The merger of Chunsoft and TYPE-MOON
—First, Ishii-san, will you tell us about the opportunity that led you to ask TYPE-MOON to create the extra chapter 「Canaan」 in 「428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de」?
Ishii: It was 5 years ago, I finished 「Fate/stay night」 and felt greatly impacted by it, especially the effects—the production part was done very well, and made me think "so even galgames can be this amazing." Later I became drinking buddy with Nasu-san and Takeuchi-san, and was filled with emotion upon hearing about how 「Fate/stay night」's production was inspired by 「Otogirisō」 (Chunsoft's first game), that what Chunsoft has been doing has been inherited by the new generation. Later, as we saw each other more often, talks of making something together came naturally. But that was just talk, for TYPE-MOON, a project where they have to create the main script would place too much pressure on them, which resulted in the idea of "it should be okay if it's an add-on script to 「428」."
Takeuchi: At the time we were still working on 「Fate/hollow ataraxia」. Thinking about it, we got involved with 「428」 really early.
—So you have been talking about it since a long time ago. So, how long did it take to make the 「Canaan」 chapter?
Takeuchi: The time Nasu actually spent writing the script was around two weeks, but the preparation time before that was very long. Even though the direction of the plot was already decided, he was frustrated by how much of his own style should be used, whether to tie in with the styles of the other authors, or to showcase his own unique flavor. In the end he found his own answer, that is, it's best to showcase his own style.
Ishii: At the time I also said "I want to see the same Nasu-style that appeared in other works." My view is that if Nasu-san didn't go with the style that only he himself has, then there would be no meaning in asking him to write the scenario. It would be even better to make use of Takeuchi-san's art and TYPE-MOON's production on top of this, maximizing them all and put them into 「Canaan」.
—TYPE-MOON has been constantly challenging itself in its works, so what kind of challenge did you face in 「Canaan」?
Takeuchi: This is the first time TYPE-MOON didn't use character portraits, relying on only background CG to create a game. Despite this, it's not like all the original artworks were done by me. The storyboard for the scenes were prepared by Chunsoft, which were then used as basis for the animation crew to create the original drawings and coloring, and then we applied the effects to these materials and finally finished them.
Ishii: There were strong reactions in the animation staff as well. Many staff commented that rather than an extra add-on script, this is more like a stand-alone film, and they all came rushing to get involved in its production.
Takeuchi: The drawings they produced were really good, which motivated us as well. In the end it became troublesome due to the number of drawings. According to the original plan, the whole thing was made up of around 100 scenes, but in the end there were 150 scenes, counting the temporary extra scenes, we were getting close to 200... After this I realized that we are the kind of people who would not only use all 100 scene materials if only 100 were available, but also increase the total number of scenes by half.
Ishii: Even though we were already over our estimated number of scenes, Takeuchi-san kept saying to us "can we add 3 more?", "sorry, 5 more..." in the end they were gradually added in.
Takeuchi: Ah, I'm so sorry about that (sweat). This was all caused by us greedy TYPE-MOON members who don't consider the consequences once we are in the zone during production.
—What gave you guys so much motivation?
Takeuchi: If we decided to do it, then we have to make something fun. Later we were pleasantly surprised when we found out "Eh? Even though this is supposed to be an add-on, it turned out pretty good!"
—When I played 「Canaan」, the whole process took around 3 hours. I never expected this much content.
Takeuchi: It's long right? I also feel we overdid it.
Ishii: The original idea was to make it only around an hour. After seeing Nasu-san's script, I got the feeling of "Oh no, there's no way this can be done in an hour..." (laughs)
New truths being disclosed, insider information during the production period
—Let's talk about 「Canaan」's three main characters.
Takeuchi: Regarding Canaan, the original request from Ishii-san was "a character with a gender-neutral appearance that looks both like a young man and a young girl." He then added another request more specific, to the point of "preferably someone like Saber."
Ishii: Yup, yup (laughs). At the time I asked for a female character with unshakable faith and values just like Saber.
Takeuchi: Hearing that made me realize: "Is that it? I really just need to do it according to my own taste." And so I began the redesign process, and immediately settled on short, light-colored hair with a face that looks like Saber's. Upon initial inspection it was great, something that I liked. After showing the initial design to Ishii-san, his comment was "the character is nice, but the outfit needs to be changed."
Ishii: My request was to use a skin-tight outfit to make the overall character feel more refreshing, and also to attach to the outfit symbols unique to the character.
Takeuchi: This gave me trouble for some time. In the end the design used a combination of parts and signs from my travels.
—How about Alphard?
