In all my years as a videogame player and as an investigator, I’ve had the opportunity to contact many of the designers whose work has inspired me the most. Such fortunate fact of my life has also presented me with an opportunity for an improved understanding of the reality of game creation, particularly in Japan, the Mecca of this intricate specialty which is yet to be widely recognized. Pertaining the Japanese ways of design, I soon came to the conclusion that the truly emblematic works mostly originated from the authors who presented a greater awareness of European culture - mostly its Arts and History - instead of an excessive reverence for a specific post-modern Japanese legacy of references in entertainment. Some of these designers, as was the case of Haruhiko Shono, displayed an uncommon reverence for French culture, especially from a period when France was culturally equivalent - and indeed worthy of rivalry - of the United States.
When we analyze the games of Yoshiro Kimura, though bearing the distinct seal of idiosyncrasy that was originally the cornerstone of Nishi’s Love.de.Lic, we perceive an uncommon cognizance of a blend of different cultures. As a man who has travelled around the world for the sake of gathering small moments of cultural revelation and exchange, Kimura’s games bear many traits intrinsic to different cultures as portrayed in the many characters that form the society of Chulip; or in the Anglo-Saxon references present in Little King’s Story. Although a respected game creator among a small society of videogame enthusiasts, his sphere of interests goes well beyond digital applications, being a confessed admirer of children’s literature - Le Petit Prince, by Saint-Exupéry being his favorite book - and of experimental animation cinema.
The following is a case of when Yoshiro Kimura evaded the game creation channels in order to create, in his own spare time between the production of Chulip and Rule of Rose, a small animated movie made with the participation of a few of his friends. Junko was a project entirely created in the comfort of his own bedroom which, he confesses, was a complete mess during production, with the entire set occupying most of the space. Of the two characters, animated using stop motion, Kimura created the miserable beggar who searches the abandoned town for anything that could mitigate his anguished existence. Kimura explained me how he wished to make this character look indigent by using a few teeth popping out of the mouth, as well as worn out black clothes. On the other hand, the female character representing the unattainable woman was created using a rather confusing Japanese female stereotype: on the one hand, a polite and helping stance; on the other, an figure of a selective and independent woman who, in spite of her appeal, doesn’t welcome a(ny) man into her life.
One among Kimura’s friends participating in this small project was none other than Hirofumi Taniguchi with whom, at first, the director had a few disputes as to the ideal tone for the soundtrack theme. Eventually, Taniguchi got it right and the final result can be heard throughout the picture. In the year of its release, in 2004, Junko was only available for viewing in the website of Dagaya Films. Since this piece of film is extremely rare and of interest to the followers of this ex-Punchline game director, I saw little or no choice to present a small blog post in return for Kimura’s kindness for letting me view this almost private endeavor which, then again, confirms his unusual talents as well as his affinity to French culture and language.4 years ago