An Interview with Eisaku Kito
Modeling artist. In charge of designing and modeling the Grotesques in "Baroque". Winner of the Japan Graphic Exhibition Association Grand Prize. In charge of modeling for the films "Zeiram" and "Zeiram 2". Currently serializing "Travel Planet" in "S.M.H." Magazine.
About when did you start modeling?
It was about eight years ago. I started out by visiting a modeling instructor, Mr. Hiroshi Yokoyama, for a while to help him with his work and he taught me all sorts of things. Working under a master of the craft was a great motivation to follow this path. However, I have always liked drawing and making things, so I had already been considering following this path. My recent work is mainly modeling, but I used to work in graphics before that.
What kind of work did you do on "Zeiram"?
My work on "Zeiram" was mainly attending location shooting, modeling props, and repairing costumes (laughs). Otherwise, it was mostly just odd jobs. My main job was creating the sci-fi style guns used in the film. I say gun, but the main one used by the characters is made up of multiple pieces, which I made by modifying other model guns. But visually they were inspired by the work of Mr. Keita Amemiya.
About what time did you begin serializing "Travel Planet" in "S.M.H."?
It was about 3 years ago. Maybe 2. It's a quarterly publication, so if you count the preparation stage, it will have been running for nearly 2 and a half to 3 years with roughly 10 installments.
In your profile, I believe it said that you went to the Japan Graphics Exhibit?
Simply put, it was a gateway for individuals seeking to enter the world of visual design. Nowadays its focus has shifted a bit, but it was something like that. In the beginning, Katsuhiko Hibino and others won the Grand Prize. When I won it in 1990, my theme was 'ears', which I expressed as a semi-three dimensional piece* rather than a picture. Personally, I like ears due to their interesting shape, and I often use them as a subject.
[*TN - specifically artwork created on paper, but arranged three dimensionally]
What opportunity led to you working at Sting?
My first game-related work was in Square's "Treasure Hunter G", in which I first worked with Sting. So I was given an outline for the plot of "Baroque". There are a few other game-related projects, but I can't talk too much about them since they're still in the planning stage.
I'd love to hear about those... (laughs). But I guess if you can't give us any details...
That's right (laughs). If you wait a little longer, some kind of announcement will be made. Please look forward to it when that happens.
While working on "Baroque", where you ever confused by the aesthetic?
Definitely... I think there were difficulties right from the start. I'd never made anything like a monster before. The aesthetic of the models came from talking about a variety of things while drinking with my fellow creators. I've also been influenced by things in magazines, it's just a matter of what I like and what has a similar atmosphere.
You've also mentioned you like films.
As for films, I like science-fiction movies. I feel like I tend to be anti-Hollywood, more specifically, I enjoy slightly strange science-fiction like "Wondrous Planet Kinza・Za".*
[*TN - Russian film originally entitled "Kin-dza-dza!"]
Is that so. Are there any videos that have influenced your modeling?
There are a few. There are some from all the movies I've seen up until now, but the most direct influence is from the opening ceremony of the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France which was designed by a man named Philip Dexsay. The influence of that person is the strongest. He's theatrical and was mainly in charge of costume design which created a mood like a circus or a karakuri puppet.
When did you establish your style?
Eeh, have I established a style? (laughs) I wasn't aware of that (laughs). Maybe it's just a fluke, but it's been this way for the last few years. However, I didn't start all that long ago. Since I was a high school student, I worked for about 12 years with Hobby Japan. I can't even remember what I made 3 years ago so who knows, maybe this has always been the way that I see the world.
Do you play video games?
I'm the kind of person who will play them for awhile, but I don't play them every day. I enjoy RPGs. My favorite game is the "Mother" series. I also really like "Tactics Ogre". When I listen to the "Tactics Ogre" soundtrack while I work, I always feel like a crisis is imminent! I think the composer, Mr. Iwata, has amazing talent.
Do you play BGM while you work?
Yeah. Well, I don't know, but there are a lot of soundtracks. Maintaining a mood while you work is important. I only use the radio a little since it's nice when a good song is playing, but if a song you hate starts then your intensity drops (laughs).
How much work did you do on "Baroque"?
