Japanese KI scene - Interview with "Tonosama", the Japanese Riptor player

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Hi, I am back with another article on the Japanese KI scene as announced a few weeks ago. This time I would like to introduce you to the winner of the KI World Cup qualifier in Japan last year and top Riptor player: Tonosama.

This interview was conducted in Japanese, and I can assure you that Tonosama hasn’t said a negative word about KI. So, if anything comes across as negative then my translation is at fault, and I take full responsibility in that case. And as I might have said in previous articles, I am not a professional writer and I am certainly not a (very good) interviewer, but I hope you will enjoy this new insight in our KI community around the globe, and Japan in particular!

Before we start, if you search well enough on the internet then I am sure that you will be able to find a photo of Tonosama winning at “Tougeki” tournament a few years back. But for this article we both agreed that “Cheerleader Riptor” fits this article better! Anyway, in between all the Season 3 news that has all of you crying, laughing, cheering, raging and fainting in one day, allow me to introduce one of the better known Japanese players on the KI scene. Enjoy!


Before we start to talk about the upcoming Season 3 and your experience so far playing Season 2, can I ask you to introduce yourself to our audience. From my coverage at the KI WC qualifier, we already know that you are a great Pokken player as well KI player.

“My name is Tonosama. My birthplace is a secret (laugh). I have literally played too many fighting games in my career. Games like Arcana Heart, Daemaon Bride, SCV, UMVC3, Capcom Fighting Evolution, just to name a few. Originally I was a Virtual On player before I even got into fighting games.”

“The first fighting game I started playing was Arcana Heart. This title I played both in the arcades as well as at all Tougeki tournaments. In Arcana Heart, there was this “buruma” wearing (like a volleyball player’s uniform) female ninja with dog ears who caught my attention. Ever since picking up this game I have been playing fighting games.”

Thank you for the introduction. Lately, KI, SFV and other games have been trying to address the steep learning curve of fighting games in general. One feature that hopefully makes certain aspects of KI easier to get into for certain players is the recently added “Combo Assist Mode”. What are your thoughts on CAM, and complexity of fighting games in general?

“I had no issues after picking up KI. The tutorial mode was easy to understand and I learned all of KI’s concepts (combo breaker, shadow counter, etc.) within a day. For new payers the problem comes down to the fact that just hearing fighting game terminology can be really confusing. This seemingly complex aspect can make them not try out a fighting game, even though that person could be perfectly capable of understanding and learning while playing. Anyway, CAM is indeed a good function, but since I am already used to the game I am not using it myself.”

Some of the other changes that came with the Shadow Jago update, sort of prepared us for new features in the soon to be released Season 3. Therefore, let’s go into that and talk about what was shown to us during the KI World Cup.

Please give us your impressions on the Riptor changes and what surprised you the most, whether positive or negative?

“Honestly, I still haven’t watched the replay of the World Cup but I did watch closely all the balance changes. Putting all other characters aside and just focusing on Riptor, it has to be the new Flame Mortar attack that overwhelmed me. This new move totally surprised me and I was so excited when I first saw it that I couldn’t move myself being so shocked as I was (smiles). After thinking about it for a while, I realized that she indeed was lacking such type of long range attack.”

“The Tail Flip nerf is of course what stands out to me. However, in light of the changes made to other characters, I think Riptor has become stronger in Season 3. So overall I am happy with the result.”

Will your playstyle change in any way with the new changes that were shown on the stream?

“The new system or gameplay mechanics I haven’t been able to try out myself, so obviously I won’t be able to fully tell how that will impact my play. There are quite a lot of changes to the gameplay mechanics itself with combo breakers tweaks, flipouts, staggers, etc. In my opinion, Combo breakers have become a bit riskier as you will now be almost even with your opponent and can expect less return on a successful combo breaker attempt. But as for the specific changes made to Riptor, I don’t see any big change in how I will play her in season 3.

To follow up on your last comment about “how you play”, what exactly is your playstyle with Riptor, knowing that she is a rushdown character?

“Well, I don’t think turtling or zoning with Riptor are her strengths, so I definitely stick with applying pressure through a rushdown style of attack and making minor adjustments to match my opponents’ habits where needed.”

Have any of the other changes tempted you to try another character in Season 3? Anyone became more appealing to you after seeing their changes?

“When we first saw Glacius, everyone in Japan was like “NOOOO!! REALLY?!”. “Why these outrageous changes?!”. Homing puddle punch! Multi hail! He has become too strong just looking at his changes (ignoring the rest).”

So you are tempted to play Glacius now?

“Yes, I am… (hahaha).”

How about characters that you feel have become weaker in season 3?

“Again, I would have to play the game first to really tell, but Hisako, TJ, Kan-Ra and Spinal have become weaker, I think. They have been hit the hardest.”

What was the change that you yourself wanted to see in season 3? And did your wish come true?

A Riptor buff and a Kan Ra nerf. Seeing those changes was sufficient (laugh).”

