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MangaGamer announces two Rance titles, Sona-Nyl, and more

In which six becomes an awesome number
Aug 18
// Salvador G Rodiles
I may not have gotten the chance to dive into more traditional visual novel titles, but I still enjoy keeping with the stuff that gets announced for the West. That way, I have an idea on which games to jump on when I get the ...
Visual Novel photo
Visual Novel

Huzzah: J-List/JAST USA unleashes a series of new announcements

Just in time for the holidays
Nov 28
// Salvador G Rodiles
The holidays are among us, which means that many outlets are having a bunch of sales as we speak. Speaking of which, J-list is having a sale until Dec. 2 where people can get up to 18% off any product (based on how much they ...
Ero-ge photo

MangaGamer announces Lapis Gunner and more

Tentacles abound in these two new licenses
Apr 27
// Brad Rice
MangaGamer has two new wriggly titles to please its fans: Lapis Gunner and Milles, Knight of Anal Tyranny. Lapis Gunner is the sequel to Ruby Striker, where the title character goes back to save her friend from tentacle ...
Demon Master Chris  photo
Demon Master Chris

It's Dungeon Time! MangaGamer acquires Demon Master Chris

It's kind of like Shin Megami Tensei.
Aug 24
// Salvador G Rodiles
It looks like MangaGamer has a surprise for those that like adult games and dungeon crawler RPGs. Going by the name of Demon Master Chris, this game allow players to control demons by using force to remove them of their cloth...

MangaGamer's new Website photo
MangaGamer's new Website

Evolution: MangaGamer goes through a busty new makeover

MangaGamer's 18+ mascot is one hell of an update.
Apr 03
// Salvador G Rodiles
I would like to give MangaGamer a round of applause today. Thanks to their newest version of their Website, their 18+ section has a voluptuous new form for their mascot that suits the adult environment ver...

Aquaplus fighter, Aquapazza coming to the PS3 this June

Feb 15
// Elliot Gay
Shit just got real, ladies and gentlemen. Japanese developer Aquaplus will be releasing it's arcade fighting game, Aquapazza, to PS3 consoles this June. Featuring a combat system that utilizes support characters, Aquapazza br...

Apathetic shrug! Maji Koi R! PS3 delayed

Feb 05
// Elliot Gay
I figure there are probably some people out there who like Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!!, what with its relatively recent anime coming to a close. This news is for you guys out there, because even if you love things that ...

