Kazuma Kaneko Works I – Interview

Nobuaki Takerubu (2004). “Kazuma Kaneko Works I Plus”. Kazuma Kaneko Works I. Shinkigensha: Tokyo, pp. 1-4.

KKW1 - Kazuma Kaneko 1



– In this first Kazuma Kaneko Works artwork from ‘Shin Megami Tensei’ (henceforth ‘SMT1’) is published. When did you draw these?

Kaneko: At the time, I had about one month until the development was wrapped up. It would serve as promotional material in magazines, which meant the drawings had to be able to sell [the game]. With that in mind, I started drawing.

– Even if we call it artwork, it did lead to pixel art, right? Due to the small capacity of ROMs at that time, to draw so many must have been tough… The same goes for the original artwork, you produced a great many.

Kaneko: No, really. Within this limited capacity, we had to combine shapes and colours of approximately 300 demons with individual differences, as if it were a puzzle. A most difficult technique. The original artwork just couldn’t take any time, if I’d been lazy, we would’ve missed time we didn’t have. That’s why I used markers as drawing materials.

– You would work faster by using markers?

Kaneko: Even though there are tools for quick drying oil paintings, the drying process still would take too much time. By using markers, recovery would be much easier. First of all, I started making line drawings. By making copies of the drawings, I’d be fine even if I made a mistake during the colouring. With this method I could prioritise drawings in a short timespan.

– Do you still using markers these days?

Kaneko: I do. I just don’t use them when drawing packaging or poster artwork. It’s an essential part of my designing process… For example, when I start working on the colouring of a main character, I use markers to create a rough image before I start colouring with precision on the computer. Honestly, markers are still more brisk.

– Apart from the speed, what are other merits of using markers?

Kaneko: The result gives off a rough touch. Whenever you think something needs to be corrected, you can do it over and over again with CG. However, in the case of markers, well, you still would be able to correct it, but you would be like: “Do I want to start over again from the beginning? I don’t think so.” This way the illustration stays the way it is.

– There’s also wearisome CG, isn’t there?

Kaneko: Even if we call it CG, there are still a variety of drawing styles, such as oil painting or watercolour painting . The place where I end up is is a bit like a calligrapher writing a single character, like “This, what is this? I have no idea what it is, but it’s unexpectedly amazing!” is what I’m trying to aim at. (laughs)

– A territory only the master knows, right? (laughs) Returning to our conversation, have you worked on aspects of SMT1 other than the artwork? 


KKW1 - Kazuma Kaneko 2Kaneko: There isn’t that much honour [trans. note: it literally says mianzi, a Chinese sociological concept, similar to ‘face’], decisions were made by the entire staff. In the beginning, everyone was excited like “Let’s make a Super Famicom game with the company’s brand on it!”. Then my role was like “I want to do it like this and that”. That also decently summed up the feelings of the rest of the staff. For example, the Self Defense Forces committing coup d’etat, Gotou communicating through the [Shinjuku] Alta, the public execution, demons eating the mother… Such trivial events were being decided on my own images and the feeling of what was possible, yes.

– From that moment onward, the Megaten series became based on reality, didn’t it?

Kaneko: It was probably around that time that we felt that we wanted to break with the status quo. Precisely because I was young, I was dissatisfied. “What do you want, pops? Why do you oldfags all look and walk the same?” or something along those lines. If I really think about it now, I used to be a cheap youth.

– Are you troubled by the gap between your ideals and reality?

Kaneko: I am, but I’m not going to blame others for it. But even so, destruction is inevitable, so I’m just waiting. That’s why in the game you wake up in reality and can’t do whatever you feel like because you have to rely on yourself in the end… That’s the kind of theme we constucted.

– I would like to ask something about the game’s hero, which also serves as the player’s alter-ego, especially about the name not being predetermined.

Kaneko: During the development stages, [they were named] Futsuo (hero), Yoshio (law hero), Waruo (chaos hero), and the heroin was called Futsuko. Subsequently, Lilith (Yuriko) was named Waruko.

– Seriously? (laughs)

Kaneko: Seriously. During the development, we were discussing it like “Here Futsuo’s doing this, Waruo’s doing that…”.

– The hero wears garments from the near future, isn’t he?

Kaneko: In Futsuo’s time a cyberpunk-esque world view is coming into fashion. Futsuko has a futuristic image as well. As something like a protector, she is illustrated wearing American Football-inspired equipment with a cloak wrapped around her.

– What about Waruo and Yoshio?

