TM Ace Vol 14
Note: These are only some translations from the massive magazine.
Nasu and Koyama's Mahoyo interview
-- First of all, please give us details about how the decision to port "Mahoutsukai no Yoru" (from here on: Mahoyo) was made.
Nasu: When we started the project to remake "Tsukihime - A piece of blue glass moon" for consoles, Takeuchi voiced his opinion to also make a consumer version of Mahoyo. Only the PC version of Mahoyo was available, and it was difficult to obtain, so we thought it would be bad if the people who enjoyed the remake version of Tsukihime (from here on: Tsukihime R) couldn't enjoy Mahoyo afterwards if they wanted. Then, as planned, HuneX-san who did the porting of Tsukihime R also started working on the Mahoyo ports. The development of Mahoyo was on going at the same time as Tsukihime R's.
Koyama: There were talks about porting Mahoyo to home video game consoles for some time.
Nasu: That's right. Even on the PS3, which was the latest hardware at the time of 2012, it did not seem possible to run Mahoyo's presentation on it, so we had to shelve the porting project. Then the PS4 and the Nintendo Switch appeared on the market, and there were no problems running Mahoyo on those specs, so we decided to go forward with the port. Thinking back on it, even back in 2012 when Mahoyo was released, we were still struggling with the presentation aspect. It ran fine on a PC with normal specs, but it would not run on older machines. Although the game could have been made to work by cutting some of the presentation aspect, Mahoyo is a game that can only be enjoyed by having its full presentation uncut. We released the game with that in mind.
-- The presentation was really rich, which is why both then and now, you had to fight against the wall of compatible specs. Koyama-san, when did you hear about the start of the project of porting Mahoyo?
Koyama: I don't remember when I first heard about it anymore, but I remember hearing about the anime project first. I was aware that if we were to make an anime, then a port would naturally follow, so I wasn't surprised. Regarding the timing, I just thought "Ah, so that'll be the 10th anniversary," so it wasn't like we were aiming to move the project to coincide with it.
Nasu: As for the anime adaptation, a while ago, Iwakami-san from Aniplex gave me a plan for a Mahoyo adaptation. I was very happy that Mahoyo would get an anime, however it is a difficult work to adapt into anime, so I responded by saying it would not be easy to do.
Koyama: I think that Ufotable animation, which has a peculiar sense of depth and atmopshere, is highly compatible with my way of making CG. I have felt this way ever since I saw the animation in the movie adaptation of Kara no Kyoukai. I think they are the perfect studio for the anime adaptation of Mahoyo. Of course, I am looking forward to seeing the action, but I am also looking forward to seeing the tender presentation of the quiet parts.
Nasu: I am not worried about the action parts at all. For example, in the case of HF, the Saber vs. Berserker battle only takes few pages in the game, but it was adapted in ten minutes full of highlights, and it was truly amazing. I have no concerns whatsoever about the moving parts. On the other hand, Mahoyo is a work where the quiet parts are very important, so I wonder how those parts will turn out.
Koyama: Likewise, I am worried about how that will turn out.
Nasu: I wonder how much of the calm atmosphere that prevades the entire work will be expressed in anime. I am sure that many people will be able to see the film, and there will definitely be a great deal to be gained from making the anime movie, but I am sure that it will require a great deal of work from Ufotable. I have heard that they were aiming for an end of 2023 release, so I am looking forward to seeing what kind of chemical changes will occur as a result of Mahoyo becoming an anime.
Koyama: Just the fact that it will become an anime makes me very happy, and I am waiting for it as if it was a reward for my life. (Laughs)
-- Since we will be getting a fully voiced edition, I wanted to ask about your casting decisions.
Nasu: It was decided that Tomatsu Haruka-san would voice Aozaki Aoko in Tsukihime R, so it was inevitable that I would ask her to voice her in Mahoyo. As I mentioned earlier, Mahoyo is a work where the quiet parts are very important, so if there is too much movement in the voice, the atmosphere of the work would be lost. So, as a direction from Type-Moon, we told her that she did not have to act cute just because she was the heroine. We told her to act using a natural voice just like in Japanese films.
Koyama: During the audition process, we asked the voice actors to give a live-action movie like performance rather than a anime-like performance, and we chose the actors who best fit the image.
Nasu: Even though it contains battles, the image we had was that of a Japanese film that ends quietly, not one that is about battles. During the recording process we took a slightly different approach. The other cast members were asked to match Tomatsu-san who plays Aoko, so I would like for the weirdness of such a cooperative play to be felt.
-- Can you tell us please about some of the memorable events that have occured while working in the middle of the porting project ?
