Daigo Ikeno Interview @ Japan Expo USA 2014
During Japan Expo 2014, we had a chance to interview incumbent Street Fighter character designer, illustrator and art director Daigo Ikeno who has been working for the video game company Capcom since 1993. Known for his unique take on Ryu, Ken and the rest of the Street Fighter family, find out what he had to say about his design process and his thoughts on his appearance at Japan Expo 2014 in San Mateo, California.
T-ONO: First off, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us. If you could cosplay as any Street Fighter character who would it be and why?
Daigo: I probably wouldn't cosplay, nor would I ever be forced into that situation, but if I had to... let's see... Well, cosplay for me is always something to watch and look at rather than participate in.
I'm going to defer my answer until the end of the interview. I'll think of something.
T-ONO: Yesterday at your panel, you said that you weren't originally a fan of your artwork from Street Fighter III. Can you tell us a little bit about your process when you were creating your characters?
Daigo: Well, for Street Fighter 3, I only did the visual arts for it. It was really 4 where I started to design the characters. Since Capcom and Street Fighter are both relatively known throughout the world, I began with the audience that's going to be playing and hope that they accept it. So they were the first ones that I needed to cater to and put out something that would be accepted.
Since my upbringing is in design and characters has been alongside great predecessors, I do have some confidence in me that I can draw well. However, I also have an additional conflict since I'm constantly comparing myself with them. That's why I came up with the idea that my art isn't good but at the same time I do have confidence that I can draw well.
Daigo: Well, the game's visual is the total of everything. From the animation to the backgrounds, along with everything else that made the game. For Street Fighter IV, our original goal was to remake Super Street Fighter II Turbo for the new generation.
So for us, it was really about bringing the animation and pixel design of Street Fighter II into Street Fighter IV's polygons where we could do facial expressions when they're being hit or KO'd. So we tried to show something different for the players to experience.
T-ONO: During the panel, you also had a chance to do a live drawing of Dan in front of a receptive crowd. How did it feel drawing him?
Daigo: In all honesty, when I draw I usually don't have an audience so I was a little bit uncomfortable. However, since I had to do the same thing in Paris, in addition to showing off my work at our company, I'm somewhat accustomed to drawing in front of a small audience. That being said, drawing in front of a large crowd like here and Paris is something that I don't do all that often.
T-ONO: Were you surprised that they told you to draw Dan?
Daigo: Yeah, I was surprised *laughs*.
T-ONO: One other thing that you mentioned was that you don't like drawing female characters because of peer criticism. How do you usually work around this when designing them?
Daigo: Since fans have their own ideas on how female characters should look, along with my predecessors setting a high bar, it falls on me to draw them well. If you could give me any advice it would be appreciated, ha ha.
T-ONO: Lastly, in your opinion what makes Street Fighter, "Street Fighter"?
Daigo: Well it doesn't just pertain to Street Fighter, but as an artist what's important to me is everything inside the art itself in terms of game development. It's important that the player understands the world and builds around it through what's inside the screen.
In terms of Street Fighter IV, what was really important to us was to bring back that nostalgia from Street Fighter II from the heads-up display down to the characters and background while hoping that the community would accept it.
In terms of your cosplay question from earlier, since my gut has been growing in the past compared to what it was before, I would have to say maybe a smaller version of E. Honda. That's not to say that I would want to do it, but my physique might fit *laughs*.