Update 16 July 2012: Yurin Yurin has responded to the localization proposal.
As a doujin series spanning six years of visual novels, animation, drama CDs, internet radio shows, light novels, and an anime OVA, Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo / A Kiss For The Petals is a rare exemplar of pure yuri content. It was an experiment, and by all accounts it was very successful.
On 6 July 2012, Yurin Yurin launched as a professional successor to Fuguriya, presumably for all future releases, to the surprise of fans. This is Fuguriya’s biggest accomplishment arguably since the announcement of the OVA in 2009. However, with the change in legal status from independent to professional, our strategy to support Sonohana abroad must change entirely. Continuing to modify their works in secrecy is no longer an option. Now that they wield much more legal power than before, it is imperative that we actively seek their consent to build upon their work. To this end, I must make a confession. There have been efforts in the past to gain consent to localize Fuguriya’s visual novels, and although I have avoided contact with Fuguriya, I eventually became involved with these legitimate proposals without informing my readers.
Therefore, I am announcing now that Eden of Xeno, JAST USA, and I have formed a joint effort to negotiate a licensing deal with Yurin Yurin for all current and future Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo visual novels. However, I must emphasize that I cannot offer any concrete information about these plans at this time, owing to the lack of information on Yurin Yurin. The situation now calls for transparency, so I will give a history of attempts to localize Fuguriya’s visual novels.
Yurin Yurin opened on 6 July 2012 with no other information other than its first release. It is important to note that Yurin Yurin describes itself as a yuri PC game brand, “brand” being a term reserved for professional developers, as opposed to a circle, which is what Fuguriya is. Sonohana was conceived as an experiment not only to gauge customer demand for a niche, but for profitability. It was thought that visual novels without any male characters would not be picked up by retailers. As a doujin circle, Fuguriya could conduct this experiment safely, without the costs of publishing commercially — particularly, much larger placement fees at Comiket. The prohibitive cost would greatly diminish their exposure, so Fuguriya chose to avoid the fee altogether. During this time, Fuguriya carefully guarded this experiment and denied any collaboration that would affect their status as a doujin circle. This is why Fuguriya refrained from giving Xenocross any exposure.
In 2009, Eden of Xeno asked Fuguriya to allow them to localize the visual novels in addition to using their characters in Xenocross. However, while they got consent to produce Xenocross with their characters, Fuguriya took the localization proposal as a request to fansub, and they replied in no uncertain terms that they wanted no direct relations with third parties, financially or otherwise. They stated that even giving 100% of the profits of such localizations to them, or indeed making the translation free, does not make it acceptable to them. As stated before, Fuguriya could not afford to lose their doujin status, but now that their success as a doujin circle has afforded them the opportunity to go professional, the prior relationship between Eden of Xeno and Fuguriya as an independent circle creating derivative works of another independent circle no longer exists. Tomino Nakiyoshi, CEO of Eden of Xeno, is very concerned with this announcement and made this statement regarding the launch of Yurin Yurin.
With this commercial brand, the situation has totally changed. If we don’t handle it properly, EOX and the fansub project of the visual novels can be wiped out. We will have to act immediately to propose the official comic adaptation of their works and the official translation release for overseas.
In this situation, we can’t be covert anymore.
A commercial brand is of course good news, because at first it appears to make new animation projects more likely. But on the contrary, a commercial project under a traditional Japanese company means:
- Retreating from foreign markets,
- Banning fan translation projects, and
- Eventual commercial adaptation into anime or other forms, but ignoring the original taste and casting.
In 2011, Fuguriya granted Eden of Xeno permission to publish light novel translations free of charge within Xenocross. Fuguriya’s policy regarding translations of their work allows only for free translated text. They disallow redistribution of all other assets, including graphics and the original untranslated text. I was unaware of this until we started translating the light novels, and as the patches modify graphics and program code, I would most likely have been asked to take the patches offline immediately if Fuguriya discovered AXYPB World. Fortunately, an organization who was willing to work with me discovered my patches first.
This February, I was approached by a representative of JAST USA, who informed me that they have started talks with Fuguriya to license their visual novels for English localization. However, the negotiations stalled and they later received a reply saying that Fuguriya was no longer interested in the deal. It was at this point that JAST contacted me, after finding my contact information on VNDB. They chose me to oversee the translation process due to my work in the five translation patches currently available. If the talks succeeded then, JAST would have purchased the current patches–with the consent of those who worked on them–and I would supervise translations for the remaining visual novels under JAST’s employ. This was the primary reason behind reworking my site’s image as Petals’ Garden with a greater emphasis on news and community despite what I claimed in the past. Above all, I needed a more market-friendly name for my online presence. Because JAST requested that I keep our talks between us, I used the letter to Reo-ppoi Radio as a scapegoat for the name change.
Even with the potential for localizing the visual novels, all of this is to say nothing of the third point in Nakiyoshi’s statement. The changes made in the OVA were contentious with fans of the original visual novel. ChuChu was itself an experiment in pure yuri hentai anime, but unlike Fuguriya, they have yet to announce another work since the Joined In Love With You adaptation in 2010. Nakiyoshi speculates that the changes in voices were due to poor planning, but with the commercial brand, the chance of further deviation is even greater, as is the case with many visual novel-to-anime adaptations. One of the objectives of Xenocross was to raise funding for a second OVA with the original cast. This would have been possible had Fuguriya stayed independent, but licensing characters in a professional work is a very different process. If Eden of Xeno’s ambitions to see the animated world of St. Michael’s expand further without deviation are to move forward, direct communication with Yurin Yurin is mandatory. We hope that our past relationship with Fuguriya will aid us, but again, we know so little about Yurin Yurin that we need all the help we can gather.
Yurin Yurin represents a new opportunity–perhaps the last–to rekindle negotiations. I informed both Eden of Xeno and JAST USA of each others’ attempts at localization, which were both secrets between me and each group, and they are now coordinating a joint talk with Yurin Yurin to prove the viability of English localization of their products. For the reasons explained above, we are now actively and openly seeking to negotiate with Yurin Yurin and we need your help.
Please support JAST and Eden of Xeno as they cooperate to make this license a reality. Follow @yurinyurin_soft on Twitter and use the hashtag #その花 frequently to demonstrate overseas demand for their products. Share this post and raise awareness of these plans as widely as possible. This is, unfortunately, the only method I know of to show support for Yurin Yurin as an overseas fan. Fuguriya has been in business for six years, and they must know it was due in part to support from outside their home country. I believe pure yuri in the vein of A Kiss For The Petals is very much in demand, but not enough people are speaking for it. If we do not advocate it now, we may never get another chance until another company follows Yurin Yurin’s lead.