The Artist Behind Dragon’s Crown Explains His Exaggerated Characters

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The Artist Behind Dragon’s Crown Explains His Exaggerated Characters


Dragon’s Crown designer George Kamitani says his characters — including the sexy, controversial sorceress — are all exaggerated so they’ll stand out from other fantasy art.
In an email to Kotaku, Kamitani explained some of the rationale behind his designs, which picked up a great deal of media attention this week after the artist wrote a note to me on his Facebook wall that featured three shirtless, burly men embracing one another.

Kamitani, who is the head of Dragon’s Crown development studio Vanillaware, also apologised for what many have interpreted as homophobia, calling his note “a lighthearted joke” written with an automatic Japanese-to-English translator.

Earlier this week, I criticised Dragon’s Crown‘s sorceress, a character that seems designed to be ogled and leered at as a sexual object. I called it juvenile, and said it was symbolic of a much large issue of sexism and exclusion in the video game industry. Here’s an example of what the sorceress looks like during gameplay:

Throughout the week, we’ve been in touch with Kamitani in hopes of getting his side of the story. It’s taken longer than anticipated, thanks to timezones and the language barrier, but he sent over a letter in both English and Japanese that we’d like to share on Kotaku today.

Here’s the entirety of George Kamitani’s letter:

Thank you for contacting me; I am George Kamitani from Vanillaware.

I’ll go into detail about the reasons behind some of Dragon’s Crown design concepts.

I believe that the basic fantasy motifs seen in Dungeons & Dragons and the work of J.R.R. Tolkien have a style that is very attractive, and I chose to use some orthodox ones in my basic designs. However, if I left those designs as is, they won’t stand out amongst the many fantasy designs already in the video game/comic/movie/etc. space. Because of that, I decided to exaggerate all of my character designs in a cartoonish fashion.

I exaggerated the silhouettes of all the masculine features in the male characters, the feminine features in female characters, and the monster-like features in the monsters from many different angles until each had a unique feel to them. I apologise to those who were made uncomfortable by the art’s appearance, and did not see the same light-hearted fantasy in my designs.

I don’t harbour any ill-will to Jason Schreier for the article he originally posted about the Sorceress or his follow-up. Although it may be negative feedback, I am very thankful for having one of our titles being covered. I do understand what Jason and the rest of the discussions on the internet are saying for the most part. I am not sure if I can implement the critiques from him and others around the internet into my future artistic creations, but I will definitely keep in mind that these opinions are out there and affect people on a personal level. I feel that any form of media content faces death when it doesn’t receive attention at all. So, be it criticism or support, I am truly thankful for the people talking about Dragon’s Crown and the people discovering Vanillaware for the first time.

In regards to the Dwarf image I posted on my Facebook page: This image was never intended to attack Jason. Originally, it was a promotional image that I created for my fan base in Japan, which I posted to the official Vanillaware Twitter account earlier.

We receive many requests from companies to create publicity illustrations for the game, but we never received any requests for the Dwarf. Also, as the game’s street date nears, most retail shops start requesting exclusive art for their retailer-exclusive bonus items. In Japan, these illustration requests can even be as specific as something like female characters in swimwear. In these requests as well, the Dwarf was nowhere to be seen.

So, I decided to unofficially draw a sweaty Dwarf in a bathing suit, with a bit of cynicism towards those retailer requests. I drew 3 of them to show that there are character colour variations available.

However, this image is something I created on my own, and will not see the light of day in any publication. I felt it was a shame to just throw it out, and thought I’d just post it on my own Facebook. That’s when I remembered Jason’s article and thought that I’d post it as a little joke with a comment. I used an automated translator to try and make a lighthearted joke in English, but clearly that wasn’t the case. I was very surprised to see the crazy aftermath.

It’s OK if it was just me who was criticised, but it is not my intention to cause problems for Dragon’s Crown publisher (ATLUS) and all the other people who are involved in this project. From now on, I will limit myself about transmitting something personal out in the public.

Also, it would be very appreciated if you could please contact Index Digital Media, Inc. if you plan to make anything related to this matter, including this e-mail, into an article.

Lastly, please tell Jason that I am sorry for causing him trouble, and also to please don’t let my actions cause him to shy away from Vanillaware products…

Good bye, and thank you.

Dragon’s Crown will be out on August 6 for PS3 and Vita.

Comments

  • The world is full of wrong, it’s full of despair and strife… The issue that this VIDEO GAME character has exaggerated proportions is blown out of proportion.

    If this offends anyone, get a grip on life, don’t play the game and move on because it’s clearly not for you.

    There are more important things to worry about, there really are.

  • 1. The Boob Physics present in the GIF are quite dramatic.
    2. Every character in the top picture is staring at her cleavage.

