Interview series 2: Shu Takumi (part 1)

 Translations are good practice and fun work, so why not continue? Since I'm enjoying the new Miles Edgeworth game right now (I hope an English release will be announced soon so you can all enjoy it too), I chose this long interview with Shu Takumi celebrating ten years of the Ace Attorney series. Published in the latest issue of Nintendo Dream (vol. 203, March 2011).  

A few notes: 
- There are a bunch of archive materials pictured alongside the interview, including scans of original design papers and character designs. Some are discussed in the interview itself, but I'm not going to provide scans (I think it goes too far re: the grey-area copyright issue). 
- I was debating with myself how to go about character names and decided to use the localized names western players are familiar with. That said, when discussing the original GBA versions I'm calling them Gyakuten Saiban 1/2/3 instead of their American DS titles. 
- The footnotes are all mine this time. There are none in the original. 
This will probably be around 6 or 7 parts.



Shu Takumi - Ace Attorney's 10th Anniversary Interview

"Ace Attorney" is known today as a big hit that grew in popularity with each game. This month's special feature wouldn't be complete without talking to this man, the series' father. He brought along the design documents for "Gyakuten Saiban", the first game in the series that was released 10 years ago for the Gameboy Advance, and we discuss those 10 years with him.

Profile: A regular interviewee in this magazine, the father of the Ace Attorney series. He was responsible for the direction, script and design of the games. His newest game is a mystery that begins with a death, Ghost Trick (DS). Born 1971 in Saitama prefecture. His blood type is O. * What was the best thing you ate in the past 10 years?  "It was the osechi and nabe [1] I had with my family at my parents' home this new year. The sense of what tastes good probably changed for me this year."

Congratulations! The Ace Attorney series is 10 years old.

- Congratulations on 10 years of Ace Attorney.

Takumi: Thank you very much.

- That said, it's been a long time since we last interviewed you about the series, hasn't it?

Takumi: Since Ace Attorney 4, I think.

- So let's begin with your current state of mind regarding the series.

Takumi: I don't think my way of thinking or my feelings changed that much during the past 10 years, but since I had my 30th birthday when we completed the first game, I can't help but think, "am I 40 already?" (laughs).

- Ten years did pass.

Takumi: Yeah. I already told this many times, but at the time I didn't think we were going to make a second game, so I'm very happy it became such a long running series. I made a game I thought would still be fun to play even 10 or 20 years after its release, so I'm deeply moved.

- I believe you said in the past, "the graphics don't change that much, and I tried to make it so that people who started with one of the sequels could go back to the first".

Takumi: Yes. I tried to make it so you could start playing anywhere. Well, I think Phoenix's cell phone design is regrettably hard to come back to (laughs).


 Your life changed after Ace Attorney?!

- Your life probably changed a lot in the 10 years since you first made Gyakuten Saiban [2].

Takumi: That's probably true. Gyakuten Saiban was the first game I really wanted to make. I went to work for Capcom thinking I wanted to make mystery games, but it was right in the middle of an era when they only wanted you to make fighting and zombie games. I went on thinking it would be nice if I could have the chance to make my mystery game, and that chance accidentally arrived. After that I accidentally got great team members and managed to make a great game. Even now after 10 years I still think it was really just a case of being in the right place at the right time. If things didn't go as well as they did and I wasn't able to make Gyakuten Saiban, I probably wouldn't be here right now speaking to you.

- You weren't interviewed in magazines about the series you made before Ace Attorney, Dino Crisis (a survival horror series for the Playstation), were you.

Takumi: There was 1 page in a magazine that was since cancelled, but at that time I was really just assisting Shinji Mikami (the former head of Capcom Production Studio 4, creator of the Resident Evil series).

- I see. So your life began to change not after Gyakuten Saiban was made, but when you got the chance to make it.

Takumi: That's right. Dino Crisis was a training period for me, a time when I was learning the way Shinji Mikami thinks. I don't think I would be the same man if he wasn't there. He's someone I owe a lot to. 

[1] Osechi: a traditional Japanese meal eaten on New Year. Nabe: Vegetables, meat and tofu cooked in a boiling shared pot. Highly recommended if you have the chance! 
[2] Gyakuten Saiban: The first Ace Attorney game for the GBA only had the first four cases of the game western players get to play. The fifth case was new for the DS version (which was the only one localized), and written after the first three games were completed.