Additional beginning that was cut
Shinku no Chou's opening sequence was changed from Akai Chou's. I wanted to concrete the image of their promise by painting a picture of young Mio and Mayu holding each other close and spending happy time together. I wanted to represent the blissful time they spent together when they shared the same state of mind in which neither realised that they were completely different people. It was based on "Sunlight Filtering Through the Trees", one of the wallpapers created for Akai Chou. When I assumed that the opening was going to be longer, I wanted to add a scene with grown-up Mio and Mayu hugging in the forest, but in the end thought it would be better to put them back-to-back (facing in opposite directions in the shape of a butterfly), which gave it a different feeling, and it was cut.
"Touch More" system
In this game, we decided we would expand upon the "Touch System" created for Zero ~Tsukihami no Kamen~. In the "Touch More" system, using which you can reach out your hand or peek by holding down the A button, you can hold Mayu's hand, peek underneath things, and do various things that we thought suited this game perfectly.
We also had ideas about using it not just for scary events, but also to progress further in the story. Each thing, like reaching out your hand to touch Mayu, moves the story along. Even in the Crimson Butterfly ending, we planned to use it to reach out your hand to Mayu's neck... But it ruined the tempo, and made you feel forced into doing it, so we didn't actually do it. Also, in terms of image, there was the drawback of graphics quality compared to a standard cutscene.
Our first experiment was a scene in which you walk around Yae, who stands before the vanished village covering her face and crying, and peeking at her. In this scene, by holding down the A button you would steadily circle her, but for some reason the feeling of it wasn't conveyed properly, and in the end we went back to the way things were. I wanted to add an event to the game where the moment you slowly went around her and peeked at Yae and saw her crying face, and a crimson butterfly passed before your eyes. I wanted to put in an event to make you understand that this is the point at which Mio becomes possessed by Yae, or that Mio's face would look like Yae's in the Crimson Butterfly ending when she covers it; this event followed the viewpoint of Ryozo Munakata when he initially discovered Yae upon going to the village, so I wondered if we could also put in Munakata for a moment, but since we thought it was too packed already, maybe that's why it failed. I also had the idea to have Munakata reach out to touch Yae on a second playthrough, but thinking too few people would understand it in relation to the amount of trouble it would take it was shelved.
Person looking through the lattice
Mio and Mayu pass by the front of the Osaka house. Seeing something like a person's shadow through the house's window, they go inside. In Akai Chou, they only saw a flickering light on the other side of the window, but that was a weak reason to go into the house, so we put in Miyako.
The Osaka house is modelled on the house of a relative of mine, and the floor plan resembles it quite closely. My great-grandmother would often stand by that window, looking down at me through the lattice as soon as I entered the house, and I found that sense of distance so surprising that I thought I had to reproduce the feeling.
The wandering villagers
Since it's difficult to understand that Mio and Mayu are chased by the villagers as the Twin Shrine Maidens, we went about adding an event in which the villagers search for them. However, when you peek out of the kimono room of the Osaka house in Chapter 2, you see the villagers wandering around, so it didn't need all that much reinforcement. Since the villager's ghosts aren't strong, maybe that was the reason why even when they're wandering around they aren't scary. To counter that, we planned to make powered-up, "elite" versions of the villagers, but it was better not to make the fight outside the house too tricky at that point, so we reverted it to how it was. Outside they're scary, and outside the house they're quite mellow, which in the end I think turned out well.
The crimson butterflies that float around the village
We had planned to have crimson butterflies flying around all over the village during the story, but since there were players who thought that wherever the butterflies were had some kind of significance and ended up following them instead of progressing, we put them only in meaningful places. Also, since it's not scary when there are lots of butterflies flying around, it felt tricky to really add many more.
I had the feeling, "I want people to know clearly whether the crimson butterflies are enemies or allies. I don't know whether it's better for them to be scary, or to be appreciated aesthetically," so I think the atmosphere I was aiming for was quite difficult to understand.
