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CMII chats

beingofpurelove Feb 2nd, 2018 (edited) 1,465 Never
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  1. Character list:
  2. Sakura
  3. Heracles
  4. Cu Chulainn
  5. Kojiro
  6. Medusa
  7. Zouken and True Assassin
  8. Archer
  9. Shirou
  10. Kotomine Kirei
  11. Gilgamesh
  12. Souichirou
  13. Medea
  14. Illya
  15. Sella And Leysritt
  16. Shinji
  17. Rin
  18. Saber
  19. Kaede
  20. Kane
  21. Yukika
  22. Ayako Mitsuzuri
  23. Issei
  24. Tarot cards
  25. Saber Alter
  26. Taiga
  27.  
  28. Sakura
  29.  
  30. >The catalyst for Sakura Matou's birth
  31. Takeuchi: From the earliest stages of Sakura's concept, she was set to be a heroine who was suffering from lots of psychological damage. For this reason, I knew I would be designing a character who looked more introverted and quiet. There are some generally accepted standards when it comes to stereotypically appealing elements of girl characters specific to the "gal games" genre, and I wanted Sakura to have the lion's share of these design elements when compared to the other two heroines.
  32. >Financial status of the Matou household
  33. Nasu: Unlike the Tohsakas, the Matous are landowners who own plots of land in various regions. For this reason, the Matou household's finances are relatively stable. Their main source of income is the rent they charge mages who wish to make use of the spiritual lands in their possession.
  34. Takeuchi: I king of wondered about this, because I noticed no one in Sakura's household seemed to have a regular job, but now I get it.
  35. >Designing Sakura's outfits
  36. Takeuchi: It was all about a subtle kind of allure... I think. Instead of aiming for the obvious kinds of "moe" or "erotica," I imagined her as someone who naturally and subtly exudes her own direct brand of sexiness. Unfortunately, there's a very fine line between "subtly sexy" and "just plain boring". Of course, now that I think about it, I'm just spouting the obvious. (laughs)
  37. Nasu: I find that whenever we try to talk about Sakura's outfits, we always end up talking about Dark Sakura. Having said that, I'll be the first to admit that I really like the Dark Sakura design. What if we were to explain away Sakura's usual blandness by saying it was all intentional in order to provide a strong contrast for the Dark Sakura design?
  38. Takeuchi: You know... Dark Sakura's shadow would look like a black octopus.
  39. Nasu: An adorably terrifying weiner octopus? (a weiner octopus is a food item often found in Japanese lunches where a hot dog weiner has been cut to resemble an octopus -Ed)
  40. Takeuchi: Nasu asked for a situation where the characters were being killed by "some inexplicably weird mystery... thing..." and this is the design I created based on that request.
  41. Nasu: I wanted a murderous guest to be something rather inorganic... like a geometric sci-fi "visitor" rather than a "creature" from a horror film. I described it as "...like a teru teru bozu gone wrong" and as soon as I saw that Dark Sakura design, I knew Takeuchi had hit the nail on the head! I hadn't finished writing out the script at that point so there was a definite air of doubt floating around the staffers, and I had a heck of a time convincing everyone that this design was exactly what we needed. You know when that girl in "The Ring" comes crawling out of the television set? I always scoff at that scene and think to myself, "This fool has finally taken physical form! Now all it will take is one of my precisely aimed low kicks and she's done for good!" I don't know why, but a humanoid creature of tangible flesh just seems less scary sometimes, as if we are able to convince ourselves on some level that a creature with substance and fleshy physical form can be defeated. That's why it was important to me for Dark Sakura to look like an otherworldly entity that humans simply could not fathom and no amount of vigorous kicking would destroy.
  42. Takeuchi: The inability to understand something is, after all, the root of this thing we call "fear"
  43. >The catalyst for Dark Sakura's birth
  44. From a very early stage, we knew the plot would involve Sakura becoming a boss character. Following the same line as Kohaku from "Tsukihime" and Fujino Asagami from "Kara no Kyoukai," we knew Sakura was going to suffer an emotional and psychological break. The design started off with the general shape of a hot dog weiner and when Takeuchi presented the rough draft to me, I knew immediately that it was the right way to go.
  45. Takeuchi: Since we were going to go with a dark version of Sakura, I figured we should change up her visual design by a good margin and really give her a boss-like vibe.
  46. Nasu: To be honest, I didn't expect him to change Sakura so much but it was definitely a pleasant surprise. I really like the way the veiny patterns on her skin look like infections.
  47. Takeuchi: I wanted the patterns to look like curses. Illya has those tattoo things all over her body, so I wanted Sakura's patterns to look like visual representations of a hex or curse.
  48. >Regarding Dark Sakura's character design
  49. Nasu: Sakura is a symbol of loss and betrayal, like Gilgamesh but in a different way. It was important that people didn't perceive her as a villain, though, because we intended her to be more like a victim or sacrifice. In that regard, I think Dark Sakura's design is perfect. By the way, why is she barefooted?
  50. Takeuchi: I don't know... because being barefooted makes her creepier?
  51. Nasu: I guess it's true that Japanese ghosts traditionally appear barefooted... makes for those super creepy footstep sounds.
  52. >The message Sakura Matou carries as a character
  53. Takeuchi: We haven't really talked about regular Sakura here... is that okay? This always happens when we try to talk about Sakura. Of all the characters. Sakura has the most standing pose images by far.
  54. Nasu: Yeah, hands down!
  55. Takeuchi: There are so many versions. Honestly, I feel like Sakura would have turned out to be a great kid if she had grown up in a normal household. She's very thoughtful and kind.
  56. Nasu: We initially considered going with a "Yamato Nadeshiko" type, the "idealised Japanese woman."
  57. Takeuchi: In other words, the usual heroine you'd find in an adult genre... the kind of girl most players would be thrilled to have as a loving and devoted wife. To that end, it was important for us to provide as many sensual and intimate scenes for her as possible. Sakura is one of the characters with whom physical relations actually lead to a very real and proper kind of love. I hope we succeeded on that front.
  58. Nasu: Sakura is one of those characters who is easy to imagine as a real person existing in our world. In many cases, changing just one little thing about a person could easily turn them into a Sakura... but not a Dark Sakura. (laughs)
  59. Takeuchi: I feel like we got a more positive response to Dark Sakura than we were expecting. To be honest, a part of me was prepared for Dark Sakura to be a complete failure. (laughs) I suppose it didn't hurt that she was easy to include in just about any story scenario. I do, however, feel like I need to learn a lesson from Sakura... The fact that "Sakura = Dark Sakura" for most people means the impression Dark Sakura left on players was a little stronger than intended. I never meant for Dark Sakura to completely overshadow normal Sakura.
  60. Nasu: It's only after she overcomes her darkness that Sakura takes on her true form!
  61. Takeuchi: I really like how post-darkness Sakura turned out. I feel like she turned into a figure of pure love, someone who can accept anyone just the way they are. In that way, I believe Sakura from "hollow" represents Sakura in her most natural state. With all that experience under the her belt, I feel like she finally evolved into a full-fledged heroine.
  62.  
  63. Heracles
  64.  
  65. >The Catalyst for Berserker's birth
  66. Nasu: Berserker's concept basically didn't change at all from the old "Fate" days. He essentially had to play the role of a stepping stone for Saber, but the player knew Berserker's identity was Heracles so it was hard to convince anyone that such a powerful titan should ever be portrayed as weak in any way. Saber may have an unparalleled set of abilities, but in terms of sheer strength and skill as a warrior, Berserker is far superior to her. The whole point was that we wanted the player to feel helpless when first encountering Berserker, as if they had just hit an insurmountable wall.
  67. >Designing Berserker's outfits and armaments.
  68. Takeuchi: He's totally like the main character you'd find in a Western game, like Kratos from "God of War". Berserker's concept may have remained the same since early development, but his visual side went through quite a change.
  69. Nasu: Did it?
  70. Takeuchi: We went through a lot of trial and error before arriving at Berserker's current form.
  71. Nasu: When you take a hero of Greek mythology and put him in a giant body, you're pretty much always guaranteed to end up with a design like this. Still, it can be pretty embarrassing to work with this "genre" of designs... especially the whole loincloth business. Takeuchi seemed to struggle the most with preventing Berserker from coming off as a simple barbarian.
  72. Takeuchi: I even considered going with a sharper image at one point.
  73. Nasu: We also tossed around the possibility of basing him on Talos, the bronze giant of Crete... but that didn't sit quite right with us in the end.
  74. Takeuchi: Even Nasu suggested making half of his body out of stone or metal because he's supposed to be a superhuman existence, but we eventually settled on him being a superhuman existence in a relatively humanoid form. The protrusions on his elbows are remnants from the days when we were toying with the idea of making him a non-human character.
  75. Nasu: We wanted the player to feel like a jackhammer on legs was barreling down on them, and you need a certain amount of power behind a character in order to pull that off. The tricky part was drawing a hulking, intimidating mass of a character without making him look like a common barbarian.
  76. Takeuchi: I think Berserker became such a formidable presence in "Stay Night" because his colouring and shading made him look really dense, and everything about him portrayed him as a god of destruction. In the Japanese entertainment world, characters like Berserker are almost always designed to be defeated. Everyone loves that "David and Goliath" feeling you get from taking down a behemoth. Working on Berserker definitely taught me a thing or two about the different techniques and instincts you need to employ in order to build up a character who can pull that off successfully.
  77. >The unequaled might of Berserker
  78. Nasu: Shaping an event where the player encounters a powerful enemy in the middle of the night can be a bit difficult when the setting is a residential area. Can you imagine heading home one night only to run into a giant, half-naked man standing in your path? You would barely have time to scream "pervert!" before getting crushed under his massive heel. (laughs)That scene hasn't changed at all since old "Fate"... well, I suppose it changed a bit.
  79. Takeuchi: Yeah, because Illya wasn't present in old "Fate". At any rate, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Most urban legends thrive on the notion that just about anything can happen in residential neighbourhoods at night.
  80. Nasu: Maybe in Shinjuku. (laughs) If you're playing Saber's route, you encounter Berserker on your way home from the church, on a hill in Miyama town. Rin's route, on the other hand, sees you encountering him in Shinto. The Shinto setting is a little better since it's near the church site, with almost no residential homes in the area.
  81. Takeuchi: Can you imagine seeing a giant like Berserker strolling through a residential zone in a place like Miyama Town?
  82. Nasu: No one saw him strolling! (laughs) He materialised on the spot from his spirit form. But still, I want everyone to imagine what it would be like to come home and see that thing standing in front of your house... That's a total "Yep, my life's over..." moment if I ever heard one.
  83. Takeuchi: I don't know... I doubt most people would even register seeing a sight like that.
  84. Nasu: True enough. I imagine most people would avert their eyes or do whatever they needed to in order to "not notice" something like that. (laughs) In old "Fate", Berserker's master was a slightly psychotic hitman sent in by the Holy Church. But Takeuchi suggested making Berserker's new master a Lolita character, I have to admit I was really excited by the idea.
  85. Takeuchi: Berserker is like a blank state when it comes to his master, isn't he?
  86. Nasu: You could say that. When we crafted the Noble Phantasm God Hand, I knew I didn't want a man who had accomplished such great feats to do anything below his dignity. Among all the summoned Servants, Heracles was a true hero. While Berserker still had a bit of awareness as Heracles, any thoughts he had spinning around in his head were constantly being channeled toward destruction. His new existence was consumed entirely by his Master's commands.
  87. Takeuchi: I do wonder why Einzbern chose the Berserker class for Heracles. I'm pretty sure there was a special spell for the Berserker class, so does that mean it was a conscious choice. With Heracles as the Heroic Spirit, he would have been equally formidable as Saber or Archer.
  88. Nasu: It's probably because Einzbern thinks the Berserker class is the best. When you take into consideration what happened during the previous Holy Grail War, it also makes sense that he might have wanted a pawn who wouldn't be burdened with the distraction of personal thoughts and feelings. I'd guess the selection was a result of Eizbern's notion that both Master and Servant are mere tools and nothing more. With Berserker's God Hand promising victory for 11 battles in old "Fate", and only six other Servants participating in the Holy Grail Wars, it seemed as if Berserker's Noble Phantasm all but guaranteed his victory. This theory was proven wrong in old "Fate" by Gil, who was able to counteract Berserker's God Hand with a Noble Phantasm that guaranteed Gil would survive. Due to the paradox created by a clash between an entity who "cannot lose" and an entity who is "certain to live", Berserker did not technically lose the fight but he did lose his life. When we were working on "stay night", we decided to change God Hand's effect to one that essentially casts a revive spell 11 times. Even with this change though, Berserker is still a pretty overpowered servant.
  89. Takeuchi: That's why Rider was evading him. As with Saber, Rider had a way to kill Berserker for sure in Bellerophon, but she knew that Berserker would kill her as soon as she killed him. Because of this, simply killing Berserker once or twice would not be enough to ensure true victory for Rider.
  90. Nasu: Though they existed at different times in history, Rider was also a Heroic Spirit rooted in Greek mythology, so she knew Berserker was Heracles. Due to this knowledge, one glance at Berserker was enough to tell Rider that she would not be able to defeat him, and she therefore decided to target his Master instead.
  91. Takeuchi: Do the 11 stacks of God Hand recharge over time?
  92. Nasu: Yes, since Illya's prana pool is absolutely ridiculous. If Berserker's Master was instead a mage of common power, they could spend their entire life generating prana and still fail to muster up enough to power even a single revive spell. For this reason, a less formidable master would mean Berserker would have to fight his way through the Holy Grail War with only 11 revivals. Of course, that's still plenty of lives by any standard. With a Master of Illya's caliber, though, Berserker is able to be revived 11 times in a single encounter. On top of that, once Berserker has been wounded by a specific attack, that same attack will not be effective a second time.
  93. Takeuchi: What an annoying ability...
  94. Nasu: Another thing that was briefly mentioned by Rin in Saber's route was the fact that there was a Servant who was said to share its life force with its Master. This was actually a reference to an early concept we had for Berserker. The idea was that Berserker and Illya basically shared a life pool, which essentially meant that targeting Illya instead of Berserk was a futile tactic. As long as Berserker was alive, Illya could not truly be killed. Of course, all logic dictated that Illya and Berserker formed an invincible pair in this case. It didn't take us long to realize that this would completely destroy any semblance of balance in the game, so the idea was ditched. This alteration to Berserker's concept is something that we can reveal now.
  95. >The message Berserker carries as a character
  96. Takeuchi: I guess it would be, "Muscles for the win!"
  97. Nasu: No... it's more like "Mass times speed equals destruction." Fighting games and the like have instilled us with the preconceived notion that power characters have to be slow and ponderous in their movements. We wanted everyone to feel a very real kind of terror at the prospect of a mammoth-sized muscle man moving super fast. When the strongest enemy is also the fastest and is capable of attacking multiple times, the usual tactic of taking down the behemoth with agility and rapid strikes simply will not work.
  98. Takeuchi: The combination of physical strength granted through birth and masterful skills acquired through training truly does forge the ultimate warrior. Add to that the fact that only A-rank attacks or above will be effective, and...
  99. Nasu: Hacks. Total hacks. In a normal game, it's like the legendary artifact you'd expect to find right at the end... You basically can't so much as damage Berserker without a legendary weapon.
  100. Takeuchi: On paper, I imagine there are many Servants who can't even touch Berserker under normal circumstances.
  101. Nasu: It does take an EX rank Noble Phantasm or the A rank Saber to defeat Berserker in a square fight. He is quite literally a killer of mediocre heroes.
  102. Takeuchi: Yeah, you'd have to be a top class hero to stand toe-to-toe with Berserker.
  103. Nasu: Back when I wrote old "Fate" and indeed for quite a duration between the '80s and '90s, Heracles was the most popular and well known Greek hero in Japan. I first head of Cu Chulainn through "Megami Tensei" and took an interest in Irish mythology, but Greek mythology was more commonly known, and within that Greek mythology Heracles was of course hailed as the strongest hero. I was actually quite surprised when I recently found out that some of our "stay night" players didn't know who Heracles was . Even more shocking was when I found out that some players had never even heard of King Arthur.
  104. Takeuchi: guess they fell through the cracks when the entertainment industry started diversifying their cultural sources.
  105. Nasu: "Saint Seiya" was one of the most popular animes of our generation, but it had plenty of predecessors who referenced Greek mythology as well. Don't you remember getting excited over Harryhousen's "Jason and the Argonauts" as a child? Caster's Dragon Tooth Warriors were an homage to the skeletal soldiers I saw in that movie. I just loved the unsettling movements of those skeletal soldiers and found them very inspiring.
  106. Takeuchi: With Greek mythology enjoying another boom of popularity in 2010, it's easy to see how history and the entertainment industry's fads repeat in cycles.
  107.  
  108. Cu Chulainn
  109.  
  110. >The catalyst for Lancer's birth
  111. Nasu: As with Berserker, Lancer's concept did not change much from old "Fate".
  112. Takeuchi: I feel like Lancer was more tragic in old "Fate"... though I suppose he was quite tragic in this one as well.
