Monday, July 13, 2015

Why I endorse JAST’s censorship of Shiny Days


VNDB

JAST USA is censoring Shiny Days, but angry fans should think twice before lashing out at JAST. JAST promises a solution that should satisfy everyone.


To the great consternation of fans, JAST has announced that it will be censoring its upcoming release of Shiny Days, alternate universe prequel to bestselling interactive movie School Days. As feared, ero-scenes involving Kotonoha’s “underaged” younger sister Kokoro and her classmate will be cut from the official release (slated for release on September 25th).
Kokoro Katsura from Shiny Days

The official stance


From their official forum announcement:
… some content will not be included with our shipping version, principally a few specific scenes with Kokoro and her classmate are being omitted. All other game content is included, and all visuals are 100% uncensored and mosaic free. We hope fans will be understanding of the need to not have these scenes in the shipping version, which we have to do both to avoid problems for ourselves and our customers as well as visual novels as a wider genre, which are really beginning to take off in popularity.

School Days and Shiny Days translator Kanna, affiliated with Sekai Project, explained:
… none of us on the team have any moral objections to the content for Shiny [Days]…
JAST USA is.. well.. a US company, but they sell and export their games worldwide. Censoring or cutting content out of a game is never an easy decision, but we had to do it to comply with various international laws. Just because it’s a grey area in the US or legal elsewhere doesn’t mean we can apply this standard across the board.
Back with School Days HQ, [Sekai Project] hosted a survey asking people what content is illegal in their respective countries. Underage, bestiality and rape content were the top 3 in results. While I don’t agree on cutting these out, we are obliged to in order to sell to these countries.
I understand why people would be angry about this censorship and their justification of not buying the game, but at the same time I don’t want to play chicken with criminal code and be put on a registered sex offenders list.

JAST project manager Nicholas Graham added:
Personal views of freedom of speech and censorship don’t mean anything when we have staff who are in countries where [child porn] laws not only exist but are used to prosecute individuals who are in possession of such content. The above is not only a risk but a serious safety concern for staff and customers. It would be immoral to ask our staff to become martyrs and put their safety and futures at risk just to localize one game…

A JAST staff member further elaborated on legal specifics, explaining why this particular title had to be censored--even though titles with similar content had previously been released uncut.
… Canadian staff [working with us] are scare[d] since the incident of the Canadian eroge staff member [getting detained and charged for importing obscene material]. Their involvement in the distribution of similar material could result in problems for them, and it’d be immoral for us to put our staff at risk for customer or company gain.
On the US State side, our company is at risk under California Penal Code 186.2.3 as defined by 311.2, with the crux of a hypothetical court case being the literary and artistic value of the game based on not our standards but “contemporary community standards.” LWR and Song of Saya have themes, gameplay and stories that are easier to defend than those within Shiny Days when taken as a whole...

From the above quotes, we can clearly see that JAST fears releasing an uncensored product would put its international customers and employees at legal risk. In particular, JAST relies heavily on physical distribution of its games to both domestic and international customers, and international shipments are subject to intense scrutiny by customs officials. Therefore JAST has a particular responsibility to ensure compliance with international regulations regarding offensive sexual content, even moreso than competitors like MangaGamer that focus on digital distribution.

To clarify rumors that have been buzzing around: both the digital and physical official releases will be censored. “Shipping version” in the official announcement didn’t mean what wishful thinkers thought it did.

The extent of cuts


Several ero-scenes involving Kokoro and her classmate will be removed from the official release. In addition, further edits may be necessary since these scenes are referenced in a wider story arc involving Kotonoha and her mother Manami. The School Days series is well known for its twisted drama, and there’s little doubt that any edits could impact the drama in this story arc (one of many potential paths in the greater work). JAST doesn’t have the resources to make more than minor changes to an interactive movie, so likely the explicit scenes will not be shown to the player, but they’ll be implied to have occurred off-screen.

JAST is removing the loli content from Shiny Days… or are they?


