Originally posted on 1 March 2016
Source: Ryu ga Gotoku 3 Guidebook, page 522-527

Ryu ga Gotoku 3: Developers Interview

❖ The progress of the Ryu ga Gotoku series

―Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to speak to us today. First of all, congratulations on the completion of Ryu ga Gotoku 3.

Toshihiro Nagoshi (below, Nagoshi): Yeah, we've been working pretty hard (laughs).

―This is the fourth game in the series, including spinoff Ryu ga Gotoku: Kenzan! (below, Kenzan). It feel likes there's some consistent principle running throughout the series as a whole that's the secret to its popularity.

Nagoshi: That's right. The protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu, is getting on a bit, and in terms of his social standing he's a far cry from what you might call a hero. But, unlike the adults of today that the players know in their everyday lives and can't look up to anymore, he has that coolness of being someone who lives with all his might. Maybe it's our trying to convey this by way of creating a drama that is the shared sentiment throughout the series.

Masayoshi Kikuchi (below, Kikuchi): Also, we work hard on the realism side of things. We don't want people to feel a sense of realism from the story alone, but also from the visuals of the town, the people who come and go, or even real life products and shops. And then you take this drama with its realistic world and serious, manly atmosphere and then blow it off, I guess... for example, with scenes and fun things that make you giggle or gradually start to laugh. These kinds of things are indispensable, so we pay close attention to them and make sure to incorporate them into each game.

Nagoshi: Amazing!

Kikuchi: Not at all (laughs). But if you compare it to the very beginning, it's become easier to do.

Nagoshi: One big thing is that with things like promotion, we don't need to explain it anymore. At the time of 1, we would start with trying to explain what kind of game it was, but however hard we tried we would always be looked at suspiciously. These days, though, even with casting and securing tie-ups, that struggle at the start that shadowed us for so long is gone.

Masayoshi Yokoyama (below, Yokoyama): The casting went so smoothly this time around.

Nagoshi: We asked the people we wanted to do it, and they just accepted with surprising ease.

Kikuchi: That was really appreciated.

Nagoshi: At the same time, however - and this is going to be a challenge in the future - is that we can't lose that dangerousness of Ryu ga Gotoku... I guess that kind of prickly charm it has. Once you reach the major leagues, you start to understand what it is that people like about it and can make the game efficiently - in a good way. If you wrap it up neatly like that, you tend to lose the impact that 1 had when it came out of nowhere. I think that we need to remember this, and continue making the effort to keep Ryu ga Gotoku as Ryu ga Gotoku.

―You must be at a disadvantage in terms of impact by the fourth title.

Nagoshi: This is only natural as you become a major player, though. I wanted to do the same thing with Ryu ga Gotoku. But Ryu ga Gotoku has its dangerous charm, and elements that cater to minorities like old yakuza films. I do want to preserve these fundamental charms.

Kikuchi: If you forget the challenge...

Nagoshi: It wouldn't be good.

―What kind of challenge?

Kikuchi: Hm... It's different each time. The development period for Ryu ga Gotoku is short, but even during this time the ideas about what is and isn't fun continue to change. However hurriedly you make it, there are probably going to be elements that change based on the ideas of fun-ness of the world of this year and the one before. All we can do is think, "It's this! It's this, right?" each time about what challenges we have then.

Nagoshi: In that sense, it's okay for us to just boldly put in things that are only in vogue at the time. We do of course want to make something that can be universally accepted and will continue to be loved in 10 years' time, but in a way it's fate that people will get tired of it. For example, with this being 2009 we can go ahead and put in something that's symbolic of the year 2009, and in a few years' time it will only be a thing of nostalgia, but all that matters is that at the time, we've created something new. This is something that can be done when you make something at the rapid pace of Ryu ga Gotoku. Gradually tossing in things fads of the time is what makes it seem most like it's going on "now". That's our strength. In a sense.

