So some of you have probably already heard that the Grisaia Trilogy Kickstarter project had some of its tiers and corresponding pledges arbitrarily removed by the crowdfunding platform. People are already screaming moral police and Sekai Project’s founder tweeted that they’ll be looking into different platforms for future projects. I say good riddance, but do read on.
The Grisaia Trilogy is a series of erotic games by FrontWing, a japanese software house. The games contain sexually explicit scenes, but versions with such material removed have also been released for video game consoles. This is standard practice for eroge and nothing out of the ordinary. The thing with this project specifically is that Sekai Project decided to crowdfund a translation of it on a platform which I and many perceive as a clean brand. Project goals are to translate the console port of the game, but the localization company had plans to translate the missing sexually explicit scenes and offer the erotic version all along, just not via Kickstarter. In fact, they founded Denpasoft, a front for just such an occasion. I can only speculate that this was also a longterm business plan. They would launch Kickstarter projects for console game translations, while Denpasoft took care of the dirty ero side of the business. Console versions offered a convenient excuse for the company to exist on the popular Kickstarter. A technically clever business model, but a terrible one in context of Kickstarter’s nature, the current internet, and society in general.
Some of you may note that Kickstarter has in the past let several projects with erotic content thrive on their platform, whereas technically there’s nothing wrong with Grisaia. Kickstarter didn’t have a good excuse to cancel Sekai Project’s campaign, so they merely reprimanded them over erotic bedsheets and dakimakura offered as part of the higher tiers. What does that say, really? That Kickstarter is playing the moral police, that they hate money, or perhaps that keeping their brand clean takes precedent for them?
Imagine a world where Grisaia is successfully funded, Sekai Project gains confidence to fund more eroge via Kickstarter, several of them get successfully funded, JAST and MangaGamer follow suit … And then there’s a report on CNN how Kickstarter is funding Japanese pedophile hentai. What we have then is essentially another Rapelay scenario. Japanese software houses have been reluctant to deal with western localization companies in the past exactly for this reason. Western localization companies are not inclined to have proper social etiquette, to keep such content in Tokyo’s back alleys and vending machines on the outskirts of human civilization, because there is no money to be made that way. Each time these companies step into the mainstream spotlight, they are bound to agitate moralists and social justice warriors to speak up and cause a controversy, possibly even call the cops on them. The media will say anything to get more clicks and views, soccer moms won’t rest until they are certain they have scrubbed their conscience clean of all the mistakes of their youth, and eroge fans will feed right back into it by bringing out their rotten inner selves and giving everyone an excuse to continue as they please.
You could say Kickstarter made Sekai Project a favor by giving them this slap on the wrist as a warning. They sent out a clear message they do not want to be associated with such content in the long run and I am inclined to agree with them. A few dubious projects here and there to keep things edgy, sure, but seeing a company make a proxy to release erotic versions consistently is where I’d take a step back as well.
I like visual novels, I love what Sekai Project has brought out in the past, especially their World End Economica and CLANNAD projects (I will never understand the appeal of moe headphones though), but a line has to be drawn to prevent conflict with an unforgiving and irrational society and I’m glad it has been. I’d be devastated if Sekai Project had to close down due to public pressure. These of course are all if-thens, but it wouldn’t hurt to learn a bit from even recent history, you know, the rabid UNICEF feminists and Rapelay? I may have praised Sekai Project’s disruptive nature in the past, however this time they demonstrated a lack of wisdom when you’d expect them to understand the nature of games such as Grisaia and the crowdfunding platform in question. They were, quite simply, a mismatch.