Given the above, it seems like JAST is dead-set on censoring the loli content in Shiny Days to protect themselves and their customers. This is their official stance for the official release. However, as with censored fetish nukige Starless, they’ve dropped hints that fans should look forward to an unofficial uncut release.

From the official forum announcement:
While there will not be any kind of official patch to fix these scenes by us, we’re confident the Internet will make such a patch for fans who want this content back in the game.
(Note that this part was in a smaller font than the rest of the message, a subtle hint that there’s more to this than what they’re letting on.)

Peter Payne, chief of JAST and J-List, added less subtly in a fit of exasperation:
…I am all but saying there’ll be a 99.9% official patch through unofficial channels…
This isn't the first time JAST has censored a game and promised fans would be "more than happy with the result". A decensor patch for Starless was stealthily released several hours before the official download went live–with demosaiced art in the restored scenes.

My reaction to Shiny Days’ censorship


I was extremely disappointed when I saw this announcement. I’m a huge fan of the School Days series, and I’ve been looking forward to Shiny Days for several years now. I even went and played Cross Days in Japanese to tide me over til this release. I’ve previously posted about my stance against censorship relating to MoeNovel’s ill-conceived release of If my Heart had Wings. I’m also a lolicon, and the particular content being cut is directly relevant to my interests.

How is the censorship of Shiny Days different? Why should we boycott MoeNovel and support JAST?

MoeNovel committed the most despicable kind of censorship: voluntary censorship to reach an audience that chooses to boycott the content in the original work (i.e., the sexual content). They did this purely for marketing reasons: they thought that removing the ero content would allow them access to traditional marketing channels that would allow them to reach a wider audience and achieve more sales. They essentially turned their back on the Western fanbase that wanted to enjoy the same work that Japanese fans had enjoyed. They chose to target casual mainstream VN readers with a censored game over the existing eroge fanbase with the original game.

JAST is censoring Shiny Days for legal reasons: this is coerced or state-sponsored censorship. It is a fact that virtual child pornography is illegal in English-speaking territories (e.g., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia) where JAST does business. It is a fact that JAST USA employs contractors from all around the world where the content in games like Shiny Days is not allowed.

But most of all, JAST is not abandoning its fans. They have to maintain a facade of plausible deniability. They’re unlikely to be prosecuted in the US over content in Shiny Days, but it’s still possible. Christopher Handley of Iowa was charged under US federal statutes and sentenced to 6 months in jail in 2010 for obscene manga including sexually-explicit “depictions of children”. Understandably, JAST doesn’t want to become a test case for the newest version of the US Protect Act. They can’t officially acknowledge they’re working to put an uncut version in the hands of fans, but they’ve done what they can to reassure fans that they’ll be happy with the end result.

Why taking a hardline anti-censorship stance is dangerous for freedom of speech


I understand that many people, especially Americans, are vehemently anti-censorship. They refuse to buy any work that has been altered for political or social reasons, or support the companies that do so. This is perfectly fine as a general principle, but we must understand that general principles are a guide for decision making and that they ignore extenuating circumstances. Threat of legal action is a valid extenuating circumstance. Yes, censorship is evil. Blame the US government for putting these laws in the books. Blame other governments for having even more draconian laws. Don’t shoot the messenger for bowing to the threat of force.

What people need to understand is that as long as JAST believes there is a credible legal threat (and if those quotes at the start don’t convince you they do, I don’t know what will), infringing content will NOT be officially released. Shiny Days could sell 0 copies and bankrupt JAST, and it still wouldn’t change their mind. At this point, JAST has two options:
  1. Release Shiny Days and similar titles with cut content, then work behind the scenes to make a restoration patch available for fans who know where to look. 
  2. Don’t release titles with legally questionable content. 
In option 1, JAST censors content. In option 2, JAST does not censor content, but the content is STILL CENSORED. They avoided publishing titles for political reasons. Censorship occurs either way. Option 1 is the lesser of two evils. Option 2 is especially insidious because it attracts no attention, no fanfare, no debate. It meekly gives in to societal pressure. Option 2 caves without a fight to the social justice warriors who want to stamp out ideas that aren’t consistent with their ideal world. As long as such games are released, as long as a patch is released that restores the cut content, the eroge community is quietly subverting those who would brand sexual perversions as thought crimes to be erased from existence. It’s not a perfect victory, but it’s preferable to the alternative.

