06 Sep PENNY BLOOD Creators Radio 01
M: I’m here, Kato-san’s here, and our pet Monaka is here. We’re starting now, although we’re still moving around chairs and getting ready. Hopefully we can start properly in about five minutes. If you want to go to the bathroom, feel free to do so and come back by then.
K: A lot of people have joined.
M: Really? We’ll have to thank them.
M: We’re really lucky that so many people have come to listen to our super amateur radio.
M: This should be OK. I should be able to see the screen. Monaka’s sleeping.
M: Ishikawa-kun? Oh, you’re right! Ishikawa Taka’aki. He’s joined us as a listener. The truth is, he was actually one of the main programmers for the Shadow Hearts series. He’s probably one of Japan’s best programmers when it comes to 3D drawing. I think he’s working on a really big title now that cannot be named, but it’s been so long that I had to mention it. You’re all hearing me, right? You can hear me? How about if I speak here? If you can give us reactions to show you can hear us, that would help. Is this okay? Thank you.
K: Thank you. Seems like it’s okay.
M: Oh, good. In that case, I’ve organized what I’d like to talk about today on my own, but I’m not confident that I’ll actually be able to explain it all very well. We’re just two complete amateur middle-aged people when it comes to this… I know our fans are really kind, so they’ll forgive us and be kind to us. If I say anything bad on air, just forget I said it. I’m sure there are a lot of things that shouldn’t leave this space…
We’re in Niigata, and today we can hear the sounds of taiko drums or bon odori dancing. It feels like they’re doing something fun out there, but we can’t see out the windows. Well, this some more idle talk, but our Studio Wild Rose was founded in 2019 in Mitaka City, Tokyo. We used to work right near Inokashira Park. Why near that park? The only reason is because it’s near the Ghibli Art Museum. That’s the only reason we first moved there. But then corona happened, so we probably wouldn’t have been able to go there very many times even if we’d tried. This May, we moved to Bandai, Niigata, which is where we’re working now. It’s much cooler and more comfortable for us here than in Tokyo.
K: Very comfortable.
M: Yeah. About a month ago, in mid-July, I went back to Tokyo. I think I’d like to talk about why I went back there another time. But anyway, while I was there, the temperature was about 35 or 36 C the entire time. I was like, ‘Wow, Tokyo is so hot!’ Even though we’d lived there up until a few months ago.
K: You go there for business about once a month.
M: True. Tokyo Game Show’s this month, so I was thinking about going, but currently my plans are that I won’t be going. Instead, I’d like to focus on promoting the Armed Fantasia x Penny Blood Double Kickstarter. Okay, it’s 9:05 pm right now, I’d like to start Penny Blood Creators Radio #1.
K: I didn’t know it had a title already.
M: Yes, when I was ordered to create a room, I started thinking of one.
K: How embarrassing.
M: Anyway, I hope you all enjoy diving into the world of Penny Blood with us on this Sunday evening. First, allow me to introduce myself. I am the general director and writer for Penny Blood, Matsuzo Machida.
K: Nice to meet you. I am Miyako Kato, the character designer and art director for Penny Blood.
M: The first thing I need to do is thank everyone who’s supporting us. This Double Kickstarter is something no one’s ever tried before, and taught us just how many fans we have all over the world. We’re deeply thankful. Thank you so much. I didn’t think we’d be able to get 100,000,000 yen in the first day. This is a first time experience for us, and we were never really sure if it’d go well or not. But now, everyone working on the campaign is so happy to know we have so many warm fans cheering us on not just in Japan, but all around the world. At long last, we’re finally here.
K: It was a long journey.
M: Yes it was.
K: Extremely long.
M: The start of this campaign has been a long time coming. We’ve been preparing for this for about a year now. I started the actual planning about a year ago. So I’ve really been waiting for this moment. I made sure not to tweet anything about this project. Even when I would get passionate messages commemorating a Shadow Hearts anniversary, I’d thank them, feeling that if I could only tell them about this, it’d probably make them at least a little happy! It was like that for a long time.
M: I think it happened this year… Kato-san said she would upload an illustration to commemorate an anniversary, but she wasn’t able to because she was so insanely busy.
K: Sorry about that.
M: She was working on Penny Blood art then, but she couldn’t finish that either. It was only, like, half-painted. But I told her she should still upload it, and pushed her to. Anyway, that’s how our last year’s been. As I wrote on Twitter, I’ve gotten a lot of requests for a Shadow Hearts remake for a very long time. But as I explained, although we’re the original creators, we don’t own the IP, so on Twitter I asked people to contact the IP owners directly. Back when I was working on the games, a company called Aruze sent them out into the world. But after From the New World, 15 years passed. And we weren’t just sitting around during all that time. Aruze changed their name to Universal… I’m not even sure if they’re actually the same company or not.
