Earlier this year a trailer was released for the then-upcoming Western release of the Fate/Grand Order chapter, Epic of Remnant, which presented a potential region-specific design change which lightened the darkened skin on the character Emiya (Alter) due to what some believed was a racist depiction of black face. With the recent release of Epic of Remnant’s first chapter, Pseudo-Singularity I: Quarantined Territory of Malice, Shinjuku – Shinjuku Phantom Incident, it has been confirmed that Emiya (Alter)’s design has been modified for Western audiences:
In Fate/Grand Order lore, Emiya is a Japanese man whose darkened skin is the result of the overuse and abuse of his own Magical Circuits, which result in the circuits being damaged and causing his appearance to be altered accordingly.
In a recent interview conducted by RPG Site, Senior Staff Writer Josh Torres attempted to ask DELiGHTWORKS Inc. Creative Producer Yosuke Shiokawa about the changes, only to be barred from asking questions regarding character changes and being told that it was not Shiokawa’s sole decision to change Emiya (Alter)’s design:
A new four-part story arc, the Epic of Remnant, just began in the English release with the first part set in Shinjuku. In the marketing campaign for the Shinjuku part, there were noticeable design changes to one of its characters, Emiya Alter. He exhibits a lighter skin tone compared to his design in the Japanese version of FGO. The changes extend beyond the marketing and all in-game assets, artwork, and in-game models for Emiya Alter also reflect the changes. I was stopped mid-interview from asking Shiokawa-san the reasoning behind the changes and if there would be similar alterations to other characters in the future.
After my interview with Shiokawa-san, I briefly spoke with Aiko Makino, one of my PR contacts for Aniplex of America about the matter. She claims that “it’s because it wasn’t Shiokawa’s sole decision; it was more of a group decision and it isn’t fair for him to be the spokesperson for that decision.” I assured her that I understand and thanked her for giving RPG Site the opportunity to interview Shiokawa-san once again.
Aniplex and DELiGHTWORKS Inc. has not given us an official statement regarding the changes in Emiya Alter’s design at the time of publishing this piece.
The change has thus far only been seen in the North American release of the game, as the Korean region will be receiving the update with an unaltered Emiya (Alter):
Not to mention that KR isn’t getting a light skin tone Emiya Alter…so this is purely on them wanting to change it for some strange reason pic.twitter.com/e6w22e1rmF
— Bachi Ichab (@BachiIchab) February 27, 2019
For some, the change to Emiya (Alter)’s design was perceived as a form of censorship, with many pointing to a statement made by Fate/Go North America Producer Albert Kao during a 2017 Aniplex FGO panel at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2017:
If you’re worried about censoring Jack the Ripper, the answer is no. I don’t intend to censor anything in the game, because that’s how the game’s intended to be enjoyed. Also, if you’re watching Apocrypha right now (I won’t ask how), Jack’s design is straight from Apocrypha.
There’s no intention to censor anything unless someone forces us to.
In light of this statement, many fans were unhappy with the alteration, with some taking to social media to express their dissatisfaction directly to the official Fate/Go USA Twitter account:
When are you going to clearly state the reasons why you changed Emiya Alter from the JP version?
Are there other servants you are planning on censoring for the NA version in the future?
This is an issue that needs to be addressed. You cannot pretend like it didn’t happen.
— Ian Stuttman (@IStuttman) February 27, 2019
Regarding the Emiya handling in FGO USA, I must confess I’m a bit disappointed with FGO company’s and worried with the future works.
The changes made with Emiya lift a new cloud of doubt over FGO will there be in the future more censorship in the works ?
— Kyo_Atsu (@kyo25_21_13_5) February 27, 2019
And you need to do some research on why Emiya looks the way he does. This was an unnecessary censorship and it should never be tolerated.
— Burai93 (@Pablokettu) February 27, 2019
How about investigating the “we censored Emiya Alter without telling anyone” issue?
— Nope (@Cerzel) February 27, 2019
As of writing, neither Fate/Go USA, Aniplex, DELiGHTWORKS Inc. nor anyone affiliated with the project has publicly addressed these changes, much to the dismay of fans.