Shu Takumi (part 5)

10 Questions for Takumi

To end the interview, we present this question-and-answer corner. The conversation became long, but we wanted to ask about his reflections on 10 years of Ace Attorney, as well as about Takumi himself.

 

What was the most difficult case to write?

Takumi: It was the last case of Gyakuten Saiban 3. The final case of each game is the most difficult, of course. The final case of Gyakuten Saiban doesn't seem that long to me now, but at the time was the longest thing I've ever written. It was uneasy, because no matter how much I wrote, it didn't end. After that, I had a lot of confidence during the concept stage for the final case of Gyakuten Saiban 2, but as I was writing it I wasn't sure if I could express my interesting ideas in writing, and was distressed (laughs).

- That said, the final case of Gyakuten Saiban 3 was still more difficult?

Takumi: Yes. With both Gyakuten Saiban and Gyakuten Saiban 2 we had a motif in place. Compared to that, I started writing the final case of Gyakuten Saiban 3 without a conclusion in mind.

- You mean the story grew by filling in plot moments one by one?

Takumi: When writing Gyakuten Saiban I also had many places where I just let the plot take its own course, but starting with Gyakuten Saiban 2, I started writing only after assembling the plot. But I just couldn't figure out the structure for the final case of Gyakuten Saiban 3, and started writing after only planning the murder trick. I wrote under stress, not even knowing how the story will end. And then, on the night before the day I had to write the conclusion, I came up with a single idea and was able to solve all the things I was troubled about. I really thought "I'm saved!".

- So it wasn't "a gift from god" but "a rescue"?

Takumi: It wasn't that neat. I mean, no matter what I had to write the conclusion the following day. But when I think of it now, that was the single most important moment in the entire series. To tell the truth, at first it was a conclusion with a bad aftertaste. I was worried that I was going to be left with a bad ending, but that moment changed everything.


Is there a character you though would become popular but didn't?

Takumi: I don't think there is... Ah, I thought Furio Tigre would stir up some discussion, but he didn't, did he (laughs).

- I really liked him.

Takumi: I like how historically the worst imitations can naturally push their way forward. I guess I couldn't communicate that to the players.

- No, no, it was communicated.

Takumi: That's fine, then. But it's kind of a joke setup. I'm pretty sure originally there were a lot of people who were befuddled because they got the impression the game was serious from its title.

- Is that so? Maybe they made the mistake because the first game package was just the logo on a black background.

Takumi: But on the back it said, "A court mystery romp" (laughs). (Thinks a little) I wonder how it is now. The number of people aware of the series increased, and I'd be happy if there were less misunderstandings.


What if you made Sabaiban in its first form?

Takumi: We'd be up to Sabaiban 4, and I'd be known as "Takumi who created Sabaiban".

- How do you fit Sabaiban into "Yomigaeru Gyakuten" [1]...

Takumi: It would be "Sabaiban Yomigaeru Sabaiban" (laughs).

- Why did you originally think of the name Sabaiban?

Takumi: At that time, I didn't want to be tied up to a title with meaning. I wished my game would make a splash as "That game, Sabaiban", and went ahead and chosen such a meaningless name. ...but I think it's good we went with Gyakuten Saiban (laughs).


Did Takumi's mother complete all the games?

- I heard she played all the way though Gyakuten Saiban 2.

Takumi: She finally played them all. On top of that, she didn't even ask me any questions for the last one. She asked the most when she played Gyakuten Saiban, just once for Gyakuten Saiban 2, and for Gyakuten Saiban 3 and 4 I think the questions disappeared completely.

- Your mother is amazing, isn't she?

Takumi: I heard her exclaim "That's it!" once during Gyakuten Saiban 2.

- Where in the game?

Takumi: The very end, when it's packed with moments where you think "only this will do". When she played Gyakuten Saiban, she had to ask even where the power switch is (laughs).

- Right, I heard you changed some things to reflect her opinions.

Takumi: Yeah - there were several times when she complained about deleting her save data by mistake, so I changed the interface for save deletion for Gyakuten Saiban 2 (laughs).


If you were to make more spinoff games, who will be the protagonist and what kind of games will they be?

Takumi: A Steel Samurai action game would be great.

Together: (laugh)

Takumi: I want to see a Steel Samurai game.

- As an action game...

Takumi: Well, he doesn't fit a mystery game. Ah, but doing things with the Steel Samurai at the backstage of a TV studio can be fun (laughs).

- I can see that (laughs). If we're speaking of spinoffs, there's the Ace Attorney Investigations series. Did you talk to that development team about the games?

Takumi: Never. I feel they'll take anything I say to heart, and it's not good if that steers them away from their vision.

- I see. By the way, Investigation's director Mr. Yamazaki first entered the company because he was a big fan of Ace Attorney, didn't he?

Takumi: Yeah, I think that's how it was. He started working the year we finished Gyakuten Saiban 3, and helped with the prototype for Ghost Trick. The was probably his first job in the company. After a few months, we started working on Back from the Ashes.

- So if we didn't have Investigations, there's a chance he would have been part of the Ghost Trick team.

Takumi: I think so.


[1] Yomigaeru Gyakuten - "Back from the Ashes" in English. Like all other cases, the 5th case added to the first game for its DS release had "gyakuten" (turnabout) in the title, which can be translated directly as "turnabout back from the dead".

