Why Does Japan Love Dragon Quest?

By Ishaan . July 9, 2010 . 4:22pm


In yet another fascinating Iwata Asks feature (this time in video form), the Nintendo president discusses the appeal of Dragon Quest IX with series creator, Yuji Horii, and Square Enix producer, Ryutaro Ichimura. Among the first topics brought to the table was the popularity of the series in Japan and the question of why Dragon Quest games enjoy the recognition they do.


“I get the feeling individuals enjoy using it as a communication tool,” Horii theorized, in response to the question.


“Same here,” Ichimura agreed. “I think they enjoy using it as something to talk about. It may be the same as some TV programs as well. A good topic that everyone has in common.”


Ichimura continued, recalling his own childhood experiences with the series: “You go to school, and you’re asked, ‘How many level-ups did you make yesterday?’ or ‘How far did you get?’ The Dragon Quest topic came up time and time again. And when a new Dragon Quest was introduced, we’d all get excited, and we’d all get a bit lively, and it would be like, ‘We get to talk about it again!’ That’s what it seems like, looking back.”


“After all, human beings love other human beings,” Horii offered. “They want to use videogames as a means to interact, and Dragon Quest gives us lots of material to facilitate that, so I think that may be why it’s popular. Whether it’s the Tag Mode or the multiplayer mode or whatever the topic is.”


“This time, we’ve made it more direct by putting in the communication feature,” Ichimura explained. “It isn’t just a conversation topic now; it’s a direct connection. We’ve prepared several chances for them and that’s a means of communication we’ve taken one step further.”


By “means of communication,” Ichimura is referring to the game’s ingenious Tag Mode feature. You can read further about the appeal of Dragon Quest IX’s Tag Mode and the fascinating social phenomenon it has sparked in Japan here.

  • http://www.siliconera.com/2010/07/09/why-does-j…the above link you set up leads to this URL. Edit: Alright, whether you fixed or something was wrong with my browser, the link works now.(just doing this for people who read the whole article + comments before clicking on the link)

    • Huh…that’s odd. The code looks fine to me. I’ll look into it. Thanks!

  • Well, one of the main reasons is the person who makes the drawing >8D, i just love dragon ball’s style.

    Anyway i hope for their next release they make something like blue dragon awakened shadow, tag mode online, where i live, i only know 1 person that likes dragon quest and i can play with, and its really a problem to get together just to play *sigh*, it may be easy in Japan, but here is pretty sad T_T

  • Happy Gamer

    i really think the art had impact also. Alot of people bash Toriyama (more specifically Dragon Ball) these days and those are usually people who read them as a child and loved it. I personally was in love with Dragon Ball (pre saiyan line more exactly altho loved till the end) as a child but was more fond of Toriyama’s other work. Such as Dr. Slump.
    You can see alot of Dragon quest’s influence in his earlier work than DBZ.
    coming back to which, he is a very creative fellow and made the world of Dragon Quest as charming as it can be I think personally.

    I am really looking forward to the new title and also dragon quest 6! it’s my personal favorite (and one i did not get to play because it cost like 90 bucks or something or more back in the day it came out T_T)

    • Aoshi00

      I agree, I think Toriyama’s recognizable art style is a big factor too, imagine DQ X designed by Nomura, I doubt many people would still think of it as DQ. A generation literally grew up w/ Toriyama’s Dr.’s Slump and Dragonball, myself included, so signature drawing feels nostalgic and familiar, so old fans don’t feel alienated by the newer entries (like FF which is going into all sorts of direction art-wise or gameplay-wise). I hope we’re still going to get a next Chrono w/ his design (and Horii’s writing!).. but before that we need a dang Blue Dragon 2…Wow, Horii is old now… it’s scary to see the people I look up to are now almost old men and I’m not young myself anymore. I was watching on youtube last night some old seiyuu videos when Mitsuishi Kotono (Sailormoon) was in her 20’s, now she’s 42.. and Vegeta’s seiyuu is over 50 now..

      • That didn’t stop them from giving him a badass dubbed voice. Seriously, that dude, whoever it is, is smoooooth. Why isn’t he doing voice-over work? And if he is, where?!Kind of reminds me Kevin Conroy in the way that he just makes it sound so effortless.

        Edit: Talking about Horii-san, btw.

        • I like all of Nintendo’s dub work for their Iwata Asks segments. They may sound weird since some of them are 20-30 year olds voicing over 50 year olds, but they all sound effortless. Too bad Nintendo is always going to be just a gaming company.

