On September 10, 2020, Entergram hosted a livestream featuring Ryukishi07, Sayaka Ohara (voice of Beatrice from Umineko no Naku Koro ni), and Kyoko Namekawa (voice and actor of Kasumi Hotoda from Hinamizawa Bus Stop) to talk about the upcoming Umineko no Naku Koro ni Saku port, Symphony of Catbox and Dreams; and the new game Gensou Rougoku no Kaleidoscope. A followup interview was conducted and posted to Famitsu. The livestream was privated and reuploaded on October 4, 2020.
The interview was translated by beanbug and posted here.
Please tell us your thoughts on both Umineko and Higurashi coming back in the Reiwa era.
Ryukishi07: When Higurashi was originally published in 2002, I said that I wanted people who had never lived through the Showa era in 1983 to be able to play it, but then the Heisei eraended and we entered the Reiwa era (laugh). I think the way people perceive a game changes based on the era, so I’m looking forward to seeing the reactions of people who play them in the new era. For those who haven’t played Umineko or Higurashi yet, please take this opportunity to give it a try.
Ohara: A long time has passed since I first played Beatrice. Strangely, I don’t feel it has been a long time. That is because I feel that Beatrice has always been in my heart due to my loving fans who have always loved and supported my work. I’ve been asked “can you do Beatrice’s voice for me?” a number of times in many different locations. Because of that, even when I wasn’t working on Umineko, there hasn’t been a time when I had forgotten about her, which makes me happy. I’m very happy to play her again.
Namekawa: As a personal fan of Umineko and Higurashi, I’m thrilled that these long-loved works are still in demand even after so much time has passed! “07th Project”’s works have a powerful message for today’s youth, so I’m excited to see more and more people experience and love them!
What can we expect from Piece and Flauros, the two Umineko characters revealed today?
R07: I can’t reveal the details yet (laugh). However, assassins in Umineko appear in every episode, and Piece is the first one to appear in quite a while. She may look cute on the outside, but in Umineko, the assassins are typically scummy on the inside, so it will be interesting seeing what sort of scum she will become, and how she will do as she pleases.
Ohara: Exactly! Piece was such a shock! I never feel like I’m simply reading one of Ryukishi-sensei’s scripts, it always feels like I’m watching a movie or reading a book. I always end up reading all of it (laugh).
Ryukishi: Thank you very much (laugh).
Namekawa: While I was reading it, I was always thinking “how will they get out of this”, and then it hit my blind spot and I was shocked when it was wrapped up. Piece’s episode was really suspenseful, and I enjoyed it as a reader, so please stay tuned!
Please tell us your favorite episode of Umineko.
Namekawa: Right now, my favorite is the one I just talked with you two about, with Piece in it. I was able to preview parts of “Saku”, and the parts where she is present are fantastic. I’m really looking forward to playing the game.
R07: I like around episodes three and six. The parts where it seems like she could be a good person or not, or if her and Battler can communicate or not…those scenarios are where Umineko is most like a love story, and where Beatrice and Battler’s relationship was really fun to write.
Ohara: When I was recording for 3 and 6, it felt as if you could see a glimpse of Beatrice’s true feelings-or more precisely I was asking “which one is it, Beatrice?” as her maiden’s heart wavered, which was really fun.
R07: I had so much fun writing that section that once episode 6 was finished, I asked myself if I would ever write anything more interesting, and fell into a slump. To tell the truth, it was several weeks before I was able to write again (laugh).
Ohara: I didn’t know that! This is the first time I’m hearing about it (laugh). Ah! Another part that was intense for me was stripping Battler naked, putting a collar on him, and going “Ya!!”. It was intense and fun!
Then, let’s turn our attention towards your new work, “Kaleidoscope of phantom prison”. Did Ryukishi come up with the abbreviation “Gerokasu” for it?