That's right, I made the Nerve Tower and Grotesques, the protagonist, the Guardian Angel and the Koriel, plus a Worker Angel that doesn't appear in the game. I think the total score was 11 or 12 models, including the Nerve Tower but I don't remember the exact point count (laughs). The first thing I did was to make the Nerve Tower which I was asked to design from an early stage, and I was also involved in planning the story and setting, so I was connected to this game from the very beginning. That was about 2 years ago, and a little while after that I began modeling figures.
How long did it take to build the Nerve Tower?
I made the Nerve Tower in about 2 weeks. I really wanted to make it more detailed. The surface was coated with a paint that looks like iron instead of real iron. There was also a rust-like paint I used on the surface. As for the Grotesques and Angels, it took about 2 days to sculpt each one. I’m not sure, but I think I was able to manage it in about a week. "Baroque" isn't limited to just the Nerve Tower and there weren't many clear design instructions on how to make the models, only details such as walking or jumping, so I was allowed a lot of creative freedom. So it was quite fast work.
How did you decide on what each motif should look like?
I think in words initially. It's like making corrections while sketching. For example, Jerryrom is a childish guy. Innocent but a little cruel. Well, I usually just draw rough sketches at the bar, but this time I consulted with Mr. Yonemitsu about the aesthetic of the Grotesques, so it was a little different from normal.
You seem to have made lots of concept sketches.
That's true. I didn't know how much would recreated in the game. In terms of that material, once I got the setting, I just started fleshing things out. After all, that's just the way Mr. Yonemitsu likes to cook.
Did you come up with the Grotesques' unusual attacks?
No, it wasn't me. At first, he’d instruct me on details, like how one would hop up and down as it walked. When I turned in the design, he’d sometimes clarify that it doesn’t hop quickly but instead moves lightly, like a bouncing balloon. Aside from particular details like that, I was free to do what I liked.
What is your favorite Grotesque in "Baroque" currently?
Oh right. Maybe Jerryrom is my favorite? I also particularily like guns, so the first Angelic Rifle I designed was like a P90 which is a strange sci-fi shaped gun, that was the kind of direction I wanted to take it in. Well anyway, I'm rambling (laughs), but the current 3D model hanging from the hero's back is the completed version of the Angelic Rifle.
Translator’s Note: The interview ends here, but Yonemitsu’s recent livestream with the author of “Baroque World Guidance” suggests that Eisaku Kito’s design notes were used in the writing of the book. I can’t verify this information’s authenticity completely, but I’ve translated and included the interesting bits below.
“The numerous pipe-shaped objects that sprout from the “back” of the sword are called “Purification Pipes”. It is the energy which emanates from these tubes that damages Grotesques. Therefore, despite it being called a sword, the physical strength of the swing is not terribly important. As its dull appearance would suggest, it is not sharp. This is because it does not cut using a conventional blade. The elements contained within each sword exit through the Purification Pipes and create a kind of energy field which is used to attack Grotesques. At the moment of contact with a Grotesque, the purification energy is released. The Grotesque is struck by the field which has expanded to envelop the body of the sword. Thus, the body of the sword never comes into direct contact with the Grotesque. They are instead torn apart by the properties of the field itself.”
“Many of the characters who appear throughout "Baroque" wear cloaks. Although their form may vary, they are not practical for cold weather. Like much of the protagonist's other gear, they appear to have special attributes. In the case of the sword, the special characteristics dwell within the "Purification Pipes", but in the case of the coat, the special attributes seem to be woven directly into the fibers themselves. Therefore, the special effect encompasses the entire coat.”
“The moment the branding occurs, the design of the brand becomes "distorted" and engraves itself into the flesh - rather than being burned in via heat. Therefore the effect cannot be undone unless one possesses an "Erasure Sigil" which will cancel the "distortion" - the various effects of which are determined by the degree of the distortion.”
“Many parasites that appear in movies and games are depicted as horrific and dreadful - bursting out of the stomach after eating you from the inside. The "parasites" in "Baroque" are not like this, with nearly all of them having beneficial effects on their hosts. It can be said that these "parasites" are particularly effective at counteracting the negative drawbacks of other items. In the case of swords and coats, infestation is achieved by the parasite's long, spindly legs entwining with as much of the object as possible. The effects of the parasitism is caused by a subtle "distortion", born from the parasite itself.”
