Hidari’s Commentary on Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (Nintendo Dream July 2017)


In addition to the large interview on Fire Emblem Echoes; Shadows of Valentia featured in Nintendo Dream’s July 2017 (released May 2017) issue, there was a section with Hidari (character designer) and his comments on some of the various aspects of character design of the game.

You can also learn more about the illustrator himself. There is also some concept art shown here and there.

This took me some time to scan, edit, and translate (not to mention buying the magazine), so if you’re feeling generous, please feel free to leave a donation!

Donate Button

Enjoy!


The Gods Behind Character Creation

In this corner of the magazine, we ask questions to the artists who breathe life into the characters of the game! Today, Mr. Hidari, a character designer with a varied portfolio spreading across light novels, anime, and games appears! He is the designer behind Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (from here on, just Echoes).

Profile: Mr. Hidari

Freelance Illustrator. Illustrator behind novels like Usotsuki Mii-kun to Kowareta Maa-chan*, and anime like Fractale, Natsuiro Kiseki**, and Room Mate. He handled a wide range of character designs for three games in the Atelier Ayesha (Dusk) series.

*Lit: Lying Mii-kun and Broken Maa-chan
**Lit: A Summer-Colored Miracle

When did you start drawing illustrations?

I always liked drawing pictures since I was a kid. While my friends would draw people like Goku and Vegeta (*1), I would usually be drawing weapons, dungeons, logos, and other inorganic things.

I fell in love with manga in middle school. Through imitating other artists, I came to be able to draw people much more naturally, too.

I think the biggest turning point in terms of drawing people for me came with the advent of CG. From age 20 I was able to start coloring my pictures, and so began to pay more attention to all the intricacies of coloring.

Alm’s initial design. As it was a remake, I had to consider how much the character should resemble the original, and often sought consultation on the matter. His blue armor retained its regal air at first, but from these drafts one can see I was trying to decide whether to go on a “simple” design (based on the fact he was raised in a village), or one that was more “out of place (to the context). [-Hidari]

I draw illustrations with a Cintiq 24HD Wacom Tablet, and use the program Clipstudio. I didn’t really have to do anything too out of the ordinary for this game when it came to my drawing process, though I did have to remain aware of special metallic effects such as dents in the armor and all that. [-Hidari]

How did you come up with the various character poses?

The poses had to be something that could express the characters in a suitable way, but since there were quite a few characters, I had to come up with quite a variety of poses to avoid them becoming dull or repetitive.

In Awakening and Fates, the designer Mr. Yusuke Kozaki’s (*2) characters were shown from all sorts of angles, such as back view or sitting down. Seeing them drawn that way, I realized that he set a precedent that I too could get away with doing!

On other media I’ve worked on, I’m used to hearing, “Please make it front view [only]” or “We can’t see their waist if they’re sitting [so don’t do it.]”

What was your aim with Echoes?

Well, as a whole it was designed as a remake, so I sought to retain the air of a “good old fantasy” while also aiming to appeal and be acceptable to today’s players. I had to actively strive to maintain a balance between the two.

Regarding the clothes, there were already different types of established outfits for each class. So I arranged for each of the characters to wear clothes based on these designs. When it came to these designs, I carefully designed it as not to be too overly complex. Other games have such gorgeous or showy characters, and so their designs often call for being rather dense. Things like this have been drilled into my very nature, but since this was a remake, I tried not to add an excessive amount of accessories… despite that they still came out a little more complex than before.

When thinking of armor designs, I often reference familiar things as a motif. It’s hard to put in words exactly, but things like a [Japanese] sliding screen, a gutter, a steel rack or pillar, etc.

This illustration shows the main male and female character standing back-to-back, with the air of a “historic war tale.” It has been arranged in a way that the castle, troops, and dark clouds express how difficult of a journey lies ahead. After some discussion, it was chosen as the main illustration for the game. Though it’s not the most stylish composition, it has a lot of components crammed into one image like the original work from 25 years ago. [-Hidari]

What do you think is the most important part of making a character?

It’s a bit of a vague answer, but I would say “charm.” I personally don’t think I’m that good with enchantingly flashy designs, so I have to rely on gestures and facial expressions to bring out a character’s “charm” instead.

TN: The word he used was actually “艶” (tsuya), which means many things. Glossy, charm, youthful, feeling, etc. You get the idea.

Seven short questions directly to the Character God!

1 What was the first human [shaped] thing you drew?

The Decepticon logo from Transformers. (*3)

2 What other illustrators or manga artists do you lie?

Masters Jun Suemi (*4) and Hiroaki Samura (*5). Master Suemi influenced my coloring style, and Master Samura my drawing style.

3 What characters do you like?

In Echoes, I’d say the simple characters Gray and Robin. They are childhood friends now fighting a war together as comrades in arms with different degrees of confidence. The way Kliff contrasts with the two in his own growth is also great, I thought.

4 What’s your favorite game of all time?

There’s no way I can name just one!

5 What games have you been playing lately?

As I answer this question, Echoes has just been released, so I’m in the midst of playing that at the moment.