But anyway, during that period, I was approached three different times about creating a new installment in the Shadow Hearts series. Each time, we said ‘Let’s do it’ and got on board…and each time, the project ended up getting canceled due to the company’s circumstances. That’s what happened over all that time… The third time was especially rough, since I’d gone around and contacted a lot of other previous staff members, telling them, ‘everything will be alright this time!’ So when it got canceled, it ended up causing everyone a lot of trouble. So for Penny Blood, I only contacted a very limited number of people. So when I started this Kickstarter campaign, it was with a deep sense gratitude toward all the past staff members and fans.
Oh, and the first individual I’d like to thank in regards to starting the Kickstarter is Kaneko-san from the Armed Fantasia team. Meeting him was a truly fateful encounter to me. We talked about a lot of things in detail. We’re using the ‘JRPG’ term now, but when he and I talk, we just say ‘RPG’. We talked passionately about the PS2 era, where a ton of different JRPGs were released for the system, and that gradually led us to want to do this Double Kickstarter. In that regard, I’m very thankful to Kaneko-san, who’s also a world-famous creator.
Also, the campaign team has also been working really hard every day in the background. I’ve been calling them the Mamma Aiuto on Twitter, and they really are just like them! The team includes people from both Japan and overseas, and they’re tremendously busy every day. If someone were to ask whether the campaign response has been 100% perfect, they’d probably say no, because every day requires a lot of trial and error. But as you’d expect from something like the Double Kickstarter, we aren’t just focused on Japan. While Japanese people are asleep, they handle the people overseas. They’re probably only sleeping whenever they get a chance. There are some places where the announcements and the explanations could have been better, but I hope you’ll go easy on them. There’s still time left in the campaign, and we’re talking daily about how to improve things. I mean, we do have a whole month left! So I’d be grateful if you could look at things over the long term.
M: From this point onward, I’d like to talk about the world of Penny Blood and its characters. Have you all been able to hear me so far? Is everything okay?
K: I wonder how many people are listening.
M: We can check that?
K: I have no idea.
M: Same. We’re just mumbling into our iPhone, so if it’s hard to hear, please forgive us. Now I think I’ll talk a bit more, considering how many people are here. Currently, we’re lucky to be getting interview requests from media outlets all over the world. We’re extremely busy trying to answer them all through e-mail, so I thought there’d be no point in sharing the info from those answers here as well. This includes info on the characters and monsters which will be featured on the media sites and interview articles, so hopefully you can check those out separately. Instead, I’d like to give you all some information that can only be found here. All I was trying to say is that I’m not going to talk about the exact same stuff I talked about in the interviews.
One of the most frequent kinds of questions I saw in the interviews were ones about the world and its atmosphere. For example, are the worlds of Shadow Hearts and Penny Blood connected? If you’ve read Atam’s profile text, you should already have an idea of what’s going on. I personally wrote all the profiles, so I’m glad that the feelings I put into that were properly conveyed to everyone. I even retweeted some of your comments. Anyway, here, I’d like to talk about what exactly the world and atmosphere of this game means to me. Put simply, it’s going to be like an Ikenami Shoutarou novel. Young people may not know who that is, but to me, Ikenami Shoutarou is one of my greatest teachers. It wouldn’t even be going too far to say that he’s my god.
M: Don’t laugh, I’m being serious here. I’m talking about god.
K: Please excuse me.
M: And not one of the gods from outer space, either. Ikenami has written some very famous period pieces such as Onihei Hankachou, Kenkaku Shoubai, and Shikakenin Fujieda Baian. One of Japan’s great authors. I’ve loved reading Ikenami ever since I was a child, and I’ve read almost all of his works. Onihei was published by Bunshu Bunko, while Kenkaku Shoubai was published by Shinchosha, and Shikakenin Fujieda Baian by Kodansha. Each series had a different publisher, but if you read all of them, you’ll realize something. The character Fujieda Baian is a doctor who uses needles and kills people on the side for money. In one story, the big mafia boss who hires Fujieda Baian goes to Osaka and meets up with Shirakoya Kikueimon, I think it was. In the film version of Onihei Hankachou, Shirakoya sends assassins out to kill Onihei. I’m pretty sure he was played by Fujita Makoto. Anyway, there’s this bad guy named Shirakoya Kikueimon who sends out assassins to keep Onihei from interfering with his evil deeds. And if you read both series, you notice that Shirakoya’s assassins don’t appear in the Onihei novels. Well, maybe they did, but they stop appearing. Why? Well, if you read Fujieda Baian, you find out that he actually ends up assassinating Shirakoya Kikueimon. So this mafia boss gets killed and Onihei doesn’t even know about it. Fujieda Baian, the hero of a completely different series, ended up helping out Onihei, and he didn’t even know it.
