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JE2016 : Interview Akio Ôfuji FFXV (ENG)

Final Fantasy XV

Japan Expo is an annual event for Square Enix in France at Villepinte. For this 2016 edition, Brotherhood's director as well as Kingsglaive made the trip to give some exclusives news for the French fans.

We've met Akio Ôfuji-san, director of Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV. Takeshi Nozue, director of Kingsglaive was waiting for his plane, listening carefully to the exchange. Through a musical response from the next room and then by the arrival of a mascot, this interview was memorable in many ways!

It was an opportunity to learn more about the anime and the communication of the Final Fantasy XV Universe ...

This interview has been conducted with Final Fantasy Dream on July 7th 2016.

Finaland : In episode 2 of Brotherhood, Luna looks quite adult compared to Noctis who looks much more younger. Even though they are 4 years apart, the difference looks quite more. Was it intended ? It's the same thing for Gladiolus. Something else we noticed, even though we have only seen a glimpse of her during E3 2013, Gentiana doesn't look like she aged between Brotherhood and the game.

Akio Ôfuji : About Luna you’re right, indeed she’s four years older than Noctis, but the thing is at that age, we discussed this long internally, we thought that girls at that age, they grow up very fast and they become and look much more mature very quickly, so the whole design of how the characters would age, what they’ll look like at different ages was done by one of our art guys, Mr. Naora and he very much decided “that’s how it should look”, so we really did think carefully about that but yeah I get what you mean, the result does mean that she appears maybe quite a lot more of an “older sister” kind of character to Noctis than the actual age may suggest.

And also Gentiana, the way she appears is very much linked to the character and how the character’s designed so I think you are very welcome to imagine what that might mean or if there’s anything behind that.

FFDream : Why did you decide to use a format of episodes of 15 minutes instead of the usual format of 23 minutes?

I think you’re very right if we started a series design on the idea of broadcasting on TV, it would probably be more of a 23 minutes standard anime episode but from the start, we decided that we want to make something that you can view for free, online without getting tired, so in that case we felt the 10 minutes would be the ideal there. The initial idea was 10 minutes but because of the things we wanted to tell in the story it seems it got longer and longer since the series is gone through.

But yeah it was based on an ideal of 10 minutes to get people to see and enjoy in a very short space of time without getting bored of watching.

Finaland : Since FFXIV, the communication of Square Enix has changed. A lot of games from the company are now using live streaming. For FFXV, ATR are pre-recorded. Why that choice ?

This is a very simple reason and it’s because we need to put it in different languages, so obviously it takes time to subtitle, you can’t just do that immediatly straightaway so in order to get the same information out to everywhere around the world, the only way we could do this simutaniouslyis by subtitling the ATRs that’s why it takes time to do the subtitles with all the technical preparation and then send them all out at once, that’s the only reason really, so that we can get the information out to everyone simsimutaniously.

Finaland : At Uncovered it was live and also translated at the same time, so why not use that solution?

Very simple reason, it costs a LOT of money to do that ! For such a big important event like Uncovered we could do that but if we’re going to do that for every single ATR we should run out of budget !

We personally think that doing it live is the best way of doing it, and if we can we’ll try and do that so for exemple when we think that the information is only really needed or relevant to Japan we definitely try to do it live, we did the last one , we brought live a couple of days ago but obviously when it’s not we need to record it and but the subtitles down there but if we can do it live we like to

FFDream : Are you going to make more episodes of Brotherhood or use this concept for another game, another Final Fantasy another Kingdom Hearts or something?

At the moment the only schedule we got is to finish the 5 episodes of Brotherhood and then do the extra scene we got for the disc goodies, you get an extra episode with those.
There’s no plans to add anymore after that at the moment, I really would like to do it in some way,
I’d like to think about that and look at the best way to make a project that would make it work, but obviously that’s just my dream for the moment, it’s not something that’s firmly down yet.

One other thing, as to say about doing anime for other Square Enix games or series, we don’t really think about that.
At the time because the idea wasn’t really “we want to make an anime series” and then decided to do it, we felt that this was something that would work really well for the Final Fantasy XV project and the XV Universe.
So no at the moment we don’t think about doing another series or anime.

Finaland : Has the differences between the japanese culture and the western culture prevented an homogeneous communication during the promotion of the game?

We really do think that the ideal is to do a global simultaneous release of the game everywhere around the world but unfortunately in the past Square Enix hasn’t done a lot of games in that way and we don’t have the know-how and the experience really to do it so much but for FFXV Universe we believed in the idea of getting out as a global simultaneous release and we’re trying to work through it and do it even though we’re struggling in some places, we find that things are hard and we’re pushing on doing it anyway, we’re learning a lot from it as well.

In order to do that we have to communicate with the communities all around the world and guys like yourself and the western Final Fantasy communities and that’s what this interview today is about as well, it’s all part of that.
And in doing that, it was hard of course, it’s very difficult, but I think it really has been worth it and it really is how we want to do things.

Finaland : Regarding the differences in culture, in Europe for example don't like being spoiled too much about something we anticipate and look forward this much and we get the feeling that in Japan you don't care as much about spoilers. We have the feeling that the communication done around a game before it's release sometimes goes too far, shows too much.

This week the weekly magazine Famitsu revealed that the mysterious hooded man was Luna's brother (Ravus) and even though it's a Japanese magazine, we are at the age of internet and now all the world knows about this character. We remember that the final boss of Lightning Returns too was revealed in a magazine before the release of the game.

