Blue Reflection is known to be a colourful, stylish yet bittersweet PS4 JRPG about high school girls. The most important person, a.k.a, the father of this game is also the person who designed characters for Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland, Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, and Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland. These titles all share transparent, airy looking, bright arts. Some people may have mistaken the artist for a woman, but little do they know he is actually the self-proclaimed hentai illustrator, Mel Kishida (岸田 メル).
Kishida sensei is never shy about his so called hentai (but not really) attributes. In Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention (STGCC) 2017, sensei made a public appearance to introduce the English version of Blue Reflection, followed by a private interview with QooApp to truly reveal what strange stuff he has put in the game.
Mel Kishida at STGCC stage
Mel Kishida with QooApp
▍Blue Reflection is by men, for men
“Blue Reflection is mainly made for guys.”
Kishida sensei is frank about this. As the father, the supervisor and the character designer of Blue Reflection, he knew how to make a franchise for men.
Blue Reflection is often compared to Persona 5. They both involve high school life, friendship, and turn-based battles in another dimension. The latter is welcomed by both females and males across the globe, while the former has attracted a smaller size of audience which largely consists of males. The reason is, Kishida sensei said, “we wanted to answer Atelier fans’ wishes.”
Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland
The Atelier series, featuring magic girls drawn in bright colours and dressed in bubbly costumes in a fantasy setting, has attracted a large amount of male audiences. The developer, Gust (subsidiary of Koei Tecmo), definitely recognised these fans’ expectation for another Atelier-like male-oriented title, and in the end they make Blue Reflection a bit of a melancholically atmospheric game also about girls.
“We can’t make it in common anime style. Otaku nowadays are interested in genres that are difficult, maniacal, philosophical. We have to cut back a lot of elements if Blue Reflection is made to attend the masses.”
At the same time, Kishida sensei wanted to make something more realistic, therefore he kept Atelier’s ingredients, including the colourfulness and the magic girls, but abandoned its fantasy base. This is why Blue Reflection is about schoolgirls, aiming to reflect how teenage girls befriend each other, hate each other, and grow up amidst all these.
To achieve that authenticity, he drew inspirations from Japanese movie Hana and Alice (花とアリス) and his visits to high schools. Additionally, he took the opportunity of being a judge of a “Miss XXX” contest of some sort to come into contact with different teenage girls. He listened to their stories and tried his best to understand their mentality. “Some come from broken families. Some are underground idols. They cut their wrists and can only sleep with sleeping pills,” Kishida sensei recalled.
But that’s not it. The self-titled hentai even go as far as portraying how teenage girls behave privately in Blue Reflection.
Kishida sensei used to have a fetish meeting with the production crew. They would talk about girls’ secret sides and which side was their kink.
“At first, everyone was very shy. Then I started off by saying I like girls’ stinky feet. After that, others immediately felt more comfortable to reveal their favourites, such as seeing panties on the floor.”
Sensei revealed that he actually repeated exclaiming his love for stinky feet in public so many times that the developer decided to make stinky feet in the game just for him.
“They did a motion capture with a girl, telling her to smell her own feet. As for visualising the smell, they initially made it brown, but changed it to white upon realising it’s too disgusting.”
Girls with dynamic personalities and strange odour aren’t enough to please male fans. There are bound to be fanservices like girls naked in shower, wet uniforms, and of course the classic “panties seen while running”, but they are nothing erotic, just borderline sexual. As the person who is responsible for everything except for the system, it’s his job to draw that line.
“Weekly Shonen Jump often includes sexy scenes which may be acceptable to teenagers. I use it as as a benchmark.” He further explained that Blue Reflection is supposed to be refreshing instead of too sexy, as well as carrying a level of sophistication.
Unfortunately, players overseas may not be enjoying such sweet fan services.
“I haven’t checked the localisation version though. I think – very possibly, some scenes in these versions may have been cut out. Haha!”
▍The future of the girls under Kishida’s brush
Now that Blue Reflection has been out, and the international versions are also coming soon. Is this already everything for the franchise?
“We are thinking of other possibilities, like anime, mobile game, or even a second game.” Sensei especially stressed the possibility of a mobile version, saying it might have the same idea but a totally different concept since mobile platforms reached a larger audience group. Still, the mobile idea is undecided as “there are other opinions from the crew and many roadblocks ahead”.
Sensei’s girls may even get handsome men in the future as he is interested in making otome games, but will the Blue Reflection girls get romantic sometimes later?
“No!” He can’t imagine Blue Reflection betraying male fans by making the girls fall love with male characters, but introducing male to male relationship in the title should be fine as they already made an attempt in this direction in Atelier.
Although nothing is sure yet, Kishida sensei confirmed for the first time in an interview that he is very likely to work on a darker, sadder theme. He said the team seemed to be heading towards that direction, and he was more than happy to go along with it.
“Even for Atelier, we may continue to make something out of the characters. Nothing is impossible.”
▍The secret to success
Mel Kishida at STGCC autograph session
Even before Blue Reflection and Atelier, Kishida sensei had already been well known for his drawing style. All his works are airy, transparent yet bright, giving his characters a doll-like attribute. Of course, getting the skills he has takes a long time of practise. Here, however, are some tips that can help any illustrators who wish to draw in a similar style.
For transparency, he said, “use yellow, pink and purple for shadowing”. Never use brown, otherwise the airiness and transparency will be spoiled by dullness.
For colour, he suggested keeping the colour bright by making contrast. Do not overdo the contrast and make one side too dark, otherwise the picture becomes too heavy.
Last but not least, he usually makes his lines look very natural and blended well with the colours. Hence, never, never ever use black line.
“If you practise hand drawn water colour illustrations with the tips above and achieve transparency, you will draw very well with a PC too.”
“Clear summer sky spreads over the Hoshinomiya Girl’s High school.
This story begins with the late start of school life for Shirai Hinako, who has just recovered from a leg injury.
‘Reflectors’ are magical girls who protect ‘Fragments’ of people’s memories and emotions.
Hinako receives her powers as she meets with sisters Shijou Yuzuki and Raimu, and together with her friends she now has to face the terrible danger that threatens their world.
For the sake of this world, and her own dream, that she thought she had to give up on.
A brand-new heroic RPG from GUST!”
The Japanese version is already out for PS4. The English version is coming on 26th September.