Originally posted on 2 October 2011
Last edited on 22 August 2015
Source: Official site

Fatal Frame: Zero Anthology #2 - Miku and Mafuyu

Head: Jin Hasegawa (CG team), Makoto Shibata (director)

A new game... making a fitting character

How Miku was born

―First, I'd like to ask about Miku's image.

Hasegawa: She's a girl who follows her brother to an abandoned Japanese house and fights ghosts - and not only that, but with a camera... At first, I couldn't imagine what that kind of character would be like at all. If she wielded a sword or used magic then I could think of some designs, but this game is rather without precedent.

―At what stage was the character of Miku decided upon?

Shibata: We had already decided on a Japanese house, ghosts and a camera as elements for the game, but the protagonist was unclear right up until the end. In my dreams each night I visit Himuro Mansion in a first person perspective, so I couldn't see the protagonist. I could see everything else clearly, so those were easy, but...

―Then you hadn't decided upon a protagonist when you began development?

Shibata: No. The character is always on-screen, and is often shown alone in dark rooms, so I wanted us to go on creating until something fitted.

―How about Miku's design?

Hasegawa: First of all I got the director's concept from a description he wrote, and designed her from that. If her design was too disconnected from reality then it would lessen the fear, so it needed realness. But it's a game, so if I devoted too much to the realism then it would be dull and unsatisfying. I worked hard to achieve that balance.

From the protagonist outline

Premise... The protagonist has a sixth sense, and can see things that others can't.

Is incredibly sensitive... Is sensitive to the workings of others' minds. When she is exposed to negative emotions, such as anger, hatred and grief, she feels them twice as strongly as other people. The reason why she doesn't get used to seeing ghosts however many times it happens is because ghosts are masses of hate and sadness, and this reaches her directly.

About her having a sixth sense... She can see different things from others, and is scared of being viewed as different. She is also lonely, since she can't connect truly with her friends. As a result, her classmates see an irritation in her of wanting to say something but not being able to.

Regarding her brother... Her brother, who also has a sixth sense, sees the same things as she does and is her only sympathiser. Since their parents died, he has been both her mother and her father.

For modelling: physical characteristics
From the protagonist outline

Body... Give the protagonist a slender figure to show that she's not a belligerent character.

Make her eyes impressive... To show that she has a strong sixth sense, give her big, wet black eyes. It would be best to give them an ephemeral sense. She's the protagonist, so make sure to put a hint of her strong core somewhere in her gaze.

Make her hair ornament characteristic... Her hair is long to show the strength of her sixth sense. It hangs to her back. However, since she hates her sixth sense she ties her hair up with a red cord-like hair ornament to hide it. If possible, try to make her hairstyle asymmetrical due to it being tied up. (This will make it easier to understand things like scenes using mirrors.)

The colour scheme of her outfit... The game is set in around 1986, but this is only because I want it to be set in a time when there were no mobile phones, so don't worry too much about the fashion of the time. Also, the game is set during early autumn when outfits are starting to turn chic. I would like it to use colours that don't melt away into a dark building, but try to avoid quite light colours. If you can, I'd like a colour scheme with a strong contrast with white and black clearly separated.

The secrets hidden in Miku's costume

Hasegawa: The director told me to make her slender because that would make her look like she has a strong sixth sense, so that's what I kept in mind while designing her.

Shibata: I also have the image that having traces of youth left over also implies a strong sixth sense. We made Miku to look younger than her actual age. This is also revealed in the game, but she has trauma relating to her mother so I wanted to make her into this character with a sort of dark shadow about her.

―It looks like the things about the hair ornament have been modified quite a bit.

Shibata: We ended up making her hairstyle symmetrical. I thought it would be clearer when you were looking in the mirror, but in the end all I learned was that it looked strange. The proposal failed.

Hasegawa: In the early stages, the hair ornament was an important accessory. Not only was it left to her by her mother, but it was also passed down in her family. It became a symbolic item that bound her spiritual power.

―Then there was an episode concerning this hair accessory?

Shibata: Yes. It was meant to be put into the main story. Unfortunately the story ballooned too much, so we didn't go that far.

―I also can't help but notice the choker around her neck.

Shibata: I requested that because I wanted her to have matching accessories with her brother.

Hasegawa: We wanted something you would notice in her bust shot.

Shibata: If you play the game you will understand, but... the reason why she has a black line around her neck also has a profound meaning in terms of the story.

―How did you decide on Miku's outfit?

Hasegawa: We decided on something with a strong contrast that would stand out in the darkness. The blackness of her hair from above, her white face, the red of the ornament on her chest, the white jacket, the black skirt... The colour scheme was white, black, white, black.

