Bandai Namco, the renowned gaming company, is under scrutiny for its English dub of Naruto x Boruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, with allegations suggesting the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to alter voice line readings. The fighting game, based on the popular anime, has drawn criticism from fans who noticed peculiar inflections in some of the English dub deliveries, prompting concerns and discussions within the community.
Unusual inflections raise eyebrows
The English dub controversy came to light as fans expressed dissatisfaction with certain line deliveries, pointing out odd inflections that deviate from the expected style of the series. ShonenGames, a prominent source for anime and gaming content, shared a tweet on November 15, 2023, showcasing a specific line with an accompanying comment expressing disappointment in the redone voice lines.
Voice actors from the game, including Maile Flanagan (English voice actor for Naruto) and Michael Schwalbe (voice actor for Kawaki), also joined the discussion. Flanagan, in response to a tweet about a jarring line, disassociated herself from the delivery, stating that she did not perform the line in that manner. Similarly, Schwalbe expressed surprise and dissatisfaction, indicating that the recorded lines were not reflective of his efforts during recording sessions.
Voice actors respond
Maile Flanagan and Michael Schwalbe’s reactions added fuel to the controversy. Flanagan, denying involvement in the questionable line, emphasized that no voice director for Naruto or the games would have directed her to deliver a line in such a manner. Schwalbe, expressing disbelief at the chosen delivery, took proactive steps by subjecting the lines to an AI detection program.
AI detection results stir controversy
In a surprising turn of events, Michael Schwalbe’s AI detection experiment suggested the possibility of AI involvement in the English dubbing process. Despite the inherent limitations and occasional unreliability of such programs, the results raised eyebrows within the gaming community. Schwalbe, noting the supposed use of generative AI in a union game, highlighted that such practices are typically forbidden.
Bandai Namco’s response
As of now, Bandai Namco has not issued an official statement addressing the allegations surrounding the use of AI in the English dubbing of Naruto x Boruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections. The company’s silence on the matter has fueled speculation and further intensified discussions within the gaming community.
The controversy surrounding the English dub of Naruto x Boruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections has added another layer to the ongoing discourse on the use of AI in the gaming industry. As accusations persist and fans seek clarity, the spotlight remains on Bandai Namco, prompting questions about transparency in the development and localization processes. The gaming community eagerly awaits an official response from the company, hoping for transparency and a resolution to the concerns raised by fans and voice actors alike.
In a year marked by increased scrutiny over AI usage in gaming, including controversies involving titles like The Finals and Persona, Bandai Namco finds itself in the midst of a broader industry conversation about the ethical implications of AI integration in creative processes. The ultimate resolution of this controversy will undoubtedly have implications for the future of game development and the expectations of fans regarding the authenticity of voice performances in their favorite titles.