Originally posted on 17 July 2014
Source: Siren Maniacs, page 172-179

Siren Maniacs - Inspirations

The Town Without Streets
(Junji Ito's Museum of Terror 5 "Back Alley")
Junji Ito / Asahi Sonorama

I want to use "Village of the Sirens", but I'll go with this one instead. It obviously had an effect on the Shibito Nest, as well as a huge impact from its coexistence of normality and abnormality; the blending of the rift between reality and dreams. (Toyama)

Stephen King / Shinchosha

This employs the method of collating a spectatorial record using articles and fragmented interviews, which show a reality that isn't depicted at all. This was where the idea to have the archives, rather than just a simple Siren dictionary, came from. (Toyama)

The Drifting Classroom
Kazuo Umezu / Shogakkan

Another world, disappearances and survival... This is such a great work that I can't even begin to say how much influence it had. The idea of a child being the only one to come back is one of the most vivid things in it. (Toyama)

Paul McCarthy
Paul McCarthy

This is a modern artist's photobook. The photos evoke the strange emotion of feeling sympathy for something you can't understand, something that is intelligent but differs from humans, insect-like... and these things are where the basic image that we used for the Shibito came from. (Toyama)

Cheap Thrill
Fusako Kuramochi / Shueisha

This is a love story, totally unrelated to horror, but the story was released as three seemingly independent omnibuses, which all turn out to be about a single person, and I wanted to see if we could reproduce the "Ah!" moment that shocks you to the core when gears start turning. (Toyama)

Kairyusai no Yoru: Yokai Hunter
Daijiro Morohoshi / Sobisha

While we were making Siren, I wanted it to feel like this, a drama like a grand, intricate puzzle, with its unique style combined with a strange, complex theme, Morohoshi's mandala-style world view with a mix of truth and falsehoods, where myths become reality and reality becomes a myth. The "ghost-hunter" Reijiro Hieda provided the source for Tamon Takeuchi's character background. Takeuchi's opening and Harumi's ending match up because we wanted to make it feel like an eternally lopping nightmare, and because of the influence of the impact we felt from the way Morohoshi connected the final scene in "Koshi Ankokuden" to the beginning of "Ankoku Shinwa". His works were the first to teach me what "sense of wonder" meant. (Sato)

Ryoko Yamagishi Self-Selection "Tsukuyomi"
Ryoko Yamagishi / Bungeishunju

The method of telling fragmented stories about myths and legends at the start and then use them as metaphors to tell a story is featured in several stories in this amazing collection of short stories. It contains all kinds of genres like fantasy, mystery, and the bizarre, all of which will torment you with an odd sense of loss when you finish reading them. Ryoko Yamagishi's method here influenced "Strange Tales of Hanuda". (Sato)

Fuyumi Ono / Shinchosha

This is an homage to Steven King's "'Salem's Lot", and the work that you could say had the most influence on Siren. This is the ultimate in modern Japanese horror, where an isolated community is beset by peril due to strange happenings, filled with cultural and customary Japanese features. That turning into a monster but still retaining human memories is the scariest and saddest thing is also a strong theme present in Siren. (Sato)

Blair Witch Maniacs
Asahi Press

This book, pointing out the main threads of the story to strengthen the worldview, was one of the sources for our idea to have the archive items. Wanting to close the gap between reality and fiction, like they did by using the internet to spread rumours across North America about the Blair Witch Project, was what we tried to do with Occult Land and the Urban Legend Investigation Team. (Sato)

Fred Chappell / Tokyo Sogensha

This famous work is a novel about the Cthulu mythos, but hardly shows fights with malicious gods. It actually has several merits as a Japanese fan of Cthulu myths, so I can't generally recommend it. Still, personally, this was the work that most made me fear beings that are beyond human understanding, and the fear of stepping outside the boundaries of earth's rules. (Sato)

Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs
Ansel Adams / Iwasaki Bijutsusha

