Anime Expo 2009 Day 2 – Ishiwatari and Mori’s Panel

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It was a nice and sunny day in LA to start my Day 2 of Anime Expo. After much disappointments of not getting Morning Musume’s autographs, I looked forward Day 2 with a lot more excitement from the day before and also looked forwad to Ishiwatari and Mori’s panel at 10:30am and was hoping I can get them to sign my Guilty Gear (GG) PS2 game. I arrived at the LA convention centre at 9am and started looking for cosplayers to take some pictures. In the morning, it was a perfect time to take some pictures because there weren’t many people yet.

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I saw a lot of people already at LA convention centre and they were all anxiously waiting for the Exhibitor/Dealer room to open at 10 am. After lurking around for cosplayers,

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The highlight of Day 2 was Daisuke Ishiwatari and Toshimichi Mori’s panel. They both worked on Blaz Blue fighting which was just recently released on ps3 and Ishiwatari-san is the original creator of Guilty Gear series. The panel was running for about 1 hour before the moderator had to interrupt to end it. The whole 1 hour basically consisted of QA session only and I pretty much enjoyed this panel due to in-depth questions asked by the audiences in general.

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The full length of QA session can be seen below which is about 52 minutes long.


If you don’t feel like spending 1 hour watching the video , you can read the transcript of QA session below:

Legends

Daisuke Ishiwatari : DA, Toshimichi Mori: TM and Audience Number x: A#

DA: The character design for fighting game is different from how it’s used to be and how it is today. Now, we start by coming up with what kind of attacks and abilities each character would have and then for example, a character would have a long reach or a long attack. We have to decide whether this character would have a weapon that would allow a long reach or whether his arm extends long and do the attacks.

A1: Hi, my question is what’s the story behind Bridget and could you imagine him being a popular character.

DA: Bridget is a new addition to Guilty Gear series of characters and there are already characters that are good looking ones , cools but we don’t have a cute character so that’s the inspiration. But a lot of fighting games already have cute characters so we want to have something that’s unconventional so that’s why we created a cute character that’s a guy. The big surprise was it didt not matter if the talking cute character was guy, there was a huge fan for talking cute character.

A2: I wonder how you got the moves name on Guilty Gear like master of puppet and rising force … and ride a lighting.

DA: Because I love it.

A3: Guilty Gear XX has had four different versions xx ,#reload, slash and Λ core. There has been rumour online that Arc. as a company, didn’t really have much to do with slash and Λ core. I want to know more if you could elabore more on that.

DA: They all are made by Arc but I was only personally involved up until reloaded and the subsequent series happened to be Mori’s work.

A4: This is more for Mr. Ishiwatari. I heard from various sources that Order Sol is your favourite character and that’s why you made him so cool and utterly awesome. Is there a truth in that? or …

DA: No, that’s not true.

A5: Hi, nice to meet you. My question is for Mr. Ishiwatari. In the gaming industry, what happened a lot is that when a fighting game is really popular that these game do not actually change much and they just go on on on the same thing over and over again but people still buy them because, you know, they are really into in it. My question was do you have anything to say about Guilty Gear debut on HD consoles being a different genre of gaming because it’s no longer fighting but more action oriented? I am just curious why Overture is an action game not a fighting game.

DA: When I jus got started designing games, I was very much influenced by Street Fighter 2 so that’s the fighting game that I wanted to make at that time but as Guilty Gears series went on, I started playing non-japanese games, I started to discover other genre of games for example, first person shooter or real time simulation so I came to realize to come up with genre of my own to see if that would gain popularity so that’s what Guilty Gear 2 is about.

A6: As a game designer, I would like to ask both of you. What drives you to put so many different mechanics in one game. Most fighting games, you have the super meter and everyone works of that but in your games, you have coins, wave, footing, steam and things like that. Why do you do that?

DA: When we were starting to design our game, this is not to badmouth our competitions but there are other games where you can have 50 characters but they were all interchangeable and they were like playing the same characters over and over. We want to have a character that’s really differentiable so each character has a unique system for gauging.

A7: I have a question related to Blaz Blue. If Tager is magnetic, why can he use a cellphone ?

DA + TM: *laughing*.

TM: You asked a very interesting question.

TM: He is capable of using a cellphone because it’s part of his abilities

A8: Hi, I want to ask what’s the most important trait for a game designer in the current industry. Do you have any advice for a young game designer?

DA: Now, there’s a lot of video games to choose from so it’s very competitive. Even if you come up with a great title, it will immediately be forgotten because there will be a new one that will come out afterward. This is my personal philosophy. I think video games would have a longevity and remember by players if it’s competitive and cooperative so you can play with other players. It’s something that I always insist on my design.

TM: Excuse me, I still have my answer. Are you interested in a video game industry?

