Anime Expo 2017: Fate/Grand Order Producer and Creative Director Interview

One month ago, Fate/Grand Order English was released in the United States and Canada on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store. Regions with access to US App Store, such as the Philippines, have also been able to enjoy the game. With its incredible success in Japan, rivaling that of Pokemon Go in Japan, English fans are now able to enjoy Fate/Grand Order and its glory. To celebrate the US and Canada release, Aniplex USA brought both Mr. Atsuhiro Iwakami, President of Aniplex Inc. and Producer of Fate/Grand Order and Mr. Yosuke Shiokawa, Creative Director of Fate/Grand Order, to Anime Expo 2017 in Los Angeles.

With special thanks to Aniplex of America for the press conference interview and helping clear security logistics, I got the chance to sit down with both Mr. Iwakami and Mr. Shiokawa to ask some questions about the game and the English release.

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Q: Congratulations on the Fate/Grand Order English release. It is rare for a game of this caliber to be released for localization overseas. How did it come about for this game to be released in English?

Atsuhiro Iwakami: Last year at Anime Expo, I saw a lot of FGO (Fate/Grand Order) cosplay even though it was not officially released in the United States. Even though people could not read Japanese, FGO was a well-loved game. Maybe we should localize it here so everyone could enjoy the game in the United States.

Yosuke Shiokawa: From our data, even though it’s in Japan, we could tell a lot of players are accessing from America. Accessing a Japanese server from America is not recommended so we should probably release it in the US for users to enjoy it optimally.

Q: How has the success of the game influence the growth of the Fate franchise?

Iwakami: Because of FGO, people have easier access to other works in the Fate franchise such as the anime and other stuff.

Shiokawa: In the Japanese server, we did an in-game survey twice. The survey asked players what their entry in the Fate franchise was. During the first survey, not a lot of people chose FGO as their first entrance into the Fate franchise. However, during the second survey, a lot of individuals picked FGO as an entryway into the franchise. FGO has become a gateway to the Fate franchise.

Anime Trending Question (ATQ): Going back to the localization, you’ve brought the game into English. For many international audiences, the game is only available in the US and Canada. Do you plan to release the game to regions and territories such as Europe, and Southeast Asia?

Yosuke Shiokawa (left) and Atsuhiro Iwakami (middle) at Anime Expo 2017

Iwakami: We do know a lot of regions like FGO, and we do want to release it in other regions. However, there is a lot of planning to do and local laws we have to clear. Once we clear all those hurdles, we hope one day to release the game in other regions.

Q: One of Fate/Grand Order’s events included Fate/Extra CCC. However, the game did not receive an English release. Is there a chance for the event to be released in Fate/Grand Order English?

Iwakami: Right now, we can’t say for sure if we will release the Fate/Extra CCC event in the English version. For the English version of the game, it will try to do everything the Japanese server did.

Currently, Extra is localized as well as Extella, but not CCC.

Q: What was the idea behind making the Camelot campaign chapter extremely difficult in the game?

Shiokawa: Regarding Chapter 6 Camelot, you may be aware that the knights of the roundtable are one of the strongest. They’re supposed to be strong and a difficult enemy. We’re not purposefully making the game tough but to tie the game and historical scenario, we want to express that the characters are compelling, especially in that realm.

Q: What inspirations did you take from other games when designing the battle system of Fate/Grand Order?

Shiokawa: We didn’t take much inspiration from other games. Instead, we wanted to properly express the world of Fate and provide a unique feeling. For example, the relationship between the Servant and Master, we see that the Servant doesn’t always listen to their Master as we’ve seen in many instances. That’s why the command cards are a random set of five to express that unique relationship.

Q: What were some of the difficulties of localizing the Japanese version to the English version? Kinoko Nasu (the original author of the Fate series) has a very poetic way of expressing the dialogue. Could you go over the process and challenges you may have faced?

Iwakami: FGO has a substantial volume of text. As such, translating the game can be difficult, and Mr. Nasu and other writers have very different ways of translating their work. For story translation, we worked with Aniplex of America.

We have also heard all the feedback about the English translations. We have read every single one of the comments, and we will put in our best effort to fix the game and make a more improved version. The best thing about FGO is that it’s a mobile game and we can release updates to improve the game.

Q: What is the purpose behind the 1 through 3 Star Servants when everyone wants 4 to 5 Star Servants? Why do they continue to exist?