Daisuke Sato (below, Sato): We do make a game in the short period of a year, after all.

Nagoshi: So it's difficult to be asked things like what will happen next year (laughs). We don't make them based on predictions of the future - we just do what we can at the time.

❖ Ryu ga Gotoku on the PlayStation 3

―One a year is an extraordinary speed to make games at.

Nagoshi: People weren't really sure what to make of the first game, but I think it was far more on the mark than we could ever have predicted. When we then rushed into making 2 - and I can reveal this now - it was Kikuchi who said that we should release it a year later.

―That's an amazing decision to take.

Nagoshi: When I first heard it, I was like, "What!?" But when I thought calmly about it, it was clear that we couldn't let the momentum die after people had come to love this incomprehensible game, and it was also a repayment to the players who had supported Ryu ga Gotoku. We also felt like the feedback meant that it had been accepted, so I also had confidence that we could make a good sequel. Once the decision had been made, the rest was just a race against time.

Kikuchi: Well, as a result, the players took to and loved 2, as well.

Nagoshi: They really did. There really was a sense, though, that when we were done with 2 we had run a marathon. Talks of making 3 came up naturally, but the staff were both mentally and physically exhausted. Not only this, but there were talks of doing it on the PlayStation 3 (below, PS3), so I wondered to myself, "Can we really create a sequel under these circumstances that we can be proud of? What should we do?" Even if we managed it, it would take around two years. But I didn't think it sounded great to have people say, "Now that it's popular, it's going to take a few years until there's a sequel," (laughs).

Kikuchi: It was quite the dilemma.

Nagoshi: So when I was thinking about what we could make in those circumstances, I decided that we needed some kind of motivation, and thus we should get a change of mood and make something totally different, which became Kenzan. The worldview would change completely, but we should try gambling on the potential of the Kazuma Kiryu character. It's thanks to Yokoyama that we managed it, though. I don't know a thing about history or any of the terminology.

Yokoyama: I'm glad that I got to work on something so interesting. I've always loved things about history, but it's the first time I'd ever actually written this kind of scenario, so it was fun to have a complete change and try something new.

Nagoshi: Slipping in Kenzan gave us the time we needed to recharge for 3, but also to learn about the PS3. We also managed to have Kenzan be loved for what it was, and so I think that was a really meaningful time. It was also an unusual way of broadening our horizons. I guess it was a good thing in all kinds of ways.

―But since it was on new hardware, wasn't it a challenge to create the system?

Sato: Hmm... Kenzan moved onto the PS3, and we made the camera freely movable. We were using a fixed camera up until 2, so it was a convenient way for us as the creators to show off things we wanted people to see, or places with nice scenery. With a free camera, though, you can see everything, so we have to pay close attention to everything. Naturally, the higher specs of the hardware mean that our expressive power has also increased, so we have to show off a more realistic townscape. This is the main source of our hardships. With 3 in particular, up until 2 we had receive the firm praises of the public and achieved tie-ups, so the "real thing" would appear on the screen. You can't fake that, so we're sort of pursuing realism.

Nagoshi: Seeking a realism is what we've been doing the whole time, though. If we could have done it back then, I wanted to put a free camera and first person view mode into the first game as well.

Sato: It's huge that we're now able to do a lot of things where we were restricted by lots of different limitations. It was hard work, too, but the biggest payoff is things like locker keys you can only find in FPV, or the wider range of ways we can play around with things now that the camera is freely movable.

Nagoshi: That was done well. Things like the chase battles, too.

Sato: I've honestly wanted to do those for ages. I love the TV show "Taiyo ni Hoero". When you watch it, there are these scenes where they're chasing people around places like Golden Gai. I've really been wanting to put something like that into Ryu ga Gotoku for such a long time.

Nagoshi: Aren't the chase battles kind of hard, though?

Kikuchi: Ahh, are they? The staff who were in charge of that part got good at it as they were playing it while they made it. Sometimes they would do checks on it and make adjustments if it was too difficult, though...