A8: Actually, I am already in the video game industry.

TM: Wonderful. What you need is a spirit to come up with something great and that’s your motivation to keep on going. I hope you come up with a great product.

A8: Thank you.

A9: Do you based your games’ character designs on types of attack? Do you usually have a set number of characters you want to create then you go by what attacks you create or do you go vice versa, you have x amount of attacks and that determines how many characters per game?

TM: The basic flow is that we come up with the characters first then the attacks are filled in.

DA: Well first when we’re pitching a new idea for a new game. Lets say we want 12 characters and that’s when the president would tell us that 12 characters are too much and we don’t have a budget for that. That’s when we put up a fight and make sure we get 12 characters.

A10: I know Sol Badguy is like you. Were there any other characters that you recalled very fondly? Who the other characters that you’ve created that you like a lot?

DA: All characters are like my children but if you were to force me with an answer, that would be the main character, Sol Bad Guy.

TM: I was involved in both Guilty Gears and Blaz Blues but from Guilty Gear, I chose Dizzy. From Blaz Blue, my favourite character right now is Ragna.

A11: Personally, are you guys good at Guilty Gear X2 and I am just wondering what characters do you pick ?

DA: Do not believe that game developers themselves are very expert in playing the game but if I have to choose a character, I will choose Potenkim.

TM: For Guilty Gear, I play Strawberry Jam.

A12: What’s your favourite songs from the ones that you’ve ever composed from Guilty Gears and Blaz Blue?

DA: From Guilty Gear, I believe the English title is “Still int the dark”.

TM: For me, it would be “Rebellion” from Blaz Blue.

A13: My question is 2 parts. In Guilty Gear accent core, do you name Axl Lowe after Guns N Roses lead man ? My second question is no offernse to everyone but the character designs in Blaz Blue look kinda girly. Is it meant to aim toward females because I started seeing a lot of females playing it?

DA: The answer to the first question is a delicate matter so I would like to refrain from commenting.

TM: We do have female video game players in mind with the increasing of female players. I thought Bang Shishigami would be the most popular characters among female players.

A13: Actually in my area, Jin Kisaragi is the most popular one because he is very good looking.

A14: I really love all the musics of all the games you made. I was wondering for Blaz Blue, what’s inspired the music and if Mori-san had any directions on it.

DA: Thank you. The music for Blaz Blue was a contrast to Guilty Gear music since Guilty Gear was much more straightforward rock music and represented straight forward elements. For Blaz Blue, I couldn’t more classical , jazz or modern elements into the music. <Sorry, I couldn’t hear the whole sentence so the sentence does not make any sense>

A15: I have a question for Ishiwatari-san. I was wondering in the character designs of Sol and Kye, you have on their belt buckles says Free, Hope and Oath. Why do you assign these characteristics ?

DA:  Those are the elements that incorporated in character designs. The characters’ background stories have not been told yet so that’s something that I hope there will be an opportunity to incorporate into future products.

A16: Being a Nintendo player, I was just wondering are we going to get any GG for Wii or DS out ?

TM: Isn’t there a Wii version already ?

A17: It’s pretty much a ps2 port.

TM: So you want a complete original ?

A17: Yes.

TM: It’s up to Ishiwatari to decide.

DA: I have to talk to the president about it.

A18: Since the back story is still in the dark , would you consider of making an anime series or a movie probably ? I am sure all the fans would love that.

DA: I personally would love to get these back stories animated. in fact, there had been several offers to do that but the unfortunate thing is that none of the projects never seemed to light a day so I certainly hope and will make the effort to get the series animated.

A19: I have a question in regards of music. When you are in the studio recording, I would like to know what actual guitars, bridge and effects that you use. Do you use <insert bunch music equipments> ?

DA: I am sorry to say that I don’t remember the specific equipments. We try to accommodate the guitarist and make sure they get access to their favourite equipments.

A20: That’s just personal preferences?

DA: It’s their personal preferences and what they want to use.

TM: Don’t forget about the Macintosh.

A21: The general idea these days. Fighting games are more acccesible, for example, Street Fight IV, Battle Fantasia going back to more classic roots seem like fighting game going toward. Blaz Blue seems to take the more streamline route in comparison to GG. Do you personally feel that fighting game s are getting little bit too crazy and does Blaze Blu reflect any of that?

TM: For Blaz Blue , we do have the single connection for the attack blues. The threshold has been intentionally lower to be accessible to first time player. I believe it contributed to fighting game revolution, the single D button that allows you do this and that. I do have ideas for what should be the next evolution in this genre so I hope you look forward to my next title.

A22: Western 2d fighting seems to fail in a global scale compare to Japanese 2d figting games. Western developers are obviously taleneted but what do you think it is that they are not doing correctly and what do you think it is that you are doing correctly. if you could, what western 2d fighting games would you remake?

