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CMII Nasu and Takeuchi chats

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  1. Sakura
  2.  
  3. >The catalyst for Sakura Matou's birth
  4. 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.
  5. >Financial status of the Matou household
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. >Designing Sakura's outfits
  9. 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)
  10. 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?
  11. Takeuchi: You know... Dark Sakura's shadow would look like a black octopus.
  12. 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)
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Takeuchi: The inability to understand something is, after all, the root of this thing we call "fear"
  16. >The catalyst for Dark Sakura's birth
  17. 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.
  18. 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 realy give her a boss-like vibe.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. >Regarding Dark Sakura's character design
  22. 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?
  23. Takeuchi: I don't know... because being barefooted makes her creepier?
  24. Nasu: I guess it's true that Japanese ghosts traditionally appear barefooted... makes for those super creepy footstep sounds.
  25. >The message Sakura Matou carries as a character
  26. 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.
  27. Nasu: Yeah, hands down!
  28. 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.
  29. Nasu: We initially considered going with a "Yamato Nadeshiko" type, the "idealised Japanese woman."
  30. 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.
  31. 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)
  32. 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.
  33. Nasu: It's only after she overcomes her darkness that Sakura takes on her true form!
  34. 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.
  35.  
  36. Heracles
  37.  
  38. >The Catalyst for Berserker's birth
  39. 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 tital 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.
  40. >Designing Berserker's outfits and armaments.
  41. 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.
  42. Nasu: Did it?
  43. Takeuchi: We went through a lot of trial and error before arriving at Berserker's current form.
  44. 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.
  45. Takeuchi: I even considered going with a sharper image at one point.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. Takeuchi: I think Berserker became such a formiddale 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 Goliah" 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.
  50. >The unequaled might of Berserker
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. Takeuchi: Can you imagine seeing a giant like Berserker strolling through a residential zone in a place like Miyama Town?
  55. 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.
  56. Takeuchi: I don't know... I doubt most people would even register seeing a sight like that.
  57. 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.
  58. Takeuchi: Berserker is like a blank state when it comes to his master, isn't he?
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. 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.
  63. 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.
  64. Takeuchi: Do the 11 stacks of God Hand recharge over time?
  65. 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.
  66. Takeuchi: What an annoying ability...
  67. 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 sembalance of balance in the game, so the idea was ditched. This alteration to Berserker's concept is something that we can reveal now.
  68. >The message Berserker carries as a character
  69. Takeuchi: I guess it would be, "Muscles for the win!"
  70. 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.
  71. 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...
  72. 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.
  73. Takeuchi: On paper, I imagine there are many Servants who can't even touch Berserker under normal circumstances.
  74. 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.
  75. Takeuchi: Yeah, you'd have to be a top class hero to stand toe-to-toe with Berserker.
  76. 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.
  77. Takeuchi: guess they fell through the cracks when the entertainment industry started diversifying their cultural sources.
  78. 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.
  79. 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.
  80.  
  81. Cu Chulainn
  82.  
  83. >The catalyst for Lancer's birth
  84. Nasu: As with Berserker, Lancer's concept did not change much from old "Fate".
  85. Takeuchi: I feel like Lancer was more tragic in old "Fate"... though I suppose he was quite tragic in this one as well.
  86. 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.
  87. 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.
  88. Nasu: True enough.
  89. Takeuchi: Who was Cu Chulainn's Master?
  90. 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.
  91. 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.
  92. >Regarding Lancer's character design
  93. Takeuchi: As Nasu mentioned earlier, Lancer's design concept hasn't changed much since the early days. His face in particular remains quite familiar.
  94. Nasu: Especially his hairstyle, slicked back bangs hanging loose, and a ponytail.
  95. Takeuchi: When I was designing Lancer's outfit, I asked Nasu about his concept and thought a bodysuit would go well with his character.
  96. Nasu: Yeah, I think I asked for a bodysuit reminiscent of "Vampire Hunter D".
  97. 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.
  98. 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.
  99. Takeuchi: Yeah, Saber's blue too... Why did we make Lancer blue, then?
  100. Nasu: Blue's really the only colour that suits his concept, don't you think?
  101. 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.
  102. 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.
  103. Takeuchi: Though it didn't work on Saber. (laughs)
  104. 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.
  105. >The Noble Phantasm Gae Bolg
  106. 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)
  107. Takeuchi: Are there any limitations to the use of Gae Bolg, or is the True Name the only requirement?
  108. 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.
  109. Takeuchi: So luck is the only way to dodge it?
  110. 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.
  111. TakeuchI: I guess her precog ability helped too.
  112. 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.
  113. Takeuchi: Do you think it would hit Archer?
  114. 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.
