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Episode 8 Shinsou Kaimei Dokuhon Interview

Interview

This is a translation of an interview between KEIYA, Ryukishi07 and dai that was conducted on March 1, 2011 and included in the Shinsou Kaimei Dokuhon Episode 8 booklet. The interview was machine-translated by Omegabodega with fixes contributed by Pteryon.


After the production of Umineko no Naku Koro ni...

I'd like to thank you for your hard work on this project as you've concluded the Umineko series. Please tell us about your current state of mind and any hardships you're experiencing.

Ryukishi07: I feel like it was a long time to be working on this project, but it didn't take long. 4 years of work on this project, and we had to work hard to make sure we didn't lose any episodes one by one at Comiket. I'm proud of the fact that we were able to complete it.

dai: After the idea for Umineko came out, every time we released an episode, there were many changes in terms of production and content, and it became more and more fun. But honestly, 4 years was a long time (laughs).

How long does it take you to write a scenario per episode?

R07: I guess...about 6 weeks.

Six weeks? Isn't that fast?

R07: I'm not sure if it's fast or slow, but in terms of time, it's about 6 weeks for the text and 4 weeks for the script. But in reality, plotting starts before I start writing the text, so the question is, "Can I write a scenario of 300,000 characters that I need if I get 6 weeks?" (Laughs).

I'd definitely say I'm about 30% of the way through the process when I start typing the keypod. Honestly - the keypod is the stage where I'm in my head with the idea and what I want to do before I start writing. I've been thinking about it since the last episode ended, so it's not something I can say "I've been working on it for days," but it means I've had a lot of time to think about it, even though I haven't hit the keypod.

What were some of the most memorable moments in the making of Episode 8?

R07: To be honest, I feel that Episode 8 was the smoothest to produce. The division of labor and the transition to a new system of cooperation that we had been working on since Episode 5 worked well. I think that's what dai-san feels the most.

dai: I think it was the least strain on my body after everything was done.

R07: Up until now, it wasn't uncommon for us to stay up until midnight, but this time it was relatively normal, and we were dismissed at the end of the day like a normal company.

dai: If nothing else, I think we'd be done between 8pm and 9pm.

What time was the staff meeting time?

R07: It depends on the person.

dai: It was very easy for my body because I was allowed to work with the life cycle that I was most comfortable working with individually.

R07: We were able to establish a division of labor system, which allowed me to focus on writing. I used to get into a lot of the work, and now the division of labor works pretty well, so I'm able to put a whole lot more focus on the writing, and it's not as dense as the previous six weeks. Everyone else might have had a tough time, though (laughs). So it wasn't "the hardest thing to do because it was the last episode".

Does the production system change every time?

R07: With regard to the change in the production system, the death of BT-san was a major factor. He was a super ace who did everything for us. The system we had been using since the time we were working on Higurashi had become too elite, and if someone left, it would be impossible to support their work. So when BT-san left, we decided to make an organizational change so that if someone left due to illness, someone else would be available to support them. That system that we started to create around the end of Episode 5 started to work quite well this time. To be honest, I thought, "We were able to get Episode 5 out without dropping it, so we can face any challenge now" (laughs).

Working on Episode 5 was the hardest part.

R07: Yes, BT-san passed away a couple of weeks before the Episode 5 master upload... and we were still able to complete it, so we did so under the slogan "there's nothing more we can't do" (laughs).

dai: Also, the debugging system BT made for us was really good, and it was a big deal to be able to share it with everyone. It made us more efficient in that aspect as well.

R07: Before, it was like a "sanctuary" for me to make scripts for screen display and direction that no one else could touch. Scripting was a scenario writer's job, but now most of the staff can handle the scripts to some extent.

dai: Even now, I don't think we'll be able to produce anything good unless Ryukishi07 supervises the script. I think the other staff members are able to divide up the work to the drafting level that you will see from Ryukishi07.

R07: I think the system this time has worked pretty well, so I think it will become much more efficient in the future. Up until now, I've heard quotes like "I haven't slept for X hours...I can see the universe....", "The way time moves forward is strange....", and so on, they say things like that a lot (laughs). Before the division of labor system was established, I sacrificed my strength and time to do all the work that my youth would allow me to do, and all I did was talk about silly things (laughs). But nowadays, perhaps because of the new system, my life has become healthier and healthier.

What were the reactions of people who played the last episode? Let us know if you had any interesting reactions.

R07: There were so many different responses, the range was so wide that I couldn't even tell. There were people who genuinely enjoyed it, people who got what I wanted to say, and people who were looking for it and thinking about it, and so on. I had hoped that after Umineko Naku Koro ni was finished, there would be ten different impressions, and that each person would have their own way of looking at it while continuing to discuss it, and I'm glad that we did. In a work that says "discuss and play the game", a unified view would mean the work would die. It was a very difficult decision for me to reach this "let the discussion continue even after the game is over" ending, and while I wouldn't say it's a perfect score of 100, I think it's just barely passable.

Even after Episode 8 came out, you didn't want people to finish the game.

R07: I want you to keep playing with it, or rather, I want you to keep attacking it. There are users who are very deep in thought, and there are users who say that I have written a lot and haven't gotten it across, but that's okay, because there are a lot of movies that are "masterpieces" that fans still argue over the interpretation of. I wanted to end my work that way, too.

In that sense, it's a very opposite ending to Higurashi.

R07: Yes, Higurashi has a stronger message. In Higurashi, I had one message I wanted to convey, and that's the other side of the coin, so I had to make sure everyone got it. If people interpret it differently, it can't be said to have a message. But Umineko is the opposite: "without love, it cannot be seen". In other words, it's a work of art that is fine for both those who can see it and those who can't, depending on the audience.

While producing Episode 1, you said that someone told Shikata Akiko, who was in charge of the theme song, what you meant by the phrase "without love it cannot be seen".

R07: I don't think he revealed the murder trick, but he explained all the answers, "Who was the culprit, what was the motive, and this kind of incident happened." If Shikata-san was talking to Porori, all the information of "who is the culprit" might have come out during Episode 1 (laughs). Of course, I intended to explain in detail that "a few days ago an incident happened ~", but for Shikata-san, it was a story that didn't exist yet. I think it was difficult (laughs).