DA: Didn’t Mortal Kombat do well on a global scale ?

A22: It did alright but it’s pretty much dead right now.

DA: Is it because anime is a popular media in the world ?

A22: Could be but I am thinking more along the line of game mechanics.

TM: one thing that frustrates me about western 2d fighting is that they are too insistent on incorporating realism into the design and they don’t have enough style. Since america is big on producing sci-fi, I think they import fantastic elements into the style. In general, too strong of an AT field.

A23: My questions are regarding to several songs added in the console version versus the arcade version. Namely a song that’s added when Bang goes to Super Mode. How did you come with the song and how did you make it so awesome ?

DA: The first line of thought, who would be the best suited to be passionate singer for characters theme song? It would be only Mr. Kageyama. So I made the best effort so he could sing the most passionate song and put up the offer to him. And he thankfully accepeted the offer and it’s wonderful.

TM: Mr. Kageyama is a very passionate man.

A24: I was wondering How you created the character Justice specifically on how you gave her that peculiar design ?

DA: First of all, she was meant to be one of the final boss characters so her look was to look very non-human. The design was inspired by one of my favourite robot anime so that’s the inspiration of the design. It was a very sensitive matter to say which one because that might cause problems.

TM: I may have a liberty to have a slip of tongue and to say it’s Tekkaman Blade.

A25: Was any of the character designs for Guilty Gear + Blaze Blu inspired by people you know personally ?

DA: None of character designs was inspired by a real people although, the name character, Johnny , was taken from a nickname of my friend.

TM: For Blaz Blue, I won’t name which character but there is one character was inspired by Peter Fujioka.

A26: Long time ago, the first Guilty Gear was in 3d but then few years later, it came out as 2d fighting gamed. I was wondering what the reason behind is. I have one request for Ishiwatari-san. Can you do one of the Sol’s line in the game using Sol’s voice ?

DA: To answer the first part of your questions, the company was interested in developing 3d games back then so there was the proposal. I was always into more 2d games so when there was a personal shuffle in the company and there was certain amount of chaos , I took the opportunity to incorporate my desire into the design. Normally, alcohol and I don’t mix well but when I do Sol’s voice, I need to empty entire bottle of sake so I have to make a special session and make an exception.

DA: *yelling in Sol’s voice* Guy’s flame (44:00)

A27: I was just wondering where the idea for Mai coming from. Why does she hold a giant anchor and ride on a dolphin ?

DA: My inspiration for coming up with the character design is to be unconventional. Back then, when you watched conventional anime, you didn’t see a tiny girl with monstrous strength

TM: You must not ask why. You must not analyze why. If you look at the character and you find her cute then you are thinking correctly.

A28: What was your inspiration for Blaz Blue character, Ragna?

TM: I just want to have a good looking character and that’s how I got Ragna. If I were forced to come up with a source, I would admit quoting from Vash the Stampede.

A29: Why does Ragna like cooking ?

TM: He needs to survive so he can’t survive without being able to cook.

A30: Why does Rachel call Ragna her one sweet sin. Does she have a feeling for him? Does she like him ?

TM: That’s the question that could be answered in the Story Mode.

A31: In European version for GG x2, there was a small trailer for GG x anime. The animation was amazing and I love it but it’s such a tease because it seemed like it’ll become a full movie and it never happened. was there any plan to make to it into a movie ? My second question is how come it to cast Norio Wakamoto as Johnny ?

DA: I really do want to see Guilty Gear animated so that’s really up to the market to support us and make the project materialize.

The session had to end so they didn’t have a chance to answer his 2nd question.

After the QA session, I went to the autograph session but due to the long line up , I didn’t have a chance to get their autographs ^^;;.

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Continuing from the day before, I went back to the exhibitor/dealer room because I didn’t have a chance to explore everything the day before. I saw this nice poster of Gatchaman and a trailer of the upcoming movie. It looked alright, although, I wish they didn’t do it in full CG ^^;;

My next visit is Mangagamer‘ booth which is a company who does localization for eroge such as Da Capo II, Suika, Shuffle and many more. For some reasons, they call it Shoujo games instead of eroge lol. Their booth is not visible from outside since they required you to show your ID because there’s a mininum age of 18 years old to enter it. If ID is required, it could only mean one thing. All the good stuffs are in there ^^.

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My guess couldn’t be more correct, I saw quite a few delicious goodies inside and quite a few of them have bare ‘eyes’. I spent probably like 30 minutes in there and examined each item that they were selling. If I remembered correctly, they were also selling a dakimakura of Koihime Musou.