“Anyway, overall I am happy with the changes to the game and I am definitely looking forward to Season 3. I cannot wait to touch the game. Ogty (a well known KI player and tournament organizer in the Japanese KI community), he is organizing an online tournament after Season 3’s launch. My first goal is to try and win that tournament.”

Well, you actually have fans on the forum who are cheering for you and your Riptor. At least, I know that I am cheering for you.
“I guess that if they knew my (strange) tendencies for picking and playing certain characters, I would lose them instantly (smile).”

Staying on the subject of Season 3, what are your thoughts on the imminent PC version? And will it affect popularity at all in Japan?
“Since I already play the Xbox One version, a PC release is not something I personally have interest in. But seeing how the biggest hurdle is the price of a console plus peripherals, a PC version would save quite a bit of money for potential new players. In this sense Japan is no different than the rest of the world. I did read several tweets from people saying that they would try out KI as soon as it arrives on PC.”

“Still, the question as to how to make the game more popular here is a difficult one. The trend of anime style of fighting games is continuing, and clearly KI has its own perspective and interpretation of the world around us (which I like by the way). It’s not like there will be a huge sudden demand, but as for me personally I would be happy with creatures like Spinal or Glacius, robot-types, and of course animal/dinosaur types. Showing off your game’s contents through videos and other media usually gets people talking about it, but I am not convinced that young people are really that interested in fighting games in general. The learning curve (of fighting games) is definitely a wall that makes it difficult to get into fighting games. One game that actually is very popular among teenagers in Japan is “Pokken”.

But besides the characters, do you actually like the music in KI, its stages,…?

“I love KI’s music, and especially TJ, Riptor, Aria and Maya’s stage music. However, when I pick a stage I always go for the ones with a stage ultra, no question. I probably like them in the following order: Aria, Aganos, Hisako, TJ, and then Kan Ra. I don’t really need a stage Ultra on Riptor’s stage…”

Anything that you would like to see get improved or changed? Or perhaps added to the game?

“One thing that I hope will improve is that some stages won’t be as dark as they are right now. For example, when I pick Hisako’s stage, due to the darkness and lightning it can be difficult to see on broadcast."

“Online practice mode is something I would like too, while things like Team battle, well that probably not so much (smile). Oh yeah, and perhaps I would like a 3D model viewer for those low angle shots of Riptor in her cheerleader outfit…”.
(Bojima:“why isn’t there a smile after this last comment…?” :cold_sweat: ).

Okay, continuing on. Who or what type of characters would you like to see in Season3?

“For season 3, PC or Xbox, I would probably like to see some kind of non-human, supernatural being. And preferably female (smiles again). I do not have any preference for guest or original characters. But if we are talking guests then definitely my preference would be a Mass Effect character like Garrus or Grunt.”

We have reached the end of the interview. I assume you will you be playing Riptor in Season 3 again?

“I already decided that I am playing Riptor and ARBITER(!)”

“At this time I am not sure yet if I can make it to EVO2016, but I am hoping to attend. And if somehow I manage to go, then I will enter the Pokken and KI tournaments. Just these two games.”


Well, that’s it for today! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did chatting with Tonosama about KI. I have been in contact with a few more players on the Japan scene and I will do my best to try and convince them to join me for an interview. So leave your comments below and be sure to check his Kombo Klash Japan footage below.

I’m out, thank you for reading. Thank you Tonosama!

Bojima404

“thank you Tonosama for choosing me!”
(Konoha from Arcana Heart)

@GoogleMyName Would you mind adding this interview to your homepage like you did last time? Thanks!

Tonosama at Kombo Klash Japan

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An interesting interview. I’m curious as to why there aren’t more players from Japan participating in the forums, though; I’ve heard in the past (which may be wrong) that English was commonly taught as a second language in Japanese schools, and it would be cool to have the Japanese community mesh more closely with the general forum community. We’re starting to see Japanese players traveling to the US for some of the big tournaments, and it’d be really good to look at the community as a whole rather than two separate entities.

Not like the forum members are only from North America anyway - I have specifically seen posts from members who say they’re from Italy, Brazil, Nigeria, UK, etc.

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Fantastic. Just a really nicely organized interview with good insight from Tonosama. Your writing is great for an interview - you don’t get in the way of the subject you are trying to convey. Man, this is a great contribution to the KI community.

I’m going to need someone to tell me what Tougeki is… Based on the gym class volleyball dog girl I’m a bit fearful.

English is not as common in Japan as in many other countries, although it is taught both in and out of schools. Many Japanese I have met are also very apologetic about their English, even if it is fine and easily understandable. I’ve only been to Japan a few times, but it’s an island both literally and figuratively when it comes to culture and perception of the people living there. So it doesn’t surprise me that they don’t show up on these forums. Do you see a lot of Japanese participating in online forums for other games?

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I have no idea, for a couple reasons. I actually don’t participate in too many other game forums for one, but also I don’t think nationality comes up all the time either.

The angle I was coming from was supposed to be more of a wishful “it would be awesome if they’d come hang out” rather than sharp criticism, in case it came off differently than I was intending. I enjoy well-intentioned discussion with various members here, so I think it’d be really cool to have the KI fans from Japan bring their viewpoints and observations here directly. What BoJima is doing is really cool, but look at how people seemed to enjoy watching Domi and the other Japanese players during EVO! I hope one day they’ll come join us here and be able to have a good time.

It’s entirely possible that there’s enough of a language barrier to make that more difficult, but I think it would be nice. Maybe BoJima’s interviews will show them that we are interested in the “KI Pacific Front.”

Just to clarify, I didn’t think you were being critical, and I didn’t intend my question to sound rhetorical (and critical) either. It was intended as an honest question.

Shoot, three comments in and I’m already gumming up what should be an excellent thread.

Great interview! Thanks for putting up the time to do this.

Honestly can see the flame mortar being good on the okie game, but that remains to be seen. Also interesting how they now fear Glacius with his new goodies… While the alien appears to have ways in, it should be noted that because of system change with fierce attacks piercing armor, Glacius shouldn’t move in if the opponent can easily read the situation.

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I know Bojima was kinda thrown off by the low angle comment, the way he wrote it. :laughing:

Good interview!

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I will comment to some of your replies as soon as I can. Thanks a lot for your interest!

Let me tag and share this article first with a few more other faithful readers…

@salindy13 @BHswordsman09 @Ziarist @TheKeits @adymunrox @Infilament
@RogueSquirrel29 @Fnrslvr @CRIS178

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Basically KI needs more Lewd content. Get on it IG.

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Awesome! I think you can lay your worries about not being a good interviewer to rest lol thanks for providing more great insight! Very Interesting! Also, he’s funny lol I like this guy. I’ll root for him in that s3 tournament too!

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Great interview, thanks for doing this!

Tougeki (also called Super Battle Opera, or SBO) was Japan’s most prominent tournament series from the early 2000s until about 2011 or 2012. It was kind of like their EVO. It’s an invitational tournament that was particularly famous for its punishing structure (single elimination, single game) and for the general lack of success America had when they tried to send representatives over there.

As SF4 grew in popularity and more and more tournaments were held with best 2 out of 3 + double elimination, the Japanese eventually realized that single elimination, single game was really dumb, so they tried to get Tougeki to change it. But they were pretty resistant to the idea, because Japan likes status quo. So all the top players stopped going to Tougeki (in favor of their own events like Godsgarden, or overseas tournaments) and Tougeki stopped running tournaments a few years ago.

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Yoooooo I forgot about Mass Effect characters!

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@BoJima404 excellent interview, very interesting! it’s great to see the community creating all kinds of stuff, and these japan interviews are a very unique type of KI related content

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this guy’s charming um… give or take on the skirt shots

totally want, moar interviews!

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Thank you. If I am going to ask you to read 1500 words then I have some kind of obligation to do it right…

They are lurkers like myself originally… Also, everyone has their favorite spot, most Japanese players talk more than their own FG and can likely be found on general FG or anime fighter boards, etc.

Exactly what Arbiter does with people. Just watch the trailer again. He talks his way into our heads and makes us forget what we really love, then stabs us mercilessly while never failing to continue his soliloquy. Sorry, I’m getting carried away…yeah Grunt would be cool!

Riptor is my main … great interview

great kudos for this wonderful interview hope you are able to reach the rest of the great japanese players @BoJima404

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Great interview @Bojima404!!

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I am planning to interview a Spinal and Hisako player next. It will be interesting because these two characters are among the ones mentioned by Tonosama as being hit hard by the Nerfinator.

It has been stressed at the KI WC that changes have to be seen as a whole but that’s what some Japanese players were doing when looking at the Hisako and Spinal nerfs…so I dunno.

Tonosama is hilarious. Hope we would be able to see more of his play again. Not sure about what he meant about Hisako becoming weaker. Thanks for the tag Bojima.

Well, as a Hisako main I was pretty underwhelmed by her changes too. The nerf to low counter is going to hurt, as counters are now even more of a hard read than they were before. The wrath refilling only on the ground also takes away from her ability to actually get away while refilling wrath, and at the very least will change up her setup options. The start-up nerfs to air-ORZ make moves that were already pretty slow even slower, and the added trip guard frames don’t help either.

On the buff side we got a speed increase to the mostly useless command teleport, stagger on some normals that already behaved much like staggers, a better juggle opportunity off something that’s kinda hard to hit people with anyway (most common rekka juggle is after an instinct cancel anti-air), a single flipout button, and a shadow air-ORZ that does the same thing the full wrath/counter hit version of the move already did. Oh, and I can wrath cancel into descent now. Even though descent isn’t particularly useful, on account of being hittable, throwable, and more than reactable.

So yeah - not jumping for joy over my S3 changes :unamused: