The overseas website for the game company minori has now been updated to announce the cooperation between three parties in a new overseas venture: MangaGamer, No Name Losers and minori itself. MangaGamer has now posted an entry on their blog announcing this as well as the first two releases, which will be ef – the first tale. and ef – the latter tale. The website for No Name Losers has also been updated with more information about what will be in these two upcoming releases.
A picture of Yuuko giving the V sign currently adorns minori’s overseas facing website along with a caption of “Hello!! minori’s overseas expansion has started.” Below it was an image that featured the logos of the three parties involved with cross marks between them. Clicking on this logo brought the visitor to the MangaGamer post about the collaboration.
According to the MangaGamer post, the first two games tackled will be the two parts of ef – a fairy tale of the two, which spawned several other derivative properties including the two animated adaptations ef – a tale of memories and ef – a tale of melodies. The game itself is essentially a modern fairy tale told in five chapters. Things that set this apart from many other games include using full frame images instead of character sprites and having different protagonists for each arc. The game featured writer mikage and illustrator Naru Nanao, who happened to have also worked on CIRCUS’s Da Capo and Suika, both of which currently have been released by MangaGamer. The videos in the game were created under the direction of Makoto Shinkai, also well known for his animated features Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days and 5 Centimeters Per Second. Any other games from minori are currently a possibility, but nothing is solid yet. The mention of eden* in the press release (replicated below) has now been confirmed to be an error by MangaGamer staff.
The website for No Name Losers has a more comprehensive description of the upcoming release, including details about how this differs from their previously released “fansubbed version.” Essentially, the game will be split up again into two parts, esoteric references used by NNL in the translation will be removed, honorifics use will not have exceptions for Chihiro and Mizuki, wording will be changed to impart that all characters are over 18 and the extra bad ending added by the group will be removed. For those curious, the full script of that ending is now available in a link from the website. Lastly, because engineering for the engine is no longer a big hurdle, some of the things missing in their original release such as the feature to replay scenes/movies and the configuration screen will now be added back in.
The official press release was as follows:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: John Pickett, Head Translator/Marketing Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
TOKYO, Japan, 27 September 2010 – Visual novel licensor and distributor MangaGamer.com is proud to announce a new partnership with studio and developer Minori, Inc. and No Name Losers (NNL) to officially distribute Minori’s titles in English.
This deal will see Minori’s titles on sale in their original, unedited form for the first time via MangaGamer.com with translation provided by No Name Losers. All releases will be use Minori’s original game engine. The first titles to be released under this partnership will be ef-The First Tale, and ef-The Latter Tale, which provided the basis for the the two anime ef – A Tale of Memories (2007) and ef – A Tale of Melodies (2008), as well as Eden*, one of minori’s other releases.
In addition to its elaborate story, the ef series features astounding visuals with a vast array beautiful CGs created by Naru Nanao, the illustrator for the original Da Capo, as well as animation by Makoto Shinkai.
Formed as the software division of CoMixWave in 2001 and independent since April 2007, Minori has created a series of stunning and engaging set of visual novels including the highly popular Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two series. Their catch phrase, “We keep minority spirit”, reflects the studio’s independent mindset and creative desires.
ABOUT No Name Losers:
Originally created as a fansubbing outlet, No Name Losers are now working together with minori alongside MangaGamer for the purpose of officially translating and localizing minori’s games into English.
MangaGamer.com is the world’s first legal download site for English translated visual novels, sometimes also known as bishojo games. Since its launch in July 2008, MangaGamer.com has offered services where fans can download and enjoy popular games, often with anime spin-offs, such as CIRCUS’s Da Capo, 07th Expansion’s Higurashi: When They Cry, and NAVEL’s Shuffle!. Our parent companies are some of the biggest names in visual novels, including CIRCUS, NAVEL, NEXTON (including the BASESON and LIQUID sub-labels), and OVERDRIVE, providing a varied catalog of both All-Ages and Adults Only titles.
No Name Losers originally started out in the old heyday of digital fansubbing, having released many fansubs of opening movies to visual novel games, such as Baldr Force and Family Project, as well as Wind -a breath of heart-, which is apparently the first one they did. They then teamed up with game translation group insani to fully translate minori’s game Wind -a breath of heart-, with insani handling the initial translation and coding and No Name Losers handling the editing and the rest. Meanwhile, they also fansubbed several episodes of the animated adaptations. The translator for insani, gp32, finished the initial translation in a few months and handed off the materials to No Name Losers for the remainder of the process. Before release, there was some debate as to whether minori should be contacted about this project. However, in the end, it looks like minori was not contacted, according to the README file that came with the final release, stating that “to [their] knowledge, minori has no idea that [they've] done this.”
