Amin Abbas Dubai
Japanese illustrator Hiro Usuda spoke to Arab News Japan about her journey from when she joined video game company Konami in 1999 and worked on the “Metal Gear Solid” and “Silent Hill” series as a 3DCG designer, to when she became an independent illustrator in 2006.
She illustrated the Japanese version of the MMO (Perfect World), book covers for (The Elenium) and other books and card games such as (Card Fight Vanguard).
Usuda explained her creative imagination to draw pictures and envision fantasy worlds helped her through a hard time during her school years.
“I am also grateful to the small number of friends I made through drawing. I grew up in a rural area and while in my own home, it was basically forbidden to buy games, anime, manga or other such things (or even to look at them), I could check them out at my friends’ houses,” she said.
Usuda said that the intricate details and sophisticated illustrations she saw in the video games inspired her to start her own journey as an illustrator.
About her favorite video games, Usuda said: “I was banned from playing games during my student days, so I generally like games that I was able to play after I left school and joined the working world. I like the Metal Gear Solid series and the Silent Hill series, both of which I was involved in developing as a 3DCG designer. I love that they have exciting yet exquisitely crafted stories in which playfulness overlaps with beautiful visuals that really enhance the material. Having participated in production gives me an emotional attachment to those games. I played Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater so many times during the bug check of the final development stage, but no matter how many times I play it, it’s still fun.”
“I also like MMO’s Perfect World for which I was in charge of the Japanese version’s illustrations. The design is a mix of Eastern and Western cultural influences, which I found quite stimulating. It’s an online game so there are opportunities to get to know different kinds of people. This game means a lot to me,” she added.
The 3DCG designer said the first time she earned money from an illustration was when she drew a picture for her school’s pamphlet as a student.
“I became a full-fledged illustrator in 2006, after leaving Konami and going independent. I had joined Konami in 1999, so after 7 years as an office worker there, I became a freelancer. While I was an office worker, I made a website for exhibiting my work and just at the right time, some job offers came in from there,” she explained. “Specifically, it was in 2006, when I received a request for an illustration for Perfect World. I thought I would take a look at the material and was frankly amazed by the game.”
Usuda’s work was exhibited at the Comic Expo Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. “I regret not traveling to Saudi Arabia at that time for this event. I’m very grateful to the kind organizers of this event,” she added.