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Welcome to Level 03 and as usual this is Level-Up Friday’s. It seems this week has been a bit short on any big news in the world of RPG’s however with TGS going on right now I’m sure next week will have a big juicy update. I would like to let everyone know that Shin Megami Tensei Persona is now out on PSP and is certainly worth your time. If you missed it the first time around good. The original version of the US release all those years back was a butchered mess. This time around Atlus has redone the script to be more in line with what we have seen in Persona 3 and 4. In addition there is a lot of new added content like some VO new cut scenes and of course the ever famous Snow Queen side quest that was cut from the first US release of the game. If you are a fan of the Persona series Persona PSP is a great way to experience the roots of the series.

New Characters Abound for Star Ocean 4

One little tid bit of news that we have heard about this week is related to Star Ocean The Last Hope International. It’s been confirmed the game will have a much warmer look as opposed to the incredibly bright and blown out look the 360 version had. In addition the game play is going to be tweaked a bit to increase the playability. My guess about that last part is they are going to be re-balancing the game play.

This week I’m gonna do something a bit different. I’m not going to talk about a specific game per se but a misconception about J-RPG’s. That is the idea that all J-RPG’s have bad voice acting. Now I bring this up because I read a article about it not to long ago and I have seen a lot of people complain about it. The game freshest in my mind related to this issue would be Star Ocean The Last Hope.

Star Ocean the last hope screenshot

Sure there are some J-RPG’s that have been praised for their great voice acting like Persona 3 and 4 and Final Fantasy XII among a few others. I would like to point out that the vast majority of J-RPG’s are dubbed by very prevalent anime voice actors and actresses and this was the case for Star Ocean The Last Hope. Now quite a few people would be quick to say “Well that’s the reason they never sound good because they are using those anime voice over people and they are never good” However this statement could not be farther from the truth.

Lets bring up the earlier mentioned games that were praised for their voice acting. Persona 3’s English cast is performed by some of the most famous anime voice over artists around. Such as Junpei being played by Vic Mignogna(Edward Elric of Fullmetal Alchemist) Yukari being played by Michelle Ruff(Rukia in Bleach and Chi in Chobits) Aigis played by Karen Strassman(Soi Fon in Bleach and Kallen in Code Geass) This is just a small sample of the actors in Persona 3 and the roles they played(Trust me I had to only pick one or two roles out of hundreds.

Now surely some will say Final Fantasy wouldn’t use these anime voice actors would it? Well you would be wrong. Ashe of Final Fantasy XII was played by Kari Wahlgren(Haruko of FLCL, Saya of Blood+) Vincent Valentine of Final Fantasy VII(Whenever he is voiced is played by Steve Blum voice of Spike in Cowboy Beebop and Mugen in Samurai Champloo he is also incredibly well known for playing a little role known as Wolverine)

So as you can see there have been games that have quite a few voices from the anime industry and they were very well received. Star Ocean The Last Hope also had quite a few actors from anime and I would bet some people would be shocked to know that some of these actors played more then one role in the game like Laura Bailey(Tohru of Fruits Basket and Henrietta of Gunsligner Girl) who played both Reimi and Welch or Kyle Herbert(Kamina in Gurren Lagann and he also played Ryu in Street Fighter IV) who played Both Arumat and Crowe.

Lymle Lemuri Phi of Star Ocean The Last Hope

So with all these great actors one would wonder why the J-RPG genre always faces harsh criticism when it comes to voice acting. I have come up with a theory and it is that when people hear a voice they don’t like the sound of they say it’s bad acting. For example a lot of people would say that Meracle of Star Ocean The Last Hope sounds bad because she has a very high pitched voice however this does not make Carrie Savage the actress who plays her a bad actor. You need no further proof of that then going and watching Witchblade(anime) and Stellvia two anime in which Carrie plays a lead role that required a incredible amount of emotion and she pulls them off flawlessly.

The reason there are a lot of high pitched voices in the English VO for J-RPG’s is because there are a lot of high pitched characters in the original Japanese and more often then not the people doing the English version try to stay true to that. Not every company is like Square in which they will completely change the way a character sounds for the English version. A good example of that is Fran from Final Fantasy XII. In the Japanese version Fran has a deep somewhat mannish voice however in the English version she sounds a lot quieter and softer. But like I said not every company is confident in changing the original like that so often times they will simply try to emulate the Japanese as much as they can.

This isn’t to say there is not bad voice over for J-RPG’s out there. Because there is plenty however people need to not be so quick to jump on the hate bus because often times they hate a dub of a game before they have even given it a chance and often times miss out on something incredible. So next time you play a J-RPG give it a chance and try to listen to the performance under the voice. Try to ignore that you don’t like the way the voice sounds and perhaps you will be in for a stellar performance.

That’s it for this week. I’ll be back next week with all the RPG news coming out of TGS. Until then feel free to leave a comment and ask a question or two maybe I will answer them next time.