I do my censorship for three reasons:
For one, it's personal. I'm running into content constantly that I find annoying, insulting, or that I flat out disagree with in games. Very often I have to put up with things like Zanza in Xenoblade in order to enjoy the rest of the game which is absolutely amazing otherwise. Another example which came up more recently was with Persona 5 where
I'll always take out or carefully get around content I personally disagree with.
The second reason is that I try to remove content that may turn away some players. My goal is to appeal to as many players as possible and maximize their enjoyment of the game. Naturally, I had to take away some things or slightly alter details to make a more comfortable experience. Kary Cristil comes to mind... Liam was also a big debate, but in the end, I went with what'd be the least confusing for players. I still have half a mind to go back, add the ponytail from the cover art in and go with "Lia" instead.
The third reason is... authenticity, and of course, "for teh luls". I wanted my localized games to look and feel like real Nintendo games, not like a fan translation you downloaded off the internet. Sabrina having a bit of blood come from a sword wound in the head was not something that bothered me paticulary, but removing it was what Nintendo would've done. I also had no issue with the Pistol in the game, but after some consideration from a certain unnamed idol uberfan's rant, I decided to finally make it a "blaster" instead. After all, if 4Kids taught us anything, it's that a weapon becomes "less violent" when it's a laser version of iteslf (or a pointed finger).
It's also funny. Onigiri become jelly-filled donuts and what not. The only thing I don't do is omit the words "death", "kill", and "die".
I did't even realize that "Iromono" was actually a reference to something! I thought it was just a name! I localized him as the Pop Czar Feld, to give his name the same "wacky, strange" feeling. Czar also sounds very similar to the word "star", which sets up a humorous contrast. I also make puns with the word, like "Feld's Czarmy", and his mighty "Czword". It also works that Sabrina
, with the same joke.
Oh yes, and Dark Lord Iromono's Four Heavenly Kings became Feld's Four Friends, because I couldn't help myself!
Like you said, no one would know what Iromono is. Very few people are going to get the ideas of Japanese idol culture, or what Yokai are. All of the random pop culture references are going to be lost or meaningless to a majority of the game's audience. I believe that people who will appreciate that content ought to be playing the Japanese version instead.
If you try to make this game into English and try as hard as possible to change nothing, you're going to end up with a product that's 70% of the original. My goal is to try and bring the product back up to a 100%, whatever that takes. The original author(s?) of this game's text had a voice. When you translate the text, that voice is lost. It's my job to try and bring a voice back to the text, not so the players understand what is being said, but enjoy what is being said. My primary loyalty is first to the player, not the original script. I try to think, "Is the player going to enjoy having these characters begin every sentence with the same phrase? Or should I use that space to to convey the character's personality as well as the line's intended meaning?" In this same regard, I also try to improve the game if it is in my ability so as to give players the optimal experience. That means graphical enhancements where necessary (LaSalle Ishii's Childs Quest, as I've read, was widely regarded as having terrible graphics, which I tried to alleviate), removing frustration, and making sure the player can understand without needing to Google anything.
Another factor that goes into how I localize games now is what the game's purpose is. I have to decide: Why will people play this game? Pop Star Debut (アイドル八犬伝), is a game driven by its plot and its characters. Japan is just a setting; the enjoyment doesn't hinge on taking place in Japan. Random players aren't going to stumble upon this game and go, "Gee, what a kakkoi game about idols and Japan. I'm going to learn about Japanese culture by playing this". Regardless of the names, some jokes, and the locations, it's still a silly parody game about a young girl with dreams. While "idol culture" is a thing in Japan, it's not something the average American flipping through games on a list is ever going to have heard of. However, we do have stories about young girls with aspirations of becoming pop stars/singers. I simply related the basic Japanese plot into a much more familiar plot. By chaning all Japanese names to names more natural-sounding in English, this allows the players to not be deterred by the culture barrier and focus on the "star" of the game: the humor and plot.
I don't make translations for other translators: I make translations for people who don't translate themselves. To me, a game is well localized when you don't even realise it was localized at all.
All of this to say why I do what I do. Hopefully you can understand now.
Oh yes, and I definitely think you should've gone with "Idol Octavian", so the title will at least be in English.
I also considered "Pop Star Dreams", "Pop Star Hero", and "Pop Star Odyssey", until deciding to go with something that ties it to a certain other Natsume game about another girl with dreams...
Also, if you know a way I can easily fit in some real lyrics to the songs, please let me know! I'm well aware the songs are crap here, as space was the biggest issue I had.
. "Nova Girl" needs real lyrics, not just "La la la!"
One last thing while I'm spilling my guts! If you won't play it, at least watch the rest of my playthrough of the translaton, even if you skip around! You might be surprised at what I secretly changed, managed to discreetly reference, or mistranslated because of my lower-level Japanese skills!