually able to skip them anyway. In essence, if the focus is on the story rather than on the sex, it’s probably still worth playing.
    Finally, since you mentioned Ef…I really didn’t like the Visual Novel, and from conversations with my flatmate it is completely different from the anime. From what i’ve heard the anime has a lot more to it and is more…exciting, for lack of a better word. Still, a lot of people seem to like the VN anyway, so what do I know?
    Double finally, it’s nice to see another Australian blogger. I’m from NZ myself, and i’ve just started my own blog, so i’d love if you’d drop by for a look!

  31. Reasoning says:

    The most frustrating part about them translating this game is they ruined the chance of Mangagamer or any other company that would have done it as the original story to take it up as a project. It was a really good VN in japan that was meant for 18+, not even a single all age version was made in Japan. So by taking this project on and making it all age version first of all ruins the game from why it was so popular as well as ruins the chance for us to ever get the game in English as its original cut.

  32. Zombiw says:

    This whole article is an argument from ignorance, you seem to not understand the reasons why people are annoyed, h-content isn’t the issue at all. Considering you have not played it and seem to have no knowledge of the Japanese version and how the censoring will effect the game its rather premature and ignorant to then try and hero this game.

    • Aspirety says:

      Maybe it was a bit premature, but I still wanted to present my thoughts and get some discussion going.

      • Zombiw says:

        At least make that clear at the start then, otherwise people will blindly read this and not objectively look at it themselves. I skip hscenes in all vns but games like this where some routes have hscenes which actually are a part of the plot of a character just wont work after removing it, unless the plot is rewritten which is has not been. Also its somewhat insulting that the idea of kissing etc has to be toned down, jokes edited etc for a western release. The game was designed for 18+ then cut for a T rating, If it was designed as an all ages VN such as LB then its fine but you cant just cut content and even the whole premise of a route and expect the game to still stand up as equal to the original. Most music videos on MTV are more xrated visuals than a kiss scene, the double standard just annoys me and shows a lack of respect for people who are already interested in the genre. If they are looking for a new market then you should not be surprised if they alienate the existing market. Which judging by the backlash is what they should of been expecting. If they manage to find this market they have targeted then good for them but still makes no ods in my decision to not purchase or support a butchering of a title.

  33. chaosprophet says:

    Many already made good comments about why some people are angry about the censorship and altering and/or removing content, so I will try a different approach.

    I understand and respect the fact you don’t like erotic content. But when you say you don’t understand why some people would dislike the removal of it and wish the company didn’t do well, it seems to me you’re being biased and/or not willing to see the other side perspective. Let me try to show my point with an example:

    Imagine if a new company licensing VNs arise. That company think that VNs only have a market in the west if there are erotic scenes in it. So they decide to release a title here which was originally only all-ages but by adding erotic content to it. They wouldn’t change anything from the original, just add that content. Also they would release only that 18+ version, not giving any option to skip those scenes nor a separated release without them.

    Now would you, who likes VNs without erotic content, not be upset by a company doing this? Wouldn’t you dislike the fact that the company wants to release that game while ignoring it’s original fanbase (all-ages VN fans) because they think a different audience would be more profitable? Wouldn’t you worry that if they succeed more all-ages VNs you would like to have a chance to play will end up being released as 18+, making it less likely for you to be able to play it the way you prefer to play VNs?

    So my point is, I do think that even those who would dislike this release just because of ero removal have good reason to be angry and wish the company wasn’t sucessuful while having it’s current mindset.

    • Reasoning says:

      It’s not just simply adding the 18+ content, it’s also making the all age script into an 18+ script if you go by the way your describing it to him/her according to what Moe is doing.
      They took out any 18+ reference in the whole game, not just simply the H scenes. If they only took the H scenes out and kept the 18+ references we would be less annoyed with them.

      • chaosprophet says:

        You are correct, what they’re doing is actually much worse. A right analogy would be something like taking out a good portion of non ero scenes and cgs because they thought it would be too boring, rewriting and revoicing some scenes to make it sexier, editing a few cgs to make it more explicit and then add ero scenes.

