AI: The Somnium Files Creator Has Some Profound Thoughts on Gender Identity
posted on by Richard Eisenbeis
Zero Escape and AI: The Somnium Files writer and director Kōtarō Uchikoshi took to Twitter recently with a bit of trivia about the gender identity of one of the minor characters in his latest game, AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative.
*Note: This article contains minor spoilers for AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative.
His original tweet thread dives not only into the gender identity of Marco (an AI designed to help police solve crimes by diving into the minds of criminals and key witnesses), but also about the localization process and why certain choices were made as to how the character was referred to in English.
In JP version, any pronouns are not used in the lines regarding Marco. But in English, I knew it's difficult to construct natural sentences without using pronouns, so we consulted with the localization staff and decided to use "he/his". #ainispoilers— Kotaro Uchikoshi Eng (@Uchikoshi_Eng) July 30, 2022
Maybe I made a mistake in using the word "confuse". Now suppose your mind is filled with many thoughts about the truth of the case. And in that state, if any other important piece of information (unrelated to the case) jumps into your head... #ainispoilers— Kotaro Uchikoshi Eng (@Uchikoshi_Eng) July 30, 2022
it will be a mix of both and messed up, right? That's what I meant by "confused". It doesn't mean like "confused by misunderstanding the meaning of they/ze." #ainispoilers— Kotaro Uchikoshi Eng (@Uchikoshi_Eng) July 30, 2022
Unsurprisingly, the conservative side of the game's fandom exploded. Some complaints were met with sarcastic humor.
Wow I didn't know that! Where can I buy the dictionary you are using? I think it's very unique and super rare so I'd like to donate it to the museum in Atami.— Kotaro Uchikoshi Eng (@Uchikoshi_Eng) August 3, 2022
Others were met with a sincere outpouring of love in the face of hate.
Hi Robert! Thanks for your message! Even if you hate me, no matter what you say to me, I will forgive you with boundless love. All human beings have equal worth and dignity. That is my firm belief. No one can change that.— Kotaro Uchikoshi Eng (@Uchikoshi_Eng) August 2, 2022
But the most interesting bit was when the conversation turned into a philosophical look at gender identity in general.
And this has also been confirmed medically. However, if you are implying that non-binary people do not exist based on absolute criteria, then I agree. Likewise, men and women as gender identities are not defined on the basis of absolute universal rules either.— Kotaro Uchikoshi Eng (@Uchikoshi_Eng) August 3, 2022
Gender identity is not defined by the physical laws. Of course it is not defined by you either. Only the will of each human being can define it with complete freedom. "Man is condemned to be free". We have to accept that responsibility with suffering and struggling.— Kotaro Uchikoshi Eng (@Uchikoshi_Eng) August 3, 2022
Uchikoshi has expressed support for the LGBTQ+ community in both of his AI: The Somnium Files games. In the original game, Mizuki tells Marble bar owner Mama, "The LGBT community is rich in sensibility, has excellent taste, and is full of talented, artistic people. And they share a common struggle...It makes them more sensitive and capable of sympathy. That's why so many of them are kind and caring. And they choose to live their lives, on their own terms. It means they have a strong backbone. So because of all that, I really respect them. They're even kinda cool..."
The same sentiment is reiterated in the sequel where Mizuki chastises people who discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals, the disabled community, and other minorities. The game's encyclopedia entry for LGBTQ+ also plainly states: "The acronym LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning. I love them all!"
Source: Kotaro Uchikoshi on Twitter