Thursday, May 10, 2018

A new interview with Tetsuya Takahashi has been added

An interesting interview with creator Tetsuya Takahashi from February this year by the Japanese denfaminicogamer site has been translated by Lugalbanda, and while it is not specifically a Xenogears or Xenosaga interview, it is a general Tetsuya Takahashi interview that goes into some interesting stuff about Xenogears and his time at Square and so I've decided it belongs on the study guide.

The information revealed in this interview has also compelled me to update the History of Xenogears article, adding some of the new information and quotes.

There may also be more interviews coming up from the Xenogears 20th Anniversary Concert pamphlet from the same translator, so stay tuned for that. Accordingly, I will re-arrange the interview order slightly and divide them up into more specific Xenogears and Xenosaga related interviews, and I will place the Xenogears interviews at the top since the latest interviews mostly concern Xenogears as well as Xenogears being the more popular work.

55 comments:

  1. Hi Lugalbanda, I don't know if you found out about it earlier, but aradimer from GameFAQs is preparing a translation of Anniversary's pamphlet in PDF. He has already made high quality scans, but lacks a skilled translator. In case you're interested in integrating your translation with his scans, I'm posting the link below.

    https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/boards/199365-xenogears/76615709

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    1. Hey Arfaerd. I guess I just completed part of that process by posting the translation below. However, I will say that my translation is by no means complete because it doesn't cover any of the refresher pages or musician profiles. It also doesn't translate Joanne Hogg's interview or ANUNA's, and I skip over some parts even within some of the interviews either because I found it to be not worth the effort for the type of information one would gain from reading, or because there seem to be some pages missing, or something going on, and I can't quite translate without proper context.

      Furthermore, I'm more interested in providing insight into the minds of the creators and information that may be vital to having a deeper understanding of Xeno to overseas audiences than I am about providing the "full experience" of reading something (in this case, the pamphlet). The pamphlet is still actively sold on Square Enix's website (even though it seems to be out of stock now), which is another reason why I don't want to translate anything I don't see as necessary. I won't say that I'm not interested though, so thank you for pointing it out to me.

      With that being said, I don't care if anyone wants to copy and paste what I did translate to do a scanlation, as long as it's not monetized and I'm credited somewhere.

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    2. Thanks for the response, I see that you've already contacted them, even a partial translation is great!

      Also considering your post on Xeno Underground. It's probably too early for me, since at the moment I only finished Xenogears and Episodes I-II (I'm going to finish Pied Piper and Missing Year soon, followed by Episode III and Xenoblade), but I would definitely love to have a place to discuss this series as a whole, especially in terms of overall story and references. If you need any help, I'll be happy to give you a hand with that.

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  2. Hello, I've prepared the pamphlet translation.

    https://xenomira.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/xenogears-20th-anniversary-concert-pamphlet-translation/

    Sorry for not translating some of it, but I just would rather not spend time on things that don't seem worth the effort. Also, I didn't expect you to post my pastebin in it's entirety, so I hardly proofread or edited my last translation. I did that this time around, so hopefully it won't be as painful to read as last time.

    Anything else you'd like me to tackle?

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    1. Sorry for being very busy this week. I hope to have some time for all this later, including a few more requests.

      But I took the time to read your pamphlet translation and it was very interesting. Again there's stuff that should go into the history article, but that will have to wait.

      However, I got some questions from reading it that I'd like to hear your comment on:

      In the Mitsuda interview he says that "Masahito Katou" wrote the scenario. Is this Masato Kato? You spell his name differently further down. Also, what does he mean by "scenario"? This goes back that that old confusion of who wrote Xenogears, and as you can see this interview doesn't exactly help lol.

      The following sentence by Takahashi seems to be translated awkwardly: "I hear from staff that I used to work with that that effort contributed later to making games with graphics like Vagrant Story."

      Also this sentence: "Now, I would be able to do something to keep everyone’s spirits up, but I just cany time for that because we were in such a pinch."

      Also, is "Esmeralda" the true translation of her name? Because she was supposedly named for having emerald hair. But I guess Esmeralda would still get that across and Esmeraude from Sailor Moon seems to have been the influence for her name. But that reminds me that I'd like a translation of Emeralda's line in the Japanese Xenogears where she says she was named for having emerald hair. Do you have access to the JP script or Thousands of Daggers (the script book)?

      I might've had more questions but those were the ones I could recall right now. Anyway, I'll get back when I have the time. Thanks for the work you put in!

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    2. Sorry for all the mishaps. Yes, his name is Masato Kato. For Emeralda, I just typed the wrong name. Her Japanese name is just emerada, which I assume is just taking off the L in emerald and adding an A after D. They're all just mistakes on my part, my bad.


      As for the line you're referencing, I did a quick google search and found it.
      エメラダだよ、エメラダ!
      エメラルド色の髪の毛だからって
      キムがつけてくれたんだよ!
      忘れちゃってんのぉ……

      (This is part of the conversation when Emeralda joins the party)

      "It's Emerada! Emerada! Kim gave me that name because of my emerald hair! How've you forgotten..."


      And finally, the bit about Kato. I was very careful to use the exact word that they used to describe his role. Kunihiko and Takahashi describe him as "planner", which I translate to event planner. Mitsuda literally says "Masato Kato, who wrote the scenario..." (And he uses the English word for scenario as well.)

      Kato's official capacity within the company was "planner". A planner in the Japanese videogame industry, from some basic googling, is someone who first solidifies concept ideas, themes, before actual development begins. The actual "planning" of the game. After the game begins development, they switch over to a management role, handling the human resources side of things. However, I read on one blog by someone who apparently has experience working in the industry that the planner pretty much does anything that isn't in the turf of audio, programming, or designing (art). In other words, making functioning maps, coming up with text, testing of battle mechanics... All of this may or may not have the involvement of the planner.

      With all of that being said... Kato joined development as a planner. This means he likely had a hand in many parts of the game. Writing text for basic NPCs and the like was probably by him and other planners. Where Kato seems to differ from the other planners is that he was more involved in the game than that. I think he took on a role somewhat similar to what Yuichiro Takeda does now with the Xenoblade series, specifically Xenoblade 2. In 2, Takahashi came up with the plot, and Takeda and Kazuho Hyodō, along with Takahashi, split up the work and write the actual script.

      An impression I get from this interview is that Takahashi seemed more fixated on coming up with concepts and lore than he did about writing actual lines for the game. This is all just a guess on my part, but considering the evidence (That Takahashi seems to like the world-building aspect a lot, that he never works on a Xeno game by himself, and the Xeno games he works on always seem to have at least one other person who is responsible for a lot, if not all of the actual screenwriting), I think that a lot of the writing in XG and all XBs, especially the more mundane, non-important parts of the game, are written by someone other than Takahashi. When Saga says Kato "worked on Emeralda", I take that to mean that he both came up with the concept of Emeralda based on the Zeboim idea that Takahashi came up with AND wrote lines with scenes that involve her. Looking back at the Emeralda lines from above, I was reminded of how different Xenogears' Japanese script is from any other Xeno game. This is, of course, just my opinion, but a lot of the text you see in the game for relatively unimportant scenes, as well as for NPCs, remind me of a typical 80s-90s RPG grammar that has a childish and cheery tone, both far from Takahashi's actual writing or mannerisms. The later Xeno games really don't have this aspect to them.

      The XS1 reveal trailer with all the quotes, most of which do make it into XS eventually, might be an indication of the way Takahashi actually works. He might come up with a basic idea (Gnosis are everywhere, Kosmos temporarily awakens as Mary and says the will pain make me complete quote, etc), and leaves the more mundane parts of the game that usually deal with basic character development to other people.

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    3. Your speculation has some problems though, since "scenario" is a pretty comprehensive term and doesn't simply refer to cleaning up lore, ideas and lines into a screenplay. Scenario is basically plotting the story and coming up with the main thing. I don't think it can be separated from story-writing itself.

      Furthermore, nowhere until this Mitsuda quote has anyone ever stated that Kato wrote the scenario for Xenogears. Not even Kato himself who said in this interview (http://www.chronocompendium.com/Term/GamePro_Interview.html) : "I wasn't the main story writer for Xenogears, so I can't say much on it"

      Maybe Mitsuda doesn't know what he's talking about? He wasn't all that much involved with the actual development process after all and might be going off of rumors?

      Also, Soraya Saga said in the interview with Siliconera that "Then Takahashi and I wrote up the full screenplay which contained cutscene-dialogues in final form, thus the project was born." And in the 1998 Xenogears interview Takahasi says "I handled everything to do with direction. Earlier, I helped out with the graphics for FFIV-VI. This time, I (something) from that to writing the entire scenario."

      Perhaps you could help clean up that 1998 interview with Xenogears staff by the way, since it was the first one Gwendal translated and he was less experienced with Japanese. I'm also wondering if you, since you live in Japan, can perhaps get a hold of the rest of the pages from that 1998 interview? All we got is the first page. If you post it on some Japanese gaming/Square/Xeno forum, perhaps someone has the magazine and can scan the rest of it for you to translate? Same with the Xenolith columns that Takahashi wrote for some Playstation magazine (see "a message from Xenogears' director" under interviews). Maybe some Japanese fan has saved a couple more of those?

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    4. I forgot to mention this in my last reply, but I fixed the parts that were hard to understand, hopefully it should be easier now.

      While it's true that scenario is a pretty comprehensive term, in Japanese it is generally interchangeable with the word "script". I urge you to look at it for yourself and see what you think. scenario:シナリオ script/story: 脚本 or 台本 (this one is more likely to be used when acting is involved)

      Yes, it's interesting to note that the two people in the room, Kunihiko and Takahashi, refer to him as planner, while the one outside of the room refers to him as someone who worked on the scenario. Honne also refers to him as "planning" on twitter. Because Mitsuda and Kato seem to know each other well, at least at one point, he probably either heard from Kato himself about what he was doing, or maybe the few times he was in the office what Kato was doing looked like "scenario" to him. The supposed "mistake" of Kato being credited for performance/staging is also interesting, because I think there would never be such a mistake if there wasn't at least a hint of something there. The fact that his name repeatedly comes up in these interviews is rather atypical for someone in the "planning" role as well.

