Originally posted on 18 May 2012
Source: Zero / Zero 2 Fanbook, page 50-53

Fatal Frame Fanbook: Pursuing the World of Zero

"Zero" plays out from a variety of viewpoints. By comparing it to the second game, you can see Zero in a new form.

The Laws of Zero

Both Zero ~zero~ and Zero ~Akai Chou~ were developed by "Project Zero". Keeping its basic concept of Japanese horror, both games come from different perspectives. For the first game, things like camera-work and the ghosts' visuals were used to create scary things with movie-like methods. In the second game, the space representing the situation of the ruins was improved, and emphasis was put on the concept images.
Of course, when you talk about Zero, both games have differences and similarities, as well as sharing concepts. There are seven keywords selected that elucidate the world of Zero: "Camera Obscura", "record", "abandoned village", "ritual", "Hell Gate", "Hellish Abyss" and "sacrifice".

The Camera Obscura

The "Camera Obscura", a weapon used to defeat ghosts, has varying abilities across the Zero series. Not only do they appear in the games' stories, they also have clearly visible differences. Its keyword is "a piece of the Holy Mirror". In Zero ~zero~, it is an item that is your only trump card that allows you to defeat Kirie, and was hidden inside the Camera Obscura. Due to the power of the Holy Mirror, gained from its spiritual energy waves, it enables the Camera Obscura to seal away ghosts.
However, in Zero ~Akai Chou~, there is no item inside the Camera Obscura that heightens its spiritual power. In other words, even though you can get rid of ghosts you can't seal them away. You learn that its inventor, Dr. Kunihiko Asou, lent a prototype to the folklorist Seijiro Makabe, which shows that since the completed camera appeared in the first game, the one in the second game is incomplete.


During the game, various old books and notes, such as the folklorist's notes or the ceremony master's writings, appear in the record, which helps you to solve the mysteries of the game. These items, a point shared by both games, depict things like the mystery-filled ritual and the villagers.
However, this method is used in many games, and isn't limited to Zero. The element that would be called most Zero-like would probably be the tapes and Spirit Stones that contain people's voices. As well as conveying important information, these items also have the effect of amplifying your fear.
The mutterings of the novelist, Junsei Takamine, on his tapes, or the heartfelt cries of Sae Kurosawa that were sealed away in a Spirit Stone - just by listening to them, the fear grows in the player's heart. Not only the BGM and sound effects in the game, they also take advantage of people's warped voices to create an effect.
The director of Zero Project, Makoto Shibata, remarked: "In Zero, there were certainly others who visited the area before the protagonist did. And as the protagonist's story unfolds, you see what became of those people. I'd perhaps say that it hints at the future the protagonist would face..." Through this, you can see that information gained through tapes and Spirit Stones plays an important role in the game.

All items related to records in the Zero series
Zero ~Akai Chou~ Zero ~zero~
Notebooks Notebooks
Bound Diary 1~5 Kirie's Diary 1~6
Butterfly Diary 1~6 Mafuyu's Note
Crimson Diary 1~4 Mafuyu's Notes 2~7
Green Diary 1~5 Priest's Writings 1~4
Violet Diary 1~3 Old Diary Scrap 1~4
Village Report 1~5 Lady's Diary Scrap 1~3
Bloody Memo Yae Munakata's Death Note
Woman's Notebook 1~8 Child's Writing
Old Books Black Notebook Scrap 1~6
Ritual Documents 1~5 Red Notebook Scrap 1~7
Ceremony Master's Note 1~5 Research Note 1~5
Doll Maker Note 1~5 Scraps
Camera Obscura Pointers Five Buddhas Document
Spirit Stone Radio Pointers Five Stones Document
Folklorist's Note 1~12 Document on Binding
Scraps Strangling Ritual Document
Final Letter Blind Demon Ritual Document
Charred Notes The Calamity Document
Design Plans Priest's Manual 1~3
Mayu's Note Research Scrap 1~10
News Clipping News Clipping 1~3
Small News Clipping Old News Article 1~3
Spirit Orbs Camera Controls 1~2
Spirit Stones Shooting Ghosts
Mayu's Charm About Power-Ups
Fluorite Tapes
Crystal Ore White Tape 1~3
Lazulite Red Tape 1~4
Chrysocolla Blue Tape 1~2
Red Speckled Crystal
Blue Crystal
Pale Purple Crystal
Green Crystal
Dimly Glowing Crystal
Glowing Yellow Crystal
Glowing Red Crystal
Glowing Blue Crystal
Faintly Glowing Crystal
Glowing Green Crystal
Glowing Purple Crystal

