Sunday, August 21, 2011

Duran Duran Influences & Devil May Cry

By 1985, the musical band Duran Duran stood on top of the world as absolute conquerors of music and music video. They were the darlings of MTV and the center of female teen fans worldwide. Their appeal was widespread on a worldwide scale: in music, video, and fashion. Their influence was so intense that they helped shape how music was defined throughout the 80s. They toured the US, Canada, Austrailia, Europe, Mexico, South America and Japan. 

Western influences upon Asia were already long established. However, Japan was the only nation in Asia where this cultural imprint mostly took root. And bands like Duran Duran greatly contributed to these western influences in this burgeoning technological country. No where is this more evident than in Japanese anime, fashion, music, movies and video games.

In 2001, Hideki Kamiya, a prominent video game designer, directed the famous video game, ‘Devil May Cry’. The game came to be known as one of the most successful games in the history of Sony’s Playstation 2 video game platform. There are currently four games in the series. The series centers on a main bad-ass character, Dante, whose objective it is to avenge his mother’s murder by going on a rampage of missions to kill demons  by the sword and gun.

Capcom, the company from which the game was created, needed a mature game revolving around a common mystery and dark theme. They chose Hideki Kamiya to direct his best efforts in creating the hack-and-slash game. However, for the game to stand apart from other games across all video game genres, there was one missing element that was needed. And this could only come from its main character.

An interview in Japan with Hideki Kamiya in 2005 revealed that choosing the model for Dante was an arduous task. After all, millions of dollars (or yen) were invested in making the next blockbuster game. Choosing a random character on the fly was not what the company or its director had in mind. Risking this corporate investment on a whim was out of the question. The main character had to be endowed with a bad-ass mindset that would appeal to the video game fan base. Hideki carefully chose a rock star prototype possessing sex appeal, style and charisma to provide the necessary impetus into building this mighty character. Additionally, elements of power and mystery would balance out this character. During the interview, Hideki Kamiya commented that one of his teen band idols growing up was the English band, Duran Duran. One of its members, bassist John Taylor, fit the bill as a probable model for Dante.

The design team behind the game, however, had other ideas on who would become Dante’s model. Ken Watanabe, an Academy Award nominee for Best Supporting Actor who starred in ‘Karate Warrior’ and ‘Violent Zone’, was one of the runner-ups for modeling Dante. Other potentials were actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who exuded that bad boy centerpiece. The team thought that they would make better options. However, Hideki insisted stubbornly on the need for a magnetic bad-ass rock star that would fit the criteria for the character. After weeks of debate, it was ultimately decided that John Taylor would serve as the standard for Dante.

Dante mirrors John Taylor’s looks with his long rocker hairstyle and mannerisms. The design of Dante’s face was inspired by John Taylor’s. And one can see that the faces are identically the same. Interestingly, John Taylor’s fashion sense contributed to Dante’s signature long length, blood-red coat flanked by black undertones and accessories.

The departure from traditional video game characters was ground breaking at the time. Video game companies toyed with mature themes. As a result, characters had to fully represent these backdrops. As such, the formula worked which would spawn a new accepted paradigm in the way video games are produced.

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