The Women That Make Japan’s Games Industry Great

 

 

In celebration of international women’s day, let’s look at some of the awesome women that defined the video games industry:

Kinu Nishimura: Artist behind many of Capcom’s flagship titles

If you recognize these characters you’ve played a game Kinu worked on

Kinu Nishimura has been with Capcom since 1991 with Street Fighter II and has worked on countless titles since, rising up to become the most senior artist in the whole company.

Designs for Street Fighter III: New Generation

I’ve also heard stories from Capcom staff on how Kinu was the most intimidating person in the studio, relentless in making sure the high standards of Capcom artwork were maintained by everyone, and an immense amount of respect was given to her in turn.

Many of the games that had a profound impact on who I am today and my career path in video games is directly related to Kinu Nishimura’s masterful designs.

Some of the girls of Capcom games, illustrated by Kinu Nishimura

Keiko Erikawa, co-founder of industry giant Koei and #34 wealthiest person in Japan

She must be from the same generation as my aunt ’cause they have the same fashion sense

Keiko Erikawa started off in the fashion industry but then co-founded the prolific Koei company with her husband Kou Shibusawa.

Keiko Erikawa is credited for getting some atypical games made, like the stylishly odd rhythm action game Gitaroo-Man, hotel cooking game Shaberu! DS Oryouri Navi Marugoto Teikoku Hotel, and deciding that Koei should pick up the Gundam license because in her words: “I want to use a Gundam in a Koei game!”

But one of her most notable accomplishments would be…

 A very very very very very obscure to get title for English speakers, even the console it was on wasn’t released in the US!

Though video games is usually seen as a male dominated hobby, Koei’s female co-founder  believed there was no reason women couldn’t be part of the core audience so she assembled an all-woman team to created what would be the first ‘otome game’ (lit. ‘girl’s game’, a genre of Japanese games which seek out women as their prime audience).

Koei at the time was most famous for hardcore strategy/kingdom building games like Nobunaga’s Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms that starred macho mustached men of military history. With those roots Koei created Angelique (1993), where the protagonist is a young woman given the responsibility to rule over her own kingdom, if her kingdom thrives then she will inherit control over the world. Will she do so as a benevolent queen or martial despot? Such choices are up to the player to decide.

Many of the women I’ve worked alongside in the games industry have told me that their interest in games started with the otome genre that Angelique created,  That is the difference that a single person in power like Keiko Erikawa can make on a whole industry.


Many industry marketing specialists today would say strategy/conquest games are a ‘man’s genre’ that would scare away women with ‘hardcore’ mechanics, but Keiko Erikawa proved that wrong over two decades ago! Continue reading “The Women That Make Japan’s Games Industry Great”

Happy 15th Birthday to Street Fighter III: Third Strike

May 12, 1999, 15 years ago to this day, the best game I’ve ever played was released into the world. That game is Street Fighter III: Third Strike, easily my favorite game of all time. I’ve spent countless hours on Third Strike over the last 2 decades and I’m still just scratching the surface of its depth. But beyond the entertainment value, this game has enriched my life in 2 immeasurable ways: it inspired me as an artist and it helped me make some of the best friends I’ve had in life.

The character art by Daigo Ikeno is masterful. The poses, the angles, the confident rendering, the way he simplifies forms, it’s all so ON POINT. So stylized and fun, and yet so subtle and subdued. And the sprite animation is just peerless.

street_fighter_III_third_strike_makoto_sprite_anim_scan_lines_02

I could go on forever about Third Strike, but my words don’t really do it justice. So please enjoy this high resolution character art from Daigo Ikeno. If you have a copy of Third Strike, you should give it a spin. And if you’ve never tried it, well there’s no better time than now to start.

Here’s to you Third Strike.

Happy Birthday Katsuya Terada!

Today, December 7, is the Rakugaking’s birthday. To celebrate, here is a small sampling of some of his pieces from his Hot Pot Girl’s exhibit (best show ever). Some of these original pieces are still available to purchase from Giant Robot here.

art-eater_katsuya_terada_hotpot_girls_GR2_giant_robot_02_black_and_white_illustration_01 Continue reading “Happy Birthday Katsuya Terada!”

Terra’s Black Marker

Terra's Black Marker
I recently got to meet one of my very favorite artists, Katsuya Terada at the opening of his art show, Terra’s Black Marker, at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon. Terada is a prolific artist known for his work in … Read the rest

Terra's Black Marker
I recently got to meet one of my very favorite artists, Katsuya Terada at the opening of his art show, Terra’s Black Marker, at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon. Terada is a prolific artist known for his work in video games, comics, animation and commercial illustration. If you’re reading this blog there’s a good chance you’ve seen his work before even if you don’t recognize his name.

Katsuya Terada was the character designer for many video games including Sega’s ground breaking fighting game Virtua Fighter 2:

Katsuya Terada illustration for Virtua Fighter 2

He set the look for the short film Blood: The Last Vampire, a work so gorgeous it made James Cameron exclaim “The world will come to consider this work as the standard of top quality in digital animation.”

Terada has done illustrations for Marvel Comics:

Katsuya Terada cover for Wolverine Soul Taker no 3
Terada's take on everybody's favorite Canadian Mutant
Katsuya Terada's cover for Iron Man
I love how the striations in Iron Man's armor recall coiled steel (which is echoed in the rubble he's standing on)

He’s worked on live action films such as Hellboy, Godzilla Final Wars, Sucker Punch, Cutie Honey and Yatterman (which on a related note was totally awesome):

Movies that Katsuya Terada has worked on

And he even designed a shoe for Nike!

