Adapted from BOX=ART
Katsuya Terada is a prolific Japanese illustrator that has worked in every field from advertising to book illustration and from manga to video games. Though Katsuya has filled many roles throughout his career, he’s most at home with his identity as a scribbler, dubbing himself “Rakugaking”—an apparent portmanteau of the Japanese word rakugaki (meaning doodle or scribble) and the English word king. The artist posts actively on Facebook as Katsuya "t e r r a" Terada and has used a “TERRA” signature on many of his works, dating back at least to his work for Nintendo Power.
Though Katsuya became famous in the West in the ‘00s through his high-profile character designs for movies like Hellboy (2004) and Blood: The Last Vampire (2009), work in the video game industry beginning in the late-’80s launched his storied career. In fact, as artists have become better credited for their game work, Katsuya’s name has perhaps since become more often attached to the Zelda series, some of his earliest work.
Katsuya would start in the video game industry as the illustrator for the Tantei Jingūji Saburō (a.k.a. Detective Jingūji Saburō) series after receiving a call from animator Toshio Nishiuchi. Though Toshio Nishiuchi had painted his own concepts for the game, publisher Data East deemed them a little too cute, and Katsuya answered the call to design something “more hard-boiled,” doing the character designs, background illustrations, some art for the instruction manual, as well as the logo.
Katsuya would go on to be a regular contributor to the long-running Tantei Jingūji Saburō visual novel mystery series, continuing to provide art for the series as recently as 2018 for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 releases of Prism of Eyes. Somewhat unique within the industry, Katsuya has remained involved with the series for more than three decades.
By the early-’90s, Katsuya’s box art catalog would expand beyond the Tantei Jingūji Saburō series, illustrating the Japan-only Mega Drive title Blue Almanac in 1991, followed by three titles for the Super Famicom: Prince of Persia (1992), The Legend of Bishin (1993), and Maten Densetsu: Senritsu no Ooparts (1995). His highest-profile box art of this period though would probably be Sega’s Virtua Fighter Remix in 1995 for the Saturn in Japan.
Between 1988 and 1994, Katsuya was a regular contributor for Nintendo Power, the promotional magazine for North American markets. An extensive list of Katsuya’s Nintendo Power contributions can be found in this VGDensetsu blog post. Among them, he drew a remarkable set of illustrations for The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Another set of Link's Awakening art was exclusive to the official German-language player's guide. These printed Zelda illustrations stunned players with powerful imaginations of Link's adventures—as the NES had a limited capacity to show details on a screen, a player's guide filled in the visual gaps by showing more elaborate details.
Outside of his Nintendo Power work, little else of his game work contemporaneously made it to international audiences. As a result of the majority of his box art having been for Japan-only titles, his first box art to make it abroad may not have been until 2001 for Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land (in Japan: Busin: Wizardry Alternative). A Jake Hunter (the English localization of Tantei Jingūji Saburō) title for the Nintendo 3DS released in the U.S. in 2009 is another limited exception of Katsuya’s work being used outside of Japan.
Katsuya has counted the work of French cartoonist Moebius—of comic book Métal Hurlant fame—among his inspirations, as Moebius, in Katsuya’s mind, combined the clean line art seen in book illustration with the dynamics of manga, opening up possibilities he did not see before. "Moebius was such an influence when I was a teenager, I'm kind of embarrassed by it now. You can really draw anything, if you apply Moebius' style. Because suddenly your manga character doesn't have to be as stylized (as was custom in manga at the time), but they can be much more realistic. In short, I found a lot of possibilities in Moebius' linework."
The look of Métal Hurlant’s fantastical and dystopian characters may well have influenced Katsuya’s box arts for The Legend of Bishin (1993) and Sol Divide (1998) as well as other works throughout the artist’s career.
Beyond his exceptional video game portfolio, Katsuya is particularly heralded for his fantasy manga series The Monkey King, originally published by Shueisha as Saiyukiden Daienō in Japanese in 1995, then translated into English in 2005 by Dark Horse publishing. The two full-color manga books reinterpret a well-known epic of Goku, who escorts the monk Sanzo on a perilous journey across—as the flap text has it—"a wasteland filled with weird, violent, and sexy demons." Widely seen as among Katsuya Terada’s finest work, one reviewer commented: "His artwork—every page is painted—explodes with energy, overflows with baroque lineation and voluptuous figuration, and exploits color like a chameleon with multiple personality disorder."
Over the years Katsuya’s work has spanned a range of media, using water-based markers, paints, brush pens and pencils, as well as digital media. Presently, Katsuya says that he sketches nearly everything on a 13" iPad Pro, allowing him to work with speed and freedom. He has built up a following through his copious sketching and has described drawing as almost a physical need to him, comparing his daily routine to the preparations of a marathon runner, “The more time I spend on drawing, the closer I get to that line that I am imagining. Every day of practice prepares you better for that one moment."
Cook and Becker published an exceptional artist spotlight on Katsuya Terada, which OVGA has referenced in supplementing this biography.
OVGA has included below Katsuya Terada 寺田 克也's full known box art catalog:
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Shinjuku Chūō Kōen Satsujin Jiken (Data East | Nintendo Disk System | 1987)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Kiken na Futari Zenpen (Data East | Nintendo Disk System | 1988)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Yokohama-kō Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (Data East | NES | 1988)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Kiken na Futari Kōhen (Data East | Nintendo Disk System | 1989)
- Blue Almanac (Kodansha Ltd. | Mega Drive | 1991)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Toki no Sugiyuku Mama ni... (Data East | NES | 1991)
- Prince of Persia (Masaya | SNES-EUR/JPN | 1992)
- The Legend of Bishin (Magifact | SNES | 1993)
- Maten Densetsu: Senritsu no Ooparts (TAKARA Lft Co. | SNES | 1995)
- Virtua Fighter Remix (Sega | Saturn-JPN | 1995)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Mikan no Rupo (Data East | PS1, Saturn | 1996)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Yume no Owari ni (Data East | PS1, Saturn | 1998)
- Sol Divide (Atlus | PS1, Saturn | 1998)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Early Collection (Data East | PS1 | 1999)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Tomoshibi ga Kienu Ma ni (Data East | PS1 | 1999)
- Busin: Wizardry Alternative (Atlus | PS2 | 2001)
- Nanatama: Chronicle of Dungeon Master (GAE Inc. | Sony PSP | 2001)
- Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land (Atlus U.S.A | PS2 | 2001)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Innocent Black (WorkJam | PS2 | 2002)
- Sword of Samurai (Majesco Entertainment | PS2-JPN | 2002)
- Busin 0: Wizardry Alternative NEO (Atlus | PS2 | 2003)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Kind of Blue (WorkJam | PS2 | 2004)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Shiroi Kage no Shōjo (WorkJam | Game Boy Advance | 2004)
- Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles (WorkJam | Nintendo DS | 2007)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Kienai Kokoro (WorkJam | Nintendo DS | 2008)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Fuserareta Shinjitsu (WorkJam | Nintendo DS | 2009)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Hai to Daiyamondo (WorkJam | Sony PSP | 2009)
- Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past (Aksys Games Localization, Inc. | Nintendo DS | 2009)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Akai Chō (WorkJam | Nintendo DS | 2010)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Fukushuu no Rinne (WorkJam | 3DS | 2012)
- Jake Hunter Detective Stories: Ghost in the Dark (Arc System Works | 3DS | 2017)
- Detective Saburō Jingūj: Prism of Eyes (Arc System Works | PS4, Nintendo Switch | 2018)