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CyberConnect 2 isn't a publisher, but do you have any interest in digital publishing for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, iPhone, or Android?
HM: Hmm. Sure, if we wanted to. But, we currently don't have any plans to do so. At the same time, I think somewhere in the near future, we will publish our own games. But, we have no plans of publishing all our own games like Level-5. Which is fine for them, but I find it interesting to work in a publisher/developer relationship like what we have with Bandai Namco.
So, even if we made a game and published that on our own, would we stop making games for Bandai Namco? I don't think so. I think we will always want to work with Bandai Namco, and I think that will be the same with Capcom, as well.
Do you have plans for collaborating with Level-5, since you're both in Fukuoka? Do you speak with [Level 5 CEO Akihiro] Hino?
HM: We talk now and then, but they keep falling through. But, we get along really well. We have regular discussions with Level-5 about the latest technology. Also, with Ganbarion, the company that makes One Piece games.
Ganbarion is in Fukuoka as well?
HM: Yeah, yeah. We usually host the meetings at our office in Fukuoka, and invite the staff from Level-5 and Ganbarion. And, then we connect our Tokyo office to Fukuoka via a television conference, and do an information exchange about the latest technologies in development. We're planning on next month, in October, as well.
How many Naruto games have you made at this point?
HM: Actually, the Naruto PSP game that we're releasing in October will be the 10th. We've been making them for 10 years now. And, the title coming out next year is the eleventh.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Impact
Are you running out of ideas?
HM: Hmm, no. Naruto is still being published in Shonen Jump magazine every week, and there's a new episode on TV every Thursday. So, every time we read a new episode of Naruto in Jump, it gives us new ideas for the game. So, we continue to have new inspirations for the next game.
I heard that you always buy manga -- you have a reputation for being a big fan.
HM: Yes, I love comics.
I've heard you always buy Jump magazine.
HM: Not only Jump. I read 60 books a month. I even read Bessatsu Magazine. Shingeki no Kyojin. Doubutsu no Kuni. It's very good. That magazine is hot. Kodansha is very good.
Do you recycle the magazines?
HM: Haha. Well, we have 200 employees, so if we all pitch in it's very economical. And, anime. It's very good right now. And, cell animation. It's decreased to 40 titles a month now, but still the technique that the animators have nowadays is a professional skill, because they're all hand drawn. So, the layout of each slide is carefully laid out. So, we're constantly watching and staying on top of the latest anime.
Anime doesn't have a good rep in the U.S. anymore -- not as good as it used to be. Do you feel the same way?
HM: Yeah. That's because it's not as mainstream as it used to be. They're making it for a particular audience. I think that's why. I watch a lot of anime but it's for the techniques, not as entertainment. As a product, I think it's going downhill. The general audience won't find those interesting. It's impossible to figure out what the target audience is for Mawaru-Penguindrum. Same goes for Madoka Magica. It's for a very core audience like us, who enjoy them. The video game industry has to make sure they don't make the same mistake.
Recently, Japanese games aren't popular in the States, either.
HM: Right. Japanese games don't sell as much worldwide.
You play Western games.
Which game do you think is the most fun?
HM: Hmm. Which one is most fun? The one I see as a rival is Batman: Arkham Asylum. The team that made that game [London's Rocksteady Studios], they're great. And, their next one, Arkham City? I'm really looking forward to that one, as well. That's also a character game. It's based on a comic book. And I'm impressed at how they interpret the original story, because there are a lot of fans of the comic book and they've answered to their expectations. And we need to answer to the many Naruto fans' expectations. And, I always have thought that they're a really good team.
They capture Batman very well in their games.
HM: Right. It's way different than The Dark Knight.