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A nice poster Shuffle outside of MangaGamer booth. Why were all the nice posters not for sale ? >.<

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My next visit was AAA anime distribution. This company is our main figures distributor for companies such as GSC, Alter and Kotobukiya for North America. Correct me if I am wrong but most anime/figure stores get their product through AAAanime.

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At AAA Anime inc booth, they have bunch of clear glass cabinets to show off their figures. I am amazed by the amount of efforts they did to bring those clear glass cabinets since those clear glass cabinets are friggin heavy.

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Since I have been to quite a few conventions in Canada, I think Canada conventions have a long way to go. Anime North may have been the 4th largest conventions in North America but it still lacks quite a few bits and pieces, mainly, guest of honours, exhibitors and sponsors so the gap between 1st to 3rd largest convention in NA to Anime North is wide. Unfortunately, lack of sponsors translate into lack of budget and lack of Japanese guest of honours in conventions in Canada. The last time we had a well-known Japanese GoH was back in 2006 at Anime North (Kotoko) and Dot-Con 2008 (Mazakazu Morita, Kurosaki Ichigo’s seiyuu). Do you have anime conventions in your area/country ? If yes, how big is it and are there many big / well-known companies having a booth at the con ?

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Funimation is one of AX major sponsor among other AX sponsors, thus, they have their booth in the exhibitors hall. Will Canada conventions ever get a sponsor like Funimation ? only time will tell ^^;;, although, I do wish that we have big and strong companies like Funimation here in Canada.

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I finally had a chance to stop by at Crunchyroll booth. In addition to showing the latest airing episodes (such as Naruto, Gintama, etc) during the 4 days convention, they were also selling some goodies (including figures and figmas). If you sign up for membership during AX, I think you get a cheaper price since I saw a lot of people signing up (correct me if I am wrong). There are more pictures of crunchyroll booth at its own website. Click here to view it.

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My next stop was Capcom booth and as I was anticipated, it was totally pack. They setup 5 gaming stations and they all have the same game, Tatsunoko vs Capcom, the Ultimate All-stars. It is an upcoming release from Capcom. The game was originally released exclusively on December 2008 for Japan only so they are looking to localized this for North America. Unfortunately, this game is only for arcade and Wii for now. The release date is said to be on Q4 2009 but there is no specific date as of now. This one looks like Marvel vs Capcom series and why it only comes for Wii and arcade ^^;;. We need a PS3 version.

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Like I said above, why are these cool posters like the one below are not for sale ^^;; ?. Such a nice poster of Rachel from Blaz Blue

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ACG NA representative is here at the artist alley. I dropped by and was going to say hi , but, she was away ^^;;.

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I am not sure what’s going on with those two but I found it interesting so I took a picture ^^.

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That basically sums up my Day 2 of AX09. AX09 Day 3 would be my Day for cosplayers hunting so I will post all cosplayers from Day 1 to Day 3. Since I didn’t attend Day 4, there will be no post for Day 4 and will be replaced by loot post and total expenses.

  • http://www.sakuafk.com Saku

    @Optic: lol get it :P. Let the temptation consume you ^^. As far as conventions go, you pretty much share similar opinions to myself as we don’t get many sponsors here in Canada.

    @trixoptics: That’s what I was afraid of. Region locked -_-;;. Thanks for letting me know ^^

  • http://zotaku.com zenical

    @ Saku: I remember there was this Ranka Lee poster stand thing at the anime convention in Singapore (dunno what the term is for that particular item >_>) but yeah we found out the item was BOUGHT, when it wasn’t for sale. So we were guessing.. it was bought at a very high price. LOL.
    .-= zenical´s last blog ..Mio Pantsu Bowl =-.

  • Black_Knight

    @Saku: Oh no, it was the audience booing that threw me aback. I expected not to get a straight answer on the subject, though I regret not writing the question down. At least at the autograph signing when I told them that Nintendo fans don’t get much respect, Ishiwatari said he sympathized with me.

  • http://www.sakuafk.com Saku

    @zenical: Do you know much did it go for ?

    @Black_Knight: Ohh my bad. I thought their response was negative. I replayed my camcorder and the audience was booing you (just because you are a Wii player I guess).

    You were quite lucky to get his autograph as I didn’t get one :(.

  • http://theinfernoproject.com T.I.P.

    Nice coverage again. I really liked the dakimakuras displayed there…if only there were something like that in Anime North. “orz

    I’ll look forward to your cosplay coverage.

    As for the matter of Canadian conventions going bigger, it’s a matter of attendance and marketing. There’s simply not enough people to make it as big as the conventions in other places.
    .-= T.I.P.´s last blog ..Dakimakura Temptation =-.

  • http://www.sakuafk.com Saku

    @T.I.P.: I think there were some dakimakuras at Anime North but they were very limited in quantity so they got sold out fast.