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Sega has confirmed that Like a Dragon: Ishin! will not have an English voiceover dub, unlike Yakuza: Like a dragon.
The news was confirmed by producer Masayoshi Yokoyama that the upcoming remaster will not have an English dub. Instead, there will only be a Japanese voiceover with English subtitles.
This is not new to Yakuza series, of which Like a Dragon: Ishin! is a spin off of Since the franchise was always considered niche before the launch of the Yakuza 0so that’s why they didn’t add an English voiceover as a cost-saving measure.
“In our latest game, we’ve tried local voice actors who have voices similar to the original Japanese actors and hired them to do the voice-overs.” Yokoyama said in a new interview (via Dojo Dojo). “Starting with Yakuza 7, we’ve even been able to change the characters’ facial movements to move along with the English dialogue. It’s different from a foreign film dub.”
He added: “We fix their mouths so they look like they’re speaking English properly. That’s where we are now. You can do that sort of thing with CG, so in that way it’s actually better than live action. After we’ve changed the language to English, we can change the characters’ faces to match that too. Japanese people are used to reading subtitles because we watch a lot of Hollywood movies.”
Yokoyama noted that foreigners “don’t really see subtitles” and that this phenomenon is “especially in English-speaking countries.” As such, these audiences tend to prefer voiceovers. The producer noted that they did not do voiceovers for Yakuza 0and it was wildly popular.
“The fans overseas who played since that era are still playing those games even now,” he said. “In Japanese with English subtitles. They like Nakano and Kuroda’s voices, so they want to hear their voices while playing.” Yokoyama noted that the historical period would also make an English dub very difficult.
“For the Ishin remake, we’re using subtitles. We’re not dubbing voice overs,” he said. “We’re translating the game into English, but the specialized vocabulary and the way people spoke during the Bakumatsu era would make the lines incredibly long , so it just wouldn’t work. So this time we are doing subtitles.”
Essentially, it’s a design choice because of the setting of Like a Dragon: Ishin! is set in the past. The language changes over time and putting it into English, especially the challenges of putting it in voice with all the acting and other requirements seem to be too much in this case.
Also judging by his words, it looks like this could just be a one time decision. So while the future Yakuza titles will definitely receive English dubs, the developers can make decisions against it based on whether they see how it fits.