I just realized there’s an interview with the P4A producer in here too, but I’ll probably skip over it because it’s just promoting the P4A bluray box and OST. (Also I didn’t even watch P4A w)
So that just leaves the P5A interview, which is split into 7 parts… but first I should probably finish those Makoto conversations in OA.
Persona Magazine 2018 Interview Navigation
P3D/P5D (Kazuhisa Wada, Nobuyoshi Miwa, Ryota Kozuka)
P3D/P5D Artwork (Shigenori Soejima, Akane Kabayashi, Azusa Shimada) (You are here)
P5A Part 1 (Masashi Ishihama, Shin’ichi Inotsume, Jun Fukuyama)
P5A Part 2 (Mamoru Miyano)
P5A Part 3 (Nana Mizuki)
P5A Part 4 (Ikue Otani)
P5A Part 5 (Kazuki Adachi)
P5A Part 6 (Lyn)
P5A Part 7 (Shoji Meguro)
Shigenori Soejima – Atlus Artwork Team Art Director & Character Designer
Character designer for the Persona series and Catherine Full Body which releases next winter. His second artbook, “Shigenori Soejima & P-Studio Art Unit Art Works 2010-2017” is currently on sale.
Akane Kabayashi – Persona Team Designer
Designer on the Persona series team. She worked on costumes, designs, and illustrations from Persona Q onward.
Azusa Shimada – Persona Team Designer
Designer on the Persona series team. She worked on promotional illustrations and posters for Persona 5.
Q: First off, tell us what you were responsible for in P3D and P5D.
Soejima: I drew illustrations, and as the series’ character designer, I also supervised costumes and 3-D modeling.
Kabayashi: I designed all of the main costumes as well as some of the other costumes and all of the character sprites. I was also in charge of the package design.
Shimada: I designed costumes for some of the characters and worked with Kabayashi on the sprites and package.
Q: What did you want to change on the visual front compared to P4D?
Soejima: We wanted to keep the general concept from P4D.
Kabayashi: We were told that we had more free reign over the costumes compared to P4D.
Soejima: Back when we made P4D, there was a lot of debate over how a dancing game should be designed *laughs*. Now that the foundation was already laid out, we could go off of that again.
Q: In P4 every character had a clear theme colour, but that isn’t really the case for P3 and P5. Did that affect anything?
Kabayashi: P3 and P5 characters don’t have obvious theme colours, but that means that each game has its common themes instead. P5D has goth and street punk themes while P3D has futuristic themes.
Q: Why were Aigis and Morgana used for the logos?
Soejima: Graphically, we wouldn’t be able to show big differences between the logos if we used the protagonists instead. Plus, P4D’s logo was Teddie, so we followed that. I deliberated between Koromaru and Aigis for P3D, but I realized that Koromaru isn’t really representative of the game *laughs*.
Q: What was the concept behind the package illustrations?
Soejima: The very first theme we considered was “sweat”.
Q: Because of the intense dancing?
Soejima: At first, everyone drew various poses, and we were trying to figure out how we could differentiate them from the other Persona games. What the other Persona protagonists lacked was “sweat”.
Q: Oh yeah, both of the package illustrations have that in common.
Soejima: We hadn’t drawn characters perspiring before. Even the fighting game P4U didn’t have it. So, we tried to use sweat to express passion, but it wasn’t going the way we wanted, and there was a lot of trial and error. It just wasn’t turning out refreshing enough *laughs*.
Shimada: They looked like they were soaked in water instead *laughs*. The composition was also difficult because there were so many characters.
Q: As for the costumes, it looks like there was a lot of free reign with the Halloween costumes *laughs*.
Shimada: There was indeed a lot of variance compared to the other costumes. We consulted with the modeling team and they said the extra work would be fine, so we tried to go all out.
Soejima: Haru raises her legs when she’s dancing ballet, so we had a lot of discussions on how to handle clipping. There was a limit to how long we could make her skirt, for instance.