When it became time to release the final patch, things became a bit hot. This release took place about a year and a half after insani noticed that despite providing easy-to-use instructions for obtaining one of their previous releases, planetarian, the vast majority of people using their translation patch did not pay for the game, resulting in their policy to no longer take on any more such projects. It was decided amongst the project staff that the patch would be initially released to people who bought the game by asking each person who wanted the game to reveal information about the packaging of the retail version, meanwhile a fully public release would come later. The attempts by many to game the system brought out hostilities on both sides, and soon a system was instituted where a person would be required to present physical evidence of having broken the extra disc with update patches that came with the CD release of the game. Thus spawned the meme, “break the support disc.” This had also resulted in a scuffle between NNL and the predecessor of this site, VisualNews, because of the latter party’s reluctance to fully redact a story on this issue after the corresponding entry was removed from NNL’s website. In a recent interview, No Name Losers stated that this was the reason the meme spread like wildfire. However, despite the drama, a full version of the Wind translation patch was eventually released to the public several months later.
Approximately a year later, No Name Losers announced a project to translate minori’s latest game, ef – the first tale. This announcement was made controversial by the fact that this release would be made a standalone package that did not require the original game to install. At the time, according to at least one of the people involved in the project, engineering for the game engine in the full version became an issue; the use of the trial version game engine in one of the public releases was most likely a result of this. The staff also issued statements that a standalone release wouldn’t really be all that different from an anime fansub and that minori wouldn’t benefit financially from a patch since their games had short runs. This spawned heated discussions in a lot of places and some animosity from No Name Losers’s GipFace toward this site due to the mods not wanting to close a thread on the attached forums that had gotten quite heated. The ef project itself had its ups and downs, including periods of time when it was stalled due to lack of translators. Eventually, however, several releases were made, including a complete one most recently.
The next game from minori, the experimental work eden* was not without drama either. After failed negotiations, there ended up being two groups of people working on the game — No Name Losers and a collaboration involving Sekai Project. The latter had hosted their files on TLWiki, which became the setting for a heated edit war and debate involving minori. That project was dropped, but minori had also contacted NNL, asking them to stop what they were doing. NNL had refused to cooperate at the time.
However, eventually the two parties started talking after a second email was sent to NNL and posted on minori’s website. OVERDRIVE’s bamboo came into contact with minori and ended up discussing the issue with minori’s nbkz Sakai over a meal in late July. NNL leader GipFace had also sent MangaGamer head translator Kouryuu a polite private message a few days later after the initial contact by minori to start a conversation.
Things were winding up that it might’ve been possible for the three parties to announce a collaboration during MangaGamer’s Otakon panel. However, due to last minute communication issues, the plan fell through, although Kouryuu hinted at the collaboration at the end of the panel with an “anyways — just — you know, as you guys all go home tonight, just remember: ‘keeping the minority spirit’”. Tweets from MangaGamer also hinted at this minori catchphrase as well. No Name Losers eventually updated their website to reflect that they were now a subsidiary of minori and posted a message to the effect that they have discontinued their fan translations and that they would not want their works to be distributed any further.
Eventually, the three parties got their acts together and realized it was time to make the announcement. Strangely enough, before the announcement sequence started, a copy of ef – the first tale. had appeared on J-List’s shop. For the announcement, minori posted a sequence of images of Yuuko carrying a bottle and flying from Japan to Toronto first and then to the Netherlands, where MangaGamer.com resides. When Yuuko flew through Toronto, No Name Losers posted a hand-drawn image of Miyako having received a bottle in the mail. MangaGamer translator Kouryuu posted as sequence of five messages (one for each chapter of ef) on the official blog while he tweeted in character. The first message about a sore wrist did bring up a few jokes amongst the readers.
Finally, the official announcement was made by the three parties after some furious F5-key pressing by many, bringing the story to a close(?) with a certainly eccentric finish.
UPDATE: More details and links added to writeup and certain statements were removed at the request of our source. The article has also been reordered and NNL has issued a comment, stating that:
[W]e appreciate the summary of events that [have been] written up — and that we’d prefer that everyone: the community, Gemot Encubed, and No Name Losers, move on from the bitter events of the past, as the minori/Mangagamer/No Name Losers partnership demonstrates so beautifully.