How partial censorship could serve a legitimate purpose


Censorship is evil. Partial censorship of a work is the lesser of two evils, when the alternative is that the work won’t be released at all. Partial censorship followed by restoration of the cut content isn’t ideal, but it could also serve a rather sneaky purpose.

Consider that you’re an eroge fan living in Canada, which has strict rules regarding importation of virtual child pornography. You’re a collector, and won’t settle for anything less than a boxed collector’s edition of Shiny Days. On one hand, you could import an uncensored version of Shiny Days and risk legal action when customs inspects your package. On the other hand, you could import a censored version which poses no legal risk, then download a patch to restore the cut content. In other words, you could smuggle contraband into the country by separating out the illegal content and obtaining it from a safer source, then recombining it at its destination. That’s a classic and effective tactic taken out of the Smuggler’s Handbook.

The latter option is a crafty way to “stick it to the man” while minimizing personal risk. From a certain perspective, JAST would essentially be providing eroge laundering services free of charge! Annoying if you live in the US, but actually pretty useful if you live in an Orwellian dystopia like the United Kingdom.

My advice to concerned fans


Trust JAST to do good by its fans. This is the same company that released Song of Saya and Littlewitch Romanesque completely uncensored (not only that, but they had the guts to put a loli raising sim on Steam, which is a hilarious victory for lolicon eroge fans everywhere). They don’t censor lightly. Trust that JAST will keep their word and that a restoration patch will quietly appear on the Internet shortly after the game’s release. Maybe you’ll cancel your preorder to wait for the patch. Maybe you’ll hold off on that Limited Edition you were considering. That’s fine.

But don’t demand too loudly that JAST stop censoring its releases, or they might just listen. Be careful what you wish for. Vehement opposition of censorship, targeted in the wrong direction, can just as easily restrict freedom of speech as enable it.

For those who trust JAST to restore the cut content, Shiny Days is available for preorder at J-List, and is slated for release September 25, 2015. Keep an eye on the VNDB release page for Shiny Days, which should be updated when the content restoration patch is released.

To my valued readers


If you liked this article, check out some of the adult visual novels on J-List (especially Shiny Days prequel School Days), browse my other articles in the Popular Posts section, and feel free to follow me on Twitter.

40 comments:

  1. I can see why they might censor this but If fans really want it they should get together & make a fan made patch for it. That is if get censored as feared.

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    1. JAST already said they'll make a decensor patch, like they did for Starless.

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  2. So with the fact that the uncensor patch never coming true, how are you feeling about your stance now? Do you regret buying the game?

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Is there source to this patch never being a reality? I was actually looking forward to the original twisting of the family.

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    2. Official word is that there will never be an official patch. What does that mean? I'll let you decide. As for me, I'll wait a week, and if an official-looking patch isn't out by then I'll assume one isn't coming.

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    3. I think you misunderstood, asking where this previous Anon said "So with the fact that the uncensor patch never coming true" where this info came from. Twitter? Behind the curtain? Forums? Etc.

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    4. He's just observing that a patch hasn't been released yet, and he assumes that it won't until someone from the community steps up. There is no "source".

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  4. Mosaics? Ugh, really?

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    1. The game doesn't have mosaics. It has scenes that are removed entirely.

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    2. But you said that the patch would have the scenes re-added, but mosaic'd.

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    3. That statement is no longer relevant and has been removed to avoid further confusion.

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  5. A little birdie told me to expect a restoration patch shortly after the game ships on Sept 30.

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    1. And... are you confident about the information you have? Is it reliable? Thanks in advance

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    2. I'm 100% sure that a restoration patch will be out soon. The timing is never guaranteed, but it should be out by the end of this week.