6 What if you were not in this line of work?

I’m not exactly sure, but I do have an interest in music. So if I was unable to live up to my dream [of being an illustrator], I’d probably be doing something in music.

7 Tell us something that has impressed you lately.

Glasses-free 3D on the 3DS screen! (I’m a little late, since I bought a 3DS just for Echoes).

*1: Characters that appear Akira Toriyama’s manga Dragonball. Goku is the main character.
*2: A manga artist, illustrator, and character designer with an extensive portfolio. He worked as character designer on games such as No More Heroes, and anime such as BBK/BRNK.
*3: Transforming robot toys from TOMY, which became a comic and animated show. Decepticon is the name of the group of antagonists.
*4: An illustrator. Did illustrations for the Guin Saga novel series, as well as the Wizardry series.
*5: A manga artist. Best known for Blade of the Immortal.


That ends Hidari’s segment! I hope you enjoyed and learned something new about the artist.

Advertisements

Is Hidari (the illustrator) a man or a woman? (Answer: He’s a man)

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):

The tagline on Famitsu reads: “Hidari (seen on the left)”

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:

 

Fire Emblem Echoes: Dengeki Developer Interview (April 2017)

I spent the last two days translating an interview about the newly released Fire Emblem Echoes. It was featured in the June 2017 issue of Dengeki Nintendo (released April 21st, 2017).

A big thanks to VincentASM on serenesforest.net for sending me the scans. Please link back if you use any part of the interview as I put a lot of time into it. The original scans of the interview are available only by request, as well as the Japanese transcript I (re)typed up.

Some important questions are addressed, such as where the title came from, why Gaiden, and other fun tidbits of other Fire Emblem games. Enjoy!


Continue reading

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Famitsu Review Translated

I translated the entire Famitsu review for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valenta (Echoes: Another Hero King in Japan). It received an overall 37/40 rating from four reviewers. The break down was 9/9/10/9. I post a translated image, but the transcript can be found after for reference. It is from the April 13 2017 issue of Famitsu.

A big thank you to VincentASM of serenesforest for providing the review scan! Look forward to serenesforest’s own view on the review and other info gained before the game releases next week.

Continue reading

Fire Emblem Direct Thoughts/Impressions [Jan 18 2017]

This portfolio-blog is practically a Fire Emblem blog as well. So here are some brief thoughts and musings I have on the direct that went live today. See it above (that is specifically for North America. I provide Japan and UK below).

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

feechoescover

ファイアーエムブレムECHOES:もうひとり英雄王 (Fire Emblem Echoes: Another Hero King)

Release: April 20th (Japan), May 19th (NA/UK/EU) on 3DS

I had been iffy about remaking Fire Emblem games, though it’s nothing new, considering Shadow Dragon and Heroes of Light and Shadow are both remakes of older games. It was mostly the new trend in FE games (avatar, marriage, children) that had me worried that it may be forced into previous games, so I was hoping they would shy away from doing this to the older games.

But, so far, this was a pleasant surprise. Poised to be a full-on remake of Fire Emblem: Gaiden. The narration implies that it will be staying true to what made Gaiden what it is.

It was nice seeing a new artist on board, too. The character designs are notably different than Yusuke Kozaki’s art for Awakening and Fates.  

This time we have “Hidari” (meaning left side, or in her case, left handed) which should bring a fresh approach to characters and their looks, even if these characters will be based on previous designs.

So, I hope the children and marriage mechanic is not forced into it, and that it truly is a remake in all forms. Avatar is another issue that should be kept out, considering the focus on the two characters. Even FE12 had an avatar added with mixed response, so let’s see if they learn from that.

It is worth noting that Gaiden featured a lack of weapon durability which Fates followed after. I suppose it is fitting they use similar engines.

Another pleasant surprise is the localization aspect. For once, the NA/PAL release seems to be just about a month after the Japanese one. Usually the wait is 6+ months for NA and sometimes even longer for the PAL regions.

There are mentions of DLC. Some wonder how that may work for a remake of a game, but let’s not forget that Heroes of Light and Shadow (FE12) was a remake that featured DLC episodes to expand on the newer side stories (involving Katarina and co). So that is nothing new. It should be interesting to see what they expand upon in this game!

Two amiibos for the main characters is a nice touch, too! Japan is getting a special edition with the game too, as quoted from Nintendo Everything:

Limited Edition (6,980 yen) (approx. 60 USD)

– Copy of Fire Emblem Echoes
– A Fire Emblem 0 limited card of Alm with drawn illustration
– Download serial to get an extra DLC set that will be available as soon as it’s published
– Sound Selection Echoes: A CD that contains both music from the original Gaiden game in NES and the arranged versions in Echoes

Valentia Complete (10,980 yen) (approx. 100 USD)

– Copy of Fire Emblem Echoes
– A Fire Emblem 0 limited card of Alm with drawn illustration
– A Fire Emblem 0 limited card of Celica with drawn illustration and hologram
– Download serial to get an extra DLC set that will be available as soon as it’s published
– Sound Selection Echoes
– Valentia art book
– Fire Emblem HD Movie Collection Blu-Ray: Collection of HD movies used in the games from Radiant Dawn, Awakening, Fates and Echoes

It’s also interesting to note that there is a special edition that you can get all the bonuses without the game itself, also priced at 6980 yen (~60 USD). I would love to get this mainly to translate the artbook for fans!