        But as many others already made good arguments about why they are against all the editing and censoring that this game got, I was trying to make the author understand the point of view of those who are angry just because ero removal.

        From this post the author does seems to be the kind that only play games that are all-ages or have an all-ages version. So I tried showing the other side, people who would only play games with ero content or the version with it if available. And hoping my example shows why someone like that can be rightfully angry at such removals, the same way I think he would be if the opposite was to happen.

  34. lifesongsoa says:

    Thanks for bringing this up. It’s been on the back of my mind since Moenovel first showed up and this provided the inspiration I needed to finally write something about it. As a few other people have pointed out I do think you have missed the point on art and sexuality. Such a convenient line simply doesn’t exist.

    I think there is a lot that can be said for both sides of this argument. Both for the people who want erotic content in their visual novels and those who don’t. I think that as fans the best case scenario for us would simply be to have both accessible to us. For the companies involved and their image that might prove hard. We live in an information age however and few people who play this visual novel will be unaware of the fact that it was originally filled with erotic content.

    I wrote my own blog on this issue in response. What originally started as a comment has turned into a full blog post. I cited this blog in a blog I wrote as this is what prompted my writing and I invite you to check it out. http://theglorioblog.com/2013/06/29/an-open-letter-on-moenovels-visual-novel-localization/

  35. Pepe says:

    Let me just try and give an explanation to some of the community’s common complaints
    “Why didn’t they just choose a game that didn’t have ero content?” – This is because moenovel is a subsidiary of Willplus (who also owns Pulltop) and, looking at Willplus’ repertoire, I don’t think they have any games that don’t have ero content. It isn’t as simple as going to a company like Key and telling them “Hey we want to translate your game into english.” Because they are also under Willplus, they have all the authority to license any of their games, but it makes their choices limited. If we ever see a new release by moenovel, I am certain that it would be a game under Willplus as well.

    “The game didn’t even have an all ages version in japan” – The thing with this is moenovel is directly working with Pulltop. Any decisions to cut any part of the game were made with authorization from Pulltop (and even new text/voices added for it). Now try and think, if pulltop were to actually make an all ages version, what scenes do you think they would cut? What scenes would they rewrite? I am pretty sure they would cut the same scenes and rewrite the same scenes that moenovel did. The only difference I can imagine is that they would keep the panty shots. And yes, I have played all ages versions of original ero games and I can vouch that they don’t just simply *skip* the scenes; they rewrite the scenes to make it seem that no ero had occurred at all. If you want to try it out, check out the all ages version of Kanon, for instance.

    “They removed all adult references” – I think this is the silliest complaint because I am playing the game right now and there are still numerous instances of perverted humor.

    There are still many valid complaints against moenovel’s decision, but I just wanted to point out some of the more common ones that I think deserve an explanation.

  36. Anon says:

    The main problem is not the removed 18+ content, it’s the horrid translation, and worst of all, made by a company, do you know how mediocre that sounds? a freakin company, who pays it’s employees to make a translation in broken English and then selling it? pathetic.

  37. Clannad Man says:

    Wow, most of the posts here are even longer than the ones I write. I’m impressed! ^^

  38. Anon1 says:

    I can understand what this company is trying to do, and it’s not a bad strategy if they are trying to bring VNs to a wider audience.

    There are, probably, a lot of people out there who would enjoy playing VNs but they don’t know VNs even exist. There need to be more titles like this that can be brought to gog.com or Steam or electronic book stores or anywhere for that matter, so people can just know they exist. After people are more aware of them they can decide if they want all ages VNs or eroge VNs or whatever else.

    The way I see it if market grows everyone wins. There is room for every VN type out there.

    It’s also nice they are concentrating on HD VNs. As it is now VN market in the west is about a decade behind the schedule.

  39. Peter Payne says:

    Nice blog. I’m involved with the If My Heart Had Wings game, and if you want I’d be open to answering some questions if you want to do a follow up post. Hit me on twitter at @jlist if you want this.

