Note: Most of the information in this article is taken from fan translations, due to a lack of understanding of the Japanese language. All of the Soleil support translations mentioned will be linked at the bottom of the article so that you may see for yourself.
Censored, censorship, and other synonymous terms are thrown around an awful lot as of late, and one such occasion is Nintendo censoring a certain scene in Fire Emblem: Fates. The scene was mired in controversy, with accusations of it being homophobic and displaying a “homosexual conversion therapy.” Beware, past this paragraph, I will be talking in depth about this, and will contain spoilers for Fire Emblem: Fates/If, specifically the Nohr path in the Japanese version.
The scene involved the main character, Kamui (or Corrin in the western version), drugging Soleil, a bisexual character, with a magic powder so she sees everyone in the opposite gender, due to her not being able to fight around females. If Soleil sees a cute girl, she would “end up fainting if [she] even [got] near them.”
Nintendo confirmed that “in the version of the game that ships in the U.S. and Europe, there is no expression which might be considered as gay conversion or drugging that occurs between characters.”
There are some nuances around the situation, and some specifics that would take a while to go through, so if you would like to know more, there is a great Destructoid article providing an effective clear-up of the messy situation.
The basic gist of it is as follows: Soleil is bisexual and takes after her father, with his player-ish tendencies. Her preference is clearly towards females, and she feels faint headed and weak at the knees in the presence of females. During your support conversations, she’ll share this with you, and you offer to help her. She accepts.
The way you help her is by slipping her magic powder, which lets her see everyone as the opposite gender. Only aesthetics change. Voices remain the same. Soleil can clearly distinguish gender. I would also like to clarify that she is okay with this. You then help her practice around girls. Whilst you are a female, Soleil starts feeling romantic towards you, and this persists as you appear as a male. You can then marry her.
Personally, I have a problem with this. I don’t feel the argument surrounding the scene should be one of homosexual conversion, but rather consent.
Consent is a bit weird in this scene. Soleil accepts help, but we question if that consent entails the drugging? I don’t think I can really say, but regardless, I think this should have been the point of debate.
But how should the scene work now? If it is being changed, I would be very disappointed if they went lazy and made Soleil straight, gay, or anything that isn’t her original sexuality, bisexual, and I feel that the support situations still need to follow the original intention. How should this be done? I don’t think I can say on a be-all, end-all account, and I do have ideas, but I don’t think sharing them really matters.
The main issue here, in my opinion, is that it’s being considered censorship. This isn’t censorship. Back when I was on Tumblr with a rant blog, I talked about this controversy when it popped up. I said something along the lines of this being a non-issue. We are complaining about a Japanese game that most of us don’t understand because we don’t have the knowledge of the Japanese language and culture. It was already very likely that this would have been changed in localisation, just like Henry’s story in Fire Emblem: Awakening (for those not in the know, Henry’s story in Japan is one of abuse, in the US, Europe and other territories, it’s one of emotional conditioning via violence). Albeit in less eloquent form.
My final issue was the echo-chamber effect that was had with the incident. The initial controversy occurred when a Tumblr user who hadn’t even played the game (I won’t name the user, since they apparently abandoned their blog, and the spreading of the user’s name helped perpetuate a lot of hate towards them) called Nintendo out for being homophobic and presented their argument in the way you hear it most of the time. As you’d expect from the internet, it was shared around without people doing their research, like your typical “stay safe, there are creepy people out there” stories you see on Facebook.
Not even the removal of petting was a big deal. It took away the suggestive elements, and you just hang out with an ally. You up your support, still, and get your animation and dialogue, but you just don’t pet people. It’s perfectly fine, and not worth getting riled up over.
There’s a few lessons to be learnt from all of this, and they are as follows: read widely, and don’t assume everything is censorship. If people had read some of the translations for Soleil’s support, or saw some of the interpretations from those who have a proven knowledge on the country’s language and culture, this controversy likely wouldn’t have been as big of a thing as it was. I’m not familiar with Japanese culture. I heard some other points about Soleil that I didn’t bring up due to myself not being familiar with the concepts, for example, Soleil being Class S, which is apparently a thing in Japan. I didn’t employ this because I’m not knowledgeable on the subject, and only really understand it as the concept of Japanese school girls dating other girls effectively as practise. Finally, localisation is not censorship. I could have seen this being changed either way. Content is always changed so it can be adapted to other regions and cultures.
So don’t be too mad. This isn’t censorship. This is adapting a medium for other cultures to understand. Many Japanese players likely made this Class S connection, but as not all of us are aware of Japanese culture, it’s reasonable for this to be changed.
Soleil x Male Kamui/Corrin: http://pastebin.com/bgQC0yEa
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