M: Hello, good evening. Can you hear me? If you can hear me, please let give me a reaction. Okay, good. It’s past 9 PM, so I’d like to begin. I’d like to start on the five minute mark again today, so now’s your chance to use the restroom.

I’m also going to check and make sure a speaker invite was properly sent to Hirota-san. This episode is also being broadcast from our workspace at Studio WildRose. Monaka is sleeping next to us, and Kato-san is sitting next to me.

K: Good evening. Thank you for coming.

M: Around yesterday or the day before that, a typhoon passed through. Niigata reached 34 C for the first time. It was really hot, probably the hottest day we’ve experienced all year. During that, we went out for lunch. But while we were eating, we had to continue communicating with the Mamma Aiuto, so we hurriedly finished our food and went back.

K: We’re busy.

M: Yes we are. This Kickstarter stuff has a very “live” feel to it. I’m gaining a new understanding of that now. And as I’ll explain later, what Kato-san’s working on right now also has a very “live” feel to it. I think everyone’s busy voting for their favorite Luca right now, and we have an interesting story to tell you about that later.

It seems like there was a big earthquake in China. I haven’t been watching the news lately, so I don’t know the details. But I’d like to offer my condolences to anyone who was affected by the disaster. Japan gets a lot of earthquakes too, and I’m hoping the damage this time wasn’t that severe.

Hmm. What should I do with Hirota-san? Did I properly invite him as a speaker? Did I do this right? Oh, I need to press this. Sorry, sorry.

H: Oh, I think this will let me talk. Can you hear me?

M: Yes, I can.

H: Good.

M: Good. Long time no talk.

K: Long time no talk.

M: Well, actually, I think we did just talk. Did anyone besides Hirota-san join as a speaker? I’m not really sure. Well, you can just be an extra.

H: Who is it?

M: I’m not sure, but I thought they might be able to help us warm up the crowd. Anyway, I’m sure I’m going to say something stupid again today, but it’s 9:05 pm now, so let’s get started. Good evening, everyone! I’m Matsuzo Machida!

H: And I’m Hiro-chan!

K: That’s the opening from Naka Riisa’s Youtube, isn’t it?

M: Exactly. I respect Naka Riisa.

K: You wanted to do that?

M: Yes. I forced Hirota-san to go along with this for me. I didn’t want to have to fail at this all on my own. This is Creators Radio, where we fail spectacularly on the very first opening joke. Today our main guest is the person you’ve all been waiting for, someone who has worked on the music for Shadow Hearts as well as various other games, and is also joining us on Penny Blood as the main composer, Yoshitaka Hirota-san! Can you say something to our viewers, Hirota-san?

H: Good evening, everyone. How are you doing? I’m Hirota, a composer. I’ll be working on all the music and sounds for Penny Blood.

M: OK. Clap clap clap. Thank you. First I’d like to go over our last episode and talk about the main purpose of this show. I started the Penny Blood Creators Radio in order to talk about things that you’ll only be able to hear here. Each episode is about 30 minutes long, so I hope you’ll stick around. Last time, on our first episode, I wasn’t used to this ‘Space’ thing, so I didn’t record it. There were a lot of people who wanted to listen to it but weren’t able to, so I said sorry to them… But one volunteer happened to record it, and offered it up to the official site, so you can listen to it there now if you missed it. You’ll be able to enjoy my unsteady Japanese and Kato-san’s sharp retorts as we talk about the world and characters of Penny Blood, so I hope everyone listens to it.

Also, we’ve been extremely fortunate to receive a lot of different messages from publishers about Penny Blood. The entire project team is really thankful. And it’s all thanks to the warm support all the backers have been giving us, so I just can’t thank the fans and backers enough – even if I do so multiple times per day! It’s only thanks to you that we’re able to continue this campaign. Thank you so much.

H: It’s amazing. Incredible that so many publishers have reached to you.

M: Yes, I feel so fortunate.

H: What if Ariake reached out to you?

M: Ariake? I really don’t think they would. But if they did, I’d happily refuse, of course!

I really doubt that will happen, but we’re so thankful to see so many different responses. And I think it’s all thanks to everyone who participated in the Kickstarter campaign. The campaign will end once September ends, and it really seems like it’ll be a month that we’ll never forget.

Next, let’s move on to the main event. I’d like to have Yoshitaka Hirota-san talk passionately about the sound of Penny Blood. But someone might end up saying “Stop talking already, Machida!” First, let’s talk about what led up to you getting involved in this project. I think it all started a year ago.

