Ranko Tsukigime Interview: “Wow. The Creators Of This Game Must Be Crazy.”

By Robert Ward . April 29, 2014 . 1:01pm


At Bandai Namco’s Global Gamer’s Day event, Siliconera got to speak with Bandai Namco producer Naoto Tani and Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day producer Yohei Kataoka. Kataoka, as you might recall, directed Tokyo Jungle.


During our conversation with the two, we touched upon how Ranko Tsukigime connects to the rest of Short Peace project that it is part of. While Ranko is a game, the other four pieces of the project are short animated films. The key, however, is that all five pieces share a single central theme.


For those of us who are unfamiliar with the ambitious Short Peace project, could you give us a rundown of the basics?


Naoto Tani, Assistant Manager: The Short Peace project is actually a hybrid product—the four different short films and one game. In regards to the short films, we asked four different directors to work on the short films, including Katsuhiro Otomo, who worked on Akira (1988), and also another film has been done by Shuhei Morita, and was nominated for an academy award last year.


The theme of each of these is Japan, and each film can be tied to a fixed point in its chronological history. But after we finished all of the films, we realized that we’re missing modern Japan! We decided to describe it not by using a film, but a game. In order to accomplish that, we asked Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacturer for the idea, and for the production we’ve asked Yohei Kataoka from Crispy’s (Tokyo Jungle).


Each of the films takes place in old Japanese history. One of them takes place in the Edo era, and another one in the Muromachi era. For the game, we wanted Suda and Kataoka to come up with something that could compete with these high-quality films, but something that will, at the same time, express contemporary Japanese history and culture.


Our recommendation to the player is to first watch the [four] movies and then play the game, because that will allow them to get a bigger picture of the Short Peace project.


It seems like the team was able to make four unique, diverse products within the range of just one medium, so what drove the decision to make the fifth installment of Short Peace a video game, and not an animated feature like all the rest?


Tani: Well, Bandai Namco Games is a video game publisher, and we want to create video games, not just films—that’s how this project started. When it comes to entertainment, there’s no real boundary between films and games. In the end, it’s essentially the same.


As you know, Banda Namco Games is using a lot of new character IP, and we’re talented at bringing those characters to different formats like games, films, what have you—and the Short Peace project is no exception. We wanted to experiment with other channels, so, that’s why we decided to go with a video game. It just seemed natural.


I noticed that the game, in relation to the films, had in incredibly unique animation style. The way characters moved in cutscenes was smooth but right in uncanny valley, and during gameplay, there’s just an incredible amount of visual noise when you dispatch enemies. How was this art style born?


Tani: At the very beginning, there were ten candidates for the film, but at the same time, Bandai Namco wants to feature something… Japan-like in each of these works. Again, at the beginning, each of these different films are unique, but we wanted to tie it down with one theme—and we made that theme Japan.


We want to respect what the writers, directors, and authors are trying to do in each of these films, and that’s how we start looking at how we should present this particular project visually.


What drove the decision to bring it to the West?


Tani: As you may know, the creators joining this project are well known even in Western countries. From the very beginning, it has been our intention to bring it to the west.


You mention Japan as being the main “theme” tying together each piece, but, Is there a message—greater or deeper, or even more specific—that you’re trying to convey?


Tani: Well… hmm. Basically, it’s pretty simple. We want the general audience to enjoy Japanese anime, but these days we’re missing a lot of games and anime that are created from scratch. And that’s where Kataoka-san can tell you about the game.


Yohei Kataoka, Producer: The Short Peace project is also about the collaboration among the top creators in Japan. Again, in regards to the original plan for Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day, it’s actually created by Suda 51.


The work that 51 did for Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day, though, is really just the original plan; for the actual production, Suda 51 wanted to work with someone who could create something crazy. As it turns out, he had a chance to pick up Tokyo Jungle for PS3 and was incredibly impressed, and he thought to himself, “Wow. The creators of this game must be crazy.”


So he brought the original planning documents to me and asked if I could work on the action parts of the game using this scenario, but… unfortunately, the original planning documents were really strange and incredibly difficult to understand. As you may know, from the past work that Suda 51 has done… well, it doesn’t really make much sense, in terms of storylines and scenarios. I read it over and over again but still didn’t get it, so I decided to implement the storylines and games in my own way—and the result is the build that you played today.


Now that you mention it, is there anything you can point to that you think people might see as strange in this iteration of Short Peace?


