This article contains spoilers for the Etrian Odyssey series, including Etrian Odyssey Nexus
The Sekaiju no Meikyuu X and V (Etrian Odyssey Nexus and V) artbook, SQ Art Museum, was released on 1st April 2019. In addition to art from the two games, the book also includes interviews with staff, including one with series director Komori Shigeo and character designer Himukai Yuuji.
The interviewer shows Komori and Himukai the results of the survey’s question on which games the participants had played:
- Nexus: 92.5%
- V: 92.5%
- IV: 88.2%
- III: 72.1%
- II: 66.6%
- I: 59.6%
With the games ranked in backwards order of release, Komori comments that it is impressive that Ronin and Protector were so high on the favourite job ranking. He also says that as a developer, he wonders what the least popular job classes were, and Himukai says that as he and Komori have niche tastes, they sometimes create characters that they think will be very popular that end up with little attention, and the two agree that art director Sasazu Hiroshi knows better than them what players want.
Komori says that because he usually shares Himukai’s point of view, he does not make many rejections, but Himukai points out that in the case of Nexus, Komori actually did request a number of changes to NPCs, which was rare for him, and gave the example of Enrica’s breasts being made bigger being entirely Komori’s decision. Komori takes some time to think before saying that this decision was made entirely subjectively, to balance out the age of the cast: He says that as he shares the same tastes as Himukai, he is usually fine with everything Himukai does, but sometimes needs to take a step back and prioritise thinking subjectively over his own tastes. Himukai points out that Enrica ended up well-received, and says that he had fun taking orders directly from Komori regarding the designs in Nexus.
They next go on to discuss the Vampire class in Nexus. Komori says that they wanted to make a secret in the game that would function as a secret even in the internet age, and Himukai says that it went well, and that he stayed glued to the internet wondering when people would find out.
The interviewer asks how the Vampire class came about, and Himukai says that since the beginning of the series, they wanted to include some sort of unreversible curse in the games: Something like a sword that says it will curse the user if equipped that seems like just flavour text, but eventually does turn the monster if used for too long, with no way to turn back, this being a result of the player’s decision to have kept using the sword. Komori says that the class was initially named simply “Vampire” (in Japanese, the final version is named “Kin of the Dark”) and was its own full class, with powerful skills but large demerits.
Himukai notes that the request for art for the Vampire class came late in development, and Komori says that though he told the staff that they would be adding the class early in development, when he found that it was not still implemented late in development and asked about it it turned out that they thought he was not being serious about it, and they only started work on it then.
The interviewer next presents the two with a question from a survey participant, asking what they think defines the series, and both think it is the hand-drawn maps. Himukai says that the maps give the games its own unique pace, where players stop every few steps to fill out the map, and Komori reiterates that the mapping is an important part of the series, saying that he might be digging his own grave saying this when thinking of the next game.
The two are next presented with a request from a survey participant, asking each to talk about something about the other that moved them.
Himukai recalls that when working on III, when the series and its characters were just starting to get popular, Komori decided that III would take place in the sea with an entirely new set of classes. Himukai had thought that the series would maintain the status quo, simply adding on new elements as it went on, and this changed his way of thinking greatly. Himukai says he was a fundamentalist and conservatist in this area, who thought that there was no need to make large changes, but he realised from this experience that time is constantly flowing like a river, and refusing to change means being left behind: To truly maintain the status quo, one has to change to match the flow, and remaining the same is equal to regression.
In Komori’s case, he says that he is constantly being surprised by Himukai’s passion for the series, being willing to give advice on projects early in development or draw art for jobs that might not even be implemented. He says that usually when working with external illustrators, the developers will simply give them clear orders on what to do, but Himukai will come up with ideas and rough sketches while he is still thinking, and this results in higher quality in many areas, for which he is thankful. Himukai says that because he once worked on something that got cancelled which left him with regret for not being able to do everything he wanted to, he now approaches all jobs with the stance that it might be his last chance, and makes sure to do everything that he wants to.
Finally, Komori says that they already revealed the “next stage” of the series, and hopes that they will be able to bring fans more of the series in some form. With only half a year since the release of Nexus, however, he says that he hopes fans will be patient and wait a bit more.