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Lunar I+II Official Artbook
Interview with Kei Shigema and Toshiyuki Kubooka (Creators)
Translation by Maou

Below is one of the translations from the Lunar I+II Artbook, in the Long Interview section. This interview is with Kei Shigema (main story designer of Lunar) and Toshiyuki Kubooka (character designer). Translation here is by Maou.

Kei Shigema x Toshiyuki Kubooka Long Interview

[p. 96]

Mr. Kei Shigema, Scenario Chief
Principal occupation as a novelist, but involved exclusively in “Lunar II” for the past two years. Also created the script for “Lunar I.”

Mr. Kubooka Toshiyuki, Character Designer and Head of Animation Direction
Involved in works such as “Giant Robo,” “Uchuu Senkan Yamato” [“Space Battleship Yamato”]. This time, tasted the pain of simultaneous jobs in animation directing and in game development.

Why is there so much animation?

Kubooka: From the start, we had the concept that we wouldn’t tell all of the story in the game but would do important parts in the animation, so the animation parts received necessarily large weight. As far as the opening goes, that was still the beginning so we might have been a little extravagant with it there.

Shigema: But, we made it and thought there would be far too much, but when we finally saw the game it didn’t seem that way at all and matched strangely well.

Kubooka: Since I only did the animation parts, I can’t tell whether balance-wise there is too much or too little in the full game. But I guess as far as how it felt to me working on it, it seemed all right to me. On the other hand, sometimes I think maybe it would have been better in a different amount, too.

Shigema: For the animation of “Lunar II,” I think maybe that it’s not that the animation is independent of the rest, but that it was mixed in from the start.

Kubooka: If you skipped it you wouldn’t be able to understand what was going on.

Shigema: In that sense, the way animation is involved is a little different from other games, in that the animation isn’t actually something special, since it was thought of as one element to tell the story, from the start. The reason animation was used so much in the first place was because “Lunar II” emphasizes the story so heavily, everything is there to tell the story.

Kubooka: Right, well, and since we really can’t do anything besides that part, we have it set up so that the game itself is made fun by the game specialists. We have the comfort of knowing that if we can weave these things together well, the game will be fun.

Shigema: Yes, that’s right. Lucia ended up being one of the big main themes. How were we going to portray her? Could we make the player like Lucia? I think Lucia was a difficult character in that regard. A girl who doesn’t have emotions gains emotions one by one, and then she returns home. I guess what we really have to communicate are the characters’ emotions. At first, I didn’t think we could convey emotions with the super-deformed in-game characters wandering around. In that regard, I think that animation inevitably became necessary, lots of voice actors became necessary, and tons of sound became necessary.

Miyaji: (The Company President suddenly intrudes!) No, rather, I would look at Mr. Kubooka’s continuity sketches and think, “This is about twice as much as in the specs, but we need to do this, don’t we?” “We can’t cut this, it adds emotional impact, so we can’t cut this part of the continuity,” things like that. It’s not something to get mad over.

Shigema: No one was mad about it, but I think it did cause some people problems (laughter). But actually, in the stages before we gave it to Game Arts, Mr. Kubooka and I had conversations back and forth countless times about the continuity and we actually cut some things. And there were many things on the other hand that I insisted that we put in. For example, Lucia is on the boat’s deck, and there is a scene when you’re going to Pentagulia where Lucia sings a song.

[p. 97]

There was talk about making that simpler originally, but since it shows the feelings in Lucia’s heart there was the argument that it was absolutely necessary. And of course, Mr. Kubooka, you know, he has a fierce attachment to Lucia (laughter). So that’s how when writing the plot or the scenario, I would hear a number of complaints.

Kubooka: I know what Mr. Shigema’s scenario is trying to express, but actually there are times when it’s not clear whether the things expressed can be seen that way objectively. And in Lucia’s case, the player in the end has to be able to sympathize with her, to the point where if the player were in her position, he would feel like he would have done the same thing, and not just for the sake of the mission. If the player can’t feel that way, the character won’t become likeable. If done badly, she could have become that kind of unlikeable character. We wracked our nerves on this one a lot...

Shigema: That’s why the question of how the player will receive it [the story, characters, etc.] isn’t always solvable just by doing our work together. So we made it by using each other as a mirror, asking, “I wrote this, but what do you think?” But I don’t know about Mr. Kubooka’s case. Oppositely, when I would get continuity sketches from Mr. Kubooka, I might look at it and say, “No, I don’t think we can use this.” We had these kinds of discussions countless times.

The Reason for Having the Ending Twice

Miyaji: The two-step ending was really well-received, wasn’t it? After all, in a movie, you couldn’t do that kind of approach.

Shigema: First, we showed the [main] ending, which leaves a real impact. The reason I came up with that was because I was writing as if it were a novel’s plot. When I put “The End” after writing how Hiero sets out walking towards the Blue Star, I really started wanting an epilogue. Since the opening started with Lucia sleeping on the Blue Star, I wanted to end with Lucia one more time. I wrote that kind of epilogue into the plot. Then, in a novel, when you just turn the page, that moving scene would be there in the epilogue, but since this is a game... The act of just turning the page could actually be in the game, I thought. I thought we might be able to put this into the game.

Kubooka: And after all, if we had ended the game there, there would have been a lot of people who were angry, even though you could say it was to be expected. I thought there might be a few more people who didn’t mind, though. I think that maybe going straight from the parting to that made the game end with a shock. People would think, “What?!”

[p. 98]

Shigema: Hiero’s emotions are incredibly sad in that scene, but there is actually hope, which makes it quite an orthodox, good ending, I think. But a lot of postcards came, saying they didn’t like unhappy endings. It’s not actually unhappy, but it really leaves an impact. I guess that maybe I like a clear happy ending.

Kubooka: I like them too (laughter).

For those who found it [the epilogue], I think they would have thought that just like there is an opening at the beginning, there naturally must an epilogue.

Shigema: It seems like most people were like that.

Yes. If the game had ended like they usually do, “The End” would have normally appeared and it would have stayed on the screen forever. But [in Lunar II] it goes back to the title screen. In that way, you find out that yes, there really is an epilogue after all.

Shigema: You must have felt lucky when you discovered it.

Yes, actually (laughter).

Kubooka: That’s right. It was different from the way the original plan was going to go forward. People would think, “Huh?” as the game suddenly returned to the title screen. So I wonder how many people there were who decided to try to continue.

Miyaji: At least 80 percent, I’d bet.

Shigema: But I would actually like for it to be 100 percent, though.

The story is a saga [i.e., Japanese public broadcaster NHK’s historical dramas, in the roman-fleuve tradition]?

Shigema: When I came up with the story of “Lunar,” I always had the image of a trilogy, at least in my mind. Three charismatic streams in history. In that sense, I’m glad they came together neatly.

Miyaji: The earliest is the untold story of the Four Heroes.

Shigema: Right, the story of the battle Dyne and Ghaleon and the others fought. Next is the story of Arhes in “Lunar I,” then comes “Lunar II” here. I can’t say it’s a saga, but if you look at “Yoshimune” [an NHK saga] and “Dynasty” [an American television drama] now you’ll understand, how sagas are actually three-staged stories, and there’s basically the three stories of the parents, the children, and the grandchildren. The story itself starts with the parents’ generation, there’s the parents’ generation and the children’s generation, and finally the grandchildren’s generation. The reason for this is that the audience’s stance is always that of the children’s generation, or now, in other words. You look at now, the present, and then the past generation of the parents, and then the future that may come to be. In that sense, when making a drama, you have to take a stance where you think about the history. So at the time I started the story for the Lunar world, I had to first make the story for the parents’ generation. That’s how I thought of the story of the Four Heroes. Then, the world of “Lunar I” was finished, there were implications, and there was the future. Therefore, even if we hadn’t been able to make “Lunar II” to continue in that future, it would have worked as a drama. And since the chance to make “Lunar II” did come about, I thought, “Okay, I’ll paint a picture of the grandchildren’s generation that was in the background of that saga.”

Kubooka: But Lemina is clearly supposed to be a direct descendent...

Shigema: No, I didn’t say that.

Kubooka: No...? Why didn’t you?

[p. 99]

Shigema: Well, I guess I was worried about what would happen if I said too much about who was whose child, like whose descendent Hiero was, or what happened to Killy and Jessica or the others. But I don’t mind that certain types of people like Ghaleon or Nall transcended time, though. And Ramus plays a small but important role. Well really, it’s because he’s sort of the comedic role.

Kubooka: Wasn’t he sort of a personal part?

Miyaji: You wanted to appear in the game, didn’t you? Ah, maybe not (laughter)?

Shigema: No, no, he’s not me (laughter). In the very first plot, lots of people were going to appear, with Arhes and Killy fighting together with Hiero, weren’t they? But at the point when we decided that wouldn’t be the story of “Lunar II,” we decided to erase as many traces of that as we could. I thought we especially didn’t need stuff about the decedents of heroes or genes and blood relations, things like that.

Kubooka: But I was shocked at how they [“Lunar I” and “Lunar II”] connected more than we expected (laughter). Though there was the idea that “Lunar II” should have no problem as a stand-alone work, either.

Shigema: I think that even if you haven’t played “Lunar I,” it would be fun. But actually I hardly hear any opinions from people who didn’t play “Lunar I” and only played “Lunar II” (laughter). So we haven’t really been able to make that kind of detached judgment. It’s still not too late even now, so if you see this, please send us your thoughts.

Unreleased Design Information of Interest

Shigema: Oh, right, right, Nall’s Sword is sealed by Luna’s scarf. Not a physical seal, but a spiritual seal. Also, the fallen Vheen was supposed to fly, too. And Leo had four legs. They said these weren’t doable programming-wise. I really wanted to do them, though. But the idea to have even Mauri be a horse [i.e., a four-legged design] got many, many objections. They said it was hard on Rong-Fa.

There are pros and cons to that horn, though. They’re lovers, aren’t they, so there’s the problem of how they were supposed to be able to kiss.

Miyaji: Maybe they could lie down or something.

Shigema: Aren’t there a number of variations for the kiss?

No one is thinking that far (laughter).

Shigema: And they could enjoy a special kind of play or something (laughter).

Miyaji: Mr. Shigema has been wanting to get married lately, you know.

Shigema: I have lots of aspirations to get married....(laughter). Oh, and there’s also that triangle on Ghaleon’s forehead.

Kubooka: Right, right, that’s something that the dead wear...

Shigema: I didn’t notice that. Mr. Kubooka does things like this sometimes. And the belt of Admiral Mel of Meribia had some pattern on it, didn’t it? He said that “the sea” was written there. Since he’s a man of the sea, it should say sea. This guy...(laughter).

Kubooka: I tried drawing it in a dragon style.

Shigema: Do people normally notice this kind of thing!? (laughter)

I’m sorry, I didn’t notice (laughter).

Shigema: No, usually people don’t notice. He does this kind of trick a lot. It’s a subliminal effect (laughter).

Various Things About the Initial Design

Shigema: Regarding Lucia’s design, originally, around just before we started on “Lunar II,” I was insisting that we do a beautiful woman in men’s clothes.

[p. 100]

Yes, there was that one with the light wave, wasn’t there?

Shigema: As an image of another world, it ended up matching the image perfectly. In that sense, I thought it would be good, actually, since the Lunar world itself is another world. And her breasts are tiny anyhow (laughter).

She is thin, isn’t she?

Kubooka: That’s right. She’s not a human, she’s more of a child, even if she’s called a goddess or something.

Shigema: It gives the meaning of her being an immature, [gender-] neutral character, doesn’t it? I definitely thought so.

Kubooka: For Lucia’s medallion, I had tentatively thought it would be one of the crests for those who take on Althena’s duties over the generations. Maybe you would be able to use it in dungeons to see or something. Sort of like a certain type of compact [i.e., a woman’s powder case].

Shigema: At first, we had the idea of having a time limit set up. There was the idea of having that time limit shown like a Color Timer [a gauge in the live-action Ultraman series whose changing colors indicate characters’ health levels]. And in the beginning, Lucia was an absolutely neutral, loyal judge. She comes for judgment, and watches humans’ conduct, and the scale tilts, and it’s like it would decide whether this [world] should be destroyed if necessary. In the beginning, her role was like that.

Kubooka: But even if that was the beginning, she was supposed to have had that role.

Shigema: In the middle, we turned towards the story Althena’s [power of] creation and destruction, so I think it’s true that it [the judgment theme] weakened a little. Speaking of which, in the postcards we received it was interesting to hear, “In both ‘Lunar I’ and ‘Lunar II,’ the story ends up being one where you happen to save the world while trying to rescue a girl.” I thought this was absolutely the case, that they had noticed something good. After all, isn’t the story of an adventure essentially the story of saving a girl?

Kubooka: The so-called “Kidnapping and Swordfights.”

Shigema: Right (laughter). Interestingly, no matter whether it’s an animation or a book or a novel or a comic, this can universally make an interesting story. But this orthodox pattern was surprisingly rare in games, and I wondered why. Because isn’t it always the case that the evil dark lord appears and you save the world, or the world’s going to be destroyed, or something? But the important thing is to save the girl, isn’t it, and it’s good if you save the world along the way.

That’s the man’s romance, isn’t it (laughter)?

Shigema: Yes. That’s the way the adventurer is, for the young protagonist, the world is something he saves while incidentally saving the girl. That’s the most important. It’s the dynamism of the action-adventure drama. If people say it’s not a real story, that’s exactly right, it isn’t real. We make a story that isn’t real, and that’s the fun of these stories.

Kubooka: Um, this isn’t related, but...that parting scene [between Lucia and Hiero]. That scene is actually inspired by “Hakushon Daimaou”… (laughter) [“The Great Sneeze Genie,” a beloved children’s animation, also known as “The Genie Family” in English. The characters’ two genie friends are summoned by sneezes or yawns, and resealed in their lamp the same way. In the final episode, the genies must return to their lamp for 100 years, and the characters attempt to prevent themselves from sneezing or yawning to avoid triggering the departure.]

