Kazuma Kaneko Works II – Interview

Nobuaki Takerubu (2006). “Kazuma Kaneko Works II Plus”. Kazuma Kaneko Works II. Shinkigensha: Tokyo, pp. 1-4.

KKW2 - Kazuma Kaneko Interview– This time, the theme of our conversation is the poses and colourings in your works, but before that, let’s discuss the details of developing Shin Megami Tensei II (henceforth ‘SMT II’), for which we’ve been able to see the artwork in this second Kazuma Kaneko Works. SMT II is a sequel to SMT I, right?

Kaneko: That’s right. Well, during the planning stage, someone distinguished said “If you haven’t played and enjoyed the first one (SMT I), then don’t connect the games directly.” In other words, SMT II should be an interesting on its own. Following that train of thought, I came to understand SMT II as a story that’s loosely based on the future on SMT I.

– How long was this time gap assumed to be?

Kaneko: Personally I was thinking about ten years – roughly the time needed for reconstruction – but then the same distinguished person came up to me and said “If it’s not 100 years, it’s not going to happen.” We also had different ideas about the timeline. I myself strongly felt that cultures would have been significantly altered. I mean, I can’t even start to imagine what the world would be like in 100 years from now, or what is was like 100 years ago during the Meiji era (1868-1912). In the end, we settled for ‘numerous decades’.

– In comparison to SMT I, the number of drawings vastly increased for SMT II. Were you worried about getting the models and poses in order?

Kaneko: I think I already mentioned this last time, but pixel art is fundamentally the way to go.


And then there’s the problem of capacity, since it’s important to properly allocate your resources. Take the pixel art of the Twelve Heavenly Generals [of Yakushi Buddha], for example, which come in three different poses. After changing the colours of their armour, whatever they’re holding in their hands and replacing their heads, you end up with 12 different appearances. Since they come as a group, their ought to look a bit like one another. I should add, however, that all poses are different when I drew them on paper.

– How do you come up with all those variations in the poses?

Kaneko: Well, gravure idols for one, probably get their posing instructions from, say, the photographer. He has to research poses that suit that particular model every day, I guess. For the hand you draw with, poses are some kind of vocabulary you have to uphold. But where do I get my inspiration from? If we’re jumping to the conclusion, it’s films, manga and anime. The things I liked to look at as a kid always left a strong impression. Images of famous scenes often swarm around in my head, leading me to a feeling of “Yeah, let’s go with that.”

– Can you mention other sources that inspire you?

Kaneko: How about the music videos that started to appear when I was younger? One famous example is Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which had particularly inspiring dance moves. In older works, I let the childhood experience that I’ve saved up just flow out, but now I’ve ran out of those memories and until now, I never noticed al the wonderful stuff I’ve been able to watch.

– Are there any specifically from Japan?

Kaneko: There are plenty, like Kabuki, Noh and traditional arts. The poses at the end of a Kabuki act are really cool, don’t you think? I think anime and manga have adopted some of the Kabuki techniques.

– You also incorporated traditions from outside Japan, right? Like [the Hawaiian volcano deity] Pele in Devil Summoner.

Kaneko: And the hula dance, right? I have a profound interest in how each and every movement of the hand has a meaning, but cultural conventions in Polynesia affected the way in which the dance was introduced, which led to subtle differences between both sorts.

– If, for example, you’re drawing something Indian, do you actually go there or do you just watch a video of a traditional dance?

Kaneko: I’m afraid to go. (laughs)

– Because you’re afraid you’re not coming back? (laughs)

Kaneko: No, I probably won’t fit there personality-wise. I’m not the “Yes, let’s go to the interview!” type of guy. Even though I live in Tokyo, I don’t really get it. If I were to go the India, I would be even more lost. (laughs)


There are people, masters that know everything about India, who write travelogues or leave behind videos, so if I take a look at those, I’ll manage. I’d probably buy a DVD with all kinds of dances collected and check it on my TV. Having a little bit of variety in my references is what introduces me to surprising aspects of cultures. […] I have plenty of books that may resemble photo albums, but whenever I go to a bookshop, I always foolishly end up buying books like “Musical instruments of the mysterious world” for 30.000 JPY or something. These books are really expensive as they feature photographs of these mysterious instruments. And there are many other books stacked in large book stores. Hence, books are my biggest expenses. When I was younger I didn’t have the money to collect all these materials and just drew whatever I had memorised from films and manga.

