How Hideo Kojima Became Guillermo del Toro’s BFF & Turned Him Into a Video Game Character

Lead Photo: 'Death Stranding'
'Death Stranding'
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After years of tweeting about video game creator Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro is finally teaming up with his BFF. And he’s very excited. Kojima received the Industry Icon award at the 2016 Video Game Awards on Thursday and used the moment to reveal a new trailer for his upcoming game, Death Stranding. The trailer features a character made in del Toro’s likeness carrying a small container with a fetus inside as he walks through a desolate, war-torn city. It’s creepy and beautiful and perfectly Kojima.

Barely any details about the game itself exist other than that it apparently stars Norman Reedus, del toro, and Mads Mikkelsen. More details may emerge soon as Kojima “and special guests” will discuss the game at a panel at PSX on December 3. Based on their relationship, we can only hope one of the guests is del Toro.

Del Toro and Kojima met in 2008 when the director promoted Hellboy 2 in Japan. According to Kojima, del Toro invited him to his man cave the next year and they’ve been close ever since. Their respect for each other dates back even further. Like many of us, del Toro played Metal Gear Solid and was freaked out by Psycho Mantis, a fourth-wall breaking villain who claimed to be able to read the player’s mind and specifically mentioned games from the player’s memory card. “When Psycho Mantis started reading my mind, I actually got scared,” he said. “That moment, [Kojima] broke the barrier of the screen. It was so innovative, feeding off the data in the console. It was a perfect moment, and it crystallized my admiration for him.” Kojima has shown that he loves del Toro’s creations by whipping out a little impression of the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth.

As a matter of fact, they’ve tried to work together for years now. Kojima and del Toro collaborated on a horror game called Silent Hills starring Reedus for Konami. However, after Kojima and Konami had a falling out, the project was canceled in 2015. Today, after the release of the new footage, del Toro verbalized his feelings about Konami’s cancellation, while once again expressing his admiration of Kojima.

When Kojima unveiled Death Stranding at E3 in 2016, it featured little more than a buck-naked digital Reedus, oil, and a baby. Kojima is weird. And that might explain that mutual admiration and friendship that has developed between the Japanese video game creator and the Mexican director. And yes, there’s a bit of a language barrier between the two, but true love finds a way. Kojima’s English continues to improve, and language doesn’t matter when it comes to karaoke anyway. “And when we go to karaoke we sing anime themes,” del Toro said. “I sing them in Spanish, he sings them in Japanese. We don’t understand shit.”

It shouldn’t be that surprising that del Toro will be a part of Kojima’s next project. The pair gave a keynote at the 2016 D.I.C.E. Summit, where they discussed the origins of their friendship, their shared love of Japanese cartoons (which aired in Mexico), and their intention to work together again. The extent of his participation in the project remains unclear, but at D.I.C.E. del Toro let everyone know he’d work with Kojima in any capacity. “I’ll do whatever the fuck he wants,” del Toro said. If you want to get a better understanding of their relationship (aka, if you want to see del Toro fanboying), the full conversation is available on YouTube.

Kojima also dropped a hint at Tokyo Games Show with a chibi drawing of del Toro, Reedus, Kojima, and Mikkelsen holding hands.

The game doesn’t have a release date, but if you know the scope and ambition of Kojima’s work, you know not to expect a final version until 2018 at the very least. Take a look at the trailer for Death Stranding below.