Kataoka: People may think that the game is crazy—and that may come through with the art, but it’s not what I’ve been trying to do with the game. Short Peace is one collective work, and we want the game to mirror the films in terms of volume and content. The original Short Peace films are actually short films, so when it comes to the game, I wanted to make it something people can complete in just two or three hours.


I can’t help but stray off topic for just a moment. All this talk about coming up with the idea for Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day has got me wondering just how you came up with the idea for Tokyo Jungle. Do you see any similarities in the projects in terms of how you’ve approached them conceptually?


Kataoka: Everybody can create something unique, but it’s really hard to create something that’s both unique and catchy. When it comes to Tokyo Jungle, there are two main elements: animals and the disappearance of humans. Everybody’s familiar with animals—there are so many out there and people are familiar with all their shapes and sizes. It’s an element that might be catchy to the audience.


Another element is this trope that movies like 28 Days Later use where humans have kind of disappeared. So we thought that, you know, combining these two catchy elements creates a pretty cool plot for a game! I brought that to Sony Computer Entertainment and they somehow accepted my offer.

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  • almostautumn

    Can anyone say when this is releasing in NA? I thought it was supposed to be the 18th of April and was crazy excited, but then it never happened?

    • Theatrical airings for the Short Peace omnibus have begun, but I do not believe there was any announcement regarding the game being ported (and if there have been, ignore them because you should not be excited for this game or it’s story). The core shorts that make up the real Short Peace omnibus are absolutely top-tier recommended viewing though.


      Edit to add that the game has been confirmed as a port project and is projected for release digitally on PSN during Spring 2014 so who knows, we might see it soon. Still, the only reason I’d recommend it would be for the accompanying shorts and not the game itself.

      • almostautumn

        Ah damn— missed the one airing in my state, although it would have been an hour and a half drive anyway :P

        And I’m not going to bum on the game. Every game Suda51 is involved with gets mixed reception, but I’ve loved every single of his games. ‘Cult’ stuff, like David Lynch films— either dig it or you don’t. But I definitely do, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to love Ranko regardless.

      • God

        Really? Then it must have leaked, beacuse i played the game in english a few weeks ago.

        • almostautumn

          “Leaked?” How do digital console games leak? And I guess you played it on a PC then?

          EDIT: Unless you’re Europe— which I think it maybe released there by now? I know I saw the trophies added to PSNProfiles, but I wasn’t sure if that was EU or if it was just an early update.

  • The game itself is actually incredibly lack-luster and the accompanying story is so insane and disjointed that it’s just annoying. It’s not crazy, it’s just stupid. Personally if I was involved in any of the other Short Peace projects I would have been insulted to have Ranko Tsukigime included in the project list.

    That said, my purchase of the disk was saved by the fact that the other Short Peace films are each so spectacular and excellent beyond my wildest expectation that I didn’t mind the abject failure of the Ranko Tsukigime project as much as I might have.

    Among the shorts, Farewell to Arms (さよなら武器よ) has remained a weekly watch for me since I bought this disc. For any fans of classic science fiction, imagine a story that feels as though it was written by Phillip K. Dick, told and animated by the team behind Akira. That short alone reaches a pinnacle of story-telling that is hard to imagine.

    It really is too bad about the game. If they hadn’t even bothered to attach any story to the game it would have felt like a better experience.

    • disgaea36

      Now tell us how you really feel lol damn that bad Might still give it a chance or grab it on a sale when it comes out on the psn.

    • Sentsuizan_93

      A Farewell to Arms was arguably my favorite among the 4 Short Peace films. Closely followed by Gambo. The films were all good in their own way, but I feel that those two really stood out for me.
      As for the game, there’s no argument that it’s story felt random, especially towards the endgame (without giving too much away). Its gameplay is fun, but really short lived. Overall, fun gameplay, disjointed story for Ranko.

    • God

      It is a game based on modern japan planned by Suda51, and you honestly can said you were surprised by the insanity? I mean, the only thing i could make sense of was Ranko’s father, but even then the story made no sense.

    • Loli Summoner

      Sooo gimme a straight answer. Is the game worth getting? yes or heck to the NO! this freaking sucks, I rather play HDN 1 the original or mugen soul 1 or worse..a sports game O_O

      • You know, honestly, if you actually took away the story components from the game, sold it on it’s own for 5, 10$, it wouldn’t really be that bad. At base, it’s a fast and simple arcade running platform game. It’s not amazing, but it’s not a complete loss.

        In a way, I don’t understand why Suda 51 felt the need to go so overboard. Even for Suda 51, the game’s story components are just simply outlandish and disconnected from everything, even the story. Each clip feels almost completely unrelated the previous and next. The entire thing reeks of something who read JoJos and thought “well that was just a tame and boring story. I mean, hell, I could actually tell who the characters were half the time!”

        And while you could make the argument “just skip the story clips then,” that goes back to the original purpose of this project, which was to provide a 5th component to the Short Peace compendium. In that regard, Ranko Tsukigime is the largest and most complete failure possible for the project. In a compilation featuring some of the best story telling of the decade, the final capper is this irrelevant and complete non-understandable filth.

        But hey, if you skip the story then it’s an alright hour or two of game play.

        • Loli Summoner

          Hour or two gameplay!? SKIPPED! I’ll just watch it on youtube or something.

  • z_merquise

    As you may know, from the past work that Suda 51 has done… well, it doesn’t really make much sense, in terms of storylines and scenarios. I read it over and over again but still didn’t get it,

    Reminds me more of Killer7.

  • SirRichard

    The idea that the game made even less sense in its original documents is a little frightening, but then again it is Suda51. Got the English release in the post today, can’t wait to see if I can actually make heads or tails of it.

  • jengo

    Was the EU PSN release a bundle of the movies and game?

  • chroma816

    I’m interested, but I’m more interested in wondering whether or not the Short Peace movies are also coming to the West.

  • Göran Isacson

    Ha ha, man, way to dodge that question about why the artstyle is so deliberately uncanny valley. Or maybe he didn’t understand what was said?

    At any rate, knowing that “Longest Day” is supposed to symbolize modern Japan makes me prepared for a very cynical storyline. A girl in elaborate goth loli outfit being an assassin and partying almost certainly feels like it’s going to be some kind of condemnation of style over substance lifestyles…

    Or it’s just going to be off the walls bonkers taffyfaff and make no sense. It’s Suda, no surprises that it’s hardly comprehensible there. I just hope it’s as fun to play as Liberation Maiden.

    • To be honest, imaginging Suda having any kind of message/commentary on anything, especially about lifestyles or cultures, just makes me side-eye so much. Maybe a few years back I’d nod my head and say I’d try it, but now? Uh-uh. vnv

  • Kornelious

    Wait, this game is out already? WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME!?…….Oh it’s only in Europe………..So what’s stopping them from releasing it in the west!? >:(

    • Loli Summoner

      Tell me about it >.>

      • Kornelious

        I’m wondering if I should import this from Europe? we’re only getting a Digital version and loves me a phsical game :)


    I only hope we can get a physical release of this. We got one of Jojo, maybe there’s hope?

  • Kyle15

    Ya’ll talking about how insanely disjointed & ridiculous the story is only wants me to play it more. There’s never enough of that out there & I’m always wanting more. DAY ONE

  • BizarreJelly

    How this game is being sold at full price is beyond me. It’s short, dull and the nonsense story isn’t even entertaining in a crazy way like most Suda games. I’ve never regretted a purchase quite like this one before. Not even worth it for the animated shorts which – while stunning, don’t make up for the price or the game.

    Unless you have money to throw away, I’d wait for a price drop. But ultimately, I wouldn’t recommend it at all.

  • It does look amazing, but I know it will flop sales wise so I’ll pick it up then

  • sakiu

    I have thrown some money at this and got my copy last week (Europe) and to be honest? I don’t know why this is being sold for full retail price of ps3 game :S, you don’t usually spend 50€ on short movies, granted those are great but still.

    Anyway if anyone wants to grab the package just for the game, than I advise that you do not buy it, better wait for digital release as I think Namco said there will be one.

    If you want this for the movies (as I did) than by all means its great experience, although a little expensive (even Animatrix wasn’t that expensive).

    PS: oh and I do think that the game is OK but I didn’t really like how each video clip was presented differently, it affected my experience with the game in a more negative way than positive.

  • Leonard Norwood Jr.

    Looking at the comments, if this game length really is that short, then I’m disappointed. After all I’ve heard about the Short Peace film, and this game being included, you’d think they make sure the experience last a bit longer than that on gameplay. Well I don’t want to put myself too much out of the experience they at least were trying to get us to experience, but I’ll hold my breath until I have the means to play it. Meanwhile, I’ll should take the chance to run through the films before coming on to this game. At least that’s how I should do it.

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