Yokoyama: Battles have become seamless, too - quite a lot of effort has been put into that. When a battle starts, the townspeople will rush around and form a wall of rubberneckers.

Nagoshi: Making it seamless was hard work, but so was how people move around town. You can see them the whole time, so it's not like you can gloss over it, either.

Sato: That's right. This is another thing I've wanted to do since the first game, but there were too many limitations and I couldn't. The programmers worked hard and added the movements.

Nagoshi: The movements of the townspeople when Kiryu's running are more detailed, too.

Sato: They've fallen over when you knock into them since the first game, but this time we made their movements smoother. If you're running around, the townspeople will first try to get out of your way, but if they can't you'll knock them over - the movements are quite detailed.

Nagoshi: That alone surely makes 3 the best!

Sato: We'd still like to go further with it, though.

―Speaking of battles, there's more pro wrestling and martial arts in 3...

Nagoshi: Yeah, I know; I really want to praise the ones who made those.

―Are there people around who like that kind of thing - perhaps the person who contributed it?

Nagoshi: There are. Some of them go at it on the floor of the development room. They try out moves on each other, kind of like elementary school kids pretending to be wrestlers. I wonder if they bully each other.

❖ Twist and turns of the main scenario

―I think that not only will the system have been hard work, but the scenario, too; what stands out in this game is the presence of the children of Sunshine. How did you end up deciding to put them in?

Yokoyama: ...Hmm, what was it again? I don't know. It was quite a while ago...

Kikuchi: It's only been a year (laughs).

Yokoyama: But that year was amazing! I do remember rewriting it over and over and it being difficult, though. In any case, I myself wanted to make it into Kiryu's story.

Kikuchi: Isn't that obvious? (laughs)

Yokoyama: Well, the first game is a story that's spearheaded by his close friend, Nishikiyama. 2 is the story of the people of the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance.

Nagoshi: Yeah. You mean that Kiryu is only involved in the story because he gets dragged into it?

Yokoyama: That's it. So this time around, I wanted to make it so that Kiryu goes through the story based on his own motivations. Because of this, I put in the children as something that Kiryu protects, to bring in a new sense of values. We had already decided that it would be set in Okinawa, so I had to come up with things like why Kiryu would be in Okinawa, and this is how it ended up. At first, we even had the idea that Kiryu was in prison in Okinawa.

Nagoshi: We scrapped the prison idea, but what was the first scenario you brought me? The one that started with him on the beach with amnesia. When I read it it said, "Who am I?" and I said, "You're Kiryu! That's obvious!" and scrapped it.

Yokoyama: That's right; I was going to make it a story about Kiryu trying to recover his lost memories of the past two years. Things like what he was doing in Okinawa, and who he was.

Kikuchi: It was dropped once, but then you wrote something else to do with amnesia as well.

Yokoyama: Huh, I did?

Nagoshi: This guy kept trying to force the amnesiac thing through however he could. But stories where you try to fill in a gap in your memories are so commonplace, I thought.

―Do you have some kind of fixation with them?

Yokoyama: No. I'm not particularly obsessed with memory loss.

Nagoshi, Kikuchi: Yes you were!

Yokoyama: Didn't I lose interest in the amnesia thing quite quickly?

Kikuchi: I remember saying, "Lose your memories of being obsessed with the memory loss thing." That's how obsessed you were.

Yokoyama: Really? I forget so much that I wonder if maybe I have amnesia myself.

Sato: Quite a lot of the substories weren't deemed to be good enough, too. Though they were written by several members of staff.

Yokoyama: I think we made about 500 that were scrapped. Some of the criticism was so harsh that I wondered if they might cry.

Nagoshi: Substories are important. The main story is centred around Kiryu, so there are limits on how much of the world you can show. But that isn't all there is to Ryu ga Gotoku's world - his relations with average people around town are an important element, too. The substories are what teach us this and expand the world.

