Nasu and Takeuchi's 6th Anniversary interview
Part 2 chapter 6 had 1.9 megabytes of text!
Famitsu: Happy 6th anniversary. Can we start with a quick recap of this past year?
Nasu: It was a year where I made my games with renewed determination. Since last year, everyone was already expecting 2021 to be a year more intense than the last. If I can provide pieces of entertainment during these trying times, I'll be helping the people in need of motivation to face their challenges. Those were the core feelings behind the production of Tsukihime's remake and FGO's part 2 chapter 6. I believe I put everything I could into them.
Takeuchi: The chaos from the pandemic made a huge difference. For FGO, we had decided from the moment we laid out our plans for part 2 that chapter 6 would be set in Britain and talk about the Round Table. That's why we were prepared to give it all Type-Moon got for this moment even with the pandemic. The only problem is that our production here overlapped with Tsukihime and Melty Blood... It's been a tough year. You could say it was a year where all we could do was focus on finishing the work in front of us.
Nasu: I have to admit that I'm off of the job of FGO's general supervisor since October. I transferred the role to another writer. I took a time off to dedicate my full attention to Tsukihime from October to December, and part 2 chapter 6's production starting in January. I have other projects to juggle with FGO, and I don't think I'd have been able to handle it if I haven't done that.
Takeuchi: I know Nasu for a long time, but I don't think I've ever seen his writing getting him this worn down before. Dead inside, even.
Famitsu: What was the total text volume of all chapter 6 parts combined?
Nasu: The story alone was a 1.7MB script. Aside from that, about 30~50KB of My Room voice lines, lore, and flavor text for each Servant implemented. I personally created all 6 Servants in part 2 chapter 6, so adding all that I think we get 1.9MB.
Famitsu: That's practically producing a full-priced visual novel. What made it so big?
Nasu: Although we wrote about Lostbelts before, we never told their histories, so I thought I could give that idea a try. Also, FGO's core concept is this is how I'd write a plot for an RPG, and despite taking this idea to all of its logical extremes, I never got the chance to do a super traditional fantasy piece. With that thought in mind, I looked at how chapter 6's Lostbelt was set in Britain, where fairies show up, and thought that's the place for fantasy. My time to challenge new themes.
Famitsu: Judging by your enthusiasm, would I be right to assume you wrote without a hitch?
Nasu: Not particularly. I had an extremely simple story in mind at the start of 2019. A narrative that rewards good and punishes evil, in full Mito Koumon style. We beat the bad guys, we beat Morgan, and that's the end. But unforeseen circumstances happened one after the other during development. We didn't have enough character development for Mash, we didn't have enough clues leading to the finale, etc. I had so much to do that the plot planning stage ate up twice the usual amount of time... And to top it off, my blessed friendships got the mangaka Chika Umino to draw a character.
Famitsu: You're getting more excited at every word you speak.
Nasu: That was the moment to throw the Oberon card. It was now or never. As I mentioned, I wasn't planning on making a complex story. But bringing Oberon into the picture changes everything. Since that's where I was using him, I had to take the story one level deeper... and that's how I added to so many new elements that I oversized the story.
Famitsu: How was it when you first saw Umino's Oberon design?
Nasu: ... Oh, it sure was an experience. After our meeting, she drew a bunch of rough sketches, asking if any of those would work for the character, and all of those could easily go in a picture book without needing any extra editing.
Takeuchi: Yeah, she did send us quite the amount of sketches.
Nasu: Despite her entomophobia, Umino bought an insect reference book because she wanted to do her best for Oberon! I could see her in pain every time she looked at a bug, but she was still studying for our sake, because according to her, if she wants her drawings to mean anything, she has to learn the real version's biology before she draws. I was impressed to witness how far a first-class mangaka will go to always produce the most precious stories set in the most solid worlds. That's what I always liked about Chika Umino. And then every bug that she drew got more realistic than the one before (laughs).
