Hironobu Sakaguchi was the first director of Final Fantasy. Hajime Tabata is the latest director of Final Fantasy. When they get together, the results are surprisingly hilarious.
Left: Hironobu Sakaguchi. Right: Hajime Tabata. Photo via Famitsu Magazine
Today Famitsu Magazine published an English transcript of a recent interview they held with both Final Fantasy luminaries, and it's full of incredible moments. Sakaguchi's comments are blunt, hysterical and genuine. Reading through their conversation — Sakaguchi the grizzled veteran; Tabata the hardworking newcomer — is a lot of fun.
Here are a few gems from the interview. First, on the joke that Tabata will never forget:
Tabata: We didn't have any connection, besides almost bumping into each other at PAX Prime 2014. I'd heard that Sakaguchi-san was coming and was hoping to introduce myself, but my timing was off.
Sakaguchi: I only heard this after the event. I was there promoting Terra Battle, and press commitments prevented us from meeting.
Tabata: I was musing on the missed opportunity when I heard about Sakaguchi-san congratulating us on our 10th anniversary (a joke about the lengthy development period of FFXV)! (laughs)
Sakaguchi: Sorry about that. I was tired from the interview and went a bit far.
(Incidentally, Sakaguchi made that comment in an interview with me!)
On unanswered questions:
Tabata: Over the meal Kitase-san and Sakaguchi-san told me about how they used to work together. Sakaguchi-san also told me to ask him anything, so I asked him how much he was earning! (laughs)
Sakaguchi: That's one I didn't answer! (laughs)
On the little things:
Tabata: When we first ate together, Sakaguchi-san told me there was one thing he was concerned about. I was immediately anxious about his upcoming comment.
Sakaguchi: In the first in-game demo, a Behemoth's hind leg was sticking through a fence. I told him "You can't have that." (laughs)
Tabata: Suspension of disbelief.
Sakaguchi: I love getting nitpicky over little details like that. I was all over that hind leg! (laughs)
Famitsu: I myself remember Sakaguchi-san mentioning that back then. (laughs)
Tabata: It must have really bothered you. (laughs)
Sakaguchi: The heinous case of the Behemoth leg!
Tabata: I definitely will whenever there's ever something I'd appreciate his opinion on. Every discussion is a masterclass in game creation. For example, I don't really know about the planning and efforts that went into creating FFVII, as I was in another company back then. It amazes me each time how different and how deep the process was back then compared to what we're trying to do.
It really reminds me of all the effort so far to establish the Final Fantasy brand, and how passive we've been in just building on the IP's existing success. That's why it helps to discuss things with Sakaguchi-san every now and then. To keep our eyes open. The proverbial wake-up call. (laughs)
Sakaguchi: Feeding me alcohol ensures my comments will at least be blunt. (laughs)
And finally, some heartfelt words of wisdom:
Famitsu: There might be a Sakaguchi vs. Tabata version of that debate before this is all over, then. (laughs) With the final stretch around the corner, any words of encouragement for Tabata-san?
Sakaguchi: With the release date set, you're starting the final struggle uphill and it's the toughest stretch of them all. When you look back, though, going gold is a very fulfilling moment. Both FFIII and FFIV were finished around the break of dawn, and I couldn't help striking victory poses on my way home alone. (laughs) I still remember those moments as the most enjoyable and fulfilling moments of my life. I'm sure this will be a shining milestone in Tabata-san's own life, so do what you do, and enjoy every moment of it. This is your Final Fantasy, and the start of a new era.
Tabata: My team will take those words to heart, and hope to bask together in the morning sun as we go gold. We'll be sure to enjoy the process, and won't let up until we're done!
Final Fantasy XV comes out on September 30, which is getting closer and closer. Go read the whole Famitsu interview here.