Katsuya Terada Nike White Dunks
Old school gamers and other hip cats might recognize his contributions to early issues of Nintendo Power including these evocative scenes from The Legend of Zelda:

Katsuya Terada Legend of Zelda Illustration for Nintendo Power Katsuya Terada Legend of Zelda Illustration for Nintendo Power Katsuya Terada Legend of Zelda Illustration for Nintendo Power Katsuya Terada Legend of Zelda Illustration for Nintendo Power

All the above is just a fraction of the full breadth of his work.

Terra‘s Black Marker was Katsuya Terada‘s second official art show in the US. The show mostly consisted of black and white drawings culled from his sketchbooks.

Katsuya Terada Bearbrick for Terra's Black Marker Show at the Compound Gallery
There was also a really sweet Bearbrick.
Katsuya Terada Terra's Black Marker Show at the Compound Gallery
Pencil sketches for the long running role playing game series Wizardry
Katsuya Terada for Terra's Black Marker Show at the Compound Gallery
These were probably original pieces created for the show.

The centerpiece of the show was a series of marker illustrations created just for this exhibit simply titled Spiral # 1 through 6.

Much of the artwork was completed on site, with the illustrations jumping out of the page, past the frames and into the wall of the gallery.

Katsuya Terada at work
Terada hard at work. This image is from Terada's blog: http://cacazan.blogspot.com/
Katsuya Terada's Spiral #1
Spiral # 1 - a rose for "The City of Roses"

Katsuya Terada Spiral Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery
Spiral # 2 (left) and Spiral # 1 (right)
Katsuya Terada's Spiral # 2 for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon
Detail of Spiral # 2

They were astonishingly precise illustrations, drawn freehand with no underdrawing using just a black permanent marker.

Katsuya Terada's Spiral No 5
Spiral # 5 - suggested listening: Weird Fishes/Arpeggi by Radiohead

These were fearless works of art with confidence in every stroke.  There’s a thrilling sense of performance to each illustration as your eye moves across the page, especially considering that there was no room for mistakes and back tracking.  There are so many interesting little detours throughout each composition, but they all flow into a coherent whole.  It must have been a thing to behold Terada drawing these!

Katsuya Terada Spiral No 5 Terra's black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon
Detail of Spiral # 5
Katsuya Terada's Spiral # 4 for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon
Spiral # 4
Katsuya Terada's Spiral # 4 for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon
Detail of Spiral # 4
Katsuya Terada's Spiral # 4 for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon
Detail of Spiral # 4

 

Meeting Terada was pretty dang cool.  I’m happy to report that the show was a great success.  I arrived about an hour after it opened and most of his pieces had already been sold by then.  Luckily I was able to snag 1 of each limited edition print from his spiral series.  I’ve heard anecdotally that the night before the show opened, the president of Nike purchased every original Spiral drawing for about $6000 a piece (which I think is a bargain). I don’t know if the buyer was really the president of Nike, but I do know that they were all sold out before the show opened. It makes me very happy to know that a world class artist like Terada is able to live comfortably from his work.

There were many other professional artists in attendance at the show, from local comic book artists to animators and concept artists who had flown in from Hollywood. They were easy to spot since they tended to be the people geeking out and asking Terada for his autograph and a picture (I am guilty as charged).

Katsuya Terada signing autographs at Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon

Usually that sorta thing is considered a big party foul, especially if you’re a professional in the same field, but Terada’s art has a way of bypassing people’s guards. It was very refreshing!  Terada took all this in stride.  He was very down to earth and had the relaxed demeanor of a man who is doing what he was born to do.  I joked that he should charge much more for his art (OK actually I was completely serious), and he just laughed and pointed at the walls and said these are just sketches.  They’re just for fun.

That really stuck with me.

For all his decades of experience, the tens of thousands of hours he’s poured into his craft, he’s still having fun.  And that fun is infectious. The best thing I can say about Katsuya Terada is that his artwork is so exuberant that it always makes me want to draw draw draw!  If you feel the same, I highly suggest you grab some paper, put the pen to the page and just see what happens!

Long live the Rakugaking!

Richmond Lee Tako No Ken
Some doodles I did after the show.

Additional Photos from the Show:

katsuya terada illustration for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregonkatsuya terada illustration for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregonkatsuya terada illustration for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregonkatsuya terada illustration for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon

katsuya terada illustration of Devilman for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon
Oil painting of Devilman!

katsuya terada illustration for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregonkatsuya terada illustration for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregonkatsuya terada illustration for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregonkatsuya terada illustration for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregonkatsuya terada illustration for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon

katsuya terada illustration for Terra's Black Marker at the Compound Gallery in Portland Oregon

For more information on Terra’s Black Marker, please visit the Compound Gallery website, where you can see more work from the show and purchase original artwork and prints:

main website – http://compoundpdx.com/
Terra’s Black Marker show website – http://compoundpdx.com/Artist/currentshow.html
Browse and purchase artwork – http://compoundpdx.com/Artist/index.php?main_page=artist&cid=42

If you’re interested in learning more about Katsuya Terada, here are some great links:
Terada’s Personal Website –  http://cacazan.com/
Terada’s Blog – http://cacazan.blogspot.com/
A great retrospective of his work (in French) – http://www.catsuka.com/focuson.php?id=terada_katsuya&page=1

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