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Say It In Red! An Interview with Ryukishi07

Today we have a very special interview for you all, as I sat down with Ryukishi07 to talk about his works, how a visual novel becomes an anime, and what it takes to become a successful writer.

But before we get to the core of the interview, I’d like to share with you all a bit about Ryukishi07 and his work. One of the founders of the doujin circle 07th Expansion, Ryukishi07 first rose to prominence for his work on the 2002 visual novel Higurashi, a tale in which a small town in 1980’s Japan is plagued by a mysterious disease, for which he not only wrote the the scenario, but also drew and designed most of the game’s characters as well.

After the success of Higurashi, which would go on to be adapted into both an anime and manga, 07th Expansion found its next big hit in 2007 in the form of Umineko, an eight part visual novel in which a series of mysterious murders befalls a family visiting their grandfather’s remote island mansion for a yearly meeting. Like Higurashi, Umineko would also eventually be adapted into several different mediums and has since enjoyed considerable popularity in both the Eastern and Western parts of the world.

His most recent work is Rose Gun Days, a story of an alternate post-World War 2 Japan released in 2012. Now that you know a bit more about today’s subject, lets get to the interview, which we’ve presented below both in the original Japanese and English.

WARNING: Major Spoilers for Umineko lie beyond this point!

***

1. APGNationと話し、ありがとうございます。 まず、APGNationの聴衆に自分を紹介下さい。

皆さん、初めましてこんにちは!
同人サークル「07th Expansion」を主宰しております、竜騎士07と申します。
「同人活動」とは、日本では“アマチュア”や“趣味の活動”を意味しています。
私も、趣味で活動するその中の1人です。
制作物の代表作は、「ひぐらしのなく頃に」や「うみねこのなく頃に」といった、サウンドノベル作品(パソコンで読む、絵と音楽の付いた小説です)になります。
絵やゲームをデザインすることもありますが、シナリオライターとして活動することが多いです。
(もちろん、同人活動=趣味の活動ですので、シナリオだけでなく、楽しいと思ったことにはこれからもどんどんチャレンジしていこうと考えています)

APGNation: Thank you for talking with APGNation. First of all, please introduce yourself to our audience.

Ryukishi07: Hello and nice to meet you, everyone!

We are the doujin circle “07th Expansion.” My name is Ryukishi07.

In Japan, “doujin activities” refers to “amateur” or “hobby activities.”

I am one of those who partakes in such a hobby.

Our works, such as “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni” and “Umineko no Naku Koro ni,” are called Sound Novels (to be read on a PC, with the novel text accompanied by images and music).

There are times I work on the art and game design, but it’s common for me to work as a scenario writer.

(Of course, because doujin activities are a hobby, I’d like to keep challenging myself with things other then scenario for fun)

2. 竜騎士07先生はどうやってライターをなった?

自分の内なる世界を表現する為に、様々な方法に挑戦してきました。
その中で、一番自分に合った方法が、「文字で表現し、音楽や絵で演出する」というサウンドノベルの技法でした。
その方法で自己表現をし、作品を作ると決めて、キーボードに向かった瞬間が、ライターになれた瞬間だったのではないかなと思っています。

APGNation: How did you become a writer?

Ryukishi07: In order to express my own inner world, I’ve challenged myself in various ways.

Among these was the technique of the Sound Novel, a synthesis of writing, music direction, and art.

I think that once I expressed myself that way, decided on a work, and face the keyboard, that might be the moment I became a writer.

3. お気に入りビジュアルノベルがありますか?

僕にサウンドノベルという画期的な表現方法を教えてくれた、スーパーファミコンのソフト「弟切草」、「かまいたちの夜」を、まず挙げないわけにはいきません。
さらに加えると、LEAFの名作「雫」「痕」「To Heart」、Keyの名作「ONE」「KANON」「AIR」も欠かすことが出来ないと思います。

APGNation: Do you have a favorite visual novel?

Ryukishi07: I would be amiss not to first mention “Otogiriso” and “Banshee’s Last Cry [from Chunsoft] which taught me the groundbreaking medium that is the Sound Novel.

Furthermore, the LEAF works “Shizuku,” “Kizuato,” and “To Heart,” as well as Key’s works “ONE,” “KANON,” and “AIR” must be mentioned just as well.

4. 竜騎士07先生の多くの作品がミステリーです。先生とのミステリーのジャンルとの履歴はなんですか?