―Haven't his relationships with other people changed Kiryu's personality as well?

Yokoyama: He's had connections with Haruka and Sayama. And now in 3 he's 40. Also, Kiryu's motivation to protect the children he loves is a huge factor in this game, so maybe he's overly kind now.

Kikuchi: You're kinder these days, too, compared to how you were when we made 1.

Yokoyama: Before the first game came out, everything I heard about the game was critical. I just flew into this rage of, "Hey, I'm the one writing it, dammit!"

Kikuchi: People still hadn't accepted Ryu ga Gotoku back then.

Yokoyama: I was calm with 2 and Kenzan, but 3 made me angry again. Things like the amnesia being criticised.

Nagoshi: You can get mad all you like, but if something's no good then it's no good. Working beside you for so long means that I can see the good things as well, though.

Kikuchi: I think I might be even harsher with my criticisms. "What? This is boring as hell!"

Yokoyama: And then I'd say something like, "Oh, I get it! Then I guess I'll just have to totally rewrite the whole thing!" and storm out of the room. I would use the power of my fury to write the scenario for one chapter in about an hour.

―Do you not do very detailed checks, Mr. Nagoshi?

Nagoshi: All I really get involved in is the general outline of things. I do think that I might have said, "Would you stop having the final battles up in high places?"

Yokoyama: You did, but... sorry, I had them go up high.

Nagoshi: Come to think of it, I actually wanted there to be a battle inside the National Diet Building in this game. With Kiryu giving a speech on stage at the end. We specifically went out to see the Diet building for it.

Kikuchi: The battle ended up taking place outside, but that led to having Majima come along in his truck, so I guess it worked out well.

Nagoshi: That really did play out nicely. If you choose yourself a good location, you can use that to pull off a good drama. It really is important to choose a good setting from the start.

―And this, combined with the skilled acting of the actors, creates a game like Ryu ga Gotoku.

Nagoshi: Speaking of the actors, I was really sorry about this, but some of the voice recording we did with Shigeru Izumiya didn't come out well and so we had to ask him to redo them. I was worried that he might be unhappy about it, but by then we had finished making the cutscene that hadn't existed at the time of the initial recording, and when he saw it he decided that he had to really get fired up and did the re-recording for us with a really positive outlook. Thanks to this, it turned into a really great scene.

Kikuchi: Though this is true of the actors as well, it was huge that we were able to ask Eikichi Yazawa for the theme song.

Nagoshi: That was my dream. He's such a big name that I had almost given up even before we asked him. When we did, he ended up accepting pretty easily. This isn't limited to Mr. Yazawa, but I think that the tension of using a big name has a positive effect on the game. We get to be a part of their career, so it makes us want to create a game that they're proud to have been a part of. I guess in that sense, it was a good thing.

❖ Amusements that solidify the main story

Nagoshi: This is another topic, but we finally managed to bring back "Haruka's trust" that was well-liked in the first game.

Yokoyama: Lots of players told us that they wanted it to come back.

Sato: A lot of the development team members wanted it as well, didn't they? "Do Haruka's trust, would you?"

Yokoyama: One of the staff members said to me, "Whether or not it's in there will sway the sales by 100,000 copies either way!" But there really were a lot of players who wanted it, so from the very initial stages of writing the scenario I incorporated lots of scenes where you walk around with Haruka.

Nagoshi: They even hold hands, now, too.

Yokoyama: Having them naturally hold hands as they walk around was a good progression. We didn't have that in there at first, did we?

Sato: One of the programmers just went ahead and made it one day.

Nagoshi: I was shocked when I saw it.

Sato: This might sound a bit weird, but everyone on the team thinks of Haruka like a daughter, and everyone loves her. Plus, if you don't have Haruka with you then you can't fulfil her requests, either. Please be nice to Haruka, everyone.