      I probably went too far in saying that he was like Takeda, but we already know he "wrote" parts of the story, according to your history page for Xenogears. While I don't doubt that Takahashi and Soraya Saga wrote the actual script, I wonder how much of the script was actually used for the game, as opposed to following the general chain of events of the script and the planners writing the lines for it. The description that Takahashi and others give of Kato makes me think that he really wanted to be more involved with the game than simple planning, and he actively tried to do that against Takahashi's wishes. While I translated Mitsuda as saying he is "good friends" with Kato, the actual word he uses means something more like "I unfortunately know him well/ I can't seem to get away from him." It's said in an endearing way, but I didn't use it because I was afraid that the nuance would not translate well and would be misinterpreted. I might add a note clarifying it later. While I can't imagine what the original Japanese was like, I think him saying he wasn't the main story writer is just saying that he wasn't Takahashi, and didn't come up with the major themes of the game (as the question is referencing). To be clear, I did not mean that Kato wrote the entire script we see in the game, but that it seems that he might've written more text for the game than initially thought.

      I actually live in the States, not Japan. There are definitely not forums for that around anymore, as Japan has moved away from forums and towards Twitter and other social media sites even more than the western world. However, I do know a Japanese fan who is versed on the series' history and might at least have an idea of what you're referring to, so I could ask him.

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  3. When I archive the interviews, I think I will make a note commenting on Mitsuda's comment on Kato writing the scenario. Because I feel I can't just leave that be without pointing out how strange it is.

    Or do you think Mitsuda could be refering to Kato writing the scenario for Chrono Trigger? Because reading the whole thing in context again, I'm not sure he's actually refering to Xenogears when after that he says he had a desire to make another game with him (this time refering to Xenogears).

    But I'm holding off copying your translation for a bit in case you get access to that missing Mitsuda page. Let me know if you update the interview translation.

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    1. I've slightly added to the response. I realized there *could* be a second interpretation to what he said. I won't go into the details unless you want me to, but I find it extremely unlikely that the second interpretation is what he said, because my initial interpretation is a much more salient and natural way to interpret the response. I'm open to a second opinion on that one, though.

      Also, some kind folks at gamefaqs gave me access to high resolution scans, so I plan on translating the Joanne Hogg portion of the interview soon. I probably won't be doing the Mitsuda portion that I skipped though, because it's about the concert itself and not about Xenogears. I guess I might do it if people (or you) really want me to.

      As for what I'll do next, I'll do the 1998 interview. Although I haven't cross-checked between the translation and the source material yet, it seems like Gwendal did most of the work, so I'll probably just add parts he couldn't translate and check if I disagree with any existing part of his translation.

      One more thing, the Japanese source I contacted responded to me, and he might actually have some of the stuff you're looking for. He also knows a couple of other people who are more into collecting that sort of thing as well.I'll make another post if I find something.

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    2. Hiya. The contact that I talked about before gave me the two missing pages, and I've translated that:

      https://xenomira.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/the-men-who-made-xenogears-interview-with-xenogears-staff/

      He also gave me a full interview of Kunihiko and Takahashi for Hakoere that is somewhat interesting but touches on a lot of things that have already been said multiple times in the XG pamphlet translation and in the translation I just did, but I could do it if you want, or I could pick out the interesting parts and translate only those parts. There's also some chibi party member concept art that I'm not sure is out there on the net that is mildly interesting, but that's about it in terms of what I've got. I've also revised the pamphlet translation a bit regarding the Kato part, after discussing with some Japanese folks knowledgeable about the series. I've looked at the "missing" Mitsuda page, and it's just about the how the concert came to be, so I won't translate it unless by popular demand. I will probably add the Joanne Hogg portion later, but it's not that interesting because half of it is promotion for her current stuff.

      That's about where I stand right now.

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    3. That's great! I added your work to the 1998 interview. I'll get to your concert pamphlet translation later. For the Hakoere stuff you can pick out the interesting parts and translate those. I don't really have anything else for you to translate at this point, except to clean up the Fanbook with DVD translation (found under "Xenosaga resources") if you don't mind.

      I find it funny that Takahashi says Ramsus is the character that reflects him the most. I don't quite see it, but I'll keep that in mind next time I go through Xenogears.

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    4. Yeah, I thought that tidbit on Ramsus was pretty interesting. I think the conventional wisdom among the fans is that Karellen is the character most like Takahashi, and there have been Karellen archetypes reappearing throughout the series. Ramsus, on the other hand, I'm not really sure there is anything like him in any other Xeno game, aside from maybe Margulis or Cherenkov. Maybe that exclusion says something about Takahashi or how he has changed through the years, if Ramsus is indeed who he feels most sympathetic to.

      I'll get to the Hakoere and DVD fanbook. Shouldn't take long for either of those; the last interview I did only took like a total of 3 hours to do.

      Also, have you seen the unused stuff in EpIII that was recently datamined? It's not anything major, but I translated it anyway because it gives you an idea of how things changed over the course of production. I personally didn't glean much from it, but someone like you might be able to connect any dots that may exist from this info:

      https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/boards/929933-xenosaga-episode-iii-also-sprach-zarathustra/76631867

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    5. It's been a while since I read/watched A Missing Year so I don't quite have the stuff in my memory. But from what I know the unused stuff you translated there doesn't really tell me anything.

      When did you become a fan by the way, and how did you discover Xenogears? Through Xenoblade? I recall you saying you were relatively new to the fandom.

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    6. I watched a trailer for “X”, later to become Xenoblade X, in 2013, and the game came out in 2015, and I was hooked. There was so much that was left unanswered, even more than saga, but I knew that something was supposed to be there, and not just left as a mystery for the sake of a mystery. Although I knew nothing about the other games, from the little that I did know, I felt that playing the older games would provide me insight into Xenoblade X’s story. So I played Xenoblade 1, and then I played Xenogears from the PS store. That made me like the series more. I didn’t get to play saga for awhile because I never owned a PS2, but I just recently finally got to play the DS version, and I finally got a PS2 after that, and the gamefaqs translation was actually only a day or two after I had beaten epIII. I’ve already purchased epI and Freaks, so after I play them, I’ll only have epII left.

      Although I’m not sure there are many people who ended up playing Xenogears (or saga) the way I did, I think a lot of the more loyal Xenoblade fans are actually pretty interested in playing gears and saga if they could just have a way to play it. That’s certainly the impression I got from talking to strangers around the Xenoblade related communities. So while gears and saga are pretty dead right now, I feel like it’s just because there isn’t really a concentrated place to discuss it, with a positive flow of people. Not to get too self-promotional, but a big reason why I came out of the blue to start translating a bunch was in hopes of somehow setting up to start a xeno site, a community with forums and all like the gears/saga days. Xenoblade has a good thing going on right now, and I want to bring saga and gears on that ride.

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    7. I've done both the Hakoere interview and the fanbook.

      Hakoere: https://xenomira.wordpress.com/2018/06/30/hakoere-vol-20-special-interview-with-tetsuya-takahashi-and-kunihiko-tanaka-only-select-parts-translated/

      Fanbook: https://xenomira.wordpress.com/2018/06/30/xenosaga-special-fanbook-with-dvd/

      Hopefully I did what you wanted me to do in terms of the fanbook. Tell me if you were actually more focused on getting the screenplay part down.

      So I guess that's it for now, if you've got nothing more for me. What'll probably happen from here on is that I'll post translations of new interviews that come out ( or I come across old stuff and translate that, or you find something of interest; you never know) that may interest you.

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    8. Since you experienced Xenosaga by playing the I-II DS version first, would you say that is a superior way of experiencing Xenosaga or (once you get to try the PS2 versions) would you say that the PS1 Episode I gives a better experience?

      By the way, there are reddits for Xenogears and Xenosaga too that seem to be somewhat active, more active than GameFAQs or any fan forum anyhow.

      For the Fanbook, I wasn't really interested in the screenplay unless something stood out as poorly translated. I have been thinking of cleaning up the parts that has official translations from the US game though.

      The Hakoere stuff:
      * Perfect Works came out later the same year the game was released, thus the interview would've been from late 1998.

      * Would you say that "Alkanshel" is correctly translated in the official game or could there be another interpretation? Some have speculated it's meant to be "Archangel".

      * 15 billion years -13.8 billion years (before present day) would leave 1.2 billion years for the stage of the story after mankind leaves Earth. That's kind of crazy considering Episode I only spans roughly 4000 years and Episode II-V only 10,000 years. We're still left with 1,199.986.000 or so years.

      However, in Perfect Works it is said that the Zohar was discovered to be 15 billion years old in 2001, which would actually make the story longer. Maybe the universe was thought to be 15 billion years old in the 90s? I guess in the end this doesn't tell us much.

      Again, thanks for the work you've done.

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    9. For your question of the DS version, I’m... not so sure. While it’s definitely obvious that the plot of the DS version is more faithful to the original plot by Takahashi and Soraya Saga, and that’s something you’d want from a Xeno game, I think that the DS version is only good if you’ve played it in conjunction with the actual Ep1 and Ep2. Because there’s so little screenplay and no voice acting (just some laughs and one liners here and there), it’s more like just reading text on a screen. It’s hard to actually be invested in anything. I played EpIII, and I didn’t get that feeling at all; I got the same feeling I did as any other Xeno game beginning to end. It could just be that Ep1 and 2 are like that because much of the story amounts to nothing conclusive, but I guess I’ll find that out soon.

