Generally speaking, the western Visual Novel community has been growing bit by bit as time passes and new works are brought to us. Outside of Europe and North America, in the so called “third world countries” have smaller communities — mainly in Brazil — where they discuss these works.
For this article, I’d like to talk about one singular man who was very important to the Brazilian community and that has unfortunately passed away not long ago. His name is Sid.
To better explain who Sid was, we need to go back in time—to be more precise, go back to when Katawa Shoujo‘s popularity was still a new thing on the internet—so get something to drink and prepare yourself to learn more about the man that at the most difficult times of his life, not only expanded knowledge about visual novels in his mother country and for the people that weren’t familiar with it, but also strived to attempt to build the first Brazilian visual novel publisher in history, and marked the life of many people within this community, groups, colleagues, and friends.
Sidney Marcelo, mainly known as Sid, was a Brazilian that lived in Rio de Janeiro. He was an avid otaku from that the 90s and 2000s internet, consuming a bit of everything Japanese.
Sid, alongside his friend Marcus André—who is mostly known today for doing a lot of Visual Novel tools for fan translations—decided to create Katawa+, a group dedicated to translate Katawa Shoujo to Brazilian Portuguese. The “+” in Katawa+ originated from Sid’s love for Nitroplus’ works. This was also the first contact that Marcus had with modding and programming in an open source engine—that being Ren’Py.
The partial patch of the translation was released back in 2015, while the 18+ version was released 2 years later as the complete patch. After the patch was launched, Crunchyroll contacted them to ask if they wanted an article to promote the translation, and they accepted.
After 4 years of ongoing work, the project was ready to be released, but they didn’t want to stop with Katawa Shoujo. With the final release, they made a big change: the group was having a rebranding.
There was a bit of discussion regarding the new group name, but in the end they agreed on VNX+ (“X” meaning “incognito.”) After Katawa Shoujo, the group decided to translate Nekopara Vol. 1 and Steins;Gate. This moment marks the beginning of Sid’s journey alongside Marcus and other Brazilian translators.
After that, Sid would be more distant from the group; he was a bit involved in the Nekopara translation when it started but as time passed, so did his involvement. There was a reason for it, however — that reason being his plans to create the first Brazilian visual novel localization company. To talk about this, we need to first clarify how creating and maintaining any kind of company in Brazil works. I thought it would be interesting to include a section about this — the “why” will become clearer the further you go.
How Does A Company Work In Brazil?
There’s a lot to discuss regarding companies in Brazil, but to keep it simple, we’re going to focus on this question: “Why isn’t there much incentive to create a visual novel-focused company?”
You can say that it’s because visual novels are very niche and Brazil is just a Portuguese-speaking country (while English is the overall international language.) Even considering that, there’s much more to add.
The taxation levels in Brazil are bizarre. I’ll explain here just how much taxes a company pays to stay afloat. To begin with, Brazil is the second country that taxes companies most, only behind Malta by 1%. Only 18 countries tax companies with an aliquot above 30%: Brazil is one of them (34%). There are two types of taxes: Corporate Income Tax (25%) and Social Contribution on Net Income (9%) — this value being even higher than what is charged by ‘developed countries’ (e.g. the UK charges 19%; the US charges 25%). The overall average for the rest of the world is 20%.
All these taxes are added together with the operational cost of the company — those being the costs of wages, production, marketing, among other things. In the context of visual novels, these could be applied to software and production, the costs of getting the translation rights, programmers, translators, editors (both text and image), a director and/or head of the localization team and other possible costs involving production.
After these costs come the administrative costs—that being the guarantee of work laws in Brazil, such as the costs of FGTS (a fund created with the aim of protecting workers who are fired unjustly), INSS (responsible for paying retirement and other benefits to Brazilian workers, with the exception of public employees), health insurance and many others.
In short, this means that you need to make perfect sales to continue functioning as a company, and that’s complicated even for huge companies like Ford, which decided to stop vehicle production in 2021 due to the “unfavorable economic environment” added to the covid-19 pandemic’s impact, resulting in huge layoffs. When you put all this into perspective, it’s easy to see how much of an impossible dream having a VN publisher would be.
And now we get to the last part: how Sid approached these challenges. Now, let’s continue.
(The End of a Story)
According to Marcus, they needed to meet three requirements:
1. A bigger visual novel community in Brazil;
2. Contacts with other experienced groups;
To fulfill the first requirement, they would need to keep translating big titles, such as their current picks Nekopara and Steins;Gate.
For the second requirement, they decided to email some companies to offer them translating their games for free. They have done this for two VN titles up until now (Fault – Milestone One, Lynne). Fault – Milestone One became their biggest hit; after the translation released, the official publisher announced it on Steam, featuring custom artwork by the official artist!
The third requirement is what got me scratching my head.
Sid would say money wasn’t a problem, and even Marcus had no idea why, mainly considering all the things previously explained.
When the patches for Nekopara and Steins;Gate were almost complete, Sid abruptly passed away in the middle of these running projects. The news only became known after one of his online acquaintances checked on his Facebook profile. Sid didn’t leave any message and his relatives kept silent about it. There were rumors about a very possible case of suicide between his acquaintances on the internet, but nothing confirmed by his relatives or very close friends.
All the VNX+ projects continued without any problems although Sid wasn’t active anymore, but as Sid died, so did the wishes of creating an official localization company.
After these projects were completed, Marcus would find himself with a lot of responsibilities as an adult and as such, he left VNX+. Some followed his steps but are still active in the scene, such as our editor Fujoneko. You could say he passed the torch to another generation.
Sid had a lot of influence in Brazil’s VN sphere and helped a lot of people. One of these people are Yuu, leader and founder of Meow Works (Rewrite, Fate/stay night, upcoming Muv-Luv.)
While Sid’s passing was unfortunate and sudden, he inspired many in this little community to become better versions of ourselves. He was a man, determined to bring this medium closer to Brazilians. And that’s his tale: one of a person that tried until the end to pursue his dreams.
This article was only possible because of the help from Fuwa, Marcus André, and a thread made by Frost51 about the visual novel community in Brazil (if you are a part of it, please make sure you write about your own experience on his thread!)
That’s all from me, folks. I hope you enjoyed it!
*This article was re-edited to correct some missinformations about him.
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