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REMEMBRANCES OF A KOF ILLUSTRATOR: AN INTERVIEW WITH EIJI

Falcoon is the first of my interviews that I actually conducted in person.
It begins with a story concerning his college days, and it's obvious he's a guy who's really wild about illustrating.

TEMPTATIONS OF THE TEMPORAL WORLD
TEMPTATIONS OF THE TEMPORAL WORLD
I like drawing temples and Bhuddas,...
A serene Falcoon reflects on his work.
Temples and Bhuddas...That's...different...
But drawing women rocks!
Yeah!
True enlightenment has been reached!!!
Please tell me about the source of your pseudonym.
It's a nickname I got in college. Even though my friends have scattered to the four winds after leaving college, I thought they would know it was me when they saw that name.


So, please tell me all the titles you've been involved with in the KOF series (hereafter, KOF).
Let's see, KOF 2003, Maximum Impact...and many more to come.
Then I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule. m(_ _)m

A lot of characters from the SNK games up till now appear in KOF. When you first got involved, how did you feel about that?
Well, there was that pressure dealing with all of those characters and the stress of having my new visuals compared with the old and familiar images of previous games. It was really the mother of all battles to do this! (^_^)

Among all the characters that appeared, which character from which game were you happiest to deal with?
...Tizoc from Mark of Wolves.

Among the characters that didn't appear, is there one character you thought, "Man, I really wanted to put that guy in the game."? Which character from which game would that have been?
Jubei Yamada from Fatal Fury. He's the character I used in gaming contests and he's the character I rank number one among them all.

Which original KOF character do you like?
I really like Hinako! Yashiro and the duo of K' and Maxima are cool, too. And because the new characters for KOF 2003 were the first visuals I illustrated, they rank high on my list of favorites.

Which character did you think, "This guy's really wild!"? What characteristic makes him special?
For the moment, that would be Ash. He's the main character, and he's a completely jiggy character.

I think there must have been characters you drew well and some you didn't, could you come right out and tell us who they were?
...The characters that were easiest for me were what you might call the strange or the ugly characters (^_^;) (laugh); they offer you a lot of freedom to create. The characters I had trouble with were the proper main characters and the cute "idols." The "strike zone" for getting them right is pretty small for them.

Let's step away from the characters a bit...what did you think was really difficult about being in charge of the series.
It's difficult drawing close to 40 characters. You have to go back and adjust the quality of the characters of those you drew at the beginning with those drawn near the end because you get better and better as you draw.


If there was something you thought was great about working on KOF, could you tell us what that was?
I got involved at the beginning of a new chapter in the series, so it was a real kick to have characters that I designed the first visuals for.
If there's anything you have to be concerned about when you're creating digital illustrations, what would that be? And would it be something different from when you illustrate by hand?
Hitting the save button is the most important thing. And managing all the layers for the characters that you have to deal with.

Speaking of managing layers, just how many would that entail?
With one part and one layer, there are 50 to 60 layers per character. One promotional poster then would consist of-whoa! \(@_@)/-I'd say 2,300 layers.

Do you doodle? What sort of doodles do you draw?
...I'm a big fan of the female form (laugh), so I'm often searching for the ultimate pose-no clothes, of course.

While looking at models or photographs?
I don't need anything. I piece together the fragments of my memory as a sort of mental gymnastics exercise and just draw.

I know you can't toss all the work you have now aside, but if someone told you that you could, what would be the first thing you'd do?
I'd like to play pachinko (a Japanese form of gambling and pinball) from dawn to dusk without having to worry about the time. I'd go pro and wander the land (laugh). [BOTH BREAK UP LAUGHING]


Please tell us your memories regarding KOF.
(A particularly memorable incident at work, any failures or inside anecdotes-anything will do.)

The release of KOF '94 really blew me away. From the appearance of Iori in '95, I really looked forward to seeing where the story would go each year and what new or returning characters there'd be. As far as my work goes, being in charge of the new characters was great.

Did you know that KOF would be this popular from the very beginning?
When I saw KOF '94, I knew it would go on annually because I thought it was sort of a festival game, an event.

What sort of hopes do you have for the future of KOF?
I want it to go on till the end of time. I want to see a lot more characters (laughs) and hope to, in a good way, double-cross the fans.
FALCOON
CURRENT WORK:
Illustrating and game development

EQUIPMENT HE USES:
Dell OPTIPLEX GX260
Pentium 4 2.40GHz
MEMORY: 525MB

FAVORITE SOFTWARE:
Photoshop 7.0 (at work)
Photoshop 5.0 (at home)

IMPORTANT THINGS IN HIS LIFE:
AT WORK: Tension
AT HOME: His homepages and stuffed-animal panda

FAVORITE THINGS:
Fighting games, finding hew combo moves in fighting games

ADVICE TO PROSPECTIVE ILLUSTRATORS:
Don't view your own drawings as good or bad.
It's important to regard your own work as unique.
If there's something you like other than illustrating, quit illustrating.

WHAT IS "KOF" FOR YOU?:
"A grab bag of surprises."


I'd like to thank Falcoon for carefully answering my questions from beginning to end and his stories about illustrating, games, and the female form (laughs).
We didn't talk much about his current projects, but let's just say this: "I just can't wait!" (Laughs.)


Mai Shiranui
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