      Yeah, I’m aware of the gears and saga subreddits. I guess I didn’t say my main intention clear enough in my last post. This harkens back to one of the first posts I posted here, but I’m kinda tired of this divide between gears, saga, and blade. There isn’t a *distinct* divide, because you can usually talk about gears/saga in blade communities and vice versa, but there’s always been a sort of unwillingness to touch all 3 Xeno prefixed series simultaneously. I just want a place where all of them can be discussed, where all of their information and news are in one place. Where there are gears diehards that won’t accept anything except gears, those who are weary of anything newer than saga, or those who think gears and saga are old and snobby. To me, it’s like if there were no websites dedicated to talking about everything Final Fantasy or Pokemon, and you had to go to different corners of the internet to get to the game you want to discuss. I know that’s not a perfect analogy, what with switching companies and all, but I do think it holds. And like I said, Xenoblade has a good thing going for it right now; the latest game has sold more games than any other Xeno game made by Monolith to date. I think the people buying these games now are not the supposed “lost saga fans” coming back to play blade now, but completely new people, some of whom might have been preschoolers when saga came out. So I think it would be a wonderful thing to be able to connect that audience with gears/saga, because you really can’t understand Xenoblade without understanding gears/saga. The current communities too easily fall into the camp of “people who played gears/saga a long time ago” and “people who played blade a short while ago” and that only means the gears/saga camp will lose more people as time goes on. I think conservation of information on blade will start to become important as the series gets older, and you’re really the only one doing it for gears and saga right now. Although my initial motivation to play the older games was to understand X, It’s much more than that to me now. It’s a shame that people don’t understand or know how significant it is that there’s a zohar in XB2.

      Also, as a sidenote, I don’t like reddit’s post system at all. If you dare say *anything* that is against the conventional wisdom, you will be downvoted and silenced for ever daring to do so. If you say that the character designs in XB2 are oversexualized and awful, you will be silenced. I don’t think that’s a great place for discussion, and I certainly wouldn’t say it’s in the spirit of Xeno.

      My bad about the publication date, it was surprisingly difficult to find out when PW came out. I’ll fix it later today.

      For the etymology of Alkanshel, I think it’s “arc-en-ciel”, the french word for rainbow. I don’t think it’s archangel, but I guess that would make more sense considering who pilots it.

      As for the 15 billion years thing, yes, it’s not a misunderstanding. I was surprised myself, and I knew you’d bring it up. But that’s what Takahashi says. He might’ve misspoken, But I doubt it. If he’s going to release the answers some day, he’s got his work cut out for him, I guess.



      No problem. Just doing it because I wanted to.

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    10. Arc-en-ciel would be a weird name for Stone's Gear. Even "Archangel", while fitting thematically, doesn't fit the somewhat lame and simple design of the Gear.

      I kinda suspected the DS version would be a sub-par experience of the first half of Xenosaga given the execution is more old school than Xenogears (and Xenogears being "too outdated" was something many Xenosaga fans complained about back in the day). The irony.

      Now for the divide between gears, saga, and blade... I don't quite see what the problem is. They are different series, and it's unavoidable that people will have a preference. The impression I get is that what you feel is missing is cross-over speculation in particular, but correct me if I'm wrong.

      Here are my thoughts. Personally, I never liked to visit general Final Fantasy forums or fandoms. I really only got into two back in the day, FF7 and FF8, and those are still the only FFs that would make me visit a FF community. Thus I would prefer to seek out a community that would specialize in one of those specific entries in the franchise. Same with Mega Man, where I prefer the original series and X but not the other spin-offs.

      Also, I don't understand what you mean when you say that "you really can’t understand Xenoblade without understanding gears/saga." I've never heard anyone say that before. That's not even something that was said much between gears and saga where that statement would've been more justified.

      Also, there was a somewhat large gap between Xenosaga and Xenoblade, so it makes some sense that there's ended up being something of a generational difference in the core audience. And even before Xenoblade came out in 2010 there was almost no activity in the gears/saga fandom. Especially the saga fandom pretty much died even before Episode III was released, lol. Reviving interest in that one is going to be hard.

      Sure, it would've been nice and interesting to get Xenoblade's younger audience to get interested in gears and saga, but why do you think that's not been happening? In the past, even when a community includes an entire franchise, the members still tends to gravitate towards and mainly discuss a particular entry. Usually the most recent one. For the most part Xenosaga fans did include a subforum dedicated to Xenogears on their websites back in day, even when the site creator hadn't had the opportunity to try Xenogears yet. But still there was very little discussion on Xenogears on those forums.

      Information on blade could probably get lost, eventually, yes, because that's what happened to gears and saga before I started this preservation project to revive it out from the darkness of oblivion. But since I fall into one of those divisive fan categories you mention, having some difficulty relating to any passion for the Xenoblade franchise, I feel compelled to ask some questions...

      Did going back to gears and saga really give you any answers to Xenoblade X? What makes you think there should be any answers when, unlike gears, there's no indication of it being conceived as episodic or even making story the game's prmary appeal? And based on his interviews, Takahashi strikes me as a person who is more than capable of trolling his audience. Why would a Zohar in XB2 be significant? Is it really the same Zohar with the same design, function, and name as the Xenosaga (or gears) Zohar? What makes it different from say KOS-MOS or any other easter egg?

      Is XB2 even connected to the other Xenoblade games? Also, you are aware that the whole conceptualization between XG/XS and the blade games is vastly different? The older games had a specific outline, designed around specific themes, heavy emphasis on story-telling, had a universe that was devoid of intelligent aliens, etc. I just don't see the similarity, which is why any potential in-universe connection is just going to be profoundly unsatisfactory for me. Like connecting FF7 and FF9 or something. What's the point?

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    11. I did some looking on the Japanese side of things, and the one site that I could find listed arc-en-ciel for it's etymology. I think the literal translation of the word is "thing(arc) in the sky" which would fit it being in the sky, I guess. I really don't think it can be anything else.

      I'm honestly surprised that you gave me such a thoughtful and thorough response, I'm grateful. Had to separate the post into two parts, so here's the first part.

      When you say "cross-series speculation", if you mean something like "is the gears, saga, and blade universe connected?" or something, then no. Of course, that's fun too, but not really what I'm talking about. I'll explain what I mean when I answer one of your later questions.

      I don't think there's interest in the series happening because people don't have PS2s lying around to play the games. I've literally asked people on the Xenoblade subreddit, the group of Xenoblade fans who are probably the most ignorant about anything before blade, in a thread, about what they think of gears and saga. A lot of them were open to trying them, and they didn't have any preconceived notions against those games. The only thing holding them back was the hardware (I hear people all the time saying they would like to play X but can't, because it's on the Wii U. It's a 3 year old game, and it's like 20 dollars pre-owned on Gamestop. I think that puts things in perspective.) There's also the simple fact that gears/saga doesn't get as much exposure about the fact that they're from the creators. I didn't *really* register that *the* Kosmos you see everywhere is a character from saga until I had played gears, I want to say. If Xenoblade was a series universally considered as horrible, then I could see why you might not want to associate the other parts of the series with it. But all the games are far from that. So I think people making the connection, becoming interested in gears/saga because there's a few other games out by the same people who made that one good game on that Nintendo console, I consider that nothing but a blessing.

      I understand that gears and saga will be talked less about, just by virtue of age, but I don't necessarily see where the problem lies in that. Of course, in a perfect world, we'd want them all to be focused on, but it's not a zero-sum game either. You seem to be doing fine the way you are right now, focusing on gears/saga, regardless of whether people comment or not. People on Gamefaqs and the like who still post new threads about things are well aware that their posts might get zero responses, but they do it anyway. Consider something like Zelda, where the series has gone through numerous changes over the years. There are diehard 2D Zelda fans, and those who can't stand 2D and prefer 3D; those who appreciate Majora's Mask, others who think it sucks and think Breath of the Wild is the only good Zelda game. I just don't see how having a centralized Zelda site means there can't be any specialized discussion about only the games you think are worthwhile, and the Xeno subseries all line up pretty neatly in terms of where people stand on which entry, so I don't think it would be that hard to filter out everything you don't care about and focus only on what you do. If there's a good stream of stuff like you would find on this study guide being posted, or at the very least being curated in one spot, wouldn't that be good both for ease of access and potential new readers?

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    12. Part 2.

      Let me answer your questions to the best of my ability now:

      Going back to gear/saga didn't give me any answers, per se. But it allowed me to understand the story more. A characteristic of narration-style that's found in the blade series is that it often makes shortcuts for certain more complicated aspects of the game. Specifically, many things are left unanswered as to *why* they are the way they are, but knowledge of gears and saga can often fill the gap. In XB2, the heroine (and protagonist, by extension), gain the ability to manipulate the laws of physics around them. To anyone who has played gears, this power is clear as day to be the "actualizing potential future phenomenon" part of the gears Zohar. Furthermore, later in the game, it is explicitly stated that the protagonist and the heroine are receiving energy from the Zohar of XB2, called "Gate" in Japanese and "Conduit" in English, through a far flung dimension. To anyone who has not played gears or saga, this explanation serves absolutely no purpose, but to those who have, it signals that gears/saga era ideas are obviously being used. To be clear, I'm not implying that this means there is a connection between the games at all, because I don't think or want that to be the case at all, although Takahashi seems eager to leave the door open to that possibility for XB2.

      What XB2 has done is at the very least connected XB1 with 2 definitively, and leaves plenty of room to have X in that mix as well. They essentially "retconned" (air quotes because I don't believe it to be so but it's just way easier to say it that way) the origin story of XB1 to include the Zohar. But I will quote this line from the Iwata Asks interview of Xenoblade:

      Takahashi: we'd come up with what we felt was an ending with a rather explanatory feel. But in fact, she [Hattori, a person from Nintendo who supervised the plot] told us that even with this explanation, she couldn't really understand it. When she pointed this out to me, I could see what she meant. There were things that seemed perfectly clear to us, but which were actually tricky to understand for players who didn't have previous knowledge. If you're referencing things that people know nothing about, it's really a meaningless exercise, isn't it?

      This quote, in 2018, makes it extremely obvious that had Takahashi gotten his way, the Zohar would have been in XB1. Not only that, but the bit about "previous knowledge". There is no XB game before 1. The only previous knowledge that people could even manage to draw from is saga and gears.

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    13. Part 3.

      I totally agree that there are significant differences between the games. I'll just keep it simple here and respond to each aspect you have mentioned:

      1.)specific outline
      It's hard to say if there's a specific outline for XB1 and 2. He seems to have basic ideas stocked up for future games, but I can't say more than that. For X, there is definitely an outline. The reason I can say this is because many things regarding the plot of X were cut, but there's enough to glean from the game that the cut elements are still an active part of the game, just not used... yet.

