What’s going on with the English version of Detective Pikachu Returns?

When playing through Detective Pikachu Returns in English, it’s hard not to notice some peculiarities. The voice-acted dialogue feels stiff and awkward, compounded by the simplistic visuals and cutscene direction. However, what truly stands out for many players is the mismatch between the characters’ lip movements and their spoken words. So, what led to this discrepancy?

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The Issue with Lip-Synching

It may come as no surprise, but the lip-synching appears this way because the developers designed it to align with the Japanese audio. Given that Detective Pikachu Returns is a Japanese-developed game, it’s likely that the Japanese dub was recorded and implemented before the English version. In the Japanese release, the mouth movements and audio match perfectly, as shown by Twitter user @tribdinosaur. However, the developers did not adjust the mouth movements for the English release, resulting in less natural dialogue scenes.

While some may find this mismatched lip-synching bothersome, it’s a common occurrence in Japanese games. Animate mouth movements to accommodate a single language is already time-consuming and labor-intensive, not to mention accommodating additional languages the game supports. Therefore, many games choose to maintain the same mouth movements regardless of the audio language selected in the options menu.

That being said, more Japanese games nowadays make the effort to reanimate mouth movements for different dubs, such as the recent Like a Dragon installments. Consequently, some may argue that the English dub in Detective Pikachu Returns should have undergone the same treatment to enhance the overall polish of dialogue scenes.

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Image: Nintendo