Atlus Character Designer Shigenori Soejima Interview on Projects From 2010 – 2017, Artistic Process


Shigenori Soejima’s Frustrations

Are there things that you’re not satisfied with in the present, or things that you want to change?

Soejima: My concerns are related to the staff, so the Art Unit would be involved. While I’m not entirely frustrated, I want them to be able to do things on their own… though it’s a bit late to say that now. (laughs)

I’ve been refraining from saying this since you always talk jokingly about it, but Soejima-san, you mention “frustration” a lot. (laughs)

Soejima: No, I was completely serious. These are my real feelings on the matter. (laughs)

When in particular does working with the Art Unit frustrate you?

Soejima: It depends on the person.

So your frustration is different for each person?

Soejima: Precisely. Oribe-san’s art is so good, and her characters have punch in them, while Kabayashi-san’s love for fashion shows in the variety of her clothing designs. When I look at their art, I get frustrated, or more accurately, nervous. There would be no Art Unit without them, and I feel I need to distance myself, otherwise I’ll just depend on them more and more. (laughs)

If we were equals in our positions, I’d probably think of them as rivals, and I’d have to learn if I didn’t want to lose to them. But if they were higher rank than me, I’d end up relying on them a lot, like “Could you make this character’s outfit a bit more stylish?” Then when they actually do it, I come back to my senses, and get mixed feelings about it. (laughs)

It does seem complicated.

Soejima: Work is assigned to the right people for each task, and that’s really good. As individuals, however, it can generate feelings of frustration or indebtedness. But I actually think that that’s necessary.

And to whom is that frustration aimed at?

Soejima: More towards oneself as opposed to one’s talented peers.

What can be done to ease this frustration?

Soejima: Learning, certainly. One time, I asked Kabayashi-san to teach me about fashion, in exchange for anything that I can teach her in return. (laughs)

That’s interesting! So, what are abilities that you want in regards to drawing illustrations and designing characters?

Soejima: Confidence, maybe? The kind where I can look at my art and say, “This is good.” But I don’t think that will happen so long as someone else is receiving my work, so I at least want the confidence to say, “I can show this to everyone.”

Then again, confidence is something that comes from knowledge and experience, especially the former, so I suppose knowledge is what I really want.

Does publishing your work make you nervous?

Soejima: Yeah. I worry if my art got its point across as it’s being published, then feel relief afterwards. The idea to draw what your audience likes is not an original one, so even if I don’t feel uneasy, I don’t feel like I’ve won a battle either.

On the other hand, when a work I’m confident about is published and very well-received, the anxiety of showing it is still there, but I’m very happy to see that work become a hit.