Sakaguchi-san, how do you go about putting together your team?
For me, illustrations for the look of the game and its characters are extremely important. I sat down with Fujisaka-san, who has joined us today, and worked together on the process of fleshing out the graphic images for The Last Story. Fujisaka-san’s artwork is what made the gameworld possible.
...Now, Fujisaka-san, I’m very sorry for making you wait so long! (laughs)
Not at all! (laughs)
At long last we’ve got a chance to ask a question to Fujisaka-san. (laughs) Would you mind briefly introducing yourself?
My name is Kimihiko Fujisaka. (laughs) I was responsible for character design on The Last Story.
Your images have a lot of fans, staff here at Nintendo amongst them. I’ve heard lots of people commenting on how appealing the graphics are.
Thank you very much.
What sort of requests does Sakaguchi-san make when you set to work on the graphics?
Well, I’m not sure I’d call it a request… At the start, we had a simple outline of the plot, and Sakaguchi-san would ask me: ‘What do you picture at this point?’ So I’m afforded a lot of leeway to go ahead and do things in my own way.
How long have the two of you known each other, incidentally?
About three or four years, I’d say.
We haven’t actually known each other all that long. That’s why I’m rather humbled to be able to take part in this discussion with Sakaguchi-san.
Oh, come now! (laughs)
At what point did you get involved in this project?
I was involved in this project right from the very start. But because Sakaguchi-san lives in Hawaii, and as I thought of him as being quite a distant figure I was a little worried at first as to whether we’d be able to communicate successfully with each other. But actually, once development was under way, that fear subsided and we made steady progress. I came to feel that Sakaguchi-san was someone who broadened the scope of my images.
So you feel he expanded your potential.
That’s right, and that meant I enjoyed creating those images even more.
I’m a really big fan of his work, particularly his images of female characters. You know, that picture with her in profile… Well, if a woman like that really existed, I’d be completely bowled over! (laughs)
(laughs) I did hear several people at the office say: ‘I think I might have fallen for her...’
You could fall for her alright.
(quietly) Hmmm… I wonder…
(with conviction) I’m telling you, she’s great!
So, Sakaguchi-san, I understand you met Fujisaka-san by way of a previous job, and that’s how you came to work with him.
Yes, that’s right.
So am I right in thinking you enjoyed the process of seeing the world you’d imagined being materialised by Fujisaka-san?
Yes, I did, though there were actually cases where the gameworld and personalities of the characters were adjusted to fit with the character images Fujisaka-san had come up with.
Oh, is that right? That’s rather surprising. I’d assumed that Sakaguchi-san had conceived the image of the entire gameworld right from the start.
No, that isn’t the case. If I see something I like, I’ll put it in there, even if someone else has come up with it. It’s like the way that someone making a film or staging a play would adapt things depending on who the actress was. So if that actress has a certain unique style, they’ll want to make the most of it.
So if you had an actor with a particular appealing expression or acting style, you’d then weave the story around them in order to bring their strengths to the fore.
That’s right. The images that he creates really do have that kind of appeal. So I was really grateful to have Fujisaka-san on the team, rather than just merely feeling it was fortunate to have him with us. It was in large part due to his abilities that the graphics in The Last Story turned out as they did. (turns to Fujisaka) What is it? You’re at a loss for words after getting all that praise?
…I-I am a little embarrassed. (laughs)
How long have you been involved in the games industry for, Fujisaka-san?
This is my eleventh year. My career has been pretty short, compared with a lot of others in the industry.
Well, I wouldn’t say that. Now, you’ve worked with people besides Sakaguchi-san, haven’t you?
Yes, I have. Before this project, I’d done a lot of work in software development companies working on the data side, at the same time as designing characters.
So working with Sakaguchi-san meant a major shift in the way you were working. That must have been exciting.
Yes, it was. Both the method of working and the structure of the project were new to me. Experiencing so much for the first time meant that I was just really excited and happy to be a part of it.
Working alongside Sakaguchi-san, what sort of impression did you get of him?
Let me think… Well, what you see is what you get, I suppose! (laughs)
If you’ll forgive this expression, I’d say he’s a lot like the nice older kid who lives next door.
That’s good! I like that! (laughs)
But when you’re working alongside him, you sense this real vitality. I feel like I was energised by this, and that he managed to get a lot out of me.
Sakaguchi-san is bursting with this vast energy that serves to fire up those around him. The impression I get is of all this energy that’s charged up and then unleashed over the course of the development process. Fujisaka-san, what was it like to witness this first-hand?
It really is non-stop. No sooner had we finished one thing than he’d be straight on to the next. He’s the first person I’ve ever encountered who had this level of energy. I felt that I was being pulled along in his wake, or rather that I had to try to keep up.
So is that what you mean when you spoke about him getting a lot out of you?
That’s right. Sakaguchi-san is not the type to say much. That’s why you really feel this powerful urge to surprise him or get him to say: ‘Wow, that‘s great!’ When he thinks something good he’ll say so, but when he’s not impressed, he isn’t so forthcoming… (laughs)
I don’t say anything, do I? (laughs)
You can tell that you’re going to have to go back to the drawing board. (laughs)
Still, I think this way of doing things actually worked out really well.
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