– Apart from humans there are also, for example, plenty of demons based on for animals. Aren’t these terribly hard to draw?

Kaneko: Between the humans and animals, the latter can be quite bothersome. I think I’ve said this before, but birds are the worst.

– I see. Any particular reason as to why?

Kaneko: 絵にならなすぎるッ! They give me problems from the pixel art onwards. The most important reason is that they’re difficult in terms of variations. Whenever you’re walking through a dungeon in the game and to evoke the feeling that you’ve ran into a barn, the birds must have some kind of natural pose. But the possibilities are limited. How many are there? Are they hovering? Aside from this, the poses shouldn’t remind me too much of chickens, right? […] In my imagination weren’t the wings 




――今回のお話のテーマはボージングや彩色ですが、その前に画集の2冊目があつかう「真・女神転生II (以下真II)」の開発経緯について教えていただけませんか。真IIは真Iの続きということでいいんですよね?

金子:そうですね。実は、企画段階でおエライさんから「最初の奴(真I)をやってないと楽しめないだろ、つなげるな」と言われていたんです。真II 単体で面白くしなきゃいけないよ、と。ま、その通りなんですが、真Iの未来の話であるという、微妙なつながりということで納得I-てもらいました。






すね。そして容量の問題もあるんで、いかに使い回すかというのが重要だと。例えば十二神将のドット絵なんかは、だいたい基本的なポーズが3 パターンぐらいあって、ヨロイと持ち物の色を変え、頭をすげ替えて12体の差が出るように見せているわけですよ。グループだから体はそんな変わんねえだろうと。ただ、紙上で絵にしたときにはポーズも変えていますけどね。




金子:ミュージックビデオ? プロモーションビデオっていうものが若い頃に出始めていて・・・・・・わかりやすくいえばマイケル・ジャクソンの「スリラー」とかが有名だと思うんだけど、あのダンスの動きなんかは、参考にしましたね。ただ、過去の作品は、若い頃にためていたものを出してこれたんだけど、それを出し切ったあたりで、今まで見向きもしなかったものの凄さが見えてきたかなあと。














金子:絵にならなすぎるッ! ドット絵の段階から結構苦労するんですよ。一番の理由は、バリエーションがつけにくい。ゲームでダンジョン歩いていると、バーンと出会った感じにするために、鳥としてナチュラルなポーズじゃないといけないんで。そうすると限られてるんですよ。たたずんでるか、ホバリングしている感じか。それ以外、鳥のポーズってあんまり思い浮かばないでしょ?それから、猛禽類がかっこいいんで、よく登場させるんですけど、翼が想像以上にデカイじゃないですか、横幅が体の3,4倍ぐらいあるでしょ。ところがプログラム上の制約があって、そんなに横幅だすと、スプライトオーバーっていわれて、消えちゃうんですよ。で、どうするかっていうと、翼を斜め上に向けて、「俺反ってるぜえ」(笑)みたいなボーズにLないと納まらない。もI-くはr突っ込むぜえJ(笑)というポーズにLないといけない。鳥らしく描くには苦労しちゃうんですよ。ドット絵だけじゃなくて、イラストにするときも、A4サイズに描いているから、翼を横に広げるとつらいんですよ。翼がちっちゃくなっちゃうんです。なんとか、ごまかして描いているつもりだけど。それと、森に生息しているフクロウさんとかミミズクさんとかは、天然のカモフラージュのごとく、ものすごい模様してるでしょ。羽根の一本一本描くとなると、これはまた大変な騒ぎで、ね。彩色で失敗する時間もないんだけど、