僕にとっては、ミステリーというより、僕とユーザーの皆さんとの「ゲーム」というジャンルであると考えています。(ミステリーは、そんな「ゲーム」の中の1ジャンルだと考えております)
もちろん、ミステリーというジャンルも大好きで色々と古典的名作は読んでおります。
ただ、ミステリー好きを自称する方々に比べれば、まったく読んでいない部類に入りますので、とてもミステリー好きなどとは名乗れません。

APGNation: Many of your works are mysteries or have elements of mysteries. What is your personal history with the mystery genre?

Ryukishi07: For me, rather then a mystery, I think of the genre as a “game” between me and our users. (I think of mystery as just one genre within that kind of “game.”)

Of course, there are many classic literary works that belong to the mystery genre, and I also love to read those.

However, in comparison to those who are self-proclaimed mystery lovers, by their standards I’m not even reading, so I can’t proclaim to be a huge mystery lover.

5. 「うみねこのなく頃に 散」に、「ノックスの十戒」と「ヴァンダインの二十のルール」の話があります。現代に、このルールはミステリーのジャンルにまだ有効と思うかな?
「ノックス十戒」も「ヴァンダイン二十則」も、その当時のミステリーに適用されるべきルールだと思っています。
ミステリーも常に進化を続けていますので、現代の最先端ミステリーに古臭い規則を適用するのは、適当ではないかなと思っています。
ただ、ミステリーの基本ではあると思うので、一読して損はないと思います。

APGNation: In “Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru,” Knox’s Decalogue and Van Dine’s Twenty Rules are a plot point. Do you think these rules are still valid to the mystery genre in modern times?

Ryukishi07: I do think that Knox’s Decalogue and Van Dine’s Twenty Rules should be applied to mysteries from this time period.

Since mysteries are constantly evolving, I also think that it might not be appropriate to apply old-fashioned rules to state-of-the-art mysteries.

However, because these are some of the basic rules of mysteries, I believe that it can’t hurt to at least browse them.

6. 07th Expansion」の作品に多くのアニメと漫画にの援用があります。これを置く、どうやって決めるか?

基本的には、企業からオファーをいただき、それをお受けする形となっています。
これまでに、アニメ化や漫画化で色々と盛り上げていただけたのは、全てそれらの企業様のご厚意と営業努力によるものです。心から感謝しております。
なので、当方の作品のアニメ化や漫画化を応援して下さる方は、僕にでなく、日本の会社などに言っていただけると嬉しいです(笑)

APGNation: There are many of your works that have been adapted into anime or manga. How is it decided as to which works receive adaptations?

Ryukishi07: Basically, we receive an offer from the company, and we accept it.

So far, the availability of anime and manga adaptations of our works is made possible by courteous cooperation with such companies, and for this I am sincerely grateful.

So, for those who are rooting for more anime and manga of our work, I would be happy if you could support the Japanese companies responsible. (laughs)

7. 同様に、お気に入り漫画やアニメがありますか?

好きな漫画やアニメは色々とあるのですが、制作者の立場で長く過ごしてしまった為、甲乙を付けることが出来なくなってしまいました。
なので、どの作品にもそれぞれの魅力を感じ、また触発されて、自身の創作へのモチベーションになっています。

APGNation: On that note, do you have a favorite anime or manga?

Ryukishi07: There is a wide variety of manga and anime that I like, but when you’ve been in the position of author as long as I have, it’s harder to discriminate.

Because of this, I can feel that every work has its own charm and this inspires me and becomes a motivation for my own work.

8. 竜騎士07先生が「Rewrite」のためにKeyと協力した。このコラボレーションにどう思うですか?

●Keyは僕が尊敬し、同時に大好きなメーカーだったので、シナリオライターの抜擢を受けた時には、躍り上がる程に喜びました!
僕なりの精一杯の仕事をさせていただき、貴重な体験をすることが出来ました。
「竜騎士07」として、生涯忘れることの出来ない素晴らしい思い出の1つです!

latest

A CG from the character Lucia’s route in Rewrite. Ryukishi07 wrote this particular route.

APGNation: You worked with Key on the visual novel “Rewrite.” What are your thoughts on this collaboration?

Ryukishi07: I respect Key immensely, and at the time they are my favorite [visual novel] manufacturer, so when I was handpicked to be a scenario writer, I was so overjoyed I could dance!

