Project Sakura Wars Staff Comment on Development, Team Size, Logo, Musicals, New and Returning Characters

New details reveal Gundam's Mika Akitaka as mecha designer, Girls und Panzer's Takaaki Suzuki as scriptwriter, Smartron are based on Kohran's Kinematron.

Famitsu published today an interview with Shin Sakura Taisen Producer Tetsu Katano, Sakura Taisen Series Director and Scenarist Takahara Terada, and Sakura Taisen series Development Director Tetsuya Otsubo. Well, the interview actually isn’t brand new but is a much longer, uncut version of the interview first published when Shin Sakura Taisen’s first trailer was revealed. We’ve already covered that interview, but tons of new details were included in the full version.

Project Sakura Wars has the biggest development team a Sakura Taisen game ever had. The previous game which held that record was Sakura Taisen 3. Which is understandable as it was the first game of the series on Dreamcast, with tons of new mechanics.

They didn’t give out an actual number, and some people join the team and others leave, but they’re well over a hundred working on Shin Sakura Taisen. There are companies outside Sega working on some of the game as well.

Shin Sakura Taisen‘s logo went through a long period of trial and error. Sega made over 300 different logos in total. It was a huge brainstorming, with all the development team giving out ideas on what kind of logo would be nice. At some point, Takahara Terada and Tetsuya Otsubo decided on the final logo, because it’s completely different and feels “new”. And even if it’s different, Sakura Taisen is so big anyone would like the logo as long as it says “Sakura Taisen“.
However, Tetsu Katano was dissatisfied. Surprisingly, despite being the one directing Shin Sakura Taisen, Katano wanted the logo to be closer to past Sakura Taisen games’ logos. In Katano’s words, a” bloody battle” ensued, and he ended up being convinced that this logo was the best too. Overall, the three of them are happy they went through this, sharing their opinions no holds barred. Else, it could have affected the game’s development later on.

As we mentioned the first time we covered the interview, Kubo Tite is really implicated in the game’s development and often proposes ideas. Katano jokingly said that maybe Kubo secretly agreed with Terada to make it so the characters’ swords will transform. Kubo drew the character’s original designs, and Masashi Kudo redrew them with different poses so the 3D models could easily be made. Masashi Kudo was the character designer for Bleach‘s anime adaptation, so he’s used to working with Kubo. In fact, it’s Kubo Tite who explicitly recommended them to hire Masashi Kudo. Takahara Terada noted that the Tite Kubo x Masashi Kudo combination is just as effective as the Kosuke Fujishima x Hidenori Matsubara duo who handled the past games. Kubo worked especially fast too, thanks to his experience in weekly serialization.

Jiro Ishii already mentioned that Shin Sakura Taisen‘s scenario is very “Sakura Taisen-like”, and Terada agrees as well. But thinking back, Terada thought the same about Satoru Akahori’s scripts, but they ended up feeling different. He thinks Jiro Ishii will bring his own touch to the series as well.

Jiro Ishii wrote the story but didn’t directly write Shin Sakura Taisen‘s script. That was handled by Takaaki Suzuki, who’s famous for providing historical military facts for military/weapons themed anime like Girls und Panzer, Strikes Witches and Upotte. Takaaki Suzuki also helped write the setting of many anime masterpieces over the years, from Last Exile to Gun x Sword. Because of that, Shin Sakura Taisen‘s script is huge and full of world-building details.

Besides Takaaki Suzuki, Shin Sakura Taisen has many famous people working on it, and Sega will reveal them bit by bit.

Sakura Taisen‘s Geki! Teikoku Kagekidan song is pretty much the series’ soul, so all the staff agreed on putting it in the new game with a new version.

Certain places we can explore in Ginza and the Imperial Capital already appeared in past games, but this is the first time we’ll see them in 3D, so we might notice things we never did before. Even mundane places were meticulously designed too, like the roof of the department store in Ginza.

The development team is currently working on making the game as seamless as possible, like reducing loading times when we change maps. They’ll make full use of the 3D during the dialogues too, with camera angles changes, etc.

The Smartron, the smartphone-like devices used by the characters in Shin Sakura Taisen, is the evolution of the Kinematron invented by Kohran. This is pretty cool as the Kinematron actually kept evolving through the games, like how they could make video calls with it in Sakura Taisen 3. Smartron have many more uses besides displaying the map, like showing where you should go next to advance the main story or where to trigger events with characters. And needless to say, Smartron are powered by steam like everything else.

One of the biggest challenges was to correctly transpose the series from 2D to 3D, but that’s something all the team deemed necessary. In past games, Ogami’s lines weren’t voiced most of the time, because we didn’t see him anyway. But now with the 3rd person view in 3D, we see Seijuro all the time, so it was important to make all his lines voiced. Seijuro’s voice actor Yohei Azakami already pointed out it’s the biggest role he ever did. Seijuro pretty much has five times the amount of lines the girls have. Yohei Azakami really suffered to make it perfect. He had to shout some lines, like the “Imperial Flower Division! Move out!!!” line hundreds of times too.

Otsubo also noted that players will be able to easily empathize with Seijuro thanks to his lines being voiced. All three also noted that Seijuro might look cool, but his personality changes and adapts according to the players’ choices. He can end up being a pretty lame or comical guy depending on what you pick.

