Chapter 1: Kazutoshi Iida talks — Detroit: Become Human

In the past, some viewers have asked us to add Japanese subtitles to our videos in order to help them practice the language. Adding Japanese subtitles to our videos represents quite a large amount of work, so we tried to think of another way where we could provide original content that Japanese learners could put to use.

For this test run, we’ve sent a microphone to game creator, Ritsumeikan University professor (and former toco toco guest) Kazutoshi Iida (Doshin the Giant, Tail of the Sun, Aquanaut’s Holiday), asking him to give us his perspective on a Western game. He chose Quantic Dream’s 2018 title Detroit: Become Human.

Note: We’re conscious that each learner has their own level, we believe this content will be useful to people who already have rather solid bases in Japanese, but we invite everyone who’s curious discover Iida’s thoughts on Detroit: Become Human.

Our past toco toco episode with Kazutoshi Iida (May 2017)

Below you will find the audio track of Iida’s commentary, bilingual transcripts, in addition to a list of keywords and grammar points, made together with a language professor friend. We thought that it could be more appealing to learn using content from creators rather than what you would usually find in a classic manual. We decided to put this on Medium for now, but if people like it we’ll consider other platforms and making it a series where Japanese creators (not necessarily gaming) discuss other works.

Kazutoshi Iida talks – Detroit: Become Human

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0:03″: この作品は映画の発展系としてビデオゲームを捉えた時に、一つの決定的な姿を示しているという作品だと言えると思います。それは、分岐していく物語構造、そしてうまくプレイヤーを巻き込んでいくという作劇やそのフローチャートの構造の良さというのもあるのですが、やはり洗練されたUIというのが効いていると思います。

0:03″: This work is a decisive example of a game that we can interpret as an extension of film. That aspect resides in its branching narrative structure, its dramaturgy that draws in the player and its flowchart structure, but I also believe it is the result of its refined UI.

0:40″: ゲームグラフィックの中に、ここがコマンドだということを明示しないで一体化しているというところが非常に素晴らしいと思いますね。で、デトロイトのテーマは非常に古典的とも言えるテーマで、ロボットやアンドロイドが自我を持つ、そしてどうなるのか、と。

0:40″: I think that the way of how commands are not clearly indicated but rather blend into game graphics is fantastic. Also, Detroit takes on a very classic theme, robots and androids gaining self-awareness, then looks at how this situation unfolds.

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1:09″: このゲームの場合は、自我を持ったアンドロイド達が人間に、世界に反逆をしていくというストーリーになっていくんですけれども、これは例えば日本の漫画では手塚治虫による『鉄腕アトム』でも同様のテーマが描かれていました。『鉄腕アトム』の場合は「ロボット人権法」という法律を作ろうというロボットたちの社会運動と、それから人間と親しくしているアトムの、アトムもロボットであるので、ロボット人権運動に対しては理解できる部分もある、と。しかし、人間とも親しい存在であるという人間界とロボット界の二局の間で揺れ動く、苦悩する主人公でした。

1:09″: The game’s story is about self-aware androids who rebel against humans and the world, a theme that was also depicted in a similar manner by Osamu Tezuka in the Japanese manga “Astro Boy”. In “Astro Boy”, there is a social movement led by robots to create a “Robot Rights” law and then there is Astro, who is closer to humans, but who at the same time understands the “Robot Rights” law because of his robot nature. Being close to humans, Astro is conflicted as he has to swing between the realms of humans and robots.


2:09″: It is striking that “Astro Boy” was created at a time of strong racism issues, during the Civil Rights movement in America, I believe its theme to be a metaphor of that time. Now, in 2018, the Civil Rights movement has had definite results. One of this game’s important points is to see what turn this same classic theme will take and how it will resonate, in a time when the possibilities of self-aware androids and robots have become foreseeable.

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- What? You want a heart like humans? That’s unbelievable. | ©︎Tezuka Productions

3:13″: 同時代で言えば、チャイルディッシュ・ガンビーノというミュージシャンが『This is America』という曲、それからそのPVをリリースして、大きな反響を得ていますが、というようにその人権問題というのはまだ解消されずに残っていると、もちろんそういう問題としてデトロイトを見ることができるんだけども、やはりこのゲームをプレイしていて、段々段々、つまりアンドロイドをプレイするんですね。アンドロイドをプレイしているんだけれども、プレイしているのが人間なわけです。人間に対して、私たちに対してアンドロイドが自分たちアンドロイドであると、だから人の命令を聞かざるを得ない、どんな人間が間違ったことを言っていてもそれは遂行すると、そういうスタンス。そして自我が目覚めることによって、人間の理不尽な行動を目の当たりにする。

3:13″: At the same time, the musician Childish Gambino released the track and music video of “This is America”, which had a large impact, also showing that some rights issues are not yet fully solved. We can of course also see Detroit taking on this matter. In this game however, we get to play an android. We play an android, but the player is human. The androids’ stance is that as androids, they have to follow the orders from humans, from us, fulfilling them no matter how wrong they are. As they face the unreasonable actions of humans right before their eyes, they start to gain self-awareness.

