Long-time Final Fantasy producer and Kingdom Hearts originator Shinji Hashimoto retires
One of the most famous faces at Square Enix says goodbye to the company today, with long-time Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts series stalwart Shinji Hashimoto formally retiring from the company.
Hashimoto announced the news on his personal twitter account, posting a photo of himself outside one of Square Enix Japan's offices with a Chocobo plush - a fitting farewell for somebody with such a storied history with the Final Fantasy series.
"Good day, everyone. As of today 31 May, I am leaving my job due to entering retirement age," Hashimoto wrote in the tweet. "I have worked with many people from various fields during my tenure. From here on, I'd like to support Square Enix as a fan. Thank you very much."
Hashimoto's departure marks the end of an era, as his career spans many of Square Enix's greatest games.
On the Final Fantasy side of things, Hashimoto first worked as a publicity producer for Final Fantasy VII, having joined Square from Bandai. From then on, Hashimoto held a major role on pretty much every major offline Final Fantasy title from then on. He acted as producer on FF8, 9, and 15, Executive Producer on FF13 and 7 Remake, and worked in sales and marketing on FF10 and 12. He also held similar roles on a slew of spin-offs, from Dissidia to Chocobo's Dungeon, Theatrhythm, Type-0, and beyond. He also acted as Producer on FF7 movie spin-off Advent Children.
For the latter ten years of his tenure at Square Enix, he acted as the Final Fantasy Brand Manager, overseeing the entire series. It was in this role he found internet fame, as the laughing executive face of the Square Enix "please be excited" meme.
For Kingdom Hearts, Hashimoto could practically be considered the series' co-creator. As the story goes, Square Enix and Disney Japan shared a Tokyo office building when at one time Hashimoto found himself in the elevator with a Disney executive. Small-talk gave way to ideas, and the two conspired to bring the two companies together for a project. After the idea was passed around executives at Square Enix, control of the fledgling project was handed to one Tetsuya Nomura - giving birth to Kingdom Hearts. Hashimoto continued to be involved in every entry in the series as a producer.
Elsewhere, Hashimoto was always an outspoken advocate of the Front Mission series, a particular favourite of his - and famously told RPG Site that Chrono Trigger fans should've bought more copies if they wanted to see the series continue - with trademark blunt humor.
Hashimoto stepped down from the above roles into a more advisory role last year - and now he's leaving entirely, off to retire. Regular Final Fantasy artist Toshiyuki Itahana posted a very sweet piece of art of Hashimoto with a Chocobo and Moogle to say goodbye.
On a personal note, I want to say that RPG Site had the pleasure of interviewing Hashimoto-san a number of times - sometimes in a completely off-the-cuff, unscheduled sitting, a rare thing indeed for Japanese development figures. He was always passionate, humorous, and perhaps a little more honest than PR would like. His presence will be missed - and he's earned a happy retirement.
Square Enix rolls on, of course. The first major Final Fantasy game without a Hashimoto credit in many years will be the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI - and we're due to hear more about that game quite soon - possibly even later this week, with a PlayStation State of Play stream incoming.