The possibility of exclusion of dubbing in Kingdom Hearts III for audiences such as German, Spanish, and French-speakers has been an ongoing issue among the international fan community of the series, so much that even a petition was conducted in an attempt to make the upcoming game's dub more inclusive. Disappointment therefore ensued when it was confirmed by the Square Enix France CEO that Kingdom Hearts III would only be dubbed in Japanese and English.
HobbyConsolas has recently published an interview with Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura, whom they asked for explanations for the lack of dubbing in more languages. Nomura also talked about the translation process, the scriptwriting process, and whether Kingdom Hearts III can be a starting point for newcomers to the series.
Q. Kingdom Hearts II was dubbed in Castilian. Why is this not the case in Kingdom Hearts III?
A. Kingdom Hearts III is completely dubbed [T/N: meaning it has full-on dubbing, from beginning to end] and, in addition, we have adapted the synchronization of the lips to the spoken language, so we had to consider the associated costs. Considering the difference in quality between current hardware and what was there when Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II were released, we had to do things in completely different ways.
The casting of each country, the recording, the staff schedules, and the work process itself had to be done in the same way for both the English and Japanese versions. Only just recording the voices takes a lot of time, work, and budget, and consequently it would mean that we would not be able to launch the game simultaneously in the whole world. We wanted it to be a priority that it was the first game in the Kingdom Hearts series to be launched in this format.
Q. There is usually a great deal of attention to detail in the translations of the Square Enix games. How is the translation of the texts progressing and what is the process behind this?
A. We have spent a lot of time making the preparations, so the original text has been translated as directly as possible, while in the case of the different Disney worlds we asked the translators to keep the original dialogues of the films.
The translation of Kingdom Hearts III is done internally, and we follow a multi-layered process; co-director Tai Yasue, who speaks English, checks the text, and Disney later checks it again.
Q. How do you create the overall history [T/N: lore] of Kingdom Hearts III and at the same time that of the different worlds? Is Disney involved in the process?
A. First I create the general structure of the broader narrative, and another scriptwriter uses it to fill in a more detailed plot. Then I take all that and start writing the whole story; sometimes I use it only as a guide, and other times, I “stick” other parts on top of the original plot. Finally, Disney edits it and gives us approval.
In the case of the sections that take place in Disney worlds, the process is slightly different. When I have the outline of the story, we continue to base the workflow in the process that I just explained, but I have as a rule that the writers take into account the requirements of the individual level design teams when putting together the script. This goes through as a first edition to Disney, which comes back to me and on which I write my own editions and arrangements so that they fit into the general progression of the game and the narrative flow. Finally, it is sent back to Disney [again] to perform more checks.
Q. For those who are new to the saga, do you think Kingdom Hearts III is a good starting point, or should they have played all of the other games?
A. There are not many examples in video games, but I think there are cases of movies and television series in which the audience can be interested halfway. We have included several elements in Kingdom Hearts III to explain the story and get the rookies to reach the minimum speed for the required level of comprehension, including a series of videos that explain the story so far at the beginning of the game . I would be delighted if people who play Kingdom Hearts III are interested in the saga and go back to also play the rest of the titles.