Found an old Devil Survivor interview in the depths of Atlus’s corner of the Internet, here’s hoping it hasn’t been translated yet. The guest, art director Kotou Akiko, delves a bit into the theme of the game and the research that went into it and offers the readers some survival tips in case of disaster because you never know when Tokyo might get isolated from the rest of the world.
Kosugi: Good day, everyone. Atlus Net manager Kosugi here. Today’s feature is Megami Ibunroku Devil Survivor, so I invited art director Kotou Akiko to join me. Welcome.
Kotou: Thank you!
Kosugi: I would like to leave the exposition of the game content to the official site this time, and focus instead on the creation of the game, its interesting points and important factors such as the Tokyo Blockade or ‘survival’.
SO, WHAT IS MEGAMI IBUNROKU DEVIL SURVIVOR?
Kosugi: First of all, I would like to know what exactly is Megami Ibunroku Devil Survivor…the details are on the official site, but do you think you can sum it up?
Kotou: Summing it up…it is difficult, but simply put, the scene is present Tokyo. Tokyo under blockade is the starting point.
Kosugi: I see, and concretely?
Kotou: Concretely, the blockade runs along the Yamanote Line and no one can get out. No one can enter either. This also causes electricity, water and mobile phone signals to be completely cut off. That isolated spot is suddenly swarmed by demons…and the story starts with the protagonist and his group being driven into a corner.
Kosugi: It feels like if you were to live in Tokyo and electricity, water and mobile phones got cut off, you would be driven into a corner even without a swarm of demons.
Kotou: Right. And then you add demons (laughs). That is why in Megami Ibunroku Devil Survivor’s situation you wonder how you will be able to survive…In other words, the game’s theme is ‘survival’.
Kosugi: Well now, it looks to me like you put it all together beautifully! The theme is ‘survival’!
Kotou: Tokyo getting invaded by demons has happened many times in Atlus’s games, but this time we wanted to bring reality to the theme of ‘survival’ and we collected a lot of detailed data for the Tokyo Blockade setting.
Kosugi: What kind of data collection?
Kotou: First, I walked all around Tokyo together with the staff. What would happen if we were actually forbidden from going in or out of the Yamanote Line…For example, the Imperial Palace, Ministry of Defense and police headquarters are all inside the Yamanote Line, but the Tokyo Government Office is outside…Have I said too much? (laughs) We were able to finish Megami Ibunroku Devil Survivor following this type of research.
Kosugi: But would it not be rather difficult if the entirety of Tokyo were blocked?
Kotou: Exactly. There are certain people behind this blockade in the story, but the staff also checked where and how long the blockade should be. The blockade should be efficient, right? At least for the ones running it (laughs). The candidates for the location were rings like Kannana or Kanpachi of theShuto Expressway, but in the end the one we decided to block was Yamanote Line.
THE REALITY OF THE TOKYO BLOCKADE
Kotou: Hearing ‘Tokyo Blockade’ probably evokes an erratic image. Demons definitely appear in Tokyo! Although this cannot actually happen in reality. But, you know, the situation becomes similar to a blockade that would take place in Tokyo after a great earthquake.
Kosugi: The trains would stop, same with the electricity…
Kotou: If lifelines are cut, then Tokyo would end up in the same situation. I realised that even in Tokyo the levels of hazard would be different depending on the place in the case of a calamity like a great earthquake. This is called ‘Regional hazard assesment’ and is estimated based on the hazard degree of destruction of buildings, conflagrations, time of evacuation and so on.
Kosugi: What would happen to the Atlus building from a certain district, for example?
Kotou: According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Urban Development, our headquarters are located in the fourth (!) most dangerous metropolitan area (;_;)
Kosugi: What a dangerous story. I wish the Tokyo Blockade gave us a break.
Kotou: I am deviating a little, but do you know what you should do in case Tokyo is affected by disaster? Devil Survivor’s Tokyo Blockade is fictional, but as I said earlier, Tokyo can be easily isolated. The Devil Survivor team researched survival techniques and damage that would actually happen in case Tokyo got under blockade…should I introduce them to you?
Kosugi: Yes, please. And now, on to part two!
TOKYO IS IN DANGER! SURVIVAL TRIVIA
Kotou: First of all, we have to think how many people would get locked up if Tokyo really got under blockade. Our game takes place in the 6th Ward, where the population is 1170000. Even if we were to exclude the people outside the Yamanote Line, we would still have more than 1000000 people dealing with disaster.
Kosugi: I am getting dizzy just thinking about this…But this is just the people living there, right? There are also people getting to work during the day, right?