  113. Nasu: In old "Fate", Lancer had a Master who was more like Rin, so his role as the rival was a bit easier to grasp.
  114. Takeuchi: Old "Fate" didn't have a character like Archer (Emiya), so Lancer filled the rival role instead. In old "Fate", Lancer was basically used as a gopher by a high-maintenance girl. I guess you could say he's had bad luck with women since those days.
  115. Nasu: True enough.
  116. Takeuchi: Who was Cu Chulainn's Master?
  117. Nasu: He trained under Scathach, known for being as cool-headed and beautiful as she was aloof. She definitely didn't coddle him. By persistently challenging her to a fight, Cu Chulainn earned his place as her apprentice and was granted the use of Gae Bolg.
  118. Takeuchi: I believe his Master in old "Fate" was based on Scathach. She left an impression on me because I felt bad for Cu Chulainn finding himself under the influence of another woman like that, even after death.
  119. >Regarding Lancer's character design
  120. Takeuchi: As Nasu mentioned earlier, Lancer's design concept hasn't changed much since the early days. His face in particular remains quite familiar.
  121. Nasu: Especially his hairstyle, slicked back bangs hanging loose, and a ponytail.
  122. Takeuchi: When I was designing Lancer's outfit, I asked Nasu about his concept and thought a bodysuit would go well with his character.
  123. Nasu: Yeah, I think I asked for a bodysuit reminiscent of "Vampire Hunter D".
  124. Takeuchi: I took that direction and ran with it. The final design does have a touch of sci-fi flavour to it, but my initial drafts were even more sci-fi.
  125. Nasu: We had to tone down that sci-fi aspect to make him fit in better with the other characters. We couldn't have "Space Lancer 2004" running around.(laughs) Now that I think about it, Lancer's not the only blue character.
  126. Takeuchi: Yeah, Saber's blue too... Why did we make Lancer blue, then?
  127. Nasu: Blue's really the only colour that suits his concept, don't you think?
  128. Takeuchi: Come to think about it, I've never seen a non-blue variation of Lancer. I guess it was also because he was clearly positioned as Archer's rival.
  129. Nasu: The ancient rivalry between red and blue... As a side note, Gae Bolg was Lancer's Noble Phantasm in old "Fate" as well. When I was coming up with the abilities for it, I thought the notion of a battle between the "rules" laid out by Noble Phantasms would be a new and fun idea.
  130. Takeuchi: Though it didn't work on Saber. (laughs)
  131. Nasu: Haha, yeah. The sure-kill spear that didn't kill. That's the good old Gae Bolg for you. But that was the stage at which I figured out the true direction of "Fate". It wouldn't be about values and numbers, but a battle between concepts.
  132. >The Noble Phantasm Gae Bolg
  133. Nasu: A weapon that strikes with guaranteed fatal blows sounds like a total cheat, but I guess it doesn't sound as bad now since we were just talking about Berserker earlier. (laughs)
  134. Takeuchi: Are there any limitations to the use of Gae Bolg, or is the True Name the only requirement?
  135. Nasu: The Noble Phantasm will activate if Lancer is within spear-striking distance of his opponent. If his opponent has a high luck stat, the attack can still miss, though that is quite rare.
  136. Takeuchi: So luck is the only way to dodge it?
  137. Nasu: Yeah, I'd say so. Even if your agility was EX level, it wouldn't matter. The only reason why Saber survived Gae Bolg's strike was because her luck stat was high.
  138. TakeuchI: I guess her precog ability helped too.
  139. Nasu: I like to call it intuition. Add to that her B-level luck, and she was able to avoid fatal injury even though she still couldn't dodge the attack completely.
  140. Takeuchi: Do you think it would hit Archer?
  141. Nasu: Without a doubt. Archer knows that too, which is why he stays as far away from Lancer as possible. If Lancer ever got that look in his eyes and took the stance, Archer would backpedal like his life depended on it, because it would.
  142. Takeuchi: I see... well, they do say discretion is the better part of valor. What about throwing Gae Bolg?
  143. Nasu: Gae Bolg: Soaring Spear that Strikes with Death is purely destructive power.
  144. Takeuchi: I guess it would be too much if Gae Bolg could strike the target's heart without fail when thrown as well.
  145. Nasu: That would be an ability worthy of Lugh, Lancer's father... it might even be more powerful that Fragarach.
  146. Takeuchi: Eternal Force Blizzard! Instant death. Something like that, right?
  147. Nasu: Sounds about right. The legendary battles of ancient mythology were quite literally played out in god mode, after all.
  148. >The message Lancer carries as a character
  149. Nasu: I imagine most of us want to feel like we've lived a good life. That thought was at the forefront of my mind when I was writing for Lancer. In "hollow" he has a line where he questions the necessity of hating one's enemy. I feel like that sentiment sums up Lancer's personality. I guess you could say it's my version of the manga "Haguregumo", just not as... unique. (laughs)
  150. Takeuchi: Or even Josuke Higashikata.
  151. Nasu: I don't know... Josuke's a bit silly.
  152. Takeuchi: What about Juuza of the Clouds, then?
  153. Nasu: Juuza is supposed to be like the clouds, but in reality he's totally paralyzed. He's just forever dragging his feelings for Yuria around.
  154. Takeuchi: His death was admirable, though.
  155. Nasu: To elaborate further on Lancer, he's always been portrayed as a slender warrior. The design concept for him was a panther, with tight groupings of solid muscles.
  156. Takeuchi: I always imagined Lancer with softer eyes, which may be why I always drew him with slightly heavy eyes that were angled downward. But then I saw that other artists always drew Lancer with extremely sharp eyes. I would never have realised my mistake if I hadn't noticed that.
  157. Nasu: ...You're terrible (laughs)
  158. TakeuchI: Yeah, I angled Lancer's eyes down for "Zero" before I checked the main game and remembered that his eyes were in fact angled skyward.
  159. Nasu: Lancer's a truly hopeless character, isn't he? I mean, he died in an accident in Sakura's route... (laughs)
  160. Takeuchi: How did he meet his end in Saber's route?
  161. Nasu: He was defeated by Gil in the church basement. We didn't elaborate on this in the game, but Lancer was actually battling against Gil for half a day before he lost, so I think it's safe to say that Gil sustained some serious injuries in that encounter.
  162. Takeuchi: I doubt many of the people who played the game spent much time thinking about that particular fight.
  163. Nasu: Cu Chulainn is probably one of the top two greatest heroes in Irish Mythology. This may seem contrary to what I was saying about Berserker, but Lancer's agility and combat experience are enough to keep him alive even without some overwhelming super ability. Lancer is definitely a character based on the survivor archetype.
  164. Takeuchi: Regardless of concept, as far as the story is concerned, Lancer was basically the bait in a giant dog fighting ring. Even the thrown Bolg was just there to make Aegis seem more impressive.
  165. Nasu: Hey! Are you dissing Lancer!?
  166. Takeuchi: I just think he was a very unfortunate character, all things considered. But I guess that's why the impression he left on me was something akin to clouds.
  167.  
  168. Kojiro
  169.  
  170. >The catalyst for Assassin's birth
  171. Nasu: Assassin is the ultimate in straightforward characters... there are no twists or surprises to him...
  172. Takeuchi: I don't think we need to emphasise that... (laughs)
  173. Nasu: We used some pretty identifiable East/West archetypes for the Servants, and you recognise Assassin as a samurai as soon as you see him. In addition, the one rule that had always been at the forefront of all things Master and Servant-related was the fact that servants tend to hide their true identities by default. Then along came Assassin, who did not hesitate to introduce himself as Kojirou Sasaki. I was aiming for the ultimate "surprise" factor by blatantly breaking the mold with Assassin... that's really the only motivation I had for his character.
  174. Takeuchi: You sound like you're devaluing him entirely. (laughs)
  175. Nasu: I also really wanted to attach him to the mountain gate because mountain gates are such a regular feature in legends. Such gates tend to be guarded by scary demons, and Assassin's presence around Ryuudouji Temple is like an homage to those legends because he is attached to the gate instead of a Master, like other Servants. His role as the gate's guard serves another purpose... I think all RPG players are familiar with the notion of wanting to get to their main target, but being forced to fight through other enemies first. Assassin is that very wall standing between an intruder and their main target inside Ryuudouji Temple.
  176. >Regarding Assassin's design
  177. Takeuchi: Assassin is such a stoic character. His design was based on a design I thought up for old "Fate".
  178. Nasu: But the character design used in old "Fate" had more of an otherworldly and feminine vibe, didn't it?
  179. Takeuchi: Yeah, this Assassin is definitely manlier compared to the previous iteration.
  180. Nasu: The old "Fate" design possessed a kind of undeniable beauty that appeals to both men and women.
  181. Takeuchi: That type of beauty was really popular back when you and I were still in school. Hideyuki Kikuchi's "Makai Ishi Mephisto" is one example that instantly comes to mind. Our old Assassin was based on that theory of beauty... one that transcends the usual boundaries of male and female aesthetics, which some consider to simply be a man with a pretty face. Though Assassin's "beauty" is not enhanced with the appeal of the demon world Makai, I fully intended for him to be the most handsome character in the series.
  182. Nasu: I guess you could say Assassin was beautiful in old "Fate" and handsome in this one.
  183. Takeuchi: Less elegance, perhaps, but definitely more purity. The current Assassin lost some of that sense of divinity he had in old "Fate", and instead gained a generous helping of godly swordsmanship skills.
  184. >Assassin's skill as a swordsman
  185. Nasu: This Assassin, or "Kojiro Sasaki", could possibly the most skilled swordsman in the history of mankind. He was the kind of guy who would hide himself away deep in the mountains and spend his days swinging his sword, with little interest in anything else. But he never desired or attempted to show his hard-earned sword skills to anyone. The popular notion that there are more people like him in this world than most realise took form as "the hope of the people" and produced sword skills capable of contending with Noble Phantasms.
  186. Takeuchi: In old "Fate", it was the Kojiro Sasaki from the Musashi Miyamoto legend who was summoned, right?
  187. Nasu: In old "Fate", yes. Though both were summoned by Caster, the Kojiro Sasaki in old "Fate" was the real deal. But during my 15 years since I wrote old "Fate", I've been able to read up some more on Kojiro's legends, and it turns out there's a theory that the legends are compiled from the feats performed by three different individuals. Based on this, I thought it would be interesting if this Assassin was a "Fake" Kojiro. If a Master were to try and intentionally summon Kojiro Sasaki, they wouldn't be able to because he didn't actually exist. As was suggested in the storyline, if there existed a giant database of humans, this swordsman would be the one whose data most closely resembled the profile of "Kojiro Sasaki". Through this process, this man's persona became that of Assassin's (Kojiro Sasaki's), and any accomplishment he achieved would therefore be attributed to Kojiro Sasaki rather than this random "nameless samurai". This "reality shift" of sorts is also why a mere human being was able to master a move like the "Multi-Dimensional Refraction Phenomenon (Tsubame Gaeshi)". Still, he himself does not particularly view this feat as anything special. He does recognise how it could be considered impressive, but in his opinion, it is completely reasonable for a man to produce such results if they spent over 50 years swinging a sword and doing little else.
  188. Takeuchi: I find that most gifted people tend to have similar misconceptions.
  189. Nasu: I will also note that this particular individual was capable of performing the Tsubame Gaeshi while he was still alive as a mortal, so it is not a skill he acquired as a Servant. He literally mastered the ability right at the end of his lifespan, and died with the satisfaction of knowing that he had reached the pinnacle of swordsmanship. So despite achieving this feat before his natural death, he was at no point intentionally aiming for something as grand as the Multi-Dimensional Refraction Phenomenon, nor did he ever show another living soul what he had learned. Can you imagine? He achieved something that would be considered impossible for a human being under normal circumstances, yet his reaction was to nod and say, "I suppose that will do" before keeling over. This is just the way he was, and basically sums up why he is a miracle man.
  190. >The message Assassin carries as a character
  191. Nasu: Uhm... I actually think we've covered everything already.
  192. Takeuchi: Kojiro almost vanished completely, but somehow he managed to cling to this realm of existence for the sole purpose of sharing a battle with Saber. So I guess you could say he was one of the most single-minded and stubborn characters?
  193. Nasu: For the entire duration of his life as a mortal man, Kojiro never once exchanged blades with another living soul. So getting the opportunity to fight against a warrior who he deemed worthy was truly a special occasion for him. As a side note, Kojiro even fended off Berserker once. There is a Japanese proverb that says you can fend of any enemy if you have the right skills. Even if you can't claim victory, you can at least chase them away. Kojirou's style of defense is more of an offensive-defensive style, where instead of protecting himself from his opponent's strikes, he takes the stance of, "If you come any closer, I'll probably die but I most certainly will take you with me". If Berserker had gone for the kill against Kojiro, Berserker would have been decapitated the moment his weapon reached Kojiro. Of course, Berserker has God Hand: Twelve Labors, so if he really had gone for the kill, that would have simply been the end of Kojiro. But Illya knew Assassin had Caster behind him, so she chose to avoid charging in recklessly with Berserker.
  194.  
  195. Medusa
  196.  
  197. >The catalyst for Rider's birth
  198. Takeuchi: Rider's one of the rare cases where the design changed quite a bit between the early days and the final design.
  199. Nasu: The early drafts actually lived on to become Ayako... and I don't want to hear anything about her eyebrows being thick! I saw a movie called "Vidocq", and I was totally charmed by the mirror-masked killer in it. I just really liked the way he moved and hid using his black cloak. I wanted to reproduce that feeling in the game, so I figured we could have a Rider with disheveled hair wearing a long robe. But then Takeuchi drew up the base design for the current Rider just on a lark, and even I had to admit it was the better design. That illustration of Rider where her face is angled down and to the side... that's the one that captured my heart.
  200. Takeuchi: So how did we decide on Medusa as an identity for Rider again? Was it because we were talking about the lack of a "sexy" type character?
  201. Nasu: Yes, that's right. Rider was originally a male character, but we realised we didn't have enough female characters for a bishoujo game. The original concept for Rider was a masterless "stray" Servant whose name was Perseus, from Greek mythology. By the time he made his first appearance, his master was long dead. The concept took two or three different turns before it finally settled into the current Rider.
  202. Takeuchi: When we reviewed the Servants in search of one that could be changed into a female, Berserker was out of the question and Assassin's identity as Kojiro was basically the punch line for his character, so that left Rider.
  203. Nasu: But there weren't any legendary heroines with ties to Pegasus, so we selected Medusa, who gave birth to Pegasus, as Rider's new identity.
  204. Takeuchi: We originally had no intention of releasing any information about Rider prior to the game's launch, but when the launch was delayed by about a month, we suddenly found ourselves in need of material to fill the gap. We reluctantly unveiled Medusa, but we didn't reveal the details of her character, like the fact that she was a Servant.
  205. Nasu: We imagined most people would assume she was Assassin, and we were quite pleased to let them think that.
  206. Takeuchi: Indeed, we were quite successful on that front, I mean, after seeing that nail...
  207. Nasu: No one would guess it was Rider!
  208. Takeuchi: The best part was that the magazine Rider was revealed in added the tagline "Sexy Fighting Lady". How great is that!?
  209. Nasu: I love it.(laughs)
  210. >Regarding Rider's character design
  211. The main thing I was conscious off with Rider's design was the fact I didn't want her outfit to turn out something obscene. I leaned more toward a snug-fitting bodysuit rather than a sexually charged leather suit.
  212. Nasu: I do recall you when I asked you if her outfit was leather, you said "no" with quite a bit of tenor.
  213. Takeuchi: I may not have wanted the suit itself to be leather, but I did imagine the bindings to be leather. I thought those little accents being made of leather might add a touch of elegance without making her look like a dominatrix.
  214. Nasu: I see. As a side note, Rider was initially supposed to have a height somewhere in the range of 175-180cm, but we were worried that PC gamers might not find such a tall woman particularly appealing, so we compromised at 172cm.
  215. Takeuchi: I imagine she wouldn't have such a wide appeal if we set her height in the 180cm range.
  216. Nasu: But you know, I did get some feedback suggesting that more than a few of our players were surprised that she was "so short" since I had emphasised her height in the original "stay night" material.
  217. Takeuchi: Personally, I think somewhere around 170cm was just the right height to make her self-conscious about her height without making her a giant.
  218. Nasu: You're right, I suppose any girl over 170cm in height is pretty tall. I think tall women are cool, but I do wonder if I should have eased up on that a bit.
  219. Takeuchi: I think it's fine. Rider's height is what makes her unique, and it was precisely her height that made that awesome pose at Ryuudouji Temple during Sakura's route possible.
  220. Nasu: That was one of the rare cases where I, as the writer, made a specific request about the visual aspect. I asked them to give her an "arachnid pose".