Japanator Recommends: Katawa Shoujo

Feb 05 // Elliot Gay
Katawa Shoujo (PC/Mac)Developer:  Four Leaf StudiosRelease Date: January 4, 2012MSRP: Free (Download) Come on guys and gals, don't say you didn't see this one coming from a mile away. An English language visual novel with a seemingly controversial setting and theme; there's no way we were going to just let this slide with a simple release announcement. I spent the entire week of Katawa Shoujo's release playing the game non-stop, eventually unlocking 100% of the CG's and music. I then decided to let the game sit for a little while so that I could better solidify my thoughts on what I had just experienced. This is in many ways a very important game, and it'd be a shame to do it disservice in the name of getting an article out quickly. I like visual novels in theory. I find that I'm drawn to games in the genre that, rather than focusing on the romance element, are more about an overall story that drives the main action. For example, I really like Steins;Gate because, while it does have a strong romance component, that isn't the primary draw. Visual novels that center everything around the core romance oftentimes come off as cheesy, forced and frustrating. I've never been fond of the whole 'white knight' thing you see all the time in VN's. I dislike that I'm supposed to swoop in, save these damaged girls from their pasts and themselves, get laid and live happily ever after. That sort of thing has always left a bad taste in my mouth. The sex is clearly a reward for the player rather than an important step in the relationships of the characters.  Katawa Shoujo is immediately unique in that it was not developed in Japan, and it's completely free of charge. I'm sure that many of you are more than aware of the strange tale behind this visual novel, but for those who aren't, I'll hand you off to Four Leaf Studio's official website. The product of many talented individuals from around the world, Katawa Shoujo is in many ways a visual novel that shouldn't even exist. It is a game spawned from a simple, very nearly offensive concept that would likely never even get made in Japan. Physical disabilities are understandably a touchy subject, and producing what some would describe as a 'porn game' that fetishizes this kind of thing seems wrong on so many levels. The problem is that it's very easy to judge something entirely on its name and concept. I've read comments from plenty of people who have sworn off Katawa Shoujo, and have even gone so far as to label those who are enjoying it as sick and twisted. I personally believe that if you haven't tried the game for yourself, you are in no capacity qualified to talk about the game, what it's trying to accomplish or about the people who have enjoyed it. Let me tell you what Katawa Shoujo is not. It's not a porn game. It does not fetishize the disabled. What Katawa Shoujo does do however, is tell a touching story about people and the ways in which they overcome the barriers separating one another. It tells a story about growth and how each person we come into contact with plays a small role in how we shape ourselves and the path we want to follow in life.  You follow the protagonist, Hisao Nakai, a male high school student who has a heart attack at the very beginning of the game, leading him to discover that he has Cardiac Dysrhythmia. This heart condition kicks in whenever Hisao does something that increases his heart rate. Realistically, he might not even live past 30 depending on how well he takes care of himself. Due to his health problems, his parents enroll him at Yamaku High School, a place designed for those with physical disabilities that would be hard to cater to in the average Japanese school. It is here that he goes on to meet new friends and companions, and begins to rebuild his life in a way he never could have imagined. Katawa Shoujo is not, mechanically speaking, very different from any other visual novel you might have played. Gameplay comes in the form of the choices you make throughout each of the five very different routes. Sometimes the correct choice appears to be obvious, only to end up being something else entirely. The game does a good job of making you feel as though you're making important decisions. Without spoiling anything, you'll find that whatever experience you have with other visual novels might actually work against you here. Compared to my most recent VN experience, Conquering the Queen, I was surprised to find that there was a significantly larger number of dialogue choices in KS.  Visually the game is an attractive mix of art styles. It sometimes lacks consistency, but that's made up for by the oftentimes beautiful CG's sprinkled throughout the game. I was particularly blown away by the animated opening credits and the five animated cutscenes that signal the beginning of each individual route. Full animation is rare even in paid products, never mind an indie effort like this. Katawa Shoujo does have sex scenes, but don't expect to get your rocks off with them. They're mostly very classy, some of them edging closer to an R rating than an X.  