Kenichiro Takaki Interview – Why He Quit Marvelous, His New Project, and Future Plans

Following the news of his departure from Marvelous, Famitsu has posted a full follow-up interview with the legendary “huge boob producer” himself, Kenichiro Takaki.

We’ve translated the entire interview for your reading pleasure, below:

Famitsu: First of all, please tell us the reasons behind you quitting Marvelous.

Takaki: The biggest reason is, the censorship of sexual expression that has been a big topic since last year, and the changes in that situation. Even before that, there had been minor changes, but recently, it became like “that is not allowed, this is not allowed, probably not allowed” and a lot of things were suddenly not allowed. I never thought of leaving Marvelous, or changing styles of my job before, but at a certain time period in last year, I felt like a thread in me was cut all of sudden.

Having sexual impression has been getting a bigger influence on making games.

Takaki: Sounds about right. Originally, I was trying best to make my games better with a lot of limitations I had such as time, budget, staff I had, but having limitations in the creative part has been really tough. Having sexual impression gets criticisms but at the same time, there are a lot of people who support it while enjoying it. Senran Kagura makes you think I did everything I wanted without limitations, but I cared about a lot of things and talked a lot with all parties concerned all the time. That being said, it was very close to be acceptable, basically, everything was actually in an acceptable zone. Even if it cannot be supported in general, I started making it with the thought “it is ok that this kind of game exists”. I had been believing it could be a part of the attractions in the whole gaming industry, but realizing that it was broken so easily became a trigger for me to rethink a lot of things.

It would be a big deal for you not being able to create what you have been creating.

Takaki: Rules and limitations to protect certain genres and age ranges are welcome. But I feel the process nowadays is definitely trying to destroy what I do. I am good and like to come up with ideas to make the best with the situation, however, with the current situation, I really doubt that it can be something really called Senran Kagura, or what fans are expecting, especially in the series.

Of course there are sexual expressions in Senran Kagura, my impression is that it is just a factor that composes the game. Nevertheless, it is getting harder.

Takaki: Overall, it is only a 10% to 20% factor of the entire game and not the core essence, but it is eye-catching, so with the world standard, it is sometimes judged that “all of it is sexual,” and that is the hard part.

I am 42 years old now, and when I think about “what I will do in the next 10 years?”, I came to think about hitting age 50. The remaining time for me to be active at the forefront of my work might be running out, plus I had some big changes like I got married and had a daughter, so I really thought about “what I really wanted to do”. Of course I really want to make “beautiful girl games”, but I also want to make so-called mainstream fantasy games like the ones we really loved when we were kids. I did not really have any chance to create that kind of games until now.

You would like to make games for a wider range of people.

Takaki: Exactly. If I can be involved with a creation of a big title by spending 3 to 5 years, I feel like “I can only do it now”, so I came to the conclusion to leave Marvelous and find another way to work on it. The relationship between Marvelous and myself is very good, the staff are all good people, and I am in the situation where I appreciate my position and salaries, however, I really want to challenge myself again towards the dreams I was having when I was a child. Despite this I am still feeling conflicted emotionally and that is not easy to explain.

You will step on a new environment for your new challenge.

Takaki: I believe I will cause so much trouble to fans of my past works and staff at Marvelous. I do understand it, but after all, it is my priority to become a part of console gaming industry that I dreamed about, and make the industry better.

After you quit Marvelous, what company will you work for?

Takaki: Cygames it is. I will be part of a development team for console games. It was an amazing opportunity I could rarely find in the whole world, so I made a bold decision.

What is going to happen to some series like Senran Kagura as you are leaving Marvelous?

Takaki: For some works we are developing now, I will still be involved as a creator by dividing into some phases. At the moment, we are already developing some new games in the Senran Kagura series, so we are going to finish them up.

Meaning some projects that you guys are already working on will be done with your guarantee.

Takaki: Exactly. It is not that I will take responsibilities of my past works and people who I have been working with, but I will make sure to get involved to create them. I would love to do that. I am always working on some works that are supposedly done in a few years ahead at the same time. I never have any time period where I am done with all the development work, so I asked both companies to be very understanding of my current situation.