That was before Episode 1 was released.

R07: But in the explanation at the time, the phrase "without love, it cannot be seen" came up, and Shikata-san was really interested in it. At that moment, I was like, "Let's definitely put that phrase in the lyrics."

Episode 8 is about Ange despite the large cast of characters

I would like to move on to the topic of Episode 8. In this episode, all the characters had a chance to show their stuff, and even though it's different from Higurashi, I felt it was a great final episode. Do you have a favorite character or scene in this episode, Ryukishi07-san?

R07: In terms of the last episode alone, I liked Lambdadelta and Erika. With Erika, the Golden Land battle was the part I struggled with the most, but it was fun. On the other hand, dai-san had more trouble than I did, and he was traumatized by the fact that "no matter how many scripts I put together, I can't see the end ... long ..." (laughs).

dai: The battle scenes lasted for a very long time, so it was difficult to add effects and direction to each scene.

R07: After the Golden Land blaze, the screen was red and the butterfly effect was replaced by a firebrand effect, like ... The effect command sentences became very busy, and it was one of the most tedious things I've ever done (laughs).

The battle screen production continued uninterrupted (laughs).

R07: In battle scenes, there are characters who are easy to make speak and have more lines, but there are characters who don't get much of a chance to speak at all. When I was going over it, I noticed that some weren't talking at all, like Nanjo (laughs). Then I thought, "Let's add a surprised Nanjo in the background, even if he doesn't have any lines," and as I was tinkering with the script, it ended up taking more time (laughs).

You once said that "if you don't focus on certain characters or specific segments, the whole thing will fade away", and I wonder if there were any parts that you changed with that in mind?

R07: Yes, there are. Since it's the last group battle, I wanted to give everyone a chance to show their stuff, but... For example, I cut out a scene with Lion. When Natsuhi was attacked by a goat, I had the idea of Lion fighting it off by pinching the goat's buttocks (laughs). But this is one of the scenes I dropped because I thought it was excessive because there's enough polish in other parts of the story. Other than this, there are a few characters like Hideyoshi and Genji who were left out of the show because they prioritized the flow (laugh). The most delicious role in Episode 8 might have been Gohda (laughs).

Lambda, as she said in the episode, came in third in the popularity poll (laughs).

R07: It could have been a top 5 or so, but to really get to the top 3, I thought for a moment that I had written Lambda as too nice a person (laughs). Lambda's character is easy to understand, so it's easy to write her. On the other hand, it was hard to write Beato. It's easy to write uncool scenes for Beato, but I wasn't sure about that in the last episode (laughs).

Who was the character you wanted to focus on in this episode?

R07: In a sense, this was the "True Ange Chapter", so I had to find a way to make Ange and Battler look cool. In the middle of the game, they were a bit of an airhead. Even so, I tried my best to make them look good in the end.

Most of the episodes have been told from Battler's point of view, but why did you choose to tell the story from Ange's point of view at the end?

R07: When I said "You, the reader, decide how this story ends," I thought it would be more appropriate to portray the characters from a bird's-eye view, or rather, from the sidelines, rather than from the center of the mystery. The character who fulfills those requirements is Ange, who is looking back at the past from the future. Around the time of Episode 4, when Ange was introduced as the main character, I had a feeling that I would be putting the finishing touches to the story with Ange, and that's exactly what happened.

What did the story look like for Battler?

R07: Battler himself discovered the truth around "Ep4"~"Ep6". However, he doesn't tell anyone the answer to that question. The player wants to know the answer, and if I made the Battler the protagonist, there will be a divergence between him and the player, and it would be inconsistent for the protagonist to project himself. So when he got to the truth, Battler changed to a single character instead of a protagonist. Ange has always had the dilemma of "I want to know the answer but I don't understand", so I think she was the perfect protagonist for the player to project themselves onto.

The sea of ​​emptiness, the City of Books ... the fantasy world of Umineko

A lot of fantastic depictions came out in Ep8, but can you tell us about the fantasy world in this episode?

R07: In a vast ocean of emptiness, there are as many pieces of possibilities, illusions, and delusions floating around, and those pieces are called islands and territories. It's like the Grand *in* from O*E PI*CE (laughs). There's an indescribably mysterious atmosphere there. There is an organization there called the Senate, not the World Government. As for the organization, I thought it would be enough for the audience to enjoy the mysterious atmosphere. I like the City of Books, including the sense of naming it. Featherine's evil residence, which is located in the City of Books, was first developed under the code name of Bern Castle (laughs).

Was it originally supposed to be Bernkastel's castle, not Featherine's?

R07: In the original plot, Ange was kidnapped by Bern and Battler went to her rescue. But when we were fleshing it out, I asked myself, "Why was Ange taken?" "Because Ange has the key, so she was taken with the key." "Then she should have just taken the key, there's no need to take Ange with her!" I thought, "It's so easy to go save Ange," and "First of all, she doesn't have a good sense for naming the castle 'Bern'." (laughs) In the meantime, I thought, "Well, let's just say I'm going to put in a castle for Bern, what would it look like? It's a castle in a strange world, but we don't have a picture of a castle." We didn't have a picture of Bern Castle for a long period of time during development, and I visited quite a few places in search of an image for it. When we went to Nan*yakuun, we found a wall that looked like a castle, but we couldn't take a picture of it and use it as material (laughs). When I was wondering what I should do about Bern Castle, I asked the staff to create an image of a huge library on a temporary screen. We talked about how it would make a great picture if we put it upside down, and from there we came up with the image of a huge library with a deep trench of books. From there we thought, "What's the most appropriate name for this place," and in the end we decided on "City of Books".

Until now, there have been a lot of patterns made from real-life images, but this time, I wonder if they made it from scratch?

R07: No, I cut and pasted a bookcase from an actual library. I don't know how they managed to cut and paste all those pictures out of existing ones. Please give a round of applause to my graphics artist (laughs). I wanted a new background for the climax scene, or as we like to say in RPGs, the "last dungeon". I'm glad that we settled on the unrealistic location of the City of Books, and I'm grateful to the graphics artist for that. I'm glad that I was able to make up a landscape that doesn't really exist (laughs).

