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2007-12-10 02:10:00
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Page 161.

So, recently I've been playing Eternal Sonata, and I've noticed something odd about the voice acting. It's been bugging me quite a lot over the last week, in fact.

Now, another area where voice acting comes up a lot is anime, where the division between sub-watchers and dub-watchers [1] gets quite heated at times. Personally, I tend to watch the subtitled versions of things, because it seems like there's a trend in anime to only bother to hire decent actors for the main characters, and all the secondary characters get short-changed with flat often-stilted acting. Which is a shame. If I watch the Japanese track with subtitles, I can't tell how good or bad the acting is 'cause I don't speak a word of Japanese and haven't got a clue what their intonation is normally like.

However, Eternal Sonata seems to take the opposite approach; the female lead is, frankly, terrible. And at least for the first couple of hours of the game, she does more talking than all the other characters, so it's really noticable. However, some of the other characters are pretty good - Beat, the psychotic 8-year-old, is excellent - and it seems that the further I get through the game the more and more decent actors and actresses I find. I've seen scenes with characters who have only a couple of lines, and I wholly expect not to see them again for the rest of the game, but they're still delivered much better than the female lead's. What's up with that?

Still, Beat alone was good enough that I stuck with the English voice track right up until they started talking about 'Baroque'. It turns out that Americans just can not pronounce that word. Dear USA: it is pronounced "Bah-rock". Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES does it rhyme with 'croak'. This is particularly weird because there are a number of other non-English words in the game which are pronounced fine... but I can't listen to that, though, so it's back to the Japanese for me. :/

Anyway. Acting and pronunciation of cultural terms aside, it's a great game so far. The plot is a little twee, but it's enthralling at the same time; the combat system, backbone of any JRPG, is one of the nicest I've seen, borrowing from the classic Grandia series and adding a bit of real-time tactics to the mix; the visuals are fairly solid, the characters competently cel-shaded and the backgrounds looking more like hype-machine concept art until they move. It's a bit depressing, though. The game opens with a girl committing suicide; fifteen minutes in you learn that the female lead is terminally and incurably ill; only a short while after that you learn that the entire game world exists only in a dream that Frederic Chopin is having, and guess what? He's dying! Of tuberculosis, even, which I gather isn't even a particularly nice way to go. It kind of spoils the game a little to know that inevitably, when you've conquered the big bad guy and saved the planet, it's all for nothing and everyone dies.


[1] As in, Subtitles and English-Dubbed


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Jake, I must say I appreciate the fact you update regularly. Dan makes me crazy not updating with any regularity, so you get his cookie.

Hope to see the final awesome monitor showdown soon! I'm anticipating lots of guns and fighting in the near future!

Oh god, I'm having FF12 flashbacks of mar-kwis. Man, did that make me want to punch someone.