So that means even after you leave Marvelous, Senran Kagura NEW LINK is still going to be distributed on smartphones?

Takaki: Definitely. NEW LINK has been developed and managed with their own unique way, so it will keep being lively as well as it has been. As my favorite staff is creating Senran Kagura, it might have some other unique features that are new and different from existing ones. I am looking forward to them myself.

Senran Kagura 7EVEN is the latest release, could you please tell me how far along development is, or as much as you can talk about.

Takaki: It is a series with numbers, we have an assumption that the game has to evolve dynamically and purely, but to be honest, there are some parts where the path for that assumption has been narrowed a bit. Therefore, I am thinking to take more development time to make some space for that. I have little expectation that maybe possibly, in a few years, there might be some changes for the situation we are having now. We will take some time to make some space, but we will keep working on the parts that have not seen any problems.

Could you tell me that more in detail?

Takaki: For example, the basic parts such as characters, story, and some details the series has been having, the base of the mechanics, must keep evolving. I am working on that part now, and I am planning that I myself, or maybe someone else, will release it with the best condition as it can be someday.

You have mentioned how you develop your project while the censorship is getting strict, so it means the game you are developing now is just like a new challenge you were talking about.

Takaki: Exactly. As the world has been changing, I felt somewhat depressed by the increased amount of censorship. I will not stop creating games, so I have been trying to come up with new ideas in many ways. About what I have been making now, I have come to the point where I feel “it should be good!?”

So, there won’t be Senran Kagura without sexual factors?

Takaki: Not at all. I think if we can’t work with that, it won’t be Senran Kagura. It is like I have to deal with how many erotic jokes we can express in Senran Kagura, within that limited range. Why are they trying to destroy sexual stuff that people can enjoy and laugh at? I am suffering trying to understand the trend where the world is becoming humorless, smaller, and boring.

It won’t change that you will remain the producer of Senran Kagura in the future?

Takaki: Even at the moment, I am not the only producer, there are the producers that have been involved in the past works, and assistant producers – we are cooperating to make our games. I will depend on Marvelous for the adjustments within the company, and I will keep existing as the huge boobs producer. I am not sure about how involved I will be in a few years, but it won’t change that I am the original creator.

Everyone must have been surprised by hearing that you are leaving?

Takaki: I think so. But on the other hand, there were some people who were kind of guessing I would leave. I was not trying to seem depressed, but it seems I looked like it, someone told me “you look like you are having a hard time.” Therefore, I was getting ready to leave little by little and told staff in the company and related parties since more than six months ago.

When did you start at Marvelous?

Takaki: Around 2006, so it has been about 13 years already. It was around the time Nintendo DS was released and PlayStation 2 was still popular when I began as a freelance producer (without any experience). People were being excited for PlayStation 3 and Wii “coming out in the future!”

It was right before Brain Training was popular. Do you have any situations you remember when you look back these past 13 years?

Takaki: Before I entered Marvelous, I was a director of development, or a so called developer kind of person. Not knowing what the producers of publishers really do, I entered without thinking much as I was introduced to this job (laughs). Right before that, I was being a director of my own project, but one day, it was cancelled and I lost my income, I decided to do it for the time for being, for like six months. Back in the time, Marvelous had a lot of anime and manga game adaptations, I got to take care of many works without preparation. I had to release works every 2 or 3 months without enough experience, I was extremely busy.

The roles of a director who directs the contents of games and a producer who takes care of games as products must be very different.

Takaki: I learned a lot as I had to think about not only the contents of the games but also about the whole things about the products including the contents. But it was a great experience with lots of successes and failures as I had opportunities to release many games. My world spread in no time as I for to meet a lot of people. While I created games such as “Negima!?” (Editor’s Note: Mahō Sensei Negima! for the Game Boy Advance) and Ikkitosen (Editor’s Note: Ikki Tousen: Shining Dragon for the PS2), I got experiences and career in business, and I came to think I wanted to make my own games, so I began to create Yusha 30 (Editor’s Note: Half Minute Hero in English).