H: Yeah. About one year ago, one of the Mamma Aiuto contacted me, saying there was going to be a spiritual successor to “that” series. But I actually thought I would never get called up if there was going to be a sequel.

M: What, why?

H: I figured if a sequel was going to be made, it’d be funded by a company, and fairly big development studios usually have their own sound departments, which means they already have composers who’ve worked at those companies for a long time. So unless a really good friend of mine was the producer or something… When I heard that Machida-san was really in need of that Hiro-chan sound, it made me super happy.

M: No, that’s my line. From the beginning, the team had to have at least you, Kato-san, and myself, otherwise people wouldn’t be able to call it a spiritual successor. So when you said you were willing to take part, I was truly overjoyed.

H: The pleasure’s all mine. Usually I’m just dealing with depressing or unhappy stuff, but this made me so temporarily happy that I’m pretty sure I’ll remember it until the day I die. I’m very thankful. And with Kickstarter, we’re not working with a company. We’re asking everyone else for support. So someone can look and say, “Oh, Hirota’s doing the music! Cool!” When I found out people were saying stuff like that, it made me feel like I was really famous. I’m so thankful to everyone.

M: Well, we’re also top tier fans of your songs, so we feel exactly the same way.

K: It really did seem like it just wouldn’t have worked out without you.

H: I’m truly thankful to all the backers for wanting me in that capacity.

M: Okay, now let’s hear a little bit about your work. You did everything for the entire Shadow Hearts series. But a lot of time has passed, so has anything about your approach changed from when you were working on SH?

H: The biggest difference to me now is the structure of the production team. Before, there was a planner in between you and I, wasn’t there?

M: Oh, true.

H: There weren’t many opportunities for me to speak directly with the director. And that’s totally fine, but that system got more and more inflexible over the course of the series. At first, things were pretty chaotic, the way games used to be made. But then things started to grow inflexible as it became more and more like a normal company structure. That was my impression. But now, with Penny Blood, we can talk directly, and I can get keywords from you. We can exchange words and feelings. Not really a different method, but a different structure.

M: True. That may be true. Before, when there was a planner, I couldn’t really give out any crazy demands… But with this, I feel like I might have given you crazy demands right from the start. But on the other hand, I feel like I just give you a few big orders and then tell you to put your own personal spin on it.

H: That actually may make things more chaotic and cause more trouble for each of us. (LOL) But it does allow me to get a direct sense that we’re making something good.

M: Yeah, when I hear the music, I feel that very strongly. So that’s one big difference. Next, regarding Penny Blood’s sound design… What sort of things do you want to do regarding interactive sound? Are there any specific things you want to try with this project?

H: I want to make the sound effects and the music mix together in an exquisite way, in an interactive way. With Shadow Hearts, it wasn’t exactly interactive, but I tried to create that atmosphere within the music. This time, I feel like I’ll be able to do it system-wise. I want atmospheric songs to change based on the player’s actions. I’ve also been thinking about and studying about other interactive sound possibilities that can make the game more fun to play. I actually did one interactive thing with Shadow Hearts. With the ‘berserk’ music. Will everyone understand if I say that?

M: The music that plays when your sanity reaches zero, right?

H: Right. Having the music change mid-battle was something we actually couldn’t do system-wise, with the PS2 hardware. It couldn’t read a new waveform, or new data, during a battle. When a battle started, it would read the normal battle music, so we used its instrument waveforms to create the berserk music. The berserk music was just data, using the instruments for the normal battle music. We basically forced the music to change.

M: I know that was a lot of work for you.

H: This time, I think we can do something even more interesting system-wise. I want to make the berserk music system fun… I haven’t told anyone about this yet, but is it okay if I tell you about this idea now, Matsuzo-san?

M: Yes, of course, say whatever you want.

H: For example, what if we took the waveforms for the normal battle music, split them up, and released them to the users? Then we could have volunteers remix the waveforms as they like. I know we couldn’t just use their submissions as-is in the game, because we have the game’s atmosphere to consider, but what if I remixed it on top of that?

M: So you’re saying that first, you would take some ideas from the users, then you would arrange it on your own?

H: Yeah. First, I’d create waveforms based on the current normal battle music, then have them remix it as the berserk music, then I’ll arrange it all somehow.

M: That sounds amazing. Kind of like the musical way to get the fans involved. I think that’s great. Let’s think about whether or not we can make it a stretch goal.

