On 13th December, illustrator Junka Morozumi shared the unfortunate news that Mayumi Hirota, who worked on the illustrations for Thracia 776, had recently passed away. Her family has since held a funeral.
Most people will probably know Mayumi Hirota from her work on Thracia 776, where she designed the characters and key artwork. These can be found on the game’s official site, as well as the “Illustrated Works” and “Picture Postcard”, and also on our gallery.
Coincidentally, Intelligent Systems are planning to hold a Thracia 776 art exhibition at next year’s Fire Emblem Expo, showcasing the game’s artwork. It was unknown if Mayumi Hirota would’ve made an appearance, but at the least, it was nice that they acknowledged her artwork.
Prior to working on Thracia 776, Mayumi Hirota illustrated all of the key Genealogy of the Holy War characters for the Fire Emblem: Treasure book. Shouzou Kaga, the game’s designer, was incredibly impressed with her artwork and wanted to keep her for Thracia.
According to the Treasure, she was born on 28th February in the city of Toyama. She was previously an animator for over 10 years, but had retired. Yet her passion for design continued. She got into Fire Emblem with Gaiden, and played the rest of the series (at that point) in order.
Afterwards, when Kaga departed from Intelligent Systems, Mayumi Hirota followed him. She worked on the illustrations for TearRing Saga, Kaga’s first independently-created game. But after that, she more or less vanished from video game history.
Some websites claim that she worked on the sequel, Berwick Saga, as well as Kaga’s recent indie game, Vestaria Saga. However, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to support this. Kazuaki Morita is credited for Berwick, while Rina Usui, Asvel and Fuzuki Yu are credited for Vestaria.
There’s a chance “Asvel” could be her pseudonym, since that’s the name of a character from Thracia. But in reality, it seems doubtful. We do know Kaga attempted to contact her to work on Vestaria Saga, but it doesn’t look like he got through.
However, that’s not to say she didn’t keep in contact after work finished on TearRing Saga. In a blog post from 2012, Kaga shared her illustration of Zephyrus and Larentia, two characters from Berwick Saga. This same artwork was used as a placeholder for Vestaria Saga‘s title screen at one time.
Additionally, during 2008, around the time he started his blog, Kaga shared some never-before-seen artworks of Zeek, Verna, Miradona, Mahter, Kate and Frau. He accredited these to a “Mr/Mrs/Ms H”, an obvious reference to Hirota. Some years later, he deleted the post with the artworks, but the post has been archived online.
Personally, I’ve always been a huge fan of Mayumi Hirota’s works. More than anything, I believe her artworks set the standard for Fire Emblem artworks going forth. Prior to Thracia, the artwork was very hit and miss, and very few characters had artwork drawn. If not for her, it might’ve taken longer for Intelligent Systems to take their artwork seriously.
In any case, may she rest in peace…