Music is where the game surprisingly excels quite a bit. I adored the soundtrack so much that I downloaded it off the main site and have been listening to it periodically while writing/going out. There are some really fantastic tracks and on the whole the soundtrack has a very nice consistency about it. Music should always be an important element in a visual novel and I'm happy to report that Katawa Shoujo doesn't disappoint in the slightest. Now onto the meat of the thing. Production qualities and mechanics wouldn't mean anything if the story and characters weren't strong enough to support the game. Here is where Katawa Shoujo shines. Each of the five routes vary deeply from one another, with the supporting cast also changing depending on who you associate with. There is no way to get the full story of each member of the cast without playing through all five story routes. For example, in each story, you're privy to the fact that Shizune and Lilly seem to have issues with one another. No one path sheds a complete light on the subject. Once you've completed all the narratives however, it's not difficult to piece together where the two stand with one another and why. This depth goes beyond simple narrative structure though. Each path was penned by a different writer, so while there is definitely a sense of inconsistency amongst stories, it actually works out for the better. In no two paths will Hisao ever develop the same way. His growth as a character is entirely based around the character you choose to pursue. I won't spoil anything, but the Hisao of Rin's route is a far cry from the Hisao of Emi's route, for example. This makes sense when you take a moment to think about it; the people around us shape who we are. I wouldn't be who I am today if not for the people I've met and befriended. I wouldn't necessarily be better or worse off, just different. It is not just Hisao that develops in this way, but the female cast as well. The five main girls, Emi, Shizune, Lilly, Rin and Hanako are all individuals with goals and secrets, like anybody else. They all appear to, at first glance, represent certain character tropes from anime and manga that we've seen a thousand times before. Katawa Shoujo tricks you into letting your guard down. Within the second chapter of each respective route, you slowly discover that each girl is a fully fleshed out, three dimensional character. They don't necessarily have problems that need to be solved. You, Hisao, are not their white knight because they don't need one.  In this way, KS differentiates itself from many of its Japanese contemporaries. Not a single girl in this game is a weak willed, incompetent fool. These are 18 year old women who are growing up, becoming adults and learning about the responsibility that comes with it. We all have times when we just want someone there to be for us. Not necessarily because we need saving from our traumas or problems, but simply because it's always comforting to just have someone close. This is of course a two way road, and that is where Katawa Shoujo really struck me. The writers seemed to grasp that very simple fact and it helped the writing feel more sincere than it could have as a result. Not all the routes really appealed to me, but you'll find that your mileage will vary depending on the personal connections you draw with each route. I was frequently shocked to find that certain elements of several stories mirrored some personal experiences I've had, making the emotional punch that much stronger.  While I'm sure some eagle eye'd readers will have already noticed the 'ero-ge' tag at the bottom of this review, bear in mind that I do not believe this to be a porn game. There are sex scenes, but they are by and large designed to shed light on characters and/or reflect upon the intimacy of the characters' relationships. Sex is not treated as some kind of mystical and magical activity, but rather a part of growing up and experiencing adulthood. I said it earlier, but if you're looking for fap material, you're barking up the wrong tree.  You've probably noticed that I haven't actually brought up the fact that everyone in the game save for a select few, is physically disabled. There's a reason for that. Past the first chapter of the Katawa Shoujo, I simply forgot about it. Yes, for some of the girls, the disability is important to their characterization. At a certain point however you find yourself not focusing on that singularly. This subtly ties into Hisao's story as well, and how he comes to accept and welcome his new life; one that he had initially misjudged at the start of the game. I could go into a lengthy essay about the ways in which KS, like a few titles before it, flips the genre on its head, but there are others out there who have done a better job than I could do at this point.  I'm hesitant to give this game a score beyond just asking that you play it. The fact of the matter is that this is a completely free title made by a group of people with a huge love for the project. That they asked nothing in exchange blows my mind when, as far as I'm concerned, this could just as easily have been sold for $20.00 and you wouldn't have heard a sngle complaint out of me. As such, whatever score I give the game isn't based on the value you're getting, but rather the quality of the experience versus the amount of time you devote to it. For those of you who like numbers, I spent approximately six hours on each route, and I'm a fast reader. Katawa Shoujo is not without its problems; the occasional art slip, the odd bit of stilted dialogue here and there. At the end of the day though, I shed true, honest tears for characters that don't actually exist. I spent a week of my life drawn in by a group of high school students in their final year, trying to find one another and the power to move forward.  Katawa Shoujo is the first English language game this year to truly hit me emotionally, and for that I'm giving it a nine. Give it a try before you judge this little gem. You might be surprised by what you find. 9.0 - Fantastic. Negligible flaws. Otherwise very, very good; a fine example of excellence in the genre.