H: Thank you.

M: We’d have to ask the Mamma Aiuto their opinions, but that’d be great if we could make it a reality.

H: I hope there are people out there who are willing to remix it.

M: If anyone listening right now is doing music-related stuff, please! If someone feels like they’re up to the challenge, it might be worth thinking about. Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. Okay, can I ask you another question? Last time on the radio show, when you weren’t here, we talked about the theme of Penny Blood. This time, I’d like you to talk about the theme that serves as the foundation of the music. The theme from the sound perspective. Can you tell us a little about that?

H: I touched a little on this earlier, but regarding the short keywords I get from you, Matsuzo-san… At first, especially with the main theme and character theme, well… Nothing’s really been created, right? There’s no story or anything.

M: True.

H: You have the world inside your head, of course, and you want us to gradually materialize it… But there were hardly any clues to the theme at first, and when I got stuck thinking on it, you gave me some short keywords. And when I composed based on those keywords, it just naturally ended up fitting. It’s BGM music, so sometimes I feel like it should be a bit more dispassionate, but overall, it ended up becoming pretty emotional. But that’s what makes it the right music for the Penny Blood that we’re all imagining now, I think. I think it fits.

M: I see. True, the keywords I give you are just a few words. Then I say “something like that!” The same was true for Matthew’s song and the main theme.

H: For Matthew, you said ‘it would be nice if it captures the fleeting freedom and splendor of walking one’s own path.’

M: That’s really all I told you. I had you look at the art that Kato-san drew, of course. Then I gave you those keywords, but that’s it. With that in mind, I think it’s amazing that you were able to create Matthew’s theme.

K: Amazing.

H: At first, we talked about adding Irish influence to the main theme. But when I was putting it together and composing, I really felt like the Irish influence would fit with Matthew. Then I added in a deep cello and some percussion to make it sound more like Matthew.

M: True, his unaffected nature really came out in the atmosphere. Then I asked you to work on the heroine’s song.

H: Emilia. The theme you gave me that time was “the intensity of an inferno and a transparent weakness.”

M: I make no sense, do I? (LOL)

K: (LOL)

M: But he created an amazing song! I wish I could let everyone listen to it right now. You heard it, right?

K: It’s my favorite.

M: I think it’ll be revealed around the middle of the month. It’s a great song, really. Oh, sorry. You were still talking.

H: The first thing I did was write the theme out on paper. A transparent weakness. I feel like it means that Emilia is someone who’s very competitive, with a strong sense of justice, but ‘transparent weakness’ means she also has this duality her where her actual self is quite brittle, where she’s actually a coward. But she wants to conquer that, which is where the strength and intensity comes from. She’s strong, but she gets hurt easily…

M: That’s exactly right. And I think a lot of women like that exist today, too. They’re tough, and they’re doing their best to survive. It really felt like you were able to convey that in the song. When you were creating that song, you had your own direction about which sort of instruments you wanted to use, right?

H: At first I created it quickly on the piano, then I decided to arrange it. And no matter what arrangement I did, it sounded cool. It’s just that kind of song. But I didn’t want to arrange it in a way that would weaken it. Since the story is set in the 20s, I thought about arranging it in the sort of classical piano style you’d see in the 1920s, which is a bit different from what we hear in our era. But my feeling toward the arrangement it wasn’t as strong as the intensity that serves as Emilia’s foundation, so if I did it now, I feel like the arrangement wouldn’t be able to do justice to that. I felt that if I sent that out first, people wouldn’t be able to understand it.

M: I see.

H: So I just took the piano, the real, unfiltered sound of the keys, and submitted that. The version that’s going to be released is the piano version.

M: I feel like it’s filled with both the intensity and the transparency, everything I asked for. I hope everyone gets a chance to listen to it when it’s released.

H: We actually had no plans to create character themes back with Shadow Hearts. This shouldn’t leave this room, but with Alice, we started with the title ‘Sad Song,’ and the more we added to it, the more everything seemed to fit with her.

M: (LOL) That’s true. It was perfect. So much that whenever you heard the song, you thought of that character.

H: And sometimes it would appear in weird places. Like scenes that had nothing to do with Alice. (LOL) But there was nothing we could do about that.

M: In that regard, I think that compared to SH, I can see Penny Blood getting a lot more songs that help you to empathize with the characters.

H: I feel like it starts from the characters, as well as the ‘main,’ the real backbone of the game. And there will probably be many more arrangements to come.