          • I didn’t like the voice they used for Iwata in their E3 IA dubs, but the rest were great, yea. Iwata’s was kind of…a little too young to be playing him, and he didn’t really have much of a presence compared to the others.The guy in this one (or maybe it’s the same person?) sounds much better though.

          • Actually, yea, Iwata’s dub in the E3 was the one I was referring to. I think he was decent though. The rest were definitely better than him.

            The one in this one is definitely different.

        • Aoshi00

          yea, he sounds like a cool rocker (especially when he says “yes, yes”, almost too cool for Horii to the point of distraction lol) and should be voicing games :) Kevin Conroy’s awesome in Arkham Asylum but Mark Hamill was better, I’m amazed these people still manage to sound so young despite their age, it’s been so long since the animated series. Sometimes they have these voices not really match though, like a chick voicing Iga of Castlevania in an interview or Kitase during the FFXIII presentation.

          • They did their respective voices all the way into Justice League: Unlimited, which ended sometime in the middle of the 2000s. So, I’m not surprised they sound the same. I think voices don’t change much with age when a person was in their 40s when they originally start doing voice-work. It’s much easier for an adult to reprise a role than teenagers can.(i.e. Haley Joel Osment, aged 3 years while his character aged 1)

          • Aoshi00

            Kid actors’ voices definitely changed after they grew up. Some seiyuu’s voices do change as they aged and can’t voice their old roles anymore. Like almost all the major characters’ voices in Dragonball Kai are reprised by the same seiyuu 20 years later, but Vegeta’s voice (Horikawa Ryo, Prince Tolten in Lost Odyssey and now Dunban in Xenoblade) is noticeably lower and he clearly has trouble yelling or when he needs to raise his voice high. Vegeta used to sound extremely cool, now it’s painful to hear him unfortunately (like I go back to the old orange sets, “wow, he sounded so cool before..”, it’s not that he doesn’t remember his performance, but he has lost that youthful voice). Or Katsuki Masako, who used to voice all the young female roles back in the days, now her voice has definitely matured and she mostly voices older chars like Tsunade in Naruto. The one who has lost his youthful voice the most is Sasaki Nozomu (Tetsuo in Akira, Yusuke in Yu Yu Hakusho, Hasukawa in Here is Greenwood), he used to have a very high and cute boyish voice, but his voice is extremely low now and he can’t even do Yusuke anymore, I heard his throat had some problem (?). But yea, most seiyuu can sound relatively the same, like Nozawa Masako (Goku/Gohan) in Kai, or Ogata Megumi (Shinji) in the new Eva movies. But for some you can still hear they have aged and don’t sound as youthful anymore, like Furuya Tohru who voiced Yamcha in DB, Tuxedo Mask in Sailormoon, Kyosuke in Kimagure Orange Road, Seiya in Saint Seiya, or Amuro in Gundam. That’s the reason the dang author Kuramada Masami wanted to switch the whole Saint seiya Jpn cast anyway, and all the fans hate him for that.. and now Suzuoki Hirotaka (Shiryu in Saint Seiya, Saitou in Kenshin, and Kuno in Ranma 1/2) alrdy passed away, so the dream of having original five voices for the bronze saint is alrdy lost :(…BTW, is Haley Joel Osment being brought back to voice Sora still? I know the Jpn Sora would still have the same voice because Irino Miyu has gone pro since Spirited Away (I think Haku was his first role), he still sounds very young if he wants to, I don’t know what happened to Osment though, like if he did a Lindsay Lohan :)..

          • It really is too bad we’ll probably never get anything like Batman: The Animated series again. Arkham Asylum is the closest thing in years, but it’s still not the same because the art style is very different.

            I tried watching “The Batman” about a month ago, and I couldn’t stand it. They’ve gone all cutting edge with the art, which isn’t really what I wanted. Bruce / Batman both sound a little too young, too, and I felt some character designs like the Joker’s were just plain bad. It’s for the younger kids I guess. I just wish they’d bring the old animated series back and fill in the gaps between that and Batman Beyond.

            Mark Hamill was fantastic in AA, yea. It’s too bad we probably won’t hear him as Joker again after Arkham Asylum 2. At least he’s had a great run all these years. :)

          • Apparently he’s Mister V so yea, he’s still going to to voicework for Kingdom Hearts. He did get arrested once for drunk driving but that’s the only time he got in trouble with the law.