Nagoshi: This is true of Haruka's trust as well, but we also did a lot of thinking about wich of the mini games to keep and which to do away with.

Sato: In general, we kept the ones from previous games that had been fun whilst also adding some new ones that seemed fun. Okinawa is in this game with its beach, so we looked around for things we could do with that.

Kikuchi: At first we had this thing called the "beach clubhouse game" that you could do in Okinawa.

―What's that?

Sato: There would be a clubhouse on the beach in front of Sunshine where Kiryu would work part time. We had thought up mini games like taking orders, making ice cream and rubbing suntan lotion on ladies.

―Why did you scrap it, even though you were trying to do something interesting with the Okinawan beach?

Kikuchi: We thought that March would be too early for swimming in the ocean. Come to think of it, how did we end up putting in Create a Hostess?

Nagoshi: Create a Hostess appears in the first game, and then in the next one you manage a club, so we talked about what to do this time. We decided to put in something with customisation and serving customers...

Kikuchi: Oh, and that's why we ended up putting in the training element?

Nagoshi: At first we had put in make-up and dresses to a certain extent, but there was no way you could create the kind of woman you wanted with that alone, and so we gradually added more and more elements.

Kikuchi: At first, everything leaned more towards a natural style. There were even only five hairstyles. It was really restrictive compared to the completed version.

Nagoshi: We added more make-up and hair colours, and ended up with countless possible combinations. I'm the kind of guy who likes to say how girls' make-up and fashion should be done. Men don't normally wear make-up, but when you try out make-up simulators, they're fun. This is the kind of thing I wanted to put in.

―Do you all nurture them to your own preferences?

Kikuchi: Everyone tries to make them to their own preferences, but it's difficult to reach the top that way. Everyone enthusiastically puts them together saying things like, "This will totally look cute!" but in most cases it doesn't work out.

Sato: It doesn't work out for me when I make them to my own preferences, either. My type is gyaru, though.

Nagoshi: Me too, I think.

Kikuchi: For me it's the natural style.

Yokoyama: For me it's gorgeous! It's off the scale!

Kikuchi: So you see, if 10 people play it, nine of them will complain. "Why doesn't it work!? She's cute!"

Yokoyama: You have to cater to the wishes of your customers, after all. But if you follow their preferences, it's like, "This isn't cute at all!"

Kikuchi: You can't really complain, since it's subjective. It's what the customer wants, after all.

―Come to think of it, you used the Age Girls as the models for the hostesses in this game, right? Are their likes and conversational topics the same as the real deal?

Kikuchi: Most of the time, yes. We first took the time to interview them, then used this to bring out the individual personalities of each Age Girl. We wanted them to resemble the girls in ways other than just their appearances.

Nagoshi: That doesn't mean that they're identical to the real thing, though, does it?

Kikuchi: There's some fiction mixed in there as well. Their privacy is an issue. But things like the name of their pet dog or their favourite food are all real. For example, there's a girl who likes meat but just can't stand kimchi, and based on this info alone that she likes meat you take her for yakiniku; if you spare no expense and order the entire menu, it includes the thing she doesn't like and her impression of you worsens. Throwing money at something isn't always the way.

Yokoyama: In terms of playing around town, karaoke is amazingly destructive!

Nagoshi: It shows off the funny side of Kiryu, but without it it would just be another music game. I was amazed by how good the voice actors - Mr. Kuroda and Ms. Kugimiya - sang.

Kikuchi: The level of completion of karaoke is amazing. Well, the guy in charge of it is off the charts, and he even goes to karaoke by himself. It's full of his passion and attention to detail. No matter how much criticism he received, he never gave up.

Yokoyama: Now that you mention it, didn't he even make up the lyrics and dance moves?

Kikuchi: And the other staff poured their love into Haruka.

Nagoshi: But in the end, it has to be the characters. It's because of all of the characters we've had so far that we're able to make this kind of game. As a creator, I sense the potential to do much more with them, and having them go through a lot makes them seem more human.

