With the localization survey and me watching this guy playing the trial, I’ve been thinking of the idea of Hot Pockets being localized. If I were VA, I would almost certainly keep the lid on that one for a while. First of all, I’m just worried about their economy both internationally and on homefield. Secondly, I have concerns regarding this story in particular.
I don’t have much in the way of numbers to go on, but Rewrite seemed to do fine in sales according to Wikipedia. That means Key is on their seventh year of not doing much of anything. I can’t imagine them having the greatest of times, so something drastic will happen if Hot Pockets doesn’t do really well. And that’s in terms of Japan! We can’t say if the steam releases have actually been successful, and they supposedly have two more going currently. I think the game should show results in Japan before they even consider bringing it here.
Now if it does prove profitable in Japan, we get to my second issue with the game in that I think it may be too inherently Japanese to appeal to a western audience, and localization may prove difficult.
On a pure text level, this game seems easier than previous titles. The trickiest device I came across was 浸る. It means to be submerged, but it’s used in a literal sense and a metaphorical sense. The literal was when Hairi talks about how being in water makes him sick. The metaphorical–which is way more frequent–is about Hairi doing his depressing monologues. You’d probably have to do something with the phrase “sunk in thought” to make this work in English. Again, that’s not too bad considering other bullshit that’s been translated before. What concerns me much more are the themes of the story.
Key have gone on endlessly about how the story is about nostalgia and summer memories, and their aim seems to be a romanticised, nostalgic look on this ideal Japanese summer vacation. Lots of works aim to evoke nostalgia; we have the 80’s nerd nostalgia in Stranger Things, and the 70’s-80’s anime nostalgia in Megalo Box. Anyone can feel nostalgic, but the things that make us feel it will vary greatly. About that let’s play I mentioned, that guy constantly brings up personal experiences relating to what the text is talking about. I can’t do that. The best I can do is think of anime tropes and google references. Obviously all key works are by and for Japanese people, but themes of love, family, and friendship are universal; nostalgia is much more narrow. I could be worrying for nothing, but it will come down to how well the story works if someone isn’t captured by the atmosphere.