The image processing techniques of graphics artists seem to have improved a lot.

R07: Graphics artist-san has created a whole bunch of other impossible things. In that sense, the 6 year old Ange was a work of art. At first I was going to draw a picture of childhood Ange, but eventually I ran out of time and gave up on it. It seems that the person in charge of the progress of the project had read our situation and without my knowledge, sent instructions to "combine existing materials to make a child Ange" out to the graphics artist (laughs). When I said, "I don't have time to make Ange," the graphics artist said, "I cut and pasted all kinds of parts from various characters, what do you think?" Then the picture came out (laughs).

How do you make a picture of child Ange without Ryukishi07's knowledge? (laughs)

R07: Dlanor, Kyrie, Rudolf, Bern, Lambda, and various other characters were cut and pasted, and he only added the missing parts, like the volume of hair, with a pen tablet, but the touch was so natural that it looked like he had drawn them himself. That was the most surprising thing that happened during the making of Episode 8 (laughs). It takes me about 3 days to draw a picture, so it was great to save time here. The game system is so complex that it took me a long time to adjust it, so if I hadn't had those 3 days, I wouldn't have made it in time (laughs).

That was a responsible amount of time for you and the picture.

R07: I think this is also because the team is working well with a larger group of people. Up until now, I used to give orders and then move on, but with the increase in the number of members, I'm no longer in charge of progress management, so they can see the whole picture and make decisions about my work progress.

The Mysterious "Three Tortured Sisters" and Ranko Edogawa?

I'd like to move on to the story of the characters. In the City of Books, what happened to Eva after Ange closed the door that she left?

R07: Eva and Battler can't enter the Golden Land. Because the two of them will return alive from Rokkenjima, the door to the cat box can only be closed by the two of them. The fact that the door is closed by Battler and Eva is a metaphor for them coming back alive...and if I said that, it wouldn't be a metaphor (laugh).

That door is also meant to be the door to the cat box.

R07: It seems like Eva is trying to cover up the Golden Land so that the truth will not be known and go up in smoke. On the other hand, I drew Eva as a witch in Episode 8 because I wanted to make it seem like she was an ally shielding Ange from something. I feel like I've almost answered the question, but I think we can see it from the point of view of whether Eva really knew the truth, and if so, why she didn't tell Ange and kept quiet about it.

In Episode 8, Lion returned with Will, but I wonder if they became a witch when they watched Episode 7?

R07: That's the existence of a piece. In reality, Lion and Beato should not exist together, but since Episode 8 is a grand finale, I wanted to gather all the pieces that have appeared in the game so far, even if it was just for convenience. I wasn't sure how to handle Lion and Will, though. I thought, "It would be cool if Will was picked up by Bernkastel and became the enemy's piece and fought against Battler," or "It would be cool if Eva, Will, and someone else and someone else became something like 'Bernkastel's Four Heavenly Kings'" (laughs). Some people thought that if you put Will and Lion in the story, Beato and Battler would be less noticeable (laughs). So we tried to keep Will and Lion out, but then we decided that they should just be mixed in with the men of Battler's party. And so we settled on that direction (laughs). I thought about the typical shonen manga type of development, like "The Black Will that was brainwashed by Bern comes out and tries to somehow get his memory back," and I tried to make it up to the very last minute, but it was too much of a stretch and I felt like he was going to end up defeating both Beato and Battler (laughs). This is going to be one of those episodes where I dared to cut off the spotlight.

I think Episode 8 is the first episode without a new character.

R07: In my mind, I was going to make Ange a new character, but because she's simply a child, maybe she doesn't count? (laughs) I was planning to make a witch Ange. I was even thinking about the design of the witch clothes, saying, "I like this style of clothes," but I was only in time for child Ange (laughs).

I've heard it mentioned before that a minor character might have appeared as a hidden character?

R07: Do you mean Ranko from Episode 7? In the incident at the beginning of Episode 7, there was a character by the name of "Edogawa Ranko" as an Inquisitor on the side of Will's enemies (laughs). I thought, "It's nice to have a character with a Japanese name once in a while. In fact, in the early stages of the plot, there was a text with Ranko's name, and she was going to say "~nanodesu wa". After that, I didn't have time to draw Ranko's picture, so I had to sacrifice the sprite drawing, and the way she spoke made her character stand out too much (laughs). I was in tears, so I had to cut it down. I was thinking of adding "Yukiko Ayatsuji" and "Shoko Shimada" alongside Ranko, and the 'Three Tortured Sisters' becoming the enemy. Yukiko and Shoko would say, "Ranko, my sister! !" (laughs). I thought it would be full of moe elements, but unfortunately they were diminished.

It's a name derived from a Japanese mystery novel (laughs).

R07: I borrowed the name from a mystery novelist because the story is about fighting a mystery enemy. By Episode 6, the names of Western writers like Dlanor and Van Dine had appeared in the story, so I thought it would be Japanese writers this time, but in the end, none of them appeared (laughs).

It's a bit of a waste, isn't it? (laughs) What kind of success did you achieve?

R07: Episode 7 had a strong battle-centric plot initially, and the Three Tortured Sisters were supposed to have a heated battle with Will. However, once the story took a major turn towards Will and Lion uncovering the truth, the Three Tortured Sisters disappeared without a trace (laughs). It's a common occurrence when I'm in the process of coming up with a plot, though. When I examine it later, I get ideas that are inconsistent or characters that I don't know what they're for, or they die (laughs). When I'm making a plot, we'll often go to a family restaurant and have a "black vinegar sauce and fried tofu bowl", and ideas will go into the rough story, and then disappear, and then repeat. If the Three Tortured Sisters had showed up, it would have been a completely different story, and it would have been interesting and expansive, but it wouldn't have led to the goal at all (laughs).

I think she might have been a good choice for a side episode character (laughs).

R07: If you're trying to hit a golf ball in a precise direction, you'll end up hitting a smaller ball and not flying as far as you'd like. It's not a matter of direction, but rather distance. But I'm going to be in the direction of the day after tomorrow. But the jokes are interesting, so if you make a note of them in the "drop-off list," they might be useful in the future. The Three Sisters have a specific name. The Three Tortured Sisters are a typical example of such scribbled notes.

