XSEED Possibly Afraid of Publishing Senran Kagura

Is there a possibility that games like Senran Kagura will stay Japanese exclusive in the future due to some gamers taking offense at the subject matter?

XSEED Games, now a subsidiary of Marvelous USA after combining with Atlus Online, is famous for bringing over quite a few niche Japanese titles. Their localization and publishing works include games like Corpse Party and the Ys series. One such game series that is being considered is Senran Kagura.

Senran Kagura is a side scrolling action game for the Nintendo 3DS where the player controls five different female ninjas. As the ninjas take damage, their clothes start tearing, revealing more of their skin.

While the premise is a bit silly, the gameplay is supposed to be solid. It is also a popular enough game to have spawned a 3DS sequel and a PSP Vita game. Outside of the realm of video games, Senran Kagura also has its own anime as well as a few different manga.

Ken Berry, boss of XSEED, has said this regarding the possibility of bringing the game stateside:

"We are definitely interested in pushing the 'Marvelous' brand as much as possible. It is something that we continue to look into because we know demand is there as lots of fans have asked for it. But it's just a scary proposition due to the subject matter and differences in attitudes between Japanese culture and the more conservative culture here in the U.S."

Berry goes further to state that there might be a chance for it to see a digital release, but the idea of releasing it physically carries with it too much potential for disaster for it to be a worthwhile effort.

Why is the company so afraid to publish Senran Kagura? It's pretty obvious that the recent controversy with Dragon's Crown's exaggeratedly busty sorceress has caused some concern for publishers that bring over Japanese games that some players might find offensive.

I personally want to see it get released stateside as I have heard great things about its gameplay. As silly as the clothing mechanics are, it's not something that we haven't seen in the states in games like Soul Calibur IV.

What do you think? Is it a good thing that publishers are becoming more aware of the offense some people take at games like Senran Kagura or is it a bad thing that they're becoming limited in their ability to publish games that have an audience due to fear of controversy?

Featured Columnist

World traveling English teacher, writer, and aspiring front-end developer.

Published May. 8th 2013
  • Jamie K
    Featured Contributor
    As someone who has played Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive in the past, I can't say that things like this surprise me. However, just because I played them doesn't mean I was OK with it. I played them because I liked the storyline and "gameplay", and because at that time period it never really occurred to me there was anything that could be done about it. Compliance.

    However, now I just believe you can easily have those things without the unnecessary X-rated-pole-dancing-class of women depicted. I mean, come on. Her clothes start ripping off? Sigh. Just sigh.

    Oh boy. I just google it and found this lovely quote: "Senran Kagura's producer Kenichiro Takaki came up with the idea for the game around April 2010 when he decided to make a 3DS game. Apparently, within 30 seconds of thinking about a possible game he realized that one of the things people want to see the most in 3D are breasts."

    I'm not trying to witch hunt, here, but it's games like this that are the exact opposite direction I'd like to see the industry going towards. Like, Antartica. In the 1960's.
  • Joseph Rowe
    Featured Columnist
    I can totally understand that. I'll admit I do like a bit of fan service in my games from time to time, so long as it's appropriate to the atmosphere of the game and not something like Dragon's Crown's sorceress in the middle of Half-Life 2.

    I love the Soul Calibur series. I won't lie and say that both 12 year old me who originally fell in love with the series and current 22 year old me aren't attracted to some of the characters, but the stuff like the armor falling off and certain characters' designs (Soul Calibur IV's Ivy design particularly) were just ridiculous and overly silly.

    That being said, I have a passing interest in Senran Kagura. Prior to writing the article, I wasn't aware of the clothing falling off thing, which kind of turns me off from the game a tad bit, but ultimately, if the gameplay is solid enough and it comes out at a decent price, I might pick it up.

    I can understand why others, especially many women in the gaming community, wouldn't like the game's art and blatant fan service. I do want to see more varied representation of women (and those in the LGBTQ community who are often times left out of this discussion) in games so that there's 1) something that everyone can identify with and like and 2) just more variety in general.

    However, I don't like a lot of the response Dragon's Crown has gotten and how it's starting to effect things like this. I feel like trying to attack artists, developers, etc. who make games like this and trying to stop them from bringing them stateside isn't going to improve the way women are represented in video games. I think developers making games with more realistic female characters in them would do that, but not trying to stop people from making games, even if they are riddled with fan service. I feel like that's just going to piss off some of the people that those games are targeted to and probably make them more likely to be against the growing voice of feminism in the gaming industry (although, honestly, the voice of feminism in the gaming industry is very split up. I consider myself part of it, but I disagree greatly with a lot of the views and approaches that Anita Sarkeesian has and, if you remember that PAX East Panel article, there was a video of the panel and they referred to males supporting the cause of women becoming more involved/better represented in gaming as "male allies" and not as male feminists or just feminists in general. Kind of offended me.)

    Even if the game is ridiculous in its premise, I don't think fear of controversy should keep it from coming over here. I just think if people don't like it, they shouldn't buy it. It's kind of a niche title to begin with.

    I might've actually said this in another comment at some point somewhere on this site, but I'm honestly surprised that this hasn't happened yet: where is the Kickstarter for a game done by a team of feminists? I would contribute the hell out of it if they were able to make a game that's got awesome, realistic characters with good gameplay.

    Also, I have quite a few female friends who enjoy these kinds of games and characters. So, it's not just men who like them.
  • Reilly C.
    Man, MERIKA needs to get with the show and accept that we all want teen booby monster ninjas. QUIT BEING CULTURALLY INSENSITIVE!

    All seriousness though, good job on the article. Would be interested in giving this a game try. Most games with fan service usually don't have all that solid of game play so would be nice for that be different for once.

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