In carrying out my work to the best of my ability, I was able to make it a valuable experience.

As “Ryukishi07,” it is one of my greatest memories, and I won’t forget it as long as I live!

9. 07th Expansion」のファンの作成したプロジェクトに、お気に入りがありますか?

ファンの皆さんが行なってくれる活動は、どれもみんな、心から感謝してものすごく気に入っております!
ファンの方が、作品の世界観をモチーフにしたコンセプトカフェを開催して下さったのですが、その見事な世界観の再現に、とても感動したことをよく覚えております。
もちろん、07th作品の同人誌を書いて下さる全て皆さんと作品にも、心から感謝しております。僕が個人的に集めた、ファンの同人誌は全て、僕の大切な宝物です。

APGNation: Do you have a favorite project made by fans of 07th Expansion?

Ryukishi07: We are sincerely  grateful for all of your activities!

One fan opened a concept café based on our work. It was truly a stunning reproduction of  our world, and I still remember how incredibly impressed I was.

Of course, to everyone who has written doujinshi [fan comics] and other creations based on 07th Expansion’s work, I am sincerely grateful. I’ve collected them personally and they are all my precious treasures.

10. 竜騎士07先生の作成したキャラクター、お気に入りがありますか?

どのキャラクターも大変気に入っていますが、敢えて1人を選ぶとしたら……、「うみねこのなく頃に」に登場する、ベアトリーチェでしょうか。
猫のようにくるくると性格や表情を変える彼女の賑やかさは、僕の描いたキャラクターの中でも屈指のものだと思います。
ですが、どんなキャラクターも執筆しているその時は、一番のお気に入りとして描いております。

beato

The Golden Witch Beatrice, from the PS3 version of Umineko.

APGNation: Among your own characters, do you have a favorite?

Ryukishi07I love all of my characters greatly, but if I had to choose one person, it would be Beatrice, who appears in Umineko.

I think that the liveliness of how her personality and facial expressions are constantly changing like a cat’s stand out amongst characters I’ve drawn.

But, at the same time, it’s hard not to consider any character you’re writing as a favorite.

11. 「うみねこのなく頃に」の安田 紗代が面白いです。紗代の作成にどう思うですか? さらに、「うみねこ」の漫画に紗代の拡張にどう思うですか?

紗代のキャラクターの秘密は、「うみねこのなく頃に」という物語の中核を為すものでした。なので、その内面や生い立ちは、慎重かつ複雑にデザインしました。
原作版では、読者に謎解きや想像の余地を残す為、敢えて紗代の秘密を詳しく描かないことを選びました。(もちろん、読み取ることは出来ますが、万人にわかるようには描きませんでした)
漫画版の「うみねこ」は、「うみねこ世界」のピリオドとなる作品になると思っていました。
なので、漫画家の夏海先生とのお打ち合わせの際に、全ての秘密を誰にでもわかる形で描いて欲しいとお願いさせていただきました。
なので、漫画版のEP8に登場する紗代のエピソードは全て、「うみねこ世界」の正式な回答になります。
決して、漫画版独自の解釈ではありません。正式な、竜騎士07からの回答です。

Clair Vaux Bernardus, one of Sayo Yasuda's alternat personas.

Clair Vaux Bernardus, one of Sayo Yasuda’s alternate personas.

APGNation: The  character of Sayo Yasuda in Umineko is interesting. What were your thoughts in Sayo’s creation? Additionally, what were your thoughts on her expansion in the Umineko manga?

Ryukishi07: The  secret of the character of Sayo is the core of Umineko’s story, so her inner workings and development were designed carefully and with the utmost complexity.

In the original version, in order to leave room for imagination for the reader to solve the mystery, I chose not to draw Sayo’s secrets in great detail (of course, it’s still possible to grasp, but I didn’t show things in a way where everyone would get it.)

With the manga version of Umineko, however, we considered the work to be a “period” to the “sentence” that is the world of Umineko.

Because of this, when I met with Natsumi-sensei [Kei Natsumi, the artist of the manga adaptation of Umineko’s eighth episode], I asked her to show all the secrets in a way that can easily be understood by anyone.

Thus, all of the episode of Sayo that appeared in the EP8 manga is the official answer to the world of Umineko.

By no means is the manga version a individual interpretation. It is an official answer from me, Ryukishi07.

12. ライターになるを狙え英語を話すファンにアドバイスがありますか?