I was never much for running. A light jog was fine and all, but at the end of the day I just found myself getting bored every single time I hit the track. This time was different though. I couldn't afford to sit on my ass all...


Yogurtbox composes chiptune soundtrack for fake eroge

May 03
// Tyler Jones
Dutch chiptune composer Steven Velema AKA surasshu would have loved to create a soundtrack for a game on the beloved but outdated Japanese PC-98 platform. Seeing as it's 2011 and he's kinda missed the boat on that opportunity...

MangaGamer announces latest titty title: Kotori Love ExP

Apr 06
// Brad Rice
Here's an interesting piece for all you Da Capo fans: MangaGamer has brought over a new piece called Kotori Love ExP, which is a compilation of all of the Kotori parts of the entire Da Capo universe, and includes an all-new g...

The Bible Black story or: How I learned to love hentai

Jan 20 // MARC
However, the real meat of this story begins at about springtime in 2009. I'm sitting in a small room with my good friend Thomas, each of us typing away on our laptops, listening to music or whatever, just minding our own business in private, waiting for something to happen later that night. I can't quite remember his exact movement, or how he twisted or jerked in his seat- all I can assume is that he moved in his seat to get a bit more comfortable-, but when he did move, his earphones came out of the jack on the computer, and echoing throughout the room, the voices of young women screamed, oh, something along the lines of "...iku! Iku! Kimochiiiiii~!! Sempai genki desu ka?" followed by a plethora of sounds involving liquids that I didn't have time to identify. It was all over in about 4-5 seconds, as my friend, like a madman, struggled so hard to get his earphones plugged right back into his computer. What he was watching wasn't exactly clear at the time, but the single fact that I knew, though, was that it was most definitely porn. There was no denying that.I would have been content with just guessing whatever the hell was on his computer for the rest of my life, having it linger in the back of my mind until I ultimately forgot about it. But unfortunately, the long, long silence between the two of us was broken when my friend said in a playful tone: "Well, THAT was awkward".I gave a light chuckle to ease the mood, but I had a strong feeling that things were going to become more estranged between us if he continued talking."Well, see...I was actually watching something pretty cool". He said.Oh God, I'm dying here, I thought. It was one of those situations where you find yourself in such deep shit, way too sudden and through no fault of your own, and you can't help but clench your teeth, waiting for it to end. "Uh-huh" was along the lines of what I answered back to him."No man, it's- Well, have you ever seen Kite yet? It's an anime-"Things are getting so worse at this point. Here I am, believing that my childhood friend is suggesting porn to me while in a situation where God only knows what will happen between us in this isolated room. It was the worst feeling ever, which was threatening me to feeling a lot worse if thing kept going.However, I just kept breezing along this conversation, until he finally moved his laptop towards me to show me a small clip, promising it was more than I expected. A small detail I'll never forget is the split second my heart jumped when he turned the screen around towards me. As he was turning the screen, he was also moving the player on the video backwards to earlier in the film, and in a freaking blink of an eye, right before he skipped back, I saw the freeze frame of where he had stopped to talk to me. I saw full penetration of a man into a high school girl, and I thought that my friend was going to change our relationship forever. As he showed me the now famous bathroom shootout scene from Kite, he explained to me a bit about the movie. Kite was released in around 1998, and was about an hour long. It was explained to me by my friend that the film uses hyper-violence and explicit sex to send a message about our over-indulgence in these things, and also as some sort of heeded warning had society not changed it's views. Not in a literal "everyone's going to die" kind of way, but rather about the- damn it, I'm getting off topic here.As I watched, I actually could understand what he meant by that, and after it was all over, I ended up really liking it. It was both a beautiful, yet ugly anime; bittersweet in a sense. It was an anime that really sent a message to me, and along side that, it had and interesting plot and excellent ending. Pretty much, I over-estimated Kite, and was really glad that I ended up seeing such a classic anime instead of my worse-case-scenario.