Iwakami: Obviously in the Fate series, we see that every single one of the servants is a character. We want to express every single character in some way properly.

Q: When will FGO Merchandise be released overseas?

Iwakami: Please wait, and you will see!

ATQ: Back when FGO was released, Aniplex/DELiGHTWORKS received a lot of feedback about the gatcha. Eventually, we were able to select one servant of our choice from a pool. If the FGO English server provides feedback for something, would there be a deviance from the Japanese servers?

Iwakami: Because the overseas release is not just in the US but elsewhere including China, we eventually want the entire world to have the same experience as the Japanese servers. As such, we have no plans of deviating the US servers of FGO.

Not only that, but 1-3 Star servants are also viable, and a lot of players have been creative in discovering ways to use them and enjoying the game. It’s that essence of the game we want all players to experience.

For instance, in Fate/stay night, Rin really wanted Saber but didn’t get Saber. We want people to have the same experience [chuckle], but as the Master, the player, we don’t always get the servant we want.

Q: One of the longest running gags is shipping the Noble Phantasm. Is that a problem in the Japanese community?

Shiokawa: We get that feedback every day [laughter]. Noble Phantasm is an essential part of the Fate series. While making FGO, we really wanted it to be a major part of the game.

Iwakami: You can’t really skip the Noble Phantasm. Even if you could, it feels like you are missing something.

Journalist: Make it a little faster!

[Laughter]

Iwakami: You can’t really make it faster. Just set it to double animation speed.

Q: With previous TYPE-MOON collaboration projects like Kara no Kyouka and Fate/Illya, will there be additional TYPE-MOON events. Perhaps Tsukihime?

Shiokawa:
With regards with collaboration, Mr. Iwakami and Mr. Nasu and I have talked about what we want to do. We will talk about potential events and ideas to see what we can do.
Mr. Nasu has already publicly expressed interest in a Tsukihime collaboration, so we’re obligated to work on it soon!

ATQ: With the upcoming anime Fate/Apocrypha and soon Fate/Extra, the franchise continues to grow. Would you consider Fate/Grand Order as an excellent entryway for newcomers to the Fate series?

Iwakami: When it comes to Fate franchise, you can enter under any works. As Mr. Shiokawa said before, Fate/Grand Order has been a gateway into the Fate franchise, and Fate/Grand Order is a good entry way for new users.

The anime and the game go hand in hand. For instance, Fate/Apocrypha is going to be shown soon. If you watch Fate/Apocrypha and then play Fate/Grand Order, you can see more on how Vlad or Jeanne of Arc acted and their personalities.

Q: Who are your favorite servants?

Shiokawa: Mash
Iwakami: Based on how fast I can grind for experience cards, Raiko. (Yorimitsu – Berserker)

Q: The FGO English version release had servants not available when FGO Japan was launched such as Berserker Lancelot. Will FGO English version receive servants at a different pace compared to Japan?

Shiokawa: We plan to release servants based on the story. It may not be the same pace as Japan, but it won’t be a giant barrage of servants in one instance. Instead, it will be a progression, similar to the stories.

Q: Materials for certain Craft Essence can be difficult to collect. Will there be changes in collection rates on the US servers?

Shiokawa: As stated previously, we want everyone to have the same experience as Japan, so we have no plans of making any changes.

Iwakami: In the English version, only Chapter 2, and there is still Chapter 3 and so forth of the story. We really want players overseas to experience the same story flow and progression like Japan. You also get a different kind of feeling and excitement based on the story flow. After you finish Solomon, there will be more events and more chances to get Craft Essence ingredients. As such, we want American players to have the same excitement as Japanese players.

Q: Final question, what was your favorite memory when creating Fate/Grand Order during the production of the game? 

Iwakami: The first collaboration, the Garden of the Sinner (Kara no Kyoukai), was one of my favorite memories. It was an anime film series I helped produced and seeing Ryougi Shiki in Fate/Grand Order was truly memorable. 

Shiokawa: The Garden of Sinners was also very memorable for me. However, for me, it was one of my first big projects and big decisions made for Fate/Grand Order. There were many lessons and obstacles involved which will help me for future collaborations. As such, it became a very impactful and very memorable experience.

 

 


After the special interview with Mr. Iwakami and Shiokawa, there are a lot of new information about Fate/Grand Order (English). We will go in depth in another article soon! Once again, special thanks to Aniplex of America for the fantastic opportunity and press conference interview during Anime Expo 2017. 

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