Last week, when I translated the long-awaited Dengeki Interview on Fire Emblem Echoes, I had referred to the character illustrator Hidari as a woman. I was going off of what I had believed and (thought) I had known from before so did not think much of it. When writing the translation, I still tried to look into their gender but could not really find any definitive proof either way (my go-to source, their main website, seems to have been down, and still is as of this writing), so erred on that side.
However, places like wikipedia already referred to him as a “he” and such, but heard some fans were still iffy about trusting that. But I am thankful someone came forward (politely) and pointed out a particular tweet (screen shot in case it goes down) from 2011 where he states he is a man.
Japanese is a language that does not often use gender references in its pronouns at all, which is one of many reasons for this complication in the first place. They do exist, but not often in formal settings, such as an interview.
That tweet the kind reader sent me was still silly in a way, as he uses the female pronoun (あたし) for “I” to say “Though I am a man” which was already a little strange (the rest of the tweet is about drawing female characters and getting the pose down requires some…research… which he makes share not to show anyone else).
But due to that pronoun and dated info, I wanted something more concrete before making this post. So when searching around on the Japanese side of the internet, I did find a picture from an interview with Famitsu (seen below):
It is from the back mostly, but did state directly that is the same illustrator we have in mind, where as other pictures around did not give a definitive answer to that, so I felt this was the best one.
It still was not enough though, so I settled on a different method: I decided to message Hidari on twitter directly!
Here is what I asked (in Japanese, but translated for you):
Hello! My name is Kan. I am a translator.
I have one question for you today. You have a lot of fans in the USA, but some of them still say: “I’m not sure if Hidari is a boy or a girl!” As such, though it may be a bit of a rude question, which are you?
I apologize again for asking this type of question, and thank you so much in advance.
This sounds even more direct and rude in English, but rest assured in Japanese it was asked very politely. This was done on April 28th, and the longer time went on, the more I started to doubt I would ever get a reply. Why would they reply with the 25K followers anyway? For this random (and rather direct) question out of nowhere?
But this morning, to my surprise, in came a reply (screen shot for proof):
初めまして。 左です。 お返事が遅くなってごめんなさい。 私のファンがたくさん居ると聞いて嬉しいです！ そして私は男です！ ３６歳です！ 失礼ではないですよ。 ご丁寧にありがとうございます。
They even provided their own translation with it:
How do you do? It’s the left. I’m sorry that an answer is late. My fan hears that there are many and is happy! And I’m a man! 36 years old! It isn’t impolite. Thank you very much politely.
Or, the more accurate translation (by me):
Hello, I am Hidari. I apologize for the late reply.
It really makes me happy knowing I have a lot of fans [out there]!
To answer your question: I am a man! And 36 years old! It was not a rude question at all (but thank you for taking that into consideration).
And so there we have it, straight from the Hidari’s mouth (or, keyboard I suppose). I figure that is probably the best proof to have.
So in summary:
After being unable to find anything really definitive, I just asked them directly (about their gender), to which they straight up replied: A 36 year old man.
Hope that helps people avoid mistakes in the future!
If you have any thoughts or questions, let me know below! I hope this can be sourced in the future if any debate arises on this issue.
Here is a summary image:
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Ah, I was worried the comment was too nitpicky and such so I’m glad it came off as polite!
I’ve been following him for a while as I’m a fan of his artwork, and he’s actually made a few visible appearances in some Vocaloid and Atelier Escha & Logy art streams. I also recall reading an interview where he used the 僕 pronoun in a more formal setting. But of course, the best of all source is naturally getting it from the source himself!
In any case, Thank you for the article!
I definitely prefer your “pickiness” because it was not condescending or anything, it was just an error correction that was important to point out. : )
I heard others sat back and laughed at the mistake and deemed the interview unreliable, instead of informing me of the error to fix directly. So I was very thankful you did.
And this is of course is to ensure none of us get confused in the future again. xD It must have been nice to have already been following him before this though : ) I do like his work!
Huh, I was thinking Hidari was a woman, but even as a man, it’s interesting that he prefers female pronouns. There’s a lot that could be assumed or guessed from that, but I notice Hidari is very private in general, and I totally respect that.
Thanks for asking! It’s great that he responded. I adore Hidari a lot for his art, but he also seemed like a very nice person, and I feel even these little exchanges kind of show that.
Thanks again for sharing with us all. ♥
Yes, I felt embarrassed for thinking he was a woman, but I am glad I was not the only one! (In fact a lot of the twitter replies thought the same as us).
But yes, he was nice enough to get back to me later, I thought he wouldn’t at all, not the type of question you want out of nowhere (speaking from experience xD)
So hope it comes in handy for people in the future and to settle that debate once and for all. : )
Wow, he’s so young. :O But Hidari is an artist I’m really thankful to have in an FE Game. I feel he better captures the charm and style for the series and the units/characters?
Kozaki wasn’t so much lacking, but I think he took the “It could be an FE Game in Space!” too far and also, IIRC, Nintendo/IS didn’t tell him he was working on an FE Game–he guessed, he was right, but still.
I think Kozaki is better for games like No More Heroes and whichever other titles he’s worked on, but for Fire Emblem, itself? No.
That’s pretty much how I feel too. I do like his style for Echoes, and hope to see more like that in the future.
Kozaki I felt was not really “right” for FE, it does not mean he is a bad artist/designer, but…just not for this game. xD So, as you said, basically. : )