It has been 5 years since I began Soli Consultants as a video game localization company. In that time, the nature of our business has dramatically changed, and today we offer a broad range of media services, from the recruitment of foreign talent such as voice and TV actors to direction for various media projects.
These new services actually suit my professional demeanor better, since I’m actually an actor by training. Of course, I still believe that my three years at a major video game company prior to establishing Soli Consultants were an invaluable experience. However, at the same time, I found it difficult to completely give up on the acting experience I acquired through my training in America, as well as a lifetime of acting on stage and TV that began at the age of 6.
Thanks to this development in our business, I am now valued by my clients as a versatile talent capable of voice and stage acting as well as narration, not to mention a reliable business partner who provides them with nothing but the best talents working in Japan and can direct these talents with the assured hand of someone who has often closely worked with them. The fact that I am completely bilingual also puts me in the unique position of someone who can seamlessly communicate between foreign talents and our clients.
Increased demand for our talent services, however, has threatened to push our game localization business to the backburner. In recent years, I had been increasingly subcontracting all game-related to business to my brother Zal, a skilled writer who until recently had been working as a freelance video game translator in London. At the same time, voice and text content were becoming increasingly interlinked in video games, and I began to realize that a good localization required both sets of content to be created by a single, unified team. After considering my options, I asked Zal if he would return to Japan to join my company. Fortunately, he agreed to do so.
Five years since its birth, Soli Consultants is ready to embark on the next stage of its life.
“Hey, Zal! How do you say this in English?” I got that question a lot from the other kids when I was in elementary school. Usually, I could give them a reply in seconds, but sometimes I really had to think about it; for some phrases, there really wasn’t an English counterpart, at least none that I was aware of at the time, so I’d wrack my brain and use my imagination to come up with the best answer I could think of.
In a way, the work I do today is nothing more than an extension of those impromptu English lessons. The only difference is that, while my answers back then only had the effect of making my classmates laugh in amusement, the answers I provide today can help a client sell their product overseas or make inroads into these valuable overseas markets. It’s a serious business.
Yet, at the most basic level, I am doing exactly what I was doing with my classmates: offering entertainment. When I translate any kind of media content, my focus is not on helping overseas audiences understand its meaning; I want them to understand the very emotions that Japanese audiences feel by experiencing this content, whether it is for a video game or a movie. Using my unique background as someone who was born and raised in Japan in a British household, as well as my educational background studying writing in America, I want to give Western audiences the chance to experience such content the way it was intended.
For a long time, I was satisfied simply being a part of this process, working as a freelance translator with no control over the quality of the final product. Today, I am happy to have joined my brother Cyrus at his company to work together towards this goal with full creative control. Writing, by nature, is a relatively quiet activity, and is very different from the energetic world of acting that my brother inhabits. However, we both realize that by working together and bringing out the best of each other’s skills, we can create far superior content than we could if working on our own. Through our trust and combined experience, I have no doubt that we can give overseas audiences the Japan experience that they deserve.