Monday, February 25, 2008

Tomonobu Itagaki is Kind of Insane

Tomonobu Itagaki (depicted above), the director of fabulously successful and schlockrageous franchises like Dead or Alive (no, not the Takashi Miike film! Nor the adaptation) and Ninja Gaiden, is probably insane. I say this after reading a story in the Daily Telegraph, in which Nick Cowen describes him as a "celebrity in Japan," moments after mentioning the abjunct failure of his games outside of the western market.

This put my brain close to explosion, because nothing about this guy, outside of the fact that he wears his sunglasses at night and has a couple of katana mounted behind his desk, seems to indicate that he's a celebrity. My gut reaction is that Nick Cowen got duped. Or... something. I mean, I can't take the article seriously in the first place because of paragraphs like this:
"In Japan, games producers enjoy celebrity status, while their Western counterparts are considered - at best -successful nerds and- at worst - juvenile delinquents. There, video games are regarded as an art form in their own right; one that sparks fierce debate on internet forums between the occasional and obsessive players."
Yes, Cowen is trying to convince us that angry internet forum arguments are a good way to gauge the cultural importance of video games in Japan, even though there is almost no legitimate evidence to back up his claims. I'm getting sidetracked here. The above article is dumb, but Itagaki is insane.

Take, for example, this 2002 interview with Itagaki from now-defunct XBN magazine, in which the man comes across as some kind of lecherous cyber-pimp:

XBN: A lot of men will buy [Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball] because of the attractive chicks. What is the most risque element you've included in Beach Volleyball?

Itagaki: You'd be surprised, but this is not really a sex game. The girls are beautiful, but I think of them like daughters. They're my babies!

The tone of the review is treacherously maladroit throughout, but the best quote, to me, is near the end.

XBN: Do you consider it normal practice to slag off your competitors?

Itagaki: Okay, let me tell you the real story with that. Back when the original DOA came out, Namco aired a radio commercial insulting the series. As the father of DOA, I will never forget an insult to my family. I will get them back with nuclear missiles more than 100 times for that. I will never forget it.

"I will get them back with nuclear missiles more than 100 times for that" is probably a mistranslation, but is it safe to say that Itagaki's original intent was one of near-total insanity? I'm banking on yes. Bonus points to whoever angrily uses "I will get you back with nuclear missiles over 100 times for that!" in an argument.

Of course, there were also those allegations of sexual harassment back in 2006, but talk about unsurprising.

I'm going to wrap things up with a video from Stephen Totilo's MTV Multiplayer blog, in which Itagaki himself commands us to stop mispronouncing his name, moments after mangling the title of his upcoming DS game "Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword." Enjoy!

1 comment:

Matt Brown said...

I'm holding my breath for Ninja Gaiden II and Dragon Sword. Both should be great continuations of the stellar series. Itagaki may be insane, but at least he speaks my language: Swords, Chicks, and non-stop, ultra-violent, ninja action!