Itsuki was initially a woman
In the first stages of the dream I had, Itsuki was a white-haired woman around 20 years of age. She wore a slightly aged white kimono. The woman didn't speak passionately like Itsuki. She spoke in a sad-sounding voice, in a tone that sounded like she had given up on everything. She would say, "Don't become like me," as though the sins she had committed had broken her spirit.
After I had the dream, I thought that the woman seemed to be Mio in the future. After Mio killed Mayu she was unable to leave the village, and shut herself away in the storehouse. Perhaps there would have been an ending where maybe there was a time loop, and in the end she meets herself who came to the village. Ultimately Itsuki became male, so this route never happened, but later this woman's image was passed on to Kureha.
Map of the dream village
In Chapter 2, you visit various areas of the village while searching for Mayu. The story of Akai Chou came from a dream I had in a single night, but the village I saw in that dream was more expansive, so there were places we had to cut out.
If you went straight past the entrance to Itsuki's storehouse, you would exit into the village where the villagers were gathered in a small house. There was grassland with grass growing to waist-height, where you tried to escape, where there stood villagers who were trapped in the Darkness. When you left that grassy area, you were able to get as far as the edge of Resonance Pond, and around the front of the stairs down from Kureha Shrine's path there was a small lake enclosed by dense trees. There stood Sunken Woman, an image that was reproduced for one of Akai Chou's wallpapers, "Deep".
Inside the cemetery was the house of a Mourner who usually stood guard over the graves. It was plain enough that it seemed ready to collapse, and unusually dirty, so even in my dream I didn't want to go inside.
Kusabi and the sea of bodies that only appeared during flashes of lightning
In Shinku no Chou, at the end of the Kurosawa house's dirt floor hallway and in the Great Hall, there are flashes of lightning. You'll notice if you pay close attention to the cutscene, but you can only see Kusabi standing behind Sae when he is illuminated by the lightning. We challenged ourselves to reproduce that throughout this game, but it looked somehow like a bug, so in the end we dropped it. In the same way, we made it so that you could only see the sea of corpses when the lightning momentarily flickered, but rather than being scary it looked like a bug, so unfortunately it was cut.
The dropped haunted house "The Repentance" also had things appearing in lightning flashes at its core, so that was gotten rid of similarly.
The ghost collapsed in the flickering room
There is a woman's ghost sleeping prone on the floor in the room with the flickering lightbulb, who was modelled on a ghost that appeared in my room (see p.58, "A True Scary Story"). When the ghost appeared, it caused a phenomenon where the lights in my room stopped working properly. Even if it was perhaps an experience that was due to my sharp sixth sense, it was unmistakably true that until the ghost vanished, there were issues with the lights, so at that time I learned that electric lights don't work properly when a ghost is around, and put it in the game.
Shadow on the screen in the doll stand room
A mysterious shadow is projected on the sliding paper door at the end of Chapter 3. The shadow whispers while holding something up; this was another vision from my dream. It was made to make you wonder if it represents one of the endings Mio arrives at. The added ending "Frozen Butterfly" was also born from this image. The Frozen Butterfly ending was made from me imagining what was happening on the other side, and what Mio would see if she peeked around.
Easier to realise that Mayu is going mad
Nintendo pointed out that in Akai Chou there are times when it's tricky to realise that Mayu is gradually going mad. We wondered if we could make it any easier to understand, and so added several events during the game. One of those is a scene in with Mayu in front of the door in the Rope Temple that leads to the underground passageway, where you get slowly closer to her without knowing whether she's crying or laughing.
In the scene, Mio shakes Mayu; we really worked hard to show things like her body's softness and flexibility. I think we also managed to properly show the strange glaze to Mayu's eyes afterwards.
Peeking at Mayu in the Great Hall event
When they pass through the Great Hall, there's a scene in which Mayu runs off by herself and stands exactly where Sae stood. We planned to use the "Touch More" system to include an event in which you peek at Mayu while you hold down the button. As you peeked, a flash of lightning would illuminate Mayu and for a second show her has Sae, crying as she laughed. If you peeked without hesitation, Mayu would shout, "Don't look at me!" at Mio in a warped voice, and at that moment the Kusabi would appear behind her, and tied to a game in which you run away with Mayu, if you hesitated even once at peeping the scene would play out tied in with the game as it was.
