Originally posted on 15 February 2016
Source: Ryu ga Gotoku 4 Guidebook, page 576-579

Ryu ga Gotoku 4: Shun Akiyama

Those who cooperated
*Toshihiro Nagoshi (general producer)
*Masayoshi Kikuchi (producer)
*Masayoshi Yokoyama (scenario/direction)
*Jun Orihara (director)
*Kazuki Hosokawa (design leader)
*Tadashi Okuda (battle game design)
*Mariko Kawase (adventure game design)
*Yuji Saito (motion design)
*Fujiyoshi Shimohara (sound programmer)
*Naoki Someya (stage design)
*Kazunobu Takeuchi (adventure game design)
*Saizo Nagai (character design)
*Yuri Fukuda (sound)
*Ryosuke Horii (karaoke/heat actions)

Q. Please give us a catchphrase you think suits Akiyama perfectly.

● A free man in the truest sense. [Nagoshi]

● A formerly homeless money lender. Just what it says on the box. [Kikuchi]

● No matter how many times he's betrayed, there's something he wants to keep believing in. The miracle of "money", created by a man whose life was changed by it. [Yokoyama]

● A man who finds life a hobby. [Orihara]

Q. How did Akiyama change from the start of development to completion?

● He's the main character with the least gap between prototype and completion. He was the easiest. [Kikuchi]

● I had a concrete idea of his character from the start. He's one of the images of a hero I've had for ages. He's aloof like Lupin or Cowboy Bebop, but sometimes he speaks the truth. He's close to characters like that I've been thinking of since before, so creating him wasn't all that tough. Come to think of it, Akiyama was called "Jingi" ("humanity and justice") at first. [Yokoyama]

● He had a more unrefined image, but in the end he became the smartest-looking. [Orihara]

Q. Now that the game is complete, what kind of feelings and impressions do you get from Akiyama?

● He's a sharp-minded lady-killer, and smart in fights. But he's weak to women. I thought the charm of this gap would be the easiest to take in. He's so complete as a character that even during development he was already really popular. I think we were able to achieve the impossible background of a formerly homeless money lender because of his general charm. [Nagoshi]

● He's cool, and easy to get to like. You could say that in comparison to Kiryu, he's cool all over. He was also the best batter of the four. [Kikuchi]

● He's actually a person who seems to still have all kinds of mysteries in his past. In all kinds of ways, he's the person who seems furthest away from my sense of values. [Orihara]

Q. What is the theme of Akiyama's chapter?

● The theme of Akiyama's section was "how people act when their true nature is outed by money". In modern day society, money is the thing that brings out people's inner selves most. Akiyama himself, who has no interest in money, is a bystander, but other than his life, having been surrounded by money, he watches how others react to it. [Yokoyama]

● Since he's the first player character to appear, we took care to make it so that his walking style, responses to adventure text etc. were set up so as people would say, "He's different from Kiryu, but good in his own right, and I can't wait to see the protagonists that come next in the following parts." We tried to leave the feeling of playing above ground in Kamurocho as was, and focus on changing up the player characters. [Orihara]

Q. What kinds of things did you have in mind for Akiyama's section's substories?

● This time around we wanted to complete the things we couldn't make clear in each main story in the substories, so we used them to touch on Akiyama's past and how he came to be rich. Akiyama's substories in general focus on how, as a money-lender, people's lives are changed by money. Akiyama himself is a schemer with all kinds of mysteries, so he uses a lot of unfair moves. Having the player go through various actions and then the main character saying "I actually knew all along" is unfair, but Akiyama knows what will happen when he lends them the money, so you have to use that unfairness. The main issue was how to get the player to watch the conclusion of Akiyama going "I knew" without it being noticed. That was quite difficult. We also put in Hana to explain the story. [Yokoyama]

● Making the best of him being a money lender and managing a cabaret club. In particular, the former involves a special test in order to get the loan, so we focused on using that to show Akiyama's odd character and the policies behind it. We also took into consideration making him involved with Hana more and more through these episodes. I think that as you proceed through Akiyama's part's substories, not only Akiyama but also Hana begins to become clearer as a character. Akiyama's substories are at the same time Hana's part. Compared to Kiryu, Akiyama is less serious, so having him tricked by a beautiful woman was amongst our ideas right from the start. [Takeuchi]

Q. Please tell us Akiyama's design theme.

● Making him seem cool but passionate, cynical yet sincere. [Hosokawa]

