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This is an interview with BlazBlue producer Mori Toshimichi from the back of the BlazBlue: Central Fiction Official Setting Material Collection published April 20, 2018. It looks back on the completion of the first arc of the BlazBlue series, revealed to be named the C-Series (Calamity Trigger to Central Fiction), discusses cut content, and talks about the future of the BlazBlue series both in general and with respect to the upcoming games BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle (BBTAG, TAG) and BlazBlue Alternative: Dark War (BBDW, Dark War). This interview also provided the first in-depth discussion of what would be included in BBDW.
Apr 20, 2018
Part of Arc System Works. After participating in the Guilty Gear series as a designer and director, he went on to become the producer of the BlazBlue series. He handled the series' scenario and character illustrations, and supervised the novels, comics, and other mixed media to personally ensure they happen; an energetic person.
BlazBlue's story in the main work has safely concluded. First, congratulations.
Thank you very much. However, although you said it has "concluded," the series so far has been "categorized as Ragna's story." In creating the world of BlazBlue, there are still things that I want to express and to do that remain, but in any case if I had not split [the story] at some place, the users would have gotten tired and become unable to follow it, I think. I didn't know where to end it, so making a clear decision to "split it here" would make it easier to read the story. Calamity Trigger (CT), Continuum Shift (CS), Chrono Phantasma (CP), and Central Fiction (CF) form the "C Series" that writes out Ragna's story, which, in that sense, has ended.
In Ragna's story, him ____ was last before the curtains closed. That expansion [on the story] was shocking.
The users have come up with many meanings for it, but I'm glad it ended this way. Despite this being a good way to end— I can't concretely describe it for fear of spoilers— but if you think cooly about it, Ragna's done some outrageous things. I thought about the result of his actions and what would happen to the world, as well as what organizations I wanted to show.
In the ending of [CF], meaningful depictions of each character were studded about. Were those all hinting at what happened afterwards?
That's right. That one scene with Rachel, and Carl peeking into the Boundary and becoming like that, were things I thought about and wanted to do from the beginning. I thought about where to bring their hints in. However, for "What happened to Jin and Tsubaki's relationship?", "Was Kagura able to get together with Noel?", and other such nuanced interpersonal relationships, I thought it might be tactless of me to write, so I'll leave them up to the user's imagination. When writing the next story, there are things that have to be depicted no matter what, I think, but I also mean to invite a presentation that leaves room for the imagination.
In the end, exactly what the "Azure" is and many other mysteries still remain at the time of the conclusion. These mysteries, will they eventually be revealed in the story?
I hear from the users "What sort of thing is the Azure, in the end?", but if I answer that, the BlazBlue series itself will end, so for the time being I don't mean to say it. The main story explained "the power to make possibilities possible," so for now, please understand and we'll leave it at that. As for various other doubts you may have, in the future, when the time comes, they will be explained.
In the course of writing the story for the "C series," was there anything in particular that you struggled with?
First, since it's a fighting game, within the story itself it had to be that characters cannot "die." This narrowed the breadth of what could be done, and proved to be quite difficult. Exceptionally, Nu and Lambda were characters that have each died once in the story, and personally, I didn't want to revive them. But these two characters alone were very popular, and to have them reappear in some form for the sake of the users, I thought as hard as I could about a reason. And, for CF, the volume of the story had already increased too much, so I had to tearfully remove quite a few episodes.
As for these removed episodes, do you have any examples of what kind they were?
First, quite a few centered around Relius were removed. He was actually secretively acting all over the place, and if we were to include all of them then the volume [of the story] would have almost doubled, so we couldn't put them in. Homura was also quite a good character and I wanted to concentrate on and write more about [their] ties with Kagura and connection with Tenjo, but it wasn't a huge influence on Ragna, who was the foundation of the story. The ones about Izanami, of the few remaining [stories], were also taken out. There were also ones surrounding Sector Seven, with many things I wanted to dig out and talk about, but in the end the "C series" focuses on Ragna as the main [character], so those that were only superficially related were removed.
The BlazBlue series has been expanded on in novels and comics outside of the games. You supervised these mixed media projects, so what do you think in retrospect?
Supervising was a lot of work, but I'm thankful for the talk about mixed media and I had fun working on it. The episodes that couldn't make it into the game and that were tearfully removed existed even before [this], and were given an opportunity to be covered again after being cut out of the main work. The Phase se-
"BlazBlue" Still Continues.
-ries were, collected from various episodes that were, due to the circumstances surrounding the volume and such, difficult to include in the main work, but were intriguing. For Bloodedge Experience (BE), Naoto plays an extremely important role in CF, and I'm satisfied we were able to properly tie him in with the main work. Of course, the comics Remix Heart and Variable Heart (VH) also form a much-loved series. Especially VH, Meifang was a character who had a plan the whole time but wasn't able to carry it out, and it was nice to let her live and act more than [originally] imagined.
Meifang had a charm beyond just that of a villainous role.
Meifang was a character who chose the wrong methods, but was still understandable. I like contemplative villains, and to be worthy of the villain's role, I felt she had to have depth. Joker from the movie "The Dark Knight" was a villain I really appreciated, and he had a large influence on the BlazBlue series' scenario. Originally, Terumi was written to be "absolute evil" as an exception. That was so there would be no margin for sympathy, as it was decided from the beginning to write him to be refreshingly evil.
As you were writing the main story, was there anything you felt particularly aimless about?