  221. >Rider's feelings about her master
  222. Nasu: I saw Rider as a Doberman, fierce and scary but beautiful and loyal. Rider considered Sakura to be her true Master, so when Sakura wanted rider to obey Shinji instead, Rider did so dutifully despite her personal feelings. But even Rider had her limits in dealing with a jerk like Shinji... (laughs)
  223. Takeuchi: She does come off as a very loyal individual.
  224. Nasu: Rider initially had a military theme, so she's definitely not the kind of person who interacts with others based on sentiment... she views it more as a duty.
  225. >The message Rider carries as a character
  226. Nasu: An outlaw with super long hair and the Mystic Eyes of Petrification... a winning trifecta!
  227. Takeuchi: Speaking of Mystic Eyes, the mark on Rider's forehead was designed to look like a snake and was originally going to be a third eye.
  228. Takeuchi: Now that I think about it... if we had given her a third eye, we probably wouldn't have had her wearing glasses...
  229. Nasu: ...You're right!
  230. Takeuchi: That was a close one... (laughs)
  231. Nasu: Even in the old "Fate" we had drilled it into our fans that Noble Phantasms were swords. So I could only imagine their reactions when Rider activated her reins of all things, which was immediately evaporated. (laughs) In a manner of speaking, Rider's true name was essentially the punch line of her character, much like Kojiro. That's why I mostly kept her quiet throughout the whole "stay night"
  232. Takeuchi: For the longest time, I thought Pegasus was her Noble Phantasm, so I assumed the reins were like a Noble Phantasm Rider used to control her Noble Phantasm... but then Nasu told me that Pegasus wasn't a Noble Phantasm, and my mind was blown.
  233. Nasu: At the school and on the roof, Rider only summoned Pegasus. After summoning Pegasus, Rider uses her reins as a kind of power-up item, and that was the recipe behind Bellerophon.
  234.  
  235. Zouken and True Assassin
  236.  
  237. >The Catalyst for Zouken's and True Assassin's birth
  238. Nasu: Every good story needs a creepy old man, right? Since Sakura's route in particular is extremely dark compared to the others, I thought it'd be okay to include the "grandfather" character there.
  239. Takeuchi: I do remember how important that was to you in the beginning. You insisted we include an old geezer who was more monster than human. To be honest, I'm not sure why that was such a vital story element for you...
  240. Nasu: I wanted to have the classic face-off between generations, where the young people have to face the fact that you just can't contend with the experience of age. I love Zouken's eyes and the way they glare at everyone. No matter how powerful or important someone is, none of that means anything compared to the insane amount of time this old man's been around.
  241. Takeuchi: For the players who spent a ton of time going through every route, I imagine Zouken and True Assassin in Sakura's route acted as a refreshing bit of stimulation. They really did pull the whole story together quite well.
  242. Nasu: Zouken was one of the people who originally started the Holy Grail War, so that made him a very important character in the story. As far as True Assassin is concerned, I just wanted to include a character who wore a torn-up robe.... not to mention skulls are super cool.
  243. Nasu: Nasu went through a serious "visual kei" phase in school, so... he likes skulls. (laughs)
  244. Nasu: Just hearing that term gets my creative juices flowing. When I was first laying out the plot, the Assassin class was not the first one I thought of for Zouken's Servant. My thought process was that the Servant used by Zouken couldn't be too powerful, otherwise fighting against them would get way too out of control. So I started wondering which class was technically weak in terms of direct combat but could prove quite dangerous depending on how it was used. This class also needed to be convincing as Zouken's Servant, of course. The answer came to me pretty quickly in the form of True Assassin. In that way, I decided I would create a Servant that represented the true nature of the Assassin class.
  245. Takeuchi: One of the charms of Kojiro's character was that he is not at all the "Assassin" type of guy, so having True Assassin there as a sort of counterpoint character was really interesting.
  246. >Regarding Zouken's and True Assassin's design
  247. Takeuchi: You know the archetypical Grim Reaper you see in American comics and such? I based True Assassin's design on that image and went with a more orthodox look.
  248. Nasu: I thought making modifications to his body would make True Assassin more interesting, so I extended his right arm and then folded it up to hide it. I wanted the player to wonder why his one arm was shaped like a thick stick when he first showed up, but sadly the PC version did not have an event CG associated with his grand entrance. By the time True Assassin did get a proper event CG, he had already unleashed his right arm. This always bothered me, so I made sure to have a proper illustration made for True Assassin's first appearance when we were working on the PS2 version.
  249. Takeuchi: True Assassin's arm was already quite long in his standing pose image, so I extended it even more to make it more dramatic in the event CG. (laughs) Still, I feel like he was such a memorable character in Nasu's writings, but I don't think I managed to reproduce that impact through my art. But I will say I don't even see the point of hiding his arm to begin with when he stands out so much anyway. (laughs)
  250. Nasu: True, he looks extremely suspicious regardless... I guess I was just hoping to surprise everyone because his left arm is pretty long as it is, so I didn't think anyone would be expecting his right arm to be even longer. I imagine some would accuse me of making his right arm too long, though. The men who became the origin of the word "assassin" (True Assassin) are not technically Heroic Spirits and have no special lore associated with them, so that left me with the question, "How do you turn an ordinary human being into a Servant?" I thought the ritualistic body modifications the Hassans were known for would serve that purpose well.
  251. Takeuchi: The first draft of Zouken I drew was more of a beastly design. I guess I was trying to emphasise his demonic aspects, but Nasu stopped me.
  252. Nasu: Just the thought of having an old man with an "obviously" scary face might make the player think we're trying to trick them and that he's actually super weak. That's why I thought it would be better to have an old man that looked about as frail as a withered tree.
  253. Takeuchi: After changing gears, I thought about the "old man" type monsters you usually find in folklore and other old stories. They generally have an obsession with immortality and repeatedly scream about how they don't want to die. Many such stories have these creatures using young maidens as the source of their sustained youth. With these examples as guidelines, I ended up with Zouken's current design.
  254. Nasu: His crooked posture and unusual outfit makes him look quite feeble, but also eerie. Though it might seem like you could easily break him in half with your bare hands, there's something about the way he carries himself that lets you know it wouldn't be so easy.
  255. Takeuchi: Doesn't he remind you of a certain youkai?
  256. Nasu: Yeah, the Nurarihyan. Zouken's a lot like that youkai, I think. The Nurarihyan doesn't do anything crazy like running amok and destroying worlds, but he is one of the most well-known youkai, and knowing that he could be sitting in that little bit of shadow in the corner of your room is scary enough. Just the thought of him makes me want to glance over my shoulder....
  257. Takeuchi: In mainstream folklore, the Nurarihyan has basically come to be known as a minor god.
  258. Nasu: If we wanted to put Zouken in that kind of position, we would have had to include him right from the start, in Saber's route instead of just Sakura's route. That's what I would expect, anyway.
  259. Takeuchi: Now that I think about it, you're right. Sakura's route is the only one in which Zouken actually comes out into the open.
  260. Nasu: Zouken is vulnerable to sunlight, so he generally stays hidden away somewhere indoors. He would only really step outside for business related to the spiritual lands owned by the Matou family. Zouken is responsible for quite a few spiritual lands across the country, including in Fuyuki City. He was actually away from Fuyuki City originally, but returned just prior to the start of the Fifth Holy Grail War. I imagine the few people who knew him weren't even sure if he was still alive or not until his return. After Zouken failed in the previous Holy Grail War, even Kotomine assumes he'd stay out of the next one. Kotomine probably would have been right if it wasn't for the fact that Sakura's natural gifts made her the perfect vessel. Zouken spent most of his days tucked away indoors while muttering about the impending limits of his physical body and using his worms to turn random civilians into sustenance he needed to stay alive.
  261. Takeuchi: Zouken knew about Shirou, right?
  262. Nasu: Zouken knew that Kiritsugu had adopted him. Assuming that Shirou would cause some kind of trouble for him in the next Holy Grail War, Zouken sent Sakura to the Emiya household to keep an eye on Shirou. Since mages usually train an apprentice to take their place before they die, I guess Zouken thought Shirou would be participating in the next Holy Grail War in Kiritsugu's stead. Kiritsugu, however, was not a regular mage, and therefore did not follow those traditions. This mistake is what lead Zouken to say too much the first time he encountered Shirou in Sakura's route.
  263. >The message Zouken and True Assassin carry as characters
  264. Nasu: This shady team is shrouded in darkness. They are not particularly exciting characters, but that is precisely what brings their story to life. I had a lot of fun writing for True Assassin, especially when it came to his combat scenes. While the other Servants ran around with mythical weapons of legend, True Assassin was the only one using weapons that you could find in real life. I mean, doesn't he look totally adorable when he's picking up a knife after throwing it? That little chore makes him seem like some pathetic minion. (laughs)
  265.  
  266. Archer
  267.  
  268. >The catalyst for Archer's birth
  269. Nasu: Archer has to be one of the most obvious and transparent characters possible.
  270. Takeuchi: He earned some serious popularity among the fans, enough to get him third place in a popularity contest. The top three positions are usually reserved for the heroines.
  271. Nasu: That was really hard to believe.
  272. Takeuchi: None of the characters in old "Fate" really held the same position as Archer, so it's safe to say he truly is a "stay night" original.
  273. Nasu: I guess you could say his personality and behaviour were transplanted from the male Saber in the original Fate". Archer's theme is pretty stereotypical, and I think we used him to supplement some of the nihilism that was lacking in "stay night" as a result of male Saber's exclusion. It was also great to have Archer and Rin together. That particular pairing was really easy to write.
  274. >Regarding Archer's character design
  275. Takeuchi: I knew from the beginning that Archer and Shirou were technically the same person, so I just aimed to design a character of ambiguous nationality but with a distinct Japanese style.
  276. Nasu: I asked Takeuchi to make sure Archer's true identity wasn't obvious, but also to avoid making him look totally different. We gave him white hair and a slightly darker skin tone, but their personalities have similarities... and their eyebrows are exactly the same.
  277. Takeuchi: Koyama commented on the eyebrows,, but it was a while after the game was released. I was like, "It took you this long to notice!?" (laughs)
  278. Nasu: It's one of those details that tends to escape notice until someone points it out.
  279. Takeuchi: I don't know how anyone can miss such weird-looking eyebrows... but I guess if even the development staff didn't notice it right away, I did a good job. Good job, me!
  280. Nasu: Yes, yes... You did a good job with that subtlety. Here, have a gold star. I think the red coat was another detail that I specifically requested?
  281. Takeuchi: Yeah, that's right. But it's not really a coat, is it? As I recall, we decided to use the term "overcoat" because we couldn't very well call it a red waistcloth.
  282. Nasu: So this is what passes for an overcoat in the future? (laughs)
  283. Takeuchi: The future is an awesome place! I wonder if the swords were the secret to Archer's popularity. I feel like the Kanshou and Bakuya designs turned out really well.
  284. Nasu: Somehow, Archer looks more natural holding Kanshou and Bakuya than he does wielding a bow.
  285. Takeuchi: I think going with a Chinese-style weapon was the right choice. I feel like Archer might not have turned out as well if we had chosen a Western sword or Japanese katana for him. Kanshou and Bakuya offer such a subtle balance. Koyama deserves all the credit for that one. I also think they strike a good balance between a realistic and manga style.
  286. >The message Archer carries as a character
  287. Nasu: I feel like I said everything I wanted to say with Archer in the main game storyline.
  288. Takeuchi: Maybe that explains his popularity. Honestly, I sometimes wonder why and how he got so popular.
  289. Nasu: Hmm... sex appeal?
  290. Takeuchi: But he's popular with the male playerbase as well.
  291. Nasu: Ha! It's easy to gain a male following if you're all cool and nihilistic like Archer. Curse people who find fulfillment in their lives!
  292. Takeuchi: Uh... I don't think Archer necessarily found fulfillment in his life... but I guess his words and actions carry a certain weight with them, and I imagine that made him very easy to like.
  293. Nasu: He took on the much needed role of admonishing our troublesome main character, so it was inevitable that he would eventually become a hated character or an obstacle that would have to be overcome. It's one of those conflicts from which only one will walk away. I think this role made him very attractive as well.
  294. Takeuchi: I guess.
  295. Nasu: I heard that some of our more intuitive players figured out Archer's true identity in Saber's route.
  296. Takeuchi: Seriously!?
  297. Nasu: I was surprised too, when I heard. I mean, it's true we did have two or three well-hidden clues tucked away in there, so it doesn't seem entirely infeasible. Of course, we had put those clues there so that the player might recall them during Rin's route and slowly figure it out from there... I don't think any of us expected players to figure it out during Saber's route.
  298. Takeuchi: I think Archer earned some serious points though with his battle against Berserker. He really secured his place as a character who can "speak volumes with his back turned". We only incorporated that scene because it was necessary with regard to the storyline, but looking back at it now, I realise that a great scene it really was. I don't think anyone expected that dialogue in that moment... it was all so perfect. Archer really is a great character.
  299. Nasu: He's technically a pretty oblivious character who is really awkward at life, but his nihilistic side was powerfully emphasised in the main storyline of "Fate". I suppose you could say he has a leg up on Shirou out of sheer life experience.
  300. >Archer's thoughts and feelings on being summoned by Rin
  301. Nasu: I'd like to leave that particular point up to the player's imagination, so I won't discuss it in detail here. Something I can talk about is how we managed to incorporate two things into "Fate" that we didn't get around to doing in "Tsukihime". The first was a route that was played from the victim's point of view, and the other was to portray a duel against the ideal version of oneself. The thing about battling an "ideal version of oneself" is that this concept itself is open for interpretation. The "ideal self" could be a rival, someone totally different like Kotomine, or literally oneself. After much deliberation, we decided we'd go with the "vs. self" concept for "Fate". Gil was the Archer in old "Fate", but we chose to promote Gil to a boss role and put future Shirou in the Archer position this time. In this way, we were able to facilitate Shirou's "battle vs. himself". The "victim's route" was established by Satsuki's route, and we also supplemented that theme with Sakura's route.
  302.  
  303. Shirou
  304.  
  305. >The catalyst for Shirou's birth
  306. Nasu: Takeuchi was the one who approached me about the main character for "stay night", saying he wanted it to be a stubborn guy. We hadn't gotten around to doing the whole "fighting against yourself" theme that we wanted to do with "Tsukihime", so we figured this would be a great opportunity to do that and blend it with the "hero of justice" concept we wanted to explore.
  307. Takeuchi: Though Shirou's concept went through at least a couple of revisions.
  308. Nasu: Initially, Gilgamesh was the 8th Servant, and he was a [gate] keeper instead of an Archer. The heirloom artifact was supposed to be the key. Early on, we laid out a few plot twists with certain route branches and red herrings that made the player think Gilgamesh might be Shirou. Since the surname Emiya can be defined as the protector [keeper] of the "miya", it would have been interesting at the very least. That was going to be Shirou's link with Gilgamesh. Despite the various colourful concepts we considered for Shirou, he ended up being a pretty simplistic "hero of justice" who felt bound by fate when he survived a terrible situation.
  309. Takeuchi: The character's basic concept didn't change much from the first draft, red hair, a prominent scowl, stubborn, and a steady gaze. We were aiming for an orthodox shonen manga hero, but we knew that alone would be far too dull, so we gave him an extra touch of mystique by adding extra lines to his eyes. I didn't think too hard about it when I first started drawing him, but I think I did a pretty good job of designing a character with elements that compensated for the somewhat unusual foundation of his design.
  310. Nasu: He's the kind of guy who knows what his goal is and shows very little interest in anything that doesn't somehow relate to him achieving that goal. It's not that he doesn't take interest in other things, but more that he can't. I suppose you could say he's more "serious" than "stubborn". He can be quite insensitive when it comes to human happiness, but again, that is because it is his nature and not a result of him being heartless.
  311. >Regarding Shirou's character design
  312. Takeuchi: Of the "stay night" characters, Shirou's probably the most difficult to draw.
  313. Nasu: Yeah, I find it's difficult to write for him too.
  314. Takeuchi: I'm sure, but I'm talking specifically about drawing him. His facial expressions in particular always give me trouble. That's why I have so much respect for the people handling him for the anime.
  315. Nasu: Maybe we should have designed him to be more like an archetypical hero... Would that have made him easier to draw, in a manner of speaking?
  316. Takeuchi: That's possible. His eyebrows are so unique that they're hard to work around when forming different facial expressions. Scowling and yelling are easy enough, but the more subtle expressions prove quite tricky. We basically created a monster in terms of design. (laughs)
  317. >Designing Shirou's outfits
  318. Takeuchi: I don't have any comments in particular regarding his outfits, I suppose the only direction I really had in mind was to make him look as normal as possible instead of emphasising his unique nature.
  319. Nasu: One thing we can say is that Shirou's outfits were designed under one of Type-Moon's most constant rules, which is that the main character is never overly accesorised. When I create a main character, I usually focus on their inner aspects, so we try to leave the character's exterior as plain as possible to ensure that the player can envision him however they like.
  320. >The message Shirou carries as a character
  321. Takeuchi: I think one of the main reasons I find Shirou so difficult to draw is because I didn't draw him very much for "Fate". That was a result of Type-Moon's approach to "gal games" being centered around the idea that the main character shouldn't be visually represented very often.
