Frontwing has been developing visual novels in Japan since the early 2000’s. In wasn’t until 2014 that the developer teamed up with western localization publisher Sekai Project to bring the Grisaia trilogy west. Following the successful Kickstarter, the developer put together an in-house translation team to release the Grisaia side stories onto Steam.
Since then, the developer created a new IP, Corona Blossom, which launched three volumes worldwide last year. Shortly after, they revealed that the continuation of the Grisaia series, Grisaia: Phantom Trigger would also receive a worldwide release.
Frontwing is a Japanese company who has double-downed on their support of western visual novel fans. DualShockers had the chance to interview Frontwing president Ryuichiro Yamakawa, in order to learn more about the developer and the upcoming release, Grisaia: Phantom Trigger, Vol 1 and Vol 2 coming to PC on April 28.
DualShockers: It’s been a few years since the conclusion of the original Grisaia trilogy, why do you feel that now is the best time to continue the series?
Ryuichiro Yamakawa: Plans for this new title began in May of 2015, just about two years ago.
Actually, the new project wasn’t originally developed as a Grisaia title, but as planning continued and the story of the series started to take form, we realized that it would fit perfectly into the world of Grisaia, and so decided to produce it as a follow-up to the original Grisaia trilogy.
DS: Phantom Trigger Vol 1 and Vol 2 are the first entries in the series to receive a worldwide release. Was releasing the two games worldwide important to the company? Similarly, did you encounter any difficulties?
RY: It’s become clear to us recently just how big our overseas fanbase is. After visiting an overseas anime convention in 2016, we experienced firsthand how many anime and game fans there are outside of Japan, and how passionate they can be, which led us to redouble our own international efforts.
Also, we’re very aware that fans want to play new titles the minute they’re available, so we decided to make simultaneous international releases a priority going forward. Not only that, but we’re also keeping international audiences in mind from step one of the game design process.
For example, by developing titles as multiple smaller episodes, not only do they become more accessible for many fans, but development and localization are also able to be completed more quickly, which translates to us getting the games in your hands as fast as possible.
If we were only targeting the Japanese market, this might not be the most efficient approach, but it works out very well when taking into account international audiences.
DS: Phantom Trigger features an all new protagonist, Aoi Haruto. How does he differ from Fruit of Grisaia’s Yūji Kazami, and what are some of his qualities?
RY: As Yuuji is such an esteemed and beloved character, both within the story and in real life, we knew trying to make a similar character of even greater stature would be quite difficult.
In light of that, we decided instead to take a different approach with Haruto, and made him into a more genial character with an air of of genius about him.
DS: Do you have a favorite in the new cast of female students?
RY: I can never decide on questions like this, but right now I supposed I’d say Tohka. In addition to being very cute, the times when she can be unexpectedly warm are quite charming.
DS: Fruit of Grisaia contained 18+ sexual scenes, however, Phantom Trigger is an all-ages game. Is the inclusion of 18+ material in your titles decided on a case by case bases or is it up to the creator and director to decide if the game needs these adult themes?
RY: While the original Grisaia series did begin as adult-oriented PC games, it was soon adapted into a number of other mediums, including a very successful anime series. Quite a large number of Grisaia fans discovered the series by way of the anime adaptation.
In order to make Grisaia: Phantom Trigger an experience enjoyable by all of our fans around the world, promotion is very important, and the scope and reach of any promotion for adult-oriented titles is inherently limited.
We want Grisaia: Phantom Trigger to be enjoyable by anyone from long-time adult fans of the original PC trilogy to younger fans who have just discovered the series by way of the anime adaptation.
Producing Phantom Trigger as an all-ages title from the get-go also goes a long way to making a hypothetical anime adaptation of the series much more likely!
DS: What are your thoughts on the western visual novel community and do you see any differences between what Japanese and western fans enjoy in their visual novels?
RY: We’ve come to find that unlike Japan, anime and game fans overseas tend to get most of their information from communities they’re directly involved in, so it can be difficult to reach potential fans outside of very specific communities. For example, it’s been a lot of work spreading the word about Phantom Trigger to, say, people who are fans of the Grisaia anime but haven’t played the games. We’d love any suggestions on how to widen our fanbase and expand our reach!
DS: Recently, Frontwing has been self publishing in the west using an in-house localization team. How has this experience been for the company?
RY: Having our localization team in-house has a number of significant benefits. It’s enabled the team to develop a good rapport with each other, which makes localization go more smoothly; they are in direct contact with the development team, allowing for more accurate and fully-realized translations. The team is also able to take community feedback and comments directly into account when localizing.
We’re putting all the resources and attention we can into our international operations, and we appreciate everyone’s support!
DS: Semi-off topic, but now that your newest IP Corona Blossom has ended, can we expect any new IP announcements from your studio soon?
RY: We’re working on a very adult-oriented game for our next title. A simultaneous English release is planned for it as well, so please look forward to it!
DS: Is there anything you’d like to say to Frontwing’s western fans or for those eagerly awaiting Phantom Trigger’s release?
RY: We greatly appreciate all of our fans, and we have a feeling there are even more potential fans out there just waiting to be reached.
We’re overjoyed when even one new person plays one of our titles, so please share the Frontwing love with all of your friends! Thank you!