Hello, reddit. Nice to meet you. I am Yusuke Kozaki, character designer for video games such as Fire Emblem: Awakening and No More Heroes. I am also an active manga illustrator, my current project is Donyatsu. I will be a guest at Japan Expo's first US event from August 23-25th in Santa Clara, California. Ask me anything!

(PS, the Japan Expo staff will be interpreting for Mr. Kozaki, so there may be a slight delay!



More Info About Me in English

More Info About Me in Japanese

[EDIT] A pic of me and a drawing of reddit's mascot

[EDIT 2] Thanks so much for your awesome questions. I wish we had more time to answer everything. If I didn't get a chance to answer your question today, you can join me at Japan Expo this summer (August 23-25th in Santa Clara, CA). I will have a panel where you can ask more and will be doing some drawing there, so you can see me in action. I hope to see some cool cosplay there as well. See you at Japan Expo!

Comments: 177 • Responses: 24  • Date: 

Loyal2NES38 karma

Just wondering, which character in FE:A was your favorite to design? Also, what was your primary inspiration for the design of armored characters (e.g Social Knights and especially Armor Knights)?

Yusuke_KOZAKI62 karma

Lucina. For the armored charcters, the art director designed the armor, and I designed the characters in the armor

YoshiRider12334 karma

How do you personally feel about Tharja's massive popularity among Fire Emblem fans? Could you explain how you approached this character when designing her?

Yusuke_KOZAKI47 karma

This character has a very dark aura, but she likes the main characters very much.. She could be considered a stalker in another view. This is the only Fire Emblem Character whose figure has been manufactured here in Japan.

KGDavid30 karma

Hello Mr. Kozaki! Thanks for this AMA.

As a big fan of Fire Emblem, I know that many fans initially questioned the character designs for Awakening -- common complaints include eccentric dress and more sexualization and fanservice (1, 2, 3) than the series is typically known for. What inspired you to take this design approach with the series?

Yusuke_KOZAKI39 karma

To me they were not design with fanservice or sexualization mind. The characters personalities are what led to their design.

Scumbag_Stevo19 karma

Who's your favorite pokemon?

Yusuke_KOZAKI61 karma


Heatclockwork16 karma

I simply have to ask; who was your favorite No More Heroes character?

Yusuke_KOZAKI21 karma


jinglebell-whistle15 karma

Good evening, Mr. Kozaki! In Fire Emblem Awakening, is there a particular character you feel closely connected with? All of their designs are unique by their personalities, so which character do you see yourself as?

Yusuke_KOZAKI46 karma

Vaike. I feel close considering the personality, not the design..

ch4rbok14 karma

I cannot tell you how much I admire your work with the No More Heroes series. Your ability to design characters for that game that tell stories simply with the way they look and what they wear is absolutely incredible, and I have to ask:

When designing characters for a very artistic and satirical game like No More Heroes, do you try to send a satirical message with the costumes and personalities of characters, or do you simply design from an aesthetic perspective and leave the satire to the game's main designer?

Yusuke_KOZAKI18 karma

Thank you very much!

I think the design has to show what a character has been through. If a player understands and feels that there is some depth in the character, and that they have been through things in their own life, it is very rewarding to me.

YoshiRider12312 karma

In addition to the character Katarina from the DLC, were there any other legacy Fire Emblem characters that you would have liked to illustrate for Fire Emblem Awakening?

Yusuke_KOZAKI37 karma

Ike from Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn

evenfalls11 karma

When you were designing Fire Emblem characters, did you get any specific instructions as to what each character should look like? Or did they just let your imagination roam free? Also, is there any chance of Knights of Iris being localized?

Yusuke_KOZAKI31 karma

From the production company, I got the personality of each character. I designed the character from this concept. I did a few designs for each character, and the production company chose from these.

RevertedLogic11 karma

Hello there, I am just wondering what the most difficult character to make in No More Heroes was. Also, how was it working with Suda 51? He has some of the weirdest ideas I have ever seen.

Yusuke_KOZAKI17 karma

In No More Heroes 2 there was a character with 6 arms, Alice. This was the most complicated character to draw.

SuperLuigi8611 karma

Were you involved in the decision for the characters in Fire Emblem: Awakening not to have feet on their 3D renderings? If so, what made you come to that decision?

Yusuke_KOZAKI9 karma

In Japan, the companies who are making games for home are having some difficulties, and companies who are making games and applications for smartphones are getting stronger, so Grasshopper being bought by Gungho Online Entertainment will allow them to develop more games, and be stronger as well.

Arpakasso_Love11 karma

How do you feel when you see fan art or cosplay of the characters you've designed?

Yusuke_KOZAKI33 karma

I feel happy :)

Kavvybop10 karma

Are there any characters that you designed for Fire Emblem that got scrapped during development? Or any characters that you wished would have been included but didn't?

Yusuke_KOZAKI21 karma

There were a lot of characters to draw, so there was no big shock when characters who were dropped.

mental-survivor8 karma

Where's Charlie Macdonald's concept art? All the other characters have it...just not him. He feels lonesome.

Yusuke_KOZAKI17 karma

Actually it wasn’t me, but another character designer from Grasshopper. The model for the character was Clint Eastwood, so we just used him. The designer used to work at Capcom, and she also worked on Lost Planet

judgingpom8 karma

Hello, Mr. Kozaki! I've admired your work for Speed Grapher, Fire Emblem, and No More Heroes for a long time and your art is extremely beautiful. I've seen your work through the anime "Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto" and I want to know who were some of your favorite characters to design in the series and why?