Ogami working as a ticket validator for the Imperial Theatre was a tradition in past games, so of course, Seijuro will do it too. He’ll do even more, like actively promoting the theater’s performances. The game will have tons of comical situations like that. Seijuro will do the “Oh no!! My body is moving towards the showers on its own…” joke line that Ogami always did too. Otsubo and Katano said to look forward to the comedic shower scenes, though things might turn ugly depending on your choices.

Being a fan of Sakura Shinguji, Sakura Amamiya tries to dress and act just like her. However, she wears the ribbon differently because she’s not confident enough to sport the same hairstyle as her idol. Sakura Amamiya is also the character the team had the most trouble creating. Kubo Tite did her original design pretty early, but they had a hard time deciding on her personality and settings. Brushing up her original design so the 3D model could be created took a while too. Sakura Amamiya is a cheerful girl similar to the previous main heroines, Sakura, Erika and Gemini, but she’s also a bit boyish, and a bit clumsy. Katano also revealed it’s a coincidence that she ended up being voiced by Ayane Sakura.

Unlike Sakura Amamiya, Hatsuho Shinonome was designed in a way so when you see her you’d think “oh hey this is a Kubo character”. Old-time fans might think Hatsuho is similar to Kanna, but they have different personalities. Most of the girls in the game are like that. They look like past characters but are actually different. They tried to make the characters as unique as possible, regardless if people would think they’re too similar to past characters or not.

Katano knows that many will think it’s dumb for Azami Mochizuki to be wearing a flashy yellow outfit while she’s supposed to be a kunoichi. Otsubo said there’s actually a reason why Azami dresses like this that will be explained in the game. We already know Azami follows the “108 codes of the Shinobi” from her village. Katano stated that these will play an important part in the story, and how Azami will end up slowly but surely breaking these codes. Azami might seem like a silent unexpressive girl, but she actually smiles a lot and chats a lot too.

Anastasia Palma’s design follows the dark-skinned girl with silver hair stereotype because Otsubo really wanted a girl like that in the game. He pretty much begged Terada and Katano for it. Overall, Anastasia looks like the typical cool woman, but she also has a warm side to her. She has a gentle demeanor, but is also strict and always follows her principles. How she often crossdresses to play male roles is one of her main characteristics too.

Clarisse follows the noble lady stereotype because Terada thought the game definitely needed a girl like that. The way she loves books and how she might get engulfed in the darkness enclosed in books and her magic is one of the main points of the story. Clarisse often uses slander in a cute way, like “Please go to hell!”, so people wanting to get abused by her seiyuu Saori Hayami should look forward to it. Terada jokingly added that all the girls in Shin Sakura Taisen wear outfits which actually doesn’t show that much skin, so he made it sure that Clarisse has a skirt. Personally speaking, I agree with him and I find the outfits to be overall the same as what the series did in the past. Many might think Kubo Tite’s design made it so the girls in Shin Sakura Taisen all have high exposure outfits and big breasts, but it’s nothing new. Characters like Kanna and Sumire already showed their cleavage all the time.

Besides the 6 main characters revealed, many characters from Combat Revues around the world will appear too. They will be revealed later. Katano stated that the staff of the Imperial Theater and surprising characters will appear, probably hinting at Sumire. Katano also strongly hinted that characters from Sakura Wars 1 to 5 will appear. He said we definitly shouldn’t forget that while the game is structured like a reboot, it’s still a proper sequel to the series.

Shin Sakura Taisen‘s graphical engine is based on Sonic games’ Hedgehog Engine. The dialogue and events scenes are inspired from the Yakuza series. The game uses all the knowledge and know-how Sega accumulated. In counterpart, pretty much everyone at Sega has their eyes on the development team, and Terada joked how it feels like some Sakura Wars fans at the company will break their arms if they screw up.

The battle system will be revealed later. For now, Katano only said that they’re taking into account how many players didn’t play the past games, so it’ll be “simpler to play”.

Regarding the new mecha details, and how the Mugen is a “mass-produced” Spirit Particle Fighter: Otsubo stated that we shouldn’t expect to see hundreds of Mugen units fighting just because they’re “mass-produced”. They also revealed that the Mugen and all new mecha in Shin Sakura Taisen were designed by Mika Akitaka.

Details on the mini-games included in Shin Sakura Taisen will be revealed at the same time as the battle system.

The game has over 80 songs, and as already announced by Kohei Tanaka during Sega Fes 2019, each character will get their own solo songs too.

Last but not least, Katano stated that Sega wishes to bring back the Sakura Taisen musicals with the new cast from Shin Sakura Taisen. Whether it happens or not depends on how well the game will perform.

Project Sakura Wars is known as Shin Sakura Taisen/New Sakura Wars in Japan. The game launches on PS4 next winter in Japan, and in Spring 2020 in the west.

We’ve extensively covered everything about the game so far. Comments from the cast were published. An unfinished trailer published by mistake revealed story details not officially announced yet. Sakura Wars creator Oji Hiroi recently spoke about how the franchise influenced Japanese culture. Sega’s Toshihiro Nagoshi also spoke about the game and how ” we’ve only seen 20% of the interesting bits of Project Sakura Wars”.

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Iyane Agossah

Living near Paris, Iyane is the head of Japanese content at DualShockers. You can reach him on Twitter at @A_iyane07

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