Here’s a summary of the 2nd conference Ryukishi07 held at Epitanime 2012. First conference summary is here.
(Note: I still can’t find a link for the 1st conference, sorry)
This conference was mainly focused on Umineko :
It started pretty much like the first one, with Ryuikishi07, Klashikari and Pbsaffran introducing themselves. Similarly to Pbsaffran at the 1st conference, Klashikari started to talk about how he discovered Umineko and made up Witch Hunt, and how they received Ryukishi07′s email. One of the most difficult thing with the translation was the red truth. They had to be extremely careful not to make mistakes as it could drastically change the meaning of a sentence.
Ryukishi07 then talked about Umineko’s ending. Episode 8. The epilogue. He said that the ending doesn’t say clearly what happened on Rokkenjima. The answer do exist but he doesn’t intend to give it. It’s in the cat’s box. Some people’s theories that are posted on the net are right, but he won’t tell which. He doesn’t want to be like authors who just writes something, then the readers reads and that’s it. He wants the readers to work on the book too, that way a link is created between the author and the readers. He added that there’s as much answers as the number of people present in the room, or more.
After that Pbsaffran talked about his impressions on Umineko. As he studied Japanese literature for 9 years and since Ryukishi07 is an authentic Japanese writer, he could read between the lines and managed to find some answers right from Episode 1. The more he played the more he thought he was wrong though and then it turned out that he was right. He said that for this reason he is less emotionally attached to Umineko but the musics are absolutely great.
After that came the Q&A session: (Note, I may have mixed in questions that are actually from the 1st conference. Also, like in the 1st summary, the questions probably aren’t in chronological order but it doesn’t matter)
1/ First off, Klashikari himself asked about the references in Umineko, why did he put Touhou references, and if Battler was inspired by Naruhodo Ryuichi/Phoenix Wright.
Ryukishi07 answered that he’s the kind of author who has the bad habit of putting references in his works just to have them. (I agree with him and thought about anime like Nyaruko when he said that but I’ll leave that for another post). He said that he just puts a reference to something he currently likes a lot. At the time he was designing Battler, he definitely was hyped on Gyakuten Saiban/Phoenix Wright. He also did the Objection Finger pose.
2/ Pbsaffran also asked him something: If the stories about him working non-stop and sleeping only 2 hours a day to meet deadlines are true.
Ryukishi07 said that it’s true, and that when he goes to sleep these two hours, when he wakes up, he has answers about the things he was thinking about before going to bed. So he’s actually working while sleeping too. Now he’s getting older so recently he stopped doing that, and works hard to plan things ahead and respect his schedule.
After that people in the room asked questions.
3/ What do you like the most, Higurashi or Umineko?
He said that now that he finished both, when he looks back on Higurashi, he doesn’t think he could do another story this amazing again. Then when he looks at Umineko, he thinks that it became like that thanks to the experience he gained while doing Higurashi, so comparing them is very difficult.
4/ As a successful person in this domain, if he has any advice to newcomers of the Doujin Scene who wish to make a visual novel.
He said that the most important is to finish your game. He said that you shouldn’t forget that besides the scenario, there’s also the music, the graphics etc. His advice is to start with a small game, with a small goal, and get to 100% completion of that game. If you can do it, then try to go beyond this 100% and make a slightly bigger game. Then repeat this process.
5/ If the Red Truth system was hard to work with.
Using the red truth is laborious because when you used it, that’s it, you can’t change it. He said that there’s many famous manga in which something is said at the beginning, then later in the story it’s changed to something else. With the Red Truth, you can’t do that, so working with it was burdensome.
6/ There’s some instances where a certain character seems to be criticizing not only the characters, but the readers themselves.
He answered that in the world of Umineko, there’s the Chessboard, then the Meta Room, then the Witches World and it goes up like that. Different worlds are hierarchically piled up. Sometime the critic may be aimed at the characters in the world below, sometimes at the readers, but he’ll leave it at our imagination to guess when.
7/ How do you manage to portray family secrets and discord with such realism in Umineko?
He said that it’s thanks to his days of working as a civil servant. He was often in contact with families and he learned how to deal with their problems and things like that. It’s thanks to the valuable experience he got at his job.
8/ Do you have the start and the end of the story in mind while working on it? And are you influenced by the players/readers’ reactions?
He said that he does have the ending in mind, but doesn’t know how he’ll get to it. He said that when you try to do it like this it’s difficult to think about everything that will be in between all at once. To make things easier, he uses checkpoints. He took an example saying that at the end of checkpoint 1 the story goes like this (tracing lines with his hand) then in order to get to checkpoint 2 he takes another road. That way the readers think it will go like this. But then he deceives the readers and take another road to go to the next checkpoint. (He drew various patterns in the air with his finger while saying all this.) So he is influenced by the reader’s reactions.
9/ If I understood correctly, the guy asked him something about the characters in Ougon Musou Kyoku, about game balance I think. The translator didn’t get it right and translated it as “Why the characters are so well done?” or something. The answer is still interesting though.
