ANONYMOUS;CODE Interview with Localization Producer Yu Namba & Editor Stephen Karsting

    Discussing the latest entry in the Science Adventure series.

    Following the highly anticipated English release of ANONYMOUS;CODE, Final Weapon had the exciting opportunity to interview localization producer Yu Namba and editor Stephen Karsting. 

    Final Weapon managing editor Raul Ochoa discussed Namba and Karsting’s roles and experiences with ANONYMOUS;CODE’s English localization and voice recording process. Moreover, the game’s connection to previous Science Adventure titles and other related topics were discussed at length. 

    As members of the ANONYMOUS;CODE localization team, what did your roles entail on a day-to-day basis?

    Yu Namba: As the localization producer for ANONYMOUS;CODE, my task changed throughout the project.

    During text localization, I checked the translated content—as standalone English text, and also comparing it to the original Japanese text—and suggested changes to the team. I also handled a small amount of miscellaneous translation. I supervised the English recording sessions with Stephen, providing additional context, answering questions raised by the director and the actors, and picking the takes. I coordinated QA with MAGES. and the LQA team, while making text and voice fixes. Lastly, I worked with MAGES. and our European distribution partner on master submission.

    There were also other tasks, like helping out with package design, translating and checking added website content, and doing some interviews.

    Stephen Karsting: I was the Editor on this project and worked closely alongside Yu Namba throughout.

    My usual task was essentially to keep a close eye on all the creative content coming down the pipeline for errors, issues, and so forth. Lots of quality control checks, along with offering advice on potential problem spots in the localization. I likewise co-supervised the English recording sessions, with a focus on making sure performances and the actual script lines themselves were all accurate. Every scrap of text, illustration, sound, and video had to pass review under close scrutiny by Yu and myself. Often multiple times, as is the case with any organic creative process. Something always manages to change or break in unexpected ways and has to be caught in time.

    There’s always matters of production like QA testing, ratings, package design, social media content reviews, and so forth. But those are group efforts more than anything. Everyone contributes a lot to getting any one work out the door and maintaining its lifespan beyond release.


    What was your experience with the Science Adventure series and visual novels before working on ANONYMOUS;CODE?

    Namba: To be honest, I knew about the series and the basic story of STEINS;GATE, but I had never played, watched or read any of the titles before working on ANONYMOUS;CODE. So the very first thing I did was play through ANONYMOUS;CODE (both normal and true endings)… in Japanese, of course.

    Karsting: I was broadly aware of the series from entries like STEINS;GATE or the Occultic;Nine anime, but had never been involved with any of the titles before. Though, after working on this game, I’m pretty inclined to go back and see what I’ve been missing out on.

    Although ANONYMOUS;CODE is set in 2037 with a lot of fictional technology, many real-world topics and concepts were applied throughout the story. What topics/concepts did you find to be most fascinating in ANONYMOUS;CODE?

    Namba: If a person’s DNA was made into data and a 100% accurate, functioning organic replica was built from that blueprint, would we consider the body to be living? Would it possess the memories of the original?

    If a person’s entire brainwaves were made into data and given a 100% accurate, digital replica of that person’s body, would the digital model behave the same way as the original? Would it possess the memories of the original?

    Is there such thing as a soul? I think that topic is within the Science Adventure series’ “1% of fantasy” in ANONYMOUS;CODE, but I believe that’s what gave life to this title.

    If you’re intrigued by what I mentioned, I encourage you to give ANONYMOUS;CODE a shot. It served as a great introduction to the Science Adventure series for me, and many of the reviews agree.

    Karsting: I really love digging into speculative scenarios or extrapolating outward to see how small changes would impact a setting. Because of that, the style of technology and how the characters of ANONYMOUS;CODE interact with it as part of their daily lives is really interesting to me. The whole integrated VR/AR system is something that’d be awesome to have.

    The connection to previous Science Adventure games is important in ANONYMOUS;CODE. Did you face any challenges while working to maintain that authenticity in the English localization?

    Namba: We relied heavily on this title’s translator, Andrew Hodgson, and his extensive knowledge of the Science Adventure series. We also had to do our own research and familiarization of the key concepts ourselves so that we would have a better understanding of the story. Since ANONYMOUS;CODE expands on some of the ideas previously introduced in the Science Adventure series, we all needed the knowledge in order to discuss them.

    Karsting: Given my own lack of familiarity with the franchise, I trusted the team when it came to making sure everything was as accurate as possible. I focused myself on really working to understand ANONYMOUS;CODE itself and its characters, so as to help its stand-alone presentation as best I could.


    ANONYMOUS;CODE is the first game in the Science Adventure series to feature an English dub. Did the inclusion of the English dub affect how you approached the game’s script?