Kaneko: After those two meet with Futsuo, the weapons they hold will gradually change, but their garments remain fairly ordinary. Waruo’s image is unsophisticated. He loves wearing army clothing and his posture is often poor.

– But isn’t he popular?

Kaneko: That’s true. He changed in order to become cool.


As you progress through the game, you will probably develop some kind of sympathy toward Waruo’s way of thinking. I did tell the development team I wanted to evoke the image of a terrific and unpleasant fellow. Speaking of which, I also designed Kei Nanjou from Megami Ibunroku: Persona [known as Nate in the localised version as Revelations: Persona] to be a highly detestable guy, but I guess he became the most popular character in the end?

 – Yoshio and Waruo undergo metamorphoses, don’t they?

Kaneko: Yoshio, who had his brains restructured, is wearing clothing from the Order of Messiah. I wanted to mimic priestly garbs, but I had no concrete shape in mind. […] Style-wise, isn’t it a bit Gucci-ish? Something like that. (laughs) Waruo is more along the lines of “Ora, Gokuu!” [trans. note: this is a reference to Dragon Ball‘s protagonist Son Goku’s catchphrase to tease the next episode at the end of one], with the attire of [Dragon Ball character] Piccolo. The hair style was something that came to be in the process as well, with the staff saying stuff like “how about something similar to when a Saiyan transforms into a Super Saiyan?”. Actually, we considered having Waruo switch between human and demon, but that idea eventually led to the recently released D.D.S. [Digital Devil Saga]. I’ve been wanting to have this human-demon unification for so long, and this dream finally became a reality.

– If you’re going to promote new games, I’ll run out of paper very quickly! (laughs)

Kaneko: Eh? Oh well…

– Thank you very much. Next time, I would like to unveil the secrets to the poses and colours for demons.

Kaneko: Oh, really? Well, I’m looking forward to it!


―画集1冊目は「真・女神転生(以下真I )」の原画を掲載することになりますがにれらはいつ頃描かれたんですか?



金子:いや、ほんと。数もそうなんですが、限られた容のなかで、形や色をパズルのように組み合わせて約300 体の悪魔の個体差を出すのは、至難の技なんですよ。原面にしても時間がかけられない、へタすればミスしている時間もない。ということで画材はマーカーになったんです。






金子:タッチは結果的に荒くなるんですよ。CGはどうしても直したいなと思ったら、いくらでも直せるんで。でもマーカーの場合、まぁ直せはするけど「最初からやり直すのかよッ? いいやコレで」っていうとこがあったりするわけですよ。その辺が、そのまま絵として残っちゃうわけで。このハプニングを味って言いかたしちゃえば、味になるのかと。


金子:一口にCGといっても油絵風、水彩画風とか描きかたもいろいろあるし。いきつくところは、それこそ書道家みたいに一文字ガーッと書いただけで「コレ、何だろ引 なんだか知んないけど、とんでもなくスゴいゾ」って、そういうのを狙ってるんだけど(笑)




で何でも決めていったんですよ。最初は「自社プランドで、スーフアミ版を作るのダ引」みたいに盛りあがって。そこでは「こういうのやりたい、ああいうのやりたい」と言い出すのが、俺の役割だったかな。それを他のスタッフが、うまくまとめてくれたという感じ。たとえ ばま自衛隊がクーデーターを起こすとか、ゴトウがアルタで演説するとか、公開処刑とか、悪魔がお母ちゃん喰っちゃってるとか……そういう細かいイベントは、自分のイメージにあるものをバァッと言って「これはありえる、ありえない」っていう感じで決めてきました。ハイ。
















だと思うんだけど。開発スタッフ的にはスゲエいやなヤツというイメージで作ってるんだけど。ちなみに「女神異聞録 ベルソナ」の南条も、はっきりいっていやなヤツとして描いているんだけど、一番ウケがいいんだよね。


金子:設定上脳改造されているよしおはメシア協会の服だね。司祭風の服装をまねて描いたんだけど、具体的な形がわかんなくて。ま、中はマッパー(はだか)ですけど。今風にいうと、グッチ風? どこがやねん(笑)。わるおは「オラ、ゴクウ」風です。ピッ〇 ロとかの道衣風ですね。髪型も最初はコレじゃなくて、スタッフから「サ〇 ヤ人がスーパーサ〇ヤ人になるじゃん、そんな感じにしろよッ」みたいなこと言われて。ちなみにわるおは悪魔と合体してるんだけど、今度発売する 「D.D.S*」の元ネタなんだよね。人合体はずっとやりたかったんだけど、ようやく実現したって感じ。





* D.D.S=DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA アバタール・チューナー 2004年7月15日発売