世間のニーズを読み取り、自分の主義主張を伏せて執筆が出来る「ビジネスタイプ」か、世間のニーズなど無視して、自分の好きなことだけを書きまくる「情熱タイプ」か。自分がどちらに属するかを、早めに理解しておくと、道に迷わずに済むと思います。
「ビジネスタイプ」なら、冷静に計算高く仕事に徹し、間違っても趣味の活動だなどと勘違いしないようにしましょう。
「情熱タイプ」なら、存分に自分の欲望のみに従って突き進んで下さい。その代り、自分の作品を誰も読んでくれなくても、それを悲しんではなりません。
「情熱タイプ」で執筆をし、それが世間のニーズと合致して「ビジネスタイプ」でスケジュール通りに仕事を出来たなら、生涯無敵の「パーフェクトタイプ」に進化できます!
竜騎士07ですか?
「情熱タイプ」崩れの、ただのオジサンです(笑)

APGNation: Do you have any advice for English-speaking fans who want to become writers?

Ryukishi07To understand and express the needs and wants of the public over your own principles and position can be considered “Business Type,” whereas to ignore the needs of the public and write only what one wants to write can be considered “Passion Type.” If you can figure out which one you are as soon as possible, I think you should be able to move forward without losing your way.

If you’re a “Business Type,” devote yourself to calm and calculated work, and even if you make a mistake don’t misunderstand what you’re doing for a hobby.

And if you’re a “Passion Type,” devote yourself to writing according to your desires, writing for the sake of writing. But in exchange, even if no one reads your work, you must never worry about that.

If you’re a “Passion Type” able to work within the schedule of a “Business Type”, you can evolve into an invincible “Perfect Type!”

Am I one of these?

I’m just an old guy who’s a broken down “Passion Type.” (laugh)

13. APGNationと話し、ありがとうございました。竜騎士07のファンとAPGNationの聴衆に、別れの言葉がありますか?

ここまでお読みいただき、誠にありがとうございました!
外国の方に僕の作品を読んでいただけるだけで、僕には望外の喜びです。
これからも、僕なりの精一杯の作品を発表してまいりますので、どうかお付き合いをいただければ幸いです。
どうかこれからもよろしくお願い致します!
もしよろしければ……、外国の方の感想もぜひ聞いてみたいです。
英語でも日本語でも結構ですので、お寄せいただけると嬉しいです。
この度はどうもありがとうございました!

APGNation: Thank you for speaking with APGNation. Do you have any parting words for your fans and for APGNation’s audience?

Ryukishi07: Thank you very much for reading thus far!

I am overjoyed just that people abroad are reading my works.

In the future, I will continue to announce works I put my all into. I would greatly appreciate [a continuance of] this relationship [correspondence] with everyone following me.

At any rate, thank you both now and in the future!

If possible… I’d also like to hear the impressions of foreign visitors.

English and Japanese responses are both good, so please do let us know.

Thank you very much for this experience!

——

I would like to thank Ryukishi07 for so graciously taking time from his day to answer our questions, it has been an honor for me as a long time fan of his works. I now flip the chessboard and give you, our loyal readers, a chance to voice your feelings about Ryukishi07’s work. Just take a moment or two to share your experiences with any of 07th Expansion’s works here in the article comments or on Twitter @APGNation and @fluffyharpy. You can also follow Ryukishi07 and the rest of 07th Expansion on Twitter @07th_official.

I would also like to thank my fiance Matt Gallagher for translating the text of this article from English to Japanese and back again, as well as  my friend Chris Fanning and everyone else nice enough to double check my work. You are all awesome.

About The Author
Nicole Seraphita
Nicole Seraphita
My name is Nicole Seraphita and I’m 27. I’ve been gaming since the days of the NES and have owned at least one system from each generation since then. My favorite type of games if most definitely RPGs, with my favorites being titles like Chrono Cross, Persona 4, and Tales of Xillia, though I also sometimes dabble in platforming games, fighting games, and visual novels. When I’m not writing for APGNation or playing games, I enjoy table top and card games, watch anime, and write fiction that I occasionally publish online. I tend to write a lot of Sci-fi and the occasional bit of fantasy, with the often overlooked sub-genre of Biopunk being my favorite. I’ve also written a few visual novels, though only one of them has made it all the way to completion thus far. My current dream is to be able to bring the Monster Girl genre to a western audience.