On the final day of last year, AniplexUS posted a trailer to their YouTube page announcing the western release of a new expansion to the popular role-playing mobile game Fate/GrandOrder, titled Epic of Remnant. The expansion had previously been a Japanese exclusive, having been available in Japan since February 24th, 2017.

Following this trailer, some fans noticed that the character of Emiya (Alter) had gone through a slight redesign: his skin had been lightened and his lips were less pronounced than in the original version:

Fate/Grand Order Edits Emiya Alter Design for The West

This comparison image, first posted by /u/Shroobful on Reddit, shows the original Emiya Alter design (bottom) alongside his North American edit (top).

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This change, done in an effort to distance Emiya (Alter) from offensive and racist blackface imagery, was made in part due to localizers addressing the potential for controversy and claims of racist designs. During a panel at Anime Weekend Atlanta hosted by Albert Kao, an Aniplex producer responsible for Fate/Go’s localization, Kao took a moment to address why (Emiya) was changed. His address to the audience at Anime Weekend Atlanta was reported by Reddit user Skarthe.

Q5) Has JP ever asked the NA team for input on things for the JP version?

A5) The NA team isn’t considered as important, but NA does give JP feedback though. “When Emiya Alter came out, everybody was like ‘F***, what are you doing, Japan?’ Or when they just cross the line and be like, ‘hey, let’s combine like, loli and tentacles.’ Why, Japan?” For objectionable things, NA will be like “please stop”. Sometimes JP agrees and changes it, sometimes they do it anyway. Which has happened, but he doesn’t have a good example he can talk about right now. Might become a funny story down the line. Speaking of which, he asked if anyone reads Japanese and has read FGO Material V (note: there are translations of a bit of it available on /r/FGOGuide for those wondering); spoiler alert: the creation concept behind Emiya Alter is “what would happen if we put Emiya in prison.” (cue nervous laughter from the room) “No. Exactly. When I saw that – because I got Material V last week – when I saw that line, I screamed in the office.” The Internet exists, that character is out there, and people do fan translations of these things, so people will put two and two together. Sometimes he asks how people feel about Emiya Alter, and it’s generally not a favorable reaction. Even the relatively favorable reactions don’t think he’s ok to, say, post on the side of the Wells Fargo building. So for stuff like that, they have power to say “Japan, please stop, for the love of God.” (Related: Albert got permission to change the “Detroit Emiya” line, so that won’t be as bad…) They don’t want to dishonor artists’ intentions, but…

Fans were divided regarding the alteration of Emiya (Alter)’s design. For some, it was a positive change that aimed to distance the character from racist iconography:

For others, this change was seen as blatant censorship which ignored Emiya (Alter)’s backstory and the original intentions of the artist:

This is not the first time that Fate/Go has made changes due to differing sensibilities across the world. In 2018, the characters of Shuten Doji, Raikou, and Gorgon were censored in China due to the suggestive and risqué natures of their designs. This also occurred in 2017, when Boudica and Mata Hari were censored in China for being ‘too erotic’.

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