Above: the self-portrait of Rokuro Saito, as well as a draft of one of their final artworks.
With several notable works as a mangaka and illustrator across gaming and other media, Rokuro Saito was not sure if Call of Duty had the right number when they gave them the call.
When I was first contacted [by Call of Duty and asked], “Would you like to draw?” I was truly surprised when [they] asked, “Are you sure you want to do it with me?” also thought, “Are you sure you are asking the right person?” . . . I was so surprised. We knew that the Call of Duty series is one of the most popular games in the world, so we were really nervous. But it was a great honor, and we wanted to portray Japanese motifs and tough fighting women, so we gathered our courage and decided to accept the project.
I also appreciated the fact that the people at Activision were eager to supervise the rough and finished work even though they must have been busy, which was a great learning experience for me, and I am deeply grateful.
The Call of Duty series is a fascinating game with a realistic reality. I thought it was a very exciting project to hear that illustrators with various styles and personalities would express the world of Call of Duty through tribute illustrations. I myself am looking forward to seeing the works of the other artists.
I believe that Ronin, Nova, and Roze, who are the focus of this project, are popular Operators who have appeared in past series, but I expect that their new charms will be discovered through the individuality of the artists.
I am a manga artist, so I thought, “If Call of Duty were to be serialized as a Japanese manga work, what would the three of them look like?” . . . I think this approach is unique to this tribute illustration, and I hope you enjoy it.
Here is what Rokuro Saito had to say about the production process:
This time, the setting is the island of Ashika, whose landmark is a magnificent castle with a keep. Moreover, the Operators’ equipment also featured armor motifs and [was] red in the style of warlord warriors, so my work partner Sakamaguro and I consulted with each other and decided to boldly use red in the illustrations to express the world of the work. In the first illustration in particular, I thought that camouflage would match the flatness of Japanese-style painting, so I used red camouflage as an accent.
When I finally started drawing, the Nova and Roze firearms were a challenge! Living in Japan, pistols would only exist in games and movies, so I watched the game screens of Call of Duty and referred to them. . . . On the other hand, I am familiar with Japanese swords, as I have a replica of one myself, and I was able to finish the Ronin weapon without any difficulty.
Download Rokuro Saito’s work by clicking on each image here: