Interview: Re:ZERO Creator Tappei Nagatsuki and Illustrator Shinichirou Otsuka

by Kim Morrissy,

The Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne game for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam will release in North America on January 29 and in Europe on February 5. In anticipation of the release, we have an interview with series creator Tappei Nagatsuki, who is supervising the plot of the game's original story, and novel illustrator Shinichirou Otsuka, who is designing new characters for the game.

(For Tappei Nagatsuki) Knowing that there are so many possibilities for different "what-if" scenarios, how difficult or exciting was it to supervise the scenarios for Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- The Prophecy of the Throne?

Since a new character was going to be added, the intention of doing something different from the main series was brought up, which was a sentiment I welcomed wholeheartedly. With that in mind, I considered how the characters from the main series would meet each other under different circumstances and how their conversations and relationships with the original characters that weren't there before would be structured, and I admired the challenge of creating a new world.

When supervising this game, did you feel particularly conscious of the kinds of stories that work best for games compared to novels?

The general flow of creating the story is the same, but unlike a light novel that can be progressed by simply reading through it, a game can be progressed in different ways depending on the player. I do believe I put extra consideration into the story structure to ensure the story would be enjoyable no matter how the player progresses through the game. I couldn't let the severity of death be taken lightly just because this title is in the format of a game, so I made sure to press that point with the development side as well.

How did you develop the new character Melty? How difficult was it to make her personality stand out among the other royal candidates?

Of course, there was definitely a need to make sure the new character would be able to compete with the other royal candidates in terms of individuality. Melty has attributes that the other candidates don't, such as being more reserved, and she is also very modest and compassionate. But the players would go into this game knowing that, in terms of the meta-story, she and her party have some sort of secret, so I made her character thinking that it could be fun for the players to enjoy the juxtaposition between Melty and her camp's secret and character traits.

I understand that the game has a new storyline. Has the experience of supervising this game given you any inspiration for the novels?

When coming up with new characters and settings, I have to plan things out so they won't contradict the main series or end up not making sense, so the characters and settings for the game were made in such a way that they wouldn't be out of place if they were placed in the main series. Naturally, this makes me want to reimport the characters and settings, so it's possible that the original characters from the game may make an appearance in the light novel some time in the future.

(For Shinichirou Otsuka) How does working on The Prophecy of the Throne compare to your previous experiences working on video games? Was there anything new that stood out to you?

For the "Adventure Parts" of this game, the characters are able to move with a lot of detail shown on-screen, so I had to draw their faces, hair, arms, and clothes as separate parts, which was quite a task. (Interviewer's note: "Adventure" refers to the visual novel-esque dialogue sequences.)

What's your process when you draw illustrations for the light novels? How does it differ from drawing for a video game?

For the light novels, I make designs based on Nagatsuki-sensei's character reference sheets and once they get the green light, I draw their character inserts and frontispieces as instructed. The workflow has been basically the same for this game as well.

Regarding the new character Melty, what kind of thought went into her dress and nun outfit?

I used a nun's habit as a base and designed Melty's attire by adding Arabian elements to it. Considering her klutzy personality, I added an ahoge (cowlick) as well.

Re:Zero has so many different characters at this point. How do you think about designing new characters that both fit into the world and look distinct from each other?

This doesn't just apply to Re:Zero, but I design my characters with an emphasis on their silhouettes to make sure they're all distinct. Specifically, I try to ensure that every character can be differentiated, even if they're completely blacked out.

How much communication do you have with Nagatsuki-sensei when you design a new character? How often do you tend to redraw or redesign the characters before you reach a look that feels right?

The character reference sheets I receive from Nagatsuki-sensei are filled with details describing each character's personality, background, and descriptions of his image of each character's appearance, and I base my designs around those, so it doesn't stray too much from there very often. Though there are times when the designs still don't match what Nagatsuki-sensei has in mind, so I make adjustments until we get to a design that's more in-line with what he's imagining.


Update: For more information about the game, check the official website.


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