Exchange in the cell
We added a scene where, after the cell door closes and separates Mio and Mayu, Mayu clings onto the hand Mio reaches out to her with and tugs on it. There wasn't a scene like this in Akai Chou. Since the separation of joined hands is a symbolic act, it emphasizes the implication that Mayu is breaking down, but the simple charm of them holding hands was for my personal preference.
The cell door opens...
In Akai Chou, when Mio returns from searching for the confinement room key the cell door is shut, but in Shinku no Chou it has opened. While this implies even more clearly that Mayu is gone, this part of the story was actually going to be supplemented in Haunted House Mode.
The dropped haunted house "Confinement Room" begins with Sae opening the cell door and leaving. She becomes Mayu and tries to escape from the Kurosawa house, but as if led by Sae she wanders on a route through the cloth hallway, screen room and family head's room, finally arriving at the doll stand room through the flickering room. Then it ends with a scene showing Yae and Sae playing their secret strangling game on the other side of the screen.
The doll's head
In Chapter 6, there is a mini-game in which you have to gather the doll parts; at this time, I imagined Mio moving on with the doll's head tucked under her arm. While under her arm, the doll's head would face away from her, so that it was right in the centre of the screen, watching the player. I thought it would be scary for the head to occasionally blink. We created the carrying motion, but it didn't work too well with her actions during battle and while using the Touch More system, so we didn't end up doing it.
There's no one here...
Mio is chased by Sae in the row of tatami rooms on the second floor of the Tachibana house, and takes refuge in a closet. When Sae passes by, she murmurs, "There's no one here..." - this is a voice I actually heard during one of my spiritual experiences.
That day, I woke up in the middle of the night, and someone's footsteps were approaching my room. "There shouldn't be anyone there," I thought, confused, as I listened to the footsteps. At times like this, when they took a step I heard nothing, but when their foot left the ground I could hear the floorboard creaking.
"Aah, it's a person with no body weight, huh - in other words..." I thought, as the person slowly began to open the door to the next room, and I heard them go a little way in. After a little while, I heard a low, listless female voice say, "There's no one here..."
Even now I don't know why she purposely muttered it, whether anyone was there, or if she was searching for someone, but it felt eerie to me. And those weightless footsteps began to slowly move, and stopped in front of my room. Wondering whether she would come in I watched the door closely, and perhaps blown by the wind it opened slightly. Perhaps five, no, ten minutes passed... When the door finally opened, no one was on the other side.
Mayu on the other side of the lattice
In Akai Chou, when Mayu remains in Itsuki's room, I forgot to make Mayu's shadow quite weak, so we added an event where you touch Mayu through the lattice. It's also one of the scenes that were altered in this game to show that Mayu is slowly going mad. Mayu had been so scared to be left alone in the cell, but now even when her hand is shaken free of she doesn't react. It's a scene that shows you how Mayu's mind has deteriorated since Mio grabbed her hand in the cell.
The first time you see Chitose in Akai Chou is when she appears as a vanishing ghost, but in this game you wouldn't really be able to see her due to the player's viewpoint, so we put it in a cutscene.
I wanted to have Chitose peek around the corner of the hallway, and show her obi moving slightly along with her movement as you watch her from behind as she runs away. In the end, you couldn't really tell it was moving. Practically, though it's cute to see such a small child running with such a big obi, with the obi slightly out of alignment and with big movements, unfortunately we couldn't properly show that condition using polygons.
Phantoms of Chitose, Itsuki and Mutsuki
In Shinku no Chou, we have added various vanishing ghosts. The phantoms of Chitose, Itsuki and Mutsuki when you watch a video record of the Shadow Festival are some of those. At the time, I was troubled over whether or not the hair of Itsuki's ghost from the past should be black, but in the end I thought that even as a ghost, when he appears in the village his hair has to be white since it turned white due to blame from the consciousness of his sins, so we made him white-haired.
He is indistinguishable from Mutsuki, but even in the Promise ending, when everything has been resolved, Itsuki's hair is still white.
