Saturday, February 22, 2020

Wakage no Itari comments

(Image from the page, used here for review purposes only.)

Wakage no Itari (Folly of Youth) (by Keiichi Tanaka, Kadokawa Press, 2019)
Keiichi is a manga artist who works largely in the style of Osamu Tezuka. His past works include Doctor Chichibuyama, G no Samurai and Chikiu Boueitai Seha Girl. According to his Author page on Manga Updates, he was the General Manager & Solution Sales Division at Web Technology Com, a company attempting to create 3D-based character creation software to allow people who can't draw to make their own manga.

Wakage (subtitled "Youth Days of Game Creators" in English) is a collection of short chapters that attempt to imitate interviews between Tanaka, a random female assistant named Pyouko Miyazaki, and various video game creators that were responsible for what Tanaka considers landmark games from the '90s and early 2000's. The conceit is that these games could only have been made by people who were still too young and brash to know any better. Each chapter follows pretty much the same pattern: Keiichi lays the groundwork for the game from his own personal experiences with it, he introduces the creator and praises the guy a lot, the guy talks about how hard it was to get the game approved by management and/or their coworkers, how he overcame various obstacles, announcements of upcoming games by the same creator, and Keiichi closing with his thoughts on how parts of the game are still with him (or with him and Pyouko, or with society as a whole). Overall, the interviews are pretty shallow, and the obstacles are the kinds of things you'd generally expect from Japanese companies - management wants to move slow or not at all on new projects into unexplored territory, combined with the fact that at the time there were few software tools for game development management on the market, and someone else needed to arrive at the company to make them.

I'm not really a fan of other artists that imitate Tezuka's character designs, so that's off-putting here. But, it is interesting to get a bit of a glimpse at the people responsible for developing some of the games I've played in the past. There are a total of 11 interview chapters. I've played 2 of the games, and I at least know a little about three others. The rest are completely alien to me.

1) Final Fantasy VII - Hironobu Sakaguchi
2) Aquanaut's Holiday - Kazutoshi Iida
3) Mecha Beasts Zoids - Mitsutoshi Tokuyama
4) Ryuu ga Gotoku - Toshihiro Nagoshi
5) MOTHER - Shigesato Itoi
6) Hoshi no Kirby - Masahiro Sakurai
7) Hatsume Miku - Wataru Sasaki
8) Princess Maker - Takami Akai
9) Cyber Troopers Virtual-On - Juurou Watari
10) Doko demo Issho - Kazunori Nanji
11) Puyo Puyo - Masamitsu Niitani

I've played Puyo Puyo and FF VII, and I've seen artwork or samples of Kirby, Miku and Princess Maker. Aquanaut apparently is a creature breeding simulator. Zoids is mechanical animal combat. Ryuu is about the Yakuza underground. Not really sure about MOTHER; the primary point seems to be that the player's name gets included in the end credits for having been part of the overall game experience. Kirby - a Mario clone. Miku - raising a singing idol. Princess Maker - raising a girl to become a princess. Virtual-On - cyborg combat. Doko Demo (Everywhere Together With You) has you raising a virtual cat and giving it treats until it leaves to become human. I expect everyone knows about FF IV, and Puyo Puyo was a Tetris clone designed to reward risk with big paybacks.

Overall, Wakage is an easy read and doesn't contain too much that's surprising. Recommended if you want to know a little more about the people behind the development of the games you've played, assuming that they're included in the above list.

No comments: