Source: Gyakuten Saiban Fanbook
Mitsurugi Reiji Was Forty In The Planning Stage? The Shocking Secret Stories Behind The Birth Of The Characters They Can Talk About Now
Interviewer: There are many fascinating characters in the Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney) series. I heard that Mr. Takumi was the model for the protagonist Naruhodō Ryūichi (Phoenix Wright)?
Takumi: I wouldn’t say I was the model, but the lines I write for him are indeed just how I myself think and speak. And our profile details are pretty similar too. He doesn’t smoke for example, and he’s an only child. You might recognize me if you look at him (laugh).
Inaba: I think that Naruhodō is precisely like Takumi. Perhaps you unconsciously projected yourself on him?
Takumi: I don’t think so, but perhaps I did.
Iwamoto: I have the idea that people like Mayoi (Maya) changed a bit with the second game. Do you think Naruhodō changed too?
Takumi: Naruhodō in the first game can be a bit rude, actually. He’d call Maya with “omae” for example (TN: omae/’you’ is a second person pronoun usually aimed at someone the speaker considers lower in social status), or call her a strange kid. Lines like ‘You shouldn’t be the one talking’. But then Suekane checked the script. ‘Mr. Takumi, isn’t Naruhodō a bit too rude?’. (TN: Suekane Kumiko was the main character designer of the first game)
Inaba: There were also characters who changed appearances, or disappeared completely during development.
Takumi: Mitsurugi (Miles Edgeworth) was supposed to be forty years old at first, with his black hair straight back and red eyes. But Mr. Inaba here told me to make the character easier to associate with, and Suekane then proposed to make him younger and more like a rival to Naruhodō.
Inaba: But I think that the vision Takumi had of Gyakuten Saiban was already quite complete from the start. But the development was a series of trial and error, so it was really touch-and-go at a time. But now that has become a good memory.
Iwamoto: The team wasn’t used to working on the Game Boy [Advance] yet, so there were quite of spots that nobody was sure about.
Takumi: At the time, I didn’t really know what the work of a defense attorney entailed, and as the game was made for the Game Boy, I thought I needed to make the game for children. So I couldn’t have a protagonist dressed all neat in a suit (laugh).
Iwamoto: Once it was decided the game would be made for adults, we all got a bit of courage. That the game still kinda appeals to children, is probably because of how this happened.
Naruhodō Became Super Popular Despite To The Surprise Of The Team!! Worrying About Who’s Good!?
Interviewer: Was the story set from the start?
Inaba: The game mechanics, and the fact it’d be a courtroom game about a defense attorney pointing out contradictions were more or less decided, but the rest….
Takumi: We had no story at all. But I really love mystery fiction, so I had decided it’d be a mystery game. I came up with the story per episode, and the first one I had was Tonosaman (The Steel Samurai). Or was it still called Ultraman back then?
Iwamoto: I don’t think we could’ve used Ultraman (laugh). The titles back then were weird too. Episode 1: Boat of Brothers.
Takumi: What I wanted to create most, were the story and game mechanic parts of the story, so the characters were really just an afterthought.
Interviewer: So nobody had expected the characters would grow out to be this popular…?
Inaba: Nobody. But remember, Suekane did design Mitsurugi to be Naruhodō’s rival. So I had a feeling Mitsurugi might become popular. Naruhodō on the other hand does have his characteristics and just the perfect amount of acting a bit distant: traits suitable for a game protagonist in my eyes, but he is only average as a character on his own. So I was very surprised he grew to be such a beloved character despite that. Perhaps his hair was just spiky enough?
Iwamoto: Hmm, and he’s just a normal guy. I wouldn’t hang out with Mitsurugi though. If I had to interact with either of them on a daily basis, I’d choose Naruhodō. He feels more human.
Takumi: Perhaps. But I’m not really sure about Naruhodō either actually….
Iwamoto: It’s the sweater, right? (laugh)
Inaba: Mitsurugi probably appeals to the women. Naruhodō on the other hand dresses up like that on a date.
Takumi: I’m not talking about his taste in clothing!
Revealing Their Favorite Characters? There Are Even Some Surprising Ones…
Interviewer: Could you please tell us your favorite characters?
Inaba: Each time I’m asked this question, I answer something else. Now I think I like Konaka (Redd White) the best.
Iwamoto: Why him?
Inaba: Konaka Masaru is the best. Both his presence and his personality. And I also liked the rejected design of Godot as a robot!! Of the female characters, I might go with Umeyo (April May)…
Iwamoto: So you like the Konaka and Umeyo pair-up!
Takumi: They are really simple-to-understand culprit characters.
