Ace Attorney Localizer Explains Alternate-Universe Los Angeles
posted on by Bamboo Dong
While the Ace Attorney games take place in an urban Japanese city, for the European and North American games, they take place in Los Angeles. Although the games have gotten their fair share of ribbing for this decision, game localizer Janet Hsu posted a blog entry about some of the decisions behind this change, as well as the alternate-universe version of Los Angeles that makes this possible.
When I took over the series' localization direction starting with the second game, one of the first things I had to deal with was what to do with Maya's hometown and all the mysticism surrounding the Fey clan. It was then that I created a little headcanon for myself (which I suppose is actually real canon now for the localized version): while “Gyakuten Saiban” takes place in Japan, the Los Angeles that “Ace Attorney” takes place in is an alternate universe where anti-Japanese sentiments and anti-immigrant laws were not enacted, and Japanese culture was allowed to flourish and blend into the local culture in the same manner as other immigrant cultures.
Not counting budget and time restraints, this little headcanon has pretty much dictated what I would keep as Japanese and what to completely localize. For example, anything related to Maya's clan and the Kurain Channeling Technique is pretty much guaranteed to stay Japanese because that's her heritage while Japanese foods that are not commonly known in the West will probably be localized in the interest of keeping the game from needing a 50-page explanatory booklet.
By the way, random facts: I adore the fandom name “Japanifornia”, and imagine my surprise when I first saw the “Big Hero 6” movie trailer! No matter what anyone says, Japanifornia will always be THE ORIGINAL San Fransokyo to me. *grin*
The blog post also talks about Jean Armstrong's character, certain characters' catchphrases, and more.