Kandagawa Jet Girls,When Senran Kagura creator Kenichiro Takaki left Marvelous Entertainment, many fans of the series were shocked.
In order to learn more about Takaki-san’s future, his new game, what he sees in the future of the Senran Kagura series, and more, we interviewed him in Tokyo.
Giuseppe: To what extent are you still working with Marvelous?
Kenichiro Takaki: As we announced in August, I’m working on Kandagawa Jet Girls. I’m the producer creating the game and I’m also involved with the anime side.
Giuseppe: Are you still working on the Senran Kagura series as well?
Kenichiro Takaki: Yes, I’m still working on the series, mainly the mobile game Shinobi Master Senran Kagura: New Link.
Giuseppe: Why did you decide to move on from Marvelous?
Kenichiro Takaki: First of all, I love Marvelous. I feel very attached to the company because I worked on so many games there, and that’s where I started with the Senran Kagura series, Valkyrie Drive and more. It all began from there.
That being said, I had several changes in my life. Now I’m a father and I just wanted to try something new and to challenge myself. That’s one of the biggest reasons I decided to move on.
Giuseppe: Speaking of Kandagawa Jet Girls, we don’t know much about the game yet. Is that the Mario Kart game you have always wanted to do?
Kenichiro Takaki: Yes, it’s something like that.
Giuseppe: You sure like to explore many different genres. I remember that two years before announcing Peach Ball Senran Kagura, you told me in an interview that you wanted to make a flipper game and you even described its mechanics that ended up being exactly what ended up in the final game. Honestly, I didn’t believe you. I thought you were joking.
Kenichiro Takaki: When someone asks me what kind of game I’d like to make in the future, usually my answer is something I’m actually working on at that time (laughs).
Giuseppe: The next time I ask I’m going to believe you (laughs). This is something that many have been wondering about: why only PS4 for Kandagawa Jet Girls? Especially considering the censorship issues, why not Switch or PC?
Kenichiro Takaki: First of all, this team is actually not that big, so it would have been really tough to work on multiplatform. We really wanted to time the game with the anime release. That’s why we wanted to focus only on PS4.
Giuseppe: Maybe you’d be interested in porting the game to other platforms you release it on PS4?
Kenichiro Takaki: Probably PC. We always try to consider PC releases.
Giuseppe: There has been a report mentioning that Marvelous lowered its earnings predictions for a game because of the difficulties of implementing fanservice on PS4. Is that related to Kandagawa Jet Girls? If it is, are you possibly maybe thinking of ramping the fanservice up again later maybe on PC?
Kenichiro Takaki: The basic concept of Kandagawa Jet Girls doesn’t really rely on fanservice, so we didn’t remove anything from the original concept because of restrictions on the platform.
Giuseppe: So you didn’t actually have to hold back?
Kenichiro Takaki: Yes. We actually intended to showcase our cute and beautiful girls without necessarily pushing the sexual element too much. There is nothing we had to hold back on.
Giuseppe: Does that mean that that report was inaccurate?
Kenichiro Takaki: That was misinterpreted. That mention was related to something else, so I was like “eeh?” and I was really surprised as well.
Giuseppe: What do you see in the future of Senran Kagura?
Kenichiro Takaki: I work on some projects for Marvelous but I am not employed there anymore, so it’s hard to tell from my side. In the long run, I hope to see something like a sequel or a brand new Senran Kagura title. I really hope that could happen in the future.
Giuseppe: At the moment, besides the mobile game, you’re not personally working on any other Senran Kagura game?
Kenichiro Takaki: That’s correct in terms of games. I do some collaboration work and overseeing work on Senran Kagura merchandising for other companies.
Giuseppe: Do you think mobile can be an outlet for developers to be free from certain content restrictions?
Kenichiro Takaki: Probably… Not really. I don’t think mobile will be necessarily an environment affording more freedom to developers. There are guidelines or restrictions like on consoles.
If we re-released an old Senran Kagura game on mobile, I don’t think it would be exactly the same.
