Is there even hope?
Of course, given Kojima’s penchant for perfectionism, there’s still a part of him that insists on looking this gift horse in the mouth and hoping for a slightly better granting of his wish. From a very recent interview:
“I don’t know if the Metal Gear brand sometimes is a bit heavy to carry. The franchise is difficult to handle. But so far I’ve had no success [passing the torch]. Metal Gear Rising [Revengeance], fortunately that was a spin-off so that went well. Ideally I would like to step out from the Metal Gear franchise as a producer and dedicate myself to other games. So far that has proven to be a bit difficult.”
So yes, there’s still one last tiny flickering ember of hope. There is still a part of Kojima that, for all his acceptance of MGR as proof that a Metal Gear game can be successful without him, does not want to hand the series over to parties who will make it a soulless profit machine.(11)
But you have to wonder how long that part of him can hold out. He’s already gone out of his way to personally promote MGR beyond anything he’s ever done for AC!D or even Portable Ops (has a character originating from one of those games ever featured as a playable in any part of a main series game?), despite being more vocal in his disapproval of MGR than he has been for any of those less successful spinoffs. And unfortunately, actions speak louder than words. Kojima may express frustration at how frequently he’s credited for MGR (http://www.twitlonger.com/
Adding to the direness of the situation is that Kojima actually had a successor in mind… And that successor is dead. As in, they-held-a-funeral dead. And has been for about four years.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Project Itoh? He wrote the MGS4 novelization, and if you ever get a hold of the English translation I recommend you read Kojima’s afterword, where he makes abundantly clear that Itoh is the kindred spirit he’s been searching for all along, the worthy successor who not only understands his ideas perfectly but can elaborate upon them and make them even better.
Thing is, Itoh died of cancer shortly before Peace Walker came out, which is why there’s a dedication to him in the game’s credits. Kojima also has an essay about Itoh in an untranslated book of his that came out around the same time last year that MGR did (title translates roughly to “The Memes I’ve Loved” or “My Beloved Memes”). The essay is dated January 2013, which makes it the most recent of the book’s essays (the oldest of which date from 2007) and also marks it as written after Kojima had seen all there was to see from the MGR team. In the essay, Kojima goes from implying Itoh’s role as his successor to explicitly stating it, and then openly lamenting that he has not found an Itoh replacement despite having these essays serialized for 3 years in Japan’s Da Vinci magazine (for a total of 30 articles) with the express intent of finding one.
Between MGR’s main-series-tier success and the continued lack of a replacement Itoh, it’s only a matter of time before Kojima gives up on his hope for a true Solid series successor and just allows the Rising team and its lucrative travesties to become the new official face of Metal Gear, unless enough people speak up and speak out against MGR.(13) Even then, there’s no telling how much if any the chorus of naysaying will help. But what I know for sure WON’T help a jot is your current head-in-the-sand attitude of waiting for MGR to blow over as though it will never have any significant effect on the future of Metal Gear, when it has already had massive and dire effects on no less than Hideo Kojima himself.
(11) Kojima is neck-deep in the trenches of creating a masterpiece with the full intention of passing on his memes and reinforcing the legacy of the series. “Accepting” Reveageance was about recouping the losses of the failed Rising project; about saving the reputation of Kojima Productions as a business. He succeded in doing that, and now nobody even remembers that they canceled the thing. What part of the “Ogre Project” that has become “MGSV” is a tiny flickering ember? It’s more like the flames of hell, refusing to die and getting hotter every day.
(12) It’s literally Kojima’s job to try to make his company’s products a success. If he didn’t promote Rising, it would have suffered. Meanwhile he is working on the true sequel to the series, which will overshadow any spinoff.
(13) Nobody needs to speak against Metal Gear Rising, because it’s quarantined from the series. Instead, we need to embrace and celebrate Kojima’s legacy, and especially Metal Gear Solid V. We should accept that there’ll never be a real replacement for him anyway. Sooner or later he’ll retire or die, and it will be up to us to keep the past alive through our conversations, creations, and decisions. “Passing the torch” is about passing it to us, not keeping a brand name credible.
Final comment from Mr. Wolfe:
The discussion about Metal Gear’s legacy and its future is important, and I respect anybody who wants to protect it from falling into ruin like so many other series before. The totality of the Metal Gear franchise is an almost unparalleled accomplishment, with the original creator producing a single epic story for 25 years, mostly ad hoc, with major successes back-to-back from start to finish, despite rapidly shifting consumer tastes, while still maintaining a following and a prestige that only gets stronger, despite the fiercest competition. It’s unthinkable that something as insipid as Revengeance could derail that legacy. Kojima is fighting for his reputation. He won’t let his series be scattered to the heartless sea. He wants revenge.
If you have opinions on Revengeance and the toxic effect it may be having on the series, send me your thoughts at my Twitter or my email. If nothing else, send me a link to something that proves a point about it.
Thank you very much to Typocorism for the thoughtful, important reminder about what’s at stake. Even though I still don’t think Revengeance is a serious problem, this is largely because I’ve come to terms with the inevitability of the MGS series declining after Kojima stops making them. But don’t let that stop you. Fight the good fight, and do what you can to make sure the name “METAL GEAR” doesn’t fall into the hands of evil.