Creators Interview 006: Maekawa Shirou

Jun 22nd, 2018 (edited)
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  1. For the 6th "Creators Interview", we introduce Maekawa Shirou, the one in charge of story in Sonic Adventure 2 / Sonic Adventure 2 Battle.
  3. Profile:
  4. Maekawa Shirou
  5. Sega / First GE R&D Department / Planning Section
  6. AZEL Panzer Dragoon RPG - Map designer
  7. Sonic Adventure - Map designer, Chao game designer
  8. Sonic Adventure 2 / Sonic Adventure 2 Battle - Scenario, unit director, event production
  9. Sonic Heroes - Game designer, scenario, unit director
  10. Sonic X - Story supervisor
  12. "My life goal is to "move someone emotionally with a game I made.""
  14. --Since we began the "Creators Interview Survey" on August 1st, 2006, the most common comment we received up until the middle of that month was, "Because the story of Sonic Adventure 2 / Sonic Adventure 2 Battle was incredibly moving, we would love to hear from the person who was in charge of that storyline."
  15. And so, for this Creators Interview, we would like to speak to the one in charge of Sonic Adventure / Sonic Adventure 2 Battle's story, Maekawa Shirou.
  16. We are pleased to have you!
  18. Same here, thanks for having me.
  20. --What did you think of the survey results, Mr. Maekawa?
  22. Honestly I am very happy!
  24. Since my life goal also happened to be "to emotionally move someone with a game I made", I don't care when I'm going to die now. (laughs)
  26. --When did you join Sonic Team? Which title did you start being in charge of story with? Can you tell us about the titles (not limited to Sonic) whose stories you were in charge of so far?
  28. I joined Sonic Team starting with Sonic Adventure. It wasn't until SA2 that I began working on story in earnest.
  30. Aside from Sonic, I've only written a few event scenarios for the Saturn-era "AZEL Panzer Dragoon RPG".
  31. I made up conversational events between the hero and heroine and gave them a lovey-dovey atmosphere, so people gave me a lot of scorn.
  32. It was a hardcore game, after all. (strained laugh)
  34. --What processes are involved in creating a story? What is the source of your ideas? Do you have anything to refer to?
  36. Ugh, strangely enough, when I'm rereading a story that I wrote, I find myself twisting my head wondering how I came up with such a story.
  37. If I remember correctly, during the making of SA2, I decided on the story and setting first, and then we applied the game's stages to it.
  38. On the other hand, in "Sonic Heroes", the action stages came first, and the story filled the gaps.
  40. I think the source of my ideas is largely influenced by the manga and anime I've been watching since I was a child.
  42. One of my favorite scenes in SA2 is the scene where Shadow and Maria are looking at the Earth from the space colony, and this scene is very much influenced by one of my top 3 favorite comics, "Please Save My Earth."
  44. In fact, Maria was voiced by the voice actress (Shiratori Yuri) who played the heroine in "Please Save My Earth", so I felt like it was fate.
  46. --What were some of the challenges in creating the stories for SA2? Can you tell us about some of the things that upset you as well as some of the things you enjoyed?
  48. Somehow, I was the only one who went, "This time, Sonic will go into space! Because it's already the 21st century!" and I remember being so excited for no reason that everyone around me had a fit of giggles.
  49. I ended up getting everyone in on the idea.
  50. "Then I guess we'll just have to go into space together."
  51. And I suppose that's how we ended up creating the space colony's stages...
  52. We got carried away by fever and had no foundation to work from, but I was so happy when we were able to create better settings (action stages and event stages) than I had imagined because everyone on the team was on board with it, and it was a lot of fun.
  53. As for things I was upset about...
  54. I really can't suppress my regret at the fact that there were some scenes that we had to tearfully cut because of the schedule.
  55. I was so upset I thought that if at that moment God had appeared and said, "Give me one of your arms in exchange for making those scenes," I might have cut off my arm without hesitation.
  56. It was a moment when I keenly realized that this is what "overwhelming sorrow" is all about.
  58. "Doing this as best I can."
  60. --We've seen your storyboards. We were surprised to see that you did all the illustrations yourself. Are there many people in charge of planning who can even work on storyboards in this way? Your drawing ability is quite good, did you study about illustration elsewhere?