Nasu: After recording the voices of Tsukihime R, and while recording the voices of Mahoyo, I replayed Mahoyo by myself for a first time in a long while. I know this might sound narcisstic but even in the current day and age, for a monster of Mahoyo's quality to be seen..... I was aiming to create a work that can be enjoyed by everyone, young and old, male and female, and without bias. All of the staff were still young back then, including Tsukuri Monoji-san who was in charge of the presentation, put their whole heart and soul into creating this work, which gave it the feeling of being an out of place artifact.
Koyama: I want to say it was the power of youth but I was already not young at the time. (Laughs)
Nasu: Koyama-san's illustrations were beautiful in every way possible. Coupled with the presentation, only one word "amazing" could come out. For Tsukihime it was " Original drawings: Takeuchi " , "Coloring: Koyama san with Type-Moon's team" but for Mahoyo it was "Original drawings: Koyama" , "Colouring: Koyama-san". The illusttator who would normally be appreciated just for drawing a single main visual image is now in charge of all the illustrations. The use of both of Koyama-san and Tsukuri Monoji-san is a luxurious work.
Koyama: Many people both from inside the company and outside it worked on the graphics, but I was desperate to unify all of them with my own colour. But when I played the game again, I managed to see that I did my best at the time including how much time I spent going around in circles. Looking at it back from today's perspective, as expected there are many things that I would be disappointed with, and while this might sound narcisstic I felt like I did my very best working on it.
Nasu: Mahoyo is a work that I was able to create at the best time. If Tsukihime R is a car, then Mahoyo is a ship. I don't think they are comparable now, but while I was working working on Tuskihime R, I felt like: " As a game to be released after Mahoyo, we have to create something that we would not be ashamed to release anywhere" so I was under a lot of pressure at the time.
Koyama: I think that people involved in creative stuff, not just us, try to do the best they can at the time.
Nasu: Koyama-san, from your point of view what did you think of Tsukuri Monoji-san's script ?
Koyama: Normally, we would work with the completed CG files, but when Tsukuri Monoji-san felt that they were insufficient for the presentation, he would open the Photoshop files in the shared folder of the graphics team, go through the disconnected layers, and pick out the usable materials for use. There were some materials that could not be used as they were, so they were reworked as new CG materials each time.
Nasu: The scripting concept is different. The staff of Tsukihime R also replayed Mahoyo and their evaluation was that the they did not know how that presentation was created with the techonology of the time.
Koyama: The experience of having my CG work incorporated into the presentation that exceeded my expectations was a shock to me while I was working on Fate. So I felt I was breaking through the limits while working on Fate/hollow Ataraxia and Mahoutsukai no Yoru.
Nasu: Given the fact that it is difficult for a small team of elite numbers to prepare new materials, should we use the existing materials in an imaginative and creative manner ? I had the impression that Tsukuri Monoji-san always struggled to get the materials he wanted because it was not a situation where they could come out so easily.
-- Listening to you, a lot of passion can be felt but did you feel any burn out after the production ?
Koyama: Truth to be told, I was close to burn out.
Nasu: Type-Moon games are promoted with a single writer and a single illustrator as " the faces of the work" so the reputation of the work is more directly directly related to the individuals than the brand. There are merits and demerits to this method, but the pressure on each of the illustrator and the writer is tremendous.
Koyama: At the time, it was all about whether I could finish the game or not, because I didn't want to feel like I had unfinished bussiness after the game had gone gold. To put it in a cool way, it was a battle to see if I could beat my own self.
Nasu: You tend to dismiss other people's mistakes as inevitable, but you make sure that what you create by your own self is perfect.
Koyama: I didn't want to have any regrets. So after finishing the production of Mahoyo, I took some time off to relax but you have always been running, haven't you ?
Nasu: In my case, after I finished writing the scenario and took a break, I finished it up while resting my head and body, looked at the script and the presentation and saw that they were finished up, but the next project was already running.... Of course I felt the joy the of saying "It's over !!" but I also felt like, " Okay, I survived this time too.... onto the next battlefield". I felt as if my execution has been postponed a bit.
Type-Moon's methods to pioneer the rough waves of a new era
-- Was there any change in your way of thinking and way of doing things between the release of Mahoyo and the release of Tsukihime R ?
Koyama: The entertainment industry has always been an industry that changes quickly, but recently I feel that the pace of change is particularly rapid. Ever since I got involved in FGO, I have noticed that young artists are gaining momentum. They are all very good in their craft, the industry as a whole continues to raise the level of quality, so I always feel a sense of urgency. There are many ways of drawing that are not possible in the the way I have been working in so far, so I am often motivated by them, and feel that I need to update myself little by little.
