Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the FINAL FANTASY series and Hajime Tabata, the Head of Business Division 2 have mentioned Yoshinori Kitase, the Head of Business Division 1 & Motomu Toriyama, a legendary member of BD1, a few times in a new interview with Famitsu. I’ve taken out the interesting BD1-related parts and you can read them below.
Tabata: Working together with Kitase-san (Yoshinori Kitase. Joining the team for FFV, he both directed and produced several games in the series) and Nomura-san (Tetsuya Nomura. Selected to design the main characters for FFVII, he has been involved with multiple series titles since) probably influenced me the most. The passion with which the two worked gave me a good sense of what Sakaguchi-san expected from a Final Fantasy title, and what challenges he tackled in its name – including what it takes to be worthy of the Final Fantasy banner.
Sakaguchi: Great to know Kitase had been doing his part too. (laughs) As far as I’m concerned, he’s the one I handed the torch to. It’s heartwarming to know that Kitase’s values are living on through you.
Tabata: He never directly told me how things should be done, but I learnt a lot by working with him.
Sakaguchi: His mindset, if you will. Where NOT to compromise.
Tabata: The comment didn’t bother me, but Sakaguchi-san contacted me at a later date saying he wanted to apologize and chat about FFXV. Kitase-san and Sakaguchi-san met as part of Famitsu’s Mobius Final Fantasy coverage, so the three of us went for a meal afterwards.
Sakaguchi: That’s right. Kitase was there too when we first met.
Tabata: Yes. Sakaguchi-san knew that I was working on FFXV, and his first comment was “Sorry about that ’10-year’ remark. I finally get to apologize.”
Sakaguchi: I’d been feeling remorse over that comment.
Tabata: Then I introduced myself as working on FFXV, and we talked about many things.
–”What did you discuss?”
Tabata: Our first meeting was pretty casual. My impression of Sakaguchi-san was far more laid back than I’d heard. (laughs)
Sakaguchi: Curious about those rumors. (laughs) Kitase being there might have helped.
Tabata: Over the meal Kitase-san and Sakaguchi-san told me about how they used to work together. Sakaguchi-san also told me to ask him anything, so I asked him how much he was earning! (laughs)
Sakaguchi: That’s one I didn’t answer! (laughs)
Tabata: The only one you didn’t, actually. (laughs) We didn’t discuss anything too deep that first time, but our discussions grew deeper with time.
–”Sakaguchi-san, what did you think of Tabata-san’s take on Final Fantasy?”
Sakaguchi: Up until FFXIII, the games were made by members originally from Square, including Kitase, so FFXIV and onwards constitute a new generation of Final Fantasy. Although calling them a ‘new generation’ may be a stretch, I do feel that the series is evolving into something new. For FFXV, I played the demo and was shown raw footage of the game, and was moved by their dedication to the franchise.
–”Sakaguchi-san, did you ever share your opinions on any of the previous numbered Final Fantasy titles?”
Sakaguchi: I did. I spoke to Matsuno when he was working on FFXII, and both Kitase and Toriyama (Motomu Toriyama. Worked on FFVII and FFX, Director for the FFXIII series) visited me at my home in Hawaii as part of a holiday trip. We had an intense discussion in a yakiniku restaurant. I’m pretty blunt with my opinions, but Kitase doesn’t flinch either, so he was probably shaking his head at the old guy asking for the impossible again. (laughs)
Tabata: Kitase-san is a tough debater. I was witness to a heated exchange, where Sakaguchi-san was pointing out that Kitase-san knew in his heart what he should be doing, yet not doing it, while Kitase-san’s argument was that some efforts are simply not realistic.
Sakaguchi: I recall saying something along the lines of “Nothing is impossible, you’re just not trying, break the box and think outside it!“ (laughs)