❖ The trials and tribulations of development

Yokoyama: For me personally, having more than 100 substories was intense. I was under serious pressure altering the scenario all by myself... The development team has both old and new people on it, so it was also a challenge to get their individual ideas of the worldview to line up. Though of course, this also has the merit of the novel ideas that the new people bring to the table.

Sato: Hardships...? I created the sequence of things like where and in which order events occur in accordance with the script given to me by Yokoyama, but... Kenzan was hard work, but this time it was actually quite a lot of fun.

Nagoshi: We're supposed to be talking about hardships!

Sato: No, I mean, of course there were hardships as well (laughs). There are a few events with the Sunshine kids that are separate from the main scenario. I really struggled with where to put them in.

Kikuchi: It's different from the way substories are handled, and they're events that can only be triggered when Kiryu is in Okinawa, after all.

Sato: That's right. It was difficult to adjust the timing with which they occur so that they wouldn't get in the way of the main story. It's fun to get to see a different side of Kiryu, though.

Kikuchi: It is, isn't it (laughs). I don't know if this is a hardship, but for me there's the pressure of what we're supposed to do if something isn't completed as planned, I guess. Also, I'm in charge of things like the release date and managing the development budget, and a lot of the time our projections get messed up, so for me the hardships are things like thinking up strategies and trying to avoid problems before they arise. This didn't happen much this time, but when we're low on manpower I'll sometimes do things like writing substories or adjusting the balancing.

―So your role is like that of a mother?

Kikuchi: A mother... you might be right! Yes!! ...I don't like that.

Yokoyama: That fits strangely well. Things like the way he clings to his wallet and is stingy.

Nagoshi: Kikuchi has also worked hard on the tattoos from the first game. It was originally his idea to ask a real tattoo artist to do them.

Kikuchi: I said it at first, but because of our focus on realism there was a risk that the players would be turned off if it was too real; in any case, I decided to ask a real one. When I read books about it and looked further, I found out that tattoo culture is really profound. There are all kinds of styles, like Japanese, tribal and American.

Nagoshi: All of the Japanese tattoo artists are going off overseas, though...

Kikuchi: Yeah. Tattoo culture is more prosperous over there. Horitomo, the artist who designed the tattoos for Ryu ga Gotoku, normally resides in San Francisco himself.

Nagoshi: What's amazing about Horitomo isn't just the way that he creates a suitable design for each character based on their personality and upbringing, but also the way that he even takes the data mapping into consideration when he's making them. Sometimes, the designs he gives the characters influences them and changes the scenario. It's really mysterious.

Kikuchi: He even thinks up things that don't appear in the game, like for example the history behind the hannya pattern and why it spread, using this as the origin for why Majima has the hannya.

Nagoshi: Oh, but the design for Kanda's tattoo in this game is innovative.

Kikuchi: Oh yeah, the oiran and okame. I explained to Horitomo that Kanda is an extreme kind of guy, and he decided that he should have the kind of design that no one in real life would ever have. With regards to Rikiya and Nakahara's tattoos, I said, "Okinawa means vipers and shisa!" and he researched each and thought up cool designs for them. Then he said, "These colours should go together. No one would actually have these designs, though."

Nagoshi: Of course they wouldn't.

Kikuchi: But he went on, "But they're not unusual designs, and I want to make them into something that other people will see and want to have done themselves."

Nagoshi: Ah, what a professional.

Yokoyama: With things like Rikiya's tattoo, he even took the skin colour into consideration. Horitomo has also supervised part of the scenario in the past, too.

Kikuchi: That's the story about what would happen if your tattoo artist died midway through tattooing you, right?

Yokoyama: Yeah. If they died then in most cases it would be continued by their apprentice, but what if they didn't have one? He told me about it in detail through email and phone conversations. Because of the time difference, I had to call him really early to get through.