Shigema: What are you saying?!

Kubooka: I liked the final episode of “Hakushon Daimaou.” I used it as a base (laughter). There are people who say it looks like the movie “Sotsugyou” [“Graduation,” or “The Graduate” in the original American release], but the truth is it wasn’t anything that refined, but Hakushon Daimaou.

Miyaji: I thought it might be the scene on the railroad tracks in “Sayonara Ginga Tetsudou 999" [“Adieu Galaxy Express 999” in its English release, a well-known Leiji Matsumoto animated film].

[p. 101]

Kubooka: That’s true. Looking at Lucia’s clothes, there’s certainly that too.

Miyaji: Where is that scene in Hakushon Daimaou...?

Shigema: Well, it’s the farewell and the loneliness of the time of parting, so the “unavoidable” parting....

Kubooka: [Hiero] is automatically prevented from approaching her at that point.

Miyaji: If you even yawned, she’d have disappeared (laughter).

Kubooka: You could call it one of those inevitable partings.

Miyaji: Yes, that’s it. An inevitable parting.

Kubooka: Yeah, if it weren’t like that, there’s no reason you would have been silent the whole time and watched her go if you were Hiero, right? He definitely would have tried to hold her back, wouldn’t he?

On the other hand, there’s the opening. Like the implication of Lucia awakening and appearing naked.

Kubooka: That [the Blue Star/the crystal Lucia sleeps in] was more or less supposed to be like a womb. The sleeping Lucia is like an embryo, and she’s supposed to pass through the birth canal and come out into the outside world. When she meets Hiero, it’s the same as when—both for children and animals—they think of the first thing they see as their parent.

Shigema: That’s why it was natural that we would have Lucia in there naked in the beginning. It isn’t something indecent or anything (laughter). It was necessary nudity.

Kubooka: I never really hear anyone say that it seemed indecent. I’d have a problem if I heard that.

Shigema: Also, the scene where Lucia changes her clothes, that was my own selfishness.

Kubooka: That scene, it was pretty embarrassing.

Miyaji: But it went over well, totally.

Kubooka: The obligatory scene.

Shigema: I thought we needed one of those obligatory scenes. We were able to do the beautiful woman in men’s clothing I had wanted so much, too.

Kubooka: Speaking of this, there’s the False Althena. Almost everyone knew [she was fake]. Practically no one was surprised, I think.

Shigema: Probably not. Ah, I just remembered, there was this part. People were always saying at the time of “Lunar I” that they could predict what was coming next. That’s because I made it so that you could predict. Laeik was really Dyne, Ghaleon was a bad guy, Nasch will betray you later, I wrote it so that you could figure out all of these things. It’s that type of story construction. To give an example, in the old “Tiger Mask” [a Japanese comic and animation about pro wrestling], there’s this huge guy called the Great Zebra who’s over 2 meters tall, and his weapon is the Juurokumon Kick or something, or the Sanjuunimon Rocket Kick or something. The announcer says, “A mysterious, giant wrestler. Who on earth could he be!” or something, but you get who it is. So there’s these parts where you can point out, “Hey, that’s obviously Giant Baba!” (laughter) [In the story, the protagonist’s towering mentor, Giant Baba, disguised himself as the Great Zebra in order to secretly assist him in a deadly tag-team wrestling match.] But that’s the kind of thing you have in the story. You know it, and enjoy the process. But there were people complaining about how you could figure out the story, which annoyed me a bit. So this time I hid what Lucia was or what the Four Heroes of Althena were, things like that, and thought not being able to figure it out would make it interesting. So magazine development was probably difficult. But for me personally, I actually liked the story construction of “Lunar I.” It’s simple.

[p. 102]

Examining Every Character

Kubooka: Regarding Lucia, the base was what kind of clothes Luna would probably wear if she were to appear in a sequel.

Shigema: You were pretty particular about the culotte skirt, right?

Kubooka: Well, I like them a lot, personally.

Shigema: You said that strongly, energetically, “This is more indecent than a skirt!”

Kubooka: (Ignores this) I thought it would be pretty good to have an element that seemed outside of the Lunar world. Something that felt modern. I put on the shawl because once she became a character in the game, she looked surprisingly plain, and there was a visible difference when you compared her with the other party characters. So I added the shawl.

Shigema: This design becomes pretty indecent with a bust shot. This is the kind of thing we noticed afterwards, thinking, “This is actually pretty indecent.”

Kubooka: I didn’t draw it with an indecent pose in mind, though.