  322. We only showed his standing pose image when we were seeing him from Rin's point of view, and there were very few event illustrations in which Shirou made an appearance.
  323. Nasu: There's one where he's holding Sakura... and then the intimate scenes, of course. Most of the important scenes were drawn with the focus on the sword.
  324. Takeuchi: He also showed up in the generic combat illustrations, I did draw him quite a bit for the PS2 game "Realta Nua" though. Since "stay night" was technically designed to be a bishojo game, we did our best to avoid giving the main character a face. The PS2 game, on the other hand, didn't have any graphic scenes so we didn't have to worry about that as much. But when I had to draw him for the first time in a while, I experienced difficulties in getting him right. I had a terrible time trying to make him look like the standing pose image I drew of him.
  325. Nasu: (laughs)
  326. Takeuchi: That standing pose image is what I consider to be the epitome of everything Shirou should be, visually speaking.
  327. Nasu: I remember when we debated quite a bit over Shirou's facial expression because I kept insisting that he needed to look more stubborn.
  328. Takeuchi: Did we? I don't remember, but that sounds about right.
  329. Nasu: Shirou's the kind of main character who wants to save as many people as possible and make them all happy, in contrast, Shiki from "Tsukihime" is the kind of person who only cares about those closest to him and their happiness.
  330. Takeuchi: Shiki was the guy I wanted to be when I grew up, back when I was in middle school and first learned about otaku culture. Shirou, on the other hand, was who I wanted to be way back when I was in elementary school and knew nothing about any of that stuff (laughs)
  331. >Shirou's thoughts regarding the female characters
  332. Nasu: In the early stages of the plot, Shirou considers Saber to be his soul mate, someone with whom he shares ideals. Rin was the classmate he admired, and Sakura was someone he felt he needed to protect. Shirou is a self-sacrificing idealist who was essentially guided through life by the things he believed in, but Sakura was an exception for him. Only when dealing with Sakura was the idealistic and profound Shirou Emiya reduced to a mere human being with more mundane thoughts and emotions. As a side note, Shirou's heart was always racing when it came to Rin.
  333. Takeuchi: I never considered Shirou to be particularly dense or indecisive. He's the kind of guy who would be very careful about his choices when it came to matters of the heart.
  334. Nasu: I definitely wouldn't say he's dense; he just has his priorities straight and doesn't try to hide it. He is, after all, a superhero... an idealistic public figure. (laughs)
  335. Takeuchi: Despite all that, there is something about him that makes you feel he deserves every bit of mortal happiness he can get. I believe Shirou discovered his "most human" self in Sakura's route, and I'd say that has a lot to do with Illya's presence.
  336. Nasu: Illya's and Sakura's circumstances are very similar, so I think it's safe to say that Illya often empathised with Sakura even though they were technically enemies.
  337.  
  338. Kotomine Kirei
  339.  
  340. >The catalyst for Kirei Kotomine's birth
  341. Nasu: I do feel like we might have been a little too intense with Kirei, but I've learned my lesson.
  342. Takeuchi: Yeah, he was pretty scruffy right from the earliest design drafts. The trademarks of characters like this are always developed and emphasised over time.
  343. Nasu: Kirei is just full of mystery, and part of that was because we wanted characters to suspect him of being a boss character upon first glance. We also wanted the players to dislike him, like he was the reason they didn't want to go to church. Another key phrase for Kirei's character was "dark saint". It was merely his beliefs that put him at odds with the game's protagonists, and he himself is not what you would consider a villain. Of course, from most perspectives, Kirei totally looks like your common bad guy.
  344. Takeuchi: Kirei was one of those designs that came off as "all wrong" at first, wasn't he?
  345. Nasu: I'll admit the initial draft showed me a man who wasn't at all the way I had pictured Kirei in my mind... but I also didn't think it was altogether wrong, so I decided to give it a fair shake.
  346. Takeuchi: Kirei was based on a vocalist I really like. I did my best to infuse Kirei's design with the same distinct presence and charisma that said vocalist possesses. By the way, why did we add that whole Bajiquan bit to his concept?
  347. Kirei: When you asked me if Kirei is a fighter type, I replied that he'd be able to fight using Black Keys at the very least, much like Ciel. That's when you started incessantly demanding that he be a Bajiquan fighter...
  348. Takeuchi: Oh... right. (laughs) I thought it sounded like something I'd suggest.
  349. Nasu: It came up when I was trying to figure out what type of martial arts Kirei would pursue, and I felt that Bajiquan would be a good fit for him. The whole idea of being strict with yourself and honing your physical body was right up Kirei's alley. This particular aspect of his concept really blossomed in "Zero".
  350. >Kirei's prowess
  351. Nasu: You want to know exactly how powerful Kirei is? You'll have to ask Gen Urobuchi. (laughs)
  352. Takeuchi: Well, after being doused in so much of the Holy Grail, I imagine his physical body has been weakened significantly from his "Zero" days.
  353. Nasu: For someone who died like that to be alive ten years later is quite a feat in and of itself. Kirei has quite a few Command Spells on his arms, and we were actually thinking about using cool visual effects to show the Command Seals being expended when he was defeating Zouken in "stay night". Even a flesh-and-blood human could damage a Heroic Spirit by using ten or so Command Spells. Unfortunately, we didn't get the change to show this because True Assassin was less effective than we had all hoped. (laughs)
  354. TakeuchI: I imagine people who played the game felt the same way, though it remains unclear as to whether it was a case of Kirei being too strong or True Assassin not being strong enough.
  355. Nasu: True Assassin is a careful servant who never lowers his guard. He uses distance to defend against and ultimately finish the target. As his final checkmate move, True Assassin uses Zabaniya: Delusional Heartbeat, but even he wasn't sure what to think when he tried to use his Noble Phantasm on Kirei.
  356. Takeuchi: He was like "This guy doesn't even have a heart...?"
  357. Nasu: That was all the opportunity Kirei needed to get to Zouken... so it was definitely True Assassin's lack of preparation that resulted in Zouken's demise.
  358. Takeuchi: I don't think anyone can really blame him, though. Why would anyone stop to think that this living, breathing human being might not have a normal human heart, right?
  359. Nasu: Kirei's role in Sakura's route was essentially the opposite of the whole "wouldn't it be scary if Saber was an enemy?" concept in that we took the guy everyone hated and made him a formidable ally. I believe that particular idea was summed up well in that one scene where Kirei was running with Illya in his arms. While Shirou was the uncertain adolescent in "stay night", Kirei had already dealt with his uncertainties by "Zero", making him incredibly powerful. When infiltrating Einzbern Castle, Kirei asked "You haven't even been rock climbing before?" as if it was the most basic milestone of childhood. It makes you wonder about Kirei's childhood... (laughs)
  360. Takeuchi: Speaking of being powerful... Who's stronger: Ciel or Kirei?
  361. Nasu: Ciel is by far more powerful. Just take her lineage into consideration, and add to that her immortality. Kirei's prowess in "Zero" was rooted in the sheer number of Command Spells at his disposal as much as it was in his obsession with Kiritsugu. Suffice to say, it was his golden age. I believe the "Zero" Kirei could have defeated Ciel.
  362. >Regarding Kirei's character design
  363. Takeuchi: I wanted to make Kirei as manly as possible. The way his hair curls up at his collar was part of that, but it came to be described as merely "unkempt"... Nasu: During the hanafuda mini-game in "hollow", Taiga mentions her desire to cut off all that mess.
  364. Takeuchi: I'm certain Kirei likes his hairstyle.
  365. Nasu: Every morning, he looks at himself in the mirror and predicts how each day will go based on the way his hair curls... like a horoscope!
  366. >The message Kirei carries as a character
  367. Nasu: He is the greatest of villains, but he is not a contradiction. His premise may be a paradox but he, as a man, is not. "stay night" was my attempt at telling a story without an absolute evil. When you have an obvious "evil" milling about in your story, it almost always turns out to be the same thing... the feeble pursuit of anything that might justify one's own convictions. When all was said and done, it would have been easy to declare both Kirei and Zouken as evil. While Zouken may have been a villain, he did hold himself to a higher standard and his ambitions were guided by something greater than himself. Meanwhile, the final confrontation between Kirei and the main character revealed that Kirei was a sort of "mirror" to Shirou. This whole story was based on the theme of "All the World's Evil", and in that sense you could say Kirei was "the other protagonist". The irony of Kirei's role is reflected in his name which, in terms of Japanese definitions, is actually quite beautiful. All of this resulted in my growing quite fond of Kirei despite the fact that he is not the main character, and that in turn led to him having way too many lines of dialogue. I had to go in more than once and edit out some of his lines.
  368. Takeuchi: You know, some people believe that Kirei intentionally lost to Shirou at the end.
  369. Nasu: Simply put, they just ran out of time. Kirei didn't really care whether he won that fight or not, but I will say that he definitely did not take it easy on Shirou. I think the illustration added for the final battle in the PS2 version was pretty cool.
  370. Takeuchi: I really wanted to portray the fact that Kirei "doesn't have a heart" through an illustration, and I am sad that I couldn't. Regardless, Sakura's route was the grand stage for Kirei.
  371. Nasu: I loved that scene where Kirei was running with ease as he carries Illya in his arms. In my mind, that represents the epitome of manliness! It really underlined the difference between him and Shirou, who is still a youth.
  372. Takeuchi: Kirei is 193cm tall, which made Illya look even smaller. In a way, Kirei serves as a face from "Fate" as well.
  373. Nasu: Yeah... and a really big one at that.
  374. Takeuchi: Yeah, we might have made him a little too big. (laughs) The fact that he is second only to Berserker in size pretty much drives that point home. [wait, what about TA?]
  375.  
  376. Gilgamesh
  377.  
  378. >The Catalyst for Gilgamesh's birth
  379. Nasu: When I was working on old "Fate". I wanted to do a "World Hero Fighting Tournament" and Heracles was there as an obvious pick because he was a well-known hero famous for being the strongest of them all. So then I decided to look for a lesser-known and extremely ancient hero. That's how I came across Gilgamesh. There were other candidates that I considered, but Gilgamesh had a powerful name and an interesting legend, both of which made him perfect for the role of the "ultimate" character. Gilgamesh's general concept hasn't changed much since those days.
  380. Takeuchi: True, Gil's been wearing golden armour since old "Fate".
  381. Nasu: There's that as well as his ability to dual wield two swords at once. Gil's Noble Phantasm in old "Fate" was totally different from what it was in "stay night", but his role in the story remained the same. The oldest of man's hero kings, decked out in his golden armour and Servant to a priest, Kuzuki's friend.
  382. Takeuchi: You mean the guy with the mask?
  383. Nasu: You're thinking of Berserker's Master. But anyway, back to the topic... In the "stay night" storyline, Archer was replaced by Emiya and that affected Gil's position. Gil became a boss character and was buffed up considerably. I mean, he was an unquestionably powerful guy to begin with, but he didn't have such utterly terrifying abilities in the old "Fate" days. There are tons of heroes throughout history, but I brought Gil as an entity that is removed from human notions of good and evil. He's like a god or a natural disaster.
  384. Takeuchi: Gil went through quite a bit of revamping when he was set to become a boss character, didn't he?
  385. Nasu: Yeah, he was always the most extreme example of self-importance, but he didn't stop there. In our story, he was the most obnoxious kind of hero who couldn't seem to help but achieve a completeness at both ends of the spectrum. The decision to pursue "evil" resulted in him also achieving the epitome of "good," and vice versa. But when you look at him from a historical point of view, you can't help but admit that this guy was quite possibly the greatest leader of all time. I felt like I had reached the level of confidence I needed about Gil's character hen I came up with the idea to use one specific form of the personal pronoun "I" in written text, while having him speak a different form of it orally. The written form was suggestive of a formal person of grand importance, like a king, while the spoken version was more bratty and self-righteous. I felt like this self-contained paradox served as a subtle hint regarding Gil's personality.
  386. Takeuchi: Yeah, that thing you did with the personal pronoun summed up his entire character concept.
  387. Nasu: I'm sure it's been done a million times over by now, but I think it was a relatively new idea at the time.
  388. >Designing Gilgamesh's outfits and armaments
  389. Takeuchi: Koyama led the way for Gilgamesh's armour design.
  390. Nasu: The infamous armour design that reduced countless staff members to tears. (laughs)
  391. Takeuchi: In three dimensions, it was a super complicated design. Of course, I think it was a great contrast to Saber's extremely simple armour design.
  392. Nasu: We'll just ignore all the naysayers who ask questions like "Isn't gold a rather soft metal for armour?" or "Why is his whole body decked out in terms of protection, yet he doesn't wear a helmet?" (laughs)
  393. Takeuchi: I was the one who designed his casual clothes. I was originally planning to go with something flashier. People who played "hollow" might know what I'm talking about.
  394. Nasu: Yeah, we toned it down because I thought it was a bit over the top for "Fate".
  395. Takeuchi: Though I'm still not sure if we got it quite right...
  396. Nasu: To be honest, we didn't actually have a design concept prepared for Gil's clothes. But then there was that scene at the beginning of the game where Gil converses with Sakura, and that other scene in the latter half of Saber's route where Shirou and the others encounter him. Considering the settings for those encounters, we couldn't very well have Gil popping up in his full suit of shiny golden armour shouting "Halt!" or whatever, because the reaction he'd get would probably just be laughter rather than apprehension. That's when I turned to Takeuchi and said, "I think he needs some casual clothes."
  397. Takeuchi: Figuring out casual outfits for the servants was always tricky. We couldn't go with anything too crazy, but putting them in really mundane clothes would take too much away from the fact that they are special characters. Once the concepts for the other characters started getting hammered out, we reviewed the overall balanced and decided that Gil's early clothing design had to be nixed.
  398. Nasu: What material was used for Gil's clothes? Leather?
  399. Takeuchi: I guess. I looked through a lot of fashion magazines for inspiration, but sometimes the look of something changes entirely when translated into illustrations. I feel like I failed to accurately reproduce the image I had in my mind of Gil's clothes.
  400. >Sakura and Gilgamesh
  401. Takeuchi: What were Gil and Sakura talking about at the beginning of the game, anyway?
  402. Nasu: Gil knew about Sakura being tainted by Angra Mainyu, so he was telling her "I've seen countless females like you before. You are an annoyance and should die now." These words weren't spoken in anger or hatred, though, and are probably the closest Gil would ever come to expressing mercy. He was just letting her know that things would be easier for her if she died before anything terrible happened to her.
  403. Takeuchi: So he was looking out for someone other than himself? That's interesting... but only someone like him could have such a heavy conversation in the middle of the street like that.
  404. Nasu: Yeah, if you actually think about it, what does it say about him that a casual stroll down the street could lead to "You there! Woman! Kill yourself now." (laughs)
  405. Takeuchi: For such a powerful character, he did lose to Sakura rather easily.
  406. Nasu: Gil lost to Sakura so easily because he let his guard down. What's a king without complacency, right? I think the biggest factor, though, was a simple question of their respective natures. Gil was pretty much invulnerable against Servants because he was the "Killer of Heroes", while Dark Sakura was the "Devourer of Heroic Spirits", which extends to Servants.
  407. Takeuchi: Buuut... Gil acquired a flesh-and-blood body for himself, so doesn't that mean he's technically not a servant anymore?
  408. Nasu: It doesn't matter because he got his new body through the Holy Grail system, which means he can't deny the power of Dark Sakura, who is a manifestation of the Holy Grail itself. On another note, Gil's magical powers were off the charts in his flesh-and-blood form, so absorbing that level of power broke the dam and caused Sakura to fall apart.
  409. >The message Gilgamesh carries as a character
  410. Nasu: I think everything I wanted to say with Gilgamesh is pretty well summarised in the whole pronoun gimmick I mentioned earlier. Even though he is not one to be tied down by notions like morality or decency, he does have a sort of system that guides his actions and conduct.
  411. Takeuchi: I do feel like Gil is just one big walking, talking misunderstanding.
  412. Nasu: Another thing about Gil is that something as simple as his hairstyle can vastly change the impression he gives off. In Saber's route, Gil's hair is slicked back to give his look a more violent touch, but the rest of him was designed so that merely letting his hair down would give him a look like your average main character. I wanted Gil to portray these characteristics because the "real" Gil from the legends was more laid back like the latter example. I asked Takeuchi to bring back the old Arthur design to help with creating the "hair down" version of Gil. Just let his hair loose and Gil could easily pass as the main character!
  413.  
  414. Souichirou
  415.  
  416. >The catalyst for Souichirou Kuzuki's birth
  417. Nasu: This is another character whose role did not change from old "Fate". While the standard Master/Servant setup involves the servant fighting on the front lines while the Master stays in the back and supplies the Servant with mana, Souichirou did things in the opposite manner.
  418. Takeuchi: The setup of having Caster in the back while Souichirou stands out in from as the main combatant was something that was in place in old "Fate?"
