Shoryuken interview: Daisuke Ishiwatari and Toshimichi Mori from Arc System Works

By on July 18, 2017 at 11:00 am
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Evolution 2017 provided unprecedented access to Arc System Works — as the company’s booth granted the opportunity for fans worldwide to watch a constant stream, and the ability for attendees to meet and interact with the developers as well.

Shoryuken had the opportunity for a short interview with both Daisuke Ishiwatari and Toshimichi Mori. The former is a highly respected designer, director, artist, and musician behind the Guilty Gear series. He also contributes music composition to “Team Blue’s” BlazBlue, which, at one point, was marked as the spiritual successor to Guilty Gear. Mori produces and designs BlazBlue, continuing work on the series up to the latest release, Central Fiction, and as we learned at Evolution 2017, the series is not over.

Note that this interview took place before the big announcements after the BlazBlue: Central Fiction grand finals, and — as expected — Mori kept the news secure behind his smirk. Ever wondered who his favorite character is in BlazBlue (and outside BlazBlue)? However, he does reveal something interesting about an image he posted a long time ago, and we learn more about what’s coming to Guilty Gear in the future.


The following conversation was made possible thanks to a translator provided by Arc System Works. Responses are edited for clarity.

Luke “Woocash” Siuty: Mori-san, in a Forbes interview, you said you would like to work on a RWBY game. And there are rumors that something will be shown at Evo…

Toshimichi Mori [producer of the BlazBlue series]: I knew that was going to be a question you were going to ask, and I’m not really sure why is there a rumor like that.

Woocash: Okay, so Arc Sys is not working on that.

Mori: Yes. [That comment] was incidental but regrettable [laughs].

Woocash: Are either of you working on Dragon Ball FighterZ? What’s your involvement?

Daisuke Ishiwatari [creator of the Guilty Gear series]: No, we are not.

Woocash: But it uses the same engine as Guilty Gear, doesn’t it?

Ishiwatari: I mean, there’s some small, casual advice I have given, but not in a big-scale level, like in a meeting or anything.

Woocash: Mori-san, can you talk about BlazBlue on the Nintendo Switch?

Mori: Ehhhhhhh… We’re doing our best right now!

Woocash: Is it going to be different from a traditional fighting game? Can you talk about that?

Mori: It’s a pretty hard question to answer at the current stage.

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Woocash: Ishiwatari-san, is there more content coming to Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2, such as After Story C, or anything else?

Ishiwatari: One thing I can say for sure is that we are going to add Story Mode C on it.

Woocash: Will there be an announcement after Guilty Gear finishes?

Ishiwatari: No, there won’t be [laughs]. [And there wasn’t]

Woocash: Mori-san, who is your personal favorite from the BlazBlue cast?

Mori: I get this question a lot, and my answer is probably going to be, “all my characters are my favorite,” but if you were going to go with the length of relationship, Haku-men has the longest one with me. Because that’s the character that I had a rough idea about back when I was a school boy. I’ve been keeping this idea when I was in the position of making my own title. I decided to put him in that.

Woocash: I wanted to ask you about your Twitter banner. It has “Apocalypse,” on it, is that just a teaser, project, or…?

Mori: You will figure it out in around two years. Well, at some point but no later than two years, it could be sooner.

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Toshimichi Mori’s Twitter banner. A similar image originally appeared in the Arc System Works 25th Anniversary Official Character Collection artbook, featuring Alpha -No 01-, supposedly the first Murakumo unit, which appears to be a fusion of Ragna the Bloodedge and Nu-13.

Woocash: Ishiwatari-san, I wanted to ask about Baiken’s design. What was it like to bring her into Xrd, and update her visual and gameplay style? Her design is a lot “busier.”

ggxrd-rev2-baikenIshiwatari: The first thing about that, the reason for Baiken’s difference in appearance, is that since it’s a new [entry in the] Guilty Gear series, we wanted to make sure that she will also look new, so that’s why we wanted to make her look completely different.

My inspiration came from a US Baiken cosplayer. I was fascinated. The cosplayer had a mixture of Western elements on it, so I thought, “maybe that would be a good idea.” The reason for the battle system changes was because in the previous version, because she was defense-based with the Guard Canceling, she tended to mostly turtle herself rather than going on the offense. We wanted to make her be a little more aggressive and capable in going on the offense rather than sheltering herself.

Woocash: Mori-san, I want to ask about Central Fiction’s gameplay in comparison to older games. CF seems to be faster, more explosive, you get Overdrive back a lot faster, etc. You ever think about toning it down, do you feel it’s a little too much, too fast?