● He's lazy, not too flashy, and not too cool. Personally, I quite like the sort of sad expression he has. After deciding on Saejima and Tanimura's outfits, we set his theme colour as red. [Nagai]

Q. What kind of request did you get for Akiyama's design?

● I was told to make him look like the kind who doesn't wear socks. He actually ended up wearing socks, though... [Nagai]

Q. How did you end up choosing Mr. Yamadera as Akiyama's voice actor, and what are the secrets behind his voice?

● This was something Yokoyama strongly wanted. He seems to have been picturing Yamadera's voice in his head when creating the scenario, too. [Nagoshi]

● It was because Yokoyama had imagined it from the character creation phase. [Kikuchi]

● I actually wrote the scenario under the assumption that Mr. Yamadera would be doing Akiyama's voice. It was written specifically for him. And he was god-like. It was so perfect, it surpassed my own expectations. [Yokoyama]

Q. Please tell us what happened during Akiyama's voice recording for karaoke and mini games.

● He's really good at impersonating people, so at the rehearsal I requested he sing in all kinds of impersonated voices. My personal favourite was the "Frank Nagai version". He's actually a really good singer, too, and I still remember how moved I was the first time I heard Mr. Yamadera's take combined with Ms. Hirano's. [Horii]

Q. What did you struggle with and focus on with regards to Akiyama's movements in battle?

● When the movements for his slash kick were being created, we weren't sure how fast to make it. If it was done at amazing speed, like in a certain 2D brawler, that might have been interesting by itself. Akiyama's kali sticks-attack is fast, and he performs a lot of chain hits, so it was a little troublesome deciding what to go for. [Okuda]

● I endeavoured to have his fighting style loose, but not get carried away with giving him actions showing off how light his body is. [Saito]

● I took care creating the tempo of normal battles, from start to finish, so their speed wouldn't take a chunk out of your heat. [Horii]

Q. What about the interior of Sky Finance, Akiyama's hideout, did you focus on?

● I write out the screenplay as an easy to understand version of the images I see in my head. So Sky Finance, and the room where Saejima and Majima talk in Part 2, are both the exact same rooms that appeared in my mind. Sky Finance being full of piles of paper, a rubbish bin fit to bursting, and an ash tray so full that you can't stub out a new butt in it were all written in the scenario, and the designer reproduced it. By the way, I had already settled on the floorplans of Sky Finance and the room where Saejima and Majima talk in Part 2 when I was doing the scenario. Not so far as the interior or wallpaper, but I have a surprisingly strong fixation on the layout. [Yokoyama]

Q. Please explain Akiyama's charms.

● He's lazy and slippery, but logical, and can get things done. Maybe how he appears soft but manly. He has the charm of a new kind of outlaw. [Nagoshi]

● He looks totally useless, but when he needs to do something he'll do it. He's actually perfectly capable. He's the image of a popular man, and he really is popular. [Kikuchi]

● I guess the way he's focused on money. [Orihara]

● As per his nickname of "speedster", I think his battle style, centring around magnificent footwork, will be refreshing and addictive for people who are used to the Ryu ga Gotoku series as it is now. Also, I think he's really charming as a character because he hasn't yet reached the age of forty, unlike Kiryu, it's easier to give him a fun story with that element of unpredictability. [Hosokawa]

● That he's clever. His aloof air. [Kawase]

● He's a non-committal and irresponsible philosophic person, but a teasing gentleman who takes more interest in people than the average person. [Saito]

● His charm is that he looks like a careless show-off, but actually has another side to him with an unshakable core. [Shimohara]

● He seems smug and undisciplined, but his own beliefs are his strong point. [Someya]

● Things like not being able to finish him off; he's a character full of charm because he's susceptible. He's sharp and able, but without Hana he'd be useless, which is adorable. [Takeuchi]

● He's aloof, but he has this somehow sorrowful air about him, which I like. [Nagai]

● The way he looks aloof, but actually has a down to earth way of thinking. [Fukuda]

● The way he never gives up. I think he's a man with his on-off switch at an ideal point. [Horii]

Q. What is your favourite Akiyama scene or line?

● "Okay, who gets to kick whose ass?" The wording in these kinds of lines is weird, but when this character says it it sounds totally fine. He's a really strange character. [Nagoshi]