This video record from the projector room is supposed to be a record of a Kureha Shrine in another village brought by Makabe. There are Kureha Shrines in the villages surrounding Minakami Village, too, due to dispersal of their deities, where a festival is held in which butterfly lanterns are released to represent the Secret Ritual. They know nothing of the ritual, of course, but even without the knowledge they believe in the butterflies.
Until you leave the Tachibana house
Mio reunites with Mayu at the end of Chapter 7, which immediately afterwards connects to a scene that happens after exiting the Tachibana house. The part up until leaving the house was cut, and I planned this, too, to be represented in Haunted House Mode. However, when you think of the Tachibana house's ghosts you think of Chitose. For some reason, hearing a bell from closets and Chitose coming out of various places just wasn't scary, so it was cut. Mayu meaninglessly singing the children's song "Kagome Kagome" in a small voice as she followed behind was the only scary part, unfortunately.
I thought it would be an interesting idea to use Haunted House Mode in this way to tell sub-stories, but since a multiplayer game with little connection to the story was more fun, the course of action that tells these sub-stories was removed.
Wandering the village with Mayu
In Shinku no Chou, many parts of Chapter 8 have been modified. I thought that in the game, Mio and Mayu doesn't get much time to wander around together, so I wanted to give them some time alone together at some point of the endgame stage.
The two of them being able to wander aimlessly around the village was aimed at the players who really wanted to be able to do that, and I thought it would be silly to make it compulsory, so we allow you to choose whether you open Itsuki's storehouse alone, or whether you open it together.
Added scenes in Chapter 8
We added multiple events that you can only see when you wander around the village together. In them, we were aiming to show how Mayu is going mad - in other words, seeing her visually absorbing Sae. By experiencing these events with Mayu, you will end up causing Chapter Zero, in which you battle with Sae who has assimilated with Mayu.
The two on the bank of the pond
They arrive at the bank of Resonance Pond. A still Mayu watches the moon rippling on the water's surface. Mio puts her hand on Mayu's shoulder. Mayu puts her own hand on top of Mio's and turns to face her, saying with an innocent face, "We used to play here all the time." Even though puzzled by the way Mayu uses the same words as she spoke about the mountain stream of their memories, Mio stays silent and listens.
"This will be gone soon, too." Mio looks at Mayu, standing beside her, still holding her hand. She watches Mayu, whose mind is deteriorating, with worried eyes.
"Just a little longer and we'll get out of this village," Mio answers Mayu, as though persuading her. Mayu stares blankly.
"Right, we're going to escape together. We promised..."
Mio slowly, hesitantly nods. Even in such a horrifying village as this, the moonlit pond sparkles beautifully.
Moving to leave this place, Mio hugs Mayu from behind.
"Let's stay here just a little longer..."
Mio faces and hugs Mayu, who has lost her mind, even tighter.
In this cutscene, there is a scene in which Mio accepts Mayu, who has gone mad. I wanted it to show that however much she changes, Mio will accept Mayu. Mayu's words are those of Sae before running away from the village and, although coincidentally, Mio's response is the same as Yae's. This scene shows how, rather than being transferred, their feelings match up exactly. We planned for a slightly more romantic action, but the moon reflected in the pond and ground was more beautiful than I had imagined, so it ended a little sooner than I thought it would.
Holding Mayu back on the walkway
When the two go to leave the walkway, Mayu, who is following behind, holds onto the railing and peers down, as though soaking it in. Mio notices that Mayu is about to fall.
Mio, returning from her confusion, finally grabs Mayu from behind.
"I fell by myself... By myself..."
As Mayu murmurs this with a vacant stare, the two change into Yae and Sae. Sae's facial expression is too shadowy for Yae to see properly. Without knowing whether it's an expression of anger, sadness or resentment, Yae holds on tightly.
"Back then... I wish I had fallen with you."
Sae is startled by Yae's gentle whisper. She reverts to Mayu as she backs away.
This cutscene was originally tied to the Shadow Festival ending. When Yae and Sae ran from the village, Sae fell by herself. Yae conveys her feelings that if she wasn't destined to escape, she wanted to be together, even if she didn't survive. Her words are the same time as Mio's, "Let's fall together, this time..."