-- Fast-forward to about one month later. Me and Thomas visit a few other friends to hang know, just kind of as a nice, relaxing night talking and making jokes about stuff that were topical then. We began talking about what anime we were currently watching...I think I was watching the new season of Haruhi...actually, yeah, I'm pretty sure it was, because we got onto the topic of how I was the only one who liked Endless Eights. Everything was going pretty great.Thomas leans into the group and says: "Marc and I here watched an anime called Kite not too long ago". I sunk into my chair a little bit.Oh God."Really? What's that about?" asked another friend.Oh...God..."Well, it's a really cool anime that sends messages about the way violence and sexuality is portrayed in a futuristic society, but in an ironic way of being really bloody and stuff. It kind of makes you think about how we're all so immune to it all anymore and, really, it's just a classic anime. Plus, it has a teenage girl assassinating people, so you can't go wrong."We all share a laugh, and everyone says they'll check it out.Finally, Thomas goes "Yeah, there's a hardcore sex scene in it, too."The  three seconds of silence is broken by thunderous laugh from everybody in the room. Yeah, it was over for me. I felt like complete shit for that short period of time. Then my friends said some stuff that I never expected."Hey, don't worry man, I saw 10 minutes of Boku no Piko on a dare once…""Dude, that's nothing! I should link you some of the horrible doujinshi I've seen, good God…"And everyone started to try and out-do each other in their perverted stories. At first, I was kind of glad that I had friends who brushed off my embarrassment and didn't care about what dumb stuff like that. But then, I realized exactly how bloodthirsty and unforgiving they are when it comes to good ero stories."Dude, Marcus, you should watch all of Bible Black" one of my friends joked."Yeah, Marc!  You'd totally be the best if you do it!"I gave a loud laugh. "Ehhhh, nah guys…I'm cool--""C'mon, man! It's not like you've seen anything else like we have! Who knows? It might end up being somewhat watchable"."Besides, I'll give you, like, $30" another friend said. I don't know what it was about the way these guys worded it all, but somehow, it all seemed very convincing. Or maybe it was just the 30 bucks they all bribed me with. Who knows, huh? Either way, I accepted the challenge.  At the time, I was volunteering at a smaller website and writing reviews for anime and manga I was watching at the time. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone, and try and create something more controversial on the site, rather than countless Full Metal Alchemist reviews and Bleach facts. Since I was tying these two things in, I realized that I had to go about watching porn on a some-what professional level. So I made some mental notes and specifications for my viewing. First off, I MUST watch all seasons and spin-offs of Bible Black in completion. Second, I can skip around the sex scenes a little, but for the majority of the duration, I was on my own. Finally, while I don't need to complete it, I have to at least check out the original eroge this was all based on. With those rules set, I began watching Bible Black. Would this first episode exceed my expectations? Would it actually have a cohesive story that follows more than just sex?Well, no, not really. In fact, the first episode was unbearable. Well, there goes that miracle, I thought. But do you know the funniest damn thing about this whole thing was? Can you guess what made me actually contemplate if I was watching the right show?! Once I was done with about 7-8 episodes, the fucking thing started gaining depth! It became convoluted and has a whole well-thought out setting that actually follows continuity and shit! I'll save you the trouble of details by linking to the wiki page, but Bible Black's story is good, I tell you! Now, I know something like that is hard to swallow (no pun intended…oh, God, what’s wrong with me?), but to be as perfectly fair and honest as possible, it seemed there was actually some motive to move the plot forward and, dare I say it, I was curious how it would all end over its numerous seasons.  While it’s easy to say that the plot sucked compared to even under-averaged anime, it all comes back humorously to me.  Just think about it: more care, detail, and mythology were given to this hentai than about half of the first 10 more recent anime I can name off the top of my head!  I don’t even feel the need to add the suffix “…it’s good for a hentai” when relating it to the plot; it’s well written and paces properly, even if it’s as ridiculous as it is.  It’s just that the content is what will turn people off (or on, depending on whom you are).  Needless to say, though, a plot is the last thing needed in porn, although this was a pleasant surprise nonetheless.Oh, you want to know about the sex scenes? Oh yeah, dicks everywhere. Yeah, story-telling aside, this shit is balls-to-the-walls hardcore (again, no pun intended). It also changed me into what fetishes I'm fine with. Futa is great. No, really. Bible Black convinced me that futanari is just a-okay. Putting a penis on a female? Sign me up. Using a shotgun for intercourse? Alright, Bible Black…when did you hire Stanley Kubrick to write out your elaborate sex choreography out? That's just brilliant! Oh, you're going to fire a shell from that shotgun into the chicks forbidden parts? That deserves a standing ovation. As you can tell, there hardly is a dull moment in Bible Black in terms of outraging the audience.Really, I was surprised over the month that I watched all of these episodes, and was so thoroughly entertained that it didn't even register to me that I was watching pornography anymore, I was watching concentrated hilarity in it's purest form. Bouncing back and forth between the Japanese and English dub was one great treat (PROTIP: They're both terrible), and I remember showing Thomas an especially funny part one night in our schools computer lab (the shotgun scene). After I was done showing him, I kind of realize how glad I was that he showed me Kite. Without that, not only would I have been out of watching that classic, as