Persona, Tales Of, and more prove Western developers need to embrace anime games

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Video game writer and developer Sisi Jiang spoke at Game Devs of Color Expo 2021 about the potential and challenges of anime games in the West.[***]

Game developers around the world have their own styles and aesthetics, but recent game successes like Persona 5 and Tales of getting up highlight the need for more Western developers to embrace the stylistic influences of Japanese animation. Anime games created by Japanese developers tend to be seen from a certain angle in the West and in a panel at the Game Devs of Color Expo 2021 titled “MAKE MORE ANIMATES[***], ” Kotaku Writer and video game developer Sisi Jiang discussed the challenges of breaking down the stigma surrounding anime games.[***]

In the panel, Jiang said that, in their experience, while anime influences are abundant in indie game development, developers are often reluctant to partner with anime because “it is more difficult to get money from investors. “In the West, there is a stigma around games inspired by Japanese animation, despite the critical and commercial success of games with artistic styles inspired by Japanese anime.[***]

Related: Tales Of Arise Makes A Great First Entry For Newcomers To The Series[***]

Jiang said that part of this stigma is derived from the association of anime with porn. While anime porn does exist, anime is a form of media made up of many genres, and the rest is often lumped together with its riskier elements. This stereotypical perception leads to seeing anime as a strange and deviant interest in the West that involves negative things about the people who enjoy it. As Jiang noted, “No one thinks loving Mickey Mouse is weird. It is considered completely neutral, as opposed to a personality trait. “[***]

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Fortunately, feelings of animosity towards anime in the West for the most part seem to be fading. In 2020, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train has become one of the highest grossing films in the world, and streaming services like Crunchyroll – recently acquired by PlayStation parent Sony – are able to keep audiences up to date with the latest animated series as soon as they are released. Likewise, more and more Japanese games are localized with great effect. The original Persona 5 sold at least 3.2 million units, according to Atlus, and P5 Royal sold at least an additional 1.8 million (via RPG Site). According to Bandai Namco, Tales of the Ascension sold 1 million units within a week of release. [***]

Western game developers have also started to show a desire to work alongside Japanese or anime-inspired titles. More recently, Genshin Impact, a game developed in China with an anime art style, featured Horizon: Zero Dawn’s Aloy as a guest character – an example of a prominent Western developer embracing the aesthetic of anime rather than avoiding it as a form of deviance. League of Legends also collaborated with host Shingo Yamashita to create a special promotional video for the title, and Ubisoft and Square Enix have created various crossovers between Assassin’s Creed and Final fantasy. [***]

Jiang’s panel called on developers to be more open about their own anime influences, in the hope that such a discussion can help remove the stigma on the boards of Western publishers. By leaning in and embracing anime, studios can open up game development to be more welcoming to Asian art and influences as part of the development process. Like titles such as Persona 5 and Tales of the Ascension have displayed, these games can be and have been as successful as any other Western-style game.[***]

Next: What Persona Games Do That Other JRPGs Don’t (& Why It’s Better)[***]

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