Interviewer: Mr. Iwamoto, who do you like?
Iwamoto: I like Godot. They often say I like adult men, but I too have to agree with that. I really poured all of me, design-wise, into that character when I created him. At first, I thought he’d be smoking cigarettes, but it turned out he’d be drinking coffee…. I thought that might be good too, so with that in mind, the design changed into something even I had not expected. I was the one who drew him, but if you just focus on his looks, there’s no real substance to a design. Once you have elements that tell you how he is on the inside, then the design becomes much more fascinating. He was supposed to be a hardboiled character, so I searched for “hardboiled” on the internet and kept that research in mind as I designed him.
Takumi: Of the female characters that left an impression on me, I’d say Bikini.
Iwamoto: Oh!! Bikini, you know, had to be small because of the limited space on the cartridge (laugh). We couldn’t fit any more characters on the screen, but I was told to make one more character. That’s how things went when making games in the good old times. But even though we had limited space, I think she turned out quite well, so in that sense Bikini was indeed impressive. I like Karuma Mei (Franziska von Karma). It just feels different when you’re designing a rival character. Godot, and Mei, and I also did Karuma Gō (Manfred von Karma) in the first game. They were all fun.
Iwamoto Was The Model For Yahari? A Crack In Their Friendship Because Takumi Said He Hates Yahari!?
Interviewer: Mr. Takumi, who do you like?
Takumi: I like characters I really thought long and hard about to create them, like Aiga (Luke Atmey). I didn’t really think about personalities when I created the first game, but as more characters appeared, I felt I had to make their personalities unique too. “What should I give them?” “What kind of animations should they have?”
iwamoto: We really worked on that principle for Gyakuten Saiban 2 (Ace Attorney 2 - Justice For All), didn’t we? (laugh)
Inaba: You opened the door to character-focused games!!
Takumi: I also like Naruhodō and Godot. As for the women, I think I’d go with Mayoi. Whenever I worked on the scenario, Mayoi and Yahari (Larry Butz) would start talking on their own. The dialogues actually become better when I let them talk on their own, with me doing nothing.
Inaba: I can’t help but see Iwamoto in Yahari! In my eyes, he’s Iwamoto.
Iwamoto: I guess I’m fine with that (laugh). But I thought Takumi didn’t really like Yahari?
Takumi: I never said that! When we made the first game, everyone hated him, and I was the only one who supported. Like with that stolen lunch money incident….
Iwamoto: Yeah, everyone on the team agreed that the truth behind that incident was horrible.
Takumi: Anyway, I never said I hated him. At least not seriously.
Iwamoto: At least not seriously? (laugh)
Interviewer: Were characteristics like Naruhodō being bad with technology something you had decided on from the start?
Iwamoto: No, that was added later. Suddenly coming up with things. That’s how Takumi’s style.
Inaba: But lately Naruhodō has learnt how to use a mobile phone. I’m sure it’s just a projection of Takumi’s own bad affinity with technology.
Takumi: I’m not bad with technology. But perhaps all characters reflect something of me. Even Obachan (Wendy Oldbag).
Inaba: I like Obachan the best of the female characters. Precisely as I had imagined her to be.
Iwamoto: She always makes a chaos of the case, but she never has anything to do with the real case. But she’s really popular.
Inaba: By the way, when we’re still planning out Gyakuten Saiban 2, Mitsurugi was supposed to appear throughout the game, right? That was cancelled, right?
Takumi: He was to lose whenever he appears. But I really didn’t want to have him lose. He’s supposed to be a genius, so we needed to treat him with more respect.
Iwamoto: So he appeared less because he became so popular. You can’t have an undefeated prosecutor defeated all the time (laugh).
Inaba: Mitsurugi is Naruhodō ‘s one true natural opponent. So we also kept in him mind, when we started working on the third game. “Who shall Naruhodō’s next rival be?”
Interviewer: Whenever there’s a problem with the story, do you discuss it with everyone?
Takumi: We talked about the final episode in Gyakuten Saiban 3 (Ace Attorney 3 - Trials and Tribulations). The ending was too dark, so I talked it over with everyone before I started writing the scenario. I don’t really remember what it was though.
Inaba: I remember. I was really appalled by it (laugh).
Iwamoto: Yeah, everyone of the Ayasato (Fey) blood clan besides Mayoi died.
Takumi: No way! Did that really happent?
Inaba: The basic story wasn’t much different from the actual product, but the logic behind it. It was pretty hard listening to you explaining it.
Iwamoto: We also fought about the whereabouts of Mayoi’s mother, right?