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    3. Good news indeed! Thanks for the info, buddy ;)

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    4. And the little bird was wrong. I'm glad I didn't listen to your blog post as I was right all along. I hope you enjoy your censored game and think again twice before supporting censored releases from now on.

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    5. The game hasn't shipped yet. And the week isn't over.

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    6. These niggas being belligerent about a game they're pirating anyway which is why they're buttmad about the release time of the patch.

      My fucking word the entitled assholes man haha

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  6. I have 46% route map. any english walkthrough?

    I don't understand japanese walkthrough from google translate.

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    1. http://www.otakulair.com/shiny-days-walkthrough-jast-usa/

      Beware that one of Manami's endings has a game-breaking bug that corrupts your system save. It's currently mislabeled in-game as a different ending, so uh, be careful.

      Source: https://connect.jastusa.com/support/discussions/topics/5000047459/page/57

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  7. I was one of the skeptics, and now I am glad my skepticism paid off. This is why you always stay skeptical, and don't let yourself get guilt tripped into blind trust by fanboys. Apologists are typically people who are easily emotionally guilt tripped into white knighting a group not worthy of it. Jast's sob story immediately pandered to the weakest in this community (AKA, 90%). I knew not to trust the spineless, censorship supporting, Jast team: and it paid off. I find it laughable that you literally convinced people to pre-order the game, and that the patch would be out "right away". Oops! Of course, I am sure I will be swarmed by the Jast white knights who feel so bad for poor widdle Jast. I remember when this community was the beacon of anti-censorship. Now FuwaNovel is dead, and most of the community has devolved into spineless lapdogs, conjuring defenses of any action that a western team makes. It is pathetic how easily a community can deteriorate. Before anyone accuses me: no, I will not pirate Shiny Days. This game isn't worth my time in the slightest any more. I have pretty much given up on visual novels. I need to wash the taste out of my mouth and move on. If I allow myself to get invested in VNs, I will have to deal with this pathetic community again.

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    1. You're being pretty silly. There will be an (un)official restoration patch, but it will not be timely as the Starless patch was. Not even JAST knows how long it'll take. Fixing the numerous game-breaking bugs is likely taking priority. Between fixing save corruption and restoring cut content, I'd surely prioritize the former.

      But you're right: JAST dropped the ball on this one. I probably won't be pre-ordering censored titles in the future. JAST has lost a lot of trust here, and not just because the cuts weren't promptly restored.

      Regardless, I simply presented the facts as they were and let people make their own decisions. I stand behind the original message of this article. Clamoring for JAST to not censor games like this will just result in more censorship. A censored release with a delayed restoration patch is still better than no English release at all.

      And if the restoration patch for some reason isn't out by 10/23... I have at least one way of showing my disapproval for defective goods.

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    2. Thank you for your respectful, professional, and honest response. Sorry that I was so harsh, I just get really ticked off by censorship.

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    3. As for a censored release being better than none at all, I will have to disagree. In a game like Fire Emblem (which is primarily about the gameplay), it doesn't matter. In an Eroge (which is focused around sex) it destroys any value that the product has; especially for a lolicon such as myself.

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  8. Oh, a few things I forgot to mention before. If this patch does not surface a week after launch, I expect you to write an article admitting you were wrong, and informing the masses about the permanent censorship, if you want to maintain a shred of journalistic integrity. If you didn't, it would be just as bad as when Jast refused to mention the censorship on the site where they were selling the game. You convinced many weak willed people into buying the game before the patch releases, so you cannot just ignore the issue. If they eventually churn out a patch (probably months from now, since the launch itself was delayed over and over, and then was a disaster when it finally arrived), and I am wrong, it still won't count if they just lazily paste the scenes back in from the Japanese version without uncensoring them. They would basically be treating the lolicon/Kokoro fans like second class customers. That would be even more insulting. It would take a lot of bullshit excuses to justify them shitting even more on Kokoro fans. We shouldn't have to live in a world where customers who simply want equal treatment and a FULL product, are seen as the "unreasonable" ones. I am not demanding anything above and beyond, just equal treatment. I bet the Jast drones will still demonize me despite this.