Nasu: FGO was a major turning point for me as well. When I was still making only consumer games, I had sense of security that no matter what happened and how good many young and talented people appeared, the fields where each of us played would be different. The younger generation would be making cutting edge games while we would continue making good old consumer games. That is why I didn't feel that it was necessary for us to compete, however when FGO started and we entered the arena of social games and stood on the same stage as the new generation, I was surprised a lot by their way of thinking and spirit. If I were to use an F1 analogy, it was like a sudden change from a formula racing to a drag racing, it was really tough. But, thanks to that I was able to grow as a person. I thought of it as if I was studying a new culture with the feeling of a first year student feeling, so starting FGO was a hard to come by experience for me as a writer. Had I not dabbled in the field of social games, I don't think I would have been able to experience that live feeling, the experience of building up excitement together with the users.
-- What did you find new in the last decade, including games and other genres ?
Koyama : In home video games from overseas, not only the graphics, but also the motions of the characters are very natural. I felt like this was different from the games I have played in the past.
Nasu: For overseas games, there is Horizon Zero Dawn by Guerrilla Games, for Japanese games you have Elden Ring. I would call them, the Horizon of Power and the Elden of Skill. Horizon Zero Dawn is the ultimate game based on awesome graphics, great behavior, a deep story, the charm of the main character, Aloy, and methods such as that of the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series. On the other hand, "Elden Ring" is the culmination of 100 years of accumulated experience by the company president Miyazaki Hidetaka, who has always wanted to create games on a large scale like those produced overseas. Although From Software does not have large resources, it has used the technology, experience, and sense it has cultivated over the years to create works of art that only From Software can produce. I felt that both of these games presented an open-world format, while at the same time taking what has been cultivated in existing games and distilling it into the most interesting forms for the current era.
Koyama: Koyama : I still have a strong impression of Vanillaware's 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. I remember you talking about it quite passionately.
Nasu: From a scenario writing's point of view, the quality of the story and the beauty of the visuals are of course great, but the way they collected retro Sci-fi elements from the 80s and 90s, took them apart, and reorganized them in that order is also amazing. I have heard it from Kamitani George-san of Vanillaware directly, but it seems that they made a collection of the best of retro techniques and managed to make ends meet due to lack of materials. I realized that they must have felt the same difficulties that we felt with Mahoyo so our conversation became more exciting (laughs).
Koyama : 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim actually has small number of background materials, but they are used so well that you don't feel it.
Nasu: The way they made it look as if there were many scenes with little material was very skillful. The work was put together by a single talented person with an unusual amount of persistence. It was not a game where everyone did the same work and produced the same quality, but rather a game where one person took on a great deal of responsibility.
Koyama : If other people were to be asked if they could do the same thing, the hurdle would be quite high due to various restrictions. In that sense, it might be similar to Mahoyo.
Nasu: After Mahoyo was released, I was hoping that more visual novel games would appear in a variety of formats and the industry would be more alive, but that didn't actually happen. The advantage of visual novel is that "you can create a large, long scenario with a small amount of materials" but that advantage became something of a stumbling block in the end. The ADV format, which was a "new" presentation style in the 1990s, was stuck in a rut by 2010. No matter how much the content matured, its way of being remained old-fashioned. If we don't keep creating new things, it will be difficult to get the younger generation to enjoy them. The content that has appeared in the last ten years: subscription services, Youtubers, and Vtubers conform to this era's new present condition and are very popular with the youth. In particular, I think Vtubers are a new form of entertainer who are created as professionals. A VTuber keeps presenting what otaku want to see in the moment, so the daily broadcasts themselves are like TV shows. There's no way they wouldn't be popular.
Koyama: Like they squeezed out all the umami from a character's content.
Nasu: It's a dream come true to be able to meet the characters I like from a game and converse with their virtual self. Being able to interact with them like a friend is also such powerful content. It accelerates the speed at which you feel affection for beings you believe are close to you.
Koyama: When you say it like that, the concept is close to meeting idols like AKB48.
Nasu: I think it's close. Vtubers are one of the ideal forms of character content. They are tremendous amounts of content created by humans since AI is not yet able to meet our demands. I had a dream as child which I abandoned thinking, "There's no way that can happen..." There will definitely be a time in the future when you can "meet and talk to the characters of a game you love," but I don't know if I'll live to see that. However, the wish I had as a child will come true. Perhaps the next generation of intelligent beings that have graduated from humanity is the product of our field. With that in mind, I feel like trying my best as a writer. It's difficult to keep up with the new, shifting waves, but jumping in and finding something entertaining is awesome.