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4:27″: で、それらを通り越して、プレイの後半には、そもそも人間というのは何なのかと。もっというと、あなたはシステムに隷属していないか、システムに隷属しているようで人間とは言えないんじゃないか、というような非常に現代的な、これは現代的か、古典的かわかりませんが、両方ですね。つまり、人間が人間らしく生きているとはどういうことか。今のあなたは人として、人間としてきちんと生きているのですか、という根源的な問いに繋がってくるわけですね。

4:27″: Past this, in the second half of the story, we question what a human being is in the first place. Furthermore, it is questioned whether you are not coerced into a system yourself and if that would still make us human; it is very modern, I don’t know if modern or classic is the right word, it is both. In other words, what does living as humans mean? Do you now, as a human, truly live like one? It leads us to those fundamental questions.

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5:23″: そういう意味でも『Detroit: Become Human』は何か映画のようなゲームの決定的な姿というだけではなく、人類の普遍的な、人とは何かと、あなたはきちんと生きているのか、そういう問いかけをしてくる、そんな作品だと思います。傑作です。

5:23″: In that sense, “Detroit: Become Human” is a work that does not only show a decisive aspect of a game behaving like a film, but also asks questions that are universal to humanity, such as “What is a human?”, or “Are you living the right way?”. It is a masterpiece.

Glossary —

— Paragraph 1:
発展系(はってんけい)| n.:extension, development
決定的(けっていてき)な | adj.:decisive
姿(すがた)| n.:shape, appearance
示(しめ)す | vb.:to show, to indicate
分岐(ぶんき)する | vb.:to branch
物語構造(ものがたりこうぞう)| n. : narrative structure
巻(ま)き込(こ)む | vb.:to involve, to implicate
作劇(さくげき)| n.:dramaturgy
洗練(せんれん)される | vb.:to be refined, to be sophisticated
効(き)く | vb.:to be effective

— Paragraph 2:
明示(めいじ)する| n.:specify, indicate
一体化(いったいか)している | vb.:is embodied, is integrated
非常(ひじょう)に | n.:very, exceedingly
古典的(こてんてき)| adj.:classical

— Paragraph 3:
場合(ばあい)| n.:case
反逆(はんぎゃく)| n.:rebellion, treason
同様(どうよう)の | n.:same as〜, similar to〜
人権(じんけん)| n.:human rights
存在(そんざい)| n.:existence
〜界(かい)| n.: the world of 〜, the realm of 〜
揺(ゆ)れ動(うご)く| vb.:to swing
苦悩(くのう)する | vb.:to be tormented, to suffer
主人公(しゅじんこう)| n.:main character

— Paragraph 4:
顕著(けんちょ) | adj.:striking, noticeable
当時(とうじ)| n. : at the time of〜
公民権運動(こうみんけんうんどう)| n. : the Civil Rights movement
描(えが)かれる | vb.:to be described
一定(いってい)| n.:definite
成果(せいか)| n.:result
自我(じが)| n.:ego, self
可能性(かのうせい)| n.:possibility
意味合(いみあ)い | n.:nuance, implication
響(ひび)く | vb.:to resonate

— Paragraph 5:
同時代(どうじだい)| n.:at the same period
曲(きょく)| n.:track, song
反響(はんきょう)| n.:influence, repercussion
得(え)る | vb.:to obtain, to get
解消(かいしょう)する | vb.:to solve
遂行(すいこう)する | vb.:to fulfill, to achieve
目覚(めざ)める | vb.:to wake up
理不尽(りふじん)な | adj.:irrational, unreasonable
目(ま)の当(あ)たりにする | vb.:to face, to be confronted to

— Paragraph 6:
そもそも | n. : in the first place
根源的(こんげんてき)な | adj.:fundamental

— Paragraph 7:
傑作(けっさく) | n. : a masterpiece

Grammar Points —

— Paragraph 1
a.「映画の発展系としてビデオゲームを捉えた時…」| “as we interpret games as the extension of film…”
● In the expression「AとしてBを捉える」, the use of「として」indicates that B is temporarily the same (state, value or rank) as A. Iida here implicates that the game is the extension of film.
Example:「人間としてアンドロイドを捉えた場合、問題が生じるだろう」| “Problems may occur is we consider androids as humans.”