He answered that he thinks that the base for a good story is good characters. Characters with lots of depth, detail, and work put into them makes great stories.
10/ Who’s your favorite character in Umineko?
He said it’s Beatrice.
11/ How do you manage to write such crazy amazing stories? Are you crazy?
He said that back when he was working as a civil servant, sometimes during meetings, he would suddenly imagine the Kanji on a sheet walking, going on the head of someone, like a female coworker, and playing or dancing on it. Then slide back down and get on someone else. Then someone would call him, bringing him abruptly back to reality and asking him about something. He’d then admit that he wasn’t listening. He said that maybe he is KURAZY after all.
12/ Who’s your favorite character in Touhou?
He laughed a lot after hearing this. He said that it’s very difficult to answer. He said that of course he has a favorite favorite character, but it’s constantly changing. He said that this month he likes Reimu the most.
13/ Is it right to think that Battler is the hero of the explicit part of the story, while Ange is the heroine of the implicit side, of the feelings you want to share with the readers?
He said that there’s many main characters. Battler can indeed be considered the hero of episode 1-4, and that the heroine of the rest could be Beatrice. It depends of your point of view, of your way of approaching the story.
14/ How did you meet up with the person who composed the opening song of Umineko?
The music in Umineko is very important.When he was preparing Umineko, he listened to a whole lot of different music, to choose the opening, as it would set the atmosphere of the game and was very important. From what he listened, he choose Shikata Akiko, then sent her mails and insisted for her to make something adequate. If it wasn’t for Shikata Akiko san, maybe he wouldn’t have got such a wonderful opening song.
15/ Have you ever cosplayed one of the characters you created?
After laughing, he said that if he was more good looking he would allow himself to cosplay. He told us that there’s a female staff of 7thExpansion who cosplays the characters and sew and creates all her costumes herself. He said that she even manage to cosplay characters that seem totally impossible, like Gaap.
16/ Did you like everything that is Occidental before working on Umineko or did you started to like it after doing research for Umineko?
He said that it’s like a Nabe (hot pot soup). Higurashi was a certain type of story, and he wanted to do something different. So he put different ingredients in. Sometimes the soup would turn out bad so he would throw it away. That’s how elements from Agatha Christie books or Dante’s Divine Comedy got in.
17/ How did you create the One Winged Eagle, the symbol of the Ushiromiya family?
He answered that when creating the characters, he felt that something was missing. It was the link between the characters. So he randomly scribbled on the right part of his torso, trying to find something that would show the link between the characters. It turned out to be this emblem. He said that now that he thinks about it he must have been inspired by Zeon’s symbol from Gundam.
18/ The women of the Ushiromiya family are quite BOIN BOIN. Why?
He said it’s surely because he loves it.
19/ You aren’t the only character designer for Rose Guns Days. How did it turn out like this? Were you contacted by the artists? Or did you go meet them yourself?
He said that he wanted to do an experiment. As this time, he wanted to fully concentrate on the scenario for Rose Guns Days, he went to Square Enix and asked them if there’s any artist available that’s able to draw some good looking guys fast. The guys at Square Enix told him, why not use the artists who already worked on the manga versions of Higurashi and Umineko. So he did that. That’s what happened.
20/ If you weren’t the author of the Epitaph, would you be able to solve it?
He said that as he’s not very smart, he would have a lot of trouble with it. Especially that he made it with the goal in mind that no one would solve it for at least two years. He said that he wouldn’t be able to solve it.
21/ In Rose Guns Days, there is a character that has a striking resemblance to Battler, even the name is similar, is it the same person?
He likes to have old characters appear in newer works. He answered that you need to think of the characters in his works as actors of a movie. Now that Umineko is over, the actor playing Battler is now playing another role.
22/ What’s the priority you have in mind while creating your works?
He said that in each work he has to please the readers with a good story, deceive them and please himself.
23/ You were contacted by Konami to write the scenario of Ookamikakushi and by Key to write the scenario of a Route in Rewrite. How did it affect your original schedule?
For the summer Comiket, he works from April to August, for the winter Comiket, he works from September to December. So at that time, he had 3 months in between when he didn’t have much to do. That’s when he was contacted by Konami. Working with them made him learn many things and it was also an opportunity to work in a much relaxed environment than usual.
After this last question, Ryukishi07 said some last words. He thanked us all for coming. He said that he was very surprised at the number of the different languages spoken at the convention, how thanks to the translators everyone could communicate and how he was in the middle of people who came from different places. He said he should try to improve himself in that domain. He added that he though that maybe no one will come, and that he would sometimes get nervous, thinking that people wouldn’t know about his works and talk about Touhou instead.
Klashikari then announced that Witch Hunt will translate Rose Guns Days in English. He also said that a surprise is waiting for us. He didn’t say anymore though.
Aaand that’s it. After one more last standing ovation to Ryukishi07, we left the amphitheater.