Da-kuro is a member of the art design team for Phantom of the Kill and other upcoming gumi gear 2nd / Fuji & gumi Games titles. He is primarily in charge of character design, image boards, art direction, and overseeing the illustration team. Da-kuro drew illustrations for mobile games long before joining gumi, and has also contributed to artwork for some of gumi’s earlier titles, including Dragon Genesis and Monster Maidens. Among his favorite artists, he garners much of his inspiration from Nishimura Kinu and Shirow Miwa.
gumi Inc. brings Phantom of the Kill to iOS and Android devices this spring, and is best described as a turn-based strategy role playing game that revolves around a group of assassins who are on a quest to recover their lost memories in a dangerous fantasy world. Phantom of the Kill has already achieved success with fans in Japan, and is currently undergoing a unique localization process by introducing brand-new content specifically for the Western market, while still remaining true to its original canon.
gumi’s developers teamed up with Siliconera to offer a peek into the design process of making a strategy RPG for mobile and tablet devices.
Hello everyone! My name is Da-kuro and I am one of the artists at gumi gear 2nd / Fuji & gumi Games.
As a strategy RPG, Phantom of the Kill is a game that puts a lot of focus on the many characters that players can collect and evolve. We call them “Killer Princesses” and “Killer Princes”, and part of the charm of playing Phantom of the Kill is getting to know these warriors and discover their place in the world they inhabit. Our main theme for designing our heroes was the seamless blending of these characters with the game world. On one hand, we’ve placed an emphasis on ensuring that they’re universally appealing, but on the other hand, we’ve sought to make designs that feel unique and interesting.
One interesting fact about Phantom of the Kill is that all of our characters are based on real world legendary weapons. We believe that we’ve done the necessary research on the history of these weapons and those who wielded them. Most of our research is influenced by information from online wiki pages and websites with a database of information on weapons both mythical and real. We also referenced books that have “personified” weapons in order to create our own differentiated versions.
This research helps us create the personality and appearance of our characters, and has also greatly influenced the details we embedded into their clothing designs and patterns.
For example, a character such as Masamune acts as a literal manifestation of the legendary Japanese sword, and characteristics of that weapon’s history show up in the character art, design, and personality of the character.
“Conviction, faithfulness, beauty, and strength―these are the words I endeavored to express as I drew Masamune. This character is a motif of a Japanese sword, which I believe encompasses these traits as well.
It’s not that I went for a flashy design―quite the opposite, really. I went for a very plain style and a simple palette. By adding yellow to the underside of her outfit, I was hoping to give off a sense of newness to her general look.
Did you notice the Sanskrit tattoo on her waist? I thought it would add a sense of harmony to her overall, while representing a part of her that symbolizes her connection to her ancestry.”
When creating the male characters, we wanted them to have a cool or strong aura about them. This is similar to the style of the female Laevateinn, who is one of the more popular characters in the Japanese version of the game. So in making the male Laevateinn, the transition was not so difficult to imagine, as his female counterpart already maintained those characteristics we wanted to apply to him. However, when taking the cuter female characters and thinking about how to portray their male counterparts, we take components such as the legendary weapons themselves and base our inspirations there. We don’t necessarily want to make male versions of the same weapon and have them be direct counterparts, as we want to make them as unique as the female versions.
When we first started development of Phantom of the Kill, I had the intention of making Laevateinn noticeably different from the other Killer Princesses. Also, considering that her design is a motif of the earth-scorching weapon “Laevateinn”, I wanted to keep people from assuming that she’s a friend, or possibly an enemy, right from first glance. It’s this mysterious quality that I sought to encapsulate as I drew her.
In every rendition of Laevateinn, I try to leave an aura of sexiness, strength, and coolness, varying the degree of each of these parameters. In this example image of her – to make her look cool and strong – I drew her with a military jacket holding two swords.
I drew up Zero in response to our producer’s request for a male version of Laevateinn. If you take a look at Tyrfing from the Japanese version, you’ll notice that we drew her in a way that exhibits ‘protagonist’ qualities. In addition, we heavily referenced the Dragoon class of the female Laevateinn when drawing Zero, both because I was really into the original design for Laevateinn, and also because I thought it’d be really cool to see that kind of look on a guy.
When you compare the two Laevateinn characters, they share a few distinct qualities like the threading on their jackets, and the color of their shoes. When I heard about the game’s warring landscape, I strove to depict Zero as a rogue, perhaps not likeable character, instead of some sanctimonious law-abider.
To set the record straight, I’m as much a fan of Zero’s design as I am with the original female Laevateinn’s.
As another example, when we were making the female Mjolnir, based on a legendary weapon capable of killing giants, we emphasized the contrast between her cuteness and immense wild power. A part of her wild side is revealed in her facial expressions as she attacks.
Take a look at the two unit variations of the Mjolnir units, based on Viking mythology. While both of these personifications are hammer-wielding power characters, the female version was created with a cute and colorful design in mind. In contrast, we focused on distinctly different elements of the magic hammer for the male version of Mjolnir. Since the legendary weapon Mjolnir is wielded by the thunder god Thor, we created a lightning bolt pattern for his hair and played around with his weapon design as well, giving his hammer an appearance of heavy electrical machinery. While the two heroes might be similar in name and weapon, their designs are fundamentally disparate.
As Phantom of the Kill makes its debut across the globe, we look forward to hearing which version of each weapon players prefer, and we hope they notice the small details we’ve sewn into the fabric of each of our weapon-inspired heroes and heroines.