well as Bible Black, but I also wouldn't have had the doors of stuff like doujinshi opened up to me in the future. It was a huge milestone for me. I was thinking all of this as he left the computer lab that night, and as I was finishing up my latest episode, and I thought to myself that I should thank him the next chance I get."What the FUCK are you watching?!" came a booming voice from behind me.As soon as I heard those words, memories of Benny flashed through my head. The only thing I heard after that was me turning in my chair and quickly hitting the keyboard, mouse, ANYTHING to take the image of a she-male fucking another female off that computer. The person I saw at the doorway wasn't a complete stranger. She was a student I've seen walking around campus, someone who maybe casually said "hi" to a friend of mine as I idly stood aside. She turned in disgust and left, laughing at the sight she just saw.Aww…shit.I grabbed my stuff and got the hell out of that computer lab. Never before had I been in a scenario where if I didn't Solid Snake my ass out of a place, my future could be fucked up for like. I was panicking, and the last thing I needed was to be spotted by an authority figure with that girl by their side. After taking about ten steps down the hall, I realized that I hadn't singed out of the computer in the lab. A screenshot of Bible Black would be flashing in whoever's face when they come in the next morning, and my name and school ID would in plain sight, hidden only by hitting the Start Menu. I did about five double-takes, deciding to get out of there or risking my ass getting caught again. When I finally did go back, I remember groaning loudly to myself all the way back into the empty room, thinking: "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU IDIOT GET YOUR DUMB ASS OUT OF THERE!". I turned the damn thing off, grabbed my stuff again, and jogged quickly out of the place.When I got back to my bedroom, it was only then that I felt relaxed. However, worries of the next day crossed my mind. Does that girl know me well enough to know my name? Is someone going to confront me before I get to my classes? Are people going to call me out during class?! Damn, damn, damn! Reluctantly, though, I went to my classes the next day, fearing the worst and paranoid as fuck.Nothing happened.No one talked to me, no one had heard a rumor, and to this day, I don't think I've ever ran across the girl since. However, something inside tells me that had my actions ever been brought to light, and people got a wind of what that girl saw, it wouldn't be that bad in the end. I mean, it really made me relate back to Benny's story, and how he ended up being just fine. It actually made me wonder what kind of person Benny was, really. Was he just an anime fan that likes a bit of hentai and eroge once in a while? Or was he misunderstood while taking a bet, like I was? What was he even looking at when caught? Then, I started posing myself larger questions. Is it really that hard to consider hentai as another form of pornography in comparison to something else? I find myself knowing a lot of anime fans who can't stand the idea of H-games and explicit sexuality involving anime and manga, almost as if it's tainting it's image and "increasing the problem". I like chocolate and bananas, but I'm going to have pornography that features those two things ruin my love of it. It's the fact that people like Benny and many others don't let hentai get in the way of their closet-otaku lifestyle that's really made me reflect about this whole experience. Anime and sexuality are not too uncommon. The idea of hentai being a prominent role in anime shouldn’t be as shameful as it is now, and I'm definitely at fault, too, in believing differently. My shyness and embarassment about Kite all the time ago was completely in contrast to my friend Thomas, and his open attitude about all that stuff. Why was I so embarrassed? So what if people know I liked watching an anime that had a sex scene? So what if people know that I watched all of Bible Black? In the end, it seemed that Thomas and Benny had the right idea of not letting anything, or what anyone believes, get in the way of what you love. -- And so later in the month, I finished Bible Black. I was happy with myself, mainly because I was 30 dollars richer, of course. After I sent it, the anime reviews site I was working with denied my email containing my Bible Black review. Unfortunately, the anime was in bad taste, and the website didn't want to be associated with "smut like 'hentai', which has no articulate value to it". After all that I went through, and all that I questioned myself for, following that reply I immediately quit writing reviews for the site, and went on to find another anime site that has it's own rules to follow, with a cool staff and a great community to lounge about with...and guess which one I found?Now I'm happy to be apart of this awesome staff, and you awesome readers. While I know some of you are sort of dreading the rest of Ero Week in fear of getting caught by your boss while visiting Japanator at work, just remember how great of a place this is when we can tell stories like this... or that... or even this! The freedom we get, and even the freedom you get, in letting go and writing your first experiences of this stuff is what makes anime fans relate with one another.Here's to a great rest-of-Ero-Week, and an even greater sense of how hentai and eroge make us all somewhat related to each other!