Famitsu: Takeuchi, how did you feel reading part 2 chapter 6 for the first time.
Takeuchi: When first saw the plan for the plot, well, it was too big. I thought he was out of his mind. I wasn't sure if the players would be really able of retaining so much information read on a mobile game format. But once I started reading the finished script, it had a great presentation. It followed a neat flow where each question was only dumped on the reader after the previous question was answered. It's built in a way that pulls you slowly and when you notice it, you've been guided all the way to the end.
Famitsu: Wasn't it hard on the direction side, with so many new characters appearing?
Takeuchi: Not really. Nasu gave very detailed instruction to the illustrators and their work paid off in the story. Looking at everything after it's done, it's amazing how much the quality has gone up.
Nasu: As much as love to joke about the 1.7MB script now, I seriously need to apologize for all the extra work I gave to our developers at Delight Works. Things had already started last year with me sending the plans for the plot→them producing the British assets, but after that point, we had to change the flow of development. Until now, they only started producing the game screens after we finished writing the final script, but for part 2 chapter 6, I had to send them my weekly progress so they could start working with it. I felt what it was like to be a weekly mangaka. In weeks I had other things to do, like the voice actor's recordings, I'd send an 80KB file, and in weeks where that was the only thing I was doing, it is more like 180KB. Not a single week of rest for me. I barely scraped by my deadlines, so I have nothing but gratitude for Delight Works' development team for their speed and patience. Thank you!
Ashiya Douman, the character who reached a new dimension through the power of illustration
Famitsu: What was the most memorable Servant introduced in this 6th year?
Nasu: Arthuria Caster doesn't count. Picking her is cheating.
Famitsu: By the way, in the 5th anniversary interview, Takeuchi said there was a Servant he was eager to let the players see.
Takeuchi: He still isn't playable, but I obviously meant Oberon (laughs). As the man in charge of the character design production program, I love all characters equally, but the ones that really made me feel like I witnessed a miracle were Oberon and Ashiya Douman.
Nasu: Ashiya Douman's case was a spectacle. I can't say which is greater, Shouichi Furumi's artistic skill, tenacity, or attention to detail. Ashiya Douman is, honestly, a poor man's Abe no Seimei, so even the writer who made him thought he wouldn't amount to anything more than a mid-boss. And then we saw the first picture of him, and that sure was an experience. Ashiya Douman's part in the plot was a whole dimension above what was initially planned for him, and that was probably due to the power of his illustrations.
Takeuchi: That's one of the few FGO designs where I believe the illustrator was possessed by a god. And the personality he got was also pretty interesting.
Famitsu: I read all of part 2 chapter 5.5 but I never understood what Douman's goal was. Was he just being evil for the sake of being evil or did his pestering had a concrete purpose?
Nasu: Each apostle of the alien god had a role. She saw Kirschtaria's betrayal coming, so she created Muramasa for the sole purpose of cutting Atlas when it happened. Next, Rasputin to take care of her while she needed it. Lastly, she created Douman as just a nuisance to instigate all the Lostbelt kings a little. Douman knew what he was there for, and that's why he often claimed he had nothing he wanted to do, making himself sound like he didn't have an identity. He was told all he needed to do was to be amusingly evil. Until the moment he was driven to a corner, he was an incomprehensible being because he didn't have a will. But when he was cornered, he gained an objective, which was very unfortunate to him because he developed an identity, so he went from incomprehensible to defeatable. That's all there is to it. There's a lot more to him, but long story short, I guess we can say just wanted to beat Abe no Seimei.
Famitsu: Since we're on that topic, I have to ask. Who were those two Servants that Watanabe no Tsuna had already defeated before chapter 5.5?
Nasu: Helena Blavatsky and Count Cagliostro. The writer judged that the chapter would get too long if she tried to give them a serious portrayal, so she decided to cut corners. Cagliostro might show up later.
Part 2 second opening theme is Arthuria Caster's song
Famitsu: Nasu, you mentioned that you partly stepped down from FGO's supervision last year. How was the story supervised while you were away?
