In part 2 of the Final Fantasy IX 20th anniversary interview series, we heard from the character designer and artist Toshiyuki Itahana.
The characters in Final Fantasy IX were shorter in stature than those in previous Final Fantasy titles. Itahana explained that he actually wasn’t part of the team when that was decided:
Toshiyuki Itahana, Character Designer: “I wasn’t part of the development team when it was decided that FFIX’s characters would be shorter than before, so I don’t know the reason. However, I think the way the characters are almost overly expressive with big exaggerated body language looks great because of their shorter statures, and I feel that matches very well with the motifs of ‘theater’ and ‘stage’ that permeate FFIX.”
Final Fantasy IX had a memorable way to show off characters with CG screenshots with character lines. Itahana shared a bit on the CG art:
Toshiyuki Itahana: “The character poses in that art ended up primarily used for promotional and UI purposes. Art director Mr. Minaba and I made the art by giving the CG team pose ideas and then painting over the CG they got back to us.”
Before Final Fantasy IX first launched in July 2000, the game’s characters were featured in a CG commercial for Coca-Cola in Japan, which was a pretty big deal at the time. Coca-Cola also had a Japan-exclusive campaign to get character figures. Itahana talked about his work on the collaboration:
Toshiyuki Itahana: “The request for the Coca-Cola collaboration characters came when the design work for FFIX’s development was almost finished, so I had very little trouble designing them. If Tantalus were the official royal family band, I imagined that they would be a wandering troupe that comes to Alexandria once a year – that’s the image I used when designing for the collaboration.”
You can check out the original Coca-Cola ad below:
Check out the full interview with Toshiyuki Itahana at the official website.
Final Fantasy IX originally released for the PlayStation in Japan on July 7, 2000. Check here for part 1 of the Final Fantasy IX 20th anniversary interview series, featuring Kazuhiko Aoki. Part 3 will feature Hiroyuki Ito.