Despite the growing popularity of visual novels on services like Steam and GOG, there are still several major VNs that have yet to see an official English release. Most simply go untranslated, but there are some that have earned an audience through fan translations. However, many of these fan translations are difficult to install, as most require you to have a copy of the original Japanese release and a system running the Japanese locale.
As such, I wanted to make a video highlighting five such fan-translated visual novels that I would love to see officially released. Not only does this remove a lot of the setup involved, but it allows such visual novels to reach a wider audience, which I believe is good for the medium. I’ll be doing a companion video highlighting five untranslated visual novels later on, but for now, let’s get right into this list, starting off with the obvious choice:
I would argue that Fate/stay night is probably one of the most influential and important visual novels ever made, if not the most influential and important visual novel ever made. Released back in 2004, Fate/stay night took the visual novel world by storm, setting sales records and spawning the massive Fate franchise that is still seeing new additions even to this day. Despite how complex the franchise has become since then, it all comes back to this single visual novel, one that has yet to be officially released in any form in English. There have been numerous unofficial releases, including several for other languages, but still no official one.
Perhaps the reason why is simply due to how massive the game is. I’m not just talking in terms of game length (although that is definitely a factor), but more so how influential and popular it is. Type-Moon, the company that developed and published the game, is probably not going to license it out to any of the localization companies we usually see in the medium (like MangaGamer, Sekai Project, NekoNyan and Sol Press). These companies simply do not have the cash to do so, or so I believe. We’re probably going to just have to wait for Type-Moon themselves to do the translation or for some other big player to enter the scene and do it for them.
If anything, I like to think of Fate/stay night as the visual novel world’s equivalent of Evangelion. It took a long time, but we finally got an accessible version of Evangelion courtesy of Netflix. Now it’s just a waiting game to see if the same might happen to Fate/stay night. It’s way too important a game to have gone so long without an official release.
Dai Gyakuten Saiban -Naruhodou Ryuunosuke no Bouken-
The Ace Attorney series is one of the more popular ones in the west, a series that usually serves as an introduction to the visual novel medium for many. I was one such individual, having been introduced to the world of visual novels through the DS release of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney over a decade ago. Since then, we’ve pretty much gotten every Phoenix Wright game localized, but with a few exceptions. One such exception is Dai Gyakuten Saiban. In English, this translates to Great Turnabout Trial, but the more localized name would be The Great Ace Attorney.
Now, the reason we haven’t gotten this one over in the West is actually pretty obvious when you think about it. While I did say that the Ace Attorney series is one of the more popular ones, I meant amongst visual novels, which is already a pretty niche genre. On top of that, Dai Gyakuten Saiban is a visual novel that takes place in the Meiji era of Japan. Now, I’m all for historically-set visual novels, but when you combine that niche setting with the already niche genre, you get a game that Capcom probably doesn’t believe will sell well over here. However, the fact that Capcom never even localized Gyakuten Kenji 2, the second spin-off focusing on Edgeworth, leads me to believe that they really only have faith in the mainline entries.
Regardless, with the recent release of the Ace Attorney Trilogy on modern platforms, I really hope that Capcom takes another look at the series and brings us the few that haven’t been localized yet, Dai Gyakuten Saiban being the one I want the most.
Hoshi Ori Yume Mirai
Hoshi Ori is probably the most obscure of the visual novels I have on this list. Not only does it come from a developer that has yet to see any of their games officially released in English, but it is also an incredibly long VN, with VNDB listing it at over 50 hours long. As such, it would be a bit more expensive to license, and given that the studio doesn’t really have a foothold in the West, it might also be difficult to market. Despite this though, the game has received a fan translation courtesy of Tsurezure Scans, who also translated the studio’s first visual novel: Hatsukoi 1/1.
What makes this game special though is that it is a 50+ hour pure love story that seems to have some relatively high production values. We already get a decent amount of pure love stories over here in the West, but rarely are they over 20 or so hours long, which can lead to some pacing issues (a common issue I point out in my reviews of such VNs). With this much time, characters can be properly developed, romance can progress steadily, and the drama might actually make some sense. If Key is able to constantly do it, then I don’t see why another studio cannot. Seeing as how there’s already a bunch of high scores being given to the game on VNDB, I hold out hope that we may eventually see an English release of some sort.
Full disclosure here: I am a massive Key fan. They have yet to put out a work that I have not enjoyed and they’ve pretty much mastered the nakige genre at this point. For those unaware, the term “nakige” literally means “crying game” and when I say that Key has mastered the genre, I’m not just saying things. In fact, the only video games I have ever cried in were those produced by Key — they’re my favorite VN studio for a reason. As such, it’s pretty much criminal that Kanon has not yet been localized.
Kanon is the first visual novel developed by Key, having been released all the way back in 1999. Although much of the same staff had worked together on VNs before, it wasn’t until Kanon that they did so under the Key name. Having seen the 2006 Kanon anime, I can already vouch for the quality of the story here. It’s definitely shorter than Key’s other works, clocking in at just 10-30 hours, but given that this is the VN that started it all, it’s about time we get an official release.
Yes, I know that I have two Key visual novels taking up spots in this list, but, as I’ve already stated, I am a massive fan. Aside from Kanon, Air is the only other older Key game that has yet to be officially localized. It’s their second visual novel and the one immediately preceding their masterpiece, Clannad. It maintains that 10-30 hour length like Kanon, but it places a lot more emphasis on the supernatural elements, more so than Key’s other works.
Perhaps this is why it’s not as popular as their others, but I’m only making this judgement based on what I’ve seen from the anime and movie, which I imagine only scraped the surface of what the game had to offer. Given that though, combined with how important the game is to Key’s history, I would love to see an official release of some sort.
And that brings me to the end of my list. I’m sure there are many that may disagree with it, but these are the five that immediately came to mind when I started making this list. Although I do hope that they all get officially released at some point, I’m probably just being a bit overoptimistic on a few of them. But who knows, maybe we will see all of these released officially at some point. Regardless, thanks for watching and do subscribe for more videos like this. I’m planning on making a companion piece for five untranslated visual novels sometime soon!