      2.)designed around specific themes
      you mean like Gears EpI being about fear? While, again, I can't comment too specifically about it, I do think he has ideas stored in his head for future releases. The games definitely have distinct themes, if that's what you're asking.


      3.) heavy emphasis on story-telling
      While X is definitely the weakest, all 3 have a heavy emphasis on the story. The style of writing of 2 is especially familiar to those who have played older Xeno games, and it's because Takahashi took an active part in the script. While it can be argued whether the stories themselves are any good or not, I don't think people would ever argue that these games don't have a heavy emphasis.

      4.)had a universe that was devoid of intelligent aliens
      1 nor 2 have any intelligent aliens. X does have aliens, but they're heavily implied to be sophisticated creations by ancient humans. X also has the added bonus of having Gnosis like entities.

      I hope that makes it clear where I'm coming from.

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    14. I did anticipate the problem with experiencing video games as an art form due to precisely these issues with hardware and more. It was always my stance that Xenogears (and Xenosaga) ended up being wasted as games. And in fact, if there's ever a remake I'd prefer it to be made as an animated series or something. If Square could branch into animated movies with Advent Children, then a growing MSI could eventually branch into something similar.

      Part of the reason I prefer to keep gears and saga separate from the Xenoblade series is that, while you don't consider the games to be connected, unfortunately a lot of other people do or would like to. That was one of the reasons that I was bothered by Xenoblade (or maybe it was more the fans that bothered me) who actually couldn't tell the difference.

      It was like realizing that all this time most fellow Xeno fans had been perceiving gears and saga from an extremely superficial and aesthetically poor perspective. It was both disappointing and yet a pretty interesting case study and learning experience in terms of writing about the quality and merit of art. But in the end some fans actually wanted to burn down this study guide (the first version) because of my observations and writings on the whole thing.

      In fact, I can not rule out that XenoTen went down because of some secret attack by hostile Xenoblade fans or something. The reason for what actually happened remain obscure to me since there wasn't any direct communication between the host webmaster and myself. I worked with his second in command because he was the one who was still active but didn't have access to everything on the hosting end.

      So I figured this time I'll just leave anything on Xenoblade out of the study guide completely. However, I do have an article written up that touches a little bit on all this, but I've held off posting it for various reasons, and my long response to you is related to that article.

      But for you, it seems the "connection" is that they're all made by the same creators (although Soraya was not involved with blade 1 and X correct?) That doesn't bother me. If you, or someone like you, who are passionate enough to keep track of everything Takahashi puts out with the label "Xeno", and still recognize the difference between the various series and knows what they're talking about, then it might be an interesting place to check from time to time. But the Xeno fandom never had much of that after Zenosaga.com's webmaster lost interest during the middle of Xenosaga.

      But let's also talk about Takahashi here. The way you describe Xenoblade in light of XB2 makes me feel, even more, that all he seems to have is one truly great idea and he already used it for Xenogears and its universe. Everything else is just cutting that up and putting it back together in various (and IMO inferior) forms. After Xenosaga I was hoping for something completely different (but just as good) from him and MSI. Instead it's more of the same in a different package.

      Then there is his constant bemoaning that he feels limited in what he wants to do and even refers to his works as "fake sci-fi" and "fake fantasy." How can I respect works of an author when even he thinks they're somewhat inferior products in general. Truth be told I don't trust the guy or anything he says anymore. He didn't deliver on Xenosaga, didn't deliver on writing books, renaming Monado to "Xeno"blade was the last straw for me, and I doubt he'll deliver on anything else he brings up in interviews. Being a Xeno fan has never been a pleasant experience after gears, and I fear you'll get to experience this as well.

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    15. Thanks for your candid reply. I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate it! I’ll be looking forward to that article when it goes up as well. I hope what I’ve said can contribute to what you’ve written in some way.


      I see. I can’t relate, but I can certainly understand your frustration about fans and Takahashi himself. I do think though that a lot of the talk about XB being EPIV and whatnot pre-release was people being that desperate for it to continue. What you say still stands, but I don’t think it’s as bad as you make it out to be. These days, if you talked about any of them being connected to a blade fan, you’d either first have to explain what gears and saga are, our you’d get a “that’s ridiculous.” If that makes you feel any better.

      Your point about cutting Xenogears up and putting it back together is fair. It’s a point that makes me laugh because of how aptly you describe it. I do think though, at least by my metrics, that the games are different enough to not just be considered watered down Xenogears. Although both gears and XB2 have Zohar-central stories, the themes that are trying to be conveyed are widely different, and I think both are good in that regard. I don’t really know how to explain it, but the sort of “character archetypes”( Citan/Jin, that sort of thing) is something that I actually appreciate; there’s just something appealing about knowing that there were two similar guys who had their own struggles and triumphs. But I can also see how some people might want Takahashi to knock that off, and “do something new.” I do think he does it on purpose, because it’s something he’s still doing with blade.

      I’ve often thought about what would happen if I became disillusioned. But at the same time, I see plenty of people who have stuck to the series, and they show no signs of disillusionment. While you might just say that’s because they look at the games from a superficial standpoint, or they’re just setting themselves up for disappointment, I’m not so sure. And in the end, if I do end up feeling like you do, I’ll just take it as a learning experience, as you did. I do hope that he delivers on providing the answer to gears, in the same way that I hope for the answers to saga and blade, but I don’t think I’ll sweat it too much if that ends up never happening. But then again, I wasn’t promised all of the things he promised, so I would never blame you for feeling that way. But I do think he’s sincere when he says he wants to release the answers, if not anything else. I guess the bemoaning doesn’t bother me too much because I can relate to that feeling of self doubt.


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    16. Some clarification: Fans thinking Xenoblade might be EPIV or a new "reboot" of Perfect Works went on even after they had played Xenoblade.

      Now, a big part of the problem was that there was no place with old information still accessible yet. This study guide only appeared on the net a few months before the game was released in English so people were vastly uninformed and fans said stupid ignorant stuff like "Xenosaga was never meant to be 6 games" etc. The history articles were only written after I had watched the cutscenes of the English version of Xenoblade. But by that time most people didn't even bother to read the history article or anything else on the study guide. They mostly jumped straight to the end because that's where I talked a little about blade.

      Here's an excerpt from my fandom history article that was on my previous site (names removed):

      I posted a link to the article at GameFAQs to get feedback, and was frustrated to see the little bit about Xenoblade towards the end get most of the attention. And they didn't seem to grasp my criticism of the Xeno- prefix, so their rants were mostly assumptions and projections on their part that didn't even address the core of my criticism. For example, I did not "blame a scapegoat audience" for Takahashi making Xenoblade. I criticized Takahashi for using the Xeno- prefix and I criticized gamers who were praising Xenoblade's story as somehow being on par with Saga/Gears.

      (User name), a regular who'd seemed somewhat intelligent -- even having expressed that Xenogears had the best story of all time and that no other story in any media had had as a profound impact on him -- also suddenly embarrassed himself by saying he really appreciated that Xenoblade is "not trying to be anything its not" while attacking Xenosaga for "throwing a bunch of empty religious symbolism in our faces," and then went on to say that he loves "Takahashi's style."

      Apart from the last contradictory and nonsensical comment, what's embarrassing about his rant is that what he appreciated Xenoblade for was its being the same thing we've seen before -- gamification carrots and shonen cheese with one-dimensional characters -- and trying to turn it into a virtue while revealing his ignorance about the true merit of Xenogears and Xenosaga after all this time. We would later learn from interviews that Takahashi and Takeda merely tried to incorporate typical traits of shonen manga and Japanimation and not Takahashi's usual style, officially confirming how dumb (user name) and those who agreed with him really were.

      Finally, he says, "I would love it if some of you 'smart' guys would finish the game so we could have discussions on the plot, symbols, themes, and relationships of the 3 games." I'm sorry, (user name), but what nonexistent relationship are you referring to? That they were all made by Takahashi? The plot, symbols, and themes in Xenoblade have been recycled so often in other RPGs and shonen manga that it would not be worth my time to discuss them. And what original content there is has mostly been explored better in Xenogears already.


      I think I better stop there because my rants back then were not pretty, lol.

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    17. As for it not being as bad these days, that may just be precisely because most blade fans don't know about the older games. If they did I'm sure we'd continue to see this. Just take a look at this video and the comments by fans under it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzzLg8qqwGs

      And the dillusionment does not merely have to be in regards to Takahashi's work, but also the fandom. You are, in fact, experiencing it right now with how there's not much going on in the fandom that you would like, or that you can get downvoted on reddit, and so on.

      Takahashi's bemoaning doesn't really change the way I view XG, partly because he didn't express such sentiments back when he'd made that game. But the fact that it's so prevalent now should kinda say something about the current games he's making (which are Xenoblade games) don't you think? Of course he could be including his older games in that view, but I also bet he's forgotten a lot about his older works. He himself says he doesn't care anymore once he's done with a work.

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  4. I just want to preface by saying that I actually agree with most of your criticisms of XB1; it baffles me that 1 is considered the best game among the blade fans. I still love the game (feel free to judge me for that), but the praise it gets is honestly mindblowing. I’ve had people give me the equivalent of a funny face when I said I rank 1 the lowest because of it’s story. I’ve had people tell me that XB2, the game that is least Xenoblade-like, feels like they had to “check boxes” to make it as shonen as possible, and that is especially rich when you think about what Takahashi and Takeda have said about how they approached 1. (Side note, the word he uses to describe it is “王道”. The literal translation is “king’s road” and it means something like mainstream or classic.)

    When you say that the fandom is disillusioned, do you mean that most “xeno as literature” people are gone? I’m not sure I follow your point on that one.

    I think his bemoaning has to do with his frustrations about not being able to deliver to people such as yourself since gears. But I’m personally of the belief that 2 (and X barely) deliver such an experience. And I’m actually not very sure about how much I appreciate gears. In the same way that I see people I described above about XB1, I would say that I see the same for XG, and I assume that goes into your “disappointment for the fans” thing. In any case, I personally appreciated saga more than gears. Maybe it has something to do with the order in which I played them in, but I couldn’t help but feel that gears was a mess with unrefined writing, and saga was less of that. And I think blade 1 was a rocky start, but I think every release since then has been better. This is all relative though; I really don’t hate any of them.

