If you’ve ever seen elves or dark elves in Japanese video games, anime, or manga, there’s a good chance their designs drew inspiration from art by Yutaka Izubuchi who did illustration work on Record of Lodoss War.
Yutaka Izubuchi recently got together with Shigenori Soejima, best known as Atlus’ character designer and art director of the Persona series, to talk about fantasy art in an interview with DenFamiNicoGamer.
The above video shows bits of the interview between the two artists.
Izubuchi is mostly known for his mecha design work in series such as Mobile Suit Gundam and Patlabor, but he’s also had a share of influential fantasy artwork in Record of Lodoss War. Shigenori Soejima has been busy tackling character designs for upcoming traditional fantasy RPG Project Re Fantasy, which was first introduced with an illustration of a red-haired elf [pictured above], and the two artists got together for a recent chat to talk about elves.
Shigenori Soejima, Persona series character designer: This might be completely irrelevant, but I’m deeply moved to be able to meet you here today, Izubuchi-san.
Yutaka Izubuchi, Record of Lodoss War illustrator: I don’t know what you’re talking about, please stop [laughs].
Soejima: It’s true. When I’m asked which Mobile Suit is my favorite, I always immediately answer Kämpfer (From Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, designed by Yutaka Izubuchi). I have a model of Kämpfer that isn’t made yet, and I actually brought it here today in hopes of getting an autograph from you. [laughs]
When talking about my generation, when you think of elves Deedlit comes to mind, when you think of a dwarves you think Ghim, that’s kind of how it is.
Izubuchi: I’m often told that. They tell me “It’s your fault that elves have long ears!” [laughs].
Deedlit from Record of the Lodoss War with her iconic long ears.
Soejima: You’re probably asked this all the time, but what’s the true story behind that?
Izubuchi: The first time someone told me that, I was like “Huh, really?” In my mind, elves have long ears like that—that’s just the way it’s inputted in me for some reason. What made me take notice of this later is Kira, the heroine from The Dark Crystal. Her ears are pretty long like that.
Kira from The Dark Crystal
Soejima: Right, she’s like an Elf with long ears like Captain Spock.
Izubuchi: Kira is from a race called the Gelfling. Gelfling basically comes from putting a “G” before “elf, so I believe the film staff pictured her as an elf.
So it’s not like I made Deedlit and thought to myself “I just created a new image of an elf!” or anything like that, I just drew her based on what I thought an elf would normally look like.
Although it might’ve been character designer Nobuteru Yuuki who stretched out the ears longer…
[Nobuteru Yuuki, worked as character designer and animation director on the Record of Lodoss War’s anime, known for character designs for various works such as The Vision of Escaflowne, Space Battleship Yamato 2199, and more.]
Izubuchi: Also, in the second half of Lodoss, we start getting into dark elves, right? There was a female character named Pirotess, who didn’t start out in Mizuno-kun’s [Author Ryo Mizuno] novel. She first appeared in the anime.
When the anime was getting more into its original story at the time, I had a feeling that Yuuki-kun was getting lonely with just a few female characters.
Besides, the characters I draw don’t have large breasts and they’re not curvy, there aren’t many so-called “nice body” types.
However, since Yuuki-kun is good with those, I thought it could liven things up for him by having such a character appear in the anime. From there I drew a rough draft of Pirotess then presented it to the director and scriptwriter, and they said “Let’s put her in.”
Deedlit (left) and Pirotess (right)
Izubuchi: Blue skin would bring out more of a night elf feeling, and it makes them less like dark elves and too similar to a demon, so I decided to go with brown skin and white-ish hair.
Then after that, all the dark elves that appeared in other works started coming out the same way [laughs].
Soejima: You really don’t get the option to even go with blue skin for dark elves these days.
Izubuchi: We occasionally see them [blue-skinned dark elves] but they mostly have brown skin. And I’m sorry, that might also be my fault too [laughs].