Nagoshi: Look at everyone working so hard. In terms of hardships, all I basically do is say, "Stop messing around," or, "Good job." It's the team who are really doing the hard work. My role is to watch everyone dash around and arrive at the goal, and when they get there tell them that they have to run another lap. It's hard, of course, but it's amazing when it's done. They even do things that I can't manage for myself anymore, and on top of that they do another lap for themselves; I think we gained something from making the game in this way, and I want everyone to see things in that way. I'm sure it will serve some kind of purpose. Nothing is forever in life, so I want us to connect in a big way, not just in terms of our work connections.

Yokoyama: You made them redo the host club part from scratch in the last game.

Nagoshi: I did (laughs). ...In the past, someone asked me how we managed to make a game like Ryu ga Gotoku, but I think it's a miracle. It was possible because all of the leaders here today and everyone else miraculously ended up on the same team; because they were all there. There are leaders and there are the people actually creating things, and trying a bunch of things provides results that let us release the next one. It would be a complete lie to sit here and say that it's all because of my skills as a producer. I just want to say that it's a miracle.

❖ Words for the players

―Finally, then, please tell the players about the highlights of Ryu ga Gotoku.

Yokoyama: I personally enjoyed Okinawa. Kamurocho is the same as it's always been, and it's well-made in its own right, but I guess Okinawa feels kind of warm. It's amazing that there's such a warm and cosy place in the same country. I recommend Okinawa!

Sato: The designers are careful about the way things look, too, so the colour of the light is different. Even though it's the afternoon in both places, the colour of the city and the colour of Okinawa is different. My recommendation is the entire game system. I hope that people simply enjoy the whole package of the evolved Ryu ga Gotoku.

Kikuchi: Hmm... I wonder. Personally, I think that Create a Hostess was well done. I want people to be surprised by the girls' changes, and to be happy when they thank you. Also, please take a stroll around town and enjoy all of the things packed into it.

Sato: Don't just follow the main story - do all kinds of things. We worked hard on even the most trivial of things.

Kikuchi: It's fine of course if you just follow the story and play through until the end, but I want people to feel like the world of Ryu ga Gotoku continues and doesn't just end there. Oh, and one other thing! For example, if you go to the hostess clubs, try going to a real one. An actual hostess club.

Yokoyama: By real, do you mean one in an actual town like Kabukicho?

Kikuchi: Yeah. You can't do it if you're underage, of course, and they're not places you can really go to that often, so seeing them in the game feels fresh. This isn't limited to hostess clubs - there were lots of things we created, pursuing realism, with the intention that they might serve as a gateway to people actually taking a real interest in these things. So, if you're interested and get the chance, I'd like you to actually go there and by shocked by how identical it is to the game.

Nagoshi: For me... I've always loved movies and TV dramas, but Ryu ga Gotoku was the first time I had ever made anything like that. I'm still glad that I was able to. This is why one of the things I want is for people to enjoy the drama. But like Kikuchi said before, I also want people to enjoy wandering around town. Back with the second game, there was a comment in Weekly Famitsu's cross review that said something like, "I can't stop wandering around town! I want to continue the story, but I can't. Cheers to this happy contradiction." I still remember those words because of the joy that they had come to grips with what we had been aiming for. Also, something that's always on my mind since we're creating a drama is that CG just can't beat live action. So, when creating something overly human, we try to tell the story without looking at it through prejudiced eyes, but by using the diversities of each person's humanity. The new PS3 hardware still can't beat real film, but I get the feeling that we finally managed to achieve something approaching it. The reason why I set the games "now" is because their message is for the people who are alive "now". I want to send some encouragement to those who play them. This is why we tried to make it into a game where, if you work a bit, most people can make it to the ending. I want people to sympathise with one of the characters or empathise with the drama and find something that helps them live their tomorrows.

―Thank you for your time. Make sure not to drink too much, everybody.

(13 February 2009 at buca.)