    Just curious, though. What would you have liked Takahashi to do after saga? How different or the same does somethig have to be for you to be comfortable with saying it’s Xeno or not, or that he’s trying something new?

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    1. I didn't mean the fandom was disillusioned, I meant that you might be awaking to disillusionment in light of what you've been saying about your experience with the fandom, i.e. that it is divided and so on.

      Personally I never actually had any problem with people who simply liked Xenoblade (or anything else) for what it was nor did I deny that it might be more fun as a playable game. That's another thing people often misunderstood and attacked me for, calling me "elitist" or "extremist" and so on.

      I just wanted an acknowledgement that the games are different, regardless of what people prefered, and not reframe the ideas behind the games in the wrong light. And if they wanted to tout Xenoblade 1 as a superior story or work of art they had better have some pretty well defined arguments to back it up. Thus it was not so much gamers taste I originally criticized but rather their 'blindness' or whatever you might call it. I certainly like some weird stuff that I know isn't considered good art, but I also recognize it and accept it for what it is without feeling the need to put it on par with something more sophisticated and ambitious.

      Like you bring up, with XB2, people's comments and criticism can always be surprising and strange. I've even seen fans of both XG and XS criticize the other with the exact same argument. The game that exists in the mind of the fan is usually different from the actual game.

      Now I haven't really looked at Xenoblade X and XB2 much, so I can't comment on those games. I haven't found what I've seen compelling for my taste, and I know enough to be able to tell they're not in same style and vision as gears/saga, but I'll keep in mind that they may not be as mainstream as the first Xenoblade either. I find it a bit odd that they're all named Xenoblade though, and that XB2 is a sequel connected to the first Xenoblade, if they're that different from each other.

      As for your feelings on XG, it could be that you went into it looking for answers to Xenoblade X and other factors. XG is a game where I've noticed people tend to miss a lot the first time and usually appreciate it more in subsequent playthroughs or after they've discussed the story and characters more with fans. And the more primitive presentation and graphics is getting pretty old by now. But it does surprise me that you find Xenosaga to be less of a mess. I thought that series was more messy, especially when Pied Piper and A Missing Year was cut from the main games.

      As for what I wanted after Xenosaga... I didn't have anything in particular in mind. To me "Xeno" was basically associated with a particular story/universe and that was Xenogears. I viewed the name-change to "Xenosaga" simply as an intention to let fans know it was a new take on the same idea as Xenogears, starting over from the beginning and remaking the story. And to me the blade games *are* something new, which is why it kind of irks me that Takahashi simply cannot let them be something new. I always knew I might not like anything else he does, and that's fine. I also think I would've been less bothered if Xenosaga (or gears) had actually been finished as a series first.

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    2. That's an interesting point, because I didn't really know about the "disillusioned fan" thing until I read your XB critique (or whatever it was, I read a version of it that someone had saved a long time ago, and this is just from memory). I wouldn't say I'm disillusioned by what I see, it's just that I actually see value in constructive dissent, and I think that it's more primordial human idiocy than anything, and not specific to any group of people, that that sort of thing has been pushed under the rug. Because they're so butthurt about a game they like being criticized from a viewpoint they've never viewed from before. And I think we could all benefit, niche series and all, from being under the same tent. The XB games might be a hunk of trash as far as writing is concerned, but I think there's enough there to make intelligent, thoughtful counterarguments. Or you might just be into the gameplay of one of the games, or character couplings, connecting the stories, whatever. Right now it's all very fragmented, and the layer of gears/saga vs blade just obfuscates it even further. I think the comments of that youtube video are utterly stupid, but I also see it as an opportunity to educate and develop a more nuanced appreciation, if only there was a place sophisticated enough to do such a thing. I just refuse to believe that this can't be done for a series that's sold over 1 million copies worldwide multiple times.

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    3. It brings a sense of comfort in knowing that someone who cares about the games as much as they do observing the same thing. It makes me confident that what I'm observing isn't just a fluke, but people really will willingly criticize one game for one thing and turn around and praise it in another, lol.


      I would say what really separates 1 from the other blade games is that it refuses to explain anything. What I mean by that is, there are certain events in the game that seemingly happen just "because shonen", "because classic". But I do think that these events have an explanation in the sense that they have a purpose and meaning and convey something, and while that message might be pretty similar to XG, I think there's merit in the way it's presented in contrast to XG. People have written about it pages after pages, after all! 2 expands on this, as I told you earlier, through the whole "narrative shortcuts" thing. I would say that because it can use XG and XS as part of it's foundation, it has the room to explore character development and world building without having to worry about a disc 2. and I've already stated that the story can stand on it's own legs, as well (I ignore X for this because it's a whole different can of worms). If the moniker of "Xeno" was, as you understand it, at the point of XG's release, the symbol for Takahashi's vision for a certain plot and universe, and the switch to saga and keeping the "Xeno" was a way to signal that the aforementioned vision was still alive and going to be refined, what exactly is there to say that the blade games are not the case? What is there to say that blade isn't a further refined version of Takahashi's vision? I think that during XB1s lifetime, there were signs, through interviews, and through the game itself, that this was not the case. I think the whole "no explanations" thing is a big part of this. The reason why I keep bringing up the fact that the Zohar is in XB2 is not because I think the games are connected, or because it's cool (although it is), or because XB explicitly acknowledged something from older games. I bring it up because I see it as the biggest evidence yet that the blade games still *do* carry that vision. Maybe not by writing five episodes ahead of the current game you're producing, but I do think that Takahashi is reworking at least some of that old stuff into blade. I understand that you think that the whole "releasing EpVI someday" quote is more bollocks that he will never deliver on like his other promises, which may be the case, but what other form can that take besides Xenoblade?

      And I think that a lot of the reasons for why Xenogears and Xenosaga were such a mess were because of Takahashi's lack of focus in contrast to how much time and money he was allotted. And I think that, because of that, it wouldn't matter what kind of medium Xenogears, or any of the other games are in. I think it's perfectly possible to have a good story like XG or whatever you like, in the way that Takahashi wanted, and not have to sacrifice either gameplay or story. I think it's completely on the part of the people responsible for making the games (and by that I mean both the development teams and the companies that fund them) if that ends up happening, and I see that as general incompetence that would happen regardless of what form it took, Because, in Takahashi's case, it has a lot to do with poor judgement in planning. And all the time in the world will not amend that problem, if you can even call it a problem, because I dare say it's all part of the package.

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    4. You lost me in that last post. "What is there to say that blade isn't a further refined version of Takahashi's vision?" Because it is, as you previously said, watered down if that's the case. At least Xenogears and Xenosaga were similar enough that you could tell they belonged to the same kind of vision (just look at the way they can be mirrored because they utilize the same direction and style). Also, you could simply take what Takahashi himself says in interviews:

      GamesBeat: A lot of the Xeno games aren’t tied to each other directly, but do they have an overarching theme, going back to Xenosaga and Xenogears?

      Takahashi: The theme is actually a little bit different every time. I don’t think there’s necessarily a thematic link between each game. Rather, I think of what sort of game I want to make, what sort of challenge I want to take on. There are links between each game, but they’re not quite that clear.

      Does Xenoblade Chronicles X have the same level of connection to Xenoblade Chronicles as say between a Xenogears and a Xenosaga?

      Takahashi: It's maybe even a little more loosely connected than that, but yes there are a few links that you might be able to pick up on.


      I would have to actually watch the cutscenes for XB2 to be able to judge and explain more precisely why blade isn't a reboot (my take is that the similarity is more a case of lack of ideas or lack of originality at this point rather than "this will lead to a Xenogears/Xenosaga remake or sequel"), but I don't have time right now.

      To me the plot with Zohar wasn't the heart of the old Xeno series vision. I have now posted my article so you can read that to get an idea of what I consider the merits of the old vision.

      I disagree that he is looking to present XG Episode VI in the guise of a future blade game. Why do that when Xenogears still has a fanbase? If there is to truly be an "Episode VI" it needs to be a sequel to the actual Xenogears. If anything, I could see the similar themes in Xenoblade to be a way of "softening up" a more mainstream audience or new audience for a return to the old vision (with the old name) in the future. I would personally find Episode VI of Xenogears delivered as a Xenoblade installment to be distasteful and messy. I don't care *that* much about his original vision anymore to accept it in any way shape or form. Either do it right or don't do it at all.

      But that begs the question of whether he would rather present EpVI as Xenogears or Xenosaga. Because I think we'd need Episode I of Xenogears first. And if Xenosaga, we'd need the "Xenogears remake" for that series first before its "Episode VI" equivalent. I'm sure hardcore fans could tie the plots together regardless, but he really should start making the series more accessible to a wider audience by making it the proper way from start to finish in one go and complete it this time.

      It's also possible he's just thinking of releasing the scripts online for fans to read or publishing them in a book or something. So it taking the form of Xenoblade is just one road he could take, and not one I think he'll pick (if any).

      Also, I don't quite follow why you seem to be so interested in a Xenogears Ep.VI or continuation of the old vision if you weren't that impressed with Xenogears?

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    5. I'm not sure I ever said it would be watered down if it were the case. But besides that, I have to point out that you seem to be walking on a very thin tightrope, between "if it's following in XG's footsteps, it's watered down" and "if it's not, then it's not Xeno". So I think your answer to my question about what Takahashi could have done goes beyond "it irks me", because what really seems to be going on here is that you simply cannot accept anything that is not Xenogears, And the only reason you can stomach saga is because it was signaled to be a reboot.

      Which is fine. I want(ed) Xenogears to conclude in a satisfactory way as well. But what I can't agree to, then, is your overall assessment of blade. Because the Xenoblade games *do* have intellectual merit to them, in ways that XG and XS don't, all the while keeping familiar themes but also including new ones. Furthermore, Are you sure that Xenogears and Xenosaga can be seen to belong in the same vision through mirroring and direction, and Xenoblade can't? Because I can actually go on all day about how blade does do that. And that was my point for bringing up all the things that you've refuted as simply just being "watered down" recycled ideas. And I think this is why you can't stand blade, while you can saga; because at the point of blade, Takahashi had burned all your benefit of the doubt tokens, and you could only see blade as a cynical shell of what Xenogears was, regardless of whether anything actually existed "there" for blade or not.

