Japanese products and merchandising has managed to make significant inroads into the global market over the last few decades, with brands like Sony and Hello Kitty recognized around the world. Japanese media products, on the other hand, are still generally considered a curiosity, a niche market that the average person finds difficult warming up to. Although part of this has to do with cultural differences, there is a more significant reason: When localizing media products for overseas markets, Japanese firms tend to focus more on the visible elements of the product (e.g. the packaging and graphics) than on the intangible elements of the product – such as writing and voice work.
There are, of course, media companies that do focus on these essentials, such as Nintendo and its well-received game localizations. However, for every Nintendo, there are a dozen companies that still work under the assumption that “as long as it’s in the local language and we hire local people to localize it, the product will sell based on its visual and functional properties alone.” Although products become popular based on their design and functionality, media content, for the most part, relies on intangibles such as writing, voice, and direction to make itself stand out. Just as a good product cannot result from a technologically deficient manufacturing process, good content cannot be created through a localization process that employs people who are not skilled in content creation – their nationality has nothing to do with it.
Soli Consultants is run by two brothers, Cyrus Nozomu Sethna and Zal Heiwa Sethna, who were born to British parents and lived in Japan for 18 years before attending college in the United States – a background shared by very few people in Japan. From our point of view, Japanese media content is just as interesting as Western media content, and we would like nothing more than for both Japan and the West to be able to enjoy each others’ media products in the way they were intended to be. Having grown up soaked in the unique culture of Japan as well as the ubiquitous pop culture of America, and then gone on to study the essentials of content creation – direction and communication, and writing, respectively – at two highly-regarded American universities, we are in a unique position to help make this a reality. It is this goal and recognition of the advantages of our unusual background that have given birth to our corporate philosophy.
We at Soli Consultants do not hire any personnel that cannot create content at the level of top-level game writers, voice actors, narrators, and other media professionals in their native countries. We also do not allow content to be localized in such a way as to completely ignore the intent of the original creators. Our aim is strictly to create content that satisfies both the creators as well as the intended audience. Such high-level personnel do not come cheap; at the same time, we want to offer our services at as reasonable a cost as possible. This is why we have decided to run Soli Consultants as a SoHo business and considerably cut the extra costs that all too often force localization companies to hire cheap, low-quality labor. “Providing high-quality and low-cost localizations that respect both the creators and intended audience.” This is the Soli Consultants corporate philosophy.