  419. Nasu: That general battle flow was present, yes. In old "Fate," Caster's Master was an utter  newbie with regard to the Holy Grail War. He wasn't even a magus and had no link to or relationship with Caster. Being summoned by this "civilian" was, in Caster's point of view, akin to drawing a losing ballot. Feeling utterly dejected, Caster stated that he would take on all the heavy lifting. When asked what he could do that could be considered useful to their cause, Caster's Master simply replied, "....Kill people?" Caster was totally taken aback by this most unexpected answer, and when his Master proceeded to prove his prowess in battle, Caster began to harbour genuine hope regarding their chances in the Holy Grail War. We imagine they might have had a conversation that went a little something like this: "I think we can go far together! Good job!" "....Yeah?" If I had to compare Caster's Master to another character, I'd compare him to purist martial artists like Ryu or Akuma from the "Street Fighter" series. Caster's Master in "stay night", Souichirou, isn't a martial artist and doesn't have the deadly "special attack" you'd expect from a character like that. Instead, Souichirou's personal philosophy was, "If I can't defeat an enemy in our first encounter, I have no chance of defeating them in our second encounter." It was his understanding that his skills would only be effective against an opponent if his opponent didn't know what to expect.
  420. Takeuchi: When did we decide that Caster's Master would be a teacher at the school?
  421. Nasu: We considered a few different options, but we did settle on the "teacher" role pretty early on. We wanted more characters with standing pose illustrations to show up during the segments of the story that took place at school, so that was a big reason for keeping the "teacher" trend from old "Fate".
  422. Takeuchi: Souichirou has a pretty hardcore backstory, but do you think his encounter with Caster eventually came to mean something special to him?
  423. Nasu: I think so, more or less. Even if he wasn't entirely conscious of it, he was deeply affected by the time he spent with Caster. We explore that concept some more in "hollow".
  424. >What being a teacher meant to Souichirou
  425. Nasu: Souichirou basically does not have any kind of ambition when it comes to the stereotypical ideas of "happiness that most people pursue. Instead, he performs his job dutifully as a cog in the machine we call society. He literally sees himself as part of a greater whole and is guided by a sense of independent will. He has no particular passion for or aversion to his career as a teacher, he simply accepts he fact that this is the job he got hired for and does his best to perform his duties. In a manner of speaking, Souichirou was living his life but was never truly "alive". If he had gotten into another line of work, he would have worked just as hard and been just as effective in that field.
  426. Takeuchi: He'd be the worlds most serious supermarket cashier. Souichirou is the kind of guy who would ask to use the restroom every time, even after being told he could do so at any time without seeking permission.
  427. Nasu: Since he feels no particular passion for or aversion to anything in life, Souichirou will readily accept any role assigned to him and perform his duties diligently. In his mind, that is the only way a sub-human creature like him can atone for his sins. He wasn't so irresponsible as to take the easy way out through suicide, nor was he so shameless as to believe that things would eventually "get better" for him. For this reason, the path to atonement he chose for himself was to become a useful cog in the machine and help to keep society running. He was convinced that was as close as he could get to making up for all of the murders he had committed.
  428. >Regarding Souichirou's design
  429. Takeuchi: Hmmm.... I'm trying to remember anything that could be considered interesting, but I can't think of a single thing...
  430. Nasu: The only thing that I remember is that I kept saying Souichirou needed to be a "dry" human being, and that Takeuchi came back to me saying he had no idea what I was trying to describe. (laughs)
  431. Takeuchi: I'll admit that description was still much easier to understand than "an ended/done human being", which was all the instruction I received when working on Araya Souren from "Kara no Kyoukai"... Despite Nasu's inability to properly define a character concept, I didn't have much trouble figuring things out once I started drawing Souichirou. The most notable thing about Souichirou is that his character development was quite solid, making him a memorable character without the need for him to be overly distinctive when it came to his overall look. I've seen him in quite a few doujin works, and you're always able to identify him regardless of his rather plain visual design. While his design could be described as a relatively boring one, there is some kind of "Souichirou element" that makes him stand out.
  432. >The message Souichirou carries as a character
  433. Nasu: While most people hate diligent teachers during their student years, they tend to recognise just how valuable those kinds of teachers are after they graduate. That was the idea behind Souichirou's character. In that interaction scene where he throws Saber during their battle, I aimed for something that looked like a pitcher throwing a baseball rather than a traditional judo toss. I've always admired the speed at which a professional baseball pitcher can throw a ball. I mean, achieving 150km/h through unadulterated human skill alone is pretty impressive, don't you think? I believe a pitcher's form has something in common with the philosophy of martial arts and is the most effective motion when it comes to throwing something. That's why I had Souichirou throw Saber like a pitcher would throw a baseball. Of course, it helped that Saber has such a petite figure. Getting to include that scene was enough to satisfy me with regard to Souichirou.
  434. Takeuchi: It would have been nice if we could have depicted that battle properly in terms of visuals.
  435. Nasu: Nah, if we had attempted anything like that, we would have been hard-pressed to get away from with all the "lies" we would have had to tell through that image. It was pretty tight as it was through text, but I felt we were able to get away with it. If we had depicted that battle using proper event CG, I imagine it would have made the whole thing look less cool.
  436. Takeuchi: I guess we would have had to use some pretty fancy manipulation techniques to make it work.
  437. Nasu: Yeah, like a totally distorted perspective combined with overly flashy presentation. It's hard to make the image of a human figure being thrown look really cool. I mean, Souichirou might have come out looking cool though, but Saber would have been a different story.
  438. Takeuchi: True enough.
  439. Nasu: Since the image would have turned out looking more comedic than dramatic, we chose to restrain ourselves for the sake of Saber's honour.
  440.  
  441. Medea
  442.  
  443. >The catalyst for Caster's birth
  444. Nasu: Caster didn't change much from her old "Fate" days, as her true identity was also Medea. I always wanted to do a full-on mage type, and she was the best opportunity to explore that archetype. With regard to her visual design, I asked for an alluring beauty that would make a man's heart flutter. I thought hiding her eyes so that her mouth area was the only part of her face that was readily visible would add to her mystique.
  445. >Regarding Caster's character design
  446. Takeuchi: I didn't want Caster to look like a stereotypical "evil witch", as I though that would be too boring. Instead, I aimed for a character who looked like an alluring beauty upon first glance, but turned out to be beautiful in a surprisingly simple way when she removed her hood. Koyama was the one who designed her robes.
  447. Nasu: She really does give the impression of an elegant woman wearing a cape.
  448. Takeuchi: The hood designed like the hoods people in the Middle East wear, I think the fact that her hood isn't a stereotypical mage's hood only enhances her design.
  449. Nasu: I think Takeuchi's idea to make her more of a "simple beauty" under that mysterious hood was a great one. That made her perfectly suited for the "young wife" role.
  450. Takeuchi: With these kinds of characters, that sort of unexpected gap in their design tends to leave a stronger impression. Since she only reveals her face at the very end, I wanted it to have a strong impact. I hope I succeeded in that regard.
  451. Nasu: You did, I assure you. From start to finish, Caster was Koyama's favourite character, after all, Koyama has a thing for the "tragic woman" archetype and Caster was right up that alley.
  452. Takeuchi: For that same reason, Koyama seemed to like Sakura as well, but in a sentimental sense Caster won out in the end.
  453. >Medea's role as a mage
  454. Nasu: Caster is legitimately a straight-up mage type, so she has a hard time holding her own among the ranks of other Servants, who can be considered "cheaters" because they're so overpowered.
  455. Takeuchi: Most people don't seem to think of her as a Servant.
  456. Nasu: Medea wasn't exactly what you'd consider an "impressive" Heroic Spirit, so that's probably why. Still, from the perspectives of mages in the present era, she is quite godly. She can easily cast powerful spells that would require at least a month's worth of preparation for normal mages to cast. We don't have her casting anything as outrageously powerful as a nuke, though.
  457. Takeuchi: I guess you could say Rule Breaker can be a "cheating" Noble Phantasm, depending on how you use it... but it isn't really suited for direct combat applications.
  458. Nasu: As powerful as Rule Breaker is, it's still restricted by the fact that it can only affect things of a magical nature. Now, if it also affected regular attacks and mundane things, that would be a totally different story...
  459. Takeuchi: It really is that relatively dull and unexciting aspect of Rule Breaker that makes it more interesting as a Noble Phantasm. You need to utilise clever trickery in order to use Rule Breaker effectively.
  460. Nasu: Even if Caster attempted to make a regular attack using Rule Breaker, she probably wouldn't be able to hit anyone. The other Servants are all famous fighters, after all. She'd basically have to completely take them by surprise in order to have any hope of landing a strike. I came across quite a few mentions of magical tools and catalysts when I was looking into historical legends related to Medea, but none of them seemed like good candidates for a Noble Phantasm. In the end, we created Rule Breaker based on the key plot points of Medea's legend, like the fact that she betrayed her country and killed her own brother.
  461. Takeuchi: A character's "ultimate move" can take on a variety of forms in "Fate", and I think that's what makes the series so interesting. Caster's character was designed to take the role of the ultimate schemer, but I feel she never quite got there.
  462. Nasu: Falling in love with Kuzuki basically derailed her from that path, as looking good in his eyes became her main concern. You could also say she just got too complacent in her battle against Saber. I guess she felt overconfident because she was convinced she had acquired a weapon akin to a nuke. Of course, Caster would have been met with a bad end anyway if she had simply disappeared without ever meeting Souichirou. She suffered so much under the jealousy and mistreatment her original Master put her through, so she ended up tricking and murdering him. It was only after that experience that she met Souichirou, to whom she willingly devoted herself. I think it's safe to say Caster found true happiness in her relationship with Souichirou. Gilgamesh's attack in "hollow" was something I intended to do in the main storyline, but just couldn't find anywhere to fit it in. It felt like it was halting the flow of the story whenever I tried to insert it, and I didn't want to put it in toward the end of the story because I didn't think that would be the best time for the player to be empathising with Caster and Souichirou. So I set it aside with the intention to use it in a spin-off, and "hollow" gave me that opportunity.
  463. Takeuchi: How did Caster fail to sense Gilgamesh's presence?
  464. Nasu: I guess you could say he was outside of her "field of vision". She was able to understand the two-Grail system, but did not take notice of Gil's presence. Actually, I think a more accurate way to describe it would be to say it was her understanding of that system that made her not notice him, as he was a unique existence that lay "outside" of that system.
  465. Takeuchi: Why did she kill Souichirou in Sakura's route?
  466. Nasu: I've juggled a few theories about that one, though I haven't "officially" picked one to be the hard and fast truth. That was basically the result of Zouken manipulating her into the act. I felt like that was the only thing that could inflict a sense of desperate loss upon Caster.
  467. Takeuchi: True enough, but I still feel like you should "officially" pick one of the possible answers to that question.
  468. Nasu: I refuse (laughs). I want to leave that detail to the player's imagination. Though to be honest, the original reason why I didn't decide on a clear explanation for that incident is because I was simply too busy at the time.
  469. >The message Caster carries as a character
  470. Takeuchi: As a character, I'd say Caster was a success. Everyone assumed she was a villain through and through at first, but then her story turned out to be a pure love story, which is exactly what we were aiming for... How did she end up in the "wife" role anyway?
  471. Nasu: I did have a desire to maneuver her in that direction, but I think it was someone else's utter breakdown that took it as far as it got... I think Koyama was the one who took us down that path?
  472. Takeuchi: I'm not sure... I remember seeing that sort of theme in doujin and anthology works first, though.
  473. Nasu: You're right... I remember Koyama drawing a cute Caster in something based on "hollow", but I recall seeing similar stuff in doujin books well before that.
  474. Takeuchi: It could be the power of "Lord Souichirou". I think a lot of people imagine Caster in that kind of role because of the way she called him "Lord Souichirou". But she calls him plain old "Souichirou" in the main story, right?
  475. Nasu: That's what she calls him in public. I guess she wants to give the impression that she's in a superior position to him, but all the while she is calling him "Lord Souichirou" in her heart. That's why she just defaults to calling him "Lord Souichirou" in "hollow". I think a lot of people also made the jump to "wife" Caster because of the part in the main story where she was mistakenly thought of as Souichirou's fiancee.
  476. Takeuchi: At this point, Caster is fully viewed as a domestic-type character by fans, but she wasn't originally intended that way...
  477. Nasu: Anyway, I guess the character's main message was that Caster makes for a lovely young wife. (laughs)
  478.  
  479. Illya
  480.  
  481. >The catalyst for Illya's birth
  482. Nasu: Illya came about when Takeuchi said he wanted to "do old Fate". When we sat down to talk about it, he said he wanted Berserker's Master to be a Lolita-type girl. The "Lolita beauty and the beast", he called it.
  483. Takeuchi: It's such a great combo for a bishojo game.
  484. Nasu: The pairing was definitely great for a bishojo game, so after some discussion, we decided to give it a try and designed Illya to be a Lolita character.
  485. Takeuchi: The concept of a little girl accompanied by a giant guardian also has a typical mainstream appeal as well.
  486. Nasu: So that conversation was how Illya came about.
  487. Takeuchi: Illya's concept didn't change much from the initial design.
  488. Nasu: I personally liked our first draft of Illya the best, I believe we realised her image while looking at these pieces of early concept art. (Said while indicating the drafts in "Fate/side material")
  489. Takeuchi: She still had a touch of the "big sis" flavour to her at that stage.
  490. Nasu: Yeah, we made her seem a bit younger for the final version.
  491. >Regarding Illya's character design
  492. Takeuchi: Illya was wearing black stockings in her original draft, but when we chose black stockings to be part of Saber's casual outfit, we changed Illya's look.
  493. Nasu: A surprising number of people thought Saber was wearing knee socks.
  494. Takeuchi: They're proper pantyhose. You can see them quite clearly in one of the event illustrations.
  495. Nasu: Do you recall the "Fate" fighting game? Saber was initially wearing knee socks in that game, but when Takeuchi saw that, he burst into a rage and declared that Saber should be wearing pantyhose, not knee socks. Needless to say, I wasn't particularly surprised that he'd point out a problem in Saber's outfit before making any comments about the actual gameplay or sprite motions. (laughs)
  496. Takeuchi: Anyway, we decided to leave Illya barefooted due to this stocking conflict, and I think that was the right way to go because it made her seem that much more childlike. The other main concern regarding her character design was that we wanted her to have a certain air of elegance. A lot of people have told me that Illya is one of the more difficult characters to draw, and I chalk that up to the little detailed we used to make her more unique. These details include things like the gap in her bangs just above her right eye and the face that I used solid lines around her pupils. I added these details because they helped make Illya stand out from the crowd and have the impression that she was different from normal people.
  497. >Illya's feelings about arriving in Kiritsugu's hometown
  498. Nasu: She was excited, to be sure... but whether that excitement had to do with her arriving in a place that she had built up in her mind or the fact that her vengeance was finally at hand, even she did not know. I imagine it was something akin to the way a boxer feels when he is going up against a champion that he has always adored and respected, yet knows he must defeat. All she knows is that the feelings are strong and undeniable, yet their true source remains a mystery.
  499. Takeuchi: By the way, is the head of the Einzbern family (Old Man Acht) still alive?
  500. Nasu: I reckon he is, yes. He's basically a living fossil.
  501. >Explaining Illya
  502. Nasu: In terms of her character, Illya straddles the line between the "big sister" and "little sister" roles. Her words and actions tend to come off as childish, but sometimes she scolds Shirou like a big sister might. We were really careful not to reveal the fact that Illya is technically Shirou's older sister until the very end.
  503. Takeuchi: Playing through the game again after finding out about the familial relationship between Shirou and Illya makes some scenes more interesting because you notice the "big sis" moments that we snuck in there.
  504. Nasu: I also hope that everyone got the fact that snow is supposed to be Illya's theme or symbol.
  505. Takeuchi: We had designed Illya to be a heroine to some degree, so I guess you could say she started off with some wifely attributes, but those kind of faded away as her character evolved. Looking back on it now, however, I think it was better for Illya's character that way.
  506. Nasu: Yeah, Illya's not really the wife type... she's more of a daughter if anything. The love you feel for her is the kind that makes you want to protect her.
  507. Takeuchi: If the three heroines were to be Shirou's wives, Illya would definitely be his little sister. She would be the most cherished little sister ever, no doubt. It's mentioned in the game that Illya doesn't get to have a normal lifespan, and I found a dojinshi that delved into that aspect of the story. In my opinion, the way Illya was portrayed in that dojinshi is probably her most accurate portrayal to date.
  508. Nasu: Speaking of dojin work... Whose call was it to put Illya in bloomer shorts for the Tiger Dojo?
  509. Takeuchi: The bonus Type-Moon booklet that Tech Gian released featured all three heroines on the cover wearing bloomer shorts. When I asked the editor in charge what we should do with the back cover, they told me there was only one thing to do... Illya in bloomer shorts. The "stay night" story didn't really offer any opportunities to dress her in bloomer shorts, so I wasn't too sure about it... (laughs)
  510. Nasu: But you were pleasantly surprised by the results?
  511. Takeuchi: Very much so. (laughs)
  512. Nasu: We really didn't attempt any of that obvious erotica in "stay night", so I recall feeling a bit embarrassed when wee created the Tiger Dojo. I was a tad uncertain about it, but I persuaded myself by saying it was part of the Tiger Dojo setup.