  • And do you have a response? any thoughts about this Mr. Schreier? : / Or are you just trying to convince the world you’re in the right here because the guy apologised and you need to justify your insecurities about playing video games!? Despite his explanation being what pretty much everyone told you the first and second time you blogged. That letter reads like someone trying to appease their employers, perhaps in fear of losing their job because in the business world it doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, it matters that you don’t cause waves. Feeling pretty bad for George as an artist right now, though I suppose he should have known any joke on social media that can be taken offensively will be, somewhere by someone.

  • I wasn’t all that interested in this game’s gameplay but I think I’m gonna buy it now just to support ongoing artistic freedom, a reverse boycott if you will.

  • As a woman, her breasts do not make me uncomfortable.
    They make me laugh. If I saw a guy playing this, I wouldn’t see him as a pervert. I’d probably still laugh.
    Also, I want to see someone cosplay this =P

    • Good to see. As a guy who dearly loves ogling highly sexualized fictional women, I have to say.. this lassie’s exaggerated features seem intended much more for comedy than titillation. The absurd physics on the display in the gif are hilarious, not sexually exciting.

      YMMV… Jason’s certainly did.

    • Now we know what I can wear to PAX AUS!

      “As a woman, her breasts do not make me uncomfortable.” for some reason made me instantly think of male dangley bits doing the same thing. That made me uncomfortable just because I then imagined how much it would hurt. They look like they are about to tear off!

      I’d still probably laugh at a game that was doing it though.

      • Yeah, I showed my Mum the image and we both came to the conclusion that it wasn’t offensive. We also decided that her breasts looked more like a ball sac. Can’t unsee.

  • I’m not sure why you linked the article to the AUS side.. It is getting out of hand, sure it is nice to see journalists play the devils advocate, I’m a fan of that, but this is becoming extreme, like terrorism extreme. One person is trying to incite hate on a vulnerable group of people through distortion, making out they are evil and shouldn’t exist.

    This ‘Mr Jason Schreier’ fellow even took up arms on other parts of the internet to tell people that anyone who condones those big jiggly breasts is a lolicon pedophile.. I mean come on dude, this is crazy talk, like bin-laden crazy.

    These haters make it -the issue-, they make it their business because they don’t like it. And they will do anything, and everything to destroy it in their name of their beliefs.

    It’s obvious he is on a holy-crusade to rid the world of nice things, all in the name of insanity. We aren’t dealing with a back-and-forth debate anymore, only a very disturbed brooding person.

    I hope AUS Kotaku distance themselves from ‘Mr Jason Schreier’, because its ugly, it isn’t gaming, it’s not what gamers are about.

    • he called people lolicon pedophiles? can i get a link to that to see for myself?

      im glad that this article brought to light the creative decisions of Kamitani about differentiating their product from other fantasy products. I just wish that this had been the ‘first’ article that gamers who were interested could read instead of that ’14yo’ insult and the following ‘sexism justification bullshit’ rant.

      I had a look at the other Dragon’s Crown related articles and they were all professional.

  • Remind me why anyone gives a damn about this “issue”?

    It’s just so stupid. I can’t even remember now when games journalism was all about enthusiasm for the industry and not picking shit out of every tiny little irrelevant thing wrong with it.

    I don’t think I’ve actually heard a single thing about this stupid game aside from the goddamned sorceress.

  • I’ll say it for the third article now, Schreier is a tool, naught but a tool!

    Is he doing this to sate his hateboner, or because he’s aware that labelling personal griefs under the guises of popular social issues is the fastest way to the pageview benjamins?

    Making the artist apologise for “causing [Jason] trouble”? That’s disgusting. I am disgusted. What the fuck is wrong with this picture?

    • I have never taken a dislike to an author of a news site. Until now. I agree with you, this is wrong. Shame we can’t like, I dunno. Vote him off the site. I don’t care if any of his other articles are good, 3 articles for this one thing he has a personal problem with is a disgrace.

      I’m still bothered that he called it a controversy.

  • Good grief – now its all about Kamitani being a homophobe??
    I don’t see that image as being homosexual at all, its Kamitani’s way of saying ‘you don’t like this woman in skimpy clothes? Fine, here’s men in skimpy clothes – cause no one ever asks for that… where is the sexual context there?
    And lets remember that Kamitani is from a cultural area where the current fashion for men is too be as effeminate as possible, with guys carrying the best and fanciest purses and handbags! hell, their birthrate is even in the negatives in relation to their death rate because of their LACK of sexual segregation!
    So saying this image and his facebook response makes you and the “many” in that one post think hes homophobic just glaringly points out that these many may have insecurities about their own sexuality – stop being so sensitive about everything and take it for what it is… three guys in swimwear!
    I said it in response before – Where does this all stop? Where will it end!

