Kotaro Uchikoshi is one of the most interesting men working in video games. The Zero Escape and AI: The Somnium Files director/writer has a distinct frankness and bawdiness when discussing his work (one that you can often feel in the writing itself). And now, he’s conducted another interview with Nintendo Life, less than a month before the release of AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative, to discuss the game and his many, intensely strange thoughts. Warning that the subject matter involved is not for kids. Seriously, this interview is not for anybody who can’t legally buy the dirty mags Date owns. But here’s a breakdown:
- Uchikoshi says that a mystery needs great “tricks,” a sci-fi novel needs scientific knowledge and philosophical issues, an action movie needs great action, a human drama needs compelling emotion, and an outstanding adventure game like AI needs all of those things. Those elements must be complemented by great characters, and if people loved the characters of AI, then the staff did their job in bringing out the best in them. Even if Uchikoshi is jealous (“…I am mildly jealous of AI’s characters. Even I myself want to be a character in AI.”)
- nirvanA Initiative is the first time in his quarter-century career Uchikoshi has created a game that mixes continuing stories from the last game with new characters and perspective, a process he describes as… losing his virginity. (Oh, him!) The newer characters like Ryuki and Tama will be equally welcoming to newcomers, while Mizuki and Aiba’s story is more in the vein of Holmes, Conan, or another famous detective taking on another case.
- The game’s dual protagonists represent its themes of duality: yin and yang, man and woman, double helix, and the “half-body serial killings.” Uchikoshi muses that he would like two wives as well, but laments that it will never happen.
- Mizuki has stepped up to the protag role this time, which was decided early on after Mizuki became the most popular character from the first game. She hasn’t necessarily surpassed Date’s abilities, and overall the game is more of an ensemble feature like the anime Durarara!! and Odd Taxi.
- Ryuki and Tama stand out with a different dynamic. Ryuki is a mostly reserved and calm investigator, and Tama is… the “dommy mommy” who is “90% strictness and 10% gentleness” and “literally slaps Ryuki’s butt to inspire (excite) him.” (Author’s note: If any part of that last sentence shocked you in any way, you didn’t play the first game.)
- Uchikoshi is coy about any relationships that have changed between games, though he does cryptically note that “a certain character from the previous game will appear in a person’s Somnium in a way that is not quite like them.”
- Besides Mizuki and Aiba, the other returning character who gets a spotlight is — of all people — the last game’s protagonist, Date. He plays an important, non-playable role this time around, and Uchikoshi says a secret about him will be revealed. (Author’s note: Knowing that the first AI canonically made Date a cuckold, this secret could range anywhere from “he’s bisexual” to revealing more of his fetishes.)
- Writing two serial time periods for the game was quite challenging for Uchikoshi, who described it as “writing the scenarios while being bound in tortoise shell bondage by a dominatrix.” He also jokes(?) that the director, Okada-kun, would whip him. “I still cannot forget the melting pleasure I felt at that time.”
- Uchikoshi wouldn’t reveal his favorite character, as they haven’t been shown to the public in advertising. He says they wear sunglasses, however.
I feel both enlightened and appalled in a morbidly fascinated way after reading. A classic Uchikoshi interview. nirvanA Initiative releases on June 24th.
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