There are several individual characters around which the story is centred. How were their appearances created? Take a glimpse behind the scenes of character creation through the rough sketches drawn by the design staff.
The characters' appearances were created centrally by the designer on Nagoshi's team. The designer read the scenario written by Yokoyama and from there expanded upon their image, drawing up concept sketches with them in a variety of outfits and hairstyles. Nagoshi, Kikuchi and Yokoyama looked at the rough drawings and pointed out the ones that most closely matched their image of the characters.
Even the designs they gave the OK to from the sketches sometimes looked different from how they were supposed to once they were actually modelled in 3D, so even after the modelling had been done their designs were altered several times.
A rough sketch of Kiryu that shows the switch from a hard face to a softer impression
An early image of Kiryu. He looks more like a member of a foreign mafia than a yakuza!?
At the time of creation, Kazuma Kiryu's character design more closely resembled a member of the mafia than a yakuza. Countless concept images in an American style were drawn, but due to Nagoshi's intention to strongly reinforce a uniquely Japanese charm he was changed to be more in line with a typical Japanese yakuza. At one point it had been settled upon that he would wear a red shirt with a black jacket with an aggressive-looking face, but Kikuchi wanted him to appear more sympathetic, so his scariness was toned down. He also thought that if his outfit was too yakuza-like people would be unable to empathise, so patterned shirts and gold accessories were avoided. Searching for the best balance between being simplistic and being able to see that he was a yakuza, they settled on his current white suit.
Haruka, the lone flower blooming amidst a story full of men. Her strong will shows in her eyes
According to Yokoyama, the one they had most trouble with while writing the scenario was the 10 billion yen girl, Haruka. Her character design also went through many twists and turns. "It was hard to show that she's not someone who's financially blessed. If we went overboard trying to make her look poor, she would lose her charm." (Yokoyama) She is at the age around which she should be wanting to start wearing pretty clothes, but taking into account the situation in which she has been placed they avoided giving her a showy outfit. They decided on her current design, one that would make her seem both adorable and strong-willed.
(Top) Majima showing a strong sense of craziness. Note the pierced ear and large scar on his left eye
(Bottom) A rough sketch of a design quite close to his current one. He has a good build
The most surprising changes shown are those to Goro Majima. In Yokoyama's initial scenario he was depicted as a "skinhead with his hair shaved off, and a serious face covered with a birthmark and loads of piercings", so at first he was designed like the personification of crazy. Then, however, the character in the scenario began to move of its own accord. Being a man who while crazy maintained his own unshakeable values, and having an affection that showed a flavour of humanity, was summed up in his appearance.