In the Promise ending, when Yae says, "Back then, I..." she is interrupted by Sae's, "I know." What would follow probably wouldn't be those lines. It would likely be, "I didn't mean to leave you; I searched for you for so long, but the village was gone." Sae sensed right away that Yae didn't mean to live on without her, and so interrupted her, wanting to spare her the pain of having to say the words.
In this cutscene, there are details that are connected to both the Shadow Festival ending and the Promise ending, but it is a condition for the Hellish Abyss and Frozen Butterfly endings. As a result of changing things in the final stages of development so that all endings can be seen on a first playthrough, it became the way you trigger Chapter Zero, which strengthens the idea that "Sae = Mayu", so it varies a little from my original intentions.
Watching the video of the Shadow Festival in the projector room
In Shinku no Chou, the festivals have one theme.
Before she fell from the cliff, Mayu had no doubts about living together with Mio forever, but she learned the reality of it as Mio got further and further away from her at the Shadow Festival. To Mayu, the huge crowd at the festival hid Mio, which she saw as being swallowed by a torrent of black darkness. This is connected to the scene in the Shadow Festival ending in which they are swallowed by the Darkness. It's also tied to the "Futagomori" ending mentioned in the plot summary.
In the end, Mayu closes her eyes without responding to Mio. She knows she can't go back to the way things were before she realised that she and Mio will live and die separately. Mayu can't go back to the day of that festival. However, in the Shadow Festival ending and the Futagomori ending, Mio and Mayu go back to the time of the festival and hold hands tightly. She can't go back to when they were one, and she can't return to the past when she knew nothing, but Mayu, who was crushed by her anxiety, is momentarily able to go back to the past. Or perhaps she has realised that the ritual will be performed after this.
Incidentally, in the festival scene from the Shadow Festival ending, although Mayu appears in her present-day grown-up form, she has returned to the day of the festival, a time before she fell from the cliff, so doesn't drag her leg.
A cut scene
In Chapter 8, there was another event we were going to add. We planned to have an event in which the two go to Whisper Bridge, the bridge that connects to the Kurosawa house.
Mayu is beckoned to the Kurosawa house
Mio approaches Whisper Bridge, which leads to the Kurosawa house. It is enshrouded in fog, and she can't see it. Mio stops in the restless air, but Mayu runs past her, toward the house.
Mio is startled. She looks at which way Mayu is going, and sees the silhouettes of several people on the other side of the fog, standing there as though waiting for Mayu. Mio chases after her, overcome by anxiety, and takes Mayu's hand, but Mayu shakes free and keeps running.
Grabbing with her shaken-off hand once more, she drags Mayu back the other way and out of the gate.
These details are connected to a cutscene in the Final Chapter in which Mayu heads toward the Kurosawa house, saying, "This is right." The highlight scene was the movement of her arm around the time she shakes free from Mio, but it was too close to the event that occurs on the bank of the pond, so it was cut.
Hide and seek in the Osaka house
When you enter the Osaka house, you participate in a hide and seek mini-game with three children. At that time, the children say:
"When the sacrifice is caught, they turn into a butterfly."
"The demon is here..."
"Whose turn is it next to be the demon?"
This is a game in which when the demon captures the sacrifice, they become a butterfly.
Here, Mio plays the role of the demon. Though no one should have known these details about the secret ritual, they're reflected in subtle hints in the children's innocent game, which I thought was scary. However quiet you are, children will pick up on it.
Yae and Sae's added vanishing ghosts
We added three pairs of vanishing ghosts from the time Yae and Sae spent in the Kurosawa house. When I thought about places in the house where they could do something without being found out, I thought that the confinement room, the narrow space in the family head's room and the area inside the doll stand room fitted well.
I wanted to put in vanishing ghosts in one of those locations where Yae and Sae played their "secret game" - wrapping their hands around each other's necks. The girls strangling each other is tied to the Futagomori ending in the plot summary.
An added cutscene before the Kusabi fight
I heard people say that the passageway with Mourners and the Kusabi fight at the end made them forget that they were heading for Mayu, so we added a cutscene in before the battle with the Kusabi. There are two versions of it, depending on whether or not Chapter Zero occurs (in other words, whether or not you fight Sae).