Looking from the female perspective, I wonder how it doesn’t just slip off, since she has no breasts. Without them, if there had been any slack I think it would have just fallen off, normally.

Shigema: It’s, um, with magic... (laughter)

Kubooka: The uniform is like this. Um, black, and then white. Personally, I thought white would be good. Something that felt pure. I really wanted the character to stand out or have a color theme you could understand with one glance. I ended up thinking wine-red would also be good, though.

Speaking of which, when she wears red, I thought maybe it was showing her strong will to fulfill her mission coming out.

Shigema: Oh, we hadn’t really thought of that (laughter). Oh, I see...I might not have thought of that if you hadn’t said it.

Kubooka: Also, I actually wanted to make her hair blond. Hmm, I sort of wanted an image that made her feel a bit like a foreigner. In the end, making it the same color blue as Luna’s hair showed a connection between them, though.

Shigema: There was the idea to make her a character with a hat, though I’d mostly forgotten about that.

Kubooka: I thought it might be interesting to have that kind of old custom or tradition remain to a certain degree. This is sort of getting SF after all, though. Reading the postcards, I saw there were a number of people who interpreted Lucia in an SF way, waiting for her time of awakening and hibernating. Something like that was evident.

Shigema: Pure fantasy actually isn’t really my specialty, and I like something different that adds some extra meaning.

Kubooka: The thing I thought of earliest was always a time capsule. This was in a comic a long time ago, for generation after generation there were tons of time capsules, and one by one people would wake up and go to complete their missions. There was this idea, and I also wanted to use the image of “a girl who seems to be sleeping in a tomb.”

Shigema: That’s the very first image, very SF-ish.

Kubooka: We wanted to move slightly away from the basic fantasy tropes. Though to some extent, from the design standpoint there was the restriction that we couldn’t deviate too far from the line of “Lunar I.”

Shigema: But, I wonder about that. Isn’t it pretty distinct from “Lunar I?”

[p. 103]

Kubooka: Hmm, well, I hear that from everyone, but I wonder about that. We went ahead and did Leo and Mauri. In my mind, they weren’t very “Lunar”-ish, I think. But then it seems like it was fine to have stuff like that...

Shigema: I feel like the other characters are really different, too. It’s not the difference between a cold place and a warm place, it seems like the image of the characters’ clothing is different now.

Kubooka: No, I didn’t plan on them being that different.... Even for Rong-Fa, I was thinking of an extension of Nasch’s priest fashion...

Shigema: That’s true, but looking at the final product, they seem different.

Kubooka: Hmm, I may have a problem if that’s case (laughter).

It seems like Hiero here was decided on early.

Kubooka: I put tattoos on his forehead. That was self-inflicted punishment (laughter). In Hiero’s case, I had no idea that Gwyn was his grandpa (laughter).

Shigema: We changed it to that quite a bit later.

Miyaji: There were a lot of problems with that, weren’t there?

Shigema: Actually, it ended up being better this way. There’s all kinds of different races mixed together who aren’t ordinary humans. I think the result worked out well.

Kubooka: Actually, Hiero also had the mission of his father’s will...

Shigema: He did have that, but, see, Lucia had a mission too, and it seemed better not to have too many missions. Conversely, Hiero acts by intuition, but it’s actually the right thing he’s doing. I think Dragonmasters have that kind of personal quality.

Kubooka: In short, there was also the conceptualization of justifying his being a grave robber or something by having the reason be that he’s searching for things related to Althena...

Shigema: Right, right, so originally the reason Leo was calling him a rival was because, as a believer of Althena, he was protecting those ruins and was investigating them and thinks, “This guy is a grave robber.”

Kubooka: Jean also completely changed, 180 degrees...

Shigema: She’s 180 degrees different. In that design, she was the princess of a ruined country and was always sobbing, and was shy and withdrawn...but she actually had incredible power. She changed 180 degrees and became a big sister who looks after other people. But even in the game with the chibi characters, we expressed that very well. And in the battle scenes with Jean’s movement. In that sense, I earnestly think that if you don’t make the entire game, you won’t know [how well she will turn out].

Miyaji: I think she grew up to be a good character. She lived within the game, becoming a fighter too. If she had just ended up finishing as a dancer, it wouldn’t have been interesting. She becomes a fighter, firing off those techniques...

Shigema: That was interesting, wasn’t it?

Kubooka: And Rong-Fa, I wanted him to have a beard he was too lazy to shave.

Shigema: I wrote in the dice later.

Kubooka: There’s really not too much attachment here (laughter).

Even so, you decided his design fairly quickly, didn’t you?

Shigema: We decided it on a hot springs trip, actually.

So does it end up being easier to decide on the male characters rather than the female characters?

