Shigesato Itoi is a well-known Japanese game designer, writer, and even voice actor. Known in Japan for his essays and books, he is also credited with the creation of the Mother franchise (known as the EarthBound franchise in North America). Shigesato Itoi was born on November 10, 1948 in Maebashi, Gunma, Japan. Still an active essayist, Itoi maintains his website, where he continually posts short essays, blogs, and musings. Itoi is currently working at Hobonichi, a Japanese company that produces daily life products (as well as a few DSiWare applications).
Shigesato Itoi's work has been hailed by other members of the gaming industry. Shigeru Miyamoto stated that Mother 2 was the first role playing game that he ever beat on his own. He later went back and played through Mother (although he had to use the debug menu, and started over once after losing his save file). Satoru Iwata has also stated that he particularly enjoys the Mother franchise.
Work on the Mother Series
The creator of the Mother franchise, Shigesato Itoi released the first game in the series in 1989. Titled Mother, this game is the first game that Itoi was credited in, as the director and for game design. Never officially released in North America or Europe, Mother is the first in the Mother trilogy, and established many series standards relating to game design, plot, and characters.
In EarthBound Shigesato Itoi's credits are much more varied. In this game, he was credited as the producer, director, writer, font designer (for one font), and even a voice actor (a well-known "OK desu ka?" voice sampling found in both EarthBound and Mother 3). His influence in EarthBound has been evidenced in a variety of interviews, revealing things that he slipped into the game from his childhood.
One of these such things is the final boss, Giygas. Inspired by the Japanese film The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty, Shigesato Itoi stated in an interview that he accidentally walked into the movie theater when this movie was playing. As a child, this was incredibly frightening, due to the fact that he witnessed a rape scene from the film. Scarred by this moment, Giygas has since been compared to an embodiment of rape, the woman's breast, the woman's terror (particularly the dialogue that Giygas says, e.g. I'm... so.... happy... and Ness Ness Ness Ness Ness Ness), and even an aborted fetus.
As previously mentioned, Shigesato Itoi was also the font designer for one of the fonts found in Mother 2 (the Japanese version of EarthBound). He designed the font that is used by the Mr. Saturn race in Saturn Valley. This font was said to be inspired by his daughter's handwriting, and further solidifies Shigesato Itoi's idea that the Mr. Saturns should embody innocence. Additionally, Itoi has talked about a variety of other hidden adult themes in EarthBound, such as homosexuality, violence, and even suggested child abuse.
Naturally, Shigesato Itoi has played major roles in both Mother 1 and 2 for the Game Boy Advance, as well as the Japan only Mother 3. Mother 3 he wasn't playing as major of a role in terms of game direction, but rather was the lead writer and designer. Since the release of Mother 3, Itoi has confirmed numerous times that he does not plan to develop another game in the franchise, considering Mother 3 as the end of the trilogy.
In the field of video games, Shigesato Itoi has created a single other game. Shigesato Itoi no Bass Tsuri No. 1, which was released only in Japan for the SNES and Nintendo 64. For this bass fishing simulator, Shigesato Itoi served as the producer. Additionally, he has been credited in Super Smash Bros., Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
In the areas of television and film, Shigesato Itoi has been on a variety of game shows and anime. He has served as a judge on Iron Chef (the Japanese version) and on Hey! Spring of Trivia (a Japan only game show). Itoi starred as the father in Hayao Miyazaki's anime film My Neighbor Totoro. He has also appeared in Guys Who Never Learn and My Soul Is Slashed. Itoi also tried his hand as a recording artist with the release of his debut (and only) album, Penguinism, in 1980.
His writing includes a few books, but he is more well known for his almost daily essays, which he publishes on lifestyle, religion, and current events (even including interviews with influential Japanese personas). He has written the books Yume de aimashou (a collection of short stories), Chiisai Kotoba o Utau Basho (a book published by Hobonichi, also a collection of short stories), and several books based on his interviews.