It’s been a long, hard battle for the folks at MiKandi Japan as they fought to get their translation funded for XERO’s vampire themed visual novel Libra of the Vampire Princess. Throughout the month they worked tirelessly to reach that coveted 100% milestone and as of a few days ago they managed to break through and reached past the first stretch goal. I had reached out to them to get some better understanding of who they were, the project, and why we should care about it.
I have covered what we know about Libra of the Vampire Princess in a previous post, but I felt that it was time to get it directly from the vampire’s mouth, so to speak. Below you’ll find the full transcript of the conversation. Being such a fluid phenomenon as Kickstarter is some of this information might be out of date, but I will say this. Congratulations to the team for making it in time and to be bringing another Japanese visual novel to Western audiences.
Tell us a little about MiKandi Japan.
MiKandi Japan is located in one of Japan’s popular otaku hangouts: Akihabara! We are a gateway for both foreign and Japanese game, manga, and anime studios to bring their projects to and from Japan.
Prior to becoming MiKandi Japan:
In 2014 we were talking to the owner of MiKandi (US) about bringing our Japanese partner’s content to the west. He loved the idea because apparently some of the most searched terms in their app store were coming from western fans of Japanese otaku culture. Then, as that relationship started to bloom, he offered to let us adopt the MiKandi brand. (Source: http://www.siliconera.com/2015/12/04/mikandi-japan-talk-about-feeding-the-wests-hunger-for-more-visual-novels/)
For those of us who aren’t familiar with the original Japanese game can you tell us a little bit about Libra of the Vampire Princess that we don’t already know from the pitch?
Almost 10 years ago XERO made a vampire story, Draculius. Then about 2 years ago Producer MOKA imagined doing a remake. During that time, even though he and the artist wanted to work together, their schedules never matched up and so the project was almost forgotten. Later, Producer MOKA was talking with artist Risa Miyasu, asking “Why don’t we work together?” and “What type of game will we make together?” Miyasu-san said, “A chunibyo story would be fun.” Producer MOKA said, “Oh yes, I have exactly that!” It was like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and so this is how “Libra of the Vampire Princess” officially began.
During the creation process, Producer MOKA thought just remaking Draculius would not be the most interesting project, so instead he just took that world’s essence, symbols like “vampire,” “wolf,” and so on, then added characters which felt current for today’s times.
Libra has a chunibyo base, but is also fully a comedy that is in XERO’s style. Libra has both cool and fun sides which make it rather unique.
Why choose to do a translation for this title as opposed to all of the other Japanese visual novels out there that still don’t have an English release?
One cool thing about XERO is that they have a hefty catalog of games to choose from. So, when we decided to collaborate together, there were nearly 40 titles up for grabs. It was tough at first, but what made Libra an easy decision was that it was brand new, had vampires, and supernatural battle scenes. What might be the most important, though, is Libra has a Western feel to it that we thought would make it more familiar to players from overseas.
Why Kickstarter instead of one of the other crowdfunding sites out there? Or even self funding?
KS has been proven to be successful for big games like Libra, with big budgets. We thought it made the most sense. If we don’t hit that Vita stretch goal, we could consider other ways to fund it. We didn’t want to self fund because we had no way of knowing if we could get a following behind us. Of course we did put the game on Steam’s Greenlight and got “greenlit” in 6 days, but it’s a lot easier to click a “YES” button. On Kickstarter, when you pledge, that’s a much larger commitment. Seeing the amazing response from backers, and having so many helpful followers, has confirmed to us that we’re moving in the right direction. I think self funding works for big games with big fan bases, but for a new game like Libra, crowdfunding made the most sense.
Can you tell us a little bit about your partnership with XERO, the original developer of Libra?
James was introduced to Producer MOKA through a mutual friend. Producer MOKA had such a passion and curiosity to reach out to the West and learn what westerners are thinking, and so they decided to collaborate. They considered many ideas before landing on Libra. Actually though, Libra is the second project they’ve started together but the first one won’t be revealed unless it can actually be completed. It’s rather massive. XERO and MKJ both share the same vision of involving western fans and creating a fun and rich experience, so our partnership feels like a really natural match.
Having just broken six digits in pledges and with plenty of time left to go it looks like this will get funded but just in case it doesn’t is there a “Plan B”?
We are so close, we would just do a reboot on Kickstarter. As for stretch goals, especially the Vita, we want to find a way to make that happen even if its not funded, so we will find a way. For now we are just focusing on the Jan 20th finish line. (As of this writing, we’re now almost 115% funded)
I know that the stretch goal of a special extra episodes is pretty much all hush-hush but is there anything that you can divulge about them? Nothing too spoilery but something to get fans and backers excited?
The first stretch goal revolves around Iris’s (main antagonist) past before the met Shuma (main protagonist), and adds around 60 minutes to the game. Since Iris is so popular, you can imagine many of our backers are focused on unlocking that tier. She’s lived for thousands of years, so there’s got to be plenty of juicy skeletons in her closet. (As of this writing, mini-episode #1 has been unlocked)
As for the second mini episode, we have three possible stories: A story about Iris post-Libra; A story about Aoi post-Libra; A story about Aoi and Lycoris pre-Libra. Producer MOKA suggested we let our backers decide, so we thought, “Cool! Let’s make a poll!” After about 18 hours of the poll going live, the results began to look highly abnormal. We decided the best thing to do was start fresh with the same poll and host it ourselves so we could minimize the possibility of all h*** breaking loose once again. LOL! (As of this writing, the poll results are looking healthier. ;-))
Finally, is there anything else that you’d like to tell our readers before we go?
Of course there is uncertainty around every corner, especially with a KS project which is based completely on made up guesstimates, speculation, and hopefulness, but like Chappy says… “You’ve got to believe that plane you’re in is like a suit of armor, an Iron Eagle, that nothing can penetrate.” Those were the pump up words we listened to when we pressed the launch button, and that’s the mindset the Vampire Princess Army will have all the way to the final battle!
Again, a big thanks to MiKandi Japan for taking the time from their busy schedule to answer these few questions about Libra of the Vampire Princess. The campaign is in its final hours and if you’re at all interested in the project check it out before time runs out.