Q: When you were coming up with the costumes, were there certain design elements that you absolutely had to include or exclude?
Shimada: We did want to avoid meta concepts.
Kabayashi: For example, in P5 there’s that star icon, but that’s only used in the UI–it’s not part of the characters’ world.
Q: I see, so you chose not to include elements from the system design.
Kabayashi: Our approach was to avoid that kind of stuff and design outfits that they would pick themselves.
Q: Graphics techniques have improved since the past, but are there still any technical limitations you have to deal with?
Kabayashi: There are limits to what we can do with costumes that stretch under the arms and off-shoulder clothing.
Shimada: We also had to avoid skirts that go below the knee. Even though we wanted to make long dresses, they have the same issue as the oiran kimono where they’d tell us that narrow hems were problematic.
Soejima: The same goes for swaying parts, even though I think it looks cooler with them.
Kabayashi: If they aren’t implemented well, then it has the opposite effect on the visuals.
Q: Were you surprised when you saw any of your designs modeled in 3-D?
Shimada: When I saw Haru’s sweets dress, the sweets attached to her costume were all moving independently when she moved. It was interesting to see because I hadn’t imagined it when I designed it. I felt like I’d witnessed the motion team’s craftsmanship *laughs*. It was motivating for me.
Soejima: Seeing the combinations was fun, too. When we set it to random mode, we saw all sorts of accessory combinations that we hadn’t thought of before. Some of them went together surprisingly well.
Q: When you think about it, normal RPG series don’t have this many costumes.
Kabayashi: It’s a game that you enjoy for the costumes, so we have to really focus our efforts there.
Q: Now, I’d like to ask more about the costumes and the room designs. I was happy to see the crossdressing outfits for the boys this time *laughs*.
Kabayashi: The designs matched the characters well *laughs*. I hope it’s something that the fans wanted to see.
Shimada: Yusuke was originally supposed to be an oiran, but because of the issues mentioned earlier, he became a kunoichi instead.
Q: Ryuji’s pose is also a highlight *laughs* (see picture from previous interview). He really looks like he was forced to wear it.
Shimada: It’s nice when you can figure out the context from looking at the outfit.
Soejima: The crossdressing outfits were designed by the women, since men just don’t have the right sense for it. If you told me to design crossdressing outfits, they’d all turn out gross. At the very least, you wouldn’t be able to imagine the boys wearing them despite their embarrassment *laughs*.
Q: For P5D, each character’s room had to be designed for the COMMUs. Were you involved in developing those?
Soejima: We had a lot of meetings for it.
Kabayashi: We all excitedly crammed things in together *laughs*.
Q: All of them are new in P5D except for Ren’s and Futaba’s, right?
Shimada: Ryuji, Haru, Makoto, Ann, and Yusuke’s rooms were all newly designed. Yusuke was assigned to me, but I ended up contemplating what kind of art Yusuke was aiming for… I put a lot of weird objects and reference images in his room, so he seems totally insane *laughs*.
Q: I personally like Ryuji’s room a lot. It really looks like a high school boy’s room.
Shimada: His laptop is on a steel rack and there are dumbbells and protein drinks lying around… He seems like the type to drink a lot of soft drinks, so there are a lot of bottle caps, too. And then there’s the rows upon rows of manga.
Soejima: It’s a Japanese-style room but it’s got a nice atmosphere. It feels like a cheap apartment.
Shimada: On the other hand, Haru’s room was difficult to design. We couldn’t just leave stuff related to her hobbies lying around. We deliberately refrained from showing off her personality, because she lived a sheltered life and her furniture was probably decided by her father.
Q: What about Makoto?
Shimada: The basic idea was for everything to be arranged meticulously with a few cute mascots mixed in. Like that Buchimaru-kun cushion *laughs*. It shows that she deviates from her serious personality in some ways.
Q: Ann’s room looks like what a fashionable girl would have.
Kabayashi: This one was my design, and it was pretty straightforward.
Shimada: It looks like a room that you would like.