We'd all like to know what's in the doodle notes of Ryukishi07 (laughs).

R07: Surprisingly, there's nothing written about it (laughs). Normally, I don't have a lot of detailed material like that, but I was very busy working on Episode 7, and I was working on the script from the stage of releasing iterations. That's why I even wrote some of Ranko's detailed lines like "You can just squeeze it out" in the beginning (laughs). In the end, though, they disappeared. In Episode 8, there were no characters like that.

As for the cat overlords guarding Featherine, Bern said that they were "the final form of a game's protagonist", and there was some talk that Keiichi from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni might be in amongst them.

R07: I don't know what actually happened, but I felt that way too (laughs). I didn't have time to tinker with the cat overlords either, unfortunately. I wanted to write a little more about them.

It would be interesting to see that depicted in a side episode as well.

Episode 8 was developed around choices

So why did you come up with the idea of a quiz tournament in the Halloween Party, a game board by Bernkastel where Battler and Beato take part in, and the reader's participation in the design of the game?

R07: While this game was called a guessing game, the player didn't actually have a choice, it was mostly just watching the game that Battler and Beato were playing, wasn't it? So I think it's okay for the player themselves to be directly involved. Also, at the end of the story, there's a choice for Ange between 'trick' and 'magic', and I thought it would be a bit of a shock to players if I gave them the only choice in the game at the end. So I thought that if I included a scene in advance to make them choose, they wouldn't feel as much hesitation.

Is there any reason why you didn't have choices in Umineko so far?

R07: That's the style I've had since Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. But it wasn't that I was originally interested in this style, and this time I wanted to give the final choice for the last in a series of lives to players.

You didn't start out thinking, "There is no best choice for this game."

R07: I've confessed this somewhere before, but originally there was supposed to be choices in Higurashi. It was more interesting to create a scenario with the right route, so I wrote that one first, and then added the bad ending route later on. But as I was writing it, I wondered, "Why do I have to have a device that interferes when I'm comfortably reading a story?" (laughs). So I removed choices entirely.

I see, you included a quiz competition to prepare for the last option.

R07: And I tried to incorporate quiz competitions with the theme of making a choice, with the message that I wanted the players to form their own opinions.

Personally, I felt a sense of clarity when I correctly answered Rudolf's question at the party, as the mystery about Battler that Rudolf had brought up was finally revealed to me.

R07: That Rudolf line isn't an element directly related to the main story, it's one of the tricks to mislead reasoning. Battler's theory that the man from 19 years ago in Episode 5 is Battler himself was one of the hypotheses based on that misleading. We put it in place to allow the discussion to grow.

Is it correct to take Battler's birth as the truth as described by Rudolf?

R07: Well, since Rudolf is saying that, you can believe him, can't you? If you think Rudolf is lying to the last minute, then you can doubt him (laughs).

In a conversation between Ange and Battler, "This isn't a farce by big brother!" So, it is possible that the story is being told in a way that is convenient for Battler That's one interpretation.

R07: You can take it that way if you want. There are some people who say, "If it's not in red, I don't believe in anything," but even the red is a different story depending on whether you accept it as truth or not. It's very welcome, including the ideas that "Battler is still hiding something" and "the Battler culprit theory", which are rather interesting.

Are there any other misleading tricks you had in mind?

R07: I had intended to create a traditional suspicious character for this kind of closed-circle story, such as "The head of the family has a lot of illegitimate children" and have them connect with the young servants Shannon and Kanon, but perhaps it's outdated, because people didn't suspect them too much. I also prepared a number of other devices that would have made people suspicious of the story, but they didn't really take to them (laughs). The one that got the most bites was Rudolf's "I'll be killed".

It's not a matter of "what the truth is," but rather a matter of deduction or an attempt to make the story grow in various directions?

R07: That's right. Of course, there are hints to the hidden truth in the story.

Why is the gift for Ange changed according to the number of correct answers in the quiz?

R07: That's just for fun (laughs). I wanted to make a bit of a distinction between the people who thought about it properly and answered the quiz correctly, so I wanted to distinguish them from the people who were off. Since you'll probably get more than 10 questions right without having to think about it, I decided to give away something that wouldn't ruin the atmosphere of the scenario if you got more than 10 questions right. If you get less than that number of correct answers, your gift will be a brush or a kadomatsu or something obviously weird. It's nice and surreal, like Ange saying "It's not worth it" and then suddenly throwing the brush into the sea (laughs).

I've heard there's something in the data that's a gift you can't get.

R07: If you answer all the questions correctly in the quiz, you should have 17 medals, but I've included dummy data for 18+ medals so that in the unlikely event of a bug getting more than 18 medals, it won't be blank or stop the game. Then someone made the gift "Jirou Tomitake" (laughs)..

If they had more than 18 medals, they had to throw Jirou Tomitake into the sea (laughs).

R07: That's right . After Ange opened the door to choose whether it was magic or a trick, she ended up receiving Jirou Tomitake over her shoulder (laughs). Someone said "I don't know how to get Jirou Tomitake," but there's no way to get more than 18 medals, so you can't get it in the game. You'll have to open the internal data to find out that Jirou Tomitake exists as a gift (laughs).

Only the development staff and the person who analyzed the script know that Jirou Tomitake exists (laughs).

R07: Some people have been opening the scripts lately, so I can't just leave the instructions in the script. For example, I often write down requests for direction, like "Please make it foreshadowing for episode X". But if the script is decompiled, it can be read, and if it's done poorly, it can reveal who the culprit is in the early stages. It was a lot of work to remove the instructions at the end.

Back to the quiz competition, I thought the issue of post-event probability between George and Jessica would be related to the final theme of Umineko.

R07: That was the culmination of it. I wanted to say early on, "The more you guys think about this piece, the more fun it is." If you turn it over and think about Featherine's quote, it's that knowing only the answer is the most boring way to kill a story. I wanted to convey the message that turning the page in search of an answer is the most wasteful way to enjoy a work, and that the most enjoyable thing to do is to think and find out for yourself.