Shibata: At first her clothes were dark from head to toe, which was my preference, but you wouldn't know where she was on the dark screen.

Hasegawa: We had two versions until we reached this one.

Shibata: One was a gothic outfit in a Taisho Roman style, assuming that the game was set in a time further back than the final version. She was dressed head to toe in indigo velvet with a long skirt. Her innerwear was also velvet, but red. The edges of the material would be adorned with lace and cords. The other was close to the current outfit, stressing the black and white contrast and with the same red ornament as this one, but more simplistic.

―And then you settled upon the current costume?

Shibata: Yes. We went with this one because the design shows up well on the screen.

Hasegawa: There are actually more things about Miku's physical characteristics that were carefully chosen...

―I hope you can sense these things in the actual game.

About the protagonist's name
From the protagonist outline

Miku Hinasaki

The protagonist is placed under a curse that tears apart the human body, and from the image of her soft body being torn apart at the completion of the curse I made her surname "Hinasaki".

I also wanted the protagonist to have a characteristic colour, so I chose Miku (deep crimson) and used that as her name. Going by her characteristic deep red colour, I want to use it effectively for things like her hair ornament and accessories, and have only a deep crimson colour glowing faintly on the monochromatic screen. Dark red, like the colour of blood, should show up quite well.

Hasegawa: Her design was rough going, but the protagonist's name had already been chosen from the start.

Shibata: At first even the staff couldn't get used to it, saying that the kanji were too hard to read, but I persisted in calling her that and it finally stuck. Her name is just her concept colour, though.

―What about the "monochromatic screen" bit?

Hasegawa: Now that you mention it, at first the whole game was planned to be in monochrome.

Shibata: We did actually have a version like that at first. Just try to examine proceeding through the entire time with the images in strong monochrome, like when flashbacks happen in the game.

―It looks as if only the introduction as Mafuyu is in monochrome, though?

Shibata: All of the flashbacks deal with past events, so they're in monochrome. Even the prologue, where you control Mafuyu, is a past event to Miku, so it's in monochrome.

―Don't you think the atmosphere would be quite different if the whole game was in monochrome?

Shibata: Even as a creator, playing that version was really scary. Maybe because there was also slowdown, even the ghosts without motions would move around jerkily, but when you looked at them through the viewfinder they were abnormally creepy. I was worried if we would be able to release it in that state.

Hasegawa: In that version, Miku moving by herself was the scariest thing.

Shibata: In the end it was really tiring to play, so we couldn't sell it.

Composition of the Hinasaki family

Father (Masato)

An archaeologist specialising in research. He travels the country year round to investigate historic ruins, and hardly ever comes home. Dies in an accident while researching.

Mother (Miyuki)

Married to Masato while still a student. She was formerly Masato's assistant, photographing ruins and earthenware. Since marrying, she has devoted herself to domestic life. She showers her children with affection, but is gradually worn down by her husband never thinking of home. She is kind to everyone, but is oversensitive and physically wea.

She had a sixth sense when she was young, but lost most of it after graduating from elementary school. She has suffered due to being branded a heretic because of her sixth sense, hurt by the fact that she has passed it on to her children, and warns them not to tell anyone about it.

Since she became mentally ill, she has taken up an interest in photos. This leads Miyuki's spiritual power to gradually reawaken, and she starts to take strange photographs. At the same time, she is tormented by her spiritual abilities. Passes away in an incident. Miku's spiritual power has begun to bloom greatly since then.

Brother (Mafuyu)

A fair-skinned, slender young man. He resembles his mother in his kindness and appearance. He is Masato and Miyuki's first child, so he takes one character from his father's name and carries on the image of his mother, which is how he got his name.

He knows of Miku's ability and sympathises with her, and is the only one to whom she will open up. He reminds Miku of their mother's gentleness before she became ill, so he acts as both mother and father to her after their parents die, an important figure to her.

His concept colour is white. 23 years old. After graduating from university, he takes a part time job at a publisher. For the first time he is given a small assignment on an out-of-season special on horror, visiting the village where the game takes place.

Hasegawa: The finer details aren't told in the game.

Shibata: We touched on the costumes - her brother was supposed to have a white shadow that would stand out faintly in the darkness of Himuro Mansion. More than his design, I wanted to reproduce the airs of the Mafuyu in my head. He conceals the same spiritual abilities as Miku, so there is shadow hidden in his gaze, along with a coldness.

―You've done the older brother/younger sister situation before, haven't you?

Shibata: Now that I think about it, we did the same thing in Deception. I just had this feeling that it kind of needed to be done... In any case, I wanted to make Mafuyu a character who is endowed with both strength and gentleness. That has an important meaning in terms of the story, which I'll let you enjoy when you play it.

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