  513. Takeuchi: So you say, I remember how much you complained about the "Lolita in bloomers".
  514. Nasu: That was just my way of hiding my embarrassment. I just had to think of her as an enigma of sorts. She was a mystery to everyone, so there was no need to feel embarrassed about anything when it came to her!
  515. Takeuchi: A Lolita bloomer enigma... what a terribly sad enigma indeed.
  516. Nasu: Should we feel bad that we're concluding our talk on Illya with a talk about those damn bloomer shorts? Regardless, I can't deny that I think Illya looks really cute in her shorts, I think that was a definite jackpot.
  517. Takeuchi: Well sometimes the smallest decision can have the biggest impact. They do say knowing the difference between decisions that will and those that won't is the key to success.
  518.  
  519. Sella and Leysritt
  520.  
  521. >The catalyst for Leysritt and Sella's birth
  522. Takeuchi: I wanted a maid duo!
  523. Nasu: We had this conversation countless times, and every time I told him it wasn't going to happen.
  524. Takeuchi: I won.
  525. Nasu: Yes, I admit it... I gave in to his persistence. So anyway, when it came to throwing maids into the "stay night" mix, Illya's house was the only one that really made sense. But I made sure to tell Takeuchi that I wanted the "serious business" nun-type maids for a prestigious house of mages like Einzbern Castle. It didn't take long for Takeuchi to bring me these designs, and I approved them on the spot.
  526. Takeuchi: I had quite a bit of fun designing these characters, as I'd never worked on a Nightingale-esque character before. I was also happy that we were adding more stoic characters.
  527. Nasu: Ha! You've got some serious issues, my friend. At any rate, Leysritt and Sella pretty much don't do anything in "stay night". We did have the whole "Dress of Heaven" thing, but I didn't see a point in bringing that into "stay night". I expanded on it a bit in "hollow" instead.
  528. >The presence of Leysritt and Sella
  529. Nasu: The fact that they don't possess particularly unique traits is what makes them unique. Of the many servants assigned to Illya, these were the two selected to take care of her during the Holy Grail War. The other maids working at the main Einzbern house are also homonculi, but they are not allowed to speak freely and aren't even treated like humans. Leysritt and Sella were the only ones who were permitted to speak with Illya back at the main Einzbern house. The other homonculi are mass-production models who wordlessly go about their duties.
  530. >Leysritt and Sella roles
  531. Nasu: Both Leysritt and Sella have quite a few appearances in "hollow" but they were limited to a narritive role for the bad endings in "Fate". At the initial concept stage, the only details we had hammered down about these two maids were their names, their general roles (powerhouse/teacher) and which one would become Illya's Dress of Heaven. We only expanded on these characters when we decided to go ahead with "hollow". Normal homonculi are mostly emotionless like Leysritt, so that illustrates what a unique case Illya is. Leysritt was created as a sample of Illya, and Sella was allowed to live only because she was useful as Illya's tutor. That's about the extent of the specifics we initially had for these characters. When I started writing Sella's part in "hollow", however, she quickly became one of my favourite characters. I like Leysritt too, of course. By the way, I think Sella is the only real tsundere character in "Fate". (laughs)
  532. Takeuchi: Huh? What about Rin?
  533. Nasu: She's more like a bossy smartypants, which may seem similar to a tsundere in some aspects, but they're totally different things.
  534.  
  535. Shinji
  536.  
  537. >The catalyst for Shinji Matou's birth
  538. Nasu: Shinji is Shirou's friend and a massive jerk. But he's not just any ordinary jerk, he's a tragically confused victim of a cruel past. The character Shinji Matou came about because I thought it would be fun to have a "friend" character who was the perfect representative of the dark side of human nature. If someone like Shinji were to gain the powers of a Master, he would no doubt use those powers for evil. True to form, I had Shinji acting out every fantasy born of human greed and ambition.
  539. Takeuchi: Since Shinji is technically a normal civilian, the player would have an easier time relating to him compared to the various superhuman characters.
  540. Nasu: I don't know how much the player would want to related to a personality like that, though. (laughs) Shinji may have been lacking in natural talent or ability when it comes to being a mage, but as far as normal human beings go, he was definitely quite gifted. If only he had a good sidekick to help him work through his issues, Shinji's life would be totally different.
  541. Takeuchi: He's basically like a really annoying Sherlock Holmes. Sadly, he never got any encouragement, support or praise from the people around him and instead was constantly reminded of his failures in the form of Sakura. Growing up under such circumstances, it's little surprise that his soul got as twisted as it did.
  542. Nasu: It got to the point where the only way Shinji could preserve his self-esteem was to put others down. It's possible that he wouldn't have become so twisted if he wasn't so highly gifted. The knowledge that he was indeed a genius only fueled his elitist beliefs and pushed him to find a way to prove himself. Unfortunately for Shinji, he lived in a household where you were either a mage or you were nobody. To make matters worse, he had to share his home with Sakura, who was a naturally gifted mage. Shinji's tactic of looking down on others was the defense mechanism he developed in order to survive.
  543. Takeuchi: It's still hard to sympathise with him, but I guess he had his reasons for turning out the way he did... I suppose even someone like Shinji is susceptible to psychological vulnerabilities.
  544. Nasu: I can't imagine how much more "interesting" the Matou household would have been if Sakura was the elitist who treated Shinji like a non-magical maggot! When we were talking about Gilgamesh earlier, it made me think about what most people's reaction would be to summoning a Servant like him. I imagine most people would hate working with a Servant like Gilgamesh, but Shinji was actually overjoyed. He believed that being the Master of such a powerful Servant meant he was even more powerful.
  545. Takeuchi: He's got some serious guts to believe he could ever be superior to Gilgamesh, I'd immediately send him back. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that. (laughs)
  546. Nasu: Shinji is incapable of ascertaining things like that, and I suppose that could be considered a gift? Gilgamesh stands a cut above the other Servants, yet Shinji is genuinely able to believe that he and Gilgamesh are equals. Though this belief is certainly incorrect, Shinji is the only human capable of ordering Gilgamesh around without fear, and that's got to count for something.
  547. >Regarding Shinji Matou's design
  548. Nasu: My requests for Shinji's design were simply "the most good-looking guy at school" and "casual yet fancy in style".
  549. Takeuchi: Based on these instructions, I designed a fairly normal "good-looking guy" with an ambitious facial expression, but the overall design was too similar to Gil's when he put his hair down, so I had to change it. That's why Shinji ended up with wavy hair.
  550. Nasu: I would have been okay with a more cynical look to him.
  551. Takeuchi: The funny thing is, I was actually aiming for that kind of look, but somehow I missed the "handsome yet vulgar" mark and ended up with more a "middle-aged failure" look. (laughs)
  552. >Shinji Matou as Shirou's friend
  553. Nasu: At school, Shinji is an honour roll student who maintains his rank among the top five students in terms of grades and test scores. Being one of the smartest guys in school in addition to being the eldest son of an extravagant mansion ensured that Shinji was always surrounded by girls. These girls probably won't even give him the time of day once they graduate to university life, but Shinji was the perfect fodder for fun high school gossip and girlish fun. It didn't hurt that he was generous with money, either.
  554. Takeuchi: It always comes down to money, doesn't it? By the way, did Shinji's opinions of Sakura and Shirou change after the Holy Grail War?
  555. Nasu: Since he had been called "useless" all his life just because of the way he was born, Shinji felt his golden age had come when he acquired the position of a Master. He didn't have much of a choice when it came to Sakura, but it is quite possible that he genuinely wanted to ally himself with Shirou and fight alongside his friend. When Shinji says, "I will make use of you," it may sound condescending, but he would only say that to someone he deems worthy. When Sakura summoned Rider, Shinji felt like he had completely lost his place in the world. But when he realised that Sakura was not a willing participant in anything she was doing, he suggested to Zouken that he would be more useful than she, if only because he was actually willing. To Shinji's surprise, Zouken accepted the suggestion and Shinji got his big chance. As would be expected, however, when the non-mage Shinji told Rider that he would be her master, she outright rejected him. Shinji ordered Sakura to create the False Attendant, and it was only then that he was able to command Rider. In a manner of speaking, acquiring this control over such a powerful Servant provided Shinji with a modicum of emotional stability. For the first time in his life, Shinji felt good about himself. In "stay night", this shift resulted in a 20% more irritating Shinji. Believe me, Shinji isn't usually quite that bad. (laughs)
  556. Takeuchi: He felt better about himself, and that made him a bigger jerk? (laughs) How self-absorbed can one person get?
  557. Nasu: I suppose it can't be helped. Any average human who gained control over a Servant like Rider would surely let it go to their head! Shinji had gotten his hands on multiple kinds of nirvana at once. For Shinji, Shirou was a rival but also the only person who would be his friend unconditionally. Despite calling Shirou an idiot all the time, it is clear that Shinji has a special place reserved in his heart for his longtime friend. Shirou's presence in Shinji's life was irreplaceable and therefore cherished. Though it is unclear as to whether Shinji is consciously aware of it, there are times when he envies the way Shirou lives his life. Regardless of Shinji's inner workings, though, I just needed an "obvious villain" in the story, so I had him play that role to the max. I hope I succeeded in making Shinji a jerk who everyone hates, but also someone has to admit possesses something unique.
  558. Takeuchi: Rin's route is the only one where Shinji survives at the end. I suppose that was supposed to be some kind of reward for all of his hard work? I'll admit, he did seem to change for the better after the events of Rin's route.
  559. Nasu: I guess the end of the Holy Grail War lifted a great weight off of his shoulders. He was forced to face his own limits, and really, how can he not be deeply affected by the fact that his beloved Rin risked her life to save him? (laughs)
  560. Takeuchi: So he finally grew up. Someday, Shinji, you will be able to look back on these days and remember them as simply a dark phase in your life. By the way, was he always so mean to Sakura?
  561. Nasu: No, actually. When the Matou family first adopted Sakura, he still bullied her a bit but also showed her quite a lot of kindness. Of course, that all changed dramatically once he found out that she had been adopted in order to take his place as the house's successor. The realisation that Sakura was born with the blessings he had been denied shamed and insulted Shinji to the point where he felt like dying.
  562. Takeuchi: The way Shinji was able to commit violence against women without a second thought really made him come off as a total loser and failure as a human being.
  563. Nasu: Shinji felt no aversion to committing violence against women because abusing Sakura had become a way of life for him, and that completely desensitised him. Humans can adapt and become accustomed to some pretty scary things. Shinji's violence against Sakura was rooted in the notion that some random stranger would take over his home and family if he didn't try to suppress her. As I mentioned before, he was pretty nice to her up until he found out she had been chosen as the house's successor. Once he discovered that bit of information, all bets were off and he believed he would completely lose his place in the family if he didn't conquer her in every respect. For whatever reason, violence was the way Shinji chose to subjugate Sakura.
  564. >The message Shinji Matou carries as a character
  565. Takeuchi: Shinji filled a role that is an absolute necessity in stories that take place in a school setting. Though his origin lies in that necessity, I think the unique flavourings we added to his character made him the guy everyone continues to love/hate to this day.
  566. Nasu: To sum his character up, Shinji is a normal human being who became drunk with power. In a manner of speaking, Shinji is the character most like us human beings, and therefore the players themselves. But he was not the "real evil" in the "Fate" story, as that position is reserved for Kotomine, who was totally twisted from the start.
  567.  
  568. Rin
  569.  
  570. >The catalyst for Rin's birth
  571. Takeuchi: I wanted to design a character with really sharp-angled eyes, so I focused on that when I was doing the rough sketches, but as the design came along her eyes got rounder and rounder. Drawing a character with two ponytails was also something I wanted to do. By the way, there was another character that filled a role similar to Rin's wasn't there?
  572. Nasu: Yes, the heroine with glasses from old "Fate" named Ayaka Sajyou had a rival character who was a total rich-kid, spoiled heiress type. She would look down on you and laugh at you, like Luvia. Her Servant was the Lancer. You could say that she was the basis for Rin's character. When Shirou snagged the main character position for "stay night", it was this character who transformed into Rin to fill the rival role. We wanted Shirou's rival to be more likable than the snobby heiress, though, so we took inspiration from Aoko Aozaki, a character Takeuchi and I both like. Azaka, Akiha, and Rin are all Aoko-type characters, but I'd say Rin is the most like Aoko. I really didn't feel like making "Witch on the Holy Night" when we were working on "stay night", so I made the executive decision to create a feminine Aoko. Though I suppose she turned out to be more of a clumsy Aoko than a feminine Aoko... Takeuchi seemed to intuitively understand what I was going for, and his "Fate version Aoko" meshed well with my vision for Rin.
  573. Takeuchi: I guess we both wanted the same thing for that character.
  574. Nasu: I was recently chatting with Aruko Wada, an artist for "Fate/Extra", and I asked her what it was like to draw Rin. The instant response I got was that Rin's design was so complete and well put together that there was little to no room for adjustments. Apparently, this made drawing Rin a much more straightforward affair than drawing Saber. Aruko also mentioned that attempting to add things or otherwise alter Rin's look proved difficult.
  575. Takeuchi: I guess we did so well with keeping Rin simple yet infusing her with strong trademark qualities that it's hard to make changes without eliminating that "Rin factor". While designing Rin, I was aiming for a sort of perfection, something that would make her seem unapproachable. I knew the stronger she seemed on the outside, the more of a contrast it would provide for the vulnerabilities she hid inside, and that would make her all the more appealing as a character.
  576. Nasu: Giving her twin ponytails kind of takes the honour student edge off of her and gives her a touch of the rich heiress feel, which actually makes her a tad bit more approachable. Putting that hairstyle on a strict ladybug-type character helps to give the impression that she has an extroverted personality.
  577. Takeuchi: Well, the twin ponytails are there mostly because they are symbolic of the "tsundere" type of personality.
  578. >Designing Rin's outfits
  579. Takeuchi: Since Rin was taking the honour student role, we wanted the school uniform to fit her better than any of the other characters. For this reason, we used Rin as the base model when designing the school uniform, but she ended up appearing in the game wearing her casual clothes more than any other outfit. In the end, her casual outfit became the "default" outfit for Rin's character. I suppose we could blame that on Archer, too.
  580. Nasu: When did we decide on the colour scheme for Rin's casual clothes?
  581. Takeuchi: I'm pretty sure we settled on red as her theme colour right from the start. As I recall, the choice came rather easily.
  582. >Financial status of the Tohsaka household
  583. Nasu: The Mage's Association in London (the Clock Tower) deals with patents associated with all things magical, Rin's father Tokiomi holds the patent for a special formula that simplifies magic, for which he receives a patent fee every month. The Tohsaka household was built entirely on this income. With Rin not doing anything in particular to earn an income herself and Tokiomi's formula slowly becoming obsolete over time, the Tohsaka household's financial situation is becoming more and more strenuous by the day. Sometimes I feel like telling Rin that she needs to get herself to London and figure something out quick!
  584. Takeuchi: Especially because Rin can be quite an expensive girl. (laughs)
  585. >The message Rin carries as a character
  586. Nasu: At the very beginning of her creation, I started with the concept of a girl who was able to be relentlessly hard on herself for any mistakes or failures. She was going to be someone who could go into a rage, but in a way that left you feeling good about it. To top it all off, she had to be pretty.
  587. Takeuchi: Yeah, Rin's so manly.
  588. Nasu: I prefer using a word like "gallant"!
  589. Takeuchi: Nah, Rin's super cute but she totally has a manly side.
  590. Nasu; Among the human characters, she's probably one of the most complete and well put-together specimens of mankind. That's why Shirou will never turn into Archer as long as he is living alongside Rin.
  591. Takeuchi: I know it's kind of out of the blue, but I feel like I'm only now appreciating how amazing Rin really is.
  592. Nasu: That's right, you mentioned that you're going through some kind of Rin phase lately...
  593. Takeuchi: Yeah, I guess you could say that. (laughs)
  594. Nasu: I will say that Rin was my favourite character when I was writing the story. Rin is like Aoko in so many aspects that it felt good to write Rin's story. Of course, Rider showed up shortly after that and everything went to hell. With regard to Saber, writing her story was always nerve-wracking because I knew she was really important to Takeuchi. I had a similar experience writing Hisui in "Tsukihime". Whenever an artist gets attached to a specific character, it's really stressful for me to write that character's portion of the overall story. I guess the added stress comes from the feeling that the character no longer belongs to just me, and that I need to meet someone's high expectations as I flesh them out. I noticed I was constantly pushing myself to do "better" while I was writing Saber's story. In contrast, I felt so much freedom when writing Rin's story, and maybe that's why it felt extra nice.
