The November 2019 issue of Game Informer features an interview with Shigenori Soejima, the character designer for the Persona series as well as the upcoming Project Re Fantasy from Atlus’ Studio Zero, who briefly touches upon the latter when asked about his designs on the project.
“[Project Re Fantasy] is completely different from what I’ve worked on [previously],” Soejima said. “I’ve always loved fantasy, but once I started working on it, it became, ‘Well, what exactly is fantasy and how can we bring a meaningful fantasy game into this world? What can we bring to this sort of genre and game?’ And so there’s a lot of trial and error and thinking about this whole genre and how to [create] the design.”
Soejima continued, “I feel like we are finally at a place where we have a direction and are moving forward with it. Hopefully, we’ll have something to show everyone in the not so distant future. We’re creating something only we can bring to the table—a very unique design. [It’s] something for fans to look forward to.”
In December 2018 interviews with publications such as 4Gamer.net and Famitsu, Atlus Studio Zero creative producer and game director Katsura Hashino teased a potential official announcement for Project Re Fantasy in 2019. Hashino has also said that the studio would gradually share more information on the title after the release of Catherine: Full Body this past February 14 in Japan.
Outside of Project Re Fantasy, Soejima also discussed coming back to Persona 5 for Persona 5 Royal and creating the character design for newcomer party member Kasumi Yoshizawa.
“It was definitely a challenge,” Soejima said. “It’s always a challenge to actually bring in new elements to something that’s already loved by fans. With Persona 5 Royal, there’s a new character [Kasumi] that’s cusotom made. We are aware that bringing a new character into an existing storyline, they’re not at the same starting line as other characters in terms of familiarity to the fans and how they’ll be received. So we’re all kind of nervous about how new characters are seen.”
He continued, “With Kasumi in particular, we wanted someone outside of the Phantom Thieves [who is] viewing the situation from a whole different perspective. We also [wanted to] bring her close in standing to one of the main characters, kind of in the protagonist way, where fans will be able to see the story from a brand-new perspective and [have] a new character.”
As for her design, Soejima “really wanted to create just a straight-forward heroine type of character.”
Soejima said, “This might be a little bit different in the west, but in Japan, the manga I grew up reading, the main [female] characters always had a ponytail, and their club activity was gymnastics. I really wanted to just shoot for that female protagonist archetype. Maybe in the States or in the west, it’d be [comparable to] a cheerleader type of girl.
“With most of the characters in Persona 5, we really design them to have kind of a twist, kind of make them unique and different from what the standard character archetypes might be like, but with Kasumi, we wanted to just go straight for that heroine type of girl.”
Thanks, Persona Central.