All in all, it’s looking good, and the poll I created on twitter so far has most people excited for this one. It makes sense, as we know quite a bit about it now.

Lastly, a remark on the title. If it is Fire Emblem Echoes, does that mean there will be other remakes? “Shadows of Valentia” is a subtitle after all. So it is a point to ponder. If so, what would be next? FE4 is the game that could actually work properly with children, considering it actually had a system that implemented them quite well without being forced, considering the story revolved around it.

Fire Emblem Switch (Working Title)

feswitch

Release: 2018 on Switch

A lot of people I know wanted a “console” release for the game, so here it is. As they said, a whole new game for the Switch marks Fire Emblem‘s return to the home console. Not much was given beyond that, as it is said to be far away.

FE9/10 were quite wonderful as final console games, so whether or not this will be as epic remains to be seen. I look forward to seeing the character designer and setting for the story, and hope it will be more classical than the recent games have been.

Fire Emblem Warriors

fewarriorsファイアーエムブレム無双

Release: Fall 2017 on Switch and New 3DS

This was announced last week at the Switch conference, and we get a slightly better look at Chrom tearing up a crowd of enemies, as expected of the Warriors series of games.

There was still not much more said about it beyond that, however. Personally, I am not a fan of the Warriors games so cannot comment on it too much. I am familiar with the character selection variety and gameplay as shown in Hyrule Warriors. But the issue comes down to who will get chosen and who will not. After all, there is such a variety in Fire Emblem games when it comes to characters compared to the Zelda games. It will be interesting to see how they tackle this challenge.

Releasing on New 3DS is a fun choice to have, too. It remains to be seen whether there will be differences or not.

I highly recommend checking out “Jedisupersonic’s” view on the matter, as he is both a fan of Fire Emblem and Warriors games. His thoughts lay out what to expect and other things to ponder rather well:

Fire Emblem Heroes

feheroes

Release: February 2nd Worldwide on Google Play(later on IOS) (Update: IOS same day)

We finally get to see the mobile game, and, as many fans expected (and some feared), it does seem to be a gacha -like game. Collectors like me are in trouble!

It is the nearest to release of announcements that were given, so the most information is available on it. The pre-register is even live today for Google Play.

It seems to have a story to it too, but will likely involve a lot of dimension hopping with how summoning works and all that. Whether the story will be an in-depth one or not remains to be seen.

We already get a glimpse of all sorts of characters appearing in the form of summoned heroes. The three new characters are drawn clearly by Yusuke Kozaki (Awakening and Fates), but it was pleasantly refreshing to see a variety of other artists pitched in to draw all the older heroes. They seem to come with voices too, which may be good and bad depending on if the voices fit what you imagined for each character (Lilina’s english is a little high, isn’t it?)

The gameplay does seem more simplified, and so far seems free. The money will likely come from the micro-transactions involved in collecting all these characters.

Speaking of characters, the main website has several characters already shown with their artwork. Four new characters appear, with series “mascot” Anna as another character who seems to have an important role in the game. It makes sense considering it is a series’ mash-up.

Alfonse, Sharena (seems to be シャロン Sharon in Japanese), Veronica, and “The Mysterious Man” seem to be the new characters to the game. All have designs reminiscent of the latest games in the series, which will probably be appealing to those who are fans of the design/designer.

Alfonse and Sharena seem to lean toward “good” in their descriptions, with Veronica leaning the other way. The Mysterious Man will likely be a wildcard relevant to the story, mostly. Whether it is a character from the past or not is probably part of the mystery.

Marth, Tiki (young), Roy, Lyn, Lucina, Robin (male), and Takumi are some of the others shown (poor FE8 gets shafted here again when it comes to introductions). Though, Eirika is shown on the large display artwork at the top of the website (and shown below on this blog), so I’m sure these are just some introductory characters.

It’s notable that in the trailer, primarily Awakening and Fates characters were shown. Probably due to being the characters a large part of the fanbase (both old and new) would recognize as opposed to older characters.

Voting is currently underway as of this writing. Vote for who you want to see in the game. Take a wild guess who I picked for Day 1.

Lastly, officially localized names are provided for characters who were unclear before. A list will come soon! Curiously, Blazing Sword is now Blazing Blade. I guess it works with Binding Blade … so that’s pretty cool.

So the game should be interesting. It will likely have multiple language options, as the main website itself does and the game sees to a worldwide release. So there is something for everyone in there indeed!


So what are your thoughts on these four games? Hopes? Expectations? Disappointments? I would love to hear your thoughts. I kept mine as brief as I could!

I will keep an eye on the weekly Famitsu to see if any more FE info will be coming along the way and hope to translate those like I used to. Likewise, I will see into raising donations to get a copy of the Special Edition for Echoes in order to translate the design book!

The Japanese Direct:

The UK Direct: