Interview Segment 5
New Orbital Frame "Ardjet"

This is the new Orbital Frame "Ardjet" whose motif is "Geisha". Why "Geisha"?

Shinkawa : In the rough sketches for the previous gamewas a coffin-shape mech. Director Shuyo Murata wanted to include this in this game. And he wanted the heroine of the game to pilot it. The original sketch I did really looked like a coffin with a skinny fellow like a zombie or mummy inside. It just wasn't a mech for the heroine. I tried to modify it and turn it into a girly mech. But then I didn't want to turn it into something too girly. After some trial and error, I ended up with this design that looks somewhat like a Geisha. Its hairstyle and long cape -- I hope this looks like a Kimono.

Please talk about Ardjet's characteristics -- "Kimono-esque cape", "hair ornament", "face (mask)".

Director Murata : This cape splits into multiple parts and then reunites to form a coffin or bounce off Jehuty's attack.

Shinkawa : Like a puzzle, they scatter. Each one morphs and form a coffin. The total number of pieces is always the same, but each one does morph individually.

Director Murata : The modeller who worked on this is very proud of what he accomplished. "Don't the parts reunite perfectly!" he says. (laughs) The cape splits and reunites in the game, and you can watch from an angle how all parts actually reunite. I am really impressed by what the modeller was able to do.

Rough design from the previous game.
There is no feminine image here.

Ardjet in Coffin Mode.
The things floating around are "WISPs".

Ardjet's head design. Geisha-esque ornament and facial expression, "crying mole" on the right cheek, "second eye" on the forehead.
Shinkawa : Initially, the cape was cut up arbitrarily. But then the parts were designed to work properly to form a puzzle. I thought, "Do you really have to work that carefully? No one can see what's actually happening." But the modeller said, "I want to do this." (laughs)

Ardjet's face is clearly a face unlike the other Orbital Frames. It looks like a Noh mask (Noh: traditional Japanese theater with actors wearing masks).

Shinkawa : Well, she's a Geisha. Jehuty's motif is a "bird", but Ardjet's motif is a "Geisha". A Geisha must have a face. Ardjet has a mole on her face on one of her cheeks -- a "crying mole" (a mole under one's eye is called a "crying mole" in Japan because it looks like a teardrop). I thought a mech with a mole is not a bad idea. It's probably a screw. (laughs)

It might be a button...the "crying button". (laughs)

Shinkawa : If you press it, the eyes open and tears flood out. (laughs)

What is that mole-like thing on the forehead?

Shinkawa : Orbital Frames have two eye-like regions -- one lower and the other higher -- on the face. This mole-like thing is the camera. So, this thing is Ardjet's eye in the true sense.

WIn the sketch of its rear is some hair-like structure with a connector at the tip. What is this?

Shinkawa : This connects to the base of the cape on the back and serves as the wiring between the controller box and the body. When the cape splits and turns into a weapon called WISP, this controls the parts.

There is a "ball" in the center of Ardjet's chest. Is this some ornament?

Shinkawa : All Orbital Frames have this. This is the AI CPU. All assisting mechs come with one. Even if the AI cannot speak, it will provide some kind of support.

So, it would be "ADA" for Jehuty.

Shinkawa : Yes, Jehuty comes with one.

But if the CPU of the AI is so visible, won't it be damaged easily and destroyed?

Shinkawa : ...It probably will.

What happens if it is destroyed?

Shinkawa : Something terrible that I cannot talk about here. (laughs)

Director Murata : One element of the previous game is this AI called ADA that navigates this mech. The story was about this boy Leo who accidentally hopped into Jehuty and became friends with ADA. With ADA being the core of the story, I guess the presence of this AI was incorporated in the design this way.

Shinkawa : I didn't want the design to say, "This is ADA!" I wanted the design to be subtle but obvious enough to be seen.

Ardjet's full image.
The ball in the center of the chest is the "AI". The cape's motif is a Kimono.

Design sketch of Ardjet from the rear.
The backpack is what contributes in maintaining balance.

Rough design of Ardjet.
When Ardjet removes its cape, it looks quite skinny. Is this because of the original mummy-in-the-coffin design?

Shinkawa : In this sketch from the rear, it does look skinny. But with a booster pack attached to its back, it looks much more stylish. I wanted the waist piece to have a mini skirt silhouette. Since it is the butt, you'll enjoy what you see when it comes off. (laughs) The details on the side are supposed to be dimples on the butt. The hair on the head is there for design. I thought it would look nice from a gameplay standpoint if the hair moved when the robot moved. The face was originally painted in black instead of yellow, but it looked more Latin American than Geisha-ish. That's when I said to myself, "Better change this!"

The body is black and then the energy lines flow you get to see the body silhouette with pink bits all over. I think this design is really interesting.

Shinkawa : Since the cape is key, I didn't think the body had to stand out too much. It should blend into the dark. That's why you get to see the silhouette only when the energy lines flow.

Is there anything else about Ardjet that you can say, "I've spend extra time and care!"

Shinkawa : To make the hip stand out, I cut the butt off like a chopped tree instead of having a round butt. I was going for overall balance when the model was being created. This probably has nothing to do with practicality. This is purely for appearance sake. I also like the effects associated with Ardjet.
Another thing -- unlike the coarse movement of Nephtis with a muscular physique, Ardjet moves very smoothly with a lot of flexibility.

Director Murata : It doesn't have to be cute, exactly -- since it is a battle mech. It doesn't have to be coquettish. Its flexibility should be more practical like that of a cat.

...A cat!! (laughs)

Shinkawa : An Ardjet that runs away when you chase it, and follows you when you run away. (laughs)