Why did you decide to visit Kuwait? P: I met a lot of Kuwait players at SBO. One of them was NOX, who also plays Guy. NOX used to watch and study my older YouTube replays when I was really into the game. When NOX came to Japan, we met in Shinjuku and become close friends. Z: Are all Guy players worldwide friendly with each other? P: Yes, we exchange character info and discuss tactics. I was so happy to hear that foreign players respected my playstyle. I was interested in meeting him in person and found NOX to be a very humble man. As a foreigner, he had a lot of respect for Japanese players, so it was easy to befriend him. Through these friendship and connections, I was invited to the KO Fighting Game Festival as my reputation became more well known. Z: How did you invent the famous “Topanga League” war cry? P: I didn’t learn it from anyone. Instead, I needed to devise a hype intro for Topanga League. I knew Topanga was not a normal tournament, nor did I want others to think the same. In order to differentiate the League and its players, I needed to do something extraordinary like randomly shouting. I proposed the shouting concept to Topanga, and they said “OK.” I knew it may startle viewers, but I went ahead with the plan. Z: I always see the NicoNico comments scrolling across the board, saying “Topanga League!!!” Have you seen overseas Western commentators? What do you think of them compared to your own style? P: I believe that a commentator value is in whether he can broadcast and transmit things which viewers want to see and hear. So in American tournaments, Western commentators must cater to their audience. And mold their style accordingly to the viewers’ preference. Similarly, Japanese commentators must do the same for its local audience. I’m always striving to hone my craft and give Japanese viewers what they want. Z: Do you learn anything from English commentators? P: Well it’s hard to understand their English, so from a linguistic standpoint, not so much. But I think that their hype and energy levels are great. For example, sometimes a commentator will start singing during hype moments. I appreciate the freedom that Western commentators are afforded, but singing would not sit well with a Japanese audience. It would be perceived as unprofessional. Z: I suppose you could say that Japanese commentary aims to be more professional and polished in that regard. P: Being a part of the JFGC for so many years, I draw on my own experience as a viewer and put myself in their shoes. When streams rose to prominence 2-3 years ago, I tried to imagine what type of information a viewer wants, and how it should be communicated. I also looked at NicoNico comments for feedback. Whether my voice was too loud, if I was being disrespectful… I reflected on these comments and feedback. I’ve even apologized to players before. Sometimes I went overboard and apologized to the player personally after the match. If a player were to see the replay and find my commentary to be unpleasant, I would feel terrible myself. As a player myself, I try to commentate so that no matter how many times I watch the replay, everyone will be happy. Z: Personally, I miss the old style Aru that would joke and taunt other players. P: Yes I am often told that. Some people want me to rile up the players and make them salty. If its a player that I am friends with, I don’t mind antagonizing them, but if I’m not close to the player, it is disrespectful. There are bound to be some players that are uncomfortable with personal remarks made against them during a match. Some players are okay with trash talk, others are not. In order to maintain balance, I’ve decided its best not to make personal comments. A commentator should always strive to maintain a constant amount of tension during the match and avoid bias. We should not please ourselves by making snide comments and antagonizing others and steal the show away from the players. As fun as teasing is, we risk distracting the viewer. The main focus should always lie with the players and commentators should respect. Z: I’ve noticed that whenever you commentate, you dress up very fashionably. Do you feel that aesthetics and fashion are important for commentators? I don’t think that looks are important for a commentator. However, when one is broadcasting in front of an audience, one should pay attention to how they are dressed in order to overturn negative stereotypes against gamers in Japan. The general public expects that all gamers are geeky otaku dressed sloppily. These negative stereotypes are incredibly pervasive. If someone outside the JFGC sees me commentating and notices that I am dressed normally and reasonably, this could dispel longstanding bias against gamers. I’d be happy if this were to happen. Z: But you’re much more fashionable than normal people. What is your style? P: I’m not sure what my style is, I just wear what I like to wear. I believe that one should dress for the occasion. If its a major tournament, then one should dress up. It’s okay to wear the same thing all the time, but I try some variations with hairstyling and clothing to not make my viewers bored. In Japan, novelty is important and I never want my viewers to be bored. You never know when a non gamer will come into the stream and watch. I want these non-fgc first time viewers to have a good impression and see a hygenic commentator. It’s easier on the eyes when a commentator is cleanly bathed and well put together. As a form of entertainment, commentators should avoid propagating the dirty otaku stereotype. We should respect the event and present ourselves well since the level of entertainment is so high. Topanga League is more of a festival atmosphere, so I try to dress fun, but for an event such as Capcom’s 25th Anniversary, I like to show up in my “Suit and Tie, shit tied, let me show you a few things.” As a commentator, there are very few things we can do outside of talking. For these few remaining things, we must endeavor, otherwise anyone could use the mic. We should pay attention to the small details, far and few in between. Z: As a final request, I would like you to do the Mago “Z League” war cry with your own spin. Z: Please look at the camera and shout it. “ZEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDOOOO LEEEEEEEEEEEEEGUUUEEEEEE! I think Mago’s version is a little better but everyone has their own opinion. Z: Are you interested in going to EVO this year? P: Yes I absolutely would love to go. Kuwait Fighting Festival was my first time attending a foreign game event. I love communicating with foreigners and EVO is a great chance to meet players from all over the world. I think I’ve made my mark as a commentator in Japan and was surprised to hear that foreigners recognize my skills. I want to leverage these skills and use it to meet more people from different walks of life. Do you think there is a demand for Japanese commentary at foreign tournaments? P: Well if there is a demand, I would definitely like to be invited overseas. Because of my job and personal life, it’s difficult for me to travel without being sponsored. Coming to Kuwait was easier because I was invited and flown in. If there is a demand for Japanese commentary, I want to be chosen. In order to be chosen, I need to perfect my skills. Can you give a final message to your Kuwait White Tower fans? Attending this event was incredibly fun. I befriended many players and staff along the way. Kuwait is my second home. I love Kuwait!