I was shocked to play “an RPG you can beat in 30 seconds.”

Takaki: It was a game I made with members from Opus, the first gaming company I worked at. It was received so much better than expected, the number of sales was about 100,000 so I was really having fun. In my 20’s, my games were neither sold well nor received well, some of them were even canceled, so I couldn’t do much even though I was very passionate, so I was extremely happy (with our results with Yusha 30).

After your struggles, Yusha 30 became a big hit.

Takaki: I knew we made a great one and people around me also told me it was fun. I really felt it was right to enter Marvelous as people knew my games when I met them. Then, we made Yusha 30, however, the first one unexpectedly had 100,000 sales, so I had so much pressure.

Expectations become higher when you make something while you have a good record.

Takaki: I still believe we made a great game, but as it was confusing, and we didn’t promote it well, or we misunderstood our target market and we postponed the release date, we didn’t have a good sales number. I regret that I was too pressured, and I kept thinking how we could sell more than 100,000 units, and came up with the idea to make Senran Kagura, which is very simple yet has a lot of topics you would want to tell others about.

Back in the day, education games from Nintendo were popular.

Takaki: That’s right. For some console games, the flow of the time was going to focus on the new generation of mobile games, so to be honest, I couldn’t hold my head held high as I was the one that was making console games. (laughs). However, I really felt like it was fine to play the trending games like them but I didn’t want to make them myself. So I tried my best when I released the first Senran Kagura game, as if it would be my last game, even if it wouldn’t have good sales.

It became a great hit as it was catchy and easy to understand, and it has been a popular series even now.

Takaki: It became the one thing after many different timelines met. It really has been my biggest memory. It must be this feeling you have when things go well, I believe Senran Kagura is loved by the God of gaming.

Both in name and reality, Senran Kagura became your masterpiece.

Takaki: Yes, it did. I obviously had happiness and pleasure to have been able to make continuous releases for the series, but on the other hand, I had some pressure that I had to keep making them and some stress even if I had some greater idea, I couldn’t make it come true. We had consistent release schedules, and it became bigger and bigger, but it didn’t mean the development length and the budget became bigger as well. That responsibility or whatever it was never disappear to be honest. I tried not to change my thought that I truly wanted to make something to “I must make it”. But I kept hanging on until this day because of our fans very strong and warm support.

The bigger the project becomes, the more difficulty you run into.

Takaki: We not only create games but also we make anime from it, merchandise, and even host some events, and I do care how it goes, so I check all of them. Then, a day ends after only checking stuff, and I can’t make any progress. While doing all of this, I had a kid, and I had even less time. (laughs). I feel like it was also a good experience, and after all these things happened recently, I think the timing to calm down and think came. I believe my perspective changes by doing that, and I am hoping to come up with better idea.

With Senran Kagura, your nickname “huge boob producer” took a firm hold.

Takaki: That’s true, thanks to everyone calling me that. (laughs). It is like small and often fills the purse, and it’s recognized overseas too, it has spread unexpectedly. At the beginning, the company wasn’t that big, and of course I wasn’t well recognized, so I was thinking that I wanted to make something interesting which would catch someone’s attention as much as possible.

Presenting yourself with that nickname has quite a lot of impact without a doubt, rather than presenting yourself as just a producer. (laughs).

Takaki: I was kind of embarrassed at the beginning. I was like ‘what if my mother or friends see it?’ (laughs). But people truly enjoyed it, so I feel accomplished. I am even told “oh that’s a boob guy!” by some strangers. (laughs).

The change of your workplace will also change your life, won’t it?

Takaki: Actually, I built a house in Chiba, and I was interviewed by magazines and such, but I already put it on the market.

You built it pretty recently, right?

Takaki: I was going to become like an old school master (laughs) and take it easy, living in a hot spring area, away from the city. However, now I live in Tokyo again and try my best. I want to make it as if I am in my 20’s again.