Adams' photos, of the surface of a nearby rock to the surface of distant mountains, are taken in fine detail, surpassing beauty and turning to fear. The human eye can't focus on the roughness of the rocks and the far away mountains simultaneously. It's something you feel like you know, but have never seen before. The uncomfortable feeling it has, seeing the world you know through a slightly different filter, is both scary and interesting. Siren was created using textures based on photos, but the finer details and noise have been emphasised, showing you a range of microscopic gradation that can't be observed with the naked eye. These elements made Adams' photos a great influence. (Takahashi)

El Topo
Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky / 1971 / SPO

This has a strong visual impact, beauty and cruelty, and a story told characteristically in an abstract setting. It does an amazing job of showing embodiment, abstract and symbolic things, and I wanted to try putting that to practical use in Siren's visuals. I first saw it when I was in university, and when Siren was being development Toyama brought it in for the staff to all watch together, then it came out on DVD so I bought it and watched it, and after seeing it three times I don't think I've ever understood it, or that it can be totally understood. "Difficult" is "interesting". (Takahashi)

The "Juon" series
Directed by Takashi Shimizu / 2003 / Geneon Entertainment

It's set in a normal place in Japan that could be just about anywhere, where weird things are constantly happening. The way it's so thoroughly normal, and the clinging fear that lurks beneath the surface - the way it connects you intimately like a neighbour was influential. (Takahashi)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Directed by Tobe Hooper / 1974

This is a film about a group of youths from out of town who are chased around a house by a bloodthirsty killer with a chainsaw. The flowing long shots and dry worldview make it feel like you're watching a documentary film. When we were coming up with the image of the Shibito, their appearance, traits and if these things would be scary, and when we were wondering if Hanuda - the place where the Shibito live - would have scary scenery and atmosphere, I remembered this film. (Takahashi)

Haikyo no Arukikata (Walking the Ruins)
Tohru Kurihara / East Press

This guide-like book introduces a variety of ruins and abandoned villages in Japan. This book was what alerted me to the existence of the "ruins" genre, and I actually went to some for research. Buildings that have been abandoned as relics from the past, crumbling over many long years - creating this special kind of thing using CG was one of the challenges. "I cried at the ruins" is a line by Tohru Kurihara, ruin investigator and the book's editor, which I found left an impression on me, and I used it for reference as a theme when dealing with ruins. (Takahashi)

Fly, Fly My Sadness
The Bulgarian Voices - Angelite & Huun-Huur-Tu

This is a strange collab album between Huun-Huur-Tu, a group representative of Tuvan Khöömii, and a Bulgarian chorus. This is something Kusakabe brought when we were discussing the BGM for the cutscenes. At first I listened mainly to the Bulgarian chorus, but the Khöömii kargyraa (particularly the emphasis on the low notes, and the raspy voice) fitted better, which led to us using that. (Azuma)

Mouse On Mars

We'd decided right from the start that for sound we were going to use a lot of background noise, so I used this for reference as something that, though you would expect it to loop for a long time, wouldn't get too irritating. It's an experimental work by a very famous German electronic group, and still easy to listen to. (Azuma)

Perception/Bliss Out v.4

Issued in 1997, part of darla's BLISS OUT series. There are no rhythms or melodies, just a relentless drone, like the drip drop of rain. (Azuma)

The Beginnings of Western Music: Manuale ad Sacramento

This is sadly out of print, but maybe you can listen to it at a library or something like that? The recording is very old, and I think it's a valuable sound source. The hidden Christians' prayers are Japanese-like, and the deteriorated sound gives it a unique mood, which I used as reference. If you think about the contrast between this and Gregorian hymns as you listen, there are some deeply moving things. (Azuma)

Monthly MU
Gakushu Kenkyusha

An occult magazine with the catchphrase: "The super mystery magazine that challenges world's oddities and mysteries." It covers a wide range of curiosity and interest-evoking themes, from ancient historical mysteries to ghosts, UFOs and UMAs (Unidentified Mysterious Animals) such as Nessie and the Tsuchinoko. Monthly Atlantis Magazine that appears in the game (archives No.044 and No.094) are a parody of this magazine. It is also full of information about Tchinoko and Skyfish, which appear in Siren. Make sure you also check out how the face of the shakoki dogu so casually put on the cover of the special issue looks just like the "complete Datatsushi"'s head. (Akiyama)

