Nuregarasu no Miko has a lot more endings than past games. I wanted each of the three protagonists to have their own various kinds, and for the player's after-impressions change based upon which combination of endings they got.
Initially, Nintendo strongly pressed for a game with no story whatsoever, so this is also a remnant from the time I asked to at least let us put in endings and were building heavily onto the end of the game, but another large part of the reason comes from the setup of the scrapped game in which Ren was the main character, where he would have to choose one ghost out of five with whom to end his life, and each one would have multiple endings.
This ending occurs after Shiragiku drags Ren inside the Hitsugi Kago.
I have had all kinds of spiritual experiences in my life, but the ghosts' faces have always been fuzzy, like they're out of focus. I can see their faces by looking out of the corner of my eye at them, but it's gloopy or rotten and unpleasant. Sometimes I do see them clearly, but, in the spirit world as in the real one, hardly any of them are what you would call attractive. I have only once met the ghost of a pretty girl who might appear in a Zero game.
I think it was in about 2005. One late night, when I arrived home from work, a girl was sitting on top of a low bookcase in the corner of my single-room apartment. She was about 15, wore a light green dress, and had long, black hair. She generally kept her eyes lowered, and had a mature look on her face, as though she was fed up with everything.
I suppose she must have noticed me, because she said, "You found me," and looked slowly over at me. As she stared intently at me, I felt somehow as though she was peering right into my soul.
Since I rarely saw ghosts' faces clearly, and because despite being frosty she had quite pleasant features, without thinking I stared back at her, and she whispered, "Die... more slowly," and then, still sitting atop the bookcase, vanished.
I had no idea what was going on. I was shaked by her sudden utterance of "Die". I didn't understand. Since then, each time I think about the girl's words I've started wondering if perhaps what she was trying to say was, "Live as much as you can."
As we were developing Shisei no Koe, I thought about ending it there. Thinking back on it now, I believe I was rather hurrying towards death. I was heading, fearlessly, closer and closer to the absolute depths of my mind, to that area I should never go. Maybe she realised that. Several miraculous factors brought me back to this side, but her words were definitely one of them.
The way Shiragiku in Nuregarasu no Miko can read people's minds just by looking at them and answer them ahead of time, as well has her cold features and mature expression, are based on this ghost. (The ghost girl's features more resembled Miu, so Miu was based on her as well.) And, in this ending, I interpreted the girl's words, in my own way, in a good direction.
If I met the girl ghost who appeared in my room that day one more time, I would like to ask her: Was this a good way in which to interpret them?
This ending occurs when Ren defeats Shiragiku.
Pretty much the same scene is used as in "Inside the Box", but it ends with a sad yet beautiful scene of being left alone, watching the flowers fall. The scene may be the same, but the meaning is completely different.
"Inside the Box" has Shiragiku - who could never interact with anyone, treated with disdain by all due to her strange appearance and not living much longer - finding a friend in a boy she meets by chance, and the boy waving to her - her best memory - causes her to decide to be alone forever.
"A Cold Spring" tells the story of the dead reliving their best moment at the end, and Shiragiku repeating the moment she met the young Asou, but he does not reply, and she is left alone. Her telling him to forget her is a manifestation of her feelings. As she watches the scenery, the petals gradually become colder. The ending's title comes from hana-bie, which refers to a temporary drop in temperature during the season when sakura bloom, causing them to turn cold. The applied image is one of Shiragiku sleeping, forever cooling despite being beneath the warm sunlight.
There was a scene that was cut from this movie. It came after the meeting the young Asou scene, where Shiragiku draws her last breath in the tatami room and her face is covered with a cloth, but when Asou takes her hand she removes the cloth herself and wakes up, and smiles at Asou as he looks at her with concern by her side. It was linked to the kids' Mitori video, so I really wanted to put it in, but unfortunately we couldn't.
The movie begins when Ren takes Shiragiku's photo and reduces her HP to 0.
Shiragiku collapses slowly, her face pained. Ren drops the Camera Obscura and looks down at her. Unsure whether or not he has defeated her, Ren stares at Shiragiku, lying flat on her back.
"I've been this way for so, so long," she says, her eyes still closed. Shiragiku opens her eyes a crack. Her eyes are clear. Suddenly she sits up, and Ren momentarily tenses. "I guess I'll stay this way for a long, long time yet." Standing up, Shiragiku keeps her gaze to the ground, boredly muttering, "Uugh." Shiragiku turns her back, her face not visible. She turns back a little, her sad eyes meeting Ren's for a second.
Fog fills the area. Children's shadows stand in the fog, their fun-filled laughter echoing throughout. Shiragiku stands there for a while, showing her back to him, before walking into the fog and vanishing.
When the fog lifts, Ren is left alone, standing in front of Higan Lake. In shock, he stares at the large, faintly-visible torii in the distance. (Fin)
Originally, the plan was to have the endings divided during the Shiragiku fight like this: touch and Mitori Shiragiku and get A Cold Spring, or defeat her with normal damage and get Tokoshiebana. However, Ren had too many endings, so the idea was dropped.