Yusuke_KOZAKI7 karma

My favorite character is the main characters, Yojiro Akiduki. I think it was because I spent two years doing the design for the this character, and a long time before I was satisfied with his own work. So I was pleased with the end result.

Sixelona8 karma

I was just looking at your art recently! I like the variety and detail of your character designs. At what age did you seriously get into drawing? What was the process you had to go through to become a character designer?

Yusuke_KOZAKI29 karma

I went to a graphic design school where I learned graphic design for commercials and publicity oriented design. But I’ve been interested in drawing all my life.

I was 19 when I did my first manga. I was 24 with my first character design. At the beginning I wanted to be a Manga-ka. I was asked to do the Character designer for Speed Grapher and did it in order to earn money. But when I tried, I found it interesting. I got more and more work from animation, film, and videogames. And now it’s more videogame film than anime. My advice for anyone who wants to be a character designer would to have a stock of design patterns (hair, face, form of the eyes, many separated elements) that will create a new design if you put them together

28gh8 karma

How closely did you get to work with Suda 51, and what is he like to work with? How do you feel about Grasshopper recently being acquired? ありがとうございます!

Yusuke_KOZAKI21 karma

He is someone very creative, but he is a boss of the company. He has to meet a lot of people and be very sociable. He has a kind of boss aura. But he is very humble. When I had ideas, Suda 51-san always found a way to help me exchange ideas, and to develop them further. It was constant brainstorming, but very creative and positive.

In Japan, the companies who are making games for home are having some difficulties, and companies who are making games and applications for smartphones are getting stronger, so Grasshopper being bought by Gungho Online Entertainment will allow them to develop more games, and be stronger as well.

mental-survivor7 karma

Also...any chance you know when NMH3 is coming out? And this is a far stretch but...who is little Jeane's real father?!

Yusuke_KOZAKI19 karma

If I knew I couldn’t tell you :) And only Suda 51 knows the answer to who little Jeane’s real father is.

lineatus6 karma

What inspired you to start writing a post-apocalyptic story about cats made out of dessert?

Edit: Were you a fan of the Fire Emblem series before doing the designs for Awakening?

Yusuke_KOZAKI14 karma

A female friend of mine asked me to draw a cute character, so I decided to make a mix of donut and cat. That’s the birth of Donyatsu

Actually no. I hadn't played the game before I started to do the design. I didn't know a lot about the game. But that also means I wasn't influenced by the previous designs, so I could work more freely.

lawh25 karma


Yusuke_KOZAKI8 karma

I cannot choose my favorite one, because there are several. The ones who really inspired me were Memories, the animation directed by Otomo, and Akira the Manga drawn by Otomo.

NEOnuts5 karma

Hello! love your work, what do you do when you get stuck?! and can you recommend some artbooks or artists you really love?

Yusuke_KOZAKI30 karma

When I’m stuck, I put my pen down not related to work. I watch a movie, play with my pets, anything that’s not related to work. I have one dog and two cats, and I like to play with them.

I respect Otomo Katsuhiro who designed Akira, and Akira Yasuda who designed Street Fighter 2 and Darkstalkers. Also I also recommend Kazuya Nuri from Capcom who has been working on Phoenix Wright.

vyxle4 karma

Which character of your creation would you be most scared to run into in a dark alley? Who would you want on your side?

Yusuke_KOZAKI11 karma

It’s a very hard question. I’d least like to run into Matt Helms, and would most want on my side is Shinobu

enkur4 karma

Greetings, firstly I just wanted to thank you for your amazing work. The Fire Emblem series has employed many incredible artists to design its characters over each game, and I'm very happy to see you included in the ranks. I was wondering if you could tell us what programs you design in, if you draw on paper first or use a wacom/cintiq to draw directly onto the screen, etc.

Yusuke_KOZAKI10 karma

Until not that long ago I drew on paper first, but now I’m drawing directly with my computer. I mainly use Photoshop.

xogbort_lies3 karma

Kozaki-san, I've got a few questions, mostly about Donyatsu.

I'm curious as to how you come up with the idea behind the comic; did it start with just the pun, or did you have some of the ideas behind the setting and characters hanging around first? I reckon that the post-apocalyptic setting has allowed you to mine a fantastic vein of black humour, but somehow I think there's more to the setting than just this. I assume that the presence of Donyatsu and his other baked animal companions ties into this somehow?

Have you heard from anyone who's interested in releasing an English version? I've got the first volume but my Japanese isn't particularly good, so I wouldn't mind if there was an English version available. Also, when is the next volume coming out?

Finally, and this one's really off topic: what is your connection to Hondalady? I know you've done some of their album art here and there, and that they did some soundtrack work for No More Heroes, but I'm curious as to whether you both work together in other capacities.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for us.

Yusuke_KOZAKI9 karma

A female friend of mine asked me to draw a cute character, so I decided to make a mix of donut and cat.

I’m looking for a courageous publisher who would like to pick up Donyatsu, but none so far.

For Hondalady I’ve just done the jacket artwork. I’m a fan of Hondalady so I contacted them, and they asked me to draw the first jacket. After that we became friends, and they come to see my work when I do exhibitions. But we don’t work together aside from that.