During the recent Atlus Art Exhibit 2019, held in collaboration with Art Gallery Nucleus, Game Informer had the opportunity to interview Atlus art director Shigenori Soejima, who has worked on a large number of Atlus titles including Catherine, Persona 5 and the upcoming Project Re Fantasy.
Some excerpts of the interview can be read below.
Soejima considers Catherine to be something out of his comfort zone, and a large departure from Persona:
Catherine’s playful and seductive character design is what Soejima considers his “most challenging project.” It was so far from anything he had done before that he wasn’t even sure what to think when Hashino and the team presented their vision to him. “When they first approached me to design her, I really thought they were pulling my leg,” Soejima says laughing.
On the stylishness of the Persona series:
“When I look back at like maybe Persona 3, I don’t feel that it is that stylish,” he says. “We did introduce some graphic elements into it, but it’s not at that stylish level that we feel like everyone is talking about.”
He felt pressure to continue to raise the “stylish” bar for the series, due to fan reception.
Whilst side characters might need to be designed with certain characteristics in mind, for main characters, the visuals can come first:
“But for the main characters, in the case of Persona 5 for the Phantom Thieves, I actually started developing the visuals right when the director was saying that, ‘I’d like this story to center on these kids that are thieves.’
Kasumi Yoshizawa, the new Persona 5 Royal character, was designed as a more standard, female protagonist archetype:
“It’s always a challenge to actually bring in new elements to something that’s already loved by fans,” he says. “With Kasumi in particular, we wanted someone outside of the Phantom Thieves, [who is] viewing the situation from a whole different perspective.
Project Re Fantasy is, once again, something to let Soejima step out of his comfort zone:
“I’ve always loved fantasy, but once I started working on it, it became, ‘Well, what exactly is fantasy and how can we bring a meaningful fantasy game into this world? What can we bring to this sort of genre and game?’ There’s a lot of trial and error and thinking about this whole genre and how to [create] the design and I feel like we are finally at a place where we have a direction and are moving forward with it. Hopefully, we’ll have something to show everyone in the not so distant future. We’re creating something only we can bring to the table – a very unique design. [It’s] something for fans to look forward to.”
The full interview can be read at Game Informer.