This ending plays when Ren reaches out his hand to Ouse.
Ren is possessed by Dr. Asou, who confesses his feelings, but Ouse, taking his words with her, vanishes. Ouse can read minds, but dearly wanted to hear it said aloud.
When I was writing the scenario, I racked my brains until the very end, trying to think of a more tactful way of phrasing the "I love you" that Dr. Asou says, but they had to be words that would slip right out, and that couldn't be something that Ouse could rebuff, for example, so that was all I could think of.
Ren's endings all have the ghost woman turn him down after he has made his choices, and ends up remaining in this world. In "Zero: The Jet Black Bride", in which Ren was thought of as the protagonist, the story ended up being one in which Ren would die no matter who he chose, a story where he would choose which ghost to die together with, but Nintendo requested that players see a happy ending the first time around, so I decided that Ren would not die. If things went the standard Zero way, perhaps we should've had a lovers' suicide ending where Rui sacrifices herself to save Ren and he gets into a Hitsugi Kago with her.
Specifically with this game, I wanted to make an ending that touches on the meaning of taking a ghost's photograph with a camera. Taking a ghost's photo means photographing their final emotions, capturing their soul, and sealing it inside the dark box of a camera. This game's story is about getting into boxes, but by leaving part of her soul inside the Cmaera Obscura that Dr. Asou had, Ouse was trying to, however slightly, become "his". Initially, Ouse would look down, look over, speak, her expression change etc. and you could photograph one of these moments, but I think the final version, in which she still has the exact same expression as in the "cursed photo" that Ren first obtains, is better.
Occurs when Ren's HP reaches 0 and you get a game over during Chapter 13, Magatsuhi.
Ren sleeps flat out in front of the surveillance camera. He awakens and gets up vigorously. Rui is nowhere to be found. Ren is confused. He looks at the CCTV camera, but Yuuri, Hisoka, Miu and Miku are all gone.
"Everyone's vanished..." Ren stands on the spot. "Are they all waiting for me, there?"
In the Room of Matrimony, Yuuri, Hisoka, Miu, Ouse, Shiragiku and Rui await in a reverential row, dressed as brides. (Introduced one at a time. Miku has gone to Mafuyu, so does not appear.)
"We wait forever... To be chosen by an Outsider..."
"For someone to end it with..."
The brides look over at him simultaneously.
"I... have to go there. And I have to choose one of them..."
I thought it up as a bad ending, but I actually was happy about it and wanted to see it happen, so it was cut.
This is another ending made to look like a "good" one on the first playthrough.
The pair walk deeper into the waters of Higan Lake, a long silence between them. After an awkward feeling, like two high school girls on the way home after club who walk along unable to say something difficult, Miku explains how she wished to save her brother. But afterwards she adds, "I wanted to get back... no, maybe I wanted to go back to that time," confessing her own desires. Mafuyu was the only one who could relieve the loneliness she felt at seeing things that others couldn't. Their carefree relationship hadn't gone on for long, but she wanted to go back to it.
It is because Miu knows that what she is saying is the truth that she lets go of her ill feelings, forgiving Miku with a smile. For what little time remains, Miu wants to hold Miku close.
The Miku pictured in the photograph is dressed as a bride, and maybe her heart is already far away, but this is a mere triviality to Miu.
By the way, at the point when Miu obtains the Camera Obscura that should be with Yuuri, the dream has already begun.
This ending ends with Miu wailing like a young child. I myself thought that tears flowing was more appropriate for the ending of a horror themed around water.
Miu's whispered "You're lying" probably refers to the lie Miku tells about not going anywhere, which ends up hurting her. Miu, who says that lying hurts the liar more, and does not respond to the white lie, which she tells despite knowing that they can't be together.
I feel like because of the "You're lying" line, the atmosphere as they're walking together in the first half changes to a tense one, where they both know the conclusion but can't say it.
In this ending, Miku was meant to say just before she vanished, "I'm glad I left you behind," but at some point it was gone. However, I did feel like the version without it was more like Miku. Miu would have been well aware of this herself, and I get the feeling that not saying it conveys it better than actually saying it would. Vocalising it makes it sound too purposeful, and plenty can be said simply by her peaceful expression and gentle words.
Even more was said in the initial script, where Miu would say, "Say it. Just say it," to draw out the words "I'm glad I left you behind" from Miku. I think if she had, the scene afterwards of her sobbing would have seemed like it was because she regretted her having said it.
By the way, on the first take of Maaya Uchida performing the crying scene, we didn't use it because it sounded like she was crying at parting from a lover, and by telling her to make it sound like a lost child in the park at sundown, crying for her mother, we arrived at the current take where Miu relives being left behind by Miku as a child, though I think that the first take also sounded like someone parting from their big sister, and had a different feeling to it.
This ending is triggered by using Mitori on Ouse in her bridal form.
After the ending, what happens to Ren and Rui later is shown, and this ending was made to show that it's clearly a good ending where everyone survives.
