Interview with Maruto Fumiaki and Nakamura Takeshi – Part 4

Time: the cruelest thing, and the kindest?

4Gamer:

Now, I have to ask this, because when I look at the structure of this game, which shows a love triangle spanning from the school days episode into several years in the future, there are elements that remind me of works that came before. While you were developing the game, did you have any awareness of other works in the same genre?

Maruto:

I would be lying if I said I didn’t. I think everyone is probably thinking of the same title, but… (laughs) Purely from a structural standpoint, 2 has some significant differences. That one had the most shocking “trick” right at the very beginning, which I think worked well, but in the case of this game, that “trick”—the existence of Coda—is the very last thing.

4Gamer:

Good point. Then, would you say that deliberately making the “trick” something that goes at the very end is part of your writing style, Maruto-san?

Maruto:

Hmm. My writing style… Maybe so.

4Gamer:

Personally, I feel like raw human drama that comes from solidly-built character histories and foreshadowing is a distinctive characteristic of your work.

Maruto:

Well, but to me, rawness is essentially an accent, nothing more. As an outside writer, my job, fundamentally, is to lay out the courses of scenarios in a way that fits the color of the work. But, just for this instance, Aquaplus told me that I didn’t need to be so conscious of that.

4Gamer:

When you think about it, that was a pretty seriously big move.

Maruto:

Absolutely. (laughs) That’s why I wasn’t thinking about needing to give this one a happy ending or anything. My mindset as I tackled this game was, “All right, then let’s see how far I can take it,” and the 2 we have here and now is the result of that.

4Gamer:

What I’m really curious about is the role that time plays in this work. Simply allowing time to wash everything away as a solution is a point of common ground among a lot of works that concern love triangles. But, during the course of the story, Setsuna says outright that time can’t change anything. What do you think about that, personally? Are you of the same mind as Setsuna?

Maruto:

No, I think it’s possible. …Actually, it’s not that easy to say. 2 didn’t go so far as to answer that question, and I think that may have been the right choice. It’s the sort of problem that may not have an answer in the first place.

4Gamer:

I see… I get the sense that the sincerity with which you write a story like that is what makes a Maruto work a Maruto work. (laughs) Of course, I’m sure you have plenty of respect for works that came before.

Maruto:

Yes, of course. Talking in terms of works that I was aware of, there are some that are closer to the point of origin. You have I Want to Return to that Day, the movie of Kimagure Orange Road, for example.

4Gamer:

Right! As depictions in anime of the end of a love triangle go, that one is a masterpiece—you could even call it a classic. …Though, since the events of the movie go almost completely against the original, it seems like it had a pretty bad reputation among fans of the original series…

*Kimagure Orange Road: I Want to Return to That Day: an anime movie, produced in 1988, based on a TV series that originated from a popular manga. Directed by Tomomi Mochizuki. It shows the conclusion of the love stories between the protagonists, not depicted in the original work or the TV series. The style was uniformly heavy, unlike the original, which never broke its line as a bright romantic comedy, so it was considered a significant and divisive departure.

 

Maruto:

Yes, exactly. At the time, I watched the original with great irritation—that said, I had every volume lined up on my bookshelf, so you could quite fairly call it a love-hate thing—but when it comes to this movie version alone, I feel no reservations in praising it highly. Talking in terms of being aware, I might say rather that 2 draws upon the flow of this work.

4Gamer:

Of course… The scene where Kyosuke [the protagonist of Kimagure Orange Road] knows that Hikaru-chan [one of the heroines] is waiting for him in the rain, but completely disregards it, especially. Oof, just remembering that part is making my heart hurt… (laughs)

Maruto:

Yes, it’s incredible! I’m a major fan of Mochizuki’s work along those lines.

4Gamer:

I think I’m starting to understand pretty well. (laughs) By the way, just as an aside, when the story of 2 was first proposed, was it the type of story it is now?

Maruto:

It was completely different. It was set in Kyushu, and the protagonist was playing guitar out in public, and then this girl showed up and started singing along with him. They started working together, but then the girl got more and more popular, and they gradually grew apart… Basically. I’d say it was closer to the composition of 1 than what we have now. Of course, I had it completely planned out, so right after the project was OK’d, I changed it to the form it’s in now.

4Gamer:

Wow. It’s nice that you got an OK under those circumstances. And on top of that, how do I put this… It’s such a visually subdued work… It’s very fortunate that the plan went through.

Maruto:

Almost miraculous. (laughs)

To the other side of happiness

4Gamer:

Now, to finish things up, I’d like to ask about the new material in the PS3 release, and about future developments for White Album. The PS3 version includes a new scenario that you wrote. What happens in this new scenario?

Maruto:

I think there are a lot of people who haven’t played yet, so I’d like to limit that discussion only to hints, but I wrote it as a sequel to Coda. As I said before, the subtitle, “The Other Side of Happiness,” is about how there’s someone in tears behind the scenes, but the other side of happiness isn’t necessarily sorrow and nothing else. That’s what I wrote in this scenario.

