The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page, October 22, 2021 – Komi can’t comprehensively communicate

The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page

Good afternoon and happy Friday to you all, and welcome, once again, to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. This is your weekly opportunity to have your messages read and responded to — all you need to do is click the “Write to Rice!” button over on the right hand side of any page on the site and just leave us a note. We’ll get to ’em every Friday.

We’re open to any kind of message, whether it’s asking a question, sharing some thoughts or even promoting a creative project you’re working on. So get your typing fingers warmed up and get in touch — we love hearing from you!

For now, though, let’s dig into this week’s bulging hairy mailsack and see what bounteous emissions your brains have come out with this week.

Fanart by Minamino Kanata. Support the artist on Pixiv.

Straight to the point

Dear Rice,

Can we sex

Jacksparack


Hello, Jacksparack, and welcome to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. You can sex, but you may not, and with a presumptuous attitude like that I feel like you probably will not, either. I hope that clears things up for you. Buy us some flowers first next time.

I have no subs, but I must scream

Dear Rice,

Have you watched the new Komi Can’t Communicate anime yet? Netflix have done a super-lazy job on the subtitles. Any thoughts?

KomiStan


Hi KomiStan, and welcome to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. I must confess, I haven’t actually watched the anime properly as yet, but I’ve seen some screenshots of what you’re talking about floating around on Twitter.

I have to be honest, I was immediately skeptical, because it wouldn’t be the first time people have posted deliberately doctored screenshots in order to make (insert corporation here) look bad for one reason or another, particularly when it comes to localisation issues. So I skimmed through the episode to see if there was any truth to the accusations… and I was pretty disappointed to discover that on this occasion, there was — to a certain degree, anyway.

Letters page: Komi Can't Communicate

For the unfamiliar, Komi Can’t Communicate is a manga (and now anime) series about a girl who has crippling social anxiety and who is practically unable to speak to anyone. Because she is also beautiful, everyone assumes that she is being arrogantly aloof and thus keeps their distance from her, leading to a vicious cycle — no-one approaches her to talk to her, and that causes her to further withdraw, fuelling the assumptions about her.

Anyway, a key moment very early in the manga is when the protagonist strikes up a “conversation” with her by writing on a blackboard. The pair communicate quite effectively through writing, and in the original manga, their Japanese script was accompanied, as you might expect, with translated text so we could see what they were talking about.

In the anime adaptation, their initially hesitant conversation through text on the blackboard is translated with subtitles on Netflix (as seen in the above screencap), so we get to see what they’re initially talking about, but a subsequent scene where they launch into a flurry of written “conversation” with one another and fill the blackboard with Japanese script goes completely untranslated.

Letters Page: Komi Can't Communicate

Not only that, but there are sequences (such as the one seen above) where Japanese characters fill the screen to list various things running through the protagonist’s head — and these are untranslated, also, meaning English-speaking audiences miss out on some entertaining jokes.

Basically, it’s arguably not quite as bad as some people have been making out — but they could have done quite a bit better in a number of sequences. I suspect it might actually be a technical issue — Netflix’s caption system may not support subtitles in places on the screen other than the lower third where dialogue normally appears. That’s fine for shows that are primarily spoken — but for shows with a heavy textual element, the Komi situation demonstrates that they really need a better system, especially if they’re going to be an exclusive overseas distributor for a show like this.

Hopefully Netflix will rectify this at some point, particularly if enough people complain (politely) — in the meantime, though, there’s always the manga.

Know your rRoots

Dear Rice,

Pretty neat to see rRootage on Switch. Any prospect of other Kenta Cho titles coming to the console, you reckon? Noiz2Sa would be great to have on the go.

shmupfan.


Hey shmupfan, and welcome to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. I have to agree, some more Kenta Cho titles on Switch would be marvellous — they look great on the built-in screen, are great fun to play on the TV and are super-tiny downloads you can easily squeeze onto your internal storage or SD card.

According to a Reddit thread by the Switch port’s creator “vblanco”, the possibility of future Kenta Cho ports is dependent on whether or not the Switch version of rRootage sells. If it does, porting the others should be a relatively simple task, though, since they share a similar codebase. They also note that PS4 and Xbox ports are unlikely for the moment since they do not support the graphics libraries the game uses, so would require significant recoding.

Letters page: rRootage

Sadly, vblanco also ruled out the possibility of rRootage getting some sort of limited-press release through one of the many companies who do such things. He anticipates selling less than a thousand digital copies of rRootage, and believes that a physical, limited release is not worth the trouble in cases as niche as this. Perhaps one day we might be able to convince him to do a “Kenta Cho Complete Collection” on one cart — that’d be pretty neat, huh?

So the short answer is “maybe, if enough people buy rRootage”. So buy rRootage if you haven’t already — it’s less than a fiver.

PC-88 gone mad

Dear Rice,

Your The History of Lewd piece on “Aya-chan World” got me interested — how do you go about exploring PC-88 games? A PC-88 isn’t the same as a PC, right?

J


Hi J, and welcome to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. You are absolutely correct, a PC-88 is not the same as what we know as a “PC” today. Remember that “PC” was originally supposed to be a generic term which simply means “personal computer”, but IBM releasing “the IBM PC” back in the ’80s pretty much established DOS (and subsequently Windows) based computers as the definition of PC most commonly understood. Yes, Linux users, I can hear you complaining already. No, I don’t care.

In Japan, though, there were a lot more proprietary home computers than we had over here. Yes, in the 8-bit era we had the Spectrum, Atari, Commodore 64 and Amstrad computers before the Atari ST and Amiga battled it out in the 16-bit age — but in Japan there was an even wider variety of machines, many of which you’ve likely heard of in passing. Platforms like the Sharp X68000, the Fujitsu FM Towns, the MSX (which was actually a standard rather than a specific platform) and plenty more besides.

One of those proprietary platforms was NEC’s PC-8800 series, which is commonly referred to as PC-88. This was a range of 8-bit computers that proved immensely popular in Japan right up until the early ’90s, and its successors in the PC-9800 series were some of Japan’s most successful home computers of all time.

Letters page: Aya-chan World

A lot of the Japanese developers we know and love today supported the PC-88 heavily in its early years, including Enix, Square, Sega, Falcom, HAL Laboratory, Wolf Team and more. There were even some Famicom games ported to the platform, including Excitebike, Balloon Fight, Tennis, Golf and two special versions of Mario Bros.

For some reason, the PC-88 also marked the beginning of Japanese game developers getting the raging horn and making lewd games. Lolita Yakyuuken, which was the first game we covered in The History of Lewd, is regarded as one of the first ever graphical hentai games, and Aya-chan World is just one of many other examples of lewd games on the platform.

We can’t help you in tracking down the games themselves for reasons that are hopefully obvious, but I can tell you that probably the best emulator to use on today’s Windows systems is called “M88”. This is in Japanese, but there are distributions available that include some English documentation to get you up and running, as well as a partially translated interface. M88 will apparently also emulate the PC-9800 series, but I haven’t tried that myself yet.

There’s a lot to explore, so we hope you have fun. Doubtless there will be some other PC-88 and PC-98 titles appearing in The History of Lewd at some point, too — assuming I can fumble my way through the Japanese text and/or track down fan translations!


And there you have it for another week. Hopefully everyone except Jacksparack has left satisfied (unless he’s into that sort of thing) — and now we can all go and enjoy our respective weekends. I’m going to be playing a lot of Raiden IV as well as a few games I can’t talk about just yet — so watch out for pieces on them soon.

Have a lovely weekend and happy gaming!

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