I’ve only recently heard about the ordeal with Agness Kaku, her sister Hanako Abe, and John Szczepaniak from the Ralph Retort (which posted it with a fairly hyperbolic and, as yet unsubstantiated, title), and I’ve gotta say, it doesn’t really pass the smell test.
The only work of Agness Kaku’s with which I am familiar is her localization of Metal Gear Solid: 2, which I supposed I enjoyed, considering that the highest praise one can give for a game’s localization was to not notice that the localization was bad. Honestly, though, I was unaware of her or that she was the person who worked on it until this came to light. I’m unfamiliar with John Szczepaniak’s work.
JS had a kickstarter to write a book about Japanese game developers and wanted to go to Japan to interview said developers. He needed assistance with translation, interpreters and the arrangement of meeting with interpreters & interviewees.
Because of unforseen circumstances, I found myself with the time and opportunity to read through countless email exchanges between Hanako Abe (Kaku’s sister) and John Szczepaniak.
Most of what I see is Hanako Abe going above and beyond the call of duty to help organize and plan Szczepaniak’s project to interview Japanese game developers. At some point, things which began very amicably broke down and deteriorated incredibly fast. The sparking point seems to be disappointment with a particular interpreter.
Here is where it is fuzzy: it would be impossible for any internet bystander to get a reasonable objective picture, because you would need to be privy to a boatload of information and be present to witness exactly what happened.
-What happened with those interviews where John was unhappy with his interpreters?
-What happened in conversations made in person or over the phone between the parties involved?
-What is the actual quality of the interview material in question?
-What was the physical behavior & body language going on beyond what occurred in the email exchanges?
Also, you have other questions like what the reasonable expectations are for interpreters? This is a big one, and I don’t want to jump to any conclusions either way.
The finished product as it appears on Amazon looks sloppy, like something you’d see on a terrible book covers blog. I’m wary of someone coming out of the woodwork and saying “Hey, gamergate, don’t you want to be interested in this thing? This person I’m having legal issues with is friends with people you don’t like!”
Going on the emails alone, I feel a bit bad for Hanako, who seemed to be really trying very hard to make things work and who seemed really enthusiastic about and dedicated to the project’s success, but I also feel bad for John, who clearly was operating under a huge financial, physical, and emotional strain of an incredibly ambitious, complicated and costly project.
I do not know if the allegations that Agness or her associates contacted or harassed Szczepaniak’s backers is true. I have not seen evidence of it. That’s not something I would want to blindly believe.
While I am interested in hearing Agness’ response to the Szczepaniak’s accusations published on the Ralph Retort, I still don’t think it could sway me one way or another. Honestly, I don’t know that anyone can responsibly weigh in for one side or the other given the circumstances and information available. Even if Agnes is friends with the ‘wrong people’, I really think that raising John Szczepaniak as some kind of Jacques Bonhomme might be a really bad idea.