Takeuchi: Actually Alphard was based on an existing model. When I was still in school, I drew a manga with a heroine named Canaan. Her hairstyle of casually tying the hair behind the back of her head is almost a perfect match for Alphard.
Ishii: Eh? This is the first time I've heard this, this really makes you feel the miraculous workings of fate.
Takeuchi: The story also goes well with 「Canaan」. When I looked at the two completed characters, the traditionally righteous heroine Canaan and the shadowy villain Alphard who is her opposite, in terms of character features they are well balanced. I have always liked this kind of tough characters, seeing these two being active in the animation really makes me happy.
Ishii: The anime is set two years after the current chapter, we even discussed if we should change their clothing, the conclusion was to make no change.
Takeuchi: Maybe it's because I'm always working on galgame, but I'm somewhat opposed to changing a female lead's outfit. I feel a character's clothe is also part of his or her design, which is why Arcueid from 「Tsukihime」 has been wearing the same outfit for the past 10 years (laughs).
Ishii: This makes sense if you really think about it, (laughs) but I also can't really picture Arcueid wearing anything else.
Takeuchi: And that was the reason the anime retained their overall feel. But because someone suggested that in order to make Alphard look better in a fight, she should wear windbreaker, that's why she is wearing less in the anime compared to her appearance in the 「Canaan」 chapter. The only change made to Canaan was the design of her cuff and the shape of her tight outfit, while her original overall image was preserved.
—What about Siam?
Takeuchi: Compared to the two female main characters, Siam's design was very difficult. His is a complicated character whose nationality and background were too messy. Just by looking at him, it was impossible to understand what kind of person he is, instead, his character can be explained anyway you choose to. As a result, I had a very fuzzy picture of him in my mind, and I drew many designs in search of the one that belongs to Siam. Thinking about it now, the early designs really made him look like just a normal minion-level character (laughs). My favorite would still be the Siam from the final design draft, I just can't draw him under any other design...
Ishii: Hmm, really? It's true that the Siam from the final draft gives off a somewhat different impression compared to the Siam from the chapter in the game, I thought this was Takeuchi-san's work.
Takeuchi: Siam gives off the impression of someone strong who has retired from the frontlines, and whose self-consciousness has become very weak. I wanted to make him into someone where "even though you can feel the unique flavor of a mercenary from him, and the machine-like inorganic feeling that's hidden underneath his surface, but you still can't accurately measure his character." This was really hard work.
Ishii: That's true, Siam in 「Canaan」 has already left the frontlines, but still gives off an unique temperament. Because he was involved with wars for too long, his speeches and actions give off a mechanical flavor that values reality. For a complex character like this, Takeuchi-san was probably confused even when the draft was finalized, and only gradually settled on a design during the making of the anime. Hmm, this is something new even to me (laughs).
The world of 「428」 that is more fleshed out due to the anime adaptation and becoming cross-platform
—What's your impression of the animated version of 「Canaan」?
Ishii: It took in all the little details from the game. Not only the 「Canaan」 chapter, but also details from 「428」. I feel as a video work it should receive a full score, especially the scene in the OP where Alphard jumps from the helicopter, that was really amazing!
Takeuchi: I used to watch that scene cut by cut! It feels really similar to the intense battle between Canaan and Alphard from the game. Although the anime version of 「Canaan」 introduces many important elements, and go into each supporting cast's own story, but the focus is still on the relationship between Canaan and Alphard. The nature of this work has been presented perfectly clear in the OP.
Ishii: Right. The OP makes it clear from what perspective one should watch this work, allowing the viewers to instantly be immersed in the story. Also, the ED presented beautifully the relationship between Canaan and Maria. It's not only for the scantily clad ladies used as fan service for the audience. (laughs)
Takeuchi: Because the OP and the anime itself were so well done, the ED was made for the unsatisfied viewers to fulfill desires such as "she's my wife!"—director Ando really is smart (laughs).
—Do the two of you think interests in 「428」 grew due to the 「Canaan」 anime?
Ishii: Watching the 「Canaan」 anime is an enjoyable experience even if you didn't play the 「Canaan」 chapter in the game. It would be even more enjoyable if you played the game beforehand. However, if you play the game after watching the 「Canaan」 anime, already knowing the relationship between Canaand and understand the way Alphard thinks, and what kind of action she will take, this is probably where the biggest enjoyment lies.
Takeuchi: Exactly. The original game gave hints of how 「Canaan」 can be enjoyed. Personally I feel you should play the game before watching the anime. The fact that the voice actress for Maria in the game is different from the one in the anime can also be seen as a form of enjoyment.
