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Interview with Daisuke Ishiwatari and Toshimichi Mori the creators of the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series

Date: 2010 June 13 13:46

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On the memorial day weekend at Fanimecon, a bay area anime convention in San Jose California, I had the privilege of sitting down with both Daisuke Ishiwatari and Toshimichi Mori of ARC System Works. The studio that brought you the Guilty Gear series and BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger and the soon to be released BlazBlue:Continuum Shift.

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Ishiwatari is the driving force behind the Guilty Gear series; a busy man with many contributions to the series including character design, game mechanics, storyline editor, music, and even voicing the main character Sol Badguy. The second in command is the newcomer Toshimichi Mori who dipped his hands into the pool of 2D fighters by creating the highly anticipated and admired BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, which has quickly left its mark on the fighting game community and has seem to brought back the love for 2D gaming in our ever growing 3D gaming world. With it's colorful cast of characters, epic story, beautiful music, and stunning visuals, it gives any other fighting game a run for it's money.

When I was given the chance to pick the brains of these two fighting game wizards, I was enthralled and terrified at the same time. What would I say to them? What will they think of me? To my delight, they were very nice and had an air of non-threating appeal which made the interview an extreme pleasure! The two could not speak English so they had a translator help break down the barrier and keep things rolling. Here is the discussion we had:

BlazBlue Artwork

Dallas Marshall: Thank you so much for your time, I am Dallas Marshall with Otaku News and I must say that I am a huge fan of both the Guilty Gear series and BlazBlue.

Toshimichi Mori & Daisuke Ishiwatari: Thank you very much.

DM: This question is for Ishiwatari-san. What inspired you to create the guilty gear series?

DI: Well, I always wanted to create a game and secondly, I always loved the dramatic art and style of manga and anime and wanted to create a game which emphasized that. So I guess that is what got me started on creating guilty gear.

DM: The next question is for Mori-san. What inspired you to create such wonderfully unique characters?

TM: To be honest, I just created characters that I thought would be interesting.

DM: Yeah, I noticed that you created some very fun and some fans might even say weird characters. But that is what makes the game so cool and interesting is the unique and stylish characters.

TM: I took some advice from Ishiwatari-san and created characters that would be instantly recognizable based on a silhouette design creating an instantly recognizable character.

DM: So you get an overall idea and snap! Build upon a character adding more and more as time goes on?

TM: Not exactly, you create a character without the fancy details based upon a shadow so that the shadow becomes instantly connected with the character. I was told to make at least one trademark of the character, one symbol for the character which would make it unique and so you could tell it apart.

DM: I see, so it's very distinct silhouette that is instantly received in the mind making it easy to recognize that character.

TM: Exactly!

BlazBlue Artwork

DM: That is really cool. Speaking of characters, I personally enjoy playing as Noel Vermillion, yet some say that she is a cheap button mashing character. What is your take on that?

TM: That was actually intentional! (Laughs) Noel was actually the first character to be designed and she was created with the intention of pushing buttons and learning how to use her and the buttons in general.

DM: So, a prototype?

TM: She eventually evolved from the prototype, but she was in fact the prototype.

DM: So it would be safe to say that she is more of the main character than Ragna the Bloodedge, correct?

TM: (Laughs) Noel was the prototype character so in a sense the game was designed around her, but as for being a main character. In order to create a main character, you need to make them stand out and while the game system is designed around Noel, she really is not that complex of a character, She was not designed to be the main character.

DM: This is directed to Ishiwatari-san. I heard that you made a lot of the music to the Guilty Gear series, am I correct?

DI: Actually. All of it (Laughs)

DM: That's great! In the series there is a lot of rock and heavy metal music, are there any bands inside or outside of Japan that have influenced you, what are your biggest influences?

DI: I was heavily influenced by such bands as Holloween and Judas Priest, have you ever heard of them?

DM: Judas Priest, yes, Holloween, no. Is that a Japanese band?

DI: German actually; Oh, and Queen has inspired me as well!

DM: Queen? Interesting mix up of bands you have there! I would like to ask Mori-san a question next.

TM: Go ahead

DM: It has been said by fans and people inside the video game industry that BlazBlue is the spiritual successor to Guilty Gear, how do you feel about this?

TM: It's a hard question to answer, but I wanted BlazBlue to stand on it's own to create a new type of game. I tried to set it apart from Guilty Gear and create a new series of my own. I also noticed that Guilty Gear was more for the hardcore gamers, so I wanted to create something that would be easier for newcomers to get into.

DM: I noticed that. BlazBlue is simple enough for new fans to get into and to learn how to play, yet is is enough of a new challenge for veterans to get into as well. The game provides a very nice balance.

TM: Well, good luck! (Laughs)

DM: I personally enjoy playing 2D fighting games, more than 3D ones to be exact. A lot of fans agree with me on this and as an artist, I wanted to know your take on that.

TM: There is a different "soul" put into your work with hand drawn animation.

DI: I get what he is trying to say, its like you put more of your soul into it, more of your heart. With a computer however it is more of the machine doing the creation more than you are.

TM: The easiest way to put MY heart and soul into something is to draw it by hand.

DM: I agree. The way I see it, I like 2D animation more than 3D because there is a sense of purity about it. Whereas, 3D animation comes off as just being mass produced, it just seems that way.

DI: It just seems that 2D allows me more of a chance to express myself. Not that I have anything against 3D.

DM: I have a question for Ishiwatari-san. Do you have any more plans for the future when it comes to the Guilty Gear series, or any other game plans in general?

DI: I actually plan on completing the Guilty Gear series, but there are a few kinks that need to be worked out first. Northing in the works yet, but I'm planning on doing it. Eventually. (Laughs)

DM: How did you obtain the privilege of getting the Guilty Gear series out into the market? How did you become a game designer?

DI: Gaming has become too complex, there are a lot of middle men getting involved so it is harder to break into the business. Back in the day, the one who had the loudest voice got the job (Laughs)! I put forth the most effort, so I got the job.

DM: With BlazBlue some fans have complained that there are only twelve characters in the game. Is there a reason why there are only twelve when most other fighting games have at least twenty?

TM: (Laughs) Well, I would like to have more than that, but on a good note, Continuum Shift will have three more characters.

DM: Do you plan on ending the series after the second, or will there be a third one? Will you continue on with the BlazBlue universe?

TM: If it makes a lot of money I will! (Laughs)

DM: Your chances are looking good! BlazBlue has a really strong fan base here in the United States.

TM: I am happy to hear that BlazBlue is doing well in America, but due to unspeakable politics in Japan (Laughs) a third one will all depend on if the second ones sales are high as well!

Source: Otaku News
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