Weekly Famitsu magazine issue #1713, released today on September 30th, features the first interview in a series with Shin Megami Tensei V art director and character designer Masayuki Doi about the game’s new character and demon designs.
In this first edition of the interviews about character designs, Doi discusses the protagonist in his human form, his partner Aogami, their united form known as Nahobino, the new demons Amanozako, Nuwa, and Idun, and the mysterious combatant Shohei Yakumo.
Protagonist (Human Form)
It was around 2016, I believe, when I designed the main character of this game. Originally, we planned to release the game around the Olympic year . so we could predict the growing interest in Japan worldwide. Therefore, the main character’s design was also based around the concept of “Japanese-ness,” so that it would be popular around the world.
The use of navy blue, sharkskin patterns, and floral patterns in the school uniform is a strong indication of this, but there is another worldview that comes into play. This is very much a spoiler, so please consider it after playing the game.
The protagonist of the game merges with Aogami and becomes known as Nahobino. For this reason, I had to consider the contrast between him and Aogami moving forward. Compared to the mature male image of Aogami’s, the protagonist is characterized by a feminine appearance with a strong sense of aestheticism, designed to be literate and intelligent, while Aogami gives the impression that he’s a good fighter. As a result, the protagonist has a unique atmosphere that is typical of “Megaten,” in a sense.
Nahobino is the united form between the protagonist and Aogami, and will be the game’s main character. Since Nahobino is a god of unity, it was difficult to create a distinctive design for their figure, so I used the original concept for their design. The white curves on the body represent the environment, often used as a motif in ancient pre-Christianity religion around the world. It’s an expression of reverence for the primal life force, and it was chosen because it is appropriate for Nahobino, the god of union.
The hair, which is the most eye-catching feature, is also a manifestation of Nahobino’s life force. This is because hair has been considered sacred since ancient times, said to be the source of vitality with transcendent abilities. Also, for reasons I can’t explain in detail yet, the long hair is also compared to the flow of water. The blue lines on their body also represents the flow of water, and I think we can consider their connection to water. I hope you will try to guess what this means for Nahobino’s identity…
Aogami’s identity is shrouded in mystery, as is his relationship with the protagonist and the fact that he becomes a Nahobino when he joins with the protagonist. The name “Aogami” was a joke that was often told during development, but this code-name like name was officially adopted. Of course, the name and the color of his hair have their own meaning, but that is still a secret.
To tell the truth, there is surprisingly little I can say about the design at this point (laughs). So I’ll just list the key words that I had in mind when designing it. First of all, the blue hair, the white body, the red and blue lines on his body, and the feather-like hem resembling a tailcoat. I guess that’s about it. If you are interested, please keep them in mind.
It is said that she was a goddess of creation in the Edo period, and there is only a graphic representation through a picture of her by Toriyama Sekien in the “Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki.” Although the theory that she is the ancestor of the Tengu is uncertain, it is interesting that she lacks a solid background, which is one of the reasons why I chose to use her.
In this game, we meet Amanozako at the beginning of the story, and she helps the player navigate the world in various ways. Because of this role, I wanted to give her a memorable appearance, like the Pixie that appeared at the beginning of Shin Megami Tensei III, rather than the terrifying demoness-like appearance of a Toriyama Sekien painting.
Taking a leap of faith from the legend that she was created by the male deity Susanoo, I tried to include an android-like appearance in the design, but it would have been interesting to go further and make her look more like a spherical jointed doll, rather than just turning her head hair into a helmet like Astro Boy.
She is a bewitching beautiful demon who works alongside Shohei Yakumo. She is the goddess of human creation in ancient Chinese mythology, and is depicted as a human-headed serpent in many iconographic materials. Nuwa is a rare demon design, and like the demon king Beelzebub in previous titles, we have prepared two different designs for her: one in human form, and one in demon form. This was done in consideration of her role as Yakumo’s companion.
She has been by Yakumo’s side since she was a child, so I guess she grew up while Yakumo was growing up (laughs). The figure of a human head and body is usually represented in iconographic materials as a snake in the lower half of the body, or as a snake’s tail sprouting directly from the head. In this game, I designed a hybrid version of this tradition, in which a snake tail sprouts from the human head, and by putting the body on the tail, the lower half of the body looks like a snake.
I hope you will find the interpretation interesting and a little different from Nuwa’s traditional image.
A character that stands with Nuwa in opposition of the protagonist. Other than his philosophy of action, he is shrouded in mystery. Overall, I designed him with an emphasis on the impression he gives when standing side by side with Nuwa. The red color on his uniform is an accent to make him look more like an ally when standing next to Nuwa.
His appearance is that of a police officer, except for the golden eyes, but the police uniform is intentionally designed differently from the modern one, as a means to emphasize that the design is more than a non-fiction police uniform. Incidentally, the the policemen who appear in addition to Yakumo also wear the same uniform (but without the cape and sword).
Stay tuned for more information on the meaning behind his differently colored eyes, or check it out for yourself when you play the game!
I wanted to create a demon with a different kind of cuteness, like Hanoun from Shin Megami Tensei II, so I chose this demon. Idun is a goddess in Norse mythology who takes care of the golden apples given to gods for their eternal youth. In this game, I tried to portray her as an idol-like figure, based on the image of her being pampered by the gods who want the apple.
The idol-like elements are not only expressed in her looks, but also in the poses and idle motions for her unique techniques. In the command screen during combat, if you don’t select anything for a certain period of time, she will start dancing (laughs).
To be honest, I know that there are pros and cons to this kind of design, but in order to find out what the tastes and tolerances of today’s “Megaten” fans are, we took the design in an extreme direction for this game.
The design was based on the traditional costumes of Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. I hope you can feel the Scandinavian flavor in every aspect of the design, even though it is a uniform in the style of folk costumes.
Shin Megami Tensei V will be released exclusively for the Nintendo Switch on November 11, 2021 in Japan and November 12, 2021 worldwide.