Ushimitsu no Mura (Village of Doom)
Directed by Noboru Tanaka / 1983 / Matsutake Home Video

This is a shocking film based on the infamous "Tsuyama massacre of thirty". The "XX Village mass murder" from Siren is clearly based on this incident also. In 1938, The Tsuyama incident, which happened in 1938 in Okayama, was committed by a 22-year-old man in a school uniform and gaiters, two torches on his head and a bicycle lamp on his chest, armed with a rifle and katana, killing thirty villagers in a single night. As quoted in places such as the movie "Yatsuhaka Mura", according to Japanese criminal history this is an unprecedented massacre, likely never to be seen again. (Akiyama)

Dead & Buried
Directed by G.A. Sherman / 1981 / Geneon Entertainment

This is a splatter sci-fi horror masterpiece with Dan O'Bannon, who managed the script for "Alien", in charge of screenplay. It's basically a zombie movie with depictions of cruelty as its main gimmick, but it has a surprising number of similar points. The film stars a beautiful blonde zombie nurse, who is played by Lisa Blount, an actress who is famous as playing the heroine in B-grade horror movies. Toyama's first game, "Silent Hill", also featured a beautiful blonde nurse called Lisa. And in Siren, we have Risa Onda dressed as a nurse... Is this perhaps something Mr. Toyama likes? (Akiyama)

Christopher Nolan / 1999 / Amuse Soft

In Siren, Hisako Yao is in a chaotic state where her personalities from various eras interchange, and she can't control it herself. The terrible "divine curse" upon her continues eternally, like the main character of this film, Leonard... Their goal itself becomes their reason for living, and they can no longer save themselves, which makes them scary when you realise the hopeless insanity of it. (Kobayashi)

Sugisawa-mura Densetsu Kanzen Musakujo Zettai Kyofu Ban (The Legend of Sugisawa Village: Terrifying Unedited Version)
Directed by Kanta Tagawa / 2000 / Transformer

A few years ago, the legend of Sugisawa Village spread like wildfire across the internet. The legend goes like this: In a prefecture in northeastern Japan, about fifty years ago, a young man went insane and massacred the villagers, wiping the village from the map. From then onwards, the now abandoned village became the ultimate haunted spot, ceaselessly drawing those who become lost into the bloodbath... This seems like the aforementioned "Tsuyama massacre of thirty" mixed with The Blair Witch Project, a movie that was a blockbuster at the time. Back then there was a flood of cheap videos about searching for Sugisawa Village, and the impetus for Kyoya Suda's actions in Siren comes from something similar. (Akiyama)

NHK Boys' Drama Series "The Mysterious Transfer Student"
1975 / Amuse Soft

A TV drama series, aimed at children, that aired on NHK in the 70s and 80s. What is most memorable about them is the high-quality juvenile sci-fi drama adaptations of Taku Mayumura, Ryu Mitsuse, Moto Hagio and others, and despite the works in question being fantasy they all have a suppressed tone (feeling serious, like the old NHK), which gave them a unique feeling of being realistic but abnormal. The younger generation will probably never have heard of it, but maybe you'll understand what's interesting about it if I describe it as being like a middle schooler's larger than life diary with a sci-fi taste sprinkled on top. Siren's way of showing the story flow smoothly, starting with the exchanges between Kyoya and Miyako, must have been inspired by this... And anyone who is excited by the idea is quite old. (Kobayashi)

The Lovecraft Anthology
H.P. Lovecraft / Tokyo Sogensha

The master of strange and fantasy literature, H.P. Lovecraft, created a scructure of fantastical myths called the Cthulu mythos. The basic premise is that malicious gods - long, long ago the rulers of the earth, who had been sealed away - return in the present day, expanded upon by many writers after Lovecraft's death. Many of the former rulers are strange in appearance and themed around sea creatures, such as molluscs and cephalpods. Hanuda's name (a snake that sprouts wings), Manaism being on the surface about worshipping fish, and a ritual used to revive an alien god are some of the traces all throughout Siren that they kept Cthulu mythology in mind. (Akiyama)

