And finally, here’s the first panel from Friday. In this one, Ryukishi07 went over the history of 07th Expansion’s creation, as well as all the hard work and crazy stories that went into the creation of Higurashi.After surprising the audience by hopping out from behind a screen, Ryukishi07 sat down and began the panel to loud applause. Introduction
- Although he calls himself a “script writer” now, he didn’t always want to be.
- At the beginning, he’d felt an impulse to create something, but couldn’t tell what.
- He never could have imagined that a decade later, he’d be here writing sound novels.
- He could have very well ended up a different sort of creator. If he’d become a chef instead, he’d be making omelets for us all now [I can’t fully capture it here, but FYI, Ryukishi07 was hilarious throughout the panel. The audience laughed out loud tons of times…especially at his “wacky anecdotes” later in the panel].
- Script writing may not even be his true calling yet. He might still find something that suits him even more.
Spur of the Moment
- Early on, he was making a manga with a friend, and had left the manuscript with him.
- His friend called him up in the middle of the night, and asked what Ryukishi07 wanted his pen name to be. He was extremely sleepy and confused, so he asked “…Right now?” His friend told him that the deadline was now.
- Ryukishi decide to base it off the Dragon Knight class in Final Fantasy, and the “07” came from a reading of Reina from Final Fantasy since he liked that character. It was only meant to be a temporary name.
- Next, Ryukishi ending up doing illustrations for the Leaf Fight TCG. The name “07th Expansion” was decided since it was like the different expansions released for TCGs.
- Ryukishi advised the audience that “If you’re gonna come up with a name, don’t come up with anything silly, because it’ll stick!”
- These are all examples of how spur of the moment and unplanned the whole process of creating Higurashi was.
BT and Higurashi’s Birth
- 2 years on, Ryukishi met BT, who ended up being the main engineer behind Higurashi.
- At this time, Tsukihime had just come out from Type-Moon. It was based on Nscripter. and Ryukishi’s younger brother said, “Hey, we can use this too.”
- Earlier, Ryukishi had written a stage play [Hinamizawa Bus Stop] and he suggested they could convert it into a video game.
- After hearing Ryukishi’s idea for creating a sound novel, BT went along with it, but later confided that his reaction was, “I thought you’d gone crazy.” He thought it would be an utter failure, but couldn’t bring himself to tell Ryukishi.
- With both the ability to write and program between them, he felt that they were invincible.
- In Japan, when something popular comes out, many people jump on the bandwagon to try imitating that success. Many other people were doing that with Tsukihime, although 07th Expansion didn’t really realize this at the time.
- Some people said that since Tsukihime had vampires, the next big thing would have werewolves. Higurashi doesn’t have that, but it is somewhat similar how people can turn into demons in it.
- At this point, Ryukishi’s pen name, group name, and motivation were all completely improvised. If you know too much, it can inhabit you. So sometimes ignorance can be a better motivator than knowledge, allowing yourself to forge on recklessly.
- As an example of his recklessness: Although Higurashi ended up being 8 releases over 4 years, he originally thought he could do it all in 1 year.
- It was good to not realize the task he was setting out on was “impossible.”
- If he was an investor in a project with people thinking like that, of course he’d cut it off. But in a hobby of the heart, that recklessness is a plus.
- Around EP3, Higurashi started getting a lot of recognition online.
- BT had convinced him to release a trial version with the first arc, which helped promote it.
- The trial version actually had the data for the 2nd and 3rd arcs, but they were supposed to be inaccessible. As Ryukishi was eating in a ramen shop, though, he got a call from BT saying, “I have to apologize. Some evil programmer has unlocked the data in the trial version…” They’d unintentionally released everything they’d put so far for free [I couldn’t quite tell from this whether it was another evil programmer who’d hacked it, or whether BT had left it accessible himself. I think it’s the first, though].
- Still, this increased the sales of the 4th arc.
- This is another example of how the success of Higurashi was completely unplanned.
- Eventually, they started getting offers for manga and anime adaptions. They got advice from the president of Type-Moon saying: “When you do cross media, you need someone in control or fans will be disappointed.”
- As an example, in the VN of Tsukihime, Ciel’s favorite food is curry. In the anime, they arbitrarily changed it to spaghetti. This didn’t sit well with many fans.