      And that kind of gets at what I've been feeling this whole time about your study guide. You've said Xenogears is a game that should be played more than once. I agree; I plan to do so sometime in the future. And I actually think that's the case with all Xeno games. But what exactly have you done, regarding blade? Simply watched the cutscenes to blade 1 quite a few years back, I'm guessing. You keep having to say that you can't comment on the games too specifically because you simply don't know enough to say anything that can specifically counter my points regarding blade. And that's fine and all if you're dealing with butthurt people who make stupid claims that they could never possibly go out to prove like "__ is the best game ever made". But when someone like me, who actually appreciates your study guide for it's rigor and depth of understanding for the series, has any counterpoints to be made, there's just not much you can do other than to mildly refute them through your speculation or somewhat related interview quotes. And I think that hurts this study guide. At the same time, I don't want to bear the responsibility of inevitable disappointment that you will feel if you ever do decide to take a closer look. But again, I think that it can only help your study guide if you did so. Just that I don't know if it would be good for you personally.

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    6. Why do that when Xenogears has a fanbase? because SE is not willing to do anything other than cash in on merchandise and cameos (and this is exactly the same for Bamco and saga), and I think that the core people responsible for gears/saga (Mitsuda, Takahashi, Soraya Saga) are unwilling to touch something that they could mess up. I could elaborate more on this if you want, but it has to do with something Mitsuda said on his blog a while back in conjunction with the Persona interview.

      I never said I wasn't impressed with Xenogears; I said that I appreciated saga more, and that all of this was relative. The reason why I bring up the EpVI quote is because it is in light of XB2, and Takahashi talking about the old vision in recent times. I personally want to see EpVI (and I) in the same way that I want to see everything for saga and blade. And by the way, I don't see XB as a reboot/remake of anything, in the same way that I don't see XS as a reboot/remake of XG. Those words imply to me something like what Batman has gone through over the years, and that really doesn't apply here, because there is no common thread of "batman and villains" in any 2 Xeno sub-series. Not in as strong of a way.

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  5. Because the Xenoblade games *do* have intellectual merit to them, in ways that XG and XS don't, all the while keeping familiar themes but also including new ones.

    I don't get it. Didn't we agree that Xenoblade 1 was basically a light-weight shonen? I've heard people make some case for how Leibniz philosophy of the monad goes deep and is "more interesting than gears/saga" but those arguments again miss the point when things like characterization is still deeper in the older works.

    Furthermore, Are you sure that Xenogears and Xenosaga can be seen to belong in the same vision through mirroring and direction, and Xenoblade can't?

    Yes. But if you think otherwise then by all means type up an equivalent to my mirroring article. Keep in mind that I've been digesting this for a long time, and I wouldn't have been a fan for as long as I was if Xenogears and Xenosaga merely were comparable with other JRPGs.

    You keep having to say that you can't comment on the games too specifically because you simply don't know enough to say anything that can specifically counter my points regarding blade.

    The only point you've made that I can recall right now is that the Zohar is in XB2, even though the ting isn't even called the Zohar. It sounds deceptive when the actual thing, if I understand it correctly, is called the Conduit.

    I don't want to bear the responsibility of inevitable disappointment that you will feel if you ever do decide to take a closer look.

    Don't worry, my expectations are zero considering I find the cutscenes of XB1 and what I've seen of XBX to be almost unwatchable. My fear is rather that if I do watch it and comment on it, you'll hate me. =)

    I think that the core people responsible for gears/saga (Mitsuda, Takahashi, Soraya Saga) are unwilling to touch something that they could mess up. I could elaborate more on this if you want, but it has to do with something Mitsuda said on his blog a while back in conjunction with the Persona interview.

    Yeah I'd like an elaboration on that. Sounds interesting. You're right I forgot that they wouldn't be able to re-use the old titles that easily. But they could attempt a completely new name too that is neither gears, saga or blade.

    The reason why I bring up the EpVI quote is because it is in light of XB2, and Takahashi talking about the old vision in recent times.

    But he was specifically asked about it. You might be reading too much into it.

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    1. I don't get it. Didn't we agree that Xenoblade 1 was basically a light-weight shonen? I've heard people make some case for how Leibniz philosophy of the monad goes deep and is "more interesting than gears/saga" but those arguments again miss the point when things like characterization is still deeper in the older works.

      There is definitely monadology there, but that was already done with broken mirrors in XG anyway. I guess I wasn't clear enough when I said it the first time, but my point is that XB told the story in a way that can be more easily digestible and approachable all the while maintaining themes from XG, and actually having a focused final product. Yes, I agree that in terms of characters, it was pretty lacking, especially the villains of the game. If it wasn't clear enough, I was never arguing that Xenoblade 1 was better than XG, or even on par with it. I was saying that 1 and other blade games have their own artistic achievements, regardless of whether you appreciate that or not, and do respect all the while maintaining at least some of the merits of what makes Xeno, Xeno that you've discussed in your article. You say that Shakespeare is overrated, which is fair enough. I hate Romeo and Juliet. But is it not the case that the reason anyone even knows his name today because of the fact that his work touched on such a broad range of tastes? My point here is that it is meritorious to do such a thing, and some would argue to be more sophisticated, although I'm not sure I would go that far.

      Yes. But if you think otherwise then by all means type up an equivalent to my mirroring article. Keep in mind that I've been digesting this for a long time, and I wouldn't have been a fan for as long as I was if Xenogears and Xenosaga merely were comparable with other JRPGs.
      And I don't think any of the Xeno games are comparable with any other JRPGs either! Writing a similar article would be a huge undertaking, and I'm not really sure what the point would be of writing something that huge when even if I did do it, you wouldn't be able to discuss the parts that are actually up for dispute.

      The only point you've made that I can recall right now is that the Zohar is in XB2, even though the ting isn't even called the Zohar. It sounds deceptive when the actual thing, if I understand it correctly, is called the Conduit.
      I'm talking about saying how the games have a leg to stand on for themselves. You can't tell me why I'm wrong because there's nothing you can point out to me. Yes it's called the conduit, but I just find it a pain to write zohar/conduit when we're talking about things not limited to one game. But If you find that to be dishonest, then I'll write it that way.

      Don't worry, my expectations are zero considering I find the cutscenes of XB1 and what I've seen of XBX to be almost unwatchable. My fear is rather that if I do watch it and comment on it, you'll hate me. =)

      Why would I hate you? I'm not so uncertain in what I believe in to hate someone simply because they don't like something I do. If that were the case, I would have never even left a comment here to begin with, because I've read your stuff regarding XB1. I have no idea what your reasons are for engaging with me are, but my reason is to challenge my own beliefs about the series, and maybe provide helpful criticism in the process.

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    2. Yeah I'd like an elaboration on that. Sounds interesting. You're right I forgot that they wouldn't be able to re-use the old titles that easily. But they could attempt a completely new name too that is neither gears, saga or blade.
      The gist of it is that Mitsuda, on his blog, talked about how hard it would be to remake Xenogears. He specifically mentions that it isn't hard for them, if a different company (Monolith) were to develop it, to buy the series, find funding, etc. What he's saying is that it would require a special kind of effort to deliver anything remotely on par with peoples expectations. This is commentary on my part, but the void that exists in Xenogears has been filled by fans with something unsatisfiable. I think anything that these people put out will not live up to what the fans had hoped. And that's assuming that everything else goes right to begin with. And I think Mitsuda is touching on this, and I think the reason why Takahashi is unwilling to touch the games is precisely what Mitsuda has echoed. At least, not through the window of XG. This is why I bring up the EpVI quote.

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    3. my point is that XB told the story in a way that can be more easily digestible and approachable all the while maintaining themes from XG, and actually having a focused final product.

      Alright, how can I put this... This is exactly what came up, over and over again after people played XB1. XB1 is *not* an easily digestable Xenogears that still maintains its themes. XB1 has nothing to do with XG or XS. It's got a completely different battle system. It's got no robots you can pilot. It takes place on two friggin' giant corpses in a made-up fantasy universe! That it later reveals that it came outta our universe is irrelevant.

      And it's the same with XB2. I'm 15 minutes or so into the cutscenes, and after watching a small kid talk with his dragon, been shopping with some funny-looking feather-balls, I'm looking at a TALKING TIGER. This is not sci-fi or a fictional representation of our universe. This is cute fantasy for a younger audience. I'm not in my early teens anymore. What am I supposed to see here? I think you've got some explaining to do.

      Why would I hate you?

      Even if you don't, other Xenoblade fans reading it probably will. And I've been trying to avoid that kind of war and drama this time.

      For the Mitsuda thing, do you have the precise quote saved? It might be worth including in my next article that talks about the future of the series. Is he specifically saying that Monolith could buy the rights if they wanted to?

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    4. How can you list such superficial aspects to say that XB1 has nothing to do with XG and XS, though? I thought that we had agreed that what makes Xeno, Xeno had a lot to do with a plot driven story in a very specific style. Furthermore, 1 has robots, just not in combat. And earlier, you brought up the fact of a universe being devoid of alien life as something seen in Xeno. Is taking place on two giant corpses not a take on this? It's got a different battle system, in that it's not the complete same as XG or XS, yeah. Yet again, if you look closely, you will see that the battle system is a continuation of previous Xeno games, where a quick reaction is sometimes necessary, and you build regular punches/slashes into more special attacks.

      And for XB2, it's the same thing. Funny-looking feather-balls? So what does that mean for Chu-Chu or Bunnie? And talking tigers? what does that mean for demi-humans (because they're not an actual tiger)? It's not a fictional representation of our universe in the same way that Xenogears isn't. Because I would say Fei smashing things to death by freezing them with his own fists is just as made up as a world that was created on top of nano-machines with huge enough entities to host human life on top of them. And what would happen if you saw X, which is like XS in it's refusal to partake in any high-fantasy? I can't help but feel that you are actively looking for any differences you can find in a sea of similarities, and using that to claim that these games are not in the same vein as other Xeno games.