  40. Dayummy says:

    I Totally agree with this. They want to bring it to a wider audience some movies full of sexual content is just plain weird and akward, not alot of people are seeing sex as art clearly everyone is akward during a Sex Scene In a movie, But for this MoeNovel likes visual novels they want to open the audience think about if every book or game had a sex scene the audience starts to get cut. Simply put, blatant sexuality might be even more volatile territory for video games than violence is.
    The erotic subset of visual novels wouldn’t survive in the United States. For one thing, since the age of consent in Japan is 13, it’s relatively common for erotic scenes to occur between high school students—just imagine how many furious news stories you’d hear if a game like that made it to the United States!

  41. Intrinsic says:

    Someone who doesn’t enjoy sexual content in their media might be happy that this game was edited. I guess “yay” for the people in that boat.

    Whether adult content should or should not be in this game doesn’t seem like the point of contention. If people want media that fits western tastes, you can drop what you doing right now and go to Wal-Mart. Some people aren’t happy with what they find at Wal-Mart and their eyes have wander to works from overseas. The works themselves “are what they are”, and the only thing that holds back most people from enjoy them is a language barrier. When people want an original work, and only language barrier is stopping them from enjoying it, of course they’d be annoyed when that work is altered beyond just a language conversation.

    It’s like living in a land that doesn’t have baked potatoes. The only way to get baked potatoes is to have them imported, but the company importing them decided they are to be sold without sour cream because some people are lactose intolerant. Sure people who are lactose intolerant can now enjoy that potato, but now everyone else who was hoping for the whole original package is left feeling a bit disappointed.

    The above example doesn’t fit exactly, but close enough. Of course people who wanted the original product are going to feel a bit upset over the change. The ideal solution would be to offer both options, and to let the consumer choose.

    As for adult content in general, I think it can add to a story. On its own, much like the example above, it’d be like eating only sour cream without the baked potato {story}. When the two are combined correctly it’s a wonderful thing. Humans are sexual beings. Sex in many contexts is not harmful at all, but there is still an unjustified negative social stigma around it. For contrast, murder on the other hand, which is never a good in any context, is liberally applied in most western media and hardly warrants a PG rating.

  42. Funchal99 says:

    “The people who propagate this aggression really come across as elitist perverts trying to justify their lust for anime girls.”
    Dude, that simple line spoke to my soul. You said your opinion is evolving, so I don’t how much it might have changed since the time this has been blogged, but I agree 100% with what you wrote. I trully do.
    I love the visual novel medium. I review some for a brazillian site (yes, I’m from Brazil). I think it’s one of the most amazing and creative ways to tell a story. But again and again, I keep feeling a bit frustrated with the community and marketing issues. I want to introduce everyone I know to this medium. I want to show people how much this can be awesome. But when at least 60% of the amazing VN’s that come out and are translated have explicit sexual material, it gets hard to make anyone take it seriously.
    I once started a discussion with someone from IGN (go figure…), and he said to me “sex is something that exists and happens in the real world. If you turn down great stories just because they have sex in it, you deserve to miss out on it.”
    The problem is, as I explained further earlier, that in my opinion there is no real reason for you to show explicit sex. Maybe that’s because I am conservative in this regard or whatever, but there is no need. Sex is something that “attacks” your senses. You see explicit erotic content, and your mind focuses on sex, not really the plot. This same guy told me that many sex scenes can be meaningful and convey how much the characters love each other for instant. But to me, you can just show the characters hugging, kissing, then cutting it to them in the bed under the sheets. That’s enough for you to know they fucked, they did it for the intimiacy that only lovers can have, or whatever reason. There is no effective reason, at least in my point of view, to show them having actual sex explicitly. Seriously, I can’t imagine how someone can defend a scene where the man in the relationship ejaculates on the girl’s face and call it insightful to the theme of their love. I just can’t. There is no need to. You can show how much they care for each other in countless other ways. But oral sex and doggy-style? Really?