Kotou: Right. I think the damage would change considerably at noon or at night. Of course, there are also people who commute to work in Tokyo. These people would probably be unable to return home and would be stuck there.
Kosugi: I don’t live in Tokyo!
Kotou: Then you would not be able to return home in the case of a blockade. You’d better start preparing yourself.
Kosugi: What should I do?
Kotou: You should definitely keep, for example, in your room or at your workplace a pair of comfortable and durable shoes. This is especially aimed at women! It’s difficult to escape on high heels! I have a pair of sneakers in my locker as well. If an earthquake were to happen, glass would break and would scatter all over the floor, the house itself would get crooked and reaching the entranceway would be troublesome. You start preparing for disaster from your feet up!
Kosugi: Make preparations at your company if you work all night…Did you actually research this kind of stuff for the game as well?!
Kotou: Naturally! We looked into ways of handling a Tokyo blockade, especially since the story takes place in present Tokyo. Also, do you use ATMs?
Kosugi: I doubt there are many people who don’t.
Kotou: Do you use your passbook every time?
Kosugi: No…I do not. Maybe a few times a year?
Kosugi: What ‘oho’!
Kotou: ATMs are useful, but you definitely have to write in your passbook too. In case of a great calamity, networks would stop working and together with them, the ATMs. If you write down in your passbook, you will be able to access your bank account. If not…you would probably have some trouble until everything is restored.
Kosugi: Hmm, it seems I have to fix certain things about my lifestyle…
Kotou: It’s because there are a lot of game company employees who work overtime and can’t tell what is day and what is night anymore…
Kosugi: Well! Now that I have sworn I will have a change of heart, let us return to the game!
THE ‘SURVIVAL’ IN MEGAMI IBUNROKU DEVIL SURVIVOR
Kotou: We are returning to the game, but I would like to say that all the characters appearing in the world of Devil Survivor are involved in the Tokyo Blockade and patiently waiting for rescue.
Kosugi: They are rather obiedient people, aren’t they. Does this really happen?
Kotou: We have researched this as well, and you would think that in time of disasters group panic would happen, but it’s not really true. Take for example the fire in the towers of a certain country after a certain incident. Because the lower floors were burning, it was too late for the majority of the employees to run away. Therefore, when their higher ups got into contact with the fire brigade they were told to wait for rescue and to go to certain places. The emergency stairs could be still used, but everyone kept on waiting patiently. The outcome…well, unfortunately, there were a lot of victims.
Kosugi: This actually happened…
Kotou: I have several other similar stories, but their common point is that people are beings who do not understand when danger is drawing near and cannot immediately grasp the situation and try to avoid peril. This does not mean that humans are stupid, but besides their way of life, they lose their touch when it comes to a certain level of stress.
Kosugi: I see.
Kotou: Moreover, society wise, we are silent and wait patiently. That is why the early stages of the Tokyo Blockade start so silently and peacefully.
Kosugi: You mean people do not realise the magnitude of the situation, correct? But helping them is also one of the game’s goals.
Kotou: Right. In the game’s case, the only problem is not only the blockade, but also the danger posed by the demons. Standing still will not help you at all (laughs). That is where the RPG simulation makes it really enjoyable.
Kosugi: Well, that is what Atlus games are. I understood a lot from your words. You have made a lot of steady research for this title.
Kotou: Of course, I think you can enjoy it as a game, but this time we also got a good grasp of the background details. I would be really happy if the players enjoyed that too.
Kosugi: So, our guest today was the art director of Megami Ibunroku Devil Survivor, Kotou Akiko. Thank you for your serious and unexpected (?)** words, unusually (?) straying a little from the game.
Kotou: ‘Unusual’ or ‘unexpected’ is too much. Oh, and speaking of which, I used the word ‘survival’*, but this kind of term evokes the image of an uninhabited island, so perhaps a more fitting term would be ‘endurance’.
Kosugi: Endure while using demons! This kind of image!
Kotou: You unusually said something good.
Kosugi: ‘Unusual’ is too much. Now, thank you very much. Also, everyone, enjoy Megami Ibunroku Devil Survivor!
Kotou: Thank you as well! We will do our best with the official site updates, so please have a look over there too!
* the original used the term SURVIVE as a noun, but I changed it to ‘survival’ for less Engrish. Then of course, Katou had to use the katakana forms of both ‘survive’ サバイブ and ‘survival’ サバイバル and replace them with the more fitting 生き残る (ikinokoru) which can be translated as…’to survive’. Oh well, Japanese.
** the question marks aren’t mine