After the strong performance of Senran Kagura Burst on the 3DS, it's safe to say that Xseed Games sees a promising future for the franchise in the west.
We caught up with series producer Kenichiro Takaki towards the end of E3 to talk about the western reaction to Senran Kagura, the finer points of the upcoming games, and future of the franchise.
Pocket Gamer: Does the popularity of the Senran Kagura franchise outside of Japan surprise you?
Kenichiro Takaki: I'm surprised from the reaction of western players, yes, because the games were made with a focus on Japanese players. Because of this, we never really knew how it'd be received when it got released in the west.
But I've been very surprised - and very pleased - with the comments I've received.
Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus
Some western media sites - not us, of course! - were offended by the humor and clothes ripping in Senran Kagura Burst. Did you receive these sorts of criticisms in Japan?
Yes. There were negative reactions in Japan as well, but that's a very natural thing.
Whenever you release a game, there are going to be some people who like it and some people who don't. In this case, there were some people who didn't like the sexiness or the eroticism of the game.
But it's the same with any genre - there will always be people who'll find something not to like.
Underneath the sexiness, there's a strong story at the heart of the Senran Kagura games. Would you say the story or the eroticism is more important to the franchise as a whole?
It's all about balance - neither of the two should be more important than the other.
I want to keep the nice visuals and the sexiness for players to enjoy, but I also want there to be a good story. If we focused too much on either one of those, the resulting game would suffer for it.
Who do you see as the typical Senran Kagura player?
I expect that about 90 per cent of players are males in their 20s or 30s, but little by little more female fans are embracing the series.
Who's your favorite Senran Kagura character and why?
My favorite character's Hibari.
One of the things I like most about her is that even though she's a bit of a klutz, she really does have skill and power underneath of that. And so her story is really uplifting because it's about her learning how to express herself.
You've announced that the 12 optional DLC characters will be available for Senran Kagura Bon Appétit, but will the other DLC - like costumes - make its way to North America?
We're still working out the details, but yes - there will be costume DLC.
With Bon Appétit, the sexiness really takes center stage - will Deep Crimson and later Senran Kagura titles continue to push the envelope or will they pull back a little?
The series concept is to be light and fun most of the time, with some serious moments tossed in as well.
That probably won't change, but it's also important to keep in mind that the 3DS series and the Vita series are a little different from each other in their tone. Then there are spin-off titles like Dekamori (Bon Appétit), which are really more experimental.
The short answer is that the main 3DS and Vita series will maintain their tone going forward.
Deep Crimson introduces an optional (DLC) male playable character for the first time - do you worry that a man stripping girls will send the wrong message to fans and players?
The male character, Murasame, has been in the series before - and he's always been a bit of a joke character in that he's really weak.
And really, it's about how you express these scenes in the game. One thing we want to make sure we do is prevent it from looking violent, and this is helped by the fact that he's a weak character.
Because of this, it takes him longer to rip an opponent's clothes - since he's weaker. Also, he's kind of a silly character and we're highlighting this to make sure it looks lighthearted and doesn't look violent.
What's the future of Senran Kagura past Deep Crimson? Is there a hypothetical game in the series that you'd really like to make?
For us to take it to the ideal, best-possible conclusion, we could do something like an open-world game... we could even call it an oppai-world game! (laughs) (note: oppai is a Japanese term for breasts)
Do you have anything you'd like to say to your Senran Kagura fans in the west?
Over in Japan, it's obvious that handheld gaming machines like the Vita and 3DS are the most popular gaming systems - but here at E3, I can easily see that consoles are much more popular in America.
So to my western fans, you can look forward to future console projects from Takaki-san!