Nasu: I trusted the writer team. I barely touched any script from September to this year's summer event. The only thing I thoroughly supervised was Imaginary Scramble since I was the one who invited Amphibian to the job. This event was Amphibian's first time in FGO. There was a lot he wasn't used to, so every writer took the responsibility of supervising the lines of the characters they created. In my case, Nemo and the prima ballerina. Valentine's Caren is also a character that means a lot to me, so I did hers as well.
Famitsu: One thing that got me curious in part 2's second OP was Saber Alter standing in Fuyuki. Why is Fuyuki appearing in a video about the second half of part 2?
Nasu: It's a reminder. That's all I can say (laughs).
Famitsu: Where were our protagonists fighting Senji Muramasa and Kotomine Kirei?
Nasu: About that... When the animation staff was making the second opening, we were against them including the fairyland and some other places because they'd be spoilers at that point in time, so we asked them to make whatever they wanted. So, that scene won't necessarily appear in the game.
Takeuchi: They were pretty late with other art assets, so we requested them to make the opening using only what was already finished, and that video was what we got. Making such a wonderful video with so much material missing really goes to show how amazing a director Shun Enokido is, and how amazing a key animator Takahito Sakazume is.
Nasu: Although Oberon's picture was ready, I had to tell them to hid his face. I was in tears from having to do that. They added a visual effect to him for that, which later got me really surprised to see all the fans calling him evil (laughs).
Takeuchi: If you remove the effect, you can see he has that prankster smile you always see in his Umino art.
Famitsu: That video gave me the impression the protagonists of both genders are a bit more mature now.
Nasu: We were portraying a protagonist that hesitated before facing their challenges, but after overcoming the first half of part 2, we asked to give them a more dignified expression.
Takeuchi: My favorite part is when the lyrics say "I started running" and they actually run. That was hype.
Famitsu: Yakudou's lyrics really felt linked to chapter 6's contents...
Nasu: Yakudou is completely Arthuria Caster's song. If you play Britain until the end, you'll see what I'm talking about.
Famitsu: What scene did you have in mind when you drew Mash in Yakudou's CD cover?
Takeuchi: The right thing to do was to draw Arthuria Caster, but the CD was released before she was revealed, so I drew a Mash shouldering many people's feelings. That's the first official picture where you can see both of Mash's eyes. That's one of the reasons why I'm so personally attached to this illustration.
2020's summer event went so hardcore on the horror that it had to be toned down
Famitsu: Last summer's Servant Summer Camp was another big favorite.
Nasu: When we decided on the theme of horror, we were hoping to fill it with so many references to horror movies of all ages and eras that the younger generations unfamiliar with horror could use that as a catalogue of horror movies to check out. We do have a huge B-horror fan in our writer team (laughs)!
Takeuchi: But some people got scared for real.
Nasu: Delight Works really went on all in on the first videotape (laughs). Still, things get a little milder after the first video. I wish it was scarier.
Takeuchi: The first storyboard for the animated CM was also hardcore horror. It had to be shelved for being too well done as a horror commercial.
Famitsu: Horror is a theme that really gets the creative crowd riled up.
Nasu: It's scary to watch, but really fun to make. I know I'm kinda stating the obvious, but it's not scary to the creators because they already know all the spoilers.
Takeuchi: Yu Mei-ren was great in this event, and Xu Fu was a real fan favorite.
Nasu: Yeah, Xu Fu was the ensemble darkhorse. She wasn't going to have sprites at first, but we decided our girl deserved at least that, so we asked TAKOLEGS and got something much better than anything we could expect.
Takeuchi: We decided to request TAKOLEGS because I loved the Hokusai she drew for Fuji Television's Edo Festival, and I'm very glad that we did.
Famitsu: By the way, did you watch any horror movies to produce this story?
Nasu: It's hard to say. There wasn't anything we felt the need to rewatch, but you sorta have to consider that watching horror is a prerequisite to join the writing team.