4Gamer:

Ooh, now I’m really curious. Can you be a little more specific?

Maruto:

Put simply, it’s a sequel to the infidelity ending.

Nakamura:

It’s a story that takes place during a period of suspension after Haruki-kun gets into serious trouble. It starts from a pretty bleak place, then shows how he gets back on his feet. So, there’s a lot of darkness in the additional event scenes. (laughs)

Maruto:

But the content itself proceeds pretty simply. I finally feel like I managed to depict a protagonist who was simply carried along without being able to do anything, as I initially mentioned with regard to the first White Album. At least, I wanted to tackle that challenge.

Nakamura:

That said, Haruki-kun is the one who tries to come up with an answer. It’s not like he’s struggling under a crushing sense of powerlessness. Though, in the end, he wasn’t able to go that far.

Maruto:

Right, right. Trying to find an answer will keep that from happening. I’m the persevering type myself, so I aim to avoid getting stuck in midair. (laughs)

4Gamer:

I see. So, was there some reason behind wanting to write these branching futures as an additional scenario?

Maruto:

I had the vision itself from the very beginning. When it comes to fan discs, they generally take place several years after the epilogue and settle any speculation there may have been. So, I wanted to make this an episode that filled the gap between the main game and the fan disc type scenarios. This was the only way I could think of to do that.

Nakamura:

With any of the other routes, everything would be too mushy and flirty, so it wouldn’t fit with the feeling of White Album.

4Gamer:

What kind of scale is it on, in terms of amount of text and number of CGs?

Maruto:

There are about 200KB of text in the additional scenario. By the way, the total volume of the main story, from IC to Coda, is about 4.6MB, if I recall correctly.

Nakamura:

As for additional CGs, there may be about thirty total. That includes those added to the existing scenarios, and those created specifically for the new scenario.

Maruto:

Also, in terms of added components, the novel and drama CD that were announced have been included as content that can be unlocked as you progress in the game, so I hope that people who have only played the PC version will play this one, too.

4Gamer:

All right, I’ll be looking forward to it. So, moving forward with White Album 2… The PS3 release isn’t the end of everything, right?

Nakamura:

Well, the PS3 release certainly is a stopping point in a sense. But it may very well continue in some form or another, so I hope people will keep that in mind while playing it. Personally, now that work on the PS3 version is finished, I just find myself hoping that it doesn’t turn into a nuisance. (laughs)

Maruto:

That makes it sound like you’re hoping it doesn’t continue. (laughs)

Nakamura:

No, no, I’ve been involved with this project for five years already. After such a long time, I feel very deeply about it.

Maruto:

With ToHeart 2, things have been going on for almost ten years by now. There’s still plenty of time for White Album 2!

Nakamura:

It truly is a blessing for a project to have gone on this long, on such a large scale. I know I’ve gained a lot from working on it.

Maruto:

Supposedly I’m finished working on the PS3 version as well, but for some reason I’ve been nabbed by Aquaplus for this evening, so I have the feeling there might be something left to do. Incidentally, if I do end up doing some kind of fan disc content after this, I would prefer not to use the White Album title.

4Gamer:

And why is that?

Maruto:

Because any story I write from now on is likely to be happier. I want to finish up the sad stories here, and that’s what the PS3 release is meant to do. So, if anything comes after it, I think I’d rather give it a title like Kazusa’s Newlywed Diary, or something. (laughs)

4Gamer:

Ah, I see. Yes, that could certainly work. (laughs) So, just to wrap it all up, do you have a message for all of those who have become captive fans of White Album after playing the PS3 release?

Nakamura:

First, I believe that there are many among those who play this game who will realize what I felt most keenly about it, as someone involved in its creation—the ways in which it differs from your average gal game. Aquaplus may not always put out titles with such a heavy emphasis on the scenarios, but I believe that the fact that we’ve had such longstanding support from everyone is because of works like this. That’s why we’ve done our best to meet your expectations. I hope you will keep up those expectations and keep an eye on us.

Maruto:

As for me, the first message I would like to send to everyone is, “You must be a serious masochist to buy and play this game.” (laughs) Thanks to people like you, I’ve been able to hone my own sadism over time, and I am truly grateful for that. I will endeavor to keep making games in this vein, so I hope you’ll stick around.

Apart from that, I’ve recently been working on a novel for Fujimi Fantasia Bunko, entitled How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend, and it looks like this is going to be an ongoing thing, too. I’m currently in the midst of figuring out what the span and balance of my future productions will be. But, either way, there’s a lot that I want my readers to see, so I hope for your continued support.

4Gamer:

I will most certainly be looking forward to all future developments. Thank you very much for speaking with us today.


1   2   3   4