● The bit when he's talking to Kido about the 'jungle': "Every jungle needs its king. This town's no exception. Kamurocho's always looked to the yakuza for its lions. But after Kazuma Kiryu left, there's been nobody to step up. And without a king, the lesser beasts all wander off in search of a lion somewhere else." That part alone is amazing. I love those lines so much I think they might be the best yet. The Ryu ga Gotoku series doesn't glorify yakuza. Without strong people, you can't control the world. Kamurocho is full of people who want to fulfil their own desires, but it's controlled and regulated by forces that are neither just nor the police. The yakuza just happened to have that strength. But we've never been able to express that properly before now. Throughout the series, I've always wanted to write "we need a strong man", and I wrote it down because I thought the lines would suit Akiyama, so I think they might be the best. [Yokoyama]

● Right after returning to Sky Finance via the rooftop to escape from Sugiuchi, the conversation where Hana goes, "Thirsty?" and Akiyama says, "Thanks." More than Akiyama, Hana's eyes when she puts the cup down made an impression on me. [Orihara]

● The scene where he's talking to Kido and his underlings at Kanemura Enterprises. It's a scene full of the oddness of his character and his charm. [Hosokawa]

● "Huh? Are we done?" His strained laugh when he's kneeling. I think Akiyama's character comes out well along with his movements and lines. [Okuda]

● When he's talking to Lily on the roof about money. (Before the kiss scene.) It feels like a rare display of Akiyama's weakness. [Kawase]

● The scene where Kido talks about Akiyama's history. The coolness of a guy walking through the rain, carefree, without an umbrella. A guy who really suits the metallic sounds coming from the outer stairs as he descends them, where you can get a sense of the identity of Shun Akiyama without him saying a word. I like it. [Saito]

● I like sense of relief Akiyama and Hana's dialogue provides amidst the serious story. [Shimohara]

● The scene where he refuses to tell Minami where Lily is. It's a scene that gives you a good idea of Akiyama as a character, but also is cool. [Someya]

● The scene where he burns the notes from the substory "Counterfeit Bills". It's just cool. It's a situation made famous in a certain film, but you could say it's also one of this game's best scenes. [Takeuchi]

● I like all of his exchanges with Hana, including both substories and event scenes. It's amusing how Akiyama is always one step ahead of Hana. [Nagai]

● "I lend people money based on my own beliefs." He looks like he messes around, but I think this line shows his true feelings. [Fukuda]

● The scene where Hana complains about the oil in the lunch he brings her having hardened. [Horii]

Q. Everyone please tell us the part of Akiyama's chapter you managed (or were involved in) that you want people to take note of.

● It's raining in the first scene, but there aren't actually many scenes after this where it rains. This is because making it rain is really hard work. Each drop of rain falling and dripping from the edge of a building is calculated one drop at a time by a program that regulates it. The designer sets up invisible boxes in regions where rain doesn't fall. Something as everyday as rain falling is really hard to show in a game. In the scene where Katsuragi dies there are white breath clouds, but that was due to the passion of a girl on the design team, and those little depictions all over the place are from the passion of the effects team. Everyone put their passion into the story, too. If there are people who think Ryu ga Gotoku 4 is new and interesting, I'm sure it's not just because of the story alone, but because they've felt the scene is good with everything - rain, breath clouds, and the voice actors - combined. So I want people to take note of these passion-filled, minor details, regardless of whether it's for Akiyama, Saejima, Tanimura or Kiryu. [Yokoyama]

● The scene where he discovers the body at Drama Queen. Getting all of those things balanced was a tricky case of trial and error. [Kawase]

● The must-see heat moves using poles and guard railings that came from unique ideas! And the heat moves you get from befriending shop workers for having a friendly personality! The revelations are packed with funny stories, too! [Saito]

● Akiyama's battle style places importance on speed, so I'd like people to pay attention to the battle sound effects we created, focusing on the exhilarating feeling of controlling him. The more gorgeous BGM for the Create a Hostess, too. [Shimohara]

● The cabaret club Elise's focus on pink, and the eastern rooftops that give you an unbroken view of Kamurocho. [Someya]

● We created a number of connecting episodes with multiple parts, not just for Akiyama but for all three new protagonists, in the substories. They talk about each character's background and things that led them to be the person they are that we couldn't fit into the main story, so make sure you try it out. [Takeuchi]

● I'd like people to pay attention to Hana's gallantness in Akiyama's section. [Nagai]

● I'd really like people to try out Kamuro Junrenka at karaoke. I was so happy when it was decided that he would have a duet with Hana. [Fukuda]

● His duet with Hana. Whenever I see it, I wish I worked at Sky Finance... [Horii]