Famitsu: What are your favorite horror movies?
Nasu: I actually didn't like horror in my younger days, before I watched The Ring and Cube. Around 20 years ago, Takeuchi rented Cube and invited me to watch because he had heard great things about it... I refused at first, but when we got to watch it, I was hooked by the first 5 minutes (laughs). I started to watch a lot of horror after that.
Takeuchi: It's hard to pick one favorite, but I like 28 Days Later a lot. Are we counting zombie movies as horror?
Nasu: I don't consider zombie movies horrors. They're a mixed bag of all elements of entertainment. Love, friendship, betrayal, silly antics, explosions...
Famitsu: Horror also has that last part (laughs). Are you still watching Takeuchi's recommended movies nowadays?
Takeuchi: Nowadays it's Nasu who's introducing me to the movies.
Famitsu: I don't know when Nasu ever gets to rest, but you also read manga and play video games, right?
Nasu: I play video games half for fun and half for work because it's important for me to know what are the current standards of quality. If I ever stopped playing games, I'd be better off leaving the creative department and taking an administrative job.
Famitsu: I want to talk a bit about FGO Waltz, the app created to celebrate the 5th anniversary. Miss Crane gave off very different impressions in this app and FGO's collab event...
Nasu: I have to keep telling everyone they're the exact same character! Nothing is a single millimeter off about her. Why can you all see (laughs)? Feeling like a person is polite and reasonable in their e-mails then seeing they're a complete weirdo when you meet them in person happens all the time... Seriously though, I told Takashi Tanaka to write a character you'll personally love, so he fulfilled all of my requests and then added her fun spirit, weird faces, etc on top of that. I really love the dialogue for Miss Crane's filthy otaku mode. I can't replicate his deep understanding of the lingo!
Famitsu: The FGO Waltz collab included a new gameplay feature that added Center Effects to the Servant placed in the middle during battles.
Nasu: That was fun. I liked the individual songs playing. Thank you Ayako Kawasumi for recording Watashi no Ginga.
Takeuchi: The whole project started with us wanting her character to hum in the rhythm of her battle animations. After that, we slowly expanded the idea to making whole songs. And then Kegani, our sound creator, came in saying "I composed a song that will carry the whole event". Kegani understands Type-Moon really well. So much so that we're using a song he offered us as the Tsukihime remake's opening theme.
Nasu: Kegani has been an understanding supporter since the days of Tsukihime's doujin version. That's why he always answers the most undetailed orders with something amazing. He has a really encouraging presence because every track he composes feels like a fan letter.
Famitsu: Can we get a quick recap of Imaginary Scramble?
Nasu: It all started when I met Amphibian in person. His Raging Loop was so good that I asked him to write a short story for FGO if he had the time. After this offer, he got to participate in FGO's anthology novel, and one of the plots he proposed for the novel was Imaginary Scramble.
Famitsu: You mean the event itself was Amphibian's idea?
Nasu: Exactly. I was already wanting to make a story with Nemo and a new character (van Gogh) as the co-leads, his material was perfect for that, and I simply loved the sound of the name Imaginary Scramble. The only problem is that Amphibian wasn't used to FGO's writing format, this being his first job and all, so I personally supervised everything.
Famitsu: Next question is about San Valentino! Why did you introduce Caren in a Valentine's event instead of in a Fate/Hollow Ataraxia collab?
Nasu: Because we were thinking about who would be an appropriate Servant for Valentine's, and we considered going with the Roman god Amor, or Cupid, as the Japanese playerbase would be more familiar with. That said, going with him as is would be boring, so we went with her.
Takeuchi: Also because Shizuki Morii drew the perfect Caren.
Famitsu: But she came without Hollow's skirtless habit.