Ghost Towns and Rituals

The only person in the decayed and dilapidated village is the protagonist, and all others are the dead. The village, under the Darkness' rule, will never again be visited by morning, the dead striding around enveloped in the jet-black darkness.
The settings are Himuro Mansion, destroyed by the Calamity, and Minakami Village, annihilated by the Repentance. Comparing both games, Minakami Village's map is more expansive than that of Himuro Mansion. This is because an attempt was made to increase the quality of the second game's atmosphere. To put it into other words, the quality being spoken of here is "beauty". The scenery of Minakami Village, the featured characters and other things - by completing each image with beauty, it gave the fear an added layer of realism.
There are also differences between the rituals. In the first game, several overlapping rituals such as the Ceremony of the Ropes and the Strangling Ritual had to be performed to seal the Hell Gate, but in the second game, the only way of soothing the Hellish Abyss is the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, in which the older sister kills the younger. Even including the Hidden Ceremony, to temporarily soothe the Abyss, there are only two. On the other hand, they do share a common point - horrific scenes and things with deep meaning cut out of the original script. Perhaps you may even feel their oppressiveness during the story.

Ceremony of the Ropes

The ritual performed to seal the Hell Gate, a relic underneath Himuro Mansion. Special rope called "laceration rope" was needed for the ritual to bind the gate.
The Laceration Rope was created in the Strangling Ritual, a ritual in which the Rope Shrine Maiden's four limbs and neck were bound with ropes to a special contraption, and her body torn apart. It was believed that the maiden's pure soul (with strong spiritual power) dwelled in the ropes, which allowed them to seal the gate.
When the gate's sealing failed the gate opened and Malice spewed out into the world of the living, causing a disaster called The Calamity.

Crimson Sacrifice Ritual

A ritual performed once every few decades to soothe the Darkness flowing out of the Hellish Abyss (at the deepest part of the Underground Passageway). Only the ceremony master presiding over the ritual, the Kurosawa family master, and the special people involved in preparing for the ritual, such as Mourners, were allowed to enter the site of the ritual.
In the ritual, Twin Shrine Maidens (or Altar Twins) were used as human sacrifices. The maidens underwent purification rituals, and the second-born twin, considered to be the elder, would strangle the first-born, a kami-okuri sending the god on their way. In modern times, the way of determining the elder twin is reversed. Also, at the time of the ritual, the people of neighbouring villages would not go near Minakami Village.

The Gate to Hell and the Hellish Abyss

In the Zero series, Akai Chou is set in the older time period. The folklorist Ryozo Munakata visited Minakami Village as a young man, from where he took with him the Twin Shrine Maiden Yae Kurosawa. After they married, the two moved into Himuro Mansion from Zero ~zero~. From the bottom of his heart, Ryozo regretted not having seen the secret ritual of Minakami Village, and transferred his desire towards the Hell Gate. It could also be said that it was a manifestation of the Hell Gate calling out to him.
Was a classical approach taken with the Hell Gate? It represents the Ama-no-Iwato, a huge stone separating this world from the other, which should be familiar to Japanese people.
On the other hand, the Hellish Abyss is a hole in the depths of the underground. It perhaps can be said to have the image of hell in a Western sense, but in the game it preserves the Japanese image well.

Sae Kurosawa

After the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual failed, Sae turned into a vengeful ghost.


As Kirie still had attachments to the world of the living when the ritual was performed, she brought about the Calamity.

Human Sacrifices

In "Zero", the human sacrifices with their tragic fates have two contradicting faces. The face that curses the living with a horrific fate and pulls them into darkness, and the face that regrets the failure of the sealing. Kirie borrows the form of her youth to help Miku. Sae, while possessing Mayu, calls to Mio in order to reunite with Yae and complete the ritual. From these two's hearts, tangled up in confusing emotions, you can feel their courage in fulfilling their duties.
In actuality, "Zero" doesn't end. In other words, the rituals are performed once every few years, and even though for a time they are complete, a new sacrifice will be needed. Minakami Village's Hellish Abyss and Himuro Mansion's Hell Gate will continue to be painted with the colour of darkness for eternity. And people will be burdened with fates like that of Mio and Miku, and be pulled in by them, becoming new sacrifices.