Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tenra Bansho Zero

I never thought much about the motivation behind the work produced by a game designer or scenario writer because I always figured that people created games for the genres they loved. Why else would they do it? I have no problem with buying books made by creators who have a passion about their subject, because it (generally) comes out in the quality of the final product.

I could tell that Andy Kitkowski really believed in TBZ, but in the course of trying to find out more about this game, I got the distinct feeling that there was an underlying contempt for elements of the original work on the part of the developers (ostensibly because of cultural differences). I refer primarily to this post by wundergeek.

In the post, wundergeek claims that the cover is too graphic for "Western" audiences. Kitkowski seems to agree, but his comments are quoted without much context. I had to scroll up and down on the page to make sure that I didn't miss some other piece of artwork. Then I read the comments a little closer, and examined the area wundergeek was complaining about... Huh? There's no camel toe or anything... Frankly, what I see is a female character in what is typically considered a masculine pose.

In my opinion, someone must have a pretty skewed sense of perception to be solely focused on the character's crotch when there is so much else going on in the artwork. Below is a fairly typical depiction of Spider-Man. Is it significantly different? Is the pose acceptable because Spider-Man is male, or are people also offended because of the display of spider crotch?

Would the character on the TBZ cover be improved by having her assume a female pose that is more familiar to "Western" audiences?

Compare Superman's pose with that of Spider-Man.
Now compare their poses with that of Wonder Woman.

I'm a bit skeptical that such a pose is humanly possible.

The post then goes on to decry the evils of fanservice. A static panty shot of an animated sequence that probably lasted a fraction of a second is shown as evidence. So how long is an episode of Sailor Moon? About 20 minutes? I'm not sure how many times panty shots occur in an episode of Sailor Moon, but let's be generous, and say it happens half a dozen times. This still accounts for less than 0.5% of the content in an episode.

Again, the focus is on some minor element of the whole that wundergeek finds distasteful or whatever. I think that the majority of the time, these scenes happen so fast that you don't even notice them unless you are actively looking for panchira. The fanservice is there for a particular demographic. If someone doesn't belong to that demographic, but is still looking for panty shots, it seems like they're going out of their way to be offended. I'm sure that there are a lot of more productive things that they could be doing with their time.

I know I'm ranting too much regarding wundergeek's post, but I just find it annoying that she seems to think that her own views are equal to that of the entirety of "Western" culture. Wow!

Whatever. In the post, Kitkowski comes off as politic in his comments as ever, and I guess I can understand his stance regarding the perception of anime-based games given the amount of uninformed commentary received by Maid the RPG. Still, I find his response rather weak.

I guess his new project Ryuutama should be wholesome enough for "Western" audiences, so hopefully it will save him a lot of headaches in the future.

So why is any of this important? To me it's important because TBZ is a localized translation, as opposed to a direct translation, so I feel it is important to know where the people doing the work were coming from philosophically. I don't particularly like having someone sanitize or filter things so that they fit into some perceived world-view that may or may not be what was intended by the original creator without understanding how the sanitization was being done.

In the end, I did buy Tenra Basho Zero. It was only $14, but frankly, it is a game that I will probably never play, because nobody in my gaming circle (including myself) cares for storytelling type roleplaying.

My brief review of the game itself can be found here.

The offending cover which was not included in the pdf I purchased can be found here.


  1. I really liked your defense of the Tenra artwork - I lack a lot of experience with American cheesecake comic/RPG styles so I never would have made the connection.

    I think you're being a little hard on the translator though. It seemed like he was in a hard spot with a hostile interviewer.

    It might have been better if he'd presented a stronger defense, but then again in that environment maybe it was better to acknowledge the points and focus on offering alternatives.

  2. You may be right about my reaction to how Kitkowski handled the criticisms. Certainly he made the best of the situation, given that the interviewer was dead-set in her opinions. But still...

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I really agree. Mindsets are different according to the nations and being able to assume the particular parameters of those mindsets give clues about that individual's ability to accept / tolerate other's national mindsets.