      Well, if you want to avoid drama, that is fair enough. But I think that, if you believe that the Xenoblade games are the antithesis to what Xeno actually is, then I think developing a better understanding of it will only serve to further cement your appreciation for why Xenogears is that much better as a game.


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    5. http://www.procyon-studio.com/blog/?p=12879

      Recently, Xenogears has reached it's 20th year anniversary. It's quite rare to see a game this popular after so long. It seems that many people are eager for a remake, and I'm truly grateful that I could have been a part of this game. However, I think that a remake would be very difficult, personally. When it comes to [copy]rights, that's just a matter of money, (that is, if the development company is different [I'm not sure if this parenthesis is talking about what follows it or what came before it]) but the problem is the level of understanding towards the work. This of course includes the understanding towards the original work, but we also have to think about if we are understanding it from the user's perspective, and the differences in feel of the world that arise from the aging of the game and improved technology. And this can be said about the music as well. If we were to just remake it as a job, we would not get any positive results.

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    6. I was mainly thinking of XBX and going off of what you said about XB2. I have never considered XB1 to be worthy of the 'Xeno' prefix. Besides, what makes this "style" and the robot enemies you're referring to less superficial than the aspects I bring up? Aren't those very things the "style" that sets to tone for the plot and the game?

      Xenogears and Xenosaga did not have aliens like XBX, which was related to the Christian undertones (i.e. Earth being the center of the universe and "holy"/special).

      I never liked the inclusion of Chu-Chu in XG and neither did many other fans. I always thought that was one of those compromises Takahashi felt he had to make to keep the rest of the team happy, putting in a bit of fantasy elements. Chu-Chu was written by Kato after all. Same with the demi-humans. I didn't like how they looked so much like anthropomorphic animals and I would prefer if they changed that in a remake. That's why I hoped XS would fix these things. I'm not completely satisfied with any of the Xeno games, for the record. There are many elements I don't care for in both XG and XS. But the blade games are hardly ameliorating these aspects, just making them worse for me.

      The point is, XG and XS had a darker and more mature tone, and they toned down the fantasy elements. And in an improved version or remake I'd prefer even less fantasy elements if possible. It is also possible to find similarities in anything. I could point out just as many similarities to XG/XS in FF7 and Chrono Trigger as in Xenoblade.

      And there are enough people who can clearly see that they are different. If you and some other people can't by now then I don't think anything will make you see it.

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    7. Hold on a second. Are you saying XBX and XB2 are worthy of the Xeno prefix, despite what you've said? Because if that's the case, then we might've been arguing two different things. If you think that XB1 is weak for Xeno standards, then I'm fine with that. Because it is.

      If you're talking about XBX and 2 though, I need to correct some things: XBX has mechs that are pilotable, combat or otherwise. 2 has them in cutscenes. The reason why I said it was superficial was because I thought you were arguing for differences on a contextually superficial level, like Nopon vs Chu-Chu and Bunnie. And I've said this before, but the aliens in X are heavily implied to be either descendants of humans or human creations meant to serve humans. So I don't see how that takes away from the "center of the universe" idea. The English localization goes so far as to call them Xenos rather than aliens.

      I don't disagree with you on tone and fantasy elements at all. XB1 is more fantasy than XG, and I want less fantasy, too. Although I haven't played CT or FFVII, I don't think you can point out as many similarities between those games and XB1, though. Because the similarities, for example the characters and themes, are very specific.

      And one other thing, because you talking about tone reminded me. If you look on my site, there's a snippet from an XB2 interview I translated where Takahashi talks about what he wants to do next. In that, he signals that what he wants to do next is something more mature and sexual. To me, that signals an even stronger return to XG's style than XB2 and X already have done. That's another reason why I talk about the EpVI quote so much. And the new DLC that's coming out for 2 already seems to be going in that direction. What's your take on this?

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    8. Saying that XBX is "worthy" of the Xeno- prefix is putting it too strongly, and I don't want people to misunderstand. But XBX has more similarities with the old Xenoverse in being more sci-fi, set in our universe proper, having robots to pilot, etc, that having it use the Xeno- prefix feels a bit more consistent and natural. This does not mean that I regard XBX, from what cutscenes I've seen and know of it, to be part of the same universe or vision as XG and XS.

      I watched the first 1.5 hour of XB2 and also the last hour or so because I wasn't getting into it. But I recognise many recycled elements from older Xeno towards the end, such as the heroine sacrifice, the final mech boss, the Proto-Merkabah-esque escape, two halves of a character merged into one (Pyra/Mythra), etc. It's like Takahashi wrote the last part of the game and left the rest of the plot/world/characters to the other writers. But still, it's a rehash with a lighter and less complex/dark/philosophical tone over all. And the build up or context from the start of the adventure makes it feel distinctly different.

      For that XB2 interview snippet you translated, I don't think he's talking about EpVI or his old Xeno in any way. They talk about doing something completely original besides the Xenoblade series. Of course, if they did that, the tone might be closer to the old Xeno without it being Xeno. And I would like to see something new and more mature that wasn't Xeno. But, as you know, I have my doubts anything will come of what he says he wants to do.

      By the way, I may have something more for you to translate. Gwendal had trouble with videos since he mostly knew written Japanese but not spoken Japanese. If you can translate spoken Japanese perhaps you can tell if anything new/interesting is being said in these videos:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m5-lmCfgOA
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4Tllp_UNPg

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    9. So not really different from what I thought you were saying. I guess what I’ve been trying to get at is this then: given that some things are recycled, are you sure that the observations in your mirroring article you wrote are not also just Takahashi recycling things? Because while I understand that XS is supposed to be a refined take on the original plot/universe, I was not really convinced that Takahashi intended to mirror the progression of Xenogears with that article; at least not in a way that is different from XB. I saw it as a symptom for what Takahashi does every time he has to move publishers. Because why would he mirror the XS we got, which is related to XG EpI, to XG epV? What would have happened had everything gone according to plan? He would “mirror” again with the two other arcs, one of which is supposed to be a Xenogears “remake”? How is that not the same as recycling? Which is why I said XB follows that direction/style, because I consider your “mirroring” and “recycled elements” to be a distinction without a difference. You will probably say that there is a more convincing case to be made with XS because it doesn’t have the differences we agreed on between blade and the others. But that’s only saying that XS is more similar than XB to XG. It doesn’t say how similar XB is as it pertains to elements found specifically in Xeno, or really address why he would do it. It all seems like a way for you to rationalize being fine with one instance of something, and then be able to say the same thing makes something bad in another. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the article. Just not the ways in which you intend it to be.

      What I was trying to say with that interview was that in the future the difference in tone that you’ve described may no longer even be a point of difference; which likely means they will be even more similar than before. Why would he talk about something not Xeno in an interview for Xeno? I doubt he’s talking about the fantasy game. Although I won’t deny it.

      I just took a quick look, but the audio quality is absolutely horrible. I’ll use headphones later and see what I can do, but don’t get your hopes up.

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    10. The situation between XG and XS is different. I used to have a section of the study guide that can explain this but I haven't restored that part yet. I'm not sure I can explain it briefly but I'll try.

      XG and XS both contain 3 main parts or story arcs. First part takes place 4000 years after mankind left earth and has a theme of human fear and Christian undertones. Sets up the reason for the collapse of the universe. There are three god-like beings and one attempts to prevent the collapse (Wilhelm).

      The second part takes place 10,000 years later and deals with the extended measure being taken to prevent the universe from collapsing. It deals with a separate theme (you could call it "grief"). The second god-being (female one, related to animus) deals with this.

      The third part supposedly deals with the demise of the universe. Will have a third theme and likely the third god-being is central in this (Anima: chaos/Cain).

      XB1, XB2 and XBX, in contrast, have none of this from what I can tell.

      Each story arc would, obviously, be comparable with each other in direction and style. Just like XB1 and XB2 are quite similar (boy fighting with a sword living on creatures etc). And I'm sure XBX2 will be similar to XBX. Basically there is a "formula" that makes a game part of Xenoblade, another formula that makes it part of XBX, and quite another formula that makes it part of saga/gears.

      I fully expect, and even want, a similar "formula" and style for each story arc in both XG and XS. Otherwise it wouldn't feel consistent. It is not enough that the story merely continues. Make each arc just as big and just as good, but obviously change things up enough that it doesn't feel repetitive or like merely a rehash. XS walked a fine line, but I did find his approach worked well and it makes sense that things will repeat in a story originally intended to be a prequel/sequel.

      But that he's now recycling some of his ideas even for XB, a different series with a different universe, is making the ideas feel stale and repetitive. With three stories as part of a series/universe with a similar style it made sense, but the blade games have been ruining the uniqueness of it.

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    11. Haha, your description actually made me chuckle a little. Not because it's bad or anything; quite the opposite. It's that it's so familiar to the blade games that it made me laugh. Three god-like beings (Zanza, Meyneth, Alvis), one (Alvis) who tries to prevent the demise of the(not ours) universe. Female being (Pneuma) comes in a second time to save it( this time, ours). They've even got the themes you mention, I'd say! Although the Christian stuff doesn't kick in until 2.

      I don't think that means XB1 and 2 are a "retelling" of the arcs or anything, though. Because Takahashi has said he wants to keep going with XB3 and XB4, and there's only one other arc that he could go off of left even if we were to believe it. But I think it's a little too much to just say it's nothing, either. It'll be interesting to see what he does next.

      It's fair if you think it's stale, but I don't think Takahashi ever intended to do it this way. He had to change publishers twice after all. If anything, I feel like it's an honest attempt at trying to convey something from start to finish. I think XB walks a fine line, in the same way that you think XS does.

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    12. Alvis was not the antagonist, like Wilhelm. Also, wasn't Alvis just a computer program originally? And Zanza and Meyneth two scientists? I don't know who Pneuma is (XBX?) but if she's not part of the same continuum and a major antagonist connected with Animus it's not the same. And for XB2 this is where? What is the Christian stuff in XB2?

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    13. I never said it was the same. You're saying that everything is meaningless references, where Takahashi is just recycling ideas because he has nothing better to make. All I'm saying is that there seems to be more to it than that because of how closely similar they are. You can't just say you can apply the same thinking to FF7 or CT, because it's just not true. I don't really want to keep on explaining things because what I think is just splitting hairs, you'll think otherwise, and I think you and I have both made our points, so I think I'll just leave it there. One question though, what do you mean by major antagonist connected with Animus?