“When it comes to instruments of torture, there are some that are designed to kill after its wielder has finished administering pain. Most of the time, it is important that they don't kill their victims though, as they are primarily used to extract confessions. The torturers of "Baroque", however, are effective over a considerable range when deployed. If pushed to say, it may possess some sort of “magical ability”, in other words, a result of the "distortion" created by the insane God of Creation.”
“Sometimes flesh will appear when you kill a Grotesque. After having witnessed the repulsive sight of an aggressive Grotesque, you would think that the protagonist wouldn’t have the appetite to eat anything. However, he doesn’t seem to mind one way or the other. “Flesh” in “Baroque” is divided into three ranks: “Idiot”, “Mediocre”, and “Genius”. These ranks don’t seem to have anything to do with the intelligence of the Grotesques, but there certainly is a meaning behind these names.”
Concept Art Gallery
There is a small collection of Eisaku Kito’s concept art near the end of “Baroque World Guidance”, accompanied by frustratingly tiny notes he has scribbled in the margins. I’ve translated what I could read of these notes below. They paint a picture of Baroque in early production, one that evokes a more direct, traditional conflict in which the Koriel (or “Fallen Angels”) are directly and violently overthrowing the rest of the Malkuth Order (who have driven God mad). This is elaborated further on page 122, in concept art depicting a large machine hooked up to an angel’s head:
“Something resembling a medical device that is driven into the temporal region of the brain. The Creator God was originally located by some angels who, in the name of protecting God, created special crystals that forced God into a dreamlike state. In many ways, this was more convenient for the angels. The protagonist shows the reality of things to the Creator (sin). Only the protagonist, who is the catalyst for this change, can directly rehabilitate this insane world. However, the angels’ power will be threatened if the protagonist is able to carry out his plan. The player can gain this wisdom by listening to the words of the main characters.”
We’re then shown a radically different version of the protagonist, who wears goggles and body armor that bears a resemblance to the Koriel’s imprisonment caskets. A note states that the inverted Malkuth Order cross and serial number 03 which appear on this armor signify his status as a “fallen angel”. This prototype also wears a sort of bracelet contraption reminiscent of the bracelets Koriel #12 wears in the final game. A note elaborates that these are “anti-gravity, floating recoil absorption rings. They’re just barely tightened to the wrists (as to not damage the arms). They’re easy to remove.”
The conflict in this early version of the game includes battles not just with Grotesques, but angels from the Malkuth Order as well. The lowest ranking angels, the “Crypt Angels”, are introduced first: “Cleans up after the remains of monsters that the protagonist has killed. It appears on the battlefield occasionally (such as when the protagonist levels up). It’s like a sweeper that clears up the messes left behind by the player. It should float around like a UFO, its underside sucking up waste as it goes.” The design is virtually identical (visually) to their appearance in the final game.
The next rank, “Intermediate Angels”, were cut from the game entirely - only reappearing in the remake for PS2/Wii on the lowest layer of the Nerve Tower. This text got especially hard to read, but this is what I could salvage: “Resembles the card soldiers from Alice in Wonderland. The head is (illegible) like the robots from Laputa. Shoots something out of its eye, like a turret. The edges of the body are sharp. It also has an arm, which is elastic and flexible. Can be used to cut or whip.”
The final level, “Advanced Angels” or “Archangels”, appears to have been a rank held by many individuals instead of just one. Their designs are all similar to that of the Guardian Angel from the final game: “When someone becomes a high ranking angel, they get these kinds of masks, hands, birds, etc… Most of them are just normal people underneath. They are usually calm and composed. They fall to pieces during fights. Parts can suddenly pop off or burst open, such as the mask, and they’ll get angry. Their distorted, ugly faces will become visible.”
The Guardian Angel, in design only, appears to have been amongst their ranks. The character seems to have originally been hostile, and has many combat functions. “Emits steam when feeling emotional. The white bird resembles a laughing kookaburra. As shown in the diagram, as the arm extends, three more hands unfold beneath it [like an accordion]. Then the four palms each fire off successive attacks. A shining sphere is embedded into the palm of each hand.”