Nasu: Morii was extremely particular about the fact that only Takeuchi was allowed to draw Caren's habit. He wasn't going to do the job if we didn't respect this decision. I was happy to learn he was the troublesome kind of fan I couldn't ever hope to persuade, and so I requested him to make a student uniform, something with Cupid's visual identity, and the most powerful Caren he could possibly imagine, and that's how we got the God Caren design. Her character was originally going to be named Amor, but after seeing that illustration, I could only call her God Caren (laughs).
Takeuchi: Her Noble Phantasm design was outstandingly good. I really love Morii's art. I shiver every time I look at it.
Nasu: While this event was being produced, I was dying every day to get Tsukihime's remake ready for release, but the moment I saw Morii's art, I knew that Caren needed me, so I decided to find the extra time to write her event. Caren doesn't have a single happy moment in her main story, so I thought that if she was joining the ephemeral dream that is FGO, she should forget her troubles and have the time of her life. No one ever wrote her like that, so I had to do it myself.
Famitsu: I wasn't expecting Baby Caren to show up.
Nasu: If we're bringing out Caren, we gotta advertise Capsule Servant. We're all adults with bills to pay (laughs).
Redra Bbit was unexpected even to Nasu himself
Famitsu: One thing that got me curious in the first portion of chapter 6. Why did you choose Tristan to accompany the protagonists?
Nasu: We needed to have a Pan-Human knight of the Round Table guiding them in the prologue. From the way the story was supposed to flow, the landing was going to happen in Cornwall, and because of that, it had to be Tristan. Another reason was me regretting that I hadn't given him a fully fleshed-out portrayal until now.
Famitsu: Seeing Arthuria Caster's interactions with Tristan made me want to see her interact with Gawain and Lancelot as well.
Nasu: I'd have crumbled to dust if I had to do something with that much volume for 3 characters, so I thought one-to-one conversations were enough. Those conversations between Arthuria Caster and Tristan weren't part of the plot plan, but once I actually started writing, they came out naturally. It's just how they are.
Famitsu: Redra Bbit also garnered some big fan reactions.
Nasu: I gotta be honest with you. Redra Bbit wasn't mentioned in any line of the plot plan. He was something that happened when I started writing and noticed a thing. "Britain is big so they need to move on a chariot... Crap, I can't use chariots in the fairyland." That's because Morgan forbade the parts of culture that mistreated animals. I had to do something, so I started thinking. "I need an eccentric oddball who would voluntarily want to pull a chariot... Oh, I just happen to have one generic fairy with an important role. I can change him and ... your turn now, Red Hare!" (laughs) All and all, I was happy to see everyone get so impressively attached to a character made really just to answer to one of the story's needs.
Famitsu: When I first saw Redra Bbit, I immediately assumed that the Red Hare in my Chaldea was actually a fairy who convinced himself that he was actually Red Hare (Lu Bu).
Nasu: I saw a few players saying the same thing. Redra Bbit is causing a nice amount of bewilderment and confusion on the theory-crafting side of the fanbase.
Famitsu: Is there any reason why Muryan looks identical to Kazuradrop (a scrapped Fate/Extra CCC character)?
Nasu: That's pure samefaceing. I actually studied England's Muryan folklore to make CCC. The Muryan legends have always been a part of the Sakura Five's prototype, so if I was putting a Muryan character in part 2 chapter 6, I should give her Kazuradrop's design, as Kazuradrop was the one most directly based on the Muryans.
Famitsu: The scene with Mash and the protagonist at the end of chapter 6's first portion mirrors the plot of part 1's final chapter. Not only that, but it gave a feeling of the protagonist doing what they failed to do before...
Nasu: A lot of people must have been surprised by the protagonist talking there. The in-game choices are supposed to be visual representations of the protagonist's dialogue, so in that sense, they've already been talking the whole time. The only real difference is that we saw it from Mash's POV this time.
FGO Arcade's chapter 7 will be completely different from mobile
Famitsu: Ok, now is the time to ask a few questions about FGO Arcade. Since chapter 5, the story has been straying away from FGO Mobile. Was this planned from the start?