M: It’s already decided that the soundtrack will be coming out, so it’s not just me – the whole world’s hoping that you’ll be able to compose a lot of great songs.

H: I’m glad to hear that. I’ll do my best.

M: Let’s do our best. Seriously. Well, it’s 9:30 now. If there’s anything else you wanted to say about the sound, go ahead.

H: When I heard you say the title for the main theme, ‘No matter what happens, we still need to live,’ that really gave me the chills.

M: That came out during a meeting.

H: It’s rare for you to title a song like that.

M: It was a first for me. That’s how moved I was when I heard that song. When I heard the chorus, I felt like I could stay awake no matter how tired I got.

H: In that instant? (LOL)

M: Even if I end up cursing the entire world, I can listen to that song and still feel like I need to live.

H: I’ve been studying the state of the world and history from 100 years ago, but there are elements that are similar to our era. There’s a very ominous atmosphere to everything. Sad things happen, but the desire to live on despite all that is probably the same now as it was 100 years ago. I hope it’ll become a bridge to connect us with the people of the past.

M: I think it already is. Our hope is to spread that further. I don’t think we’ll run out of things to talk about in regards to the sound, so… I think we’ll do this Creators Radio six times, and I’d like you to come back on.

H: Yes, there are a lot of things I didn’t get to talk about.

M: Seriously. I think we’ll stop here for today. We got to hear a lot from Hirota-san today, but next time, on Monday the 12th at 9 PM, our guest will be a member of Studio WildRose who helps us out with building the world – which we touched on a bit today – through drawing our image boards. His name is Watanabe-san, and we’ll have him talk about what goes on behind the scenes when he draws his image boards.

Now, I have another little piece of news to share with everyone who’s joined us today. We’re currently doing a vote for Luca’s design right now, and I think there are only about three and a half hours left. The cutoff is 1 AM. So you can vote for your favorite design out of three different ones: A, B, and C. Did you vote, Hirota-san?

H: Yes, I did. Can I say which one I voted for?

M: Well, we’re pretty serious about this.

H: That might end up leading people in one direction, huh?

M: Right. (LOL) We’ll check our answers later.

K: I am curious.

M: Yeah.

K: You tweeted that it might affect the music, Hirota-san.

M: Right. And it’ll affect how I write his dialog, too. We’ve never done anything like this before. It may sound weird to say this, but that’s how Kickstarter works – we’re all making the game together. That’s how Penny Blood is coming together, and I promise I’ll make Luca into a good character, so I hope everyone will vote.

K: We’re making it together, with everyone’s help.

M: Right. I’m thinking of one more new project. I was going to talk to you about this, Hirota-san, but since we’re doing a Creators Radio, I’d also like to do a Creators Desktop. What’s that, you say? It’s where the creators of Penny Blood will take a picture of the environment that they’re working in – for example, the PC you use, or some tool that’s special to you… In your case, Hirota-san, you might have a guitar or some other instrument. I’d like to introduce things like that through blog posts.

I’ve been trying to think of something we can send out without putting too much extra stress on the Mamma Aiuto, and this is what I came up with. So we’ll gradually be releasing these as well. For example, what sort of environment does Kato-san draw her art in? I’d like to show that to everyone. People who are interested in sound can see your environment, Hirota-san, while those who are interested in illustration can see Kato-san’s. It should teach them a little… Wait, no, how could I say something so rude? It should teach them a lot. So we’ll be doing that too.

This morning, I also appeared in Discord. I’m not used to Discord, but some people helped me out, which I was very thankful for. I’ll be appearing in Discord time to time, so I look forward to communicating with you all again. And it’s not just me! Hirota-san and Kato-san appear time to time as well. I’ll announce it when the next time comes.

I think that’s it for today. Do you have anything to say before we end, Kato-san?

K: Hmm. Oh, there isn’t much time left, but please vote for Luca’s design.

M: Please do. Now, I’d like to have our guest for today, Hirota-san, send us off.

H: It’s been a while since I had a chance to speak to everyone like this, and I had a lot of fun. It was also fun talking to Matsuzo-san and Kato-san. The game is set to come out in 2025, so I hope you’ll all stay healthy until then. (LOL)

M: We hope everyone will still be living.

H: You still need to live. OK.

M: Alright, that’s it for today. Thank you very much!

K: Thank you very much!

M: Bye bye.

H: Bye bye.