            I guess once you do get to a certain age, the voice does end up getting worn out and may even to start sounding raspy. Hot-blooded voices just can’t be done anymore at that point.

          • Aoshi00

            That’s why I look at Mark Hamill now I think he’s cool his Joker could still sound so young, considering he’s almost 60. I think if the original VAs are up to the job and are still actively voice acting, they shouldn’t find new people replacing the voice of some classic chars, like Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star, to many people, w/o Kamiya Akira (Saeba Ryo in City Hunter, Mitaka in Maison Ikkoku), Kenshinro just isn’t Kenshiro anymore.. I’m just not feeling it in the new Hokuto Musou game even though Konishi Katsuyuki is a great actor.. I just found some old seiyuu footages on youtube, the veterans are indeed amazing… the guy who sang the Hokuto no Ken OP was 35 at the time and is now 60 (looks like Mickey Rourke or something..)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itxDGruwfaM&feat…And some Dragon ball one, and a GeGeGe no Kitaro vintage video, amazing..Goku’s VA is over 70 now and looking strong, really cool they’re redubbing Kai now.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQdbdqCGpiY&playhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWl7WbiaE_Y&NR=1I was a pretty big seiyuu fan, at least back in the days when I still watched anime.. It’s really a pity Sasaki Nozomu’s voice is so different nowadays (he’s Mello in Death Note), his voice was very cute and boyish back then..

      • lostinblue

        Vegeta’s seyuu is certainly not over 50 now… he’s over 9000! :D (couldn’t resist)

      • Speaking of old Horii-san– Koichi Sugiyama! This man is almost 80 now. He’s completely happy with making Dragon Quest music for the rest of his life and wants to. Respect for him is a must. Dedication! =]

        • Aoshi00

          yea, I was about to mention Sugiyama and he was old the begin w/ :) I definitely respect him as a musician/conductor, but I just checked wiki and discovered his political stance, being a right-wing revisionist, so unfortunately I can’t say I like the man now :(…

          • Yeah, his views are quite silly, but I try not to associate that in my gaming (you know, the one place I try to get away from all this BS out there :P )

          • Aoshi00

            I still respect his professional achievement and enjoy his work, just like I still like Tom Cruise’s movies, but knowing Sugiyama’s views on those issues (that he denies the atrocities Jpn brought upon in WWII) or Tom Cruise being a Scientology cult member, I just can’t help but see them in a different light..

    • Joanna

      Also agree, and I think even if Toriyama didn’t have the DragonBall popularity, his artwork alone has lots of charm that adds a lot to DQ. I love his monster designs. :3

      • Happy Gamer

        i really should have picked up the Slim DSi cover it’s really expensive now T_T it was really cheap when it first came out. Gotta love his monster designs

  • gatotsu911

    “human beings love other human beings”
    That’s so sweet, Horii!!

    Seriously though, I’d be hard-pressed to name a game series more humanistic in its outlook than Dragon Quest, and I guess this is why.

  • maxchain

    I’m not Japan, but I want to love Dragon Quest too! Let’s have VI, already!

  • CIN

    Am i the only person who thinks it’s sad?

    • what’s sad?

      • Hraesvelgr

        That Japan loves Dragon Quest, maybe? That’s all I can really think of, I can’t think of anything else CIN would potentially find “sad” in this article.

        • Sad that the topic of discussion of japanese people is Dragon Quest maybe…

          • He’s reminiscing about his childhood. I’m sure you talked about your favorite shows, games, toys, etc., etc. as a kid. It’s not always the center-piece of a conversation, but it’s so popular that it can become a casual conversation between normal people. I think that’s what they’re saying.

          • Joanna

            I agree and also a great way to get to start a conversation with someone when you are younger. It can be really hard to go up to someone and just say hi and ask to be friends. But with a mutual topic like DQ, you don’t have to explicitly say anything about being friends, the topic itself bonds you with the other person and you become friends without having to explicitly ask. I still recall how hard it was to be the new kid. Something like DQ would be a life-saver. I also recall me and my best friend used to talk about games as well (among other topics).

  • Extra_Life

    I know I love DQ games purely because (IMO) they’re all great fun, and have an atmosphere about them that remains with you long after the credits roll.

  • Exand

    DQ = nostalgia for me as I played the original DQ and every subsequent release. There’s something comforting and timeless about the series without it getting stale, something I find FF has a problem with (some ups and downs in the series).

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