So, if you’ve been on the internet recently, you’ve probably heard some of the controversy surrounding certain design choices made regarding the soon-to-be-released 2d fantasy action RPG from Vanillaware entitled Dragon’s Crown. And for those precious few of you that have only just recently returned from whatever magical kingdom you got drawn into and were forced to save with the power of friendship, let me acquaint you with the design decisions in question:
NSFW, I guess, or something.
Art Director George Kamitami, in a statement released long after the internet hordes had bared their teeth and set fire to all of the things, explained that his intent with the design of Sorceress and Amazon, two of six playable classes within the game (and two of three of the available female options), was to “exaggerate all of my character designs in a cartoonish fashion (so that they would) stand out amongst the many fantasy designs already in the video game/comic/movie/etc. space.” Which is an entirely reasonable justification for his decisions. Kamitami seems, on a whole, to be a pretty reasonable and intelligent individual, barring a casually homophobic joke or two. On the other side, Kamitami’s detractors have called the designs off-putting at best, and sexist at worst. And it’s not hard to see why.
For the record, before I go about getting to the point of why I’m writing this piece (and there is a point, I promise), I feel like I should clarify on my own position, regarding Kamitami’s art. I’ve loved Vanillaware’s games, Kamitami’s work in particular, in games before. Odin Sphere was jaw-dropping. Muramasa was gorgeous. And much of the art in Dragon’s Crown is equally stunning. But I have to admit – I do find some of the designs on the playable characters to be unsettling. They remind me of humanoid figures sculpted out of Play-Doh – all lumpy and wrongly proportioned. The emphasized characteristics are so emphasized as to be grotesque. And before you say it, let me clarify – I’m referring to male and female characters both.