  595. Takeuchi: I think Rin is a character who is all about potential. Maybe that's why I'm only truly appreciating her now. Saber felt so complete right from the start, and the poetic beauty of her pairing with Shirou only added to the perfection. In Rin's case, however, a lot of events and situations like that whole London deal kept bringing out new sides of her that we hadn't previously seen. She makes you think about what "potential" really means, in a variety of ways. For example, if we were to do a spin-off story for Saber that took place in the Knights of the Round Table era, we still wouldn't be able to disband or do without the pairing of Saber and Shirou. That combination is just so complete that it's hard to adapt it to totally different situations. Rin, on the other hand, is more of a free agent because her relationship with Shirou doesn't define her in any way. Of course we have the Archer/Rin pairing, but a Lancer/Rin pairing would work out just as well and be just as good in its own way. We could even set up a story where Rin and Luvia are fighting over Shirou. In this way, I feel like Rin has earned her place as a face of the "Fate" series right alongside Saber.
  596.  
  597. Saber
  598.  
  599. >The catalyst for Saber's birth
  600. Takeuchi: Saber's character is rooted in the specific desire to draw a petite, blonde female knight. As we developed her character concept, we decided to aim for something that was fresh and stimulating. I guess the best analogy to illustrate what I mean is to say that if the archetypical characters you find in bishojo games are like juice, we wanted Saber to be more like pure spring water.
  601. >Changes that developed over time
  602. Nasu: It's pretty commonly known that Saber was a male character in the original work, so the only major change we made to the character on the concept side of things is the gender. In terms of the character's design aspect, we really didn't change much.
  603. Takeuchi: I don't know if this would really count as a change, but I did propose putting the Pendragon crest on Saber's loincloth. The idea was rejected, though.
  604. Nasu: You're right, she did look a bit more extravagant during the early stages.
  605. Takeuchi: In all honesty, I still believe the very first sketch I drew of Saber was the best one. It's something I sketched while I was working for another company prior to this one. (Said while looking at Fate/side material)
  606. Nasu: I remember... you gave her this distinctly supple firmness. Now that I think about it, you were drawing Sion from "Melty Blood" at the time, and she had the same look to her. According to Takeuchi, Sion was made up of the parts that were left over after he designed Saber.
  607. Takeuchi: More specifically, the leftover parts from designing Saber, Rin, and Sakura. One thing I can say about designing Saber is that I never really had a specific image in mind, but I did have ideals that guided me. I simply did my best to give those ideals a physical form. I didn't really like female characters who had their hair up, but I had to admit that Saber just wasn't as appealing with her hair down. I think exposing the nape of her neck was a key element in conveying that "purity" concept I mentioned earlier. The little stray bits of hair that look like antennae were also an important part of illustrating her character. I even had those stray hairs in my original sketch.
  608. Nasu: Oh look, you did! (laughs)
  609. Takeuchi: It's a bit off-topic, but I do believe that the devil is in the details when it comes to character design. You can give this character a totally different vibe just by adding one strand of extra long hair to an otherwise bland or common hairstyle.
  610. Nasu: I see...
  611. Takeuchi: I swear Saber looks like an ordinary girl without those tiny strands, but once you add those strands she magically becomes Saber. I recall someone referring to such stray strands as "evidence of the king", and I think they were really on to something. The horns on Gundam characters are another excellent example of how the smallest details can be the epitome of characterisation.
  612. >Designing Saber's outfits and armaments
  613. Takeuchi: I basically infused every part of Saber's design with my own personal tastes and preferences. Her overall design is quite simple and decidedly rudimentary.
  614. Nasu: If you think about it though, Saber is a rather rare design... in fact, you could say it's really quite daring! I mean, when was the last time you saw a main heroine in a game like this who wasn't showing any skin!?
  615. Takeuchi: Exposing skin may be a reliable way to go in terms of design, but I guess I thought emphasising the knighthood aspect of her design made her appealing enough. If Saber shines as a character to an unusual degree, I would say it's because of the game's excellent writing, which really brought out the best in every character.
  616. Nasu: When the character was brought to life visually, it really reaffirmed for me the beauty of Saber as a concept and I fell in love all over again.
  617. Takeuchi: It was only afterward that I realised just how much of an impression this character design made. Oh, and I was delighted when you told me you thought she looked great without her armour too.
  618. >Standing pose variations for the game
  619. Nasu: It's great to have a wide variety of standing poses for the game, of course, but as a writer that very same variety can be a cause for distress. I feel so much pressure to make the best use of every pose and facial expression in terms of the text I provide for the game, which leads to hours of staring at these images in hopes of some inspiration. I had plenty of experience with this dilemma from the days of working on "Tsukihime", so at least I was prepared this time. I don't think there's anything wrong with games that only use about six different standing poses and leave the rest up to the player's imagination, but the driving concept behind "Fate" was to further evolve the methods we had refined with "Tsukihime", so it was important that we have as many facial expressions as possible to best match a wide variety of dialogue. Even the most basic human emotion like "happiness" can be expressed through multiple facial expressions, and working through these subtle differences can be quite taxing, but in the end it is precisely these details that really bring the characters to life. I know I may be repeating myself at this point, but as a writer, the multitude of poses and facial expressions is both a blessing and a curse. (laughs)
  620. Takeuchi: One thing I learned was that people adapt very quickly to any luxury provided, and the more you offer, the more it emphasises the specific things you are not offering. I suppose the lesson here is that moderation is key in all things. (laughs)
  621. Nasu: That's true. For example, when the player sees that we created an exclusive facial expression for a certain event, they might turn around and ask why we didn't provide one for this other event...
  622. Takeuchi: Something I will say is that I wish we had given Saber a little more variety in terms of her costumes.
  623. >The message Saber carries as a character
  624. Takeuchi: Blondes are hot!
  625. Nasu: Hahaha yeah, totally... ...Seriously, this guy needs help...
  626. Takeuchi: There's definitely something hot about golden locks, but I think the true allure of blond hair is in the way it also carries a sense of style and nobility.
  627. Nasu: Now that I think about it, both Arcueid and Saber are blondes... I'm starting to worry that you intend on drawing even more blondes in the future...
  628. Takeuchi: Is there anything else we can say about Saber?
  629. Nasu: I shouldn't have made her such a glutton. I mean, I didn't intend to make her that way, but the results speak for themselves. (laughs) I just wanted to convey how bountiful our food supply is now compared to what people had to endure in the past, like what Artoria would have seen for herself in her original life.
  630. Takeuchi: You know, this one time I was pondering Saber's popularity and I came to the conclusion that it's her beam weapon that draws the fans. Graceful, young female knights are not all that rare, but you really don't see many who carry a powerful beam weapon!
  631. Nasu: Well, there is a certain "white devil"...
  632. Takeuchi: Of course that "white devil" is popular! She has a beam weapon too! You see what I mean? Blonde + beam weapon = victory!
  633. Nasu: That's a pretty specific victory...
  634. Takeuchi: In the final battle of "Hollow", I got goosebumps from the overwhelming trust I felt upon seeing Saber stand before the beast horde. I am convinced that this powerful emotion is rooted in our generation's reverence of beam weapons!
  635. Nasu: I see... It all makes sense now. It's no wonder I'm such a huge fan of "Hato No Oyomesan" (Hatoyome)!
  636. Takeuchi: Hato Beam!
  637. Nasu: Exactly! Though the Hato Beam hasn't been featured much lately....
  638.  
  639. Kaede
  640.  
  641. >The catalyst for Kaede Makidera's birth
  642. Nasu: The "besties trio" was originally depicted through dialogue only. When we were working on the playable demo, however, it was suggested that giving them standing pose art would be a good thing. I said it wasn't necessary, but we quickly added each of them.
  643. Takeuchi: I just think the characters come to life when they have portraits. Since we didn't have a really gentle character yet, we used Yukika for that while Kaede filled the role of the obnoxious one, and Kane rounded things out as the cool-headed one. With such comprehensive archetypes to follow, drawing up images for these three was really easy.
  644. Nasu: I know what you mean, Kaede in particular just screams "A good-looking athletic girl whose only flaw is her rowdy personality." As Takeuchi said, these characters really came to life with portraits, so much so that I wanted to give them bigger roles, and I did that in "hollow", I think the trio was really at its best in the bonus content of the PS2 version's limited edition, Saxyun's Kaede is so cute!
  645. >Kaede Makidera's presence
  646. Nasu: Personally, I love Maki. Dumb characters are so easy to write. I don't have to think too hard about them, so the story just flows out of me like water. It's as easy as writing about something fun that happened that day. I don't even have to focus too much, and before I know it the story has written itself. (laughs)
  647. Takeuchi: As with Ayako, Kaede's skills are actually quite impressive. If she would just keep her mouth shut, she's a very pretty girl. The only difference between Ayako and Kaede is that Kaede is not a potential heroine.
  648. Nasu: The fact that those three girls are not in line for a heroine position is what makes them so great. I want the player to see how cute they are and second-guess their own choices.
  649. >Kaede's surprising bloodline
  650. Nasu: Kaede's family runs a kimono shop, so she grew up wearing kimonos. I guess the prominence of her family's history in the city is
  651. another thing Kaede and Ayako have in common. Kaede's ancestor was actually a pirate. After hoarding his riches for a while, he decided to settle down somewhere and open a business because he didn't foresee much of a future in piracy. For whatever reason, this ex-pirate opened up a kimono and antiques shop, which turned out to be quite successful. So I guess you could say the Makidera family gets their physical prowess from their pirate ancestry. Speaking of this pirate ancestor... There's this one really long hallway in Kaede's house. Sometimes, during the summer, that hallway becomes drenched in water even if it hasn't rained in days. A lot of people believe the house is haunted by the ghost of their ancestor. This is one of the main reasons why Kaede hates anything to do with the horror genre and insists that ghosts are very real.
  652.  
  653. Kane
  654.  
  655. >The catalyst for Kane Himuro's birth
  656. Nasu: See Kaede's section for details. (laughs)
  657. >The Besties Trio
  658. Nasu: When I was trying to come up with a few classmates for Rin who would also have links to Shirou, I figured athletic types would be the way to go. Since I didn't want to add three more characters to the archery club, I decided to go with the track and field team.
  659. >Kane Himuro's presence
  660. Nasu: The trio is comprised of the idiotic Kaede, the reliable if eccentric Kane, and the naturally oblivious Yukika. Of the three, Kane is probably the most clear-cut character and was basically made from the template of a harsh character. Her name is very old-fashioned, she has a significantly different perspective on most things compared to others her age, and she generally does not seem to fit into her own generation. To top it all off, her father is the city's mayor, so she's really in a league of her own. (laughs) Her family owns a condominium, but she doesn't live in a huge mansion and her family does not seem overly wealthy. If you want to find out more about Himuro and her family, please read "Himuro no Tenchi, as that is official canon.
  661. >Himuro no Tenchi
  662. Nasu: You know, I didn't expect the Besties Trio to shine as much as they did in "hollow".
  663. Takeuchi: I guess Kane made a pretty big blip on Eichiro Mashin's "glasses radar".
  664. Nasu: Yeah, I suppose we should have seen that coming. Anyway, "Himuro no Tenchi" is one of the most popular "Fate" spin-offs, and most geeks in their 30's will appreciate the treasure trove of jokes and references in it, so I hope everyone will pick up a copy. You'll no doubt be laughing yourself silly while wishing that you could experience a school life like the one depicted in "Himuro no Tenchi"
  665. Takeuchi: Maki's totally out of control, though.
  666. Nasu: You have to be if you want to earn the nickname "Black Panther"!
  667.  
  668. Yukika
  669.  
  670. >The catalyst for Yukika Saegusa's birth
  671. Nasu: Yukika is a lovable character with an adorable smile. When I saw Takeuchi's illustration of her, I knew right away that she was going to be a heartwarming character. Yukika is an example of a character who got fleshed out only after I saw illustrations of her. In contrast, I had a pretty good idea of what Kaede would be like right from the start, Kaede knows she would benefit greatly if she could get into Rin's inner social circle, and while she claims that she only wants to pretend to be Rin's friend in order to reap these benefits, the truth is that Kaede genuinely likes Rin. Kane, meanwhile, was a pretty straight shot in terms of concept and design, so Yukika was the only one that started off as little more than a vague idea. As soon as I saw her portrait, though, I knew she was going to be an "ordinary girl" who lives a hard life taking care of numerous younger brothers. Yukika is the kind of person who lives every day to the fullest, and she always has a positive outlook.
  672. >Yukika and Rin
  673. Nasu: Yukika is probably, in the most real sense, Rin's only natural enemy. Rin is always lashing out at her classmates in order to maintain her haughty solitude, but for some reason she can't help but treat Yukika fairly.
  674. Takeuchi: That's not surprising. Even Rin would be overwhelmed with guilt if she was mean to someone as warm and innocent as Yukika.
  675. Nasu: Exactly, Yukika is pretty open about her admiration for Rin, too. I think it's safe to say that Yukika is the most popular girl in school because everyone loves her. Even her closest friends, Kane and Kaede, would never do anything to make Yukika cry, as a joke or otherwise.
  676. Takeuchi: She's definitely not flashy like the other "Fate" characters. She's more like a simple and delicate flower that heals your soul just by being there, and that kind of cuteness is pretty valuable in a setting like the world of "Fate". Yukika's the kind of beauty you don't want to show off to the world because you want to keep her all to yourself.
  677. >Does Yukika have a lot of fans?
  678. Nasu: I heard Higurashi, who drew the opening event and ending for "Unlimited Codes", is a huge fan. At the start of the project, I asked Higurashi to draw the "Fate" characters in his own style, and even though she doesn't actually make an appearance in "Unlimited Codes", Yukika was the first character he drew! (laughs)
  679. TakeuchI: Tsukirimonoji, the production director of the "Fate" script, is another big fan. I kept telling him Yukika only had a small part to play in a scene at the beginning, but he kept insisting that she should get more screen time.
  680. Nasu: He was quite unreasonable, wasn't he? When I eventually gave in and said we could add Yukika to the Tiger Dojo if he wanted, he cheered and threw her in there in no time. The Tiger Dojo was like an exhibition hall for minor characters who didn't get enough screen time.
  681.  
  682. Ayako
  683.  
  684. >The catalyst for Ayako Mitsuzuri's birth
  685. Nasu: Ayako is another character we created to flesh out the school aspect of the story. As with Rin, writing Ayako's character felt really good. She's an honourable and manly sort, but not violent. Here's a bit of trivia: early on in the story, when it's still unclear as to who the masters are, I was going to use Ayako and Issei as red herrings just for fun. The conversation between Ayako and Rin near the beginning of the game can be quite misleading, but it's really just a bit of healthy competition between friends. I felt like Rin needed a good female friend, so even though Ayako is a totally minor character in the story, I put a lot of thought into her.
  686. >Ayako and Rin
  687. Ayako and Rin have a friendly competition going on to see who can get a boyfriend first, but Ayako is more of a dreamer and has some pretty high standards when it comes to potential boyfriends. Unfortunately, Mr Right has yet to come along. Most of the boys at her school like her well enough but view her as more of a big sister, and their exaggerated respect sometimes gets on her nerves.
  688. >Ayako and Shirou
  689. Takeuchi: I feel like the relationship between Ayako and Shirou is a little... vague.
  690. Nasu: Shirou is not one to recognise or show off his own skills, but Ayako sees that he is naturally gifted at archery. It is truly a shame for someone like Ayako that he does not seem to recognise his own talent... so I guess she feels a blend of admiration and disappointment toward Shirou.
  691. >Ayako's hobbies
  692. Nasu: Born into a well-respected family in the martial arts world. Ayako is learned in most forms of martial arts but is a modern girl on the inside. She hides this side of herself in public in order to keep up appearances for her family, but she is a total gamer. Her family is quite strict about anything that is not related to martial arts, so Ayako is forced to play her video games secretly in her room. Ayako plays video games because she enjoys them, and practices martial arts out of a sense of duty. That is not to say she hates martial arts or anything, as she would not have become as skilled as she is if she didn't enjoy it on some level. The whole "strict family" thing may be something she has in common with Kaede Makidera, but compared to Ayako, Kaede is a total free spirit. (laughs)
  693. >Ayako and the Holy Grail War
  694. Nasu: Aside from that encounter with Rider, Ayako didn't really get caught up in the Holy Grail War much at all. If this game was made by a certain other company, I imagine the scene between Rider and Ayako would have been a lot more erotic... Talk about missed opportunities! (laughs)
  695.  
  696. Issei
  697.  
  698. >The catalyst for Issei Ryuudou's birth
  699. Nasu; Issei was created simply because I wanted to flesh out the school part of the story. I had a similar character as the student council president in old "Fate", and he was the apprentice of the Master who was essentially that story's Kuzuki. While Issei remains a normal human for the entirety of this "Fate", the equivalent character in old "Fate" actually underwent a drastic change midway through the story. The memory of this old character inspired me to include Issei as the student council president in this iteration of "Fate", but since adding more combat characters would just crowd the battlefield, I decided to keep him as a normal human who could flesh out the school scenes. I left the design completely in Takeuchi's hands, so I merely waited for him to finish the design and wrote up Issei's part of the script accordingly. I particularly emphasised the fact that he is the son of the temple family.
