──First of all, please tell us about your role as an art director.
Yes. The role of art director is to direct concept and theme of the work throughout the general graphic. For me, I do draw my own design and image board personally too. As for『FINAL FANTASY XIII-2』, I am in charge of designing costume for “Lightning” the protagonist.
――Please tell us how the world of 『FINAL FANTASY XIII-2』was created?
This time, the story of『FF XIII-2』is about unraveling mysterious and serious expansion. And for that, I have been imagining whether or not darker theme would be more appropriate. In the previous work of『FINAL FANTASY XIII』, there are futuristic cities, and in order to look glamorous, the image color used was white. Choosing dull image contrasting to the previous one will not only distinct itself from the previous work, but it will also create its own uniqueness in this work.
――I see that there will also be new and unique cities appearing. How did you create this?
Firstly, the first step in creating game involves concept consisting of only very simple lines. From there it is rather difficult to properly explain ideas but slowly we can work bit by bit towards completion of the work. Along the way, we refer to real photographs to make our work look more realistic.
In this work, there will be a city called Valhara. It is the place where lightning fights with a mysterious sword fighter as seen in the initial trailer movie. As I desired to come out with a new image, while looking for reference material, a photograph of a city in Cuba inside a magazine has caught my attention. I think that place was probably…… Havana. Looking at the city ruins, I thought of collapsed building, which is rather closed to what I have imagined inside my mind. With reference to that, my concept has been consolidated.
――Next, please tell us about Lightning’s costume design.
Yes. There are three Art Directors, including myself, for the『FINAL FANTASY』series from『VI』to『XIII』. Usually, Nomura Tetsuya is always the core person in charge of character design, but this time, character design job is split among three of us, in order to shape more variation in『XIII-2』, thereby I was assigned to be in charge of designing costume for Lightning.
As a matter of fact, this was my first time being in charge of designing character. First, I checked characters that Nomura used to be in charge of and while thinking that it would be much better to just draw freely at once, I have developed a lot of ideas, such as objects that would give futuristic feel, tight-fitting suit, or even China dress. But it is very difficult to come to a conclusion. I even refer to my own drawing in the past that I drew as part of my interest as a reference. Indeed, I really tackle the challenge by taking out and sensing everything from my own drawing. While continuing with my work in such a manner, I discussed with Nomura and he gave suggestion such as「Something western, like Valkyrie, is also not a bad idea, I think」or「how about adding feather to waist」and finally I have completed it. It took total of about 1 ～ 2 months.
――How would you describe your completed image of Lightning in one sentence?
As we can see, the “feather” symbolizes Lightning in a delicate and light way. Incidentally, it is not just for the design, but also an effect of appearance scene with feather fluttering too.
――Did you take charge of any roles other than designing Lightning?
Yes, I also make fine adjustments in creating game modeling. Since I am in charge of directing, I do not have to actually create modeling data. As a director, I am also involved in movie part. I make a lot of modifications to the extent that I even make minor detailed adjustment to the camera work and lighting effect, so as to get closer to the complete work, as compared to my previous work.