—Are there any new features added to the PS3 and PSP version of 「428」?
Ishii: The spotlight feature of PS3 is probably in its high-definition picture quality display. The subtle colors that couldn't be fully shown in the Wii version can be recreated here. But because the graphics are too clear, the flaws in the Wii version were also clearly visible, as a result we had to make some adjustments. Also, 「Canaan」's music was changed to Dolby 5.1ch, using surround sound will probably make the battle scenes more immersive for the players.
Takeuchi: This is also the first time TYPE-MOON created a work with high-definition display and Dolby 5.1ch audio, so I'm personally very excited. I think in a way, at the highest PS3 standard, 「428」 can be presented in our original envisioned goal: the "future of visual sound novel." The PSP version is also worth anticipating, because you can play the PSP version while outside, or in bed, it's very convenient. It would be even better if it loads data faster.
Ishii: The load time in the PSP 「428」 is actually really fast. Even without installation, we can achieve speed close to the Wii version with some programming tricks.
Takeuchi: Really? Then I'm really looking forward to it.
—A manga version of 「Canaan」 by Ishida Akira is currently serialized in 「Comp Ace」, let us know about your view on the manga.
Ishii: In the very beginning 「428」 came from one of my inspirations, other staff members' perspectives were then mixed in, like a word-of-mouth game, and finally it became what it is today. The way its mass slowly increased was one of the interesting aspects of this work. The manga, as a piece of this puzzle, is something I am looking forward to.
Takeuchi: Ishida-sensei's art style and the intimate feel of the work are both amazing. Looking at how things are now, it seems Ishida-sensei's Alphard has big boobs, giving off a seductive vibe that's hard to put into words. I still wonder if any diehard fan would appear and yell "Alphard is my wife!" after reading the manga. (laughs)
The making of a storyline that is far away from the Nasuverse
(At this point Nasu makes his appearance)
Nasu: Did I interrupt you guys?
—No, no, of course not! It just so happens that we have some questions for Nasu-san. So let us hear about what kind of request Ishii-san gave you in the beginning when you were working on the story?
Nasu: Ishii-san's request was, using the drama between Canaan and Alphard as the focal point, create a bishoujo battle story in TYPE-MOON's style.
—Was Canaan's synesthesia part of the setting suggested by Ishii-san?
Ishii: Of course. Alphard, being the mastermind behind the 「Shibuya」 chapter, exerts overwhelming power over anyone she faces, so a normal girl would never be able to become her opponent. We also needed Canaan to somehow be able to make players feel "things are not looking good for Alphard this time" while playing 「Canaan」. Just as I was pondering what to do for her settings, I saw a special program on NHK about synesthesia, so I went to discuss with Nasu-san if we can utilize this.
Nasu: 「428」 is a story taking place in the real world, so magic and flashy superpowers don't fit in the game world. However, if we explain synesthesia through a sci-fi perspective, we can make this super heroine feel real... and so, that's how Canaan came to acquire this power.
—How difficult was it to create a work that's so distant from stories taking place in the Nasuverse?
Nasu: The most difficult part was still to figure out how much of my own style should be used in 「428」. I can't overdo it, but I also can't limit myself too much to appease the original work. All in all it was like I was trapped in a weird cycle of "how can you read the situation if you don't know if I can read the situation?" (空気を読むな、という空気を読ゆ).
—In the end you decided to go your own style.
Nasu: Yup, but my intention wasn't to make it into a foreign object that's mixed into 「428」, but rather to become a part of 「428」. Chunsoft's sound novel is like a father to me. For example, my feeling was similar to Shinji's in 「Neon Genesis Evangelion」 when Gendou told him: "Go pilot the Eva, if you can't, then go back home!"
Ishii: Wah, did I crossover to over 10 years ago? (laughs)
Nasu: The nervousness and pressure I felt at the time was just like this. In the end I was able to overcome it all by thinking "I want to write 「Canaan」! I am Nasu Kinoko, TYPE-MOON's script writer!" As a result, I wrote the bishoujo battle story in my normal style, and did my best at the end to convey to the players the information that "this is also a part of 「428」."
Takeuchi: I think it's okay to talk about it now, when the script was first finished, it was suddenly decided that the ending would be changed, so we really ran around in circles for a period of time.
Nasu: This did happen. Although Canaan did appear in 「428」, she is a character who is active outside of the main storyline. I felt an ending that simply depicted Canaan entering Shibuya should suffice in making this story a part of 「428」. However, in terms of story development, this would be very difficult...
Takeuchi: It was really hellish at the time, and Nasu also seemed to be extremely busy.