Mori: Currently, I believe Central Fiction is the complete form of the BlazBlue series. From Chrono Phantasma, all of those systems, I made up the new system additions myself. After that, I had a discussion with the staff about how we can perfect things, and the result of that is Central Fiction. If I ever get to work on a new BlazBlue series, I would actually start the system from zero.

Woocash: Why start over?

Mori: Personally, for me, Central Fiction is a complete format, so I don’t want to touch that or add something or modify. If I want to start something new, I’d rather start fresh.

Woocash: You were also saying you don’t really want to work on fighting games anymore. Can you comment on that?

Mori: It’s not like I hate fighting games. It’s just that I’ve been working on fighting games for such a long time. It’s like a food thing — even if it’s your favorite, if you keep eating it over and over, you’ll get tired of it. So perhaps I wanted to work on something new for myself. My core philosophy is to entertain people. A fighting game isn’t the only way to entertain people, and I want to find what other way I can give joy to people.

Woocash: Ishiwatari-san, Answer is the character that nobody expected would become playable. Tell me about the timing of putting him in REV 2, and how did you come up with this idea of a “Business Ninja?”

ggxrd-rev2-answer

Ishiwatari: Timing? Hmm, that’s difficult… The concept of the Business Ninja, I already had that idea even before he became a playable character, and you can see him in Story Mode. When working on REV 2, I was given the permission of adding two characters: one is a completely new character, and one is from the previous Guilty Gear series. Based on my decision, the character who won that position was Answer.

The original idea, the first concept came from needing to make a secretary for Chipp. So since he’s a secretary, he’s more of a businessman. But, since Chipp is a ninja, he should also be a ninja as well. So that’s what created the concept of a “Businessman Ninja.” Also, another background for his design is him having three lenses. One on the forehead. The reason for that is because he can see through his brain, so that’s what also led to his design.

Woocash: The mind eye.

Ishiwatari: Yes.

Woocash: Are you thinking about doing another character poll? You’ve done one in the past with Dizzy.

Ishiwatari: Ahh, I’m not thinking about it right now, but the event itself was quite successful, so if there’s a chance I could do it, I would have felt I’d do it.

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Mori: Player-wise, it was quite successful, but as the designers, we were like, “ah man, really?!” We can’t work in advance, we need to work on it after getting the result, so we don’t have that much of a time frame. So it’s really hard!

Woocash: Was Dizzy a surprising result then?

Ishiwatari: Well, we were kind of expecting Dizzy to be chosen, but because of her design, there’s two of her summons [Necro and Undine], so design-wise, it was a pretty time-consuming character, so there was staff saying, “please don’t be her, please don’t be her!”

Woocash: Mori-san, is there going to be an announcement tomorrow about BlazBlue?

Mori: You’ll know.

Woocash: Is there somebody from the cast, or from the story that you also wanted to make a playable character but didn’t get a chance to?

Mori: Personally, to be honest, I did want to make Trinity playable. She has a good design.

Woocash: What would her powers be? Drive? Fighting style?

Mori: She would be a more honest material summoner than Platinum is. I’m not sure that I can talk about this, but the easiest way to describe it probably is Iceman from X-Men: Children of the Atom, he’s my favorite. I always wanted to make a character like that.

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Trinity Glassfille

Woocash: Is that why Jin is so strong right now?

Mori: Jin… It’s not like I like the ice, but Iceman’s character system.

Woocash: No way! [jokingly]

Mori: I would say Jin is an easy-to-use character.

Woocash: Ishiwatari-san, do you ever think about voicing Sol again?

Ishiwatari: No.

Woocash: Why not?

Ishiwatari: Guilty Gear now is fully-voiced, it would be really disrespectful to professional actors if there’s one amateur mixed amongst professional actors.

Woocash: Did you ever have an unused character idea that never made it in?

Ishiwatari: Yes, there’s a lot, but I can’t say any.

Woocash: Mori-san, favorite thing about Las Vegas?

Mori: I can’t win on casinos, so… the food is more expensive! But I love this atmosphere. I love America.


Big thanks to the Arc System Works booth at Evolution 2017 for working with us on making this happen. Look forward to Jubei being playable soon, as well as the new BlazBlue Cross Tag Team game!

Luke "Woocash" Siuty is a Chicago-based writer who specializes in ArcSys titles. A Guilty Gear veteran, he plays Baiken and commits atrocities by playing Sin when he's not busy pondering the ArcSys Cycle. He's always down to talk on Twitter, so send him tips. He's good at OS-ing in real life, not so much in video games, though.