So having played past the most blatantly censored chapter of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, I find myself with mixed feelings. I honestly expected to be convinced the exact opposite way, and I’m still a little torn. I don’t like the idea of censorship, especially in many of Nintendo’s recent (and not-so-recent) decisions, but for TMS#FE it really works, and here’s why.
Did it need to be about gravure modeling to tell its story well? Absolutely not, and in fact it’s probably better this way. Even as dense as Itsuki is, it would have been really weird to watch him encourage Tsubasa to do that, and there would have been that undertone of her not wanting him to encourage her on this particular issue; she would probably rather he be reluctant or even outright against it out of jealousy. I think, cultural and/or translational accuracy aside, changing the whole thing to a much less revealing hiphop fashion photography thing was actually pretty good for the plot from a pure storytelling perspective.
Would i have preferred swimsuit costumes? Certainly not for the girl that would have paraded around in it that chapter. Tsubasa has a really odd uncanny-valley thing going on. For Kiria? That’s a very different question. She’s more mature, less pressured about it due to being more successful already, and honestly gives less of a shit about people watching her. (Plus she’s hot. She’s probably my favorite character overall, with Ms. Maiko a close second.)
The pictures all over the dungeon walls being just normal fashion photography absolutely saves the photographer villain’s character, though. If that had been swimsuit creepshots, it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d repented, I would still want to bash his face in. He would have come off as a super creepy ex still pining after the model he may or may not have been in an inappropriate relationship with, who has since “moved on” in the worst way to kidnapping and taking revealing photos of any other woman he can get his lens on.
Instead, having those much more normal photos around makes him come off as someone who is merely passionate about photography and modeling as art forms, which makes the arc’s denouement much more believable. Really the only glaring problem is that they completely flubbed the scene of the guys actually finding Maiko’s old photobook; there was obviously something borderline naughty in there, to the point of making Touma both guilty and conflicted. The description they substituted was lame and forced. But that’s now the worst part of the story arc, so really it all comes off much less awful overall.
I’m surprised to find myself defending ‘censorship’ but in this case they removed a somewhat uncomfortable aspect of real life, and the story really flows better for it. I’m comfortable with filing this one under localization instead.