Did you come up with the quiz competition questions alone, Ryukishi07-san?

R07: That's right. We asked for quizzes from all the staff, but those quizzes ranged from the beautiful to the not-so-pretty ones. There were some questions that sounded familiar, but with a few twists, we ended up with a lot of weird quizzes (laughs). I had to have all the staff solve them to make sure the answers were not confusing.

It's like a quiz that would appear in the entrance exam of a famous elementary or junior high school (laughs).

R07: The quizzes were a lot of fun when I was making them, but they were difficult. Especially with the Bernkastel game board, it was very difficult to check for logic errors. If there was more than one theory of the murderer in that problem, it wouldn't be a logic puzzle, so we had to adjust it again and again. As a result, the Bernkastel game was quite popular, and I hope that we can make a thinking game like that again in some other form.

Even for those who have seen Umineko as just a story, there must have been many people who thought "Let's think about it" at that scene.

R07: For me, I thought I had made Bernkastel's game so difficult that people would fail because they couldn't solve them. But when I looked at the internet and other places, I found that many people were able to solve the game without relying on the hint button by trying to solve it head on. At first, we weren't going to have a hint mode, but we thought that would make it too much of a challenge for people who couldn't solve the game, so we decided to add it (laughs). If you hit the hint button repeatedly, you can practically find the answer, so I think we found a good balance in terms of difficulty.

There are two endings: "Magic" or "Trick"

The reason you made the choices originally appear, though, is that you wanted to give the choice of "trick" or "magic" at the end.

R07: I wanted to listen to the player's heart at the end, and I wanted to show them an ending that suited them. I also wanted them to think again at the end of the story and enjoy being troubled by it.

That scene is the only one that bothers me more because I can't save it before I make a choice.

R07: They made it so well that you can't save (laughs). If I could, I would have made it so that once you've chosen an option, you can't choose the other option again (laughs). But that specification is difficult to program, and a system that forces people who want to see the results of another option to uninstall it and start over is an unpleasant experience, so I stopped.

How was the reaction about having two endings?

R07: There was a lot of stuff going on. Some people said, "There's no way that hackneyed trick is magic, it's a trick," and others said, "I don't see how something that touched Ange with so much kindness is a trick, it's magic." I won't say which one is the true end of the story. Well, the length of the crafting is different, and you can tell right away if the staff roll comes out or not (laughs). But I think that's a quick and easy way to make a sleight of hand.

Could it be that the trick ending is a story set after Episode 6?

R07: To be exact, it's a split world that parallels Episode 6 up to the middle. If Ange goes to Rokkenjima there, Kasumi will be waiting for her and we'll be talking about Episode 6.

The magic ending on the other hand, didn't you want to reunite Ange with Battler as he originally was in the story?

R07: No, because the poor thing declared in red long ago that "Battler will never come back". I was tempted to let them meet, but I couldn't doing anything about it because of that red (laughs). The reunion of the two in Episode 8 was written in such a way that it just barely didn't conflict with that red. Battler's body is home. The body of Battler has returned to her, but the individual of Battler is in a state of denial. He doesn't behave like Battler, and he denies being Battler himself.

There was a line about Battler and Ikuko that they didn't marry. What kind of a relationship do you think they have?

R07: They're a pair of doubters, right? (laughs). In a very early plot, they were supposed to have joined the register. When I showed off the draft, which read, "We were too busy to have the ceremony, but we were registered as a couple the year before last," some of the female staff members said, "I'm shocked! We have to protect Battler!" (laughs). After seeing their reactions, I stopped talking about their relationship. I simply wrote about it because I felt that they had been together for a long time and were finally registered together (laughs). I thought that a man and a woman who have been living together for that long should at least get registered as a matter of course. After receiving a fierce protest, I realized that men and women think differently. It was pointed out to me that the women who were fans of Battler didn't like the idea of his future being decided in that way, and that they would have to make a cat box out of it (laughs).

I'm also curious about what happened to Kotobuki when she was reunited with the Battler and the relationship between her and Amakusa.

R07: It's a mysterious relationship too (laughs). It seems like Amakusa is still coming and going in Kotobuki's place, but I left that part unclear as well. I think it's better for their relationship to continue without any progress over the years (laughs). Maybe Amakusa is working at Kotobuki's place, or maybe he went to the Middle East or some war zone and didn't come back for 10 years (laughs). I didn't write much here either because I wanted you to be free to imagine the aftermath. If you ask me, I wrote too much about Will's "I won a fortune on the foreign exchange market" (laughs).

It's also a mystery to me how Will normally lives (laughs).

R07: It's a mystery, isn't it? (laughs). The mysterious stone castle that appears in the background of the Tea Party where Will "won a fortune in FX and bought real estate", we called it Will's Castle, though it's an unused background from Episode 7. We had intended to use it for the scene at the beginning of Episode 7 where Will runs through town to rescue a suspected maid, but it didn't fit the scenery of the town so it was scrapped. So, the part of Will's FX story in Episode 8 originally had a suitable background, so I put in the unused background from "Ep7" instead, and as a result, it became known as Will's Castle. Also, there's a scene with Lion in it, but it's really a mystery to me what they're doing with their lives (laughs). I hope you can enjoy that part of the story as much as you can imagine. As for these two, there were a lot of requests from readers that they wanted them to be happy.

In the Golden Land, Virgilia said to Lion, "You also have the job of protecting your family," so some people interpreted Lion's gender as female and thought that their belly already held Will's child (laughs).

R07: I didn't mean to write it that way, but, well, I won't deny or affirm it (laughs).

The story of "EP8," "The Witch World," "The Single Truth"

I'd like to ask you a few questions about the story of EP8. Is there a connection between the number of almonds in the cake and the fact that there were two entrance passes to the City of Books?

R07: I'm not making a direct connection between the almonds and the entrance pass, but that's an interesting thought, because if two almonds came out of a cake that was divided into 15 equal parts, then maybe "there were almonds in all of them". Assuming that, this time you might ask, "Why didn't I declare the almonds when I guessed them?" It would be interesting to think of it in terms of probability theory or parallel world theory, and it could be said that the same future was prepared for all of them, even if it was 1 in 15.