[I almost never have any stories to tell, really. I mean, I hardly ever do anything crazy each day, and even when me and other friends decide to roam about town, nothing too extreme comes out of it...just a funny experienc...

Interview: JAST USA manages a profit on every ero-ge

Jan 20 // Brad Rice
What made you decide to take a leap from importing Japanese products to the world of localizing and publishing ero-ge titles?Well, back in 1996 (which was a really long time ago, in Internet years), I was looking around for something to do related to this new "Internet" thing. A friend and I hit on licensing and translating the dating-sim games, and since I was in Japan I started contacting game companies to see who might be interested. We actually started J-List to tide us over while the game company took off. As it turned out, J-List was a huge success, which helped the ero-ge side of our little business, too. The two really complement each other, I think. Has the venture been terribly successful? You seem to have only a handful of partner companies on the Japanese side -- are there plans to expand out more?We've definitely met all of our goals, which has been to make a profit (sometimes very small) off of every dating-sim game we published, and to always grow and do interesting new things. The eroge business is a major pillar of J-List (others being our "Looking for a Japanese Girlfriend" T-shirts, bento boxes, Tenga toys and what not), and we love it a lot. One thing we did right was essentially making our own distributor to carry the games to anime retailers in the U.S. Unlike Japan, where there are several national retailers of adult PC games selling to all manner of shops and other retail businesses, there's nothing like that in the U.S., so we had to do it ourselves (which is our PCR Distributing company in San Diego.) Of course most fans have hopefully seen our newest announcement, My Girlfriend is the President, a really excellent game about aliens making your childhood friend the president of the planet. It's very recent release by a great company and the YouTube video with English voiceover has introduced the game to a lot of people. We've got more games we'll be announcing soon, some of which will make fans of ero-ge very happy, and we think there's a lot to look forward to in 2011. We'll also have Demonbane out with its revamped game engine, with a beautiful package and included artbook, something that fans will love.In the past, I've seen a lot of flak against JAST titles -- is this just a vocal minority, or do you see only a few repeat buyers of your products.There have been a couple of titles where we just had no choice but to make a small change because of the content of one game or another. It's been a very infrequent thing, but when it happens some fans get very upset. I think most fans understand both sides of the issue -- we're fighting the good fight for the English H-game industry, arguably doing more than anyone else on the planet for English ero-ge, and when we have a small change we feel we need to make (or at times, that the original publisher feels needs to be made, and we have to go along with), sometimes it gets made. Where we've failed sometimes is not communicating this enough to our customers ahead of the fact, since often changes are last minute. Before any game comes out, we've promised to make a post to the JAST USA BBS detailing anything we changed in any game (and the changes really are rare). By and large most customers purchase many titles from us, an average of six to eight I think it was, for which we're very happy.What difficulty have you run into trying to reach out to the potential ero-ge market in the US? What is your main way of even advertising your products?We've been doing this a long time, since 1996 actually, so we've seen many changes in how we've approached things. Basically, there is essentially zero "traditional" retail market for adult games, so we've had to work hard to build demand, with online retailers (since H-games are essentially an online phenomenon for most fans), selling at conventions where we can explain what makes visual novels unique, making sure our products were available via download, and so on. We were contractually required to support the awful "V-Mate" online activation system for a while but we've happily ended that, releasing patches or DRM-free installers for all the V-Mate games. So we're trying to work hard to make each game as successful as it can be, so that Japanese companies will give us better and better games.Obviously one big problem is piracy. For every loyal fan who casts his or her "dollar votes" for our games -- which are a niche within a niche within a niche, let me tell you -- there are a hundred or so "fans" who can name a dozen great ero-ge companies, tell you who their favorite artists or even voice actresses are, yet they think it's acceptable to download all the games for free. It's a sad situation, no different from anime in general, yet a bit more painful since we're likely to sell so many fewer copies of a given game than, say, a mainstream anime will sell DVDs. We definitely don't stress out about piracy like some companies, but it does suck, and if fans would just buy stuff they'd like to see more of, there'd be more games for them to play.Do you feel much, if any, competition with the other licensors out there (namely, MangaGamer), or is the pond still plenty big for titles out there?If you watch what we've done over the years, it's mainly to work cooperatively