Kubooka: Um, with other work this was also the case, but with the protagonist I had no problems.

Shigema: Plus the girls are important, you know. The males, well, they can be whatever.

[p. 104]

Kubooka: With Lemina, originally I really thought of making her exactly like Mia.

Shigema: Hmm, but there were surprisingly few postcards saying things like, “She’s Nasch and Mia’s descendent, right?” Making her blond was going to give her Nasch’s image. That’s what I was thinking. This girl seems this thoughtless and carefree, but actually she has a mission. So she’s actually like Mia and actually has a mission, but the way it shows up is different so there was pressure. In Mia’s case, this was shown through her introverted side and she’s very hesitant. Conversely, you could call Lemina a cheerful, attacking type.

Considering her personality, her clothing is subdued, isn’t it?

Shigema: But black makes women seem pretty, or maybe not?

Kubooka: I wanted to make her a standard female magician.

Shigema: Just like with Mia. Except her waist is held in very tightly.

Miyaji: The measurements are short.

Yes, it’s a lively image, isn’t it?

Shigema: For people who have played the game, I really want them to take Lemina with them to Temis Village after the first ending. If you do, you can hear something pretty funny. There’s no event, but the dialogue is funny. It gets stranger and stranger, though (laughter).

Kubooka: To this day, I still end up calling Ruby “Mink.”

Shigema: She was Mink for a long time, wasn’t she? Ruby is a very cute character.

Kubooka: I wanted to have Ruby transform into a human, though. I feel like something happened with that. What was the reason?

Shigema: That’s my greatest regret. It’s because at a certain point, the story was growing far too large, and we did a lot of cutting, and when deciding where the main point would be, we decided on portraying Lucia. Ruby’s human form was one of those parts that was cut. There are various others besides that, of course.

I’m sure you’ll get many postcards after this.

Shigema: Nall and others were supposed enter the party too.

Kubooka: And he’s always burdened with carrying Althena’s Sword (laughter).

It sure was cute when she [Ruby] attacked during the battles.

Shigema: You may not have noticed this, but after she matures [into the true Red Dragon], her attack power doubles.

Right, from 3 to 6.

Miyaji: That’s hardly any change at all (laughter).

Shigema: But it is doubled, you know, doubled.

Miyaji: But no one will probably notice that kind of thing.

Shigema: You’re falling over, it’s so funny.

Miyaji: The programmers probably thought it would be funny and did it.

Kubooka: Will she do that in boss fights, too?

Shigema: She won’t fight bosses.

Miyaji: We didn’t want Zophar to be defeated by Ruby in the end (laughter).

Kubooka: And with Nall, it looks like there were people who didn’t realize it was him even when they heard his name.

Shigema: You’re kidding?!

Kubooka: It’s true. Something like, “But, it sort of looks like him, but...” (laughter).

Shigema: This is the simple [story] pattern from “Lunar I.”

Miyaji: But this guy is pretty lonely, isn’t he? Machine Mountain has incredibly cheerful music, but it feels so incredibly sad.

[p. 105]

Shigema: The sadness of the [Dragon] tribe’s long lives is maybe why he’s rebellious and went a little astray.

Miyaji: The way it’s just him who’s still alive.

Shigema: And because new children always join and others leave... So in the middle of making the game, I almost wanted to make a side-story where Nall was the protagonist. Also, the voice actress, Rika Matsumoto, is just great! She’s really great.

Kubooka: She’s exactly like the image.

Shigema: Yes. Ruby was also incredibly good, so I wanted them to do a comedy where Ruby and Nall talk back and forth, too.

Kubooka: For Mauri’s image, there was Audrey Hepburn from “My Fair Lady.” Personally, I like her slightly decadent air.

Shigema: Right. She’s a beastwoman, but with the air of a beauty. Actually, she was meant to be more of, maybe I shouldn’t say a lunatic, but a dangerous personality that entangles Rong-Fa and Leo.

Kubooka: In the graphics, Leo is quite... There’s hair around his neck. Is he all covered in hair?

Miyaji: This is the first time I’ve heard this.

Seems like he’d be really warm.

Shigema: It does seem like he’d be really warm! (laughter)  The Masked White Knight was funny, wasn’t he? The first time I came up with him, I burst into laughter. And speaking of that, the reason I made him was because Leo is very strong, sincere, and unaffected, or headlong, or inflexible, a very serious character. That seriousness comes out in contrast to Hiero. Hiero is very relaxed and devil-may-care, but he always chooses to do the right thing. Leo is a character who is so over-serious that he may make the wrong decision.

Miyaji: We were able to show that really well in that event.

Shigema: And in the battle scenes, we got people to work really hard, and the letters say, “The White Knight,” don’t they? That wasn’t going to happen, we weren’t going to have time.