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10 Questions for Takumi

To end the interview, we present this question-and-answer corner. The conversation became long, but we wanted to ask about his reflections on 10 years of Ace Attorney, as well as about Takumi himself.

 

What was the most difficult case to write?

Takumi: It was the last case of Gyakuten Saiban 3. The final case of each game is the most difficult, of course. The final case of Gyakuten Saiban doesn't seem that long to me now, but at the time was the longest thing I've ever written. It was uneasy, because no matter how much I wrote, it didn't end. After that, I had a lot of confidence during the concept stage for the final case of Gyakuten Saiban 2, but as I was writing it I wasn't sure if I could express my interesting ideas in writing, and was distressed (laughs).

- That said, the final case of Gyakuten Saiban 3 was still more difficult?

Takumi: Yes. With both Gyakuten Saiban and Gyakuten Saiban 2 we had a motif in place. Compared to that, I started writing the final case of Gyakuten Saiban 3 without a conclusion in mind.

- You mean the story grew by filling in plot moments one by one?

Takumi: When writing Gyakuten Saiban I also had many places where I just let the plot take its own course, but starting with Gyakuten Saiban 2, I started writing only after assembling the plot. But I just couldn't figure out the structure for the final case of Gyakuten Saiban 3, and started writing after only planning the murder trick. I wrote under stress, not even knowing how the story will end. And then, on the night before the day I had to write the conclusion, I came up with a single idea and was able to solve all the things I was troubled about. I really thought "I'm saved!".

- So it wasn't "a gift from god" but "a rescue"?

Takumi: It wasn't that neat. I mean, no matter what I had to write the conclusion the following day. But when I think of it now, that was the single most important moment in the entire series. To tell the truth, at first it was a conclusion with a bad aftertaste. I was worried that I was going to be left with a bad ending, but that moment changed everything.


Is there a character you though would become popular but didn't?

Takumi: I don't think there is... Ah, I thought Furio Tigre would stir up some discussion, but he didn't, did he (laughs).

- I really liked him.

Takumi: I like how historically the worst imitations can naturally push their way forward. I guess I couldn't communicate that to the players.

- No, no, it was communicated.

Takumi: That's fine, then. But it's kind of a joke setup. I'm pretty sure originally there were a lot of people who were befuddled because they got the impression the game was serious from its title.

- Is that so? Maybe they made the mistake because the first game package was just the logo on a black background.

Takumi: But on the back it said, "A court mystery romp" (laughs). (Thinks a little) I wonder how it is now. The number of people aware of the series increased, and I'd be happy if there were less misunderstandings.


What if you made Sabaiban in its first form?

Takumi: We'd be up to Sabaiban 4, and I'd be known as "Takumi who created Sabaiban".

- How do you fit Sabaiban into "Yomigaeru Gyakuten" [1]...

Takumi: It would be "Sabaiban Yomigaeru Sabaiban" (laughs).

- Why did you originally think of the name Sabaiban?

Takumi: At that time, I didn't want to be tied up to a title with meaning. I wished my game would make a splash as "That game, Sabaiban", and went ahead and chosen such a meaningless name. ...but I think it's good we went with Gyakuten Saiban (laughs).


Did Takumi's mother complete all the games?

- I heard she played all the way though Gyakuten Saiban 2.

Takumi: She finally played them all. On top of that, she didn't even ask me any questions for the last one. She asked the most when she played Gyakuten Saiban, just once for Gyakuten Saiban 2, and for Gyakuten Saiban 3 and 4 I think the questions disappeared completely.

- Your mother is amazing, isn't she?

Takumi: I heard her exclaim "That's it!" once during Gyakuten Saiban 2.

- Where in the game?

Takumi: The very end, when it's packed with moments where you think "only this will do". When she played Gyakuten Saiban, she had to ask even where the power switch is (laughs).

- Right, I heard you changed some things to reflect her opinions.

Takumi: Yeah - there were several times when she complained about deleting her save data by mistake, so I changed the interface for save deletion for Gyakuten Saiban 2 (laughs).


If you were to make more spinoff games, who will be the protagonist and what kind of games will they be?

Takumi: A Steel Samurai action game would be great.

Together: (laugh)

Takumi: I want to see a Steel Samurai game.

- As an action game...

Takumi: Well, he doesn't fit a mystery game. Ah, but doing things with the Steel Samurai at the backstage of a TV studio can be fun (laughs).

- I can see that (laughs). If we're speaking of spinoffs, there's the Ace Attorney Investigations series. Did you talk to that development team about the games?

Takumi: Never. I feel they'll take anything I say to heart, and it's not good if that steers them away from their vision.

- I see. By the way, Investigation's director Mr. Yamazaki first entered the company because he was a big fan of Ace Attorney, didn't he?

Takumi: Yeah, I think that's how it was. He started working the year we finished Gyakuten Saiban 3, and helped with the prototype for Ghost Trick. The was probably his first job in the company. After a few months, we started working on Back from the Ashes.

- So if we didn't have Investigations, there's a chance he would have been part of the Ghost Trick team.

Takumi: I think so.


[1] Yomigaeru Gyakuten - "Back from the Ashes" in English. Like all other cases, the 5th case added to the first game for its DS release had "gyakuten" (turnabout) in the title, which can be translated directly as "turnabout back from the dead".