    Maybe it shouldn’t, but this drags people away from the medium. And I don’t know about you guys, but I like it when the things I love become popular and are recognized but a LOT of people. I’m not proud of being part of a niche, of a selected group of people knowledgeble enough to come in contact with it. If anything, I feel sad many others can’t experience the same awesomeness I do.

    Then again, I can see how a sex scene can be meaningfull and integrated to the story. Saya No Uta is an example. Though I still think they could simply imply it. Hell, Saya’s a little girl, there’s clearly a loli fetish in there, but everybody just defends it like there’s not. There’s even a completely unnecessary and forced threesome along the way. Explain to me how that can be meaningful to the plot?

    Another example is Type-Moon. I truly love their works. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worst excuse for sex than in Fate/Stay Night. Truly, this guy at IGN was defending it and I just can’t comprehend how someone can say it was integrated to the plot. Magical energy refilling semen. Really? I’ve seen fantasy porn movies with better plots than that. Yet, people cling to it. If they just confessed they felt turned on by it, it wouldn’t be so bad…but they actually try to make an unbelievebly out of context porn scene like that meaningful. No one wants to admit they jerk off to hentai, but they are willing to argue it is relevant to the story…
    I’ve seen people complaing that Mahou Tsukai no Youru does not feature erotic content. REALLY!? You actually read a type-moon novel not for the intrincate and complex story, BUT FOR THE SEX!? There are other works that get to the sex part much quickly and in much better ways. But you actually want shoe-horned sex scenes into the plot, even though the author did not plan to actually include then originally? JUST WHAT KIND OF RATIONALIZING IS THAT!? If I want porn, I’ll go watch/read porn. There’s VN’s that are centered around porn, the nukiges, go search that and stop whining!

    Anyway…sorry for the long post.
    Just venting a bit of my anger towards this issue.
    Also, really love the blog. I will definetly come visit more often.

    • Someguy Withaname says:

      I agree with you on most of your points. I personally prefer to read visual novels for the story and skip the sexual content when I come across it, as it does not appeal to me. That is not to say that I don’t think sexual content should be absent altogether from VNs. If it can be done in a way that does not cross the line into pornography then I think it should be there just like it is in movies all over the world. It is just very unfortunate that other people tend to judge the medium before ever really giving it a chance.

      • Funchal99 says:

        Yes, exactly. But, as it happens in a lot of movies, the sexual content is not really explicit. Sometimes it almost becomes explicit, but it really is not. Like a scene where the characters are having sex, but a sheet is covering the penetration or stuff like that. To me, that’s enough to show they are having sex for whatever reason you deem necessary.
        Maybe I just haven’t seen a work that truly makes an argument out of an explicit sex scene though.

  43. Nanski says:

    Pulling the erotic content from a visual novel is both a waste of time and ultimately will always be an act of censorship. It is this very act that has been allowed to go on far too long, and far too many times. Sadly, it is also an act which has been tolerated or even accepted in the western visual novel fans and communities especially who have been heavily influenced by puritan values stemming from religious backgrounds such as Christianity. There is still, a heavily taught fear and abhorrence over the subject of sex or even the sight of skin. If any would like to do their history, look up the origins of perpetrators of these fear-factors traits like Anthony Comstock and Dr. Fredric Wertham, M.D. These two prominent figures and others have pounded in the collective heads of the west that *anything* fictional with sex is ultimately bad, and destructive. Their words alone have caused even many of the comic-books we read to day to be non-existent or nearly on the verge of destruction. And these same time of fear-mongering persecution influences is being aimed at the “new” threat. Japanese Visual Novels. It was however Japanese novels that had the most LGTB content in them while in the west the mention of LGTB material often led to it’s banning or hounding of “morality” from white-knight groups. We have ultimately become a society which actively embraces “if the adult thinks its not good for a child or their own tastes, then it’s not good for anyone”.