Without Chapter Zero
Mio is taken aback when she hears a voice say, "Yae."
Sae stands at the sacrificial altar. Mio becomes Yae as she turns around. The two confront each other.
"This time... let's do the ritual," Sae says softly to Yae. The expression on her face is gentle, her voice overflowing with affection.
"Hurry. The Repentance is coming."
Sae turns, looking a little sad, and vanishes as she heads for the stairs that lead to the Hellish Abyss.
With Chapter Zero
Mio finds Mayu standing by the sacrificial altar and runs towards her.
Mio hesitates at the sharpness of Mayu's voice. Due to backlighting, Mio can't tell what Mayu's facial expression is.
"I knew you would come, Mio (Yae)..." (The voice says "Mio" and "Yae" at the same time.)
Mio finally steps forwards, and becomes Yae. The ground begins to tremble violently, and Mio tries to keep her balance. Amidst the trembling, Sae laughs madly. She changes into Mayu.
A backlit, close-up shot of Mayu. Her cheeks are wet, and she looks as though she has been crying. The tremors end, and Mayu vanishes.
Number of Mourners in the underground passage
In Akai Chou's original scenario there were no fights in the underground passageway, but the veiled priests and Mourners welcomed Mio as she passed by, and as she progresses suspiciously, she ends up performing the ritual. However, in the final developmental stages of Akai Chou, since if you don't break the barriers you can't have an exciting game, we placed lots of Mourners in there.
This was an issue we faced with this game, too, but in the end, what is a game without enemies? So we ended up putting in fewer Mourners than in Akai Chou.
Battle with Sae
The fight with Sae is the point in the game where you attack with the Camera Obscura to push Sae back to the Hellish Abyss and make her fall in. When Sae's HP became 0 you got the Frozen Butterfly ending. If you completed the mini-game with Sae at the edge of the Abyss with your final hit, it was tied to the opening scene of the Hellish Abyss ending. However, in the viewpoint of this game, it's difficult to see whether or not you've pushed her back to the Abyss, so in the end we put things back to the way they were.
Sae and Mayu's voices
During the battle with Sae, you can hear Sae and Mayu's true feelings from the area around the Hellish Abyss from the left and right speakers. At this time, Mayu speaks of her bitterness toward and desire to monopolise Mio, and these lines have made people really certainly say, "Mayu is yandere," (though at the time I wasn't thinking of the word "yandere", but rather wanted it to represent her being a more frightful heroine, and a character the protagonist simply can't defeat). To represent the way Mayu thinks of Mio as dear to her, we made it so that another Mayu's voice would play through the Wii remote's speaker.
However, I learned that although people can somehow keep up with two conversations at once, with three or more people it becomes almost impossible to take in. Also, since you hear the shutter sound through the Wii remote, it didn't really work. We thought about having it play through the 2P controller, but since we already had the gimmick in which Mayu's voice plays when the controller's link is broken (see p95, "Secret Messages Hidden in 2P Controller"), the conflict between the two was an issue.
At the beginning of the Shinku no Chou project, I began thinking about the request from Kikuchi, the producer, to make a "super-happy ending". However, in the end the Promise ending is the best, and when I told him that it doesn't get any happier than that he changed the order to "make a tragic ending", and many of the elements I thought of at the time for the Futagomori ending were broken up and put in the Frozen Butterfly and Shadow Festival endings.
The Futagomori ending would happen during the fight with Sae, if you ran out of time, so in a sense it was a failure ending. The origin of the title is "two things being wrapped together into one", or, "two silkworms inside one cocoon", from the image of two becoming one as they are shut inside the same cocoon.
The ending's conception memo began with the words "the two decide to remain in the village", and had keywords such as, "they strangle each other", and "two frolicking butterflies". In actuality they don't "remain in the village", but rather decide to end things together there. At the end of the memo it closed with the mysterious words "double wedding dress", I couldn't remember for the life of me why I'd written those words down, so in the end I did what I'd wanted to do from the start and ended with a scene showing the two draped in a kimono.