Kazuko Shibuya is an artist who has contributed many art assets to the Final Fantasy series, including the distinctive blue windows, menu design, sprites, and character and monster designs. She is one of the premier pixel artists to have worked for the company.
Born September 4, 1965, her passion for animation began in middle school with an obsession over Space Battleship Yomato and Galaxy Express 999. She began drawing her own cels and animation at that time. In high school, she decided on animation as her career path and enrolled in a technical school, taking a part-time job with an animation studio and working on projects including Obake no Q-taro, Area 88, and Transformers. However, she found the professional animation pipeline was not to her liking due to the practice of different duties, such as key frames and in-betweens, being assigned to different departments. Dissatisfied, she considered leaving animation. Square Co., Ltd. reached out to her during this period and she joined the company in 1986, starting with the illustrations for the Alpha game manual and doing illustrations for King's Knight and other games. She later became a pixel artist for the original Final Fantasy, designing the iconic title screen and blue menus. She has been with Square, now Square Enix, ever since, contributing pixel art, 2D illustrations, menu designs, character and monster designs, and 3D art and animation, as well as generalist work for whatever is needed. She also has been an important communicator between the company and series concept artist Yoshitaka Amano and other artists and staff, often personally visiting them and traveling across the globe as needed.
Works in the seriesEdit
|Final Fantasy||Pixel artist, Monster designer, Menu designer, Font designer|
|Final Fantasy II||Pixel artist, Monster designer, Menu designer, Font designer|
|Final Fantasy III||Pixel artist, Monster designer, Menu designer, Font designer, Map designer|
|Final Fantasy IV||2D illustrator|
|Final Fantasy IV: The After Years||Pixel artist|
|Final Fantasy V||Pixel artist, Character designer|
|Final Fantasy VI||Pixel artist, Character designer|
|Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles||Menu designer, Font designer, Effects artist|
|Final Fantasy Dimensions||Pixel artist|
- Despite working closely with Amano, she is responsible for many of the character designs, with Amano's work serving only as concept art. She and Amano worked at the same time on Final Fantasy VI cast, with her finishing her work slightly before he finished his.
- She has also done work for Dragon Quest including backgrounds.
- As an artist, she not only studies and emulates the styles of artists she's working with, but also visualizes all of her artwork in 3D, translating it to the 2D medium. As such, many of the definitive designs of the series exist only in her mind's eye.
- She does not reuse poses, instead doing a new pose for each character in each game to fit the character of the moment. She attributes similarities in appearance and poses to technical limitations rather than a design decision.