Koyama: Inside, people don't change, so I think the good things about Type-Moon's core won't either. Everyone is just greedy for new things.
Nasu: 40% of people who played Tsuki Re played the doujin version, so that's a pretty good theory isn't it.
Koyama: It seems that many people got their first taste of visual novels with Tsukihime R.
Nasu: I think there are many of them. History repeats itself, or perhaps it is the same feeling we had when we first played Kamaitachi no Yoru. My first impression was, "What's so interesting about a game that's just text? But when I actually played it, it was very fun. I hope we can provide that kind of experience with Mahoyo as well. The motive for joining can be anything. I'm happy if they started this work because they saw the anime, because it was well-received by others, because they are a fan of Tomatsu-san, or for any other reason, and if they enjoyed it, I would be glad they did!
Koyama : In terms of volume, it is just the right length for a first-time visual novel player.
Nasu: If you know the PC version, I hope you will play it as if it were a reunion (laughs). I would like to say this out loud, but I would like to give a shout-out to Hunex. As it is the case with Tsukihime R and Mahoyo, it is very difficult to make a consumer version of the PC version. In particular, Tsukihime R and Mahoyo have different presentation qualities, so it was impossible to use the same technology for both. I can only express my gratitude to the creators for working together with us and facing up to this difficult challenge. I hope you will experience the wonderfulness of the presentation.
--Thank you very much. Now, please give a final message to our readers.
Koyama : If you have played FGO and are interested in Type-Moon's works but are not sure what to play, I would like you to play Mahoyo. For those who have played Tsukihime R, I think they will enjoy the different tastes of Mahoyo even though it shares the same setting as it.
Nasu: Mahoyo is the origin of Nasu Kinoko's works and it boasts the highest quality among all Type Moon products. That being said, I hope that you will play the game with the same ease you would enjoy a cup of black tea or a slice of cake at a coffee shop. For those who are familiar with other Nasu Kinoko works, the historical background and setting changed from the doujinshi version of Tsukihime to Tsukihime R, Mahoyo was not affected by that. There are no spoilers in it for another work, so you can enjoy it without worry.
Nasu Kinoko Excerpt from Reminescence
Next is a question about Beryl, Crypter of the English Lostbelt. He seemed to have had his eyes on Mash and Mash alone. Would you say that [his feelings for her] was the only thing that drove him?
In contrast to Kirschtaria, who carried the fate of the world on his shoulders, Beryl is just an individual with no responsibilities whatsoever. He does only what he wants to do. He’s never been told to accomplish grand feats either. Basically, he just does what makes him happy.
In Olympus, Beryl caught Kirschtaria off guard and inflicted a mortal wound on him. But he never planned to do that from the start. He didn’t give a damn about whoever emerged victorious, be it Kirschtaria or Chaldea. Neither did he care if some “Foreign God” descended at all. All that mattered to him was for this world to be the type of environment he preferred. Which was why he couldn’t accept Kirschtaria’s plan to make humans into superior, godlike beings, and in the process have humans as a species overcome their weakness of repeatedly making mistakes. Beryl’s stance was basically, “That’s just plain boring. To hell with that. Guess I’ll have to kill you after all.”
As to why someone like him would go through great lengths of making a contract with the Foreign God in order to be revived, it’s because of his earnest wish to see Mash. That’s the only reason.
In the English Lostbelt, Beryl was working together with Baobhan Sith. What was she to him?
She’s a friend who’s fun to be with that doubles as a handy tool he can use should the need arise. To Beryl, the atrocities he committed towards the fae folk, including Baobhan Sith, were just one part of his daily life. Beryl never saw the need to seal her fate himself because her soul was “as good as finished” after using a forbidden curse. That she never had to go down the path where she dies in the hands of her beloved was the silver lining to her situation.
From Beryl’s perspective, Morgan and Baobhan Sith’s relationship, the way their love for each other never seem to sync, is “perfectly commonplace” in human society. He neither felt obligated to intervene nor had any effort to spare to do so.
Beryl saw Baobhan Sith as a like-minded playmate and was simply working together with her as a friend who’s on the same wavelength as her. Baobhan Sith, a maiden in love with love, held Beryl very dear in her own way, but Beryl was only ever interested in Mash.
