Aniplex of America Interview at Anime NYC

Welcome to the last of our Anime NYC coverage! I'm your host, Hakurai, and here we have our exclusive interview with Albert Kao, the Localization Producer of FGO North America.

Albert Kao, Localization Producer of FGO North America, Aniplex of America

Interview Transcript

You talked about F/GO being the hub of Fate franchise in North America. What are your plans and visions for expanding the Fate franchise?

When it comes to Fate, not a lot of stuff has been localized, very minimal. A lot of the peripheral materials - novels, short films, manga - have never been localized. Among the series, Extra only has been localized halfway, because Extra/CCC hasn’t been localized.

When it comes to the main Fate series: we have Unlimited Blade Works; we have Heaven’s Feel movie going on right now, and we have Zero, but the main Fate route was never properly animated. Hollow Ataraxia was never properly animated.

How I want to expand the franchise - FGO in Japan did several in-game player surveys. The first time they took the survey, everyone was already a Fate fan. “I played the original game”, “I watched this animation”, “I read that novel” and such. They have some understanding of Fate. From the second player survey, it turns into “FGO was my first entry.”

Being the first entry in the franchise, FGO now sets up the worldview. FGO does that pretty well, setting up the player on what’s going on, on what the world is like, but it also makes references to other works that force people to look it up.

If they don’t understand when I say GUDAGUDA Order, GUDAGUDA Honnouji, how can we not localize the manga? People have to look it up GUDAGUDA Honnouji to figure out where it’s coming from.

"It sounds like it’s a manga somewhere, where can I find it?"

For the stuff not localized, FGO will somehow force them to look into it. With hope, my hope, my personal hope being that FGO does well in the States. It expands the people’s interest and expands the fanbase. Then maybe we can look into other options to expand the franchise.

There are a lot of expansionary materials, such as the Apocrypha light novels?

Apocrypha light novels, strange Fake manga and light novels, The Case Files of El-Melloi. A lot of those are supplemental materials to the Fate franchise as a whole. It makes the franchise richer, in a sense. It’s not just a straight line from Zero to end of Stay Night. It makes it a larger Universe, more interesting, more intriguing for people to enjoy.

I’m not saying that we’ll definitely able to localize them all because we have a lot of hurdles, when it comes to localizing those. Aniplex doesn’t have all the rights of all the Fate franchise. There’s a lot of exploration; a lot of meetings have to happen and a lot of hurdles have to be overcome. Ultimately, I hope that FGO will trigger more interest in people for the franchise, and hopefully, they’ll look into other supplemental materials and spinoffs. If they’re looking into it and love the franchise more, that’ll make me very happy.

I heard about the original visual novel on iOS?

For iOS, they made Fate Realta Nua, which is an all-age version of the original game. It’s on iOS right now. The Fate route is completely free. You pay for the other two routes.

So that’s available in the US?

It’s not available in the US right now. It’s not been localized yet. For that, I’m not sure if Aniplex as a whole is involved in that project at all? But, if the players really want it, really interested in it, I do want people to know the entire Fate story, not just Unlimited Blades Work and Heaven’s Feel. That’s something that deserves a conversation, and not something out of sight, out of mind

We’re always thinking about, is there a possibility? I can’t guarantee anything right now like, “We’ll put Realta Nua in iOS US as well” because it’s not my decision to make. As my personal hope as localization producer for FGO, I do want the players to experience this side as well.

So… I’ll try.

I’ll try to see if there’re more conversations that can happen, but it’ll be something good for the players.

If you don’t me asking, what’s your process working with the JP development team?

I’ll just touch on the points I’m allowed to say. It’s not a one-way street. It’s not Aniplex of America decides everything. Not is it DELiGHTWORKS and Aniplex Japan decide everything. It’s not. It’s a collaboration effort.

Decisions are made based on input from all three parties.

It takes a while?

It depends, sometimes it happens real quick, sometimes it takes more conversation.

For every event, for every release, for every update and every chapter - DELiGHTWORKS, Aniplex Japan, Aniplex of America, everybody would talk about what’s best for the players and decide on the best course of action.

You recently announced the Thanksgiving Event, is it the first foreign-specific event?

It is something we always been talking about, making events that based on American holidays. A lot of the events are scheduled around what’s being released and what’s happening in Japan.

For us, it’ll be nice for the players to do something US-holiday specific. That’s why the Thanksgiving Event was made. Give that feeling to the players that we’re not simply porting something, but we’re actually thinking about how we should properly operate FGO here in the US, to make sure US players get the most authentic, yet localized, experience of the game.

I don’t want US players to feel like, oh, we’re porting the game over and, boom, that’s it. We don’t care, we just have what Japan had. I don’t want US players to feel that way, and ultimately, it’s a two-year-old game. It’s just been released here a while ago, but in Japan, it’s two years already.

There are a lot of information out there, so a little surprise like this would make the US players feel more refreshing, I guess? Not just they’re taking something old and that’s it.

Is there any interesting player data that you can share? Like how many times people were beaten by a certain boss, or what stages use had the most apples used?

I am not allowed to share player information.

I really enjoyed your panels today, so I’m wondering if there are any plans to do similar programs in the future like Japan had with Chaldea Radio?

Currently, we really want FGO in the US to be in-tune with the community. The plan so far is every time we have an event, every time we go to a convention, we’ll do an FGO panel.

The reason is that we have a platform that I can have a direct communication with the fans, I can have direct communication with the community. I can in person understand what current fandom is like. For the US, I think that’s very important for the communication, personal connection, to be there.

To know that, really, we’re not in this for the money. We’re doing this because we really love this game, and it’s sad to see that it’s only available in Asia. I don’t think it’s fair to the US players. I really, really want to bring this game over. Now that we have, I’m very happy.

However, the game is supported by its community, by its fans. In the US, to be able to stay in tune with the community, to have that personal communication, is very important. We’re going to do that.

Chaldea Broadcast Station. We have Aniplex streams that happen from time to time, and so far I only popped up once. Twice? I showed up twice to present some information. I don’t have detailed or further information, but it’ll be nice to do more of that in the future, to have more FGO-specific streams.

My plan is to create a platform where we, the localization team, can have more direct communication with the fans.

In general, if you don’t mind me asking, what’s the day like in Aniplex of America?

Well, a slice-of-life question. Part of it I’m working on FGO, but another I’m also a producer on the anime side as well.

I can do both, so day-to-day it’s really e-mail checking, text-checking, subtitle-checking. We also have to work with marketing to figure out how we are going to push a title, or in case of FGO, how are we going to push an event. How are we going to market FGO?

It involves constant meetings with Japan. It also involves how we’re going to plan out an event, how we’re going to schedule an event. Is there stuff we can do? Is there stuff we cannot do?

Working at Aniplex doesn’t mean I watch anime eight hours a day. I work in a proper office, a company. There’s a lot of behind-the-scene work, hard work, that not just myself, but everybody else in the office have to go through. It’s teamwork.

Do you have any other hold on to your seat announcements? Or encouragements?

That’s all I have for New York, the hold on to your seat announcements. It was received really well. I’m happy to see the fan’s reaction, and I’m hoping to see more of that in the future.

So far right now, we don’t hold anything back. That panel has everything we can announce this time.

Thank you very much, everybody, for doing all this, maybe we’ll see you at the next panel!

Thank you!

That's all for now; thank you all for tuning in, and we hope to see you next time!