What about the passes?

R07: Aside from the one that Ange had, how the other one got mixed up is a mystery, though the answer is simple.

Do you have the answer?

R07: Of course I do. But it's not a very interesting answer, so I'll keep it under wraps because it's simple, so you'll have to think about it (laughs).

Does this mean that Featherine has the ability to make what she writes come true, or is it possible to interpret the entire story of Ep8 as being written by Featherine?

R07: That's one way to look at it. Featherine is the closest thing to a god in that world, the world's guardian. So there's no doubt that she's the strongest character in the story. At the same time, it's pretty embarrassing. I made myself appear in my work and wrote "I'm super strong~!" (laughs) Isn't it like a fantasy novel with the author himself as the strongest hero?

From that point of view, the battle between Featherine and Lambdadelta is interesting, isn't it? (laughs)

R07: I'll make it so that I defeat Lambda, but I don't know how to do it, so I'll just write "I defeated her" for now. This scene strangely turned out to be a bit like "Sho*o" (laughs). It's actually a matter of subjectivity: "Who's writing that world?" I don't think there are many people who think that much while reading this story, though.

What kind of existence is Featherine anyway?

R07: In the Ep6 Tips it was mentioned that Featherine "repeats life and death" because when Featherine herself was a piece, she came to know the truth that they themselves were characters being written by someone else, and died because she realized what she believed to be free will was something being written by someone else. But she became a writer herself and returned. And by audaciously writing herself inside her own work, she gained true free will. Maybe you could say she exists in a world like a relay manga now. Maybe she exists in a world where she writes her own characters, but other characters are written by several writers.

Is that where the Voyager's fear of becoming a Creator comes from?

R07: That's right. Manga is interesting when you're reading it, but eventually you get tired of reading it. But if you're given a blank notebook and you write in it, you can play with it endlessly, which is much more interesting than reading manga. However, if you run out of ideas or get bored with the act of writing, it's over. Moreover, no development or character will be created that you (the creator) don't want. A creator is a boring creature because they can create anything they want.

You don't get to read the interesting stories that others have created.

R07: It's easier to not be a creator, just like it's easier to sit in front of the TV and watch more and more stories. Humans are the most carefree beings, because they don't even realize that they are characters in someone else's work, and they believe that they are acting of their own free will. Bern, Lambda and the others, on the other hand, are on a layer that can intervene in the story, changing channels at will and occasionally giving orders to the scenario writer. However, since intervening would change the story, they pretend not to know this fact until the last minute. I think that's where Featherine died, stepping in. It's fun to fantasize in a blank notebook, but it's pretty hard to keep writing a story in it, so the witch dies. A witch is someone who has begun to realize that they are someone else's creation, and yet they are in a position to view different creations, and the higher they go, the closer they get to the position of the author, and when they reach the realm of the author, they are finished. The reason why Maria was called "the Witch of Origins" is because she can expand her ideas and world from scratch without ever getting bored.

In a way, Maria might be much more impressive than the other witches.

R07: The reason why Beatrice says that "it takes two people to make a universe" is that you get inspired by what the other person writes and you also expand the world. When the other person sees it, they are also inspired and expand it, making it mutually resonant. Of course, this relationship would be richer and more expansive if there were more people in it, though. This is the unique worldview of the witch's world and the setting that underpins the fantasy aspect of this world.

Did Battler write Beatrice to his liking in Episode 6, or does it apply to the fact that he becomes disillusioned by all the statements he makes that are convenient for him?

R07: That's right. If you're a Game Master, you can make a Beatrice the way you want her, but it's not unexpected. That's the dilemma that comes with being a Game Master. Battler sees Beatrice as a human being and not as a piece. That's why for Battler, "I think Beato in Episode 6 was very unpleasant. It's fun to play a normal game of romance, but the debuggers would think "'the likability meter is...'" (laughs). That's why the game creator has to let people who don't know what's in the game play it, otherwise it won't work.

It's hard to judge whether or not it's fun to play with something you've made yourself.

R07: I've programmed and made my own games in the past, but I'm never satisfied with what I can make myself. So I have no choice but to let other people play my games, or get inspired by other people's games, so it's very difficult to play by myself. That's why I think Maria is a great example of a player.

Eva's diary, which appeared in this work, was described as containing the "Single Truth" .

R07: Because it's a multi-layered world, I think most readers will wonder which truth is the "right answer" in popular culture, even though it depicts a worldview where there can be as many truths as there are people. In that world, I've said so many times that there is as much truth as there is people to receive it, that it became necessary to coin the term "the Single Truth," which means the right answer, the true truth. Originally, when you say "truth", it should be the truth (laughs). In order to make the word "truth" easier to understand, I used the visual symbolism of "the diary written by Eva who knows the truth". I think the idea of describing the goal Ange was seeking as "a diary with a key" worked pretty well.

Is this an expression of the way we define truth in our world, where what many people recognize is the "truth"?

R07: That's one way to look at it. When the most credible content is published and the other theories are weeded out, the 'truth' is born. In the end, Ange has the defense of rejecting the red truth, despite being given it by Bernkastel, and she is free to receive this 'Single Truth' in any way she wants. But since Featherine assures her in red that the Single Truth is written, if she doesn't believe in this Red Truth, I can't give her anything (laughs).

Some readers seemed to take this to mean "don't theorize over what happened on the island" as the Ushiromiya family retreats from the future world's Witch Hunters in the form of goats?

R07: I didn't write this with that intention. Will and Dlanor are consistently harsh on those who are unwilling or unable to deduce, but for those who do, they would have been happy to stand by and take whatever reasoning they had in mind. Because they are the ones who take the reasoning. But Will was angry at "people who don't think of it as a mystery in the first place", wasn't he?

The untold truth of a game played by thinking

Since the early days of the game, you have said that you would not reveal the truth about Umineko. Again, can you tell us why you didn't provide a clear-cut solution?