In the worldview explanation, I wrote that when you get closer to death you gain the ability to see all kinds of things; Yuuri touches Ouse when she is in the state at the absolute closest to death, and sees in great detail the final thing Ouse saw.
Taking in so many people's dying moments, repeating them for eternity whilst falling alone through the yomi. Her feelings for Dr. Asou, and the swallowed words she could never say.
It is because Yuuri is near to death that she can sympathise with Ouse, and never having been able to cry before, now tears naturally flow from Yuuri's eyes. Ouse sympathetically cries also. Still wet, the two embrace. When the tears from Ouse's eyes turned from yomi to clear, Yuuri, however unexpectedly, stopped the falling Ouse and used Mitori on her.
The yomi washing off her and returning to her white kimono, Ouse entrusts her final emotions to Yuuri and gets into her Hitsugi Kago, taking everything with her and falling into the yomi once more. When she does, just like when Yuuri used Mitori on her, I believe that Ouse takes Yuuri's loneliness and pain with her when she falls into the yomi. They shared each other's isolation and pain. They can't overcome that reality of the loneliness of eventually dying alone, but by lonely people facing up to each other's solitude and pain head on, innocently sympathising, I think that for just a moment they can overcome the isolation, leading to this ending.
People around me, incidentally, asked me over and over again if it was really alright to have Ren and Rui's follow-up be so happy, but I had decided from the start that those two would be happy.
The ending that triggers when you Mitori Ouse as she floats as a human pillar like the Kagome.
The Mitori video shows the same things as in Bride of Yomi, but Yuuri, overcome by Ouse's despair, runs to Ouse's bosom, deciding that they will end it together.
It may also look as though Yuuri is pulled in by Ouse's negative emotions, or that she gives herself as a sacrifice to Ouse's despair to pacify her, or that Yuuri is trying to remove her loneliness at everyone eventually dying alone by committing double suicide, or even that Yuuri, eternally standing on the edge of the cliff, makes her decision to take the final step into the sun.
For Hisoka, this is a reliving of what happened with the girl she was unable to save before, and she is left alone atop the cliff beneath the huge setting sun.
Ouse and Yuuri share their wounds as they fall, which I thought of as being the customary worst happy ending, and a horror-ish one, but Bride of Yomi is a completely good ending, so maybe it lessened the impact of it somewhat.
An ending that plays when defeating her with normal damage.
Movie begins when Ouse's HP reaches 0.
Photographed by the Camera Obscura, Ouse's face becomes pretty again, still in her black clothing, and stares at Yuuri.
"Forever alone... Me, and you too..." she says, vanishing as though melting into the Magatsuhi.
After Ouse disappears, the light of the Magatsuhi grows stronger. Yuuri stands alone beneath the huge sun, staring up at its light. Around her she notices many people staring up at the sunset, in a scene that feels like a conclusion.
All of the shadows are in pairs, holding hands. Miku and Mafuyu can be seen in the distance. Fuyuhi and Haruka snuggle close to each other. Fuyuhi cries as she looks up at the sun.
"What should I have done?"
The light gets stronger, seeming as though it will engulf Yuuri. She narrows her eyes, still staring up at it, standing motionless. She looks on the verge of tears, but cannot cry.
"I stand here alone."
The location changes to Nirai Beach. Yuuri stands alone on the edge of a cliff illuminated by the evening sun. She stares at the setting sun with eyes that look as though she is being called to somewhere far away.
"I will always go on wondering whether or not I should go." (Fin)
It's a completely bad ending, so it was cut. Fuyuhi and Haruka can also be spotted side by side in Miu's endings, so that was fine.
In a cutscene in Dead or Alive: Dimensions for the 3DS, there is a scene in which Ayane impulsively turns a knife on herself. When she does so her mother, Ayame, stops her, and Ayane gives up on the idea of suicide. (This is a bit of a spoiler, so sorry to those who haven't played it.)
In the Hanaikada ending, Ayane expresses the words said by Ayame that resonated so much with her in her own way to Tsumugi, who is in the same situation as her, and gives her courage when she is on the edge of death. In order to tell her this, she braves the dangers and heads into the mountain. When she speaks them, Ayane looks both like a mother and a big sister, but were made with the intention of sounding as though Ayane is saying them to herself, too.
Ayane also appears in the Ninja Gaiden series, a kunoichi who fearlessly defeats evil spirits with sword and ninja skills, but even Ayane is meant to be afraid of ghosts. With her fearful and pained expression in the start, and her motherly and kind expression in the ending, I think we were able to show a different side to her.
If you are holding this book in your hands, then you must certainly be a fan of the game. I think there are a fair few fans who have been one throughout the series, too. Without the fans of this series, we would never have been able to realise this game. I am grateful to those who have loved this series, despite my favouristism ruining the balance in various ways, and to those who have come along for my "final game" again.
I don't know when it will be, but I hope we can meet again with my next "final game".
Koei Tecmo Games