I didn’t know what to expect when I was given the opportunity to meet and interview the designer of one of my favorite series, Senran Kagura, Kenichiro Takaki. There I was standing outside a room with two other oprainfall colleagues nervously waiting to do so. Senran Kagura: Estival Versus for the PlayStation 4 and Senran Kagura: Deep Crimson 2 for the Nintendo 3DS are two of the newest titles from Takaki-San. We made the choice to not focus heavily on these two games since we expect other sites would be asking those same question and we here at oprainfall demand to be different! We focused on Senran Kagura as a series and how Takaki-San handles Western audiences that don’t agree with his design choices, and what else he’d like to do with the Senran Kagura series in the future. We hope you enjoy!
What makes you want to continue to make Senran Kagura titles?
I love anime characters and personally I haven’t fully expressed what I want them to be yet, so constantly I’m trying to perfect that.
You’ve expressed before that one of the reasons you made Senran Kagura is because you want to express sexual desire, so why did you feel the need to create such a sexualized game and express those things?
I love video games and how you can immerse yourself in a world and just have fun with it, but saying “having fun” could be taken the wrong way or out of context, but I think the sexualization and violence of any kind of game are the two core things that people enjoy in entertainment, so if I combine these two together in a really nice balance it must be a good and fun game to play. So that foremost is for me to come up with something that is a solid game, with those two things, but at the same time not offend anybody. It’s something that I try to keep in mind.
It’s true that there is violence and sexuality in the game, but there’s also a good story involved with the Senran Kagura cast of girls. Do you consciously hide this deep and engaging backstory behind big breasts and action?
Well you actually said what I have envisioned what the series can be, so like I said, what drives people to play games for entertainment is the sexual aspect, but that’s just to interest people to pick it up, but if they find out there’s no reason for all of this fighting then I don’t think there’s a reason to play because there’s nothing behind it, it’s just a front. The story in the game is something that I wanted to be a surprise for the players who thought the game was just a sexual action game and then they discover that it’s not just fan service, and they are invested emotionally.
In the West there is a growing viewpoint that rejects these types of games based of the type of content. So do you have any words for the people that say these types of games are in poor taste just because of what it is?
For those people I understand there’s a strong opinion and a movement in the West more than Japan. This is not a title that I want to just shove into their face and say, “This is what it is, expect it”, but more like, “if you have time, out of curiosity if you could pick it up and play it, you might find more than just façade of just the sexual parts and see there is solid gameplay and more story.” I really concentrate on making a full title and not just what people think this game is. So if people have time and they still don’t like it, well, I don’t really want to change anything, because there is a fan base who love what I’m creating right now, so I don’t want to go away from that.
So it’s not fair to say that you should change anything because you have already established that you are creating something for a fan base that already enjoys it, right?
I won’t say, “No.” as in I won’t change it, but I think as of right now I’ll keep going on the path that I have been, but in the future it might change. It really comes down to, I want to create what I want to create, and it’s not a take it or leave it. I do understand what this group of people are trying to say, but I don’t want to change everything to please them because that’s what dilutes everything that I am trying to make. It is a series that is still new in the West, there’s a lot confusion about the game. There is a core mechanic of the game that I will not be influenced by the naysayers just because they are a naysayer.
How do you suggest someone, as a fan, introduce the game to a naysayer to maybe give it a try?
That’s a topic that comes up on Japan’s side too, cause there are people who aren’t into the sexualization of the game or eroge, but in Japan at least it’s usually word of mouth from friends to just give it a try. I don’t always think of Senran Kagura as the main title that people will play for hours on end, but more as a breath of fresh air that you can turn on and play for a short amount of time.
Do you see these characters in any other style of game?
Yes, I am interested in 3rd or 1st person shooter games and I’m also interested in more a 2d fighter like Street Fighter.
Senran Kagura began in 2011, so next year will be its 5th year anniversary. How do you see these characters developing in the next 5 years?
In the 5 years since Senran began I have been fortunate enough to pump out multiple titles in the genre, but to tell you the truth I haven’t really had a chance to look back and reflect on what I have done. I’m constantly thinking what’s next, what’s next? In that sense I love hearing what people have to say about how the game has changed in the last five years and how their thinking has changed. As for the next five years, it’s all about school right now, but maybe they get to graduate and maybe I’ll be able to explain if they get to become a true ninja or not.
Is there anything you’d like to say to fans of Senran Kagura?
When I created Senran Kagura it was a very low budget, small game that I had the freedom to create whatever I wanted. I was originally just aiming for a small community and I wasn’t really thinking about the overseas market of US and Europe because it’s so Japanese, but now that there so many fans, I’m just overwhelmed by all the people liking the game. A game that I didn’t think people would understand outside of Japan, so now that it’s growing, I just wanted to make it bigger and more enjoyable, but at the same time keep surprising you. So thank you for supporting me.