R07: That's because this is a game that is meant to be discussed and enjoyed. Since it's a game, I wanted to make sure that only those who took on the challenge, only those who discussed and obtained a lot of information could reach the goal. This is exactly why "Umineko no Naku Koro ni" is a game. In a game, whether you win or lose makes a difference, and it wouldn't be right if the result was the same whether you won or lost. In the same way, if you can get to the goal without debating, then the efforts of those who debated with you would be meaningless. I don't think there's anything wrong with having a milestone that only those who discuss it can reach. Also, we live in the age of the Internet, so I didn't want the culprit's name to be copied and pasted onto the Internet and be the end of the story. I was really worried about how to make sure that only those who had thought it through would be able to get to the answer, and that it wouldn't end in a way where the answers were copied and reprinted in a copy-and-paste format. One answer to this question is the way the story of Ep7 to Ep8 was depicted.

It would be much easier to write down the answer.

R07: I could write "this is the killer, this was the motive, the end" in five lines, but that would kill the enjoyment, and no one would actually want that. There's a lot of information and hints in the story so far, and if I gave all the answers easily, I'd be wasting the time of the people who have been discussing it. So, to protect those who have challenged me with the style of this work, I have to end it here. In the future, I will continue to be asked questions along the lines of, "Aren't you going to write the truth somewhere? But I believe that not mentioning it at all is the best way to repay the people who played this game seriously.

Didn't it take a lot of courage not to resolve the mystery at the end of the story?

R07: I've received some criticism from some for not writing the answers. It would have been easier to structure the game if I wrote the answers honestly, but I want to protect the players who played the way I wanted them to! That's the one thing I'm trying to do. There are people who think I'm running away from my work with a cloth wrapped around my head, but I think that revealing my answer to avoid their criticism is a betrayal of my work. I've repeatedly said "don't give in to the witch" and "think and have fun", but it's rude if the work turns out to be a fool's errand for the people who discussed it. Even after every episode or revelation, it's still possible to come up with a rather hidden answer. If you are still unable to find the answer to your question, how about visiting various mystery sites? It is also good to read the back issues of Shinsou Kaimei Dokuhon (laughs).

Are there people who say there is no such thing as the "Single Truth"?

R07: It's not a bad idea, but I'm not sure I'd be surprised if you think so. I'm sure you'll be able to find it in the red. (laughs)

Without love, you can't see the truth of the matter

As for the percentage of correct answers to the truth, what was the probability?

R07: As far as the motivation for the murder, I think it was partly because of the way I portrayed it, but there was a part that was difficult to get through to people who had never been in a relationship, especially men. So I think "You can't see without love" was a great catchphrase!

Why do you think women were able to understand it easier?

R07: When it comes to love, I think it's because women take it more seriously and deeply. I think that since the moe boom, men's view of romance in creative works has been mainly based on the "hallelujah" part, and it's often made up of nothing but ideals. They jump over the painful part of romance and seek the goal of love, the haven state of "flirting with a girl", and there's nothing to play with in love. They're skipping over the painful but worthwhile process of getting there. I think women are more likely to read comics that carefully depict the interactions of the heart, so they have more opportunity to take love seriously than men. Female players say things like, "Your work is good because you write female characters so well" or "Is Ryukishi07 really a woman?" or "The female characters are well illustrated". I'm not sure if that's true or not (laughs).

The origin of the "Umineko no Naku Koro ni" story

When you were making the story of Umineko, did you have a mystery in mind?

R07: Since the subject matter is the closed circle of being "trapped on an isolated island," I was inspired by Agatha Christie's works, such as "And Then There Were None," and Dante's "The Divine Comedy".

Which works were you thinking of as a "mystery that doesn't involve solving a mystery"?

R07: I couldn't do a good job of imitating it, but I had the image of "The Blair Witch Project" in mind. I also had "Hell in a Bottle" in mind. It's a short mystery that I admire, and it's so simple to read that I don't know what the answer is. In "Hell in a Bottle", there are three pieces of bottle mail. The order in which the three bottle mails are written is considered, but the events that occurred differ completely depending on if you read them in chronological order or not, and you can't tell if it has a happy or unhappy ending. It's a very interesting piece of work, and it's short but well done. That's what I had in mind for this area.

The most famous anti-mystery work is "An Offering to Nothingness".

R07: I didn't refer to it because I knew the name as a typical anti-mystery work. The way of thinking about the word anti-mystery is very different between that work and Umineko.

What does anti-mystery mean for Ryukishi07?

R07: It's an abstraction, but first of all, "something that is possible to solve when you think about it" is a mystery. My definition of anti-mystery is "I can't solve it even if I try, so I won't try." If a person is given a book whose genre is unknown because they're a punk, and they think, "Well, there's information in the book, so I can guess the murderer." But if the reader thinks, "I'll have to read the answer to find out what's going on here," then it's not a mystery for them. Even if the writer or the reader says, "I know the answer because I've got it up to this point," if the reader feels that there's no way they can solve it because they don't have enough information, then it's anti-mystery.

Does it mean that mystery or anti-mystery changes depending on how the reader is? In that sense, does Umineko also change whether it is mystery or anti-mystery for the reader?

R07: I suppose it depends on the person who reads it. Some people read my work as a mystery, while others think it can't be solved as a mystery, or that it doesn't need to be read as a mystery. The Single Truth can be read as unimportant to deduce, so for those people, I think this work will be anti-mystery. I'm sure some of you could read the end of Episode 8 as justification for not getting to the Single Truth. It seems to me that they are telling Ange in particular not to do the mystery's original purpose of deduction.

Which category do you consider Umineko to be in?

R07: I think it's just entertainment (laughs). I can't guarantee that it's a mystery, and even if I did, there's no way to prove it as long as the answer is withheld, and some people won't believe it.

For example, where do you think "The Blair Witch Project" falls into?

R07: It's a fun thing to think about, so it's entertainment, and Hell in a Bottle is also entertainment in that sense. It is said to be a mystery because it is the masterpiece of the mystery novelist Yumeno Kyusako, but there is no guarantee that the answer is correct, even if the answer seems probable. If you say that, then Umineko is not a mystery either. I've always said that you should challenge it as a mystery, but there are ways to enjoy it that oppose that. However, although I recommend this story as a mystery, it is ironic that the author is obsessed with the culprit and the murder tricks of his works... For me, I'd like you to explore the "heart" of the story that Will was talking about. That's where I come back to my earlier point. Without love, you can't see the motive.