Nasu: Not really, it reality it was solved by rewriting around only one page's worth of script, but the process that led to this conclusion was extremely painful.
Creating a story that takes place in special stages such as a train and the Middle East
Ishii: Although in the end 「Canaan」 took place in a train, we originally wanted to make it like 「Flightplan」, using an airplane as the stage.
Nasu: We wanted it to take place in an enclosed space so we wouldn't need as many background CGs, and to reduce the workload on the staff. However, an airplane cabin is too small, and in the case of a gun fight, the plane may crash, so we went with a train. And so the story ended up the way it is now, in between this was another round of busy work...
Takeuchi: The end result was beyond expectation, the characters' movement range went beyond the train cabins, and included the top of the train and beneath the compartments. This ended up increasing the workload on the animation staff.
Ishii: Also, you should know that there is no such thing as a train in the Middle East. Since a train that runs on a predetermined track screams to others that you will pass by here, it can easily become a target to terrorists. So we had to ask experts to conduct research and create settings based on the premise of "if there are trains in the Middle East."
Takeuchi: Yes, yes, details like needing to switch tracks in the middle due to the meeting of different gauges were included in the script since the beginning. Even though everything seemed very believable, they were really all fabricated.
—Oh, really! They seemed so real, so I really believed it!
Nasu: When I am planning a script, I always first come up with the kind of story I want to write and the main theme I want to convey, and then create the general outline, and finally conduct the necessary research. But the making of 「Canaan」 was strictly done through research-based settings, adding my own inspiration on top of it to create a general outline, it's pretty much the opposite of my usual ways.
Takeuchi: Nasu rarely create stories using this research-based method. For the completeness of the project, he even consulted Urobuchi-san for opinions.
Nasu: Urobuchi-san and I are the kind of people who regularly create lies in their works. Or rather, we would create more lies if only to make the story more interesting. But even we have a lower limit. Although we would lie to make the work more interesting, those who are knowledgeable will probably find the lies that are results of oversight funny. To avoid making this kind of mistake, I consulted with Urobuchi-san, who is an expert on firearms. One time, I talked about an idea to make the battle between Canaan and Alphard more exciting, but he said in a straightforward manner: "No way, this is impossible." And so I went to a corner and began drawing circles on the ground as I mumbled: "Right, this is impossible." (laughs) Thinking back on it now, that idea really was pushing things too far.
—Was using the Middle East as a stage also a source of trouble for you?
Nasu: Starting from Pakistan, using a land with such complex background as the stage really gave people a heavy feeling. For myself, after looking over many resources from Ishii-san, I think that place really is like a bomb whose fuse has already been lit. (laughs)
Ishii: I also feel this part was very difficult to work on, but in the end Nasu-san gave me an excellent script. In the story Siam has a line where he says "This war will likely not finish during our generation," the heavy meaning behind it is something that people who grew up in the peaceful Japan really won't be able to comprehend. This quote is a gem that encompasses the sadness and helplessness of the Pakistan problem.
Nasu: Praising me like this really makes me happy and embarrassed... I originally didn't have any deep knowledge of the Middle East, but through my work with 「Canaan」, I was able to look into the lives of people living in a long-term war. This was a very valuable experience. I don't think I can write a story like this by myself.
Takeuchi: The basic process was something like, Ishii-san lays out the story foundation, and then fills in the settings based on research, which Nasu is not good at, then finally have Nasu unleash his own style, giving birth to the battle scene in the train. In this sense, it was really taking each person's specialty and putting them all together.
Nasu talks about the making of the main characters
—Does Nasu-san have anything to say about the three main characters?
Nasu: Regarding Canaan, my impression of her became clearer after I first looked at Takeuchi's design, so I wasn't perplexed much. My original idea was to create a story where "this girl who is peerless in battle cries her heart out." At the time I thought if I can present this during the story's climax, then it would be considered a success. On the other hand, to make Alphard into an evil leader type of person, the important part that follows would be how to utilize her coolness in the battle with Canaan. Also, Alphard isn't a simple antagonist, she is a terrorist who acts based on her own interest. This was the focus of my approach while writing the script. Siam was written using my ideal image of a mercenary. The relationship between a strong mercenary and the girl who learns from him was inspired by the movie 「The Professional」 when it was suggested by Ishii-san. For this, I even went out of my way to watch 「The Professional」, the movie had a big impact on me... Léon, you are a winner of life! (laughs)
Ishii: The strong killer who is not good at interacting with others interacting with a young girl... he really is a complete winner of life (laughs).
Takeuchi: Right, right, when I was troubled by how to design Siam, I even thought of straight up basing him on Léon's image.