Giuseppe: I don’t know if you can even answer to this one, but do you have any knowledge on whether Marvelous is working on any Senran Kagura games besides the mobile one?
Kenichiro Takaki: (Laughs) I don’t know!
Giuseppe: (Laughs) Well. I had to try. Considering what we talked about earlier, is there any genre that you’d like to personally try next?
Kenichiro Takaki: I’d really like to make a kung-fu action game?
Giuseppe: So this kung-fu game would be different from the high fantasy one you’re working on.
Kenichiro Takaki: That may be a possibility.
Giuseppe: What sparked the idea of Kandagawa Jet Girls? Is it really inspired by Mario Kart?
Kenichiro Takaki: Next year we’ll have the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, so I wanted to create something related to sports and competitions, portraying girls working hard together to excel. I wanted to implement that kind of concept in a game.
Of course, I love Mario Kart. Then there’s the idea of Dead or Alive Xtreme with jet races. Also, I tried a jetski when I went on vacation, and it was so amazing! I wanted to mix up all these ideas and experiences, and that’s how the idea of Kandagawa Jet Girls came up.
Giuseppe: Looking at the artwork for the game, I am assuming that it’ll be racing on jet skis with water guns. Is that correct?
Kenichiro Takaki: That’s correct.
Giuseppe: You also told me that you’re often inspired by the games you play. I remember that Battlefield inspired you to make Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash. What are you playing now?
Kenichiro Takaki: I’m currently playing Samurai Showdown.
Giuseppe: So when are you making a fighting game?
Kenichiro Takaki: We just announced that Yumi will appear in Arc System Works’ BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle.
Giuseppe: Are you consulting on that?
Kenichiro Takaki: Yes, I’m doing some consulting for Yumi.
Giuseppe: She looks really lovely in that art style. You seem to like to work with different artists. Is there one that you’d really like to work with in the future?
Kenichiro Takaki: There are a lot of them.
Giuseppe: Could you give me an example?
Kenichiro Takaki: It’s a secret (laughs):
Giuseppe: Circling back to Kandagawa Jet Girl, is the game coming out exactly at the same time as the anime?
Kenichiro Takaki: Probably pretty much the same time.
Giuseppe: Will the game have multiplayer?
Kenichiro Takaki: Yes, it will.
Giuseppe: Will it be local or just online?
Kenichiro Takaki: Just online. I feel that in the west many get together to play locally, but in Japan people often prefer to play multiplayer online.
Giuseppe: How are you going to tie them together? Are they going to have the same story and characters? I’ve seen a couple of special characters teased for the game, but everyone knows who they are. Let’s say it wasn’t a very “ninja” tease… Or maybe it was, but not in the stealthy meaning of the word.
Kenichiro Takaki: The concept is the same, but the story is slightly different. The timeline is the same, but for instance, the way the two protagonists meet is slightly different between the game and the anime.
Giuseppe: So is it a retelling of the same story?
Kenichiro Takaki: Actually there are a lot of differences. There are two original characters only for the game, and I’m sure Senran Kagura fans will be really happy about them.
Giuseppe: We’ve already seen them, more or less.
Kenichiro Takaki: But it’s not them (laughs).
Giuseppe: Wait a second: with “original” you mean that they’re completely new characters, but fans of the Senran Kagura series will appreciate them?
Kenichiro Takaki: They’re totally original, but Senran Kagura fans will probably understand and love them.
Giuseppe: Is Kandagawa Jet Girls a game that you’re developing with the idea of releasing it in the west, or you’re focusing only on Japan?
Kenichiro Takaki: For now we’re just working on the Japanese version, but like the Senran Kagura series I feel lots of overseas fans would love it, so I hope to release it overseas as well.
Giuseppe: Do you think you want to continue to work on Marvelous’ projects even after Kandagawa Jet Girls, or sooner of late we’ll just reach a point in which it’s time to say goodbye?
Kenichiro Takaki: Well, there will be a point in which the collaboration will end.
Kandagawa Jet Girls releases in Japan for PS4 on January 16, 2020.