Got a signature from him. Hell Yes. I’m so happy. (Even though I’ll probably fail my exams starting June 5th).
He was there the 26th and the 27th. Each day he did a signing session at 11:15am and a conference at 2pm. The guy who translated Higurashi in French and the founder of Witch Hunt were also present at the conferences. (Didn’t know one of the guys who started up Witch Hunt was actually French). I’ll type here pretty much everything I remember from those conferences. This first post will be about the first conference which was focused on Higurashi (The second one was focused on Umineko). I’ll post a summary of the 2nd conference tomorrow at best. The conferences were also streamed, the 1st one on Niconico and the 2nd one on Ustream so I’ll post the links too. I can’t find the link of the 1st one for now though, so I think I’ll put both in the 2nd post. Of course, if someone who was also present is reading this, feel free to point out mistakes.
The conference of the 26th was focused on Higurashi:
Ryukishi07 first introduced himself, followed by the introduction of Pbsaffran, the translator and editor of Higurashi in French, and Klashikari, the founder of Witch Hunt. Ryukishi07 then started to talk about how he decided to make Higurashi. He said that he used to be active on the Doujin Scene even when underage. He also used to play the card game Magic: The Gathering quite a lot. When he became an adult he started working as a civil servant at an administrative building in a district of Tokyo. He thought that he would stop being an otaku at that time but realized that once you become an otaku you stay one forever, and as he was spending more and more time on his hobbies, he decided to retire from work when he was 28 to dedicate himself fully to the Doujin Scene. He wanted to do his first big work, and that was Higurashi.
The thing that inspired him the most to do Higurashi was a movie called The Blair Witch Project, he wanted to do a Japanese Blair Witch Project. He and his little brother decided to do a Sound Novel. That’s what became Higurashi.
After this introduction, Pbsaffran aka Pierre Bancov, started talking about how he discovered Higurashi and how he started working on it around 2008, gave everything he had to not only translate the game in French, but officially release it in our country. As no company was interested in releasing Higurashi, saying it was too long, that there wasn’t a market for this kind of game in France, he made his own game editing company to release it. And the day of the conference, the 26th of May 2012, the French version of the last volume of Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni: Matsuribayashi-hen, was commercialized at the con. So he did it. A little funny fact: Visual Novels aren’t classified by the PEGI, the French equivalent of CERO. So they couldn’t evaluate the game properly. The only thing that got into their jurisdiction was the mini games in Higurashi. That made them give the game a rating of “for 7 years old or more”. So there’s an additional warning on the cover of the game explaining this mistake, and that it’s definitely not for kids.
After that, we started the Q&A session. (I don’t think the questions are in chronological order, it doesn’t matter much though thankfully).
1/ Why did you choose the real life village Shirakawa-go as the base for Hinamizawa village?
Ryukishi07 said that when they were doing Higurashi, they were thinking about the village they’ll use. His little brother had a book about the 100 most beautiful villages of Japan. They just opened it, found Shirakawa-go and decided on it.
2/ How do you plan your works?
He said that he starts thinking about the story, the characters and all of the next work a year before it’s release. As an example he said that while they were finishing Higurashi, as in, working on Minagoroshi-hen and Matsuribayashi-hen, he already started to think about Umineko. And while they were working on Umineko’s ending, he started to think about Rose Guns Days.
3/ Why does Higurashi is very Japanese, while Umineko is more occidental?
He wanted to make Umineko more occidental, adult and cool.
4/ Why birthday information about the characters of Higurashi and Umineko is so vague or unknown?
He said that they don’t reveal them, especially in Umineko’s case, as if they make a mistake in the dates it could put the already established story into jeopardy. They said that maybe one day they’ll take the time to think about it.
5/ Which is created first? The music or the story&art?
He does all the story and graphic first, and then he goes see composers and asks them to freely compose something. When they’re done, he chooses what he wants from what they composed and put it in the scenes he wants. As an example, he took the Siesta sisters’ theme song, “Dance of the Moon Rabbits” telling us the composer was imagining a rabbit dancing on the moon, while he decided to use the song in the gruesome Siesta massacre scenes.
6/ Is there ever a character in his works that simply dies of old age?
After many laughs, he thanked the person who asked the question, for giving him this idea. He said that maybe in a future work that will span on many generations, he’ll use this.
7/ How did you create the characters of Ryuguu Rena and Sonozaki Shion?
He said that he needed a character that would be double edged. A really cute and happy personality and sometimes really terrifying. That’s how they made Rena. He then added that when you take Rena’s concept, but push the” violence” characteristic at the maximum, you get Shion.
8/ Who’s your favorite character in your works?
He didn’t answer, but said that he’d like to become like Maebara Keiichi. In the 2nd conference though someone asked the same but for Umineko’s case only, and he answered his favorite character is Beatrice.
9/ Did you ever read Lovecraft Sensei’s works, as it’s similar how things are all happy then starts to go crazy in your stories.
He said that he never did, but that’s how he likes to do stories. It’s like a Jet Coaster. It climbs and climbs and climbs then abruptly goes down. (He made the gesture with his hands of a Jet Coaster while saying this).
10/ How much important is the music in your works?
He said that when you pronounce Sound Novel in Japanese, Sound (SA-O-UN-DO) has 4 syllables while Novel (NO-BE-RU) has only 3 syllables, so the sound is a very important part. (He counted it with his hand while saying this.)
11/ Do you like the opening themes of the Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni anime?
He said they’re “subarashi” and he loves them, Shimamiya Eiko did a great job capturing the atmosphere with her songs, the first time he heard them he was really happy and satisfied about it.
12/ Why did they chose the Higurashi (a variety of cicada insects) and Umineko (Seagulls) as the animals in the titles, and not others??
Well in Higurashi’s case it’s obvious. When they were done with Higurashi, they knew they would keep the No Naku Koro Ni part in the title but change the animal. They knew this sequel would take place on an island, and the first animal they though of then was Umineko (Seagull).
He then added that he and his little brother thought about using another animal for the yet unpublished work Rose Guns Days but didn’t find any animal that could fit. So they decided on Rose Guns Days temporarily and then it became real. When they think of another animal to make cry they’ll make the next No Naku Koro Ni title. He said jokingly that it’s the the only thing that keeps him from working on a new No Naku Koro Ni for now.
13/ Why does the sentiment of love is prominent in Higurashi, and extremely omnipresent in Umineko?
He said he wanted to tell a very humane, real-like story.
14/ What does he thinks about France and Paris?
He really likes Paris, he said he wants to go to places tourists usually don’t go to. He told us that he came in France last year, and went to the Mont Saint Michel. He went on a trek there wearing only a t-shirt in the afternoon. He didn’t know that it gets much colder at night and caught a cold when they got back at nighttime. He said while laughing that he brought many multi-layered clothes this time.
15/ As he came to Paris in summer, does he misses the cicadas cry from Japan?
After many laughs, he said that he’s surprised that cicadas and their specific cry are known all over the world.
16/ If there’s any book he recommends reading, to become a better member of society.
He said while laughing that he doesn’t and he’d appreciate it if someone told him what book you need to read to become a better member of society.
And it’s over. The conference was around 2 hours long. Stay tuned for answers about things like Umineko’s ending, why he isn’t the main character designer for Rose Guns Days, how he got the idea for the emblem of the Ushiromiya family and *gasp* why every woman in the Ushiromiya family is very well endowed.
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