Aren't you trying to be the anti-mystery and not tell us who the culprit is?

R07: That's not what I'm talking about. It's a mystery in my own way, because I've put enough hints in there to help you understand the Single Truth. But the world doesn't seem to call it a mystery if the answer isn't written down.

A game without a clear-cut answer is a bit like a mahjong game where you have to decide what to take (laughs).

R07: Mahjong is an interesting thought experiment, isn't it? There is a best move with a high probability of success, but it may not be the right one in a real game. It's fun to stare at it and think, "This is the ideal one in terms of probability, but if I want to gamble on the outcome of the game, I'll have to bet on this one." "The same is true for Umineko. In other words, you can enjoy it even if you don't answer correctly, and I want you to enjoy it.

The music behind Umineko that has exceeded the limits of its specifications

What did you particularly like about the music of Episode 8?

dai: I'm ashamed to admit that I wasn't able to write that many songs by myself this time, but when I saw that the songs that Ryukishi07 had chosen for each scene were perfectly suited to them, I thought that the story was finally over. But I feel like that it's such a shame to have my music used in such a wonderful place limited to this episode.

What song is particularly memorable for you?

dai: I cried during debugging when I listened to Shikata-san's last song, "Cocoon of White Dreams -Ricordando il passato-", playing while Battler was diving into the sea. Just as I did with "Higurashi", I was happy to be involved with Ryukishi07-san because he was able to create a game that included my music.

Are you happy because this song was used in this place?

dai: The usage of Shikata-san's song really made me cry. I also remember that "Worldend dominator" in Episode 2 was so cool that I shuddered.

What's your new song for "EP8", dai-san?

dai: There were two new songs, "Soar" and "Stuffed Toy", I believe.

R07: There weren't that many new songs in Episode 8. I thought there was a reuse of old songs.

dai: Also, I personally couldn't write many songs (laughs).

R07: You did a great job as a scripter this time around, more so than the music.

dai: Well, that's my excuse (laughs).

What do you have in mind when you're creating music?

dai: I'm picturing the part in Episode 1 where Battler screams "Whoa!" (laughs). Umineko games often end with Battler confronting someone and yelling, so I wrote "Soar" with that tension. I like the intensity of the last scene.

Don't you write songs to fit the scene?

dai: Before writing songs, I hear "The next episode will be like this" from Ryukishi07 to get a general idea of the song, but after that, each musician expands their imagination and wrote the song. I originally wrote "Stuffed Toy" for Episode 7, and although my memory is vague, I was asked to write a song with an image of a child Ange and Maria having fun talking to each other. In the end, I didn't have a chance to use it in Episode 7, but it was used in Episode 8.

What is your most memorable song?

dai: I'm ashamed to say that this is mine, but "hope" was the first song I wrote. It took me about 3 months to write this song after I heard the story of Umineko from Ryukishi07.

R07: I miss "hope".

dai: It's not that I can make a good song if I spend a lot of time on it, but I put a lot of thought into it because I wrote it so carefully.

R07: dai-san has written a lot of other good songs for us.

dai: Many composers have written songs, so we have about 200 total songs. When I was deciding on the specifications for the extra music room, I thought it would fit in under 150 songs, but it easily went over.......and I worked hard to adjust it while screaming with joy (laughs).

R07: You really have helped me with a lot of music, sound effects and songs. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you.

Umineko no Naku Koro ni Tsubasa and Golden Fantasia

You released Umineko no Naku Koro ni Tsubasa alongside Episode 8, a compilation of stories from event booklets. How did you go about making this?

R07: This was in the works before the main part of Episode 8 was drafted, and we finished production earlier than Episode 8. We all thought that Episode 8 was finished in time thanks to Tsubasa. Before my writing of Episode 8 progressed, the staff proceeded with the production of Tsubasa, which I had already written. With that experience, Episode 8 went smoothly. It was a good rehearsal exercise, wasn't it?

Next, let's talk about the fighting game Golden Fantasia, which was also released at the same time as Episode 8.

R07: I made this one completely out of my own taste and indulgence (laughs). I simply wanted to play a fighting game of Umineko (laughs). It started out at the level of "it would be great if we could make a fighting game", but we started to get realistically close to it, and after a couple of years of searching for staff to make a fighting game, it finally came to fruition. We spent a lot of time on it, and it's turned out to be a great game. We're planning to add more characters in the future with an append disc, but we're going to make it even better by taking into account the new combat system and so on.

That will be fun.

R07: Also, there are a lot of female fans of the Umineko series, so we're thinking of a system that makes it easy for people who aren't good at gaming to perform continuous moves, but when I wrote about it, I got a lot of emails saying that we're trying really hard to put in special moves and we're going to fail. I don't think that will happen because we're actually balancing the game properly. Don't worry (laughs).

How did you choose which characters to play as in Golden Fantasia?

R07: The Golden Fantasia project started work around the time of Episode 3, so the characters that were fighting in the main story during Episode 3 were going to be in the game. Therefore, EVA-Beatrice will also be in the game. The next step is to release new characters based on the popularity polls, and we've generally finished sorting out the characters. I think we have all the Umineko characters that everyone would want to use in a fighting game.

Lastly, could you give a message to the fans and readers who have played Umineko no Naku Koro ni, and to those who have played the game so far?

R07: This is the eighth book of Shinsou Kaimei Dokuhon, but if you go back and read the mysteries and discussions in the past books, you'll be able to see Umineko no Naku Koro ni more clearly. I hope you enjoy this game as well.

dai : I've been writing songs for Umineko no Naku Koro ni for four years, and I'm grateful to have them used in a very nice way. I'm sure the readers who have played Umineko have enjoyed playing the game and communicating with each other through reasoning and discussion, and I'd be very happy if you'd enjoy the music as well (laughs).

Thank you for even promoting the book (laughs). I'm looking forward to seeing you again for the newest book. Thank you very much for your time today.

(March 1st, 2011, at a certain hall in Tokyo)

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