By the way, it is away from the main topic, but you customized your house in Chiba in order to store your games. Did you leave it as it was when you sold the house?

Takaki: Yes, as it was. So, it must be uncomfortable to live there. (laughs). It doesn’t function well to live there but it is a house to have fun at so it must be nice for someone who has a great collection or who has that kind of sense of humor. Anyway, I will be happy if someone buys it soon. (laughs).

By the way, how was your family’s reaction about you leaving Marvelous?

Takaki: I think they are rooting for me. I know my daughter doesn’t understand it yet, but I already think when she becomes an elementary school student, she will probably be told “hey, your dad is the huge boob producer”. Among fans and people around me enjoy it, but when it comes to kids, it should be a realistic problem.

I heard you are starting some side projects aside from the Senran Kagura series, could you tell me about them too?

Takaki: I can’t tell you the title or any details yet, but it is an independent game and nothing to do with Senran Kagura. I am going to make the original plans and we are going to make both a game and an anime. The director of the anime version is Hiraku Kaneko, who is known as a boobs director, and Hanaharu Naruko, designs the characters, so we have gorgeous members. The publisher is Marvelous.

Will that series have sexual factors?

Takaki: It is a series with cute girls, but it won’t be like their outfits will come off.

How long have you been developing it?

Takaki: It has been about a year and a half. I will keep producing it even after I leave Marvelous, so please look forward to it!

Please tell me about the new game you will make after you enter Cygames.

Takaki: As I told you earlier, I would like to achieve my childhood dream after all, and I want to create something that would make young generations think these kinds of games are fun. I was always trying my best to create games, but with many situations, I had to give up a lot of things, both big and small. This time, I want to be involved with the series while being too selfish to give up anything, including those kinds of things.

You will make games while being greedy.

Takaki: Also, I wanted to keep being a director, but I feel like I have been too selfish and in that my style had me as both a producer and a director after all. Therefore, this time, I am looking to get involved with projects with my role either as an expert director or an expert producer in a way so that I can offer all the power I could possible give. I want to give all my experiences, knowledge, and ability to make games, so I would like to try to develop bigger, more complicated games. I am so passionate. Of course I will try my best on the games I am working on now, in addition to it, I want to be greedy and try my best.

You told me you would like to create games of your childhood dream, that means you always wanted to try but you couldn’t take action easily?

Takaki: That’s right. For example, of course I was dreaming of games like Final Fantasy, and I really wanted to make something like that by myself. If I were to make an action game, I would want to make a game like the Jackie Chan movies. I have been longing about it.

Please let me know your thoughts about what you want people to pay attention to, or what you would like to do from now on?

Takaki: Even if my work environment and taste of my works, what I am showing now is my true self, and I don’t think I will change, and I want to keep being like what I am now. My core is just a fan of games, I say sexual things no matter what, and I talk nonsense, something like that. (laughs). But I will try my best.

That means your attitude towards games won’t change.

Takaki: Exactly. I often tell people but I admire Mr. Go Nagai. I am currently doing something like Harenchi Gakuen (Editor’s Note: Shameless School), but essentially, I want to do something like Devilman. Or, an anime version of Mazinger Z that can be enjoyed by kids, so I want to make something that can be enjoyed by wide range of people.

Then, we must be able to see a lot of works of yours in the future.

Takaki: There are too many things I want do. (laughs). I would like to make them come true, one by one. I will grow myself as well as people who are working on things with me. Also, there should be works of my subordinates, but alongside that, I want to be greedy and get everything. I want to show the world something great and want to be told ‘Despite you being the huge boob producer, you are so sassy that you did such an amazing work!’ I know I am making fans of Senran Kagura series worried, but I don’t want to give up on anything, so I want to keep being offensive without hesitation.

I am looking forward to it. Thank you very much.

Niche Gamer regularly interviews developers on a variety of subjects—if you’re a developer and want to chat with us, please contact us! If you liked this interview translation – please let us know! We’ll do more of them if there’s demand.

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Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. Pronouns: Patriarch, Guido, Olive, Catholic

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