Now Platinum's Hideki Kamiya weighs in on the JRPG debate: "It's something that should be celebrated moving forward"
It's been an interesting couple of months for one of the most common pieces of terminology in the role-playing game space, after Final Fantasy XIV and XVI's Naoki Yoshida surprised fans by stating that he didn't want FF16 to be called a 'JRPG'. Now, the debate has a new voice chiming in - famed Japanese developer Hideki Kamiya.
Back in February during an Final Fantasy XVI preview tour, Naoki Yoshida kicked off the debate after taking issue with YouTuber SkillUp using the term 'JRPG', meaning Japanese RPG, during an interview.
"There was a time when this term first appeared 15 years ago, and for us as developers the first time we heard it, it was like a discriminatory term," Yoshida explained. It's worth noting that Yoshida isn't the first Japanese developer to express this sort of concern - similar comments have been made by key staff from the likes of Xenoblade and Octopath Traveler - but Yoshida was the first to put it in such stark terms, recalling a period of time where he and others felt the term was used to ostracize Japanese-made games and present them as something less than their Western counterparts.
Legendary PlatinumGames lead Hideki Kamiya has quite different feelings, however - revealed in a recent interview with RPG Site's friends over at Video Games Chronicle.
"I have a positive sentiment when it comes to the term JRPG. Indeed, I think it’s something that we should be proud of," Kamiya begins, making his stance quite clear.
"I think it’s certainly something that should be celebrated moving forward," Kamiya says of the term. "These are RPG games that, in a sense, only Japanese creators can make with their unique sensitivity when it comes to creating these experiences."
Kamiya, of course, is not primarily known as a role-playing game creator - though he has appeared in an interview on RPG Site before for Platinum's aborted Scalebound, which has given us a slight glimpse of what a Kamiya-directed RPG might be like. He's better known for his work on Resident Evil, Viewtiful Joe, Devil May Cry, and Bayonetta - action-driven games. Speaking to VGC, Kamiya explains how his experiences with these games maps to his opinion about the JRPG terminology.
"When you look at God of War, you have Kratos. He’s muscly, he’s huge, he’s bald, he looks really kick-ass, basically," Kamiya explains. "So we thought, ‘okay, we have games like this which are becoming more popular globally, could we create something similar from a Japanese standpoint?’
"We discussed this internally, and the conclusion was that no, we obviously can’t, because this is something that’s not unique to us as Japanese creators. So in order to make an action game that would stand out we needed to create something that expressed our unique sensitivities as Japanese creators, and Bayonetta was a result of that.
"When you look at Bayonetta as a character, she doesn’t look strong like Kratos, she doesn’t look like she could take on these massive demons, but she was very unique in the way she was created, in the way we view action game heroes, from a unique Japanese viewpoint," Kamiya concludes.
Kamiya goes on to say he'd be perfectly happy to have games like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry - the latter of which was a huge influence on FF16 - be referred to as 'J-Action' games to differentiate their style from titles like God of War. "It highlights the unique elements that only Japanese developers can make," he notes. "We'd be more proud than anything else."