Nasu: It was. Arcade games need their own flavor enhancers to be fun. The flavor text currently present on FGO Arcade's official website's Story page is actually written the game's initial project pitch.
Famitsu: What will happen in FGO Arcade chapter 7, Critically Thriving City - Babylon?
Nasu: I guess that doesn't count as a spoiler since the cat's already out of the bag, so I'll tell you chapter 7 will be completely different. Basically, it's where you'll finally see the Arcade's boss.
Famitsu: And we'll have console releases for the remake version of Tsukihime in August and a new Melty Blood game in September. I'm also looking forward to seeing their collabs with FGO.
Nasu: I'm personally itching to make them. The thing is that we have to follow our current roadmap, and I can only do it if we find a chance somewhere along the way.
Famitsu: The remake version of Tsukihime changed the timeframe to the 2010s. How does that affect FGO and Mahou Tsukai no Yoru's worlds?
Nasu: Doesn't affect FGO. It doesn't affect Mahou Tsukai no Yoru either. The Aozaki Aoko in Tsukihime got older and that's all. If you think anything that should have changed didn't... remember that Aoko doesn't age past 20 (laughs).
Famitsu: Did the knowledge and experience you gained in these 6 years managing FGO affect anything in your remaking of Tsukihime and Melty Blood?
Nasu: It naturally affects my skills as a writer. The more players a creator has, the more they get aware they are being watched, and they improve their skills due to having more things they need to do. FGO has the highest player count I've ever handled, so I believe the base level of skill and awareness increased for the entire writing team. In fact, when remaking Tsukihime, I fixed a lot of finer details I didn't even think about back then. I believe I raised my general standards of sensibility enough to make the product the largest amount of people can enjoy.
Takeuchi: The last part of Tsukihime's remake is where I believe everything would have fallen apart if we didn't have our experience from producing FGO.
Nasu: Tsukihime tells its story in a single town. With the scale being this small, we'd be stuck with a basic ending if we remade it the basic way. But we simply couldn't just throw in everything we wanted without ever hitting the brake as we do for FGO (laughs).
Takeuchi: Nasu wrote something and showed me, telling me he wanted to do this in the end. After that moment, completing this game consumed one more year of our time. Looking back now that everything is done, that simple addition changes everything. I promise you'll see what I'm talking about in your own playthrough.
A year of effort in preparation for the climax
Famitsu: For our last segment, I'd like to ask a couple of questions about what's about to come. What will this year's summer event be like?
Nasu: This year is a return to the basics, you could say. We just thought about what we like doing for summer. At first, I wanted to have beach volleyball as our main theme, but that idea was scrapped. After some thought, we realized we didn't know how to write a beach volleyball story... So went with the other idea proposed on that day. It's set on the beach, just like the volleyball event would have been. The matter of the event is something really obvious in hindsight. I'm confident it'll make you think "Oh yeah, I can't believe they hadn't done that yet" when you see it.
Famitsu: Should we expect a chapter 6.5 in the future?
Nasu: There is one. That's all I can say now.
Famitsu: That's all. I'm expecting a lot of enthusiasm from you two for this upcoming 7th year.
Nasu: Our challenge for this year is the approaching climax. You could say this race is already on its final lap. Now that we reached the 7th year, I hope we can get everything ready to let everyone see the final stage, and strive to make content that will allow everyone interested to prepare themselves for what's coming.
Takeuchi: During these 6 years, we saw a lot of things we thought to be beyond our limits, and every time we took a step beyond those limits and found new things we could do. For example, we used a lot of 2D illustrations in part 2 chapter 6, but at the start of part 1, I remember saying here that we'd never include CGs.
Nasu: Once you start using them, you just can't stop.
Takeuchi: But I determined myself to do it, so I pulled all the brakes to make as many images as I could, or else the CG efforts would feel insignificant in comparison to the raw 1.7MB of text. And I want to do more of that in the future. We're doing our best to reach the climax, so we're counting on your support.
Nasu: It'll be done before long (laughs).