4Gamer: Hashino, Komori and Yamai Atlus Developer 2016 Year-End Interview

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4Gamer has conducted their annual end-of-year games industry retrospective and prospective interview for 2016 and 2017, this time with 148 Japanese game creators.

Three of those interviewed are from Atlus: Katsura Hashino (Persona series), Shigeo Komori (Etrian Odyssey series) and Kazuyuki Yamai (Shin Megami Tensei series).

Last year’s 4Gamer interview with Atlus developers can be read here.

Katsura Hashino (Atlus – Creative Producer & Game Director)

Major titles: Shin Megami Tensei III: NocturneCatherinePersona 5

<Question 1> Among the games released in 2016, which were you the most impressed (or surprised) by?

Title Name: Pokémon GO

When it was first released, I saw that the city had completely changed, and it felt like I entered into Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ.” It was so shocking and thrilling.

<Question 2> What was the most impressive piece of entertainment content released in 2016?

A lot of people are likely to say the same, and I do not know if they will be thought of again in the future… but the two works would be “Shin Godzilla” and “Your Name.” Different from the medium of games, and both works are also of a different genre but, at the same time, I felt commonality in that they were enthusiastic about the people of Japan. I was able to have fun seeing them while feeling that there were various messages to take from them, such as taking a stance regarding the future of creation, while also including customers’ reactions.

<Question 3> In 2016, what person did you personally focus on?

Kou Shibusawa, who celebrated his 35th anniversary of Creation this year. The thing that I and others are taking attention to is a person who is brash, but his loving approach to creation is both stimulating and encouraging.

<Question 4> What resolution do you have for 2017, and a message for the 4Gamer readers.

In 2016, we were able to fulfill the release of the “latest Persona title” thanks to a lot of support. The series was able to welcome the advent of the “20th anniversary” this year but, as an effort to make Atlus’ “future” more “exciting,” titles won’t only continue for this series. Indeed, I’d like to start a new RPG project.

For those who don’t know Atlus, trying to create fantasy is a challenge… It might be said “That does not come to mind at all” (laughs). On the contrary, someone who is in the know will probably think to some extent “Oh, is this okay?”, “A mature contemporary drama is going to be made!” Although likely reactions are, “Indeed, finally…”, “Well, I thought as much.” There are also people who have expectations of us as expected… but with an attempt to privately manage them.

Honestly, being late to it is also a good place to be, and since there are only staff members who are inexperienced with this new genre, despite their many works, I would like to challenge this with the intention of borrowing from the minds of great pioneers. I have just started, so I’m happy if it becomes a small appetizer in the industry for the time being. Please come and join us next year, thank you!

Shigeo Komori (Atlus – First Production Director)

Major titles: Etrian Odyssey V: The End of the Long Myth

<Question 1> Among the games released in 2016, which were you the most impressed (or surprised) by?

Title Name: Final Fantasy XV

In 2016, I feel like many large titles were released. There were numerous games that impressed me, but if I had to choose one, it would be FFXV, which is the 15th numbered title released after 29 years since 1987. I was taken by the length of the history and the creation behind the latest title. I’ve only played up to the middle of the game so far, but I’d like to play it until the end.

<Question 2> What was the most impressive piece of entertainment content released in 2016?

“Your Name”

It was talked about a lot on the internet, like on Twitter, immediately after the screening. After that, I caught up on the news and I learned that the number of people who were going to see it was increasing steadily. I felt that it was a surprising work, with pleasant imagery combined with beautiful scenery and music, as well as a box office income that continues to grow with a good track record.

<Question 3> In 2016, what person did you personally focus on?

The author [Issui] Ogawa. I’ve been reading various novels after when my work finishes and I’ve been enjoying science fiction. The first thing I read was the book “Old Vohl’s Planet.” I felt it was very easy to understand its story. In 2016, I read through Ogawa’s works in order. It’s very fun to stimulate the imagination when reading SF works.

<Question 4> What resolution do you have for 2017, and a message for the 4Gamer readers.

In 2017, the Etrian Odyssey series will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Thank you very much for all of you who have supported the series so far, enabling it to continue. Thank you for your continued patronage of Etrian Odyssey.

Kazuyuki Yamai (Atlus – First Production Director)

Major titles: Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

<Question 1> Among the games released in 2016, which were you the most impressed (or surprised) by?

Title Name: Pokémon GO

I honestly admire and am also envious of this exemplary AR game that links with reality, as someone on the Megaten side who is also pursuing the same directionality with consumer software. Whenever I’m sending duplicate Pokemon to the Professor, I was playing with the image in mind of strengthening the character by doing the “Sacrificial Fusion” in “Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne.”

<Question 2> What was the most impressive piece of entertainment content released in 2016?

“X-Files 2016”

“Shin Godzilla” too. A good thing is the change in style that reflects conspiracy theories, reflecting the society of the 2010s. There are also feelings that reality is leading the charge, with things like ECHELON, but by all means, I want the series to overtake it.

“United States of Japan”

“Your Name” too. There’s a scene where the U.S. military believes they were defeated because of Sumeramikoto’s spirituality, and the representation of the giant robo “Mechas” somehow reminded me of “Teito Monogatari”; I like the balanced feeling it evokes, which pays respect to Philip K. Dick.

<Question 3> In 2016, what person did you personally focus on?

METAFIVE

You have no choice but to love this unit, with Yukihiro Takahashi, an Uncle of Rock Techno, as a member. As a result, I’ve been following LEO Imai for a long time. It makes me nostalgic for a long time ago, when I sang YMO’s hit songs by Yukihiro Takahashi with “Majin Tensei” composer Hidehito Aoki at a karaoke…

<Question 4> What resolution do you have for 2017, and a message for the 4Gamer readers.

This year I released Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse in February, so it was a very fulfilling year where everyone got to play it and I received a lot of feedback. Even though it’s been more than 10 months since the release, I have been impressed by long play times and I cannot thank you enough. Thank you again.

Well, next year the “Shin Megami Tensei” series will celebrate its 25th anniversary. We encourage cheers from everyone, and I believe we’ll be able to respond to people’s valuable opinions even a little, and I think we’ll be able to do various kinds of events.

4Gamer