Miyaji: And he’s wearing his mask and everything...

Shigema: He’s wearing his mask, and the chibi character is disguised. I thought, “Wow, they’re good!” And, “What are these guys thinking?” (laughter) I was surprised. You don’t normally do stuff like that.

Kubooka: When I first decided on Leo’s colors, he was wearing red clothes. I’d totally forgotten he was the White Knight (laughter).

Shigema: Right, I was wondering what was with Mr. Kubooka. I thought he might actually be faking me out, but he’d simply forgotten (laughter).

Kubooka: And Linus of the Blue Fist being blue? I forgot that guy was blue, too, I was thinking yellow...

Shigema: In the game, Borgan survives, but I had planned to kill him.

Miyaji: When you kill a character, you know, it isn’t interesting. And in “Lunar II,” no one ends up dying. And Ghaleon was dead from the beginning.

Kubooka: To the end, Mr. Shigema tended to stick to having characters live.

Shigema: That’s right. In my mind, I thought, “I’m not gonna kill characters if possible.” Killing people is such a final measure, and we don’t really have the right to do what we want with their lives, do we, since once characters are born, they have a life span, too.

[p. 106]

I can’t just go and kill them. However, Ghaleon himself wanted to disappear. The first image was of a man living in disgrace.  Even though he was living in disgrace, he chose to keep living. In Ghaleon, I really wanted the shame of still living while in disgrace. Even though he’s living in a crumbling condition [i.e. his worn-out body], that ended up seeming appropriate for Ghaleon, instead. But Ghaleon wanted to disappear in the end. Well, I think that the result ended up being pretty good.

Kubooka: His embarrassment at being called Dragonmaster didn’t show up very much.

Shigema: In the original process, when Leo or Borgan or someone would call him Dragonmaster Ghaleon, he would say, “Don’t call me by that name.” He unwillingly wears the mask of Dragonmaster in order to deceive Zophar, but for Ghaleon it’s the thing he wants to hear the least, since that’s the symbol of his dear friend, Dyne, after all. I wanted to do a character who performed even if he had gone ahead and shed blood, or lived in disgrace, and story-wise, that’s how it was.

Kubooka: We didn’t end up being able to do this, but I thought it would be cool to do something like a scene where Hiero wrapped Luna’s scarf around Ghaleon’s wounds, and then as Hiero and the others headed off, the scarf would come off and flutter away. I wondered if we would be able to do that kind of visual well.

Shigema: Even while Ghaleon understands that humanity transcends the imagination, he was unable to transcend [the limits of his imagination]. But Hiero and the others were able to transcend those limits with ease. The condition for becoming a Dragonmaster actually isn’t bravery or power or something like that, it’s having a free heart that doesn’t think limitations are limitations, and this is both the condition for a Dragonmaster and humanity’s true power. Personally, I like characters like Ghaleon very much.

Miyaji: And Zophar... We ended up making him a character who it wasn’t really a problem if he was killed. So we made him heartless and inhuman...

Shigema: So there essentially isn’t any real significance to Zophar. The story’s focus isn’t here.

Miyaji: Last bosses are difficult.

Shigema: If you give too much significance to them, it’s a problem. Zophar had no image at the start, so we asked Mr. Satou for ideas...

Kubooka: Zophar changed quite a bit from the image we thought of, didn’t he? At the time of the original design, he was a child.

Shigema: Right, right.

Miyaji: An ominous child?

Kubooka: In the beginning, he had no shape.

Shigema: There was the idea of him being inside the womb of the False Althena. So at first, the design itself was more grotesque, and the False Althena herself had more significance. The reason for making the Cult of Althena and everything was so that those evil things would be sucked in, and he would grow larger and larger inside the False Althena’s stomach. It’s kind of a gross image. At first, there was this curtain, and the False Althena would appear, but she wouldn’t move from the tank in back. If you wondered why, and if you opened the curtain, in the back, there would be this huge thing like a womb. And Zophar would be gushing around inside.

[p. 107]

That’s the kind of image we had thought of. But I thought grotesque things kind of wouldn’t fit with the Lunar world, and got rid of that.

Now, what about the characters of “Lunar I?”

Shigema: In “Lunar I,” there was that, there was Evil Luna, those risque clothes were something else. Where did things like that come from?

Kubooka: Ah, well, I thought elements like that might be necessary. And the reason I made Arhes’ eyes green was because he was a descendent of Earth, of the Blue Star...

Shigema: In the original design, that is.

Kubooka: Arhes was spelled using “Earth,” wasn’t it?

Shigema: Right, and Luna was from “Moon.” But we changed that in the middle.

