The first installment of SNK’s hit weapon-based fighting game SAMURAI SHODOWN (SamSho) debuted in Japanese arcades in 1993. Since its 27 years as one of the NEOGEO’s most recognizable titles, it has become a series that fans across the world still love and care about even today. It’s funny to think that in the span of 27 years, babies were born and have become fully autonomous workers in society. Now today, we look back on how SamSho affected many of its great players in a new article segment called the “Hotblooded SamSho Scrolls”
This 3-part series was made to celebrate the launch of the SAMURAI SHODOWN NEOGEO COLLECTION, which released for PS4 and the Nintendo Switch. This first issue will focus on brilliant illustrator and traditional Japanese “youkai” artist, Fukufuku-san, and how SamSho impacted their life growing up.
Youkai artist and illustrator. Born in 1981 and resides in Mihara, Hiroshima.
His original paintings are praised not only in Japan but also overseas for his unique take on traditional Japanese sensibilities.
Attended the “2nd annual MOVE exhibit in Shanghai ~Modern Japanese Art Appraisal Conference~” in 2017, and in 2018 began showcasing and selling their own work in Australia and Germany. Currently his paintings can be viewed and purchased in Shanghai.
Worked as a main illustrator for “Ichiban Omoshiroi Youkai Zukan” (KASAKURA PUBLISHING) and oversaw the many card illustrations for GungHo’s MMORPG Emil Chronicle Online.
Recently, he worked on the UMA (Unidentified Mysterious Animals) illustrations and manga panels for the children’s book “Choujou Kessen! UMA Mikakunin Seibutsu Saikyouou Kettei Sen”(SEITOSHA), which was released June of 2020.
The SamSho manga and its effect on his future
――Fukufuku-san, your hand-painted youkai illustrations are so unique and creative. But is it true that SamSho had a direct influence over the way you paint?
FukufukuAbsolutely. SamSho had a very big influence in my life. I used to draw a lot as a kid, but one day in high school I came across the manga artist Shiro Ohno’s SAMURAI SHODOWN II manga, and just the way he expressed the world of SamSho through his brush strokes really sucked me in. Since that time, I practiced enough to paint SamSho paintings with a brush pen, and those skills have stayed with me even today. That’s why I feel like SamSho decided my life as an artist the moment I first made contact.
Charmed by world-building and characters rather than gameplay
――Sharing experiences like how SamSho became a turning point in people’s lives is essentially what this series is all about. So, would you say your first exposure to SamSho was through that manga?
FukufukuI actually first found out about SamSho back in elementary school. Near my home, there was a toy store that had a NEOGEO cabinet featuring the first SAMURAI SHODOWN. I’ll never forget how fresh and impressive those graphics looked at that time. I think of it this way like, while other games were using “water colors” to show off their graphics, SamSho busted out onto the scene with their impressive “oil-based paints” which featured deeper and more intense colors. But, as you know, arcades during that time had a reputation of being hangouts for punks and ruffians, and so I never really had a chance to play much.
――Yeah, many people thought arcades were kind of scary. I mean, in reality they’re not, but I can see how it takes courage to enter one when say a new game came out and it was packed.
FukufukuYeah, exactly. So anyway, I got my parents to buy me NETTOU SAMURAI SPIRITS for the GameBoy. I didn’t even care that it wasn’t in color, I was crazy about that game for a while. That game really introduced me to the core essential basics of what SamSho is, like the awesome characters, setting, and music. Fast forward to middle school and I found myself drawing thanks to my group of friends, who all happened to be otakus. But at that time, I mostly drew characters from Evangelion since it was the popular anime at the time.
――Recently, you’ve been posting a ton of SamSho art on your Twitter page. When did you first start really getting into SamSho?
FukufukuI first started getting into SamSho when I was in high school. I would play SAMURAI SHODOWN II for Windows95 with my friends every day, but I didn’t start drawing the characters as it was just a fighting game I really liked at the time.
But soon after I played SAMURAI SHODOWN III for the Sega Saturn, and was completely blown away by how far home consoles have evolved. I remember thinking about the massive upgrade in graphics between the Super Nintendo and what was coming out recently. It was wild, but honestly speaking, the super-serious feeling the endings gave never really sat well with me. However, the artwork grew on me, and eventually I found myself being able to draw ZANKURO MINAZUKI. I was more fascinated with learning more about the world and characters than actually playing the game and getting better at it.
――It seems the unique setting SamSho has really charmed you, huh. For me personally, I’m all about how the games play, so it’s refreshing to hear your take.
FukufukuJust a moment ago I mentioned Shiro Ohno, but he also did the victory splash art for SAMURAI SHODOWN III, and so these two things combined set me on the path I walk today.
So after school, I would come home and draw every single day. Sometimes I would continue drawing for 6 hours straight. Ah, I also remember how SAMURAI SHODOWN IV came out for the Sega Saturn and my friend would absolutely destroy me with AMAKUSA. That game’s design direction further affected how I paint, and I would find myself buying whatever book came out on the series. I would go to nearby used bookstores and buy whatever I could ranging from strategy books to art books, to even comic anthologies. I’d buy whatever caught my eye, heh.
Thanks to SamSho, I gathered an interest in traditional Japanese arts, and I made my way to a technical college through studying watercolors. There, I came across Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s works regarding ukiyoe and youkai paintings, which further guided me to become the artist I am today.
The gallery in the SAMURAI SHODOWN NEOGEO COLLECTION is jam-packed and a must have for every fan out there.
――Ah, you don’t really hear stories of people going to used bookstores anymore. So, it seems you spent your younger years both drawing and playing SamSho, but can you tell us which character in the entire series is your favorite?
FukufukuTo me, I love all the characters in SamSho so it’s hard to single out just one, but I will say that the first character I picked in elementary school was TAM TAM. Heh, I even play TAM TAM in the newest installment as well. But if I really have to pick, I would say my ultimate favorite is ZANKURO MINAZUKI. He really stood out as being the first truly “samurai” looking boss in the series. Also, I really like the protag HAOHMARU and his somewhat evil rival GENJURO.
――Oh hey wow, you play the new one too? And yeah, I can see why you would play TAM TAM as he does give off a youkai vibe. He’s totally your character. Actually, now that we’re on the topic of the new SAMURAI SHODOWN released in 2019, both that and the SAMURAI SHODOWN NEOGEO COLLECTION are available for PC. Have you tried them out yet?
FukufukuOf course! I downloaded it right away. It’s a very faithful port of the original games, and so it was really nostalgic. Also that gallery is incredible. The staff interviews, the old documentsーjust the sheer size of it all is insane. It’s also priceless as it contains illustrations that have never seen the light of day before. I’ve been taking my time going through it slowly so I can savor it all.
――Yeah, the gallery features things like previously secret development talks with the staff, illustrations, and other important documents that really mean a lot to fans. Especially for someone like you, Fukufuku, who has a history of collecting past SamSho content, the ability to peruse this vault of information easily must be a real treat.
FukufukuOh absolutely. There’s also that deluxe version coming out for the Nintendo Switch and PS4. A lot of artists included their work in the art book, and it even comes with a sound track, so I’m pretty much going to buy it when it gets released.
“SAMURAI SHODOWN is a series that shaped me as an artist.”
――Well, fukufuku-san, after what we talked about, your passion for SamSho is simply undeniable. Can you please share with us how SamSho has affected you personally?
FukufukuWell, one thing I can say is that it’s helped me become an artist with more variation. I was able to naturally pick up on traditional Japanese clothing through playing and drawing SamSho, and that skill even extended to how I am able to draw youkai as well. Also, since the characters in the fighting game are so varied and diverse, I feel that has also helped me design interesting more interesting works.
Another thing is how through SamSho, I was able to make many wonderful friends. Even the friends I have to this day were made back in high school playing SamSho. Heck, I even drew the art for an arcade stick a friend of mine made from scratch. They actually gave it to me as payment. It’s thanks to them that I was also able to play a ton of brand-new games, so it’s crazy to think all this began because of our shared passion for SamSho.
――It’s great to hear how your passion for SamSho has even led to job opportunities and friends. I’m sure a lot of people would be quite envious of your position. So, for our last question, what does SAMURAI SHODOWN mean to you?
Fukufuku: I’d say “SAMURAI SHODOWN is a series that shaped me as an artist.” In the world of youkai artistry, many look to Shigeru Mizuki, the artist for the acclaimed GeGeGe no Kitarō as a source of inspiration. Indeed, he is the most famed and prolific youkai artist out there, but I would have to say SamSho filled in that role very snugly.
Also, it’s thanks to the new SamSho that I was able to join the current FGC and learn a ton about the esports scene as well as the passionate players that represent it. I’ve learned a whole lot and I couldn’t be happier.
SamSho to me represents a moment of my youth, and is the only fighting game to shape me into who I am today. I can say with confidence that I would be a different person had I not played it when I was a kid. I hope they can continue making more amazing SamSho titles in the future.
今回は妖怪画家の怪人ふくふく様(@fukufukuzou)に サムライスピリッツ・覇王丸の天板絵を書いていただきました。 アーケードスティックは(株)HORI様のファイティングエッジ刃をベースに Focus Attack(… https://t.co/ibHzW48KRj— Shiryl-shi (@nikogel360) 2019-01-08 10:08:12
SAMURAI SHODOWN illustrations by Fukufuku
Normally Fukufuku-san draws SamSho illustrations for his own personal-use, but for today’s article he has specially produced his take on HAOHMARU. He features a ton more on his Twitter account, so please check it out for more great drawings!
自分のサムスピイラストはただの二次創作ですので、ＳＮＫさんに迷惑をかけない範囲でかつ自作発言や転売をしなければアイコンとかアケコンとか加工とかサムスピ大会チラシのアクセントとか、好きに使ってもらっていいですよ。 https://t.co/QHSZJbadOl— 怪人ふくふく（妖怪画家） (@fukufukuzou) 2020-04-20 05:23:40
好評発売中です！ 私はなんと！ネッシーやツチノコのCグループを担当しました！ 西東社『頂上決戦！UMA未確認生物最強王決定戦』 サイズ：A5判 192ページ 自分もイラストと漫画で参加しています。前回の『世界のモンスター最強王決定… https://t.co/DNJdzMqS4g— 怪人ふくふく（妖怪画家） (@fukufukuzou) 2020-06-16 15:27:07
The SAMURAI SHODOWN NEOGEO COLLECTION goes on sale for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch this summer in Europe and the US!
The collection contains six titles previously sold on the NEOGEO, as well as a never-before-released version of SAMURAI SHODOWN V SPECIAL, bringing the collection to a total of seven playable titles! Additionally, each game has online battle modes, and its museum mode boasts tons of music tracks and illustrations! It will be available for download for PS4 and the Nintendo Switch July 28th, 2020ーwith the physical version coming this summer!
Digital version available now!
Hotblooded SamSho Scrolls
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