  700. >Regarding Issei Ryuudou's design
  701. TakeuchI: My first take on Issei was an athletic kid with a shaved head, but Nasu rejected this design.
  702. Nasu: That design was simply too similar to a friend character we had in "Tsukihime".
  703. Takeuchi: So in my next attempt, I went in the opposite direction. The concept for Issei was a male moe character who was more into literature and culture than sports. I felt like I might have taken the whole "moe" thing a bit too far... The early drafts in particular are all but dripping with sex appeal. The other design was used as a base for Issei's brother, and since their father is pretty macho, I imagine Issei got his looks from their mother.
  704. >Issei Ryuudou's residence
  705. Nasu: Issei's only mission was to live a normal school life, though it's true that he was unwittingly in a very dangerous position in Ryuudou Temple, which Caster had turned into her headquarters. As a normal human being who got dragged into the Holy Grail War, the danger surrounding Issei was quite different from the dangerous situations the main characters always found themselves in. Personally, I feel like normal people do not usually get intimately involved with superhuman entities like mages. This is because the kind of stuff mages are mixed up in will generally get normal people killed.
  706. >The difference between Shinji Matou and Issei Ryuudou
  707. Nasu: Where Shinji was a natural genius, Issei was more of a book-learned genius. Having grown up in a temple environment, Issei learned discipline at a young age. He understood early on the value of working hard to live a life that would not bring shame to his accomplished brothers. Issei is a pretty attractive guy, but he will have to shave his head in order to become a monk after he graduates... not that it matters to Issei, as he holds no particular attachment to his looks. Issei became friends with Shirou after meeting him at Homurahara Academy, but has known Rin since middle school.
  708.  
  709. Tarot cards
  710.  
  711. Chihiro Aikura: Since Saber is trained in traditional swordsmanship, I decided to go with the image of a knight dressed in a full set of European plate armour. The pose is also an archetypical knight's salute. I didn't want the armour model to get too clunky, so I didn't stay true to Saber's origins as stated in the official character profile. Instead, I took my inspiration from the simpler Gothic style armour of 15th-century Germany.
  712.  
  713. Chihiro Aikura: Once again, I took my inspiration from 15th-century Germany, specifically the mercenary soldiers known as the Landsknechts. From what I understand, they were trained in a variety of weapons, particularly the pike. In this tarot card image, Lancer is holding a spear in his left hand and has a short sword called a Katzbalger sheathed behind his right hand.
  714.  
  715. Chihiro Aikura: Archer was actually the class Takeuchi chose when he provided me with a sample image to give me an idea of what the tarot cards should be like. I found it to be so cute and cool at the same time that I asked for permission to use the image with only a few revisions, As such, Takeuchi should get some credit for the general layout of this card.
  716.  
  717. Chihiro Aikura: The Rider tarot card proved to be the most difficult of the bunch. I was told to put Rider on something like a tank, and my first thought was the M1 Abrams. Of course it was a foolish thought, as such a modern piece of equipment would look completely out of place on these tarot cards... I know, I know. So instead I went with something that looked like the chariots they rode in the movie "Ben-Hur". But you know, the one they did for "Zero" was so much cooler. I feel like I should have done better!
  718.  
  719. Chihiro Aikura: I went with an archetypical mage for this image by giving an old man a robe, staff, and tome. I remember going back and forth between a clean set of robes and tattered rags, but in the end I thought it best to prioritise aesthetics.
  720.  
  721. Chihiro Aikura: This image is pretty straightforward. It's a Grim Reaper, completely inhuman in nature. Since this tarot card is technically of an assassin, I gave him daggers instead of a scythe. I imagined this guy fading in and out of the shadows, his daggers held in a reverse grip. Oh, and he's wearing a ninja hood!
  722.  
  723. Chihiro Aikura: The first image that came to mind when I heard "Berserker" was, as you might imagine, a giant with an impressive musculoskeletal structure swinging a massive axe and laying waste to several targets at once. Unfortunately this was pretty much the Berserker you get in-game, and it was important not to limit the player's conception of the class to that once specific image. So my take on the Berserker class for this tarot card ended up being a tall and lithe warrior carrying a wide blade. The goat head, often associated with the devil, was meant to lend an air of madness.
  724.  
  725. Saber Alter
  726.  
  727. >The catalyst for Saber Alter's birth
  728. Nasu: Our motivations for creating Saber Alter were pretty simple. We were looking for a way to surprise the players who had played through both Saber's and Rin's routes. Also, Takeuchi said he wanted to transform the heroine into an antagonist, saying, "I want a dark Saber."
  729. Takeuchi: While working on old "Fate", which is the source work for "stay night", Nasu told me about the plot twist where an enemy gains Master status over Saber and turns her into an enemy character. I thought it was a really fun idea, and I wanted to explore it in "stay night".
  730. Nasu: There was a plot twist in old "Fate" where all of your friends get taken to the enemy side one by one, leading the situation to degrade into the worst possible scenario. I thought this storyline would work for the route where Sakura is the heroine, so I jumped on the idea when Takeuchi suggested it. But even I admit that seemed like the most obvious way to go, so I asked Takeuchi to create a dark version of Saber. On a side note, I did a lot of rearranging of old "Fate" when I was working on this game, and I realised that old "Fate" did not even have a Rin route.
  731. Takeuchi: Saber as a whole is one of the most memorable characters I've ever worked on, so I definitely wanted to do right by her with the Saber Alter design. Quite a bit of time had passed since O designed Saber. so I made a few edits to Saber's general design as I transformed her into Saber Alter.
  732. Nasu: We had set Sakura's route aside for a while because I was trying to decide whether to incorporate Illyasviel's route into it or not, and that's why so much time had passed between Takeuchi designing Saber and creating Saber Alter.
  733. Takeuchi: Yes, all of the new designs for the Sakura route were put on the table after Saber's and Rin's routes were mostly finished. Nasu had completely finished writing the scenario for both of those routes by then, so we were able to sit down and examine what we felt was still missing with regard to potential storylines.
  734. >Designing Saber Alter's outfits and armaments
  735. Takeuchi: Little details about Saber's design kind of bugged me when I revisited it, including things like the way her gauntlets don't match and the fact that her armour plates on her sides look a bit too long. I made lots of little adjustments to Saber's design to create Saber Alter.
  736. Nasu: I think Saber Alter's design is milder than Saber's. (laughs)
  737. Takeuchi: I was taking the budget into consideration when I designed Saber Alter, and I thought it would help if I made her easier to draw. But as I got into the nitty-gritty of the design, it turned out to be an even more complicated image to draw. I mean honestly, who knows what could be going on with her shins if you were to try and reproduce this design in three dimensions?
  738. Nasu: You can get your answer by examining one of the Saber Alter figures.
  739. Takeuchi: Don't you think dangerous looking legs make a character seem all the more evil?
  740. Nasu: She could kill you with one kick, no doubt.
  741. Takeuchi: Regardless of the lack of structural logic, I wanted the player to get that super evil impression from her.
  742. Nasu: I initially didn't want it to be obvious who Saber Alter was so I requested a helmet for her, but it made her look like a common mob character. After much trial and error, we settled on the visor instead.
  743. Takeuchi: The stuff covering the area from her neck to her cheeks is a mystery substance. (laughs) I designed the stuff on her cheeks to look like a dragon's maw when combined with the visor.
  744. Nasu: I knew it wasn't some kind of armour because that would make it really hard to move her neck. Unfortunately, the whole "dragon maw" look gets lost when she removes her visor.
  745. Takeuchi: It's fine. The whole dragon maw idea was a failure anyway.
  746. >Saber Alter potentially showing up in other routes
  747. Nasu: No chance. Saber wouldn't go dark for just any reason. Saber Alter is exclusive to Sakura's route. When I was working on the part of the scenario involving Saber Alter, Saber was dead to me. I had to keep telling myself that in order to make Saber Alter truly dark.
  748. Takeuchi: After all, even having an enemy as a Master wouldn't turn Saber dark.
  749. Nasu: Even a Caster's power isn't enough to truly taint her soul to that degree. If a Caster were to ever fully steal Saber, she still would not turn dark.
  750. Takeuchi: So the only way to get Saber Alter is for Sakura to taint Saber with the power of the Holy Grail.
  751. >The message Saber Alter carries as a character
  752. Nasu: The main concept illustrated for the protagonist, and thus the player, is that you can't save everyone. Saving one person often means sacrificing another, and Saber Alter is the epitome of that philosophy. In this way, you could say Saber Alter represents the true nature of this route. Even if you played through both Saber's and Rin's routes and came to really care for Saber, Sakura's route does not allow you the luxury of choosing to save everyone. The player is forced to make that tough decision, and this was something that players either loved or loathed passionately. Saber Alter was the best way to beautifully portray that truly dark scene.
  753. Takeuchi: If you've still got some idealised notion in your head that you can save Saber as well, you don't have what it takes to save Sakura... right?
  754. Nasu: The sincere pride with which Shirou offers his words of gratitude to Saber after making the conscious decision to part with her was my way of sharing the weight and gratitude we should all feel regarding those who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others.
  755. Takeuchi: The "weight" you speak of was a core element of Sakura's route.
  756. Nasu: That basically sums up the theme of Saber Alter, but to be honest I was more interested in Dark Excalibur. It's so cool! Oh, and since Rider got the short end of the stick in Saber's route, I decided to give her a little time in the spotlight by facing off against the force of Dark Excalibur.
  757. Takeuchi: Visually speaking, I wanted to show how fun it could be to take a character and completely change her look. We did something similar in "Tsukihime", where the boss character would look different in each route. I knew Saber Alter could turn out really interesting if I put enough effort into designing her, so I asked for as much time as I could get to work on her.
  758. Nasu: Saber had to fight a lot of tough battles in both Saber's and Rin's routes, so I wanted to show just how scary it could be to have her as an enemy. When your enemy has a veritable cannon, it's no good to just charge in at them. Instead, you have to figure out how to prevent them from firing the cannon, and it's that sort of tactical thinking I wanted to encourage.
  759. Takeuchi: It really does become a sort of psychological battle when both participants in a fight essentially have a one-shot-kill weapon. So intense!
  760.  
  761. Taiga
  762.  
  763. >The catalyst for Taiga Fujimura's birth
  764. Nasu: As the main character, I figured Shirou needed an older friend who supported him in his daily life. I wanted a "big sis" character who could always be near Shirou, so a schoolteacher was the ideal role for Taiga. I was aiming for a mature older sister character who was experienced in life and passionate about her kendo, someone who would offer Shirou kendo inspired life advice. But what I got was Taiga...
  765. Takeuchi: I initially pictured Taiga as a more transparent character, and I submitted a few different designs.
  766. Nasu: One time, Takeuchi and I were discussing various things deep into the knight when e said, "Giving a character a weird name could be interesting, no?" I responded, "What about Taiga?" This interaction led to a long conversation about the character, and before we knew it, we had the almighty Taiga on the table. While I'm still not entirely sure we were correct to go in this particular direction with this character, she became really memorable, so I guess I'm okay with it. (laughs)
  767. Takeuchi: Somehow, discussing work late into the night tends to lower one's inhibitions.
  768. Nasu: That's so true. The first iteration of Taiga's clothes was a pretty ordinary yellow outfit, but when Takeuchi asked me if Taiga hates tigers, my response was that she has a love/hate relationship with them. One thing led to another, and...
  769. Takeuchi: I asked if Taiga would get mad if someone gave her clothes tiger stripes.
  770. Nasu: I said she'd be mad, but she'd probably still wear it.
  771. Takeuchi: That was my light bulb moment. She gets mad when people call her "Tiger", but leaves herself open for it as well. She's the perfect comic relief.
  772. Nasu: One of the potential scenes I ended up making was of Taiga receiving a gemstone as a gift. It turned out to be a tiger's eye, and while she threw a total tantrum over it, she still kept it. (laughs)
  773. >Requests for Taiga Fujimura's design
  774. Takeuchi: With regard to Taiga's design, I basically produced one design, took note of Nasu's reaction to it, then refined it. I repeated the process until I got it right.
  775. Nasu: I was thinking Taiga could fill the role of "the person close to the main character who dies tragically", so she was originally quite a mature character.
  776. Takeuchi: It was such a long time ago that my memory is kind of fuzzy, but I think I recall aiming for a warm personality in order to make her distinct from the other heroines. Nasu seemed to like that vibe as well, so I stuck with it.
  777. Nasu: I remember her having long hair in the rough drafts, but we decided to go with short hair in the end. The first time Takeuchi cleaned up her design, Taiga turned out looking a little childlike. It was at that point I decided to make her the comic relief. This shift in design concept, however, put an end to the whole "tragic death" scenario.
  778. Takeuchi: Tiger Crush! Taiga has defeated Victim Archetype!
  779. Nasu: Takeuchi really expanded on Taiga's range of facial expressions. I swear I didn't ask for expressions like this! (Points at a particularly silly facial expression on Taiga) He brought these facial expressions to me, and all I did was go along with it. If he had produced these images first, I probably would have written her to be more of a silly character. I guess you could say the final product (Taiga) was the result of a chemical reaction between Takeuchi and myself.
  780. Takeuchi: I'm pretty sure the "real tiger" effects came about in a similar fashion.
  781. Nasu: Yeah, I admit I was a bit uncertain about those effects at first because I knew they would really kick up the level of comedy in the series, but in the end I gave in because they were too funny not to include. (laughs) I like to think this little infusion of comedy made the "daily life" parts more heartwarming. If it had been all me, I know I never would have come up with an idea like this, and everything would have turned out all serious.
  782. Takeuchi: Taiga is a great example of how there is a fine line between suggesting a few ideas and turning an entire series on its head (laughs)
  783. >Taiga Fujimura's presence
  784. Nasu: Within the story, Taiga is like a symbol of peace and a normal life. She is a comfortable presence for Shirou in a way that is distinct from Sakura. She is the warm and disarming "big sis" of the extended family. She doesn't carry around any drama, but she has experienced a lot in her life so she will sometimes offer some truly wise words of advice.
  785. Takeuchi: Even a troublemaker can be lovable presence when familial bonds are in play.
  786. Nasu: I agree. She's not just Shirou's childhood friend or neighbor, but a very real part of his family. That's probably why she seemed increasingly concerned for Shirou when new "roommates" kept tumbling into the Emiya household. Shirou's apparent popularity often made Taiga wonder if Kiritsugu enjoyed a similar level of popularity in his youth. Of course, "as a teacher" she'd never permit more than three girls to be milling about. (laughs) Taiga is not particularly strict about sexual relations, but she'll also be the first to admit she's never seen a relationship through to any level of seriousness.
  787. Takeuchi: Taiga has a really understanding personality. She gives off a vibe of almost superhuman sensitivity.
  788. Nasu: She says she's on Sakura's side, but will readily admit that Rin has the best chance of winning Shirou's heart.
  789. Takeuchi: She sounds more like Shirou's mom than his sister. (laughs) I guess Taiga views the Emiya household as her second family.
  790. Nasu: And why not? When she gets "home" from a hard day at work, they have a piping hot bath and a delicious home-cooked meal waiting for her. Fresh clementines are there for an after-meal treat, and everyone cleans up after her. (laughs) The Emiya estate was previously maintained by the Fujimura family, but Kiritsugu bought it from them during the previous Holy Grail War. Taiga visited him often because she had a crush on him, and after he died, she felt it was her duty to look after Shirou. I don't know if you could really call her Shirou's guardian because she's more like a semi-reliable sister... For that matter, I'm not sure we should call her feelings for Kiritsugu a "crush". The way she felt about him is basically the same as the way Shirou felt about him. For these two youths, Kiritsugu was their role model for the grownup they wanted to become someday.
  791. Takeuchi: I feel like Shirou and the others saw Taiga as a sort of anchor. She represented the "normal life" they were trying to preserve as they fought through their less-than-normal days.
  792. Nasu: In that respect, you could say Taiga was a representative of the "normal people" much like Shinji was, except that Taiga represented the pure goodness of humans.
  793. >The Tiger Dojo
  794. Nasu: The Tiger Dojo was supposed to be like a help function within the game, but it really only had about three useful tips in total. The rest of it was basically Taiga's comedy act.
  795. Takeuchi: I don't even know if you could call it "advice"... she basically just told you to go back to a point prior to making a defining choice in story. We basically had to turn it into a comedy corner in order to give it a sense of purpose.
  796. Nasu: We even made Tiger Stamps. Collecting these stamps is one of the very few mini-game elements in "Fate". Based on feedback, it seems like a lot of people played through the story over and over again to make different choices and collect all of the Tiger Stamps. I'd like to offer up a great big "thank you" to all of the people who showed that much patience and love for the game. I will say that making the Tiger Dojo was only successful because of Taiga herself. It would have been totally different if we had to use someone like Ciel or Neco-Arc. (laughs)
  797. >The message Taiga Fujimura carries as a character
  798. Nasu: I didn't really put much thought into what the sub-characters would convey, but I guess we'll go with the message, "Silly sister characters are cute."
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