    If the content of a illustrated book it’s considered too explicit for the adult or mature audience, then companies need to not license them. Independent Otaku’s or reasonable adults *don’t* like being treated as kids needing parents when it comes to the purchases of their entertainment with their money. Most companies do this as an act of being a fill-in moral guardian but as a fan of VN it’s ridiculous when a person can have sex irl, watch real-life porn, but not allowed to view a fictional form of sexual relationships between characters in a novel without heavy edits and censoring. Real sex between people is good, while viewing cartoons having sex is bad. See the illogical standpoint of the entire issue. What it comes down to is controlling the consumers who enjoy and buy Visual Novels, because of the disapproval of those who view visual novels as “abnormal” or even “dangerous” and “corrupting”.

    By removing erotic content it takes the genuine out of the entire product and treats the product as if it were for infants to began with. No one likes wasting their money on a potential product that looks good, then coming to find out a company took out all the juicy content. It’s like taking George Owell’s “Tropic Of Cancer” and removing all scenes of erotica or references to erotica because someone somewhere is displeased on the topic of sex in the book. Not every content out there is for everyone’s taste or personal approvals, but the act of removing erotica from Visual Novels becomes an issue of forcing moral dictatorship on another person’s choice of fictional and optional entertainment. The west has a bad behavior treating pixels on the level of real-life people as well too. A pixel cannot be a person, and vice-versa a living being cannot be an artificial pixel.

    It’s not about “go watch real porn!” as some will say as an excuse to justify censoring visual novels. It’s about a governmental influence and even parts of society telling you, the audience, what fictional books you can, and cannot read. This includes digital books such as VN’s. Japanese novels play an important role in the freedom of fiction and expression. The VN community and those who are lovers of freedom of books should aim to protect this, rather than allowing censorship to have it’s reign on this cultural medium.

    • Funchal99 says:

      With all due respect, I disagree with most of your points. Mostly because I think you’re taking the whole matter a little too far. I don’t believe it’s really a question about purity and the origins of our conservadorism. Maybe we could discuss this whole thing in a much simpler level.

      Anyway, I would like to reply to some points of your text:

      – “By removing erotic content it takes the genuine out of the entire product and treats the product as if it were for infants to began with.”
      Well, that was a pretty big logic jump in there. Are you saying that the Realta Nua version of Fate/Stay Night, for an example, got treated as an infant work? With all the remaining violence, complex and very mature themes still intact? FSN is one of those cases where the sex scenes were clearly shoehorned for fanservice. I don’t know about you, but these kinds of scenes seem much more juvenile to me than anything else. Like I said in my post just above yours: “I’ve seen fantasy porn movies with better plots than that.”

      – ” It is this very act that has been allowed to go on far too long, and far too many times.”
      That many titles? I presume I don’t know most, then…because I know about a nukige or two that actually got officially translated with no censorship. Outside of those flat-ou fap games, I’ve never seen any companies actually bringing erotically explicit VN’s to the western market. Rare cases of official localization like Ever17 were like that: localizations of visual novels that didn’t have sexualy explicit material to begin with. Thinking about it now, I guess JAST did localize Saya no Uta, so there’s that….but it was uncensored. I’m not sure if those proportions you speak of are really accurate.

      – “If the content of a illustrated book it’s considered too explicit for the adult or mature audience, then companies need to not license them.”
      Really? Like I said, Saya no uta did get officially licensed, and that work is too explicit in all fronts, not just sexually. I believe it’s simply a matter of said companies believing the investment is not worth it, since the consumer base is mostly niched, and sexual explicit material only reduces this niche even more (since there is a much less probable chance of the other publics being attracted to the work in question).

      – “it’s ridiculous when a person can have sex irl, watch real-life porn, but not allowed to view a fictional form of sexual relationships between characters in a novel without heavy edits and censoring. Real sex between people is good, while viewing cartoons having sex is bad. See the illogical standpoint of the entire issue. ”
      I do get your point on this one, but I think this is not really the core issue. Sure there is this difference of perception and even prejudice towards who like cartoon porn, but what I believe this post is criticizing is the fact that a lot of VN’s have an amazing story that holds itself on it’s own, with the sex scene being oftenly unecessary and thus unappealling, which brings another issue: I want to show it to everyone, but there is explicit sex and fetishism on it (being it a cartoon or not), which might drive them away. Also, the lolicon stuff…I won’t even get into it now, but you must understand that a naked little girl might be just…too much for most people.