with every game company that's come along. This has taken the form of us working as a distributor for them, helping them move another 500 games or whatever. I think MangaGamer is a great company with some great titles, but since they haven't got a physical package for us to help them sell, it's been harder for us to work with them. Maybe we can do more with them in the future, but there are other issues too. It's been my experience that any time a company does business entirely from a Japanese perspective, strange things happen. One company called Himeya Soft/C's Ware did pretty well for a while, yet they behaved in a way that confused fans, like releasing games with mosaic censoring, or trying to get retailers to accept Japanese style price structures. (In Japan, shops are lucky to capture 20% of the profit from a game sale, yet in the rest of the world shops can expect 50% or higher markups depending on the product). Companies that work with a strong local partner (like us) hopefully have a smoother time interfacing with international markets.  Sometimes there has been confusion by fans who can't understand why company X (MangaGamer, whoever) does what they do, and the answer is usually, that's how they do it in Japan and they're having trouble making a jump to a new paradigm. Could you describe your relationship with your Japanese partners? Are they fairly hands-off when it comes to the US market, or do they stick their nose in a lot?Since the Japanese are very conservative and risk-averse most are not interested in having us sell their games. When we're looking for new games to license, we try to find a company that would be able to offer us a variety of titles, and we try to talk with them. Often the answer is no, a word we've heard a lot of over the last few years. Still, if we can find the right mix of good games that are known to fans outside of Japan and a company president with a personality (read: ego) that is in line with wanting to have their games played by fans around the world, it can work out well. To them, we represent a "secondary use" opportunity, e.g. a way to make money from a game that's already paid for itself in the Japanese market, and also to reach fans around the world. This makes sense to some game companies, but others -- ones that are xenophobic about the outside world, or who are very risk-averse, or games that are worried about offending their Japanese fan base -- are sadly not interested. Say I'm one of these fake fans who refuse to pay -- why should I pay for something to jack off to? Isn't that what the Intenet is all about? Giving me free tits to look at?There will always be people who get stuff for free from the Internet, I know. I'm hoping the unique and niche nature of the ero-ge being published in English, which often must make a small profit off of 2000 copies or fewer sold, will make fans do the right thing and buy every game they would like to see more of. Think of all the crap a person spends $25 or $30 on, which brings them so much less joy than a really well written ero-ge like Yume Miru Kusuri or Family Project or the Raidy games. Think of how much good you can do helping us bring out one more title per year by buying the games you want to play? I also think there's a bit difference between (most) ero-ge and straight porn, which is going to serve one purpose, that of quick fappage. Anyone who's been really affected by a good visual novel story arc, who joyously found the key to unlock that one difficult in a game they were into, will realize they're not the same at all.Where do you see JAST USA and the industry going in the next five years?Hmm, good question. While there has been much rending of garments over the Tokyo censorship bill, I think fans don't need to worry about their favorite games (or manga,or whatever) going away. Japan is really into tatemae (the way we pretend things are) and honne (the way they are in actuality), and there will be a lot of this, e.g. certain companies taking token steps to be seen as complying. Remember, any 18+ game is unaffected by the new rules anyway, since they're already being sold to adults. (Right, Kirino? Ha, I jest.) Maybe they'll start requiring people buying some of the more ecchi anime to be 18, that's not going to affect things that much.Download sales have really taken off both in Japan and for us as a company. We will never publish a game that doesn't have a physical package, but if download sales are going to be as strong as they have been, eventually we might seen very small runs of packages being printed before we make the games be download only. Which means collectors shouldn't wait to get the games they want. (We regularly hear anguished customers who want to buy some of the games we no longer have packages for.)What was the strangest thing that ever happened to you while selling bishoujo games?The CD-ROM pressing factory we use sometimes makes errors, which is a pain. Once they managed to switch an erotic game CD-ROM with a CD of Orthodox Jewish wedding music. We suddenly had customers complaining that their games weren't working and were playing Yiddish wedding tunes. I guess there were probably some Orthodox Jews with giant sweat drops on their heads when that happened.

As a follow-up to our MangaGamer interview, we took some time to sit down with JAST USA, the company behind a huge number of titles such as My Girlfriend is the President, May Club and Three Sisters' Story. Oh, and they're J-...


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