b.「うまくプレイヤーを巻き込んでいくという作劇」| “a dramaturgy that effectively draws in the player”
● The use of「AというB」indicates that A is part of B. The dramaturgy is somethings that draws in the player. A can include a noun, a verb or a clause that refers to B.
Example:「アンドロイドが人間と一緒に暮らすという社会」| “A society where humans and androids live together.”

c.「そのフローチャートの構造の良さというもあるのですが…」| “There is also the good flowchart structure…”
● The bold「の」transforms the preceding「そのフローチャートの構造の良さという」into a noun. The「も」particle here adds a meaning of addition.
Example:「ゲームを通じて現実について考えることができるというもゲームの良い点の一つだ」| “Being able to think about reality through video games is one of their good points.

d.「やはり」| “indeed”
● Adverbial expression that emphasizes the speaker’s thinking.
Example:やはりゲームにとってシナリオは重要だ」| “The scenario is indeed an important part in games.”

— Paragraph 2
a.「ここがコマンドだということを明示しないで…」| “The commands are not clearly specified here…”
●「という」is used to quote the preceding 「ここがコマンドだ」and indicates that it refers to the word「こと」.
Example:「アンドロイドが自我を持つべきではないという意見は理解できる」| “I can understand the opinion saying that androids should not be self-aware.”

b.「、デトロイトのテーマは…」| “There, Detroit’s theme…”
● Here,「で」is used as a conjunction. Abbreviated form of「それで」.
Example:、これからはこうしたテーマを話すべきだ」| “There, we need to discuss those themes.”

c.「…そしてどうなるのか。」| “…then how this unfolds.”
●「どう」is an interrogative adverb that creates a question. 「のか」uses the particle「の」and the interrogative particle「か」, where a verb in dictionary or past form, or an い-adjective. 「のか」can be replaced by solely「か」(Example:「そしてどうなるか、と」). The 「と」that comes to end the phrase is an abbreviated form of 「という」. The phrase can continue as「そしてどうなるのか、というテーマ」, but it is here abbreviated in conversational form.
Example:「ここでゲームがどう発展するのか、と、そしてどうなるのか。」| “How will video games develop, and what will become of them.”

— Paragraph 3
a.「…世界に反逆をしていくというストーリーになっていくのですけれども、…」| “…it is a story of rebellion against the world, however…”
●「けれども」indicates an opposition. 「けれども」can be preceded by a verb in dictionary or past form, an い-adjective, a な-adjective+だ or a noun+だ.
Example:「特殊なテーマだけれども、誰もが楽しめるゲームだ。」| “It is a special theme, but everybody can enjoy this game.”

b.「これは例えば日本の漫画では手塚治虫による『鉄腕アトム』でも同様のテーマが描かれていました。」| “This theme was for examples also depicted in a similar manner by Osamu Tezuka in the Japanese manga “Astro Boy”.
●「例えば」is an adverb used to provide a concrete example. 「手塚治虫による『鉄腕アトム』」is used to refer to a specific manga that depicts this theme.
Example: 「例えばアニメでは『AKIRA』や『攻殻機動隊』が有名だ。」| “For example, famous anime include “AKIRA” or “GHOST IN THE SHELL”.

c.「…アトムもロボットであるので、ロボット人権運動に対しては理解できる部分もある、と。」| “Astro boy is also a robot, which is why he also has an understanding towards the Robot Rights movement.”
●「に対して」is used to indicate the object an action or a feeling is directed to. It can be preceded by a noun. The 「は」particle that follows is used to emphasize the main theme. The ending 「と」particle is used to designate that 「理解できる部分もある」refers to Astro Boy’s thoughts. As a result, this sentence can be continued as「理解できる部分もある、と考えた」or「理解できる部分もある、と思った」, but is here abbreviated in conversational speech.
Example:「彼にとって、ロボットの未来に対しては希望がある、と」| “For him, there is hope in the future of robots.”