  62. Oh no, I feel really embarrassed.
  63. It was during the SA1 era that the storyboards for the cutscenes were handled by planners, but it's been divided so that CG movies are handled by designers and real-time cutscenes are handled by planners.
  65. I did all the storyboards for SA2, but I think cases like this are rare.
  67. I originally wanted to be an animator, but I had given up on that path because of my lack of drawing ability. But I learned that storyboarding and storytelling have nothing to do with drawing ability, so I took SA2 as the opportunity to be in charge of the story. I learned how to write scripts and draw on my own, trying to do as much as I could.
  69. --When you're not working on the story, what do you do?
  71. I do a lot of so-called character supervision work.
  72. It's a very fun job to go to the audio recordings for Sonic costume shows and talk to the voice actors. (laughs)
  74. --Could you tell us about your motivation for joining SEGA?
  76. When I joined the company, the 32-bit next generation game console war was about to start, and I wanted to fight that battle under Sega's banner, so that was the motivation. I really liked their games.
  78. --What did you want to do when you joined SEGA?
  80. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something powerful, like creating storylines.
  82. --What did you focus on when you were a student?
  84. I've been making 8mm films since high school. Also writing novels while pretending to copy the blackboard in class. In any case, I don't think I was a great student.
  86. --Can we ask you about your hobbies outside of work?
  88. Making transforming and combining toys transform and combine.
  89. My recent favorites are the Chogokin Aquarion and Bukiborg.
  91. --What kind of work do you do now?
  93. Recently, I've been in charge of the action stage design and cutscenes for the Wii Sonic title.
  94. I'm also working on the storyline, among other things, for "Sonic the Hedgehog", the title for PLAYSTATION 3 and XBOX 360.
  96. --What is the most memorable thing you've done in your career so far?
  98. That has to be Sonic Adventure 2.
  100. "The Secret Story of Shadow's Birth"
  102. --Who is your favorite character in the Sonic series? Please tell us why.
  104. Shadow the Hedgehog.
  105. In fact, I also happen to be his creator, and there are times when I feel a stronger bond with him than my real relatives.
  106. He doesn't feel like a stranger anymore.
  107. I can't use Chaos Control, though. (laughs)
  109. --So, Shadow the Hedgehog was created by you. Would you please tell us the secret story of Shadow's birth?
  111. Oh man, that was an extremely difficult birth.
  112. There was a mandate to create a character that was as cool as or better than Sonic, after all. (laughs)
  113. A black hedgehog was decided upon, but it took me a long time to get him to start talking in my head.
  114. One late night in the car on the way home from work, while thinking up the dialogue for the showdown scene between Sonic and Shadow, Sonic said:
  115. "I found you. You impostor!"
  116. It was the first time when Shadow spoke:
  117. "Impostor? Hmph, aren't you the fake one here?"
  118. When he replied with that line, I felt a lightning bolt run through me for the first time. "This is it!" I thought.
  119. And from the tone of the voice that echoed in my head at that time, I naturally decided on a softer first-person Japanese pronoun for Shadow.
  120. That pronoun is very popular with women, I remember there was a lot of opposition towards it within the team at first.
  121. But I had always thought of Shadow as a very subtle and pure character, so his pronoun was an integral part of that.
  123. --What does Sonic mean to you?
  125. I actually didn't like Sonic from the Mega Drive era. We just didn't get along.
  126. That is why when I joined SA1's team I enthusiastically went, "I'm gonna create a Sonic that I like!" and did some crazy things (like dropping a tub on my head), and in the end I was just dancing on the palm of Sonic's hand.
  127. His pocket is huge. I just can't compete with that.
  129. --Do you have any advice for young people who want to work in the game industry in the future?
  131. Fact is, once you enter the game industry, you won't have much time to study, so I hope you study a lot of things while you still can.
  132. Later, once you have that very knowledge and skill that no one else can compete with on hand, it will surely support you in difficult situations. Whatever they may be.
  134. --Lastly, can you give a message to everyone who watches "Sonic Channel"?
  136. Thank you so much for always supporting Sonic and the "Sonic Channel."
  137. I don't think Sonic will ever stop running, so I hope you guys will continue following him.
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