Speaking of which, the “clingy princess” Beryl mentioned in one of their Crypter meetings was Baobhan Sith, right? This was a widely discussed topic among fans on the internet…
He was referring to Baobhan Sith for sure. The things Beryl said in that Crypter meeting were a pack of lies. The man’s a bad wolf. He laces and embellishes his lies with the truth, all the while hiding the important details. While it was true that Baobhan Sith followed him around, he deliberately phrased it in a way that would give others the wrong idea.
His job is to kill the other Crypters should the situation call for it, so he would never just tell them the truth. To put it another way, Beryl is looking down on the other six. If it ever comes down to a fight, he thinks he’d win. He may be ranked fourth in terms of combat prowess, but he’s more accustomed to killing than anyone. …That being said, Pepe actually outclasses him even when it comes to “killing”, something he never realized even in his final moments.
So does that make Peperoncino second to none in terms of combat prowess?
Pepe would win in a simple 1v1 match to death, but Kirschtaria would be the one to emerge victorious in a frontal “war”. And regardless of the situation, the one to ultimately win would be Daybit due to his unpredictability. These three are more or less evenly matched, so winning boils down to compatibility. Assuming the two belong to the same category of strength, you could say Pepe is backward compatible with Beryl.
So we already know who would win if Beryl and Pepe were to clash head-on.
That’s right. Beryl thinks he could kill Pepe in an instant if he wanted to, hence his arrogance. Meanwhile, Pepe, sensing what’s on Beryl’s mind, would just shrug it off like the adult he is. “Sure, if that’s what you think. You do you.”
Morgan, Queen of the Fae Kingdom, was a character as equally important as Artoria Caster. What kind of figure did you initially intend to portray Morgan as?
The initial plot revolved around defeating Morgan, so during this stage the plan was to introduce PHH Morgan into the story… But the First and Second Ascension designs Takeuchi finished didn’t align with how I imagined PHH Morgan to be. I was like, “You’re telling me…this aloof beauty is that debauched, sly, scheming witch…?” What can I do then? So I remodeled her as Lostbelt Morgan instead, then conceptualized how the story would change with Lostbelt Morgan as the ruler of the Fae Kingdom… My ideas went crazy from there until the foundation of the existing plot came to be.
The influence of Takeuchi’s art helped shape the story, then.
It sure did. I think this process is characteristic to FGO…to game production, actually. The story turns into something more fascinating and complex thanks to both the writer’s ideas and the artist. That being said, the design we had at hand was a bit lacking in dignity for a queen supposedly reigning over the Fae Kingdom, not to mention she looked exactly like Artoria Caster. That’s when we opted to hide her face behind a special black veil whenever she appeared in the story.
So is her personality different from PHH Morgan’s?
Nasu: Lostbelt Morgan was an Avalon le Fae sent to correct the fae world. She’s not a heinous fiend like PHH Morgan and is in fact a diligent woman at heart. She’s a genius one-rank above Artoria Caster in everything and correspondingly has a harder time understanding people’s feelings. Having received only information from her PHH self, she became a ruthless queen as a result of walking the path of hardship and suffering betrayal in the hands of numerous faes for centuries. Despite all that, her innate righteousness and affection for those she could trust never changed.
Morgan has defeated many powerful opponents since back when she was traveling the isles as Tonelico, including Wryneck, previous leader of the Fang Clan, and Mab, Queen of the North. Has she always been favored with high combat prowess?
If we use Tsukihime R as an example, Morgan back in her Tonelico days would be Tohno Shiki… Her opponents outclassed her most of the time, but she always won by a hair through her wisdom, courage, and guts. Her opponents also end up acknowledging her strength and forming a bond with her. Wryneck in particular was left feeling all tingly inside. “This brat is weak, so how come she’s this strong…!” …All Saberfaces are like this.
To conclude this interview, could you disclose any particulars about the upcoming LB7?
Here’s a bit of info then. The title of the upcoming Lostbelt is “Golden Sea of Trees Travelogue/A Narrative of Travels on the Golden Sea of Trees”. The flow will be ultra simple unlike LB6 and will basically go like: We’re off to an extremely ominous realm! → Time to traverse this region! → We did it. Hurray! → Well, I feel like a lot of things make actual sense now. We’re finally making our way to the ultimate goal of Part 2!
…It’s not going to be that simple though, is it?
No, really. We won’t produce another chapter on the same scale as LB6. We offer a different genre for each FGO main story quest, so I don’t think we’ll do another long-form content for Part 2. The upcoming chapter will simply be a fantasy adventure story. Something along the lines of, “Hey guys! Do you wanna explore a jungle-themed realm in the comfort of your home? You do, right!” We’re striving to create content that is compelling for its simplicity.