Tekken, a long-running fighting video game series, turned heads in 2014 with the announcement of Pokkén Tournament–a title that uses elements from the Tekken series to create a fighting game for Nintendo’s Pokémon franchise. When it came out, the doors opened for limitless imagination: What other franchises would be good candidates to get a Tekken-style makeover?
“Ooh! I like a lot of different things, but I really love Golgo XIII. But all the characters that appear in it end up getting killed. Though that’s kind of a given, I guess,” long-time Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada told me when I asked him what franchise he would personally like to do a crossover with. Sitting next to him was Michael Murray, a game designer on the Tekken series.
“I don’t think that’s really a fighting game,” Murray quipped.
At the Bandai Namco Mirai Kenkyusho building on the night before Tokyo Game Show 2016, Harada told me that he personally thinks that fans would want to play a crossover game between Tekken and One Punch Man.
“I do want to do a One Punch Man game, but I get the feeling that the match would end in one punch.” He laughed.
Michael Murray (seen left), Katsuhiro Harada (right)
Although he also personally thinks that things like Dragon Ball Super and Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken) would be cool to make as fighting games, he told me that there’s one property that he really, really wants to do a crossover with.
“To tell the truth… I really want to put out an Anpanman game,” he said.
“Maybe throw Baikinman in there,” Murray chimed in, referencing the villain of the classic children’s show.
“Man, I want to make an Anpanman action game. …This is completely my personal opinion, OK? If I were to say I wanted to direct the game, I don’t think I’d be allowed to make it.”
“We’d get a ‘Get Rid of Harada’ petition or something…” Murray chuckled.
Anpanman originally began as a series of children’s books by Takashi Yanase. Although new story books stopped coming out in 2013 due to the author’s passing, the television anime series that began in 1988 is still ongoing–with a new film in the franchise being released every year to the delight of Japanese children everywhere. The anime has inspired multiple video games, the most recent of which is a mini-game collection titled Anpanman to Touch de Wakuwaku Training (lit. Exciting Training With Anpanman and Touching) for the Nintendo 3DS.
“I’ve been watching [the anime] a lot lately,” Harada said.
Harada explained to me that his one-year-old daughter inexplicably started saying the word Anpanman over and over again, despite barely being able to speak. He didn’t know how she learned the word, but this led him to start watching it with her.
“I had never been touched deeply by a work like Anpanman before, but just recently, I wasn’t even drinking booze, but I ended up crying while watching it,” He explained. “I think my emotions changed a lot from me becoming a parent, but there was this one scene where this character named Creampanna was trying so hard… I ended up crying a bit. My kid ended up being the one patting me on the head because she was worried about me. I’ve been pretty into Anpanman ever since.”
He proceeded to tell me that Anpanman would work as an action game because not only does the show have a lot of cool mecha thanks to the villain Baikinman, it also has a lot of fighting despite being a series aimed at young children.
“Do you really think you’d be allowed to make a game where Anpanman and his friends beat each other up?” Murray laughed.
According to Harada, however, there are quite a few special moves that show up in the series. Aside from Anpanman’s famous Anpunch attack, Anpanman and his fellow heroes Currypanman and Shokupanman can team up to use a triple punch move.
“I think it’d make a really fun action game for sure. I’d like to make it,” Harada laughed. “I would want to make it without cutting any corners.”
Continuing our talk about anime, I asked him about how he would want to do a new Tekken anime if it ever were to become possible. After all, the franchise already inspired a two-part original video anime (OVA) in 1998 titled Tekken. Edited and released as a film in North America under the title Tekken: The Motion Picture, the anime takes a serious approach to the conflict between Kazuya and his father Heihachi. However, Harada says that, if given the chance to take another shot at a Tekken anime, he wants to take a more comedic approach.
“The majority of anime you can actually empathize with are slice-of-life. […] It doesn’t matter if [the source material] is a fighting game; it might be a good idea to make the anime be a bit more upbeat and add more jokes and a comedic atmosphere. I think it would be cool to have an upbeat anime that shows the everyday lives of the fighters–one that you can laugh at even if you know nothing about Tekken.”
As for whose life might be interesting to take a peek into, Harada gave Heihachi as an example.
“Heihachi actually has quite a bit of charm to him. I’m pretty sure, when he cooks, it’s a pretty exciting experience. Maybe [the anime] could show how he does his cooking…”
He expanded on the idea of looking into the lives of the fighters, mentioning that it would be interesting to convey different cultures and ways of thinking to viewers through the hypothetical anime, since the franchise has a large number of characters from various countries. He compared this style of upbeat storytelling mixed with culture to Hetalia, a manga and anime series Harada confessed that he really likes.
Keeping the topic on the characters of the Tekken franchise, I asked if there were any more animal characters that he would like to see added to the roster. After all, the series already has a genetically engineered boxing kangaroo and tiny carnosaur.
“A character named Kazumi Mishima has a tiger with her for some reason in Tekken 7. Tekken always has some kind of animal in it, so I’m always thinking that I want to grant the wishes of those looking forward to that element.”
“Is there any animal that comes to mind that you personally would want to see?” I asked.
“I’ve had so many ideas for so long. Like, maybe a salmon. And I’ve always had this idea to put a penguin in there. I don’t know how it’s going to fight, though. Or maybe a wild goat…” Harada pondered, “I have lots of ideas. There are plenty of characters I want to add. I’m just not sure how they’re going to fight.”
Above: Accurate representation of fight with possible salmon fighter character
But what about human characters? Apparently, Harada has his heart set on one man: Bruce Campbell.
“He always shows up in director Sam Raimi’s movies–often with a chainsaw attached to his arm.” A fan of his performances in Army of Darkness and Burn Notice, Harada said that Campbell served as an inspiration for Alisa Bosconovitch, who can be seen fighting with chainsaws attached to her arms.
“I do personally want to put more characters with a Bruce Campbell motif in the game. Though, whether Tekken fans really want that or not is another story.”
Speaking of inspiration from famous figures, Harada told me that Lucky Chloe was conceptualized as “an American girl who loves Japanese culture” who was designed from a completely Japanese perspective, something apparently very rare for the franchise. From there, they took a multitude of elements loved by otaku–including various anime, Japanese pop idols, and even virtual idol Hatsune Miku–and made Chloe the character that she is today.
If you’re anxious to see Chloe and the other characters from Tekken 7 interacting with each other, good news: Although Tekken 7 didn’t have a story mode in the arcades, the home port will. And while the Tekken franchise is known for its competitive play, Harada says that he thinks anyone can enjoy the game.
“I think one of the game’s biggest drawing points is that even those who say they are bad with fights and those who can’t clear fighting games can enjoy it.”
Tekken 7 will be released worldwide on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in early 2017. If you want to go tell Harada that you in fact do want a salmon, penguin, goat, and/or Bruce Campbell fighter in the game, you can follow him on Twitter. You can also check out designer Michael Murray’s musings on his account as well.
ADV previously licensed Tekken: The Motion Picture for North American home video release. Bandai Entertainment released Tekken: Blood Vengeance, a CG film featuring the Tekken characters–including Alisa–in North America on home video in 2011.