Saturday, 30 April 2011

Picture Exclusive Man - Closure!

Yesterday I found a man who was previously titled "Picture Exclusive Man" while playing Gran Turismo 5. I asked around the internet and this morning I've had a reply from someone on who has told me who it is. The idea of it being Ayrton Senna's ghost proves to be just as far-fetched as it sounds.

It's Japanese racing driver and creator of Spoon Sports, Tatsuru Ichshima!

Here he is in GT5 as a Premium render. Just kidding.
Ichishima-san's significance in the world of Gran Turismo stems from him racing alongside series creator Kazunori Yamauchi in the well-known 25 Hours Of Thunderhill, which is the longest endurance race in motorsport by 1 hour, as most major endurance races typically last a day. In 2009, he prepared a 4-door Japanese-market Honda Civic Type-R for the longest race, something he can do better than most, perhaps all Honda tuners due to his 23 years of running Spoon Sports (who exclusively modify Hondas), as well as privately racing them beforehand. His overall experience with racing Hondas spans almost 40 years. He and Yamauchi-san were joined on the driving team by Sam Mitani and ex-JTCC racer Naoki Hattori. Despite receiving penalties and spending an hour in the pits, they finished 7th in class.

I would imagine that, perhaps from there or from an earlier meeting where they might have agreed to do the race, the two men got along and became close enough friends that Yamauchi-san wanted him in the game. Apparently he can also be seen in another Photo Travel location in Switzerland, but I don't know what significance that might have.

Clearly he's equally excited to have figured it out!
As you can see, he is wearing the same suit (perhaps his signature suit) in both rendered and real forms, and despite my initial thoughts that the rendered figure didn't look very Japanese, the resemblance is clear. In my defence, it is dark in that GT5 location, and Picture Exclusive Man is a lot smoother than real-life Ichishima-san. It is also true that humans (and dogs) are not rendered in such high quality as the cars, perhaps because they had to prioritise to save time/memory, and also because this is of course a game that centres wholly around the cars. You're meant to be flying past the (still pretty good-looking) scenery and crowd, rather than meticulously scanning their every detail.

The pictures of real-life Ichishima-san are from an interview with Speedhunters, in which I guarantee you will love him. He prefers simple, un-gimmicky cars and looks for balance and fun in his products rather than merely pursuing outright speed. He says "for example, a GT-R is exciting because of its power, but in a corner a small, well-prepared Civic can easily overtake". Well, one of his Spoon Civics certainly can. He also comes out with a great metaphor when describing his favourite engine:

"I'll give you an example. Ferraris and Lamborghinis are like women that are great in bed, but not so great at cleaning the house or cooking. The [Honda] B-series is a more balanced engine; it's great in bed but also great at doing the chores. Frugal and civilized."

Well put! Making cars "fun, not fast" is certainly an idea I can get on board with, because it's something that one can appreciate more often. Yes, a big engine is great for overtaking people on motorways and a fast car is best enjoyed at a track, free of speed cameras and police, but a fun car can be enjoyed on almost any road. My own car (a 1.2-litre Fiat Grande Punto) is underpowered, so I don't get to hit 100mph at all, but on quiet country roads it can be really enjoyable, despite its porky body weight causing a fair bit of roll in tight corners. It has a happy character about it, and it can put a smile on my face.

So anyway, the mystery of Picture Exclusive Man is a mystery no more. He is Tatsuru Ichishima, Japanese racing driver, Honda guru and all-round Cool Guy.

I leave you this time with some relevant pictures, as they are of the greatest Honda ever: the NSX supercar (specifically a hardcore NSX Type-R). Enjoy again!

The images of the real Tatsuru Ichishima are from and I do not claim ownership of them. However, the Gran Turismo 5 pictures in this and any of my other articles are my images. I would thus prefer if you asked my permission to use them elsewhere. Ask in the comment box or email .


  1. Wow, i could've never guessed, the guy in the game looks kinda british, at least not japanese.