Bravely Default; Censorship, or Localization?

There has been a bit of a backlash against Square Enix when it was discovered that the Japanese content from the upcoming Nintendo 3DS game, “Bravely Default,” had been altered for European releases (and, likely, for release in North America). Some of the changes include those in costumes (seen above), increasing the age of some of the characters from 15 to 18 and changing dialogue to utilize fewer sexual innuendos.

The issue of censorship is a hot-button topic when it comes to video games. When it comes to altering the creator’s initial vision, fans are prone to a call to arms, even in perceived cases of censorship with no conclusive evidence that notable change will even occur. However, for Square Enix to alter their Japanese RPG content for European and North American audiences, differences in cultural acceptance and financial benefit come first.

I’m not going to sit here and bemoan Bravely Default’s Japanese developers for sexualizing 15 year old Chibi-style characters. The age of consent in Japan varies from 13 to 18, depending on local prefecture laws per region. It is arguable that the East’s take on making youthfulness of fictional characters attractive less problematic than the way underage singers and actors (in this case, portrayed high school students) are sexually marketed here in North America.

Regardless, combining Chibi-style art of making child characters even more childlike with lingerie-esque clothing of this nature is where Square Enix knows to draw the line with Bravely Default. It doesn’t matter whether the age they impose for the playable cast is 15 or as 1,000 year-old magical entities; culturally, Westerners are not used to it to that extreme in animated characters.

It’s not the first time that Square Enix has imposed their own localization changes to their games. One of my favorite Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy VI, is infamous for its changes to localization. References to alcohol, religion, curse words and sexual playfulness had been changed to meet Nintendo of America’s standards. Even the sprites had been altered for North American audiences. Despite these changes, Final Fantasy VI went on to be a critical and financially-successful game, as well as one of the best RPG’s on the platform.

ffvi siren censorship


That said, what does come as a baffling decision is to alter the sexual innuendos of the characters in Bravely Default’s dialogue. While the reassurance is that nothing changed will alter the story, what characters say and how they act is an integral role in all stories. Now that the cast is covered up a bit more tastefully and are of legal adult age here in North America, why should the sexual innuendos be removed? It changes the dynamic of the cast in a measurable way.

It will not be these changes that will affect the overall reception of Bravely Default in North America. Silicon Studio’s RPG should rely on its ability to carry a plot and develop great gameplay in order to please fans. While censorship is not often used for the benefit of art, changes in localization are a sign of adapting to differing gaming markets and what is acceptable within them. What’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.

Tags: Bravely Default Square Enix Video Games

  • Dajuboo

    What a garbage article created by the typical politically correct puritan. The west should pull it’s head out of its diareah infested hypocritical butt and stop worrying about imaginary cartoon characters and their suppose “ages” on make-believe, non-real, and NOT human citizens and take a good, hard look at its own culture that actively streams sexualized content of the female gender daily. We can’t even watch a chocolate commercial about candy, without a female or the candy sexualized. Cars are sexaulized and there’s a heavy emphasis on the white male gaze where EVERYONE can see it. We have teenagers who engage in sexual activity right here in the US, and buy condoms from stores. Quit acting stupid and pretending these things don’t happen. Japanese games are not responsible or the fault of lack of parenting and sexual confusion from American parents. Our lyrics are filthy and our media is trash, we have no right to accuse japan of anything in their entertainment as harmless as fake cartoons. Cartoons, not actual human beings.

    The issue around skin itself, is absolutely stupid. Babies come from humans, not storks. Why is this such a secret. The problem is that America doesn’t know HOW to handle sexuality, which, as someone who was young themselves, had problems dealing with it as sexuality was taught to be a bad and body-shaming thing. It’s even worst for those in LGTB communities as they get shunned the hell by these same b.s. standards written up in the article above. Japan was more of a welcoming and complete different experience, where it wasn’t doomsday because a cartoon was wearing a skirt. It’s so funny how America acts all justified in censoring japanese games, yet the middle east points ITS finger at the conduct of western society while we merrily watch blood and gore spurr on the screen, or some chick jiggling her breasts around. Honestly, i’m sick of having to look at the form of the female that MUST have giant bloated breasts in order to be acceptable to western standards. Real natural females in the real world, do not have giant bloated breasts like that and it’s rare if they do. The rest is silicon. We have become a silicon nation where even the naturalist of a small-chested female is rejected and shunned. For females like myself, i’m sick of the mutilation of the human form. It can’t even be artwork anymore as some blobs are “offended” by cartoon characters now. I wish I could draw them an offensive middle-finger, so they can get offended all they want over that. Wanna talk about so-called imaginary 15 year old pixels who don’t even HAVE an age to began with? Let’s talk about the reverse pedophilia syndrome in the United States media that is bluntly ignored yet very active. Those commercials were females are sexualized and ANYONE of ANYONE age can see it. So in essentially, American logic says it’s “okay” for the same 15 year olds or yiunger or whatnot they cry about things being inappropriate, to watch those commercials of woman bouncing around and such. Rihanna couldn’t even wait before she turned 18 to peel off her clothes, and Miley went on a bear-strike.

    Take a good, hard look at these stats America. This is coming from YOUR country, not Japan.

    Not kids are hurt or harmed because of the imaginary age of some pixels in a video-game because of some puritan nun-logic. What’s harmful and hurtful is the ignorant way we handle sexuality and skin to the point we’ve become paranoid of chibi cartoon characters in the game and how they ‘look’. Who. Cares. No one in the real world is hurt or harmed because of the creation of these cartoon characters.

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