Nasu: Later, it was basically just like in 「The Professional」, using the interaction between the mercenary and the young girl as the backbone, and a variety of elements as the flesh, to finally create the story of chapter 「Canaan」.
Ishii: To tell you the truth, the character of Siam was originally supposed to die at the beginning of the 「Shibuya」 chapter. A week before the mysterious events of 「428」, the corpse of a mysterious man—Siam—is found floating in the Shibuya River. In the story Minorikawa is troubled by whether he should report this incident. However, Nasu came to ask me if we can "use this character in the 「Canaan」."
Nasu: I came upon the character of Siam while thinking about the key person who will be the link between Canaan and Alphard, and without hesitation I said: "please give him to me!" (laughs) Even if it's only an add-on script, if it has no connection at all to the main story, it would be pointless no matter how amazing the gun fights are, and so I wanted to put this character, who is somewhat connected to the 「Shibuya」 chapter, into the 「Canaan」 chapter, creating a connection between the two stories.
Takeuchi: The existence of Siam's character is very important. Even though it's a hard character to portray, Ohtsuka Akio-san made this role believable through his profound acting skill.
Unlimited expansion of the fantasy, 「Canaan」's development
—Assuming you didn't have to worry about conforming to reality, what kind of work do you want to see the most?
Ishii: I really like Canaan and Alphard, but I am also very interested in original anime characters like Natsume and Liang Qi. Speaking for myself, I really want to see what they were doing two years before the events of the 「Canaan」 anime, at the time of the 「Shibuya」 chapter. How did Natsume get involved with Hebi, how did she meet Canaan, what kind of life was Liang Qi living two years ago... just thinking about these makes me excited.
—How about Takeuchi-san?
Takeuchi: If fantasizing is allowed, then it would be to animate the 「Canaan」 chapter, which is pretty much a stand-alone story. Adding a bunch of training scenes between Siam and Canaan, so the anime would basically be the "birth chapter of Canaan"... its title would be 「Canaan/Zero」.
Nasu: That would just make it 「Phantom」! (laughs) If we were really to make it, then it would be more interesting if we add in new contents that would surprise even players who have already played the game. For example, something like a normal anime adaptation of the 「Canaan」 chapter, but with a huge story twist in the middle that would surprise the audience.
Reflection on the significance of producing 「Canaan」
—Finally, please tell us about your view of the 「Canaan」 chapter.
Ishii: 「428」's 「Shibuya」 chapter can be seen as the accumulation of everything Chunsoft has to offer, you can call it the final form of sound novel. If you're not afraid of misunderstanding, I would go as far as saying it puts in the final period for sound novels. However, the 「Canaan」 chapter can be seen as the link to one of the future possibilities of sound novels. In other words, after playing 「428」, you will simultaneously experience the end and rebirth of sound novel. Also, as a companion who once walked alongside TYPE-MOON, I look forward to seeing how elements cultivated in the 「Canaan」 chapter will grow in their next work.
—Did you collaborate with TYPE-MOON for the sake of sound novel's future?
Ishii: Exactly. Even though the format of the 「Shibuya」 chapter is different from the others, I still hope TYPE-MOON can continue moving forward in its own direction, that would be enough for me.
Takeuchi: For me to look back on the 「Canaan」 chapter, my conclusion is—I'm still a bit lost. We originally accepted the invitation to create an extra script for Chunsoft's sound novel because it was an honor. Thinking about it now, at the time of accepting the offer, because we are here today due to nostalgia from Chunsoft's old games, even our breathing became more rapid. (laughs) But after a while, looking back at the work through today's perspective, one realizes this work was an opportunity for us on many levels. Motivation grew among people, and underwent a transformation that developed into anime and other things. I think, not as a creator, but as the person at the helm, the meaning behind creating 「Canaan」 is a topic that needs more discussion in the future.
Nasu: For me, the 「Canaan」 chapter was a challenge for TYPE-MOON, a closed country, to open up and travel overseas. However, once you are out in the sea, it's normal to encounter storms, there's also the danger of the ship sinking. This also serves as a learning experience as we head toward a new continent. When we first received the invitation from Chunsoft, the only thing I can think about was to create something new, particularly, something that was different from 「Fate」, and came to the conclusion that if I was able to make 「Canaan」, which didn't use any character portraits, I would open up a new horizon in my ability to express things visually. On the other hand, I personally also wanted to pay back Chunsoft's kindness. We are here because Chunsoft created sound novel, this is an irrefutable fact. In the future, we will continue to steer toward the uncharted sea, what we gained from 「Canaan」 is a powerful weapon.