      – “No one likes wasting their money on a potential product that looks good, then coming to find out a company took out all the juicy content.”
      Again, that’s my point. For some novels the “juicy content” are not the ero-scenesat all. The story is! And it can hold itself without the ero content. Now, if that’s the juicy part for you, I can only say this: there are VN’s built specifically for ero. Just don’t demand the same treatment to those that are not.

      I can totally understand why they would make such censorship and I am actually on their side here when I think it’s not that big of a deal. The “juicy part” is probably still there. They want to popularize the genre, get a bigger public to get interested by it.
      Then again, I can’t say this is not censoring, because it is. That’s why I think the ideal solution would be a dual release. To those that don’t enjoy the sexually explicit content and are in it for the story only, they have a way to read it without having to skip something they might find uncomfortable. For those that like H-scenes, that are turned on by it, or simply stand by it as a meaningful story device, there it is too. No harm done.

  44. Balmunk Fezarion says:

    “I do get your point on this one, but I think this is not really the core issue. Sure there is this difference of perception and even prejudice towards who like cartoon porn, but what I believe this post is criticizing is the fact that a lot of VN’s have an amazing story that holds itself on it’s own, with the sex scene being oftenly unecessary and thus unappealling, which brings another issue”

    I wouldn’t have minded if it was all ages from the get-go, but whether or not the h scenes are ‘shoehorned’ or purely fanservice is something I’d like to decide on my own. To be given no option at all is what’s jarring; the release of Realta Nua for example did not remove the existence of the original pc Fate.

    Also I hate that eroge with actual erotic content must always be so marginalised. They cut out the scenes in a hope to reach a more ‘general audience’, which also irks me. I get that people who enjoy eroge are the margins, but it doesn’t mean I have to be happy about this always being the case. Trying to cater to a mroe general audience is ridiculous, because the huge majority of the people who will buy (and pirate) this game are those who are already in the margins.

    • Balmunk Fezarion says:

      Basically I, and I believe a lot of others, are irked because we feel a (childish, yes, but justified) sense of betrayal. I suppose it’s how all the Morrowind tabletop-esque fans felt when Skyrim was released. Except Skyrim was actually very successful with the masses, whilst basically noone but “us eroge fans” has heard of この大空に、翼をひろげて.

      On a side note, apparently the translation was completely lacking in literary impact anyway, so I’ll be leaving this until my Japanese gets a little better.

      • Funchal99 says:

        Sure, that’s why I stand for a dual release solution.
        As I simply can’t phantom why most VNs really need to have sex scenes except for fetishism or even traditions sake, it’s within people’s right to read the damn sex scenes if they so choose. Maybe I just haven’t read a story that actually has meaningfull sexually explicit scenes (I hear Katawa Shoujo is one of those), but to me all of those are just lame excuses for a boner (or not, if you’re a girl, you get my point).

        It might very well be conservadorism on my part, but I just can’t swallow the argument of “humans are sexual beings, we have sex, accept sex, it’s all mental and sociological locks in your head imposed by our puritan culture!!”. You can acknowledge that you characters had sex without showing it explicitally. They are under the sheets, or the scene cuts to them holding each other naked in bed, there’s a million ways to portray it without drawing them doing it doggy-style. I just can’t understand for the life of me how someone can actually believe a blowjob scene where the guy ejaculates on the girls face, for an example, is meaningful to the story and not just cheap fetishism. Seriously, anybody that has had a few sexual relationship knows most girls aren’t into that. It’s a male fetish that’s mostly realized on fictional sexual situation, a.k.a porn. You simply can’t elevate that cult and “artsy” status. It’s just there to make you aroused, and yes, that devalues the whole experience for me. As I said, if I want porn, I’ll go watch material that was made specifically for the purpose of being porn.

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