The same thing happens in Kenkaku Shoubai. This series features two really powerful swordsmen named Kohei Akiyama and Daijirou Akiyama. They’re father and son. Every now and then you’ll come across some connection, like the fact that Kohei trained at the same dojo as Onihei when he was young. Even though the series are different, they exist in the same universe. I think that’s the most beautiful way to share worlds, so that’s what I want to do with Shadow Hearts and Penny Blood. They’re different worlds, but exist in the same universe. That’s what I wanted to try this time around. Did any of that make sense? Sorry if that was a bad explanation. Anyway the point is, I want you all to read Onihei Hankachou, Kenkaku Shoubai, and Fujieda Baian.
K: That was the point?
M: Just think of it from a passionate message from me to you. The worlds of the first three Shadow Hearts are very important to me, and raising up Penny Blood is equally important. That’s how I feel. Sorry that I keep talking.
K: It’s okay.
M: Now let’s move on from the worlds to the characters. When creating characters, I start by imagining what their greatest scene will be like. For example, with Shadow Hearts 2, the first thing I thought of was Karin, the heroine, telling Yuri how she feels. “I’ve always liked you,” that scene at the waterfall. Karin passionately telling the main character how she feels, that’s the first thing I thought of for SH2, and I had no idea what else would happen in the story. That scene just popped into my head, and I was like, “Wow.”
K: I see. (LOL)
M: Then I started by thinking about what I would do with this Karin character. This story took place after Alice died, so she needed to replace Alice and have a different personality. Passionate and feminine, so that’s the scene I came up with. Yuri had probably never experienced someone saying that straight to his face before, so I had to imagine how he’d react to something like that. So I get my first idea from the message I plan to work into the story. Then I just generally build the characters up.
There are many different ways to create characters. Some people start with the minute details. How tall are they, how much do they weigh, what color eyes/hair do they have, do they like strawberries, etc. Very detailed profiles. I’m the exact opposite. I start with the broad strokes. So if someone asks me about things like height and weight, sometimes, I’m at a loss. I have to think back and go ‘Hmm, how old IS this character?’ But when I start thinking about multiple characters, I can decide on things like ‘Okay, this character has to be shorter than Yuri.’ With Penny Blood, ‘this character is shorter than Matthew. This character is taller than Matthew.’ Whether or not Matthew has to look up or down when facing off with this character. I try to imagine the visual balance while deciding things like that. But when it comes to creating 3D models, I have to decide everything down to the centimeter or else I’ll be causing problems from the modeler, so that pressure forces me to decide on things like height and weight for the first time.
What do you think about that? That way of deciding things before you have to draw the art? I bet you’ve hard your share of hardships.
K: Yes. Machida-san claims he’s very broad with how he designs characters, from my perspective, he always has a very clear idea of the characters he wants. It may be due to the fact that he’s also from a graphical background… But yes, I think he has a VERY specific image of how he wants each character to be. Trying to nail a hit in that very narrow strike zone becomes my mission every time I work on a design.
M: Really? I feel like my strike zone is pretty lenient…
K: From my perspective, it’s about as lenient as a straight line.
M: I know that I’ve caused you a lot of stress. Whenever I ask you to redraw stuff, I’m always doing a dogeza in my mind because of how sorry I am. (traditional Japanese etiquette where someone gets on their knees and bows while touching their head to the ground)
Drawing characters one after another is hard enough, but lately I’ve been throwing new requests at you in the middle of the process and causing extra trouble for you that way, as well. How has it been drawing the characters for Penny Blood? Currently we’ve only revealed Matthew, Emilia, and Suseri. Maybe you should talk a bit about the different touches you’ve added to each of them.
K: Okay. It may sound like an excuse, but Suseri has anime coloring. I didn’t intend to send it out in that form, since it’s still a color rough, so once production gets farther along, I intend to polish her up to the same degree as Matthew and Emilia.
M: I think everyone will understand in a few days while Suseri is still at the color rough stage.
K: It isn’t the norm to show people my art when it’s still in this state.
M: Yeah, normally you’d wait until it’s 100% complete. But I think you should just consider that one of the unique aspects, or one of the fun aspects about Kickstarter. Oh no, it’s already been thirty minutes! I’ve only gotten through about 2/3 of what I wanted to talk about, so I hope you’ll all stick around.
The theme for this work has already been established, and it’s served as the backbone for building up the story, atmosphere, and characters. With Shadow Hearts 1, it was a story about a father and a son, with the main character resurrecting a sort of hope. That was one of the big themes. For Shadow Hearts 2, it was clearer. Happiness was one of the big themes. Happiness is different for every person, and that’s fine. You shouldn’t push your idea of happiness on someone else. Everyone should just treasure what’s important to them. That’s what I had in mind when I created it.