Takumi: I was at one point planning to make Bikini the mother of Mayoi. But I wasn’t sure whether I could make someone looking like her Mayoi's mother…
Iwamoto: You only started to worry about it after we decided on her appearances! Oh yeah, wasn’t there also a period you talked about wanting to make Bikini the culprit?
Inaba: Why were you trying to give Bikini all kinds of important roles? (laugh)
Interviewer: When did you learn that male characters like Naruhodō and Mitsurugi were popular among women?
Takumi: I learnt that right after the first game was released. I saw people getting excited about them on an internet forum.
Inaba: It was all about Boys Love back then (laugh). I was surprised, but it did feel like the game was loved by everyone. I took a look at those sites with a grin on my face.
Iwamoto: I did that too. I just looked for the keywords “Gyakuten Saiban”, but I stumbled upon material like that.
A New Fact! A Character Was Made Based On Boys' Love!!
Inaba: But we hadn't planned to make characters that’d appeal especially to women for the second game. It’s not like I have any feeling for that. Suekane knew all about that stuff. But I don’t think one should target it on purpose.
Takumi: But I did try that!
Inaba: When? What?!
Takumi: The final episode. I thought it’d be good if Naruhodō and Mitsurugi would talk about their warm friendship….
Inaba: That’s not it.
Takumi: Hmm… I guess I just don’t get it. Suekane did tell me once it was all wrong.
Iwamoto: It’d be better if you’d come up with it unconsciously.
Inaba: Probably. We should just make games with the world and characters we like.
Interviewer: But Mr. Inaba, it’s you who makes the final checks on everything, right??
Inaba: I don’t do that for all the minor cast. I do check in detail for main characters like Mei, Chinami (Dahlia Hawthorne) and Godot. It does result in more retakes, but I do clearly say it’s not good when it’s not good. Iwamoto here can draw drag queen characters like it’s nothing. But the stereotypical heroine-like characters, like Chinami, he’s really bad at them.
Iwamoto: It was really hard desiging her! She was a heroine, and the final boss, and wearing traditional Japanese clothing at the end, and she was supposed to look classy…. At least allow me to these excuses! (laugh).
Inaba: The first time I saw the design of Chinami, I said something like “She looks like she came out of a girls' manga ten years ago.” That really hurt Iwamoto’s pride (laugh).
Iwamoto: I started to wander the city at night because it was so hurtful because of that. By the way, I’ll reveal something here. For my design of Harumi (Pearl Fey), I referenced Ojamajo Doremi. It was Cardcaptor Sakura for Chinami.
Interviewer: I heard that Mr. Iwamoto also reads Boys' Love for research….
Takumi: That’s just Iwamoto’s own hobby (laugh).
Inaba: Hobby and work, I think?
Iwamoto: When I learned that a lot of fans of Boys' Love supported Gyakuten Saiban, I decided to read the genre. I actually designed Max based on Boys' Love-type characters. A shirt over his exposed body, super tight low-rise jeans, stuff like that.
Inaba: I see. I’m not interested in that, so I don’t read those books.
Interviewer: Not even a peek at the books on Mr. Iwamoto’s desk…?
Inaba: Not at all. It’s Iwamoto’s precious collection, so he gets angry when you touch them (laugh). He might have two copies of everything, one for use and for his collection.
Takumi: I never knew Iwamoto had those books for research until now. So that’s where Max came from! I was so surprised when you managed to design him in so little time. That explains it!
Iwamoto: I also referenced them a bit when I designed Aiga’s rival, Amasugi Yūsaku (Ron DeLite).
Inaba: I never knew. You don’t really sense that from him.
Iwamoto: Eh? Nobody noticed I actually did research for him? (laugh)
Interviewer: The minor characters are also quite unique and popular on their own.
Inaba: Minor characters are also rejected if their appearances and personalities aren’t unique enough. They wouldn’t be interesting otherwise.
Takumi: I think that Gyakuten Saiban 2 has the most outrageous characters. It has a circus as a setting for example.
Inaba: Gyakuten Saiban 2 was really crazy. The characters were crazy, the animations were crazy. It felt we did everything we could’ve down. That was our goal perhaps. But that circus story was actually very serious.
Takumi: It couldn’t be helped. The story behind it was that there were actually no real evil persons behind it. In that sense, I think the first Gyakuten Saiban was the lightest in concept.
Iwamoto: I think that in terms of character design, things really came together with the third game, which perhaps made it feel a bit more subdued. But what will we do if the Gyakuten Saiban series will continue? Like Final Fantasy? With a new game every six months.
Inaba: That’d great!!
Takumi: That’d be fun (laugh).
Iwamoto: Gyakuten Saiban 11 would turn out to be an online game then (laugh).