Satsujinki (Blood Thirsty Killer)
Yukito Ayatsuji / Shinchosha

A great splatter horror by Yukito Ayatsuji, a true leader of the mystery genre. Set in Futabayama, it tells the story across two volumes of a brutal murderer who impulsively massacres huge numbers of people. Severed limbs, gouged-out eyeballs... Holding nothing back in describing the agonies of those who become the killer's prey, this problematic work caused debates amongst Ayatsuji's fans as a mystery author. Of note is the "twin" element that serves as a trick throughout the work, and a character with the supernatural ability to see what other people see in volume two. It's interesting to compare how both Siren and Satsujinki handle the same themes. (Akiyama)

Yoake no Mariko
PS2 / 2001 / SCEJ

A karaoke game in which you play American-style characters, reading out the on-screen captions into a USB microphone. All of Siren's main staff members were involved in the creation of this game beforehand. Mr. Toyama says the reason that he wanted Siren to feel like a pure Japanese horror game was because he was asked why, as a Japanese person, he was creating stories set overseas... but I wonder if perhaps it was simple natural progression that led him to look to Japan after making Mariko, a very American game. (Tamura)

688 Attack Sub
Genesis / 1991 / Sega

A real-time submarine simulator released as software for IBM PC, later ported to the Genesis (the overseas version of the Mega Drive). The game screen is simple, but the excitement of using pings to search out the enemy with sonar makes you subconsciously imagine yourself to be a submariner. This game, with the entertainment that comes from using vague information to locate your enemy, served as inspiration for Siren's sightjack system (refer to interview with Toyama), but it also shows Mr. Toyama's self-professed love of foreign games, having played this hidden gem at the time, when it had not been released in Japan. (Kobayashi)

The Tower of Druaga
Arcade / 1984 / Namco

A trailblazing action RPG in which a golden knight called Gil must climb a giant, 60-storey tower. Each floor has hidden conditions to trigger the appearance of treasure chests, such as "defeat two black slimes", and not being able to beat the game without finding them was a challenge put to the players. Due to its high difficulty, hardcore gamers frequently exchanged tips in real time, creating a "gaming urban legend" that it had been beaten by putting a cardboard box around the screen (to increase concentration; though this really happened). It surpasses the world of a game, causing a flood of realistic and complex emotions... This definitely looks like what Mr. Toyama was aiming for with Siren, by letting the internet enjoy that passion. (Kobayashi)

Mega Drive / 1993 / SunSoft

A sci-fi adventure sim, shown completely in 2D polygons (!), in which you control anime-styled characters as you solve the puzzles and mysteries of the game. It was a sequel to Outer World (Super Famicom / 1992 / Victor Entertainment), a game that drew buzz due to its use of full polygons, something quite innovative for the early 90s, and incredibly high difficulty (there were many scenes in which you would die instantly if you didn't solve the puzzle in a matter of seconds), but its hardcore elements even as compared to the first game proved divisive. Since it was, from beginning to end, a memorisation game (though with no unreasonable puzzles), you would end up getting a "game over" time and time again. However, the joy at finding the answer yourself was surprising. Mr. Toyama says this was one of his favourite games - perhaps its innovative gameplay and techniques piqued his interest. (Kobayashi)

PS2 / 2001 / SCEJ

An action adventure game that tells the story of a mysterious girl and a boy's escape. The way the two hold hands, a simple way of showing "boy meets girl", and the bittersweet story and the expressive worldview mean that it is still supported by many fans. Even in a game like Siren, with its large number of characters, the story can still be seen as one that revolves centrally around lifting the village's curse, showing the sad tale of a boy (Kyoya) and a girl (Miyako) meeting. If you continue to analyse the levels as you pay attention to the changes in Kyoya's expression, you should see that the movie scene at Day 3, 20:00 is one of the top scenes in the game. (Kobayashi)