— Paragraph 4
a.「こうしたテーマ」| “This type of theme”
●「こうした」is a form used to qualify a noun of what was preceding.
Example:こうした物語は理解するのがむずかしい。」| “It is hard to understand this type of story.”

b.「…こうしたテーマが描かれていたんだなと思うのですが、…」| “…I believe this is the type of theme that was described, …”
●「んだ」is a conversational form of「のだ」.「のだ」indicates the speaker’s interpretation. As a result, 「こうしたテーマが描かれていた」indicates Iida’s thinking. 「ん」can be preceded by a verb in dictionary or past form or by an い-adjective. The 「な」that comes after「んだ」is a particle that comes to indicate a feeling of discover or an emotion towards something that is in the past.
Example:「人間とアンドロイドの関係こそが問題だったんだなと思う」| “I believe the actual problem resided in the relationship between humans and androids.”

c.「そういう時代に、…」| ”During that period, …”
●「そういう」is a form used to qualify a noun of what was preceding. 「そういう」can sometimes be replaced by「こういう」.
Example:そういう場合はロボットの人権がテーマとなる」| “In that case, the theme is the rights of the robots.”

d.「根源的な問いに繋がってくるわけです。」| “This leads to a fundamental question.”
●「わけ」is a noun that designates a reason.「わけ」can be preceded by a verb in dictionary of past form or a な-/い-adjective. The closing particle「ね」is used in conversational form to ask for the interlocutor’s reaction.
Example:「アンドロイドと人間との関係が問われているわけです。」| “It is the relationship between androids and humans that is questioned.”

e.「つまり、人間が人間らしく生きているとはどういうことか。」| “Ultimately, what does it mean for humans to live as humans.”
●「どう」is an interrogative adverb that indicates the aspect of something. 「いう」refers to the verb「言う」. Here it does not refer to an actual speech action, the kanji 「言う」is not used when it comes after 「どう」、「こう」or「そう」
Example:「ゲームを作るとは、どういうことかを最初に考えるべきだ。」| “One should first think of what it means to make a game.”

— Paragraph 5
a. 「同時代言え、チャイルディッシュ・ガンビーノというミュージシャンが…」| “At the same period, the musician Childish Gambino …”
● The particle「で」has multiple meanings, here is refers to indicate a range. In this case, it specifies that the range is 「同時代」.「ば」is used to indicate a verb’s conditional form.
Example:「映画言え、『ブレードランナー』もアンドロイドの物語だ。」| “In film, “Blade Runner” is also a story about androids.”

b.「…大きな反響を得ていますが、というようにその人権問題というのはまだ解消されずに残っている…」| “it had a large impact, showing that Civil Rights issues are not yet fully solved…”
● The bold「という」refers to the expression「大きな反響を得ています」.「ように」indicates an example. Iida here indicates that the fact that Childish Gambino’s song had an impact means that there are still some Civil Rights issues that are yet to be solved.
Example:「映画にはシナリオが重要だというように、このゲームがストーリーを重視している。」| “In a similar way to how a scenario is important in film, this game strongly focuses on the story.”

c.「…もちろんそういう問題としてデトロイトを見ることができるんだけども…」| “We can of course see Detroit taking on those problems.”
●「んだ」refers「のだ」in conversational form.「けども」refers to an opposition, it is a contracted form of「けれども」.
Example:「アンドロイドの人権について説明しているんだけども…」| “It explains the androids’s rights, but…”

d.「…だから人の命令を聞かざるを得ない、…」| “…they have to listen to human’s orders, …”
● The「ざるを得ない」expression refers to something that is inevitable and needed. 「ざるを得ない」is used after a verb’s negative form (without the「ない」suffix).
Example: 「このゲームは傑作と言わざるを得ない」| “We are forced to say that this game is masterpiece.”

e.「…どんな人間が間違ったことを言っていても…」| “…no matter how wrong things people say are,…”
●「どんな」is an abbreviated form of「どんなに」. In written form, it should always be used as 「どんなに」.「どんなに…ても」is a hypothetical expression followed by an opposition, indicating something won’t be fulfilled no matter the condition. 「ても」is a verb in て-form followed by the 「も」particle.
Example:「どんなにアンドロイドが働いていても疲れない。」| “An android never tires, no matter how much he works.”

— Paragraph 6
「…言えないんじゃないか…」| “…we cannot say that…”
●「んじゃない」refers to「のではない」in conversation form. 「のではない」is the negative form of「のだ」, with the「か」particle creating an interrogative form.
Example:「これでは成果が無いんじゃないかと思う。」| “I think this doesn’t provide any results.”

— Paragraph 7
「何か映画のようなゲーム」| “A game that is like a film [or something].”
●「のような」indicates a metaphor. 「何か」lightens the metaphor, making it less assertive.
Example:「何か人間のようなロボットだ」| “A robot that is like a human.”

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As mentioned in the introduction, Tales from Archipel currently lives on Medium, but if we get positive reactions we’ll explore ways to improve the content and consider other platforms.

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