Originally posted on 30 June 2013
Source: Kuon Guidebook, page 140-141

Kuon: Interview with Producer Taniguchi

About planning

--Kuon is set in the Heian period. What was the reason behind you choosing this time period?

Taniguchi: It was because it was a strange time, even for Japanese history, in which it wouldn't be strange for there to be odd creatures and beasts. It had a unique view with regards to things like lifestyle, makeup and old court music, and charmed by their sexiness we chose the Heian era.

--Were there things you found during construction of the world view and creation of the characters etc. that were made easier or harder due to the Heian era setting?

Taniguchi: Particularly with regards to creation of the characters, I don't really have any memories of struggling with anything, but gathering material was tough. There are lots of books about it, but naturally there are no photos. But working on Kuon proved to be a good opportunity to learn about that era.

--Kuon plays out in multi-scenario format and is divided into three chapters (Yin, Yang, Kuon). Please tell us why you used this system, and why you wanted it to play out over multiple scenarios.

Taniguchi: I wanted people to enjoy the scenario and wonder what comes next, what happens. To create that situation, we decided that having multiple scearios would be most fitting, and went with that.

--Did the techniques used in Kuon actually exist? And if so, please tell us about the experience that led you to use them as a basis.

Taniguchi: They didn't actually exist. Japanese people have a dislike of the numbers four and nine, don't they? Since we were making this game as a horror game, I wanted to put one of the two in the title. I also wanted to convey that the game was a horror game just by looking at its title, so I put it forward as a suggestion, but in terms of pronunciation you can also see that it's either "Kuon" (nine malices) or "kuon" (eternity).

--Please tell us about the systems such as "Tempest" and "peeking" that are used in this game, the things that led you to think them up, and the difficulties you had in making them.

Taniguchi: Humans get unsettled when unexpected things happen, don't you think? These systems were what we thought of in order to produce that unease. We had thought of the peeking thing before TGS, so implementing it wasn't all that tough, but keeping on schedule was an issue.

--Please tell us about your aims and issues with the seal system.

Taniguchi: It's a successor of the system used in RUNE, a game I produced before. The members of the development team were the same, so we had no issues with creating it. While there may be people who think the controls are too tricky and can't get on with the game, I think that since the controls are used intuitively they're easy to enjoy.

--Please tell us what led to you choosing Kyosuke Chinai for the game's main visuals.

Taniguchi: I searched in earnest every day with the guys in charge of PR. We were looking for illustrations that had an impact and would suggest fear, being scared, and it was Mr. Chinai's picture that had us all agreeing that "this is the one!".

About the background of the world

--Is there a particular reason that Abe no Seimei is female in this game?

Taniguchi: Games with strong protagonists where you can defeat enemies with ease can also be exilharating and make you feel good, but what we wanted to embody with this game was a fear with "colour". In that case, we thought it would be most fitting to go with things that have a feminine image like meekness and sexiness, so we made her into a woman.

--Utsuki uses a knife, Sakuya has a fan, and Abe no Seimei fights with a naginata. Please tell us about the process that led to you selecting these weapons.

Taniguchi: They were created with the image that Utsuki = feeble, Sakuya = proficient exorcist. By making the weapons oppose this image, it became not very game-like.

--Were there buildings and things you used as reference when creating the manor?

Taniguchi: We took reference from Heian-period constructions in general, so I can't really point out anything in particular.

--There are wicker chests scattered all over the place; are they all being used for secret techniques?

Taniguchi: Yes. They're supposed to have been in use at various places by Ashiya Douman.

--After the special techniques have been performed, what happens to the merged person's consciousness, memories and appearance?

Taniguchi: Although after entering the wicker chest once their consciousness and memories remain, their body begins to ache for another merge. Merging with other living things causes their life to end, and their self-awareness gradually begins to crumble with each time they repeat the process.

--I think that the girl at the end is Utsuki reborn, but is it possible to also assume that she is an incarnation of the mulberry tree born via the Kuon method?
Also, what happens to Utsuki and Sakuya after the ending?

Taniguchi: While this title has only just been born, I want to talk about making a sequel, so that's a secret.

Backstage: Development

--Please tell us if there were any ideas for seals, characters etc. that were dropped.

Taniguchi: Since we had experience with the summon system itself from RUNE, we made our choices carefully from the start. Because of this, there weren't really any ideas we dropped.

--The game is based on ghost stories. Did any ghostly phenomena occur while the game was in development?

Taniguchi: During development there wasn't really anything, but since we finished working on it, there have been a few things... The main graphic artist slipped on the stairs and broke a bone, the TV switched off while we were showing the game and the air felt weird... I just say it's in people's imaginations.

--Finally, please leave a message for the readers.

Taniguchi: Kuon was created foremost to allow people to enjoy horror. I think even those who aren't so good at action games will be able to get through it without too much hassle. However, because it's like a haunted house, if you don't have a certain amount of courage... I really hope you enjoy it.

In this interview we learnt interesting things such as why Abe no Seimei was made a woman. We also heard of the possibility for a sequel, which has only increased our anticipation. Make sure you stay tuned to what From Software and producer Taniguchi do next!