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The Import Report: Ni no Kuni: Shiroki Seihai no Joo

So I decided to start this article “series” again after a long while. I’ve been meaning to do another but kind of lost track and forgot about it. What I do in this article is pretty simple: look for games or accessories that have been released in Japan and shed some light on them to other gamers who maybe interested in either importing or asking publishers to bring the products here. Another way to describe it is as a preview article I suppose. Either way, the goal is the same. The first game I’d like to shed some light on for the return of the Import Report is a game called Ni no Kuni: Shiroki Seihai no Joo for the PS3.

Ni no Kuni: Shiroki Seihai no Joo, or Queen of the Holy White Ash, is a RPG that’s being co-developed by Level-5 (Star Ocean, Professor Layton) and world renowned anime studio, Studio Ghibli. That’s right the studio that brought us anime classics such as My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies and many, many more is making their first video game.
Players take on the role of Oliver whose mother had recently died in an accident trying to save him. As he’s crying, riddled with guilt, his tears land on a doll that his mother left him.A fairy by the name of Shizuku appears from that doll and presents Oliver with a magic book that transports him to the parallel world of Ninokuni. It is here that a parallel version of his mother is fighting an evil wizard by the name of Jabo. Shizuku tells Oliver that whatever happens in his world is mirrored in Ninokuni, so the two set forth to save the Ninokuni version of his mother and at the same time bring his mother back in his world. The game hasn’t even come out yet and already I’m touched by the story. While the whole save person X from event Y and defeat villain Z formula isn’t new to video games, the fact that the hero is just a child really tugs at the heart strings. I mean come on, its a child who goes to a strange and possibly dangerous journey that could kill him, all to bring the soul of his mother back to his world. If that’s doesn’t make you want to jump into the game and help him on his quest, then I don’t know what will.
The game art is amazing. Now I know some will say it’s not all about the graphics, but once you see Ni no Kuni in action your jaw will drop at how amazing the art is. Just take a look at the trailer for it:


You can’t help but want to jump into the game and get lost in its world, exploring and gaining new allies. This is a classic trademark of Studio Ghibli movies, particularly those directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
Gameplay looks simple enough. It seems to be a mix of a Pokemon-esque real time battle system, with Oliver and the allies he gains fight against enemies with monsters/fairies. Here we can see how Level 5 brings their expertise with RPGs to the game.
The game is set to release this November in Japan for about 88,000 yen or about $90 is US currency Now as some will tell you, I love special editions of games, and this is no exception. When it comes to console bundles, here in the states we get the short end of the stick with just plain old black PS3 and the game. With Ni no Kuni, you get this:

A golden 180GB PS3 with the etching of Shizuku in the corner. Never since the golden Zelda DS has a system look so cool. It includes the copy of the game and will run about 33,000 yen or about $400 in US currency.

Even though Level 5 has establish a US branch here, there’s good chance that this game might not make it over to the US. Besides the reason that interest in JRPGs is dwindling, another reason is, and this is pure speculation on my part, is Disney. What some might not know is that Studio Ghibli and the Walt Disney Company have an agreement that Disney has global distribution rights to Ghibli works.Now I don’t know if that extends to video games, since this is the anime studio’s first game, but if it did it would be published by Buena Vista Interactive, which is Disney’s gaming division. If Disney does get the rights, there’s also the possibility that changes to the game might get made to fit what Disney thinks is marketable, just like they did with previous Studio Ghiibli movies, Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind and Princess Mononoke. 
With the such a great team of Level 5 and Studio Ghibli, this game deserves attention. With great graphics, animation and a moving story gamers in the West deserve to experience this game. Hopefully one of the publishers out there will consider picking up this title be it NISA, Aksys Games, XSeed, or one of the bigger publishers like Sony, Square Konami. If not, then import the game if you don’t mind it being Japanese. And for god shakes Sony, would it kill you to offer a different color of PS3 for once, like this golden PS3. Just saying.

Well that’s it for the Import Report. Hopefully this will get you thinking about wanting to import the game or starting a petition of sorts to get this game in the states. As for the IR, I think I might do it on the DS version. If not it will be on a game that I find that needs to come stateside.

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