Talking Fairy Tail, fandoms and JRPG expectations with producer Keisuke Kikuchi

Posted on July 16, 2020

Fairy Tailthe video game adaptation of the popular manga and anime series is just a short few weeks away. It’s a game I’m particularly excited about, even as a newcomer to the franchise, being quite impressed with a preview event’s demo late last year. With the release ever nearing, I got the opportunity to interview the game’s producer, Keisuke Kikuchi. I got some exciting answers about what to expect with the game.

One of the big questions that comes whenever adapting an anime and manga series as beloved as Fairy Tail, is how faithful it’ll be. In the game’s marketing alone, it’s been said that both fan favourite episodes as well as new originals will be featured. For fans, that’s an exciting promise. Just how will seeing some of the all time greats of Fairy Tail play out in a game format? I asked Kikuchi to elaborate on this, and got a nice little tease.

“In FAIRY TAIL, scenes from the anime and manga are realized in 3D which adds an additional layer of depth and texture. I think this provides a new flavor of ‘cool’ to the game overall. I hope players can try and compare the scenes from the anime and manga and the game for themselves as well.”

Frankly, I don’t think Kikuchi has to do much hoping. I can only assume that fans will have their eyes glued to every frame of the in-game translated anime and manga moments. After all, that’s what hungry fans did with Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot earlier this year. Isn’t it just enchanting seeing your favourite moments from your favourite series, all captured in a new light?

Even more enticing, is that Kikuchi also promises new and never before seen character dynamics in the game. ‘Special events’ will occur all throughout the game, which is a neat and new little excuse to get characters that wouldn’t otherwise interact to do so.

Of course, all of this is all well and good in theory. You’d think it’s an easy and seamless recipe for a game: translate beloved series into a new format; profit. Well, it’s not that simple. Sure, you have hours upon hours of content to choose from, but how do you fit that into the when and where that the game’s overarching story follows? Does that come with its own troubles? Thankfully, it appears fans are in good hands with this game, with a lot of thought being put into which episodes and characters to focus and feature on.

“We went over these details with [franchise creator] Mashima-sensei many times,” Kikuchi explains. “We really had trouble choosing what characters we wanted to add or what scenes to recreate, but overall, it was a really fun process! The sheer number of characters that appear in the story is definitely one of FAIRY TAIL’s special features.”

“…We really had trouble choosing what characters we wanted to add or what scenes to recreate, but overall, it was a really fun process!

It’s only natural that a video game adaptation of an anime series with over 300 episodes (and 63 manga volumes) is going to be mainly for the lifelong fans. Still, while admitting that its definitely a game that falls more into the fan service party, Kikuchi hopes it can pull in new fans too.

“We did make an effort to develop the game so that players that have never read or watched the series before can follow the story and understand the various personalities of the characters. I hope that fans can enjoy the game, anime and manga together”

This absolutely tracks from the time I’ve spent with the game so far. Admittedly, I know next to nothing about the Fairy Tail franchise. However, a very true to form JRPG world, filled to the brim with appealing anime tropes will undoubtedly transcend past its own fanbase. If you’re like me, unfamiliar with Fairy Tail, but still enjoy seeing experiencing classic JRPG exchanges and world building, you’ll be sold. I know I was.

If you’re here as an avid fan, let me whet your appetite for the game a little more. Some of the exciting, ever-familiar and iconic Fairy Tail we’ll get to visit are Lucy’s house in Magnolia, Crocus’ royal palace and Mavis Vermillion’s grave on Tenrou Island. Get ready for some sweet atmospheric setting!

One of the parts that really drew me in with the preview was the bonds mechanic in the game. It reminded me greatly of the relationships you form in last year’s Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Ever curious, I asked just how these bonds would help us on our journey.

“Depending on the level of the ‘Bonds’ the player has developed between their characters, Magic Chain abilities and attacks become easier and the number of abilities the player has access to also increases.”

Kikuchi doesn’t have a particular combination he recommends for these bonds. Instead, he hopes players find their own fun dynamics that work for them. However, he did tell me his main. “Personally, I use Juvia as the central character in my team and build the rest of my party around her,” he elaborates.

Like many games this year, Fairy Tail was unfortunately a title that fell to delay after delay. We spoke a bit about this, noting what work on the game looked like in isolation. To it, he said the following:

“Development currently consists of each member of the team working from their home and using various communication methods in order to reach and work with all of the different teams and companies involved. At first, it was difficult to properly communicate everything, and we were required to implement a new work flow, but we were able to solve each problem as they came up.”

In this reply, Kikuchi also appears grateful for the patience fans have kept in waiting. “I am so grateful for all of the support we received in order to proceed towards the official release,” he says, ending his thought.

As a means of wrapping up the interview, I asked Keisuke Kikuchi if there’s anything left he’d like to tease about the game before the release. He spoke of occasional events that can occur at Lucy’s house and certain character combinations creating different variations of the series’ popular ‘Unison Raid’ attack. There’s even the special use of Extreme Magic (such as Makarov’s Fairy Law), which is pulled off by filling certain prerequisites. To top it off, an S rank Quest Board will appear upon finishing of the main game, there for the hungry completionists.

Fairy Tail’s launch isn’t far off at all. It’s dropping on July 30th on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC. Whether you’re a longtime fan or just looking for a good JRPG to sink your teeth into, this one will sure be worth checking out.