What's your feeling on this ? Aren't you afraid to spoil too much the future players ?


So first of all, regarding Ravus why we revealed him, there’s a very logical reason behind that. It’s all linked to the fact the Kingsglaive movie has come out now in Japan and he features in the movie and the relationships that he’s in with the characters are obviously been known through that so there’s not really any point in hiding that anymore since that information is out there now.
So for the Ravus revealing, that he was Luna’s older brother is very much linked to that.

Ravus Nox Fleuret

But when you asked about the bigger question, about do japanese fans have a bigger tolerance towards spoilers.
I’m not sure that’s something that immedialtly strikes me as a caracteristic of the japanese fans. Maybe there are some people that aren’t like that.
Perhaps what it is there’s certainly amongst japanese game fans there’s this cultural want to have a lot of informations released slowly, a little bit at the time, maybe they get a kind of a feeling of confidence and safety from that.
Having a lot of little loads of informations released over a long period, for exemple the Famitsu is a weekly magazine and they always have a section releasing new informations every single month, you get that very regularly.
I think that maybe compared to that, perhaps the western game fans prefer to have a lot of informations released once in big lot and then have a blank and quiet period.

So you could possibly say that about the differences between the two game consumming region and how they prefer to receive information.

In all the promotion activities we’ve been doing with Final Fantasy XV, I’ve been watching it from the sidelines a lot of that, I think we have maybe done a bit of a shift in the way we released informations for XV, it’s perhaps moving a bit closer to the western style, in a lot of ways.
But one side effect of this is it made us dealing with the print magazines very difficult because obviously the print magazines they need informations a lot earlier. So we need to create the assets and we need to give them early  and release a statement when the magazine comes out.

And it’s very difficult to do that now cause it slows down the speed of promotion that we can get information out for Final Fantasy XV, it’s made it very difficult dealing with these people (laughs).

FFDream : The main game will have french dubbing, as well as Kingsglaive. What about Brotherhood ?

I have to make it very clear now, unfortunatly we haven’t got any plans to do any other voice over languages apart from the japanese, we don’t even have got a plan for an english voice over dubbing I’m afraid. It’s very much going to be a japanese voice with localised into different languages for subtitles only.

Finaland : On episode 2, we saw a young Prompto. What happened to his parents ? For a young kid, he lives alone and that’s strange.

It’s quite intersting you’re asking this question now because a couple of days ago I actually wrote an article on the Final Fantasy XV japanese blog talking about Prompto and his family and his parents. Of course he does have parents, they are there.

The thing is the characters background setting is they are very busy people, they both work to spoil him and they’re never indoor, he’s a latchkey kid basically.

So whenever he comes home from school, when he was a kid they were never in. So obviously because Brotherhood is a very short format of 10 minutes episodes we were thinking ‘should we show Prompto’s parents or should we maybe use the same time to focus more on him as a character’.
We made the decision that we probably wont going to feature them in the anime but he does have parents they are there, they’re just very busy.

It also helps show that the backgrounds of the characters in there, there are social standings as it were, so for exemple in the 3rd exemple that we just released we can see Gladio’s house, you can compare that to where Prompto lives.

Prompto’s house is actually quite small whereas Gladio lives in a big mansion.
So this show that his family is a lot richer, Prompto’s parents they need to work very hard, they both work to support him and they aren’t particularly wealthy.
So you can see the different social classes there.

It’s also very interesting that this debate came a lot about Prompto’s parents on the internet and I was reading through a number of comment of what people said about that and there was one person that said that “all they need to do was have a letter left by his parents and have him pick it up and read it and that would show the whole situation”, that was my fault, that was a failure of mine that would have been a great idea and I really wish I would have done that now.

After this, a wild mascot has appeared behind the window. This is Kumamon, a bear created by Kumamoto Prefecture. Amused by his improvised apparition, the director talked about person inside the costume.

It’s funny because when we were preparing for stage presentation he was backstage because I think he was on the next program, next show and even backstage he couldn’t take the mask off and he still played his character right !

Most of the time guys like this when they get backstage they take the head off saying “It’s hot in here !” or something like that, but he wouldn’t do that, it’s such a pro ! I have such respect for that guy ! (laughs)

And then, Takeshi Nozue-san, Rui Kawada-san and Akio Ôfuji-san decided to take a picture with this cute bear!

Finaland et FFDream : It’s been more than 10 years since XV was announced as Versus XIII, it’s been a long journey, it’s finally coming to an end, and we wish you the best and good luck for the end of the developpement and the months coming !

We will do our very best.

It clearly has been such a long time, and a lot of the team there has been working on this game for such a long time and it’s quite hard for them because they haven’t seen their efforts take shape for so many years and we’re going to that period where we’re seeing Brotherhood going out and Kingsglaive being released in Japan for now, we’re starting to get TV commercials for FFXV the game starting to come on TV and it’s really great to watch and hear those people who have been on the project from the start, they are just so happy to see that what they have been working on is taking shape and is being shown to the world.

So coming here and seeing people like you guys offering your messages of support and saying we support you and hearing that it’s really coming together now and please keep supporting us because those guys really love that and really need that ! Thank you !

Transcription : Falen Nadleeh
Special Thanks: Square Enix France / Europe / Japan, FFDream
Interviewers : PandaDono, Fat Chocobo 

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