AX 2019 Interview with CRYSTAR Team

At this year’s Anime Expo, Spike Chunsoft brought Fuyuki Hayashi and RIUCHI from FuRyu Corporation’s CRYSTAR game. The RPG game will debut in North America on August 27th, but the game itself has already drawn much attention for its unique gameplay and concept. Famitsu, one of Japan’s biggest game magazines, rated the game a solid 30/40. Key fans will also be excited to hear that the story is written by Naoki Hisaya, who previously served as one of Kanon’s scenario writers. Both Hayashi and RIUCHI shared their views on the game, and what inspired the design and story behind CRYSTAR.

APA: Can you please both introduce yourselves?

Fuyuki Hayashi: I am Fuyuki Hayashi, producer and director of CRYSTAR. Other than the original plot of the game, I wrote some of the text int he game as well. Some titles I like are Dragon Guard, Shin Megami Tensei and Kanon.

RIUCHI: I’m RIUCHI, the character designer for CRYSTAR. For each illustration, I put in a lot of details, so please enjoy. My favorite game is Phantasy Star.

Hayashi: Actually in Tokyo Tournament for CRYSTAR, he was the winner for the Time Attack.

APA: Phantasy Star is so nostalgic. How did you both become involved in CRYSTAR?

Hayashi: I was first given a title to produce. I put in all my life experiences into this game. That’s how I came up with the idea of CRYSTAR.

RIUCHI: While I was working at a convenience store, I got a call from Hayashi and from there, that’s how I joined the project.

APA: RIUCHI, with your oil painting style, were there any challenges when designing for this project?

RIUCHI: As you mentioned, my main style is oil painting, but for games, I need to draw lines. The pictures need to move too, so I was practicing a lot. At the beginning, it was difficult because I wasn’t used to it, but at the end, I was able to make my illustrations better. I wanted to retain the oil painting style and tone as much as possible, so I worked to transfer that to the game.

APA: RIUCHI, some of the art you’ve drawn is a gothic lolita style. Did you bring that to the game or was that already decided?

RIUCHI: It was my preference.

APA: Hayashi, this is a game that revolves around Rei, who lost her sister Mirai and seems to focus on mental health. You said that the game is inspired by your experiences, so can you talk about that?

Hayashi: Well, I haven’t killed my sister personally. [laughs] But video games supported me during hard times and I wanted to portray the characters going through hardship and overcoming.

APA: In the game, crying is a source of strength and has the ability to heal. What inspired the story of the sisters Rei and Mirai?

Hayashi: Hmm… I do have a younger sister, who I love very much. I wanted to portray how people act when they’re at their limit and I think somebody is at their most desperate when they lose their loved ones.

APA: Hayashi, you previously mentioned that the game was partially inspired by “Shelter.” Can you tell us more about that?

Hayashi: There are two big ways the Shelter music video inspired me. The way the girl in the video was relaxing in her room was very cute and that made me want to show something like that in my game. Also at the end, she cries, but the overall message was positive and I wanted to also show positive tears in my game.

APA: CRYSTAR is a combination of the words “cry” and “star,” but what does CRYSTAR mean to you?

Hayashi: When I came up with CRYSTAR, I wanted to show that because you cry, you become more beautiful. Stars can’t shine unless it’s dark, so I wanted to portray something that illuminates the darkest of nights. Riuichi created beautiful character designs and the characters have beautiful eyes like crystal in the way they shine. In Japanese, when you write CRYSTAR, it can also be read as “crystal.”

RIUCHI: I think it’s a great title. Cry is obviously “cry” in English, but in Japanese, it means “dark.” It’s like a pun, but it fits so well with the title. It’s just meant for it.

APA: When the protagonists are finding each other, they can summon guardian spirits. Can you talk about these guardians?

Hayashi: In CRYSTAR, you’re able to cry to fill your tear gauge and once it’s full, you’re able to awaken your guardian and it will fight alongside or protect you from attacks. There is also a chance they will automatically counter or block attacks from enemies. As far as the setting goes, they are basically a materialization of the characters’ spirit.

RIUCHI: Mainly, I wanted to make a knight that protects the girls. The protagonists’ color theme is blue, so the guardian also is blue with a blue fire on top to make the design prettier. When the protagonists transform into their armor, the motif for both are unicorns.

Kalai Chik

Pop culture writer focusing on animation, music, and games. Los Angeles native, USC alumni, and contributor for Asia Pacific Arts since 2015. Follow me on Twitter, @kalai_chik.

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