Short Peace, opening in Japanese theaters on July 20, is a collection of four anime films, each one set in Japan during one era or another and each one directed by a different famous anime veteran, Akira's Katsuhiro Otomo chief among them. Bandai Namco Games announced in this week's issue of Famitsu that there's going to be a fifth episode of Short Peace, though, and it's going to be a PS3 video game of all things.
"We've worked on making game versions of animation or manga on a regular basis," executive producer Makoto Asanuma said, "but the relationship between the two can be difficult. It's not that one is above the other, but it's extremely hard to create a game that matches or exceeds the quality of the original manga or animation. So we thought about whether it was possible to have something besides the standard game license. This project got its start because we felt it'd be interesting if, in addition to the four parts of the movie, there was a new game that served as the fifth part."
So what's the game? It's called Tsukigime Ranko no Ichiban Nagai Hi (Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day), and judging by the screenshots it looks like a funky 2D version of Rez or something. It's a little bit hard to tell, especially because two of the most eccentric game makers working Japan right now - Goichi "Suda51" Suda (story and concepts) and Tokyo Jungle's Yohei Kataoka (artwork and game system) - are working on it.
"If we were going to make a game," explained chief producer Daisuke Uchiyama, "we wanted it to be fully original and something that was a shock to the anime creators as well. So we needed someone who was a little on the fringe and could do strange things for us. So we asked Suda and he said 'I'll do it!' right there. So we had the 'weird' taken care of, and we've definitely got something weird in the works."
Why did Suda accept it on the spot like that? "Because projects don't get more fun than this," he responded. "I had Uchiyama telling me 'Please make something weird for me'. I figured that's about the last time I'll get an offer like that in my game career, so I thought that I had to take it. Also, getting to be fifth in a lineup that includes the godlike Otomo in it was a pretty neat thought to me as well. I figured we could create a pretty killer package together."
Tsukigime Ranko features Ranko, a young girl who's a parking-garage attendant day, elite hitman for the shadowy Tsukigime Enterprises by night. To pull off her jobs, she has to run across a surreal landscape, evading foes and using assorted "effects" to fight back. "The effects aren't there just to decorate the screen," Kataoka explained. "The effects you launch may hit foes, and then effects might come out of those foes and link together, or interact with the field map and create new platforms. So you're playing with the effects themselves, which I think is a pretty neat gameplay system. Combining effects also adds color and excitement to the screen, as if you're watching a video that gets cooler and cooler as you go on. I think it feels real nice when you see it."
"The most important point here is emotion," Suda added. "At the core, it's an action game that you can get a lot of exhilaration out of as you play. We're devoting a lot of energy to keeping the controls fun and the character and effect reactions exciting."
No release date was announced for the PS3 game, which Namco Bandai PR pinned at 30 percent complete.