  115. Takeuchi: I see... well, they do say discretion is the better part of valor. What about throwing Gae Bolg?
  116. Nasu: Gae Bolg: Soaring Spear that Strikes with Death is purely destructive power.
  117. Takeuchi: I guess it would be too much if Gae Bolg could strike the target's heart without fail when thrown as well.
  118. Nasu: That would be an ability worthy of Lugh, Lancer's father... it might even be more powerful that Fragarach.
  119. Takeuchi: Eternal Force Blizzard! Instant death. Something like that, right?
  120. Nasu: Sounds about right. The legendary battles of ancient mythology were quite literally played out in god mode, after all.
  121. >The message Lancer carries as a character
  122. 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)
  123. Takeuchi: Or even Josuke Higashikata.
  124. Nasu: I don't know... Josuke's a bit silly.
  125. Takeuchi: What about Juuza of the Clouds, then?
  126. 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.
  127. Takeuchi: His death was admirable, though.
  128. 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.
  129. 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.
  130. Nasu: ...You're terrible (laughs)
  131. 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.
  132. Nasu: Lancer's a truly hopeless character, isn't he? I mean, he died in an accident in Sakura's route... (laughs)
  133. Takeuchi: How did he meet his end in Saber's route?
  134. 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.
  135. Takeuchi: I doubt many of the people who played the game spent much time thinking about that particular fight.
  136. 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.
  137. 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.
  138. Nasu: Hey! Are you dissing Lancer!?
  139. 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.
  140.  
  141. Kojiro
  142.  
  143. >The catalyst for Assassin's birth
  144. Nasu: Assassin is the ultimate in straightforward characters... there are no twists or surprises to him...
  145. Takeuchi: I don't think we need to emphasise that... (laughs)
  146. 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.
  147. Takeuchi: You sound like you're devaluing him entirely. (laughs)
  148. 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.
  149. >Regarding Assassin's design
  150. Takeuchi: Assassin is such a stoic character. His design was based on a design I thought up for old "Fate".
  151. Nasu: But the character design used in old "Fate" had more of an otherworldly and feminine vibe, didn't it?
  152. Takeuchi: Yeah, this Assassin is definitely manlier compared to the previous iteration.
  153. Nasu: The old "Fate" design possessed a kind of undeniable beauty that appeals to both men and women.
  154. 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.
  155. Nasu: I guess you could say Assassin was beautiful in old "Fate" and handsome in this one.
  156. 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.
  157. >Assassin's skill as a swordsman
  158. 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.
  159. Takeuchi: In old "Fate", it was the Kojiro Sasaki from the Musashi Miyamoto legend who was summoned, right?
  160. 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.
  161. Takeuchi: I find that most gifted people tend to have similar misconceptions.
  162. 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.
  163. >The message Assassin carries as a character
  164. Nasu: Uhm... I actually think we've covered everything already.
  165. 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?
  166. 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.
  167.  
  168. Medusa
  169.  
  170. >The catalyst for Rider's birth
  171. Takeuchi: Rider's one of the rare cases where the design changed quite a bit between the early days and the final design.
  172. 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.
  173. 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?
  174. 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.
  175. 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.
  176. 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.
  177. 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.
  178. Nasu: We imagined most people would assume she was Assassin, and we were quite pleased to let them think that.
  179. Takeuchi: Indeed, we were quite successful on that front, I mean, after seeing that nail...
  180. Nasu: No one would guess it was Rider!
  181. Takeuchi: The best part was that the magazine Rider was revealed in added the tagline "Sexy Fighting Lady". How great is that!?
  182. Nasu: I love it.(laughs)
  183. >Regarding Rider's character design
  184. 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.
  185. Nasu: I do recall you when I asked you if her outfit was leather, you said "no" with quite a bit of tenor.
  186. 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.
  187. 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.
  188. Takeuchi: I imagine she wouldn't have such a wide appeal if we set her height in the 180cm range.
  189. 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.
  190. 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.
  191. 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.
  192. 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.
  193. 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".
  194. >Rider's feelings about her master
  195. 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)
  196. Takeuchi: She does come off as a very loyal individual.
  197. 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.
  198. >The message Rider carries as a character
  199. Nasu: An outlaw with super long hair and the Mystic Eyes of Petrification... a winning trifecta!
  200. 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.
  201. Takeuchi: Now that I think about it... if we had given her a third eye, we probably wouldn't have had her wearing glasses...
  202. Nasu: ...You're right!
  203. Takeuchi: That was a close one... (laughs)
  204. Nasu: Even in the old "Fate" we had drilled it into our fans that Noble Phantams 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"
  205. 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.
  206. 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.
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