    Namba: Most of the titles I worked on in the past had English voice, and as I spent time localizing them, I learned a few dos and don’ts. When we created the recording script for ANONYMOUS;CODE and we each went through it to finalize its content, I suggested text changes here and there according to those personal rules. For example…

    1. Make sure the actors can perform the lines without running out of breath. There are times when we have no choice but to cram a ton of information into a single line, making it really long; we need to create a break in the middle so the actor can take a breath.
    2. Repetitious words, phrases, sentence structures, inflections, etc. tend to bother the audience. I think this is especially true when different characters talk similarly in the same scene… It sure bugs me!

    There was one thing, though, that was brought up during English voice recording: Momo used words and phrases that typical teenage girls aren’t familiar with. This was completely intentional on our part. You learn why as you play through ANONYMOUS;CODE so I won’t go into detail, but we paused the session briefly and explained it to the director. That being said, I personally think Anairis Quiñones did a wonderful job portraying the complex character; I hope everyone who played through the game agrees.

    To me, dialogue is one of the key components of a visual novel. I wanted the players of ANONYMOUS;CODE to have the best, immersive story experience ever, and for that, I tried to make the lines sound smooth and natural.

    Karsting: We really wanted to make sure this game could stand on its own merits and set the bar as high as possible for its quality. Thankfully, based on fan reception, I think we managed to hit that mark pretty well.

    A lot of attention was put into not just making sure the dialogue itself was solid, but ensuring that every character had their own charm and recognizable quirks. It’s never interesting when a bunch of characters all sound the same, right? That flowed right into the VO part of the process, in finding the best vocal talent we could to not only pair well to the original JP counterparts but also hit the tone we wanted for each role.

    What character(s) resonated with you the most during the localization and recording process?

    Namba: I supervised most of the English voice recording sessions, and I witnessed each actor breathe life into their characters. They all did an amazing job!

    Max Mittelman’s portrayal of Pollon was completely in line with how I thought Pollon would sound like in English. And Cross’s lines performed by Y. Chang felt like he really cared about Pollon, as his teammate and as a big brother figure.

    Karsting: I was right in there bright and early each recording session and wish I’d been able to spend more time with the amazing crew we had. Everyone did a fantastic job, from the voices to the director to the sound engineers.

    Keith Silverstein’s performance as Oz really hit close to home with the whole “perpetually tired, grumpy guy putting up with teenagers” mood. That speaks to me on a personal level. I honestly thought I’d dislike Wind as a character, but AJ Beckles made him so dang charming and funny I ended up adoring him. Anairis Quiñones gets a special mention for an off-script ad lib that made me laugh so hard I nearly cried, and Erica Mendez for really putting in the work as Asuma Soga.

    I’d basically have to list off everyone in the cast since they all gave such a wonderful performance from start to finish. Literally everyone brought something special to the table and made the characters so much better than we anticipated. I also really wish we had a blooper reel after the fact because some of the off-script stuff was hilarious.


    What did you enjoy the most while working on ANONYMOUS;CODE?

    Namba: To be honest, I was on hiatus for a couple of years. Localization has been my passion ever since I graduated college, and with ANONYMOUS;CODE, I was able to reconfirm that. I enjoyed doing everything I did in this project, but I was probably the happiest when I read all the reviews.

    Karsting: The VO sessions, hands down. Working on the game overall was a great experience but I had an absolute blast with everyone during recording. It was a LONG stretch of work, to be certain, but everyone made it such a wonderful time that I’m eager to do it all again.

    What would you like to see from the Science Adventure series in the future?

    Namba: Having played ANONYMOUS;CODE, I thought it might be interesting to relive the experience in VR. That’s probably the closest alternative to BMI/carrianode for us right now…until 2037.

    Karsting: A slice-of-life spin-off where the GAIA Simulator is used to speculate a world where all the various main characters of each Science Adventure series can hang out together. I can’t be the only one who’d like to watch that, right?

    Is there anything else you would like to say to Science Adventure newcomers and longtime fans of the series?

    Namba: ANONYMOUS;CODE became my entry point into the Science Adventure series, and I enjoyed every second of it. We did our best to bring that experience over to the Western audience. To the newcomers: I hope you enjoy the ride, working together with Pollon! And to the series fans: let’s look forward to the next Science Adventure title and its Western release!

    Karsting: Given the nature of ANONYMOUS;CODE, I actually think it’s a great spot for new fans to jump into the franchise. It works really well on its own and has just enough ties into the other series to make someone perk up when they spot the references.

    For the longtime fans: I know you all have very high standards and expectations, and I hope we managed to meet them. I’d love to work on future installments in the series, so here’s to more yet to come.


    ANONYMOUS;CODE is available now for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC via Steam. Stay tuned at Final Weapon for more Japanese gaming updates, reviews, and previews. 

    Soul Kiwami
    Soul Kiwami
    Raul Ochoa, a.k.a. Soul Kiwami, is the Managing Editor of Final Weapon and a Games Writer at Game Rant with four years of writing and editing experience. Raul is passionate about the Japanese gaming industry, and he's a huge fan of Nintendo Switch, PC hardware, JRPGs, and fighting games. business email: [email protected] | Muck Rack:

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