Dragon's Crown designer George Kamitani says his characters—including the sexy, controversial sorceress—are all exaggerated so they'll stand out from other fantasy art.
In an e-mail to Kotaku, Kamitani explained some of the rationale behind his designs, which picked up a great deal of media attention this week after the artist wrote a note to me on his Facebook wall that featured three shirtless, burly men embracing one another.
Kamitani, who is the head of Dragon's Crown development studio Vanillaware, also apologized for what many have interpreted as homophobia, calling his note "a lighthearted joke" written with an automatic Japanese-to-English translator.
Earlier this week, I criticized Dragon's Crown's sorceress, a character that seems designed to be ogled and leered at as a sexual object. I called it juvenile, and said it was symbolic of a much large issue of sexism and exclusion in the video game industry. Here's an example of what the sorceress looks like during gameplay:
Throughout the week, we've been in touch with Kamitani in hopes of getting his side of the story. It's taken longer than anticipated, thanks to timezones and the language barrier, but he sent over a letter in both English and Japanese that we'd like to share on Kotaku today.
Here's the entirety of George Kamitani's letter, republished with his and Atlus's permission:
Thank you for contacting me; I am George Kamitani from Vanillaware.
I’ll go into detail about the reasons behind some of Dragon’s Crown design concepts.
I believe that the basic fantasy motifs seen in Dungeons & Dragons and the work of J.R.R. Tolkien have a style that is very attractive, and I chose to use some orthodox ones in my basic designs. However, if I left those designs as is, they won’t stand out amongst the many fantasy designs already in the video game/comic/movie/etc. space. Because of that, I decided to exaggerate all of my character designs in a cartoonish fashion.
I exaggerated the silhouettes of all the masculine features in the male characters, the feminine features in female characters, and the monster-like features in the monsters from many different angles until each had a unique feel to them. I apologize to those who were made uncomfortable by the art’s appearance, and did not see the same light-hearted fantasy in my designs.
I don’t harbor any ill-will to Jason Schreier for the article he originally posted about the Sorceress or his follow-up. Although it may be negative feedback, I am very thankful for having one of our titles being covered. I do understand what Jason and the rest of the discussions on the internet are saying for the most part. I am not sure if I can implement the critiques from him and others around the internet into my future artistic creations, but I will definitely keep in mind that these opinions are out there and affect people on a personal level. I feel that any form of media content faces death when it doesn’t receive attention at all. So, be it criticism or support, I am truly thankful for the people talking about Dragon’s Crown and the people discovering Vanillaware for the first time.
In regards to the Dwarf image I posted on my Facebook page: This image was never intended to attack Jason. Originally, it was a promotional image that I created for my fan base in Japan, which I posted to the official Vanillaware Twitter account earlier.
We receive many requests from companies to create publicity illustrations for the game, but we never received any requests for the Dwarf. Also, as the game’s street date nears, most retail shops start requesting exclusive art for their retailer-exclusive bonus items. In Japan, these illustration requests can even be as specific as something like female characters in swimwear. In these requests as well, the Dwarf was nowhere to be seen.
So, I decided to unofficially draw a sweaty Dwarf in a bathing suit, with a bit of cynicism towards those retailer requests. I drew 3 of them to show that there are character color variations available.
However, this image is something I created on my own, and will not see the light of day in any publication. I felt it was a shame to just throw it out, and thought I’d just post it on my own Facebook. That’s when I remembered Jason’s article and thought that I’d post it as a little joke with a comment. I used an automated translator to try and make a lighthearted joke in English, but clearly that wasn’t the case. I was very surprised to see the crazy aftermath.
It’s okay if it was just me who was criticized, but it is not my intention to cause problems for Dragon’s Crown publisher (ATLUS) and all the other people who are involved in this project. From now on, I will limit myself about transmitting something personal out in the public.
Also, it would be very appreciated if you could please contact Index Digital Media, Inc. if you plan to make anything related to this matter, including this e-mail, into an article.
Lastly, please tell Jason that I am sorry for causing him trouble, and also to please don’t let my actions cause him to shy away from Vanillaware products…
Good bye, and thank you.
Dragon's Crown will be out on August 6 for PS3 and Vita.