- 07th Expansion was still just 3 people, though (Ryukishi07, BT, and Ryukishi07’s brother), so they didn’t have the staff to oversee things tightly.
- Ryukishi07 believes that adaptations should have changes to meet the strengths of the new medium. VNs are text based and can have lots of information. Manga/anime can better show character expressions and emotion, but are much shorter.
- That’s why the story between the adaptations can be different, which fans ask about.
- The overall message is the important thing.
- When supervising scripts of the anime, Ryukishi would try to put in too much dialogue, which doesn’t work in that medium.
- He would supervise the script, but ultimately leave the final version up to the pros.
- He was really active, though, in making sure the voice actors got the intonation right. For example, Rena’s “Hauu~!” and “Omochikaeri~!” (which Ryukishi did awesome impressions of, to the audience’s great amusement).
- In the live action movie during raining scenes, Ryukishi is just off the camera freezing, although you can’t see him.
Writing and Work
- By this time, Ryukishi was almost spending more time supervising then actually writing, so the releases were getting further apart.
- He also still had his day job as a civil servant.
- He got lots of valuable story material from his job.
- One recommendation he has to all young people wanting to be writers, is to not become a writer right after college. Get a regular job first to get life experience, and write at the same time.
- At a regular job, you’ll meet lots of people and learn things that’ll make your writing stronger.
- In Japan, after 10 years of working as a civil servant, they start to assign you lots of work, and it’s the super hard and busy kind.
- Ryukishi loved writing more, so he wanted to get the lazy bottom feeder work instead, so he had time for writing.
- He probably shouldn’t say this, but he might have written a third to a half of Higurashi while he was on the job.
- He had mastered the shortcuts to quickly switch between windows, and also wrote in a tiny font so it wasn’t immediately clear what he was doing to a senpai watching over his shoulder.
- Sometimes the text was so small even he couldn’t tell what he was writing. This might’ve been a good thing.
- The anxiety of wondering whether a senpai was watching over his shoulder probably influenced the anxious mood of Higurashi.
Full Time Writer
- The 4th arc was half as long as the previous ones, but took twice as long to write (a year instead of half a year), due to how busy he was at work.
- When he got home, he would try to write instead of sleeping. He was thinking this might be the end of Higurashi.
- He was very lucky at work that his boss was such an SOB, so he didn’t have any hesitation to quit.
- We all need to thank his boss, because being such an SOB made him one of the true VIPs behind Higurashi’s creation.
- Ryukishi really wishes he could still keep his day job and be a writer, though.
- His brother and BT were also very dedicated.
- His brother was a postal worker on a motorcycle, so Ryukishi always knew that if his brother got into a traffic accident, it would be his own fault for not letting the man get enough sleep.
- After pulling 2 all-nighters in a row, instead of saying, “OK, you can rest now,” they’d be saying, “OK, you can go to work now.”
- He’ll be thankful to his brother and BT for all the rest of his life.
- In Japan, it’s extremely difficult to get paid time off except through bereavement. Ryukishi expects that BT had to “kill off” many of his relatives during the creation of Higurashi.
- Ryukishi even invented a fictional girlfriend to get time off from work. At Comiket, he’d get regional souvenirs from fans in different areas to use as proof of the vacations he’d supposedly gone on with her.
- At times he’d be at Comiket talking on his cellphone, fake coughing to pretend he was sick that day.
- Thanks to all these things that went into Higurashi, Ryukishi gets extremely nostalgic whenever he hears the title. It all comes back to him.
- People ask him, “How to be a successful writer?” and his half-joking response is “Go to a shrine and pray.”
- Most of his success came from luck, as well as the huge amount of help he’s received from his friends.
- There was only time for one question, which was about how Higurashi and Umineko came to have such wonderful music. Ryukishi explained that, when he was first starting Higurashi, it was hard to get music for it bcause lots of composers refused to do music “for erogames.” At the start, they ended up using copyright-free music.
- Later on, the composer Dai sent them an email saying that the game was great, but that it’s soundtrack was “full of noise.” Ryukishi replied back saying, “Well, let’s see the soundtrack you’d make.” He thought he’d flippantly blown off Dai, and that would be the end of the conversation. However, Dai ended up responding with some actual tracks. He showed them to the other members of 07th Expansion to get their opinion, and they said, “We need this guy’s music in our games.” And the rest was history.