      Also, I looked at the two videos. The first one is just hard to make out anything. The substantive parts are mostly about the music, and I think most of the sentiments expressed in it have already been stated in other interviews. Again, I can't make out all of it, but that's what I'm getting. If anything, I think what's most interesting is that they did this at all. This kind of on-stage interview is something in Japan that a director for a movie or a writer for a book would do, not for a game. I wonder who's idea it was to do this.

      For the second video, there's not much to comment on, again. However, I noticed that this is the video about the whole "no Episode VI" deal in your history of XS article. And... the translation is just wrong. The question being asked is "What is the entirety of XS so far?" and Takahashi responds "At this point... around six things". Interviewer says "Six episodes?" and Takahashi nods and says " approximately Episode six (right now), I think." So the translation you currently have on your article is actually the opposite of what he's saying. Given that we've found such a fatal translation error, now I'm wondering if there's anything else like that. It might be a good idea to just go through a lot of the old stuff and see if I disagree with any of it. I just don't have any of the sources, so if you would be so kind as to lead them my way, I'll take a look at them.

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    14. All I'm saying is that there seems to be more to it than that because of how closely similar they are. You can't just say you can apply the same thinking to FF7 or CT, because it's just not true.

      Well then, if you'd create a website/community for all of Takahashi's MSI works, would you include Soma Bringer in that as well? Because that game has a lot of similarity with both saga/gears and Xenoblade. Or is it simply the name "Xeno" that matters?

      CT deals with a story spanning several eras like XG. It has a main character that is a banished royalty like Bart. Lucca was an inventor like Citan (and she's in XG Lahan Village). Its world is the result of an alien being arriving long ago, a kind of god (same with FF7). Zeal has a lot of similarities with Solaris/Shevat and so on. A lot of staff were the same.

      FF7 has a main character with identity issues. A part of the plot takes place in a prison. The story deals with scientists and modern corporations exploiting and using spiritual energy out of ignorance like XS. There was an ancient race that was more knowledgeable about stuff. Sephiroth and Yuriev both wants to become a god after researching the past. You fight modern looking corporate people in suits and so forth. I can't remember everything at the top of my head but these things have been discussed too just like similarities between blade and old Xeno are discussed today. And back then there were also references to older works like Roni and Rene from FFVI appearing in XG. Albedo has some echo of Kefka with the insanity and laugh.
      It just seems to me that you might be relatively new to JRPGs, and that you might view the similarities differently with more experience.

      One question though, what do you mean by major antagonist connected with Animus?

      Miang/Persona (XG) and Mary (XS). The connection between those two is hard to see in the actual games though.

      If anything, I think what's most interesting is that they did this at all. This kind of on-stage interview is something in Japan that a director for a movie or a writer for a book would do, not for a game.

      That's what I've been saying about the old vision, which reached its culmination around the point of XS Ep.1. They were attempting to do something in the gaming world not done before and more in the vein of great literature and cinema. I mean they even attempted an orchestral score.

      So the translation you currently have on your article is actually the opposite of what he's saying.

      Thanks, I suspected it might be, that's why I hoped you would tell me if it did. I'll remove that bit from the history article now.

      If you want to double check anything else then I already attempted to provide the links and scans for the interviews whenever possible for precisely that purpose. If there's anything missing that you want to take a look at then just tell me and I'll upload it.

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    15. Some more thoughts. If Takahasi made a great work that was more original but did not have 'Xeno' in the name, would you think it logical to have a separate community for that? If Takahashi made something else that made me a big fan, whether a different kind of Xenoblade or original work, I would still (if I made a fan site for it) make it a new blog.

      In fact, I have sometimes considered making two separate blogs/study guides for XG and XS, but because of their incomplete nature there's a compelling complementary relationship that together makes two out of three intended story arcs available for analysis. Articles like the mirroring article would also not be possible if they were kept separate. It's not that I like to mix them together, but in order to reach that deeper or broader original vision I decided to go that route.

      And yet I also know that there are fans, at least there have been fans in the past, who wanted to keep XG and XS very separate. Mostly XG fans who didn't like XS.

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    16. Before this discussion had begun, I decided to replay X. As I've said, X started it all for me, and I had gone into the game with no knowledge of any other game whatsoever. And I wondered, now, what exactly it was that made me curious about the other games, and care about the game(s) in the way that I do. Because I completely agree with you when you describe in your article about how underwhelming other games/movies/whatever are in comparison. Everything else that I've encountered might give me a fleeting moment of emotion, sure, through music, camerawork, and what have you. But it doesn't really last; I don't really feel anything, looking back on what I've absorbed. The first anything that I felt left a lasting impression on me was X. And replaying the game (although I'm not done yet), despite how minimalistic and inconclusive the plot is, it was undeniably clear to me why this had stuck with me. The way in which the story is told, and how the themes are conveyed, who says what... that was what had grabbed my heart.

      So the similarities you list, what you would call superficial similarities in your merits article, I don't strictly care about those either. Especially because things like Yuriev are hardly emblematic of what Xeno is for me; Not only does it really not matter whether he's in the plot or not, he is such a stock JRPG villain that even Xenoblade 1 would laugh at him (of course, with saga, there's always questions about whether this was intended in the original plot or not). Margulis would be someone that I consider to be more Xeno-like, not because he's vaguely reminiscent of Ramsus or whomever in any other Xeno game, but because his purpose in the plot (A man who realizes his faith had been a sham this whole time) is something powerful, something that is worthy of attention. I don't even have to play FF7 or CT to know that that "xeno magic" is not there, because there is utterly no indication of that aside from superficial similarities. However, I do plan on playing them, now that you've brought it up, because I think it's a worthwhile endeavor to further strengthen my view on it. And if you think that all of that is distasteful, bad, whatever, then I think that's fair enough. Because you were promised something that you've still yet to receive.

      However, you bring up Soma Bringer. This one is an interesting one because it's by Takahashi and I think Soraya Saga also had some involvement, with some expected similarities, particularly between it and XB, correct? While I have less knowledge about that game (and Baten Kaitos) than FF7 and CT, I don't think it would be the same. Although I won't say that I won't find "xeno magic" in Soma Bringer, because it's entirely possible that what I'm talking about is more about Takahashi than any game, this is where I think the Xeno prefix comes in. I talked earlier about the narrative shortcuts thing that is prevalent in XB2. While I think you could probably apply that to Soma Bringer, I think that taking on the Xeno prefix implies something stronger than what you could do with SB. And I think those superficial similarities contribute to that as well. And I think that the fact that the Zohar/Conduit, the one thing in XG and XS that was not just "somewhat familiar/similar", but nearly identical, appearing in 2, supports that understanding. To directly answer your question, I would have one section for Soma, Baten, FF7, and Chrono, because you can't really explain Xeno without having those games. If you were to remove all mention of FF7 from your study guide, it wouldn't even make sense. So in that way, I do think it's valid to have such a section.

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    17. That's what I've been saying about the old vision, which reached its culmination around the point of XS Ep.1. They were attempting to do something in the gaming world not done before and more in the vein of great literature and cinema. I mean they even attempted an orchestral score.

      Well, that kind of gets at something that I've been holding off talking about because I might post it separately in the merits section where it goes into more detail. And it's that video games aren't cinema or literature. And I think that Takahashi trying too hard to be like it was really one of the major problems with saga. Which is why I wondered who's idea it was. Because this is the kind of thing that is symbolic of the fundamental problem of XS, and it just amplified the "failure" of XS even more, even though I think it was an honest effort. And I think that leads to the whole "fake sci-fi" quote.

      But I'm not saying that video games are merely a time-burning machine or just for entertainment. Because books and movies have/had that aspect too. Because I think that what Takahashi wanted to do was possible through the medium of a video game, and I think that him trying too hard to be like something it wasn't was what really lead to a loss of focus and direction in both plot and gameplay. Because video games have made great strides when it comes to this in recent years. I think that simply giving up immediately, saying that "video games are just not a medium for the story I want to tell" and agreeing to that sentiment is just a cop-out. It's a grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence argument that doesn't actually say anything but sulk about failure.

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  6. Hey Lugal, do you know what issue and what magazine that 3-page 1998 interview with Xenogears staff is from? Someone that commented on the interview needs to know for a university thesis.

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    1. I looked all over the Japanese net, but I’ve found absolutely nothing. I could ask the person who gave it to me, but he apparently just picked up the scans from the internet long ago, so I probably won’t get anything from him. There is a chance I could still figure it out from an acquaintance of his, but we’ll have to see. Asking on the XG thread of 2ch would be another way, but I’d have to pay money to even post there and I’m not sure the info I get would exactly meet the threshold for teliable information in a thesis anyway. Then again, I guess I could say the same about myself. I’ll reply back if I get anything.

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    2. Acquaintance tells me its likely to be an issue between February and March of 1998 in Dengeki Playstation, and that the magazine punblished every other week. You’re likely going to have to search public libraries in Japan to get more precise than this. 2ch is always an option, but I’m not going to use money just to get semi reliable information, so this is all the information I can get as of right now.


      On a completely unrelated note, I want to give you a heads up if you didn’t already know that there’s a new Xeno Emission coming out. I know most of the stuff in those books don’t have much of importance regarding this guide, but thought I’d let you know anyway.

      On a somewhat similar note, is an ep1 official design materials book something that’s needed? It looks to me like the only place to have it has now been taken off the web. Wondering how much of that book was actually looked at by you and others.

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    3. I see, thanks for looking into it.

      I didn't know about a new Xeno Emission. If anyone finds something particularly interesting in it then that part might be worth preserving on the study guide. But I won't be keeping an eye on it.

      The Xenosaga -Official Design Materials- book was completely translated back on XenoTensei if I remember correctly. Gwendal finished up the work after the study guide came around. It was a very interesting book and we used to have tons of discussions about it. I still have the translated pages saved, but I would have to re-read it to see if I would think the same now. It might be that I already cited the most interesting stuff in my articles.

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