Kabayashi: Yeah, so I made it without having to think too deeply. The only issue was that it looked like a Western-style room, so I added things like an air conditioner and a power strip to make it look more Japanese.
Q: Is there anything you had to pay more attention to with the poses?
Kabayashi: Soejima-san told me that picking out the coolest moments of the poses wasn’t enough.
Soejima: What? I said that? *laughs*
Kabayashi: You often said to imagine them posing while saying some sort of catchphrase. That way there would be a stronger message behind the drawings.
Soejima: I don’t remember this…
Kabayashi: Even a single finger can change the meaning from a fist to blowing a kiss. So instead of just making cool-looking poses, you wanted us to create meaningful ones.
Q: It’s hard to expand on the protagonists’ concepts since they represent the player. What was your plan for them?
Soejima: The protagonists represent the player, so I don’t recall having any definite plan for them.
Kabayashi: We didn’t have any exact plans for how they would move when dancing, but I think we prioritized just showing off their coolness.
Soejima: Which one was harder to design?
Kabayashi: P5D was easy since P5 itself had stronger character visuals, which made it easier to associate with dancing. P3’s protagonist is very calm, so instead of using clothing style/design to express P3’s futuristic-ness, we used the material of his clothing.
Q: From an art designer’s point of view, what do you think is the most appealing in P3D and P5D?
Kabayashi: It’d have to be the costumes, which were the bulk of what I was responsible for. We designed outfits based on what we thought the fans would like to see that wasn’t in the original games, so I’d love it if you paid attention to them.
Q: You wouldn’t have had this degree of freedom in the original games, right?
Shimada: It’s spin-offs like these that allow us to delve deeper into the characters than ever before. You can see new sides to them and look around their rooms, so I think people who love the characters will really enjoy it.
Kabayashi: They stir your imagination more than the original games did.
Q: What do you think, Soejima-san?
Soejima: When you have such a large amount of costumes, oftentimes the focus is on creating variety, so the characters’ personalities suffer. However, all of our staff members adore the characters *laughs*. If we were working on a certain theme and ran out of ideas partway through, we’d end up saying things like “This doesn’t quite fit the character, but is it OK?” and everyone would spend an eternity discussing what Yusuke would think. I think it’s amazing how thorough we were with everything. We made it so that you can feel the context behind the costumes–it’s more than just the characters putting them on.
Q: Did you see any of Persona’s strengths in a new light when working on P3D/P5D?
Soejima: I noticed many things. I could really feel that everyone had things they wanted to see from the characters–so many that we could make a game just from their dancing. But once the characters are released into the world, they belong to the fans too, so as creators, we flesh out the characters’ charms with their interests in mind.
Q: What about Kabayashi-san and Shimada-san?
Shimada: After receiving the initial themes and requests, we researched why they were what they were, and dug up the designs from the original sources.
Kabayashi: None of the designs were pointless. They all had meaning behind them, and weren’t made impulsively. I used to think that designing was a combination of passion and inspiration *laughs*.
Shimada: “As long as it looks cool, it’s fine!” *laughs*
Kabayashi: Most people might think it’s based on intuition, but many, many of the Persona series’ designs are made with logic as well, because we can’t explain them to people otherwise. Saying “We made it this way, now feel it” isn’t going to convey what we want, and the viewers miss out on the fun of speculation.
Q: I’m excited to see what kind of Persona content is coming next.
Soejima: I want to work hard to make the Persona series even more exciting. I’ll probably be working with these two again, as well as another trustworthy staff member that couldn’t make it today*, which puts me at ease. The women have a different sense of aesthetics from me, so by adopting that, we can deliver a new, wider range of designs. Although we already have a complete-feeling set of theme colours–blue, yellow, and red–so we’re trying to figure out what we should do next *laughs*. Maybe silver or pearl? *laughs* Anyway, I don’t know what’s going to happen with that, but first we have to get these games rolling, and hopefully that’ll lead into our next work.
*Persona Team Designer Hanako Oribe, who worked on the P4U series’ package illustrations.