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    1. My article informed people that *never knew this game was censored* that censorship had taken place. I also linked to the VNDB page and said that a restoration patch would be linked there once it was available. No matter what happens, this article has served a journalistic purpose of sorts. Even the JAST haters have recognized that.

      I originally worded this more harshly, but then I realized you're just a fan like myself who feels betrayed. Fair enough. Knowing what you know, I can't fault you for that, and in different circumstances I'd likely be saying similar things. Knowing what *I* know, I'm not as upset.

      The fact of the matter is that lolicons are not only second-class customers, but second-class citizens. Their freedom of expression has been torn away in multiple developed English-speaking nations. You can criticize JAST for what they've done here, but lolicons wouldn't be served any better if JAST had never licensed this game at all. You're right to be angry, but anger that isn't properly focused is likely to cause more harm than good.

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    3. Holy shit, get the fuck OVER yourself. Being self entitled about not buying a product that eventually will come with a literal 7-8 person constrained team is ludicrous. It is going to deliver, they made legal decisions, no one gives a shit about your demand to "I expect you to write an article admitting you were wrong, and informing the masses about the permanent censorship, "

      Get the FUCK over yourself if you didn't buy the game and move on. It's not out yet, you won't fucking die because you didn't even BUY the game, you nut.

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    4. It's no reason to slam a dude that just wrote an article expressing his opinion to apologize for a company he isn't even working for. Maybe you should get off your fat selfish paragraph writing ass and re-evaluate how entitled you think you feel you selfish fuck.

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    5. You're the one slamming him here and he's right about slamming sana for making this article who made people buy a censored release that will never get patched by the company. And stop using the "lol you pirated the game" argument. He didn't even pirate it and anyone who did pirate it was smarter than any of the people who actually bought it here. Not like there was anything worth pirating it over though. Get the fuck over the fact people do not want to support censorship and will call out sana on his article, especially after it's been proven no uncensor patch is EVER coming out.

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    6. I don't mean to bother but how exactly "it's been proven no uncensor patch is EVER coming out", it's been proven because its not out yet. That's not a very sound arugument. Don't get me wrong I'm also a little nervous that there is still no patch, but if tou're saying something has been proven then give the sorce for it.

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    7. Funny how you left a "rage comment", after the original poster himself responded to me politely and civilly, and I replied respectfully, thanking him.

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  9. I disagree with that lolicons wouldn be as much screwed with a censored release of Shiny Days as when this title wouldn't even be picked up to begin with.
    Why?
    Simply because the western release has even less content than the original Japanese release. What reason would fans have to purchase JAST's release, if the Japanese one is atleast complete, despite from mosaic censorship?
    I'm a lolicon, and before I see someone pick up a game that partially serves the lolicon demografic, I'd rather see this shit not getting localized to begin with.
    Why bringing up hopes just to crush them yet again because of questionable and/or made-up reasons?

    Localize a game properly, or don't bother with it to avoid upsetting people.
    The thing JAST pulled of with Starless and removing the scat content aside.

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  10. any updates on when that patch might be? its been a few days now

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    1. It's been implied that the restoration patch won't be out until the general bugfix patch is ready. No estimate on when that'll be ready since it relies on Overflow dropping whatever they're doing to work on it. I was expecting the restoration patch by the end of this week, but that estimate may no longer be valid. Hopefully JAST will have a progress update on the bugfix patch soon. That might give us an idea.

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  11. So much for that. December and no patch. "we'll release it, don't worry" Yeah right, what a bunch of circle jerking non-sense. This company is dead to me, not only for Censoring content, but for also lying to people who were holding out on a purchase because of it.

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    1. JAST didn't lie. They're just very very incompetent. While their label is plastered on the game, much of the actual work is done by contractors who haven't made finishing this game their top priority.

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  12. http://sukebei.nyaa.se/?page=view&tid=1896313

    Quit ya complaining. As Sanahtlig said, this was released the DAY after the bug patch was released.

    ReplyDelete

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