After that, we went through a lot in our lives. And the painful, torturous things certainly outnumbered the fun things. I accept that this is just the way life is, so Penny Blood’s theme is basically ‘no matter what, we still need to live.’ I hope this will really hit home with the adults. The ‘no matter what’ here is really important. We’re not just surviving here, we’re surviving no matter how much pain and suffering we have to withstand. No matter how much your stomach hurts. No matter how badly you screw up, no matter how badly people laugh at you. Even if a bird poops on your back and stains the leather jacket you just picked up from the cleaners. That’s a true story that happened to me. No matter how much misfortune befalls you, humans still need to live. This theme of ‘no matter what, we still need to live’ is something I want to clearly depict in Penny Blood. Matthew, Emilia, and all the other characters who appear in Penny Blood are carrying their own trauma and pain, but they’re still trying their best.
The world we live in now has been greatly affected by covid, and the same goes for people’s jobs. I feel like there are very few people these days who can live without a care in the world. I hope players will be able to emphathize with the characters and ultimately feel happy that they were able to play the game. That’s why I entrusted that sort of theme to this game.
The main theme that Hirota-san released: Fhathast beò, which comes from Ancient Gaelic, and is something I can’t properly pronounce… If someone knows the correct pronunciation, please write it in katakana for me. Anyway, this song came out of me asking him to put the theme ‘no matter what, we still need to live’ into musical form. Actually, when I listened to his song, I thought it fit perfectly with my idea of the theme. We’ve been working together for a long time now, but this was the first time I ever asked him to let me name one of his songs. He willingly consented and let me name it, but… You know, we’ll talk about sound stuff next time. We’re going to do another one of these… what are they called? Spaces, right, Hirota-san promised he’d join us for our next Space. We’re not sure on the date yet, but if we’re lucky, it should happen soon, and we’ll go more in-depth into the music. The theme song is on the official site, so I hope you’ll give it a listen when you’re feeling down or before you go to sleep.
I think it’s about time we stopped, but if this Space thing goes over well… I thought about doing it once per week, but I think we’re going to do it twice per week, 30 minutes each. My plan is to do them on Monday and Thursday evenings. Why those evenings, when it’s Sunday now? Well, recently, we’ve been having to go over a lot of submitted material on Fridays, and so we’ve been using either Saturday or Sunday as a work day so that the rest of the team can smoothly get back to work once Monday comes around. We were just lucky that we had time to do this today, because we usually work well into the evening. So doing this on Monday after we’ve submitted our work will let us do these in more of a relaxed state, time-wise. So I’d like to set these for Monday and Thursday evenings. There’s no real reason why I picked Thursday, that’s just the way it worked out.
Before we end, since you were all kind enough to come here and join us, I’d like to let you know that we still have a lot of content to release over the course of the month. The Mamma Aiuto are planning lots of different things, and we’re working with them to get everything done. One of the things we’re looking forward to releasing are the Thompson Reports, written content that explain the stretch goals in a novel-like fashion. I’ve written them, sort of like mini-scenarios. So if you’re curious about how the characters will sound in the game…what sort of lines they’ll say, and so on and so forth, this will tell you a lot. I think it’ll give you at least a glimpse into what the atmosphere of the script for Penny Blood will be like. They doesn’t touch on the actual main story – they will have the characters sort of explaining the stretch goals through dialog. Stretch goals that are revealed will also come with a piece of dialog from Penny Blood characters, so you can try and imagine who’s saying these lines as you read them. I’ve really talked a lot… But this is a good chance for you to speak too. A lot of people have drawn fan art and uploaded them to Twitter, haven’t they? Do you have any sort of message for them?
K: A message for them? I’m very thankful for all the fan art. When I look at them in between work, it gives me the energy to keep working hard.
M: When we start looking at stuff like that, we end up losing a lot of time, so we try to keep ourselves from looking at it at times. But the fan art has always been a great source of motivation for us from the Shadow Hearts era. Well, I think that covers everything. How was it? We’re well over 30 minutes now…
K: Content-wise, I think it was fine.
M: Was it?
K: If there’s something you want to hear about…
M: Just let us know on Twitter. Oh, I see that Hirota-san’s joined us as a listener. Okay, Hirota-san, next time’s going to be on Thursday at 9 PM. I’m just deciding it right here and now, but… That should be fine, right? I think it will be. Oh, he’s replying to me on Chatwork. He’s saying Thursday’s okay! Alright, so next time will be at 9 PM on Thursday, the 8th. The second Penny Blood Creators Radio. And after he’s on, I’d definitely like to bring on the other composer who’s joined us for this project, Kaida-san. I think she may be listening for the first time… Maybe she’s not? I really hope I can bring her on too. That’s it! There were probably some messy parts, but thank you for sticking around!
K: Thank you.