Fourteen years is a lot of time between games, and Tetsuya Nomura talked about the challenges he faced when revisiting character designs for Neo: The World Ends with You (NEO: TWEWY). The creative producer and character designer shared more in an interview with 4Gamer.
Here are some translated insights from Tetsuya Nomura on NEO: TWEWY character designs:
4Gamer: I’d like to talk about the character designs for NEO: The World Ends with You, but first, can you talk to us about the general concept behind the character designs for this title?
Tetsuya Nomura: “The concept is ‘present-day Shibuya.’ This time the stage is set in Shibuya, but the (actual) ward itself has changed significantly since the previous game. In a sense, the characters are ‘raw’ inhabitants of Shibuya.”
4Gamer: So does that mean the sense in character design was different from the previous game?
Tetsuya Nomura: “Back then, the feeling was something like the ‘present-day youth of Japan.’ However, this time the graphics are 3D, and there’s more realism to the world. There’s overall more information, so we had no choice but to go with the ‘youth that wouldn’t be strange to see in present-day Japan’s Shibuya.’ It wasn’t just me, so thanks to Gen Kobayashi and Miki Yamashita joining, I think we were able to draw something good.”
4Gamer: The characters must have their own concepts, but for example, how did you come up with the protagonist Rindo?
Tetsuya Nomura: “As for the protagonist, Neku from the previous game left a strong impression, which rooted from 14 years of ‘TWEWY = Neku,’ so I had a lot of trouble there. If the game was released earlier, I’m sure the hurdle wouldn’t be as high. After struggling around finding a way not to have people say ‘I don’t like it unless it’s Neku,’ I came up with his current appearance.”
4Gamer: What were some pointers that went into Rindo to surpass Neku?
Tetsuya Nomura: “Not making him too eccentric. Making it too eccentric narrows things down for the character, so we went with a more open and likable design.”
4Gamer: Not just his appearance, but he also seems to have a rational personality compared to those around him.
Tetsuya Nomura: “That’s right. Compared to everybody else’s characteristics, he’s normal in a sense, and that’s fitting for a protagonist. However, balancing the ‘ordinary yet charming’ part of it is difficult.”
4Gamer: What stage of development are the characters created?
Tetsuya Nomura: “Lately, the scenario comes first, then from there we put out the orders and start making them. In the past, we’ve made the characters first. Even for the previous game, I first drew Neku and Shiki. I used to create them thinking, ‘we’re going with this protagonist and heroine,’ but now the story and setting come first, then the characters along the way.”
NEO: The World Ends with You launches worldwide for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC on July 27, 2021. Check out the latest trailer that takes us into Shibuya in real life.