  • C’mon Jason enough of this already. All these political correctness is getting out of hand lately. If an artist portray a style that is not suited for your taste just move along.
    The way Jason wrote this article is like he wanted to show that he ‘won’ by getting an apology from George. Just because of this I’m boycotting Jason’s article from today onwards. What a tool.
    Power to artistic freedom!

  • I see the US Kotaku continues to brew it’s storm in a teacup.

    The sad thing is we’re all falling for it. Each page view and disgruntled comment is more click revenue for Jason, encouraging him to do more of this absurd articles.

    • Actually, thankfully, all our Australian article pageviews mean NOTHING to the pocket of the American authors, so long as we view it here and not over there.

  • The onus is on the author to explain his puritan, white knighting, immature, position on visual representations of sexuality and gender.
    Time and again sexuality gets a little bit more accepted in culture and then people with childishly puritan attitudes always come along to shoot it down again, weather they stand for religious morality or some fake idea of “protecting” women or little kids or some such guff, it’s always the same thing.
    Time to grow up.

  • I have no idea why this became an ‘issue’ at all.
    First of all, women don’t need us to fight their fights – they are actually really good at making their own points, though they’d certainly appreciate our support. That doesn’t mean trying to eviscerate a games artist for a pat on the head.
    If anything, you need to harden up, as you come across as an overly sensitive wee petal, ready to be outraged at anything that could be a slight.

    Secondly, why single out the artist ? His employer obviously was comfortable with the image, and given they pay him and guide his creative focus.
    This is of course, glossing over the fact you felt it completely acceptable to impose your cultural values onto someone who holds different cultural values elsewhere in the globe.

    Finally, public humiliation is never a good strategy, and is certainly unprofessional. Being dragged through the industry press is never a pleasant experience, more so because he certainly will have lost face in the eyes of his peers and industry associates.
    You’ve accomplished nothing except generate a wave of hate against you, whereas he’s apologised and walked away from the fight.

    Your move.

  • Oh Jason…..well congratulations, you and your white knight, moral high-horse riding cronies managed to bully an apology out of this artist. Hope you’re feeling good about yourself right now, cause you’re definitely the lesser man in this situation.

  • It’s mostly been said, but I’d like to add my support for not bullying artists because of their aesthetics and design choices. Plus, I’d have found the humour in the Three Dwarf Bathing Suit Howl picture if it was in response to my complaint.

  • I know this might be a bit extreme, but I feel what Schreier is doing here is akin to someone going up to an Arab couple and saying, “I find the fact that your wife is wearing a Burqa/Niqab immature and offensive, you should be ashamed” or more close to home for Mr Schreier, ‘I think your country’s obsession with firearms is offensive and immature, you should be ashamed.’

    The thing is different cultures have different cultural values just as different cultures have different moral codes. To try to force your sense of morality onto a person from a different culture is highly condescending, and makes you seem like an egomaniacal jerk, regardless of whatever ‘noble’ reason you may be doing it. What’s worse is when in circumstances like this, it is in some form effective, it sets a rather dangerous precedent.

    Different cultures have different reactions to things, Japanese are much more liberal in sensuality/sexuality than westerners, as are many other eastern countries. It’s no different to the fact that some cultures shake hands when they greet people while other bow. No culture is inherently better than any other just as no culture has any definitive sense of moral superiority.

    In short, by trying to guilt trip a person from a different culture to you to adopt your sense of morality, Jason Schreier you are the only person coming out of this looking like an immature jackass.

  • Hey, hey Schreier. How’s your one-man controversy working out? You need to quit reporting on this, you humongous tool.

  • Congratulations, you got the bigger man to apologise. Kamitani’s a really good artist, and you honed in on this sorceress character because you’re (presumably) a hetereosexual male aloof to big tits. But man, ALL his characters are ridiculously proportioned, it isn’t exclusive to the woman he draws. As explained by himself, its his style. White-knight syndrome can also be an insidious form of underlying sexism, Schreier. Woman aren’t in constant need of ‘protection’, I showed this to my girlfriend and she (And I) think the sorceress’ proportions are more ridiculous than sexualised. Check out the gargantuan torso and arms of the knight guy in the pic in this article, his proportions are similarly ridiculous. Its an eye-catching style, his reasoning in his letter rings true. I hope a humble artist isn’t censored after being dragged through controversial press. Bravo George. I hope Schreier returns the apology.

  • Geez, Schreier. Would a “thanks to Mr Kamitani for responding to our requests” have killed you? You’ve clearly already made the guy feel like crap, and ensured he’s demonised for his art.

    Sure, nobody likes a sore loser, but they like sore winners even less. Hubris is never a good look.

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