R07: Yes, I was the one that made it (laughs). My intention was that I wanted it to have a name that sounded beautiful, but once you thought about it…..something like that. I wanted people to realize that much later, but they figured it out as soon as I announced it!!
Was it your intention to title the story like that so that you could abbreviate it as “Gerokasu”?
R07: The girls Itaru-sensei draws are all soft and beautiful, but if they are really flesh and blood human beings, if a beautiful side to them exists, then naturally an opposing side to that must exist. Itaru-sensei’s cute girls are like a kaleidoscope, and depending on the situation or your point of view, they may show their worst sides...given that keyword, I created nuance such that a beautiful name like “kaleidoscope of phantom prison” and a title like “Gerokasu” could pair up.
Ohara: “Gerokasu” has a big impact (laugh).
R07: It’s dreadful (laugh).
Please tell us your impressions of Itaru Hinoue’s art.
R07: I worked with Itaru Hinoue before with Rewrite, and thought that it would be nice to collaborate with her from the get-go. That’s how Gerokasu was started. I really wanted to take her cute, fluffy characters and thoroughly boil them over in my world. At first, I thought she would say something like “how dare you do this to these girls who are like my daughters!!!” and turn me down, but after talking to her I learned that she was also interested in horror stories, and decided to give it a try. As a result, I couldn’t believe I got the chance to make these cute characters scream in agony and enjoyed it.
I heard that the player assigns each character their role, but when you do a bit of math, doesn’t that mean the story’s scope will be massive?
R07: That’s correct. When you combine it, it’s a terrific amount. And I wrote it all!
Then, would there be any roles that would be interesting to give a certain character?
R07: In the video clip we just played, it looks like Fuka is going through a violent transformation, but in reality that will depend on the player’s actions. Depending on the cards the player deals, the scenes will be different, so the order in which you will see those scenes is as varied as the number of players. Depending on the order, it may change which characters you will like and which ones you won’t. To which characters, in which order, do you deal the cards? Why do these variables make such different stories in the same environment? I hope you enjoy this kaleidoscope of different viewpoints.
In addition to the narrative branching out based on the assignment of cards, does the scenario diverge further based on the player’s actions?
R07: I can’t talk about it in depth, but the player assigning the cards is the largest turning point in the story for determining the fate of the girls. After dealing the cards, you could say that you are “observing” the girls to see how they act, how their fates turn out, and who dies. ...To tell the truth, even though the game’s name is “Gerokasu”, its codename during development was “Tragedy Sandbox”. Sandbox in English could mean a sandbox, but it could also mean a place to perform tests. That is, we started with the theme of the player distributing cards like a researcher giving a specific load to 4 guinea pigs in a stressful environment in order to test which ones would kill each other.
Ohara: Harsh (laugh).
R07: Therefore, it would no longer be about the player making which choice to save which girl! It’s a dreadful story with terrible taste!
Ohara: I said it was in bad taste!
R07: I can’t reveal all the details right now, so please stay tuned for further information!
Do any of you have a final message for your fans?
Namekawa: We’ve talked a lot today, but I think that the worlds of Umineko and Higurashi will both return alongside the new work Gerokasu, which will give you an entirely new experience! Let’s all have fun together! Please stay tuned!
Ohara: The staff and actors for Umineko all deeply love the story. Their attention to detail for this world, including picking out the costumes and preparing this location for this interview, is amazing! Of course, just like the fans, we don’t want it to end! Using this chance, I’d love to do an anime adaptation, or a stage reenactment, or an overseas event. Now that I’ve told you, I hope everybody watches with the intent of restarting Umineko!
R07: Thanks to the support of the fans and help from the staff, we were able to get to this point. I truly am grateful. I am happy to once again deliver this work to you in the Reiwa era. I’d like to ask all of you for your continued support.
- ‘Gerokasu’ is a word Voyager witches use somewhat often--particularly Bern. Witch Hunt usually translates it as scum or delusion.
- the artist for Gerokasu
- Line reading on stage, not a stage play