Kubooka: So, the clothing. For the design, it was a northern people, and at that time at any rate, someplace cold was part of the design, and I adopted fur for some parts.

Shigema: The reason we made it a cold place was because at that time, naked girls swinging swords were insanely popular, and I didn’t like that. So, I decided to make it a cold place. If you make it cold, there’d be resistance to having them in just a bra, right? That’s why I decided to make it cold.

Kubooka: Considering that, there were complaints about how exposed her legs were...

Shigema: But it wasn’t me. I was fine with that, since much later, risque Luna got to live on.

Kubooka: People said Luna was like that Bulgaria Yogurt commercial or something. I guess so, sort of an ethnic style. Also, that scarf, a girl at the dentist I was going to then had that fashion every time I went. I thought it would be good. And Ramus had a face like Housaku Samon [a fat, glasses-wearing character in the baseball comic “Kyojin No Hoshi,” or “Star of the Giant”], and since they wanted me to make him cute, I wondered how it would be if I made Mr. Shigema cute.

Shigema: No, I’m different from that, though. Nasch is flashy. How on earth does his hair get like that, I wonder.

Kubooka: Well, mostly, in general I’m not good at thinking on particular details, so I try to make designs with features centering on one, simple point.

Shigema: I think that for games, this is very good.

Kubooka: Mia and others are like this, too. This Magic Guild and the priest style are different concepts. The Magic Guild has Russian Orthodox elements, doesn’t it? That’s how I planned it.

Shigema: The design for the town of Vheen feels totally that way, right?

Kubooka: As for Jessica, I wonder how she was...

Shigema: Well, Jessica’s a beastwoman, she’s called a beastwoman. With six breasts or something...

Kubooka: I don’t know about that (laughter).

Shigema: There wasn’t that, of course. She has a tail, you know.

Kubooka: And with Killy, it was that.... As an image, I used something like in “Willow”... [an American fantasy film by George Lucas] Pretty much just like that.

Shigema: I wanted a guy carrying a big sword over his shoulder. Arhes’ sword is relatively slender.

That’s right, it looks like you really wouldn’t be able to carry it.

Ghaleon: For Ghaleon, I asked for a bad guy (laughter).

[p. 108]

Kubooka: I had some trouble with Ghaleon.

Shigema: That’s right, there were quite a lot of different patterns, weren’t there?

Kubooka: And Ghaleon was separate from the Magic Emperor at the start, right? So him being inside [the Magic Emperor’s armor], that wasn’t there at the start.

Shigema: In the beginning, there wasn’t a plan to have Xenobia in the story. Mr. Kubooka just suddenly drew her one day...

Kubooka: Yes, I felt like I wanted to draw a witch, and I asked them to let me do it.

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Shigema: If you would like a “Lunar III,” please keep sending Game Arts requests. Also, well, your impressions and things, definitely.

But if you decide to make “Lunar III,” it’ll take another three years, won’t it?

Kubooka: Yes, that’s right.

Shigema: But if that’s the case, maybe the next game will be a different part of the “Lunar” world.

Kubooka: I think we could make another one.

Shigema: So in the same “Lunar III,” I think I’d like to make something a little different. And you, Mr. Kubooka?

Kubooka: Hmm, well, I think it might be fine if the characters aren’t connected, but I’d want to create the world of “Lunar” well, and then look towards new methods for developments… However, there are definitely things we weren’t able to do in “Lunar II.” There were other things we wanted to do in “Lunar II,” but we just weren’t able to. Regarding “Lunar II,” there were lots of parts where we wondered whether they work well as a game or not. I’m definitely concerned about the reaction of the audience in evaluating these parts.

Shigema: Right.

Kubooka: As far as games are concerned, I haven’t properly played any RPG’s besides Lunar. I’ve barely even seen any demos or relevant scenes from other works.

Shigema: On the other hand, I’ve seen a ton of them.

Kubooka: So I didn’t know at all what we could and couldn’t do, and I learned afterwards what was a challenge to do.

Yes, that’s right. I’ve seen the scenarios and continuity of games made by other people many times, but there is never this much. For scenarios, “Lunar II” has such a large amount, but other people’s scenarios don’t have very much.

Shigema: I just wasn’t aware of that.

Oh, really?

Shigema: I actually had no idea that the scenarios for “Lunar I” and “Lunar II” were so extensive. I couldn’t understand why in other games, after an event had finished, the dialogue didn’t change if you returned to the cottage. Even though the story is always advancing. I thought that was weird, so I ended up deciding to change that. Well, I can understand the reason no one else does this. It’s quite difficult, you know. But I’m very pleased that its reputation is so good, thank you so much.

It’s fantastic work. And thank you very much for taking the time for such a long interview today.

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