For BlazBlue, we wanted the story to be fun for those who weren't interested in it as a fighting game, so we included "with all of our might, [both] serious and gag" stories. Those who eagerly read even the most detailed backstory were actually quite many, especially those who put their own work in. After that, there was a consideration to not make the story too heavy. From before, when the drama CD THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE was released, we heard quite a few voices saying that "the story is too heavy". Being able to not pull too hard on the viewers' heartstrings, while still bringing excitement and creating a moving story would be nice, I think.
Dark War will write about them!
From here on out, let's talk about the future of the BlazBlue series. First is BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle (TAG), which is releasing May 31, 2018 (in Japan). What kind of position does this product hold?
TAG is a crossover with other products whose elements are included within the game itself, and is a sort of festival game; it has a standing as not simply one of BlazBlue series but also as a "what-if story". Even though there is the singleplayer "Episode Mode", it won't be a long story the way it is for the traditional BlazBlue series. However, other works' spinoffs sometimes bring up situations that make one feel like asking, "Why does a spinoff reveal such important information!?" I like that sort of situation (laughs). Therefore, it's possible that TAG might end up revealing important information (laughs).
Please tell us about some highlights of TAG's Episode Mode.
I want attention to be on the bargaining among characters that haven't been seen in the BlazBlue series up until now. Especially, I really like xxxx and ____'s relationship. In the original work, ____ was established as someone who didn't listen to others talk, and even in TAG that continues strongly. After a certain event happens, since xxxx is a practical person, they work hard to explain the current situation to ____ and what they should plan to do next, but ____ continues to ask "so what?" and do only what they wanted to do. I really like that sort of interaction, and it was something I really wanted to see. Of course, please look forward to scenes for conversations between the characters from BlazBlue and the other series as well. Although they don't have a conversation, when you put Under Night In-Birth's Waldstein and Tager together, the screen barely has any room left (laugh).
After that is the smartphone RPG BlazBlue Alternative: Dark War (Dark War) that will be coming out. What sort of product will this be?
Within the gradually-expanding world of the BlazBlue series there were many stories I wanted to tell, but console games weren't suited for "including many short stories". So what we planned for this new challenge was Dark War. It's an adventure game like XBlaze with branching choices, but what I wanted to do in particular was have a singular storyline visible throughout, while including many digressing substories. To make an adventure game, I thought about "which one is the main story" and considered making it somewhat fluffy, but since this type of expression is suited to smartphone RPGs, I made a decision.
As a story, does it have a position as a proper sequel for the BlazBlue series?
Rather than a proper sequel, it's more "a new story about BlazBlue with Ciel as the main [character]", that sort of nuance. By the way, I think several sharp people have already made a realization about Ciel's mantle. For the meaning behind that, please look forward to playing the game.
I'm excited for the release. Then, about other characters' stories— for example, what kind of people will appear?
Characters who, up until now, were not given the spotlight shall be gradually featured, I think. First is Hazama. Terumi had a large role in CF, but I think not much of Hazama was seen. He played a supporting role and I think he was a meaningful character, but from the moment he began to walk his own path, for better or for worse he began to meddle in all sorts of affairs. Having created good characters, including Kazuma and Terumi, I want to create a proper place for them to stand in the story. Then there's Platinum, whose relationship with the girl wearing a large bell that appeared in VH is still untold in some places, and is one thing I'd like to write about. There's Bullet and Hibiki as well, and characters I personally like and wanted to give the spotlight to, and Meifang and Mai's father, Houichirou, and so on, and characters that weren't able to appear in the main works that I would like to see, I think.
Just hearing it, it seems like there's a mountain of things you'd like to convey.
There is still a lot to be told that hasn't been covered in the main works, novels, comics, and such that have been released up until now. For example, what happened to Tsubaki, how Celica felt during the time she was acting as Sister, the episodes that everyone is curious about are planned to be gradually included. If it's talk about "[I don't know if it'll be] implemented, but in any case it's what I personally want", then first would probably be a spotlight on Linhua's story. Litchi went on something like a "first errand", leaving Linhua to wait nervously for her; it feels like actually, those who would have stood in the way of Litchi's journey were sent flying by Linhua (laugh).
Is Linhua really that strong?
and watch over the continuing story
Actually, it's been decided that she's actually quite strong. She wasn't able to become playable in the "C series", but she is surprisingly strong, and it's a side of her I'd like to be able to show. Then there's the story beginning from the Dark War, continuing after the Phase series up until the Ikaruga Civil War. What could have happened in that time is something that people are interested in, I think. Living through that age as a witness was Kokonoe, and if it was wanted, [the story] would take the form of her pursuit of knowledge across that landscape. From the age of the Dark War, other people include Jubei and Relius, but for Jubei, being the main [character] is also difficult, while Relius fell into the Cauldron and jumped through time, leaving him in in a somewhat ambiguous situation.
When Relius fell out of the Cauldron, that would be BE's episode, wouldn't it?
Falling into the Cauldron makes time ambiguous, and since it's easy to forget that you can leap to both the past and to the future, let's just emphasize this point (laugh). Anyway, I want to make stories about time periods that everyone is interested in, I think. How the "Duodecim" was created, what exactly is "Sector Seven", what sort of existence is the "Mitsurugi Agency" that appears in XBlaze.... I think there are still many mysteries remaining that I want to properly disclose.
I'm excited about what kind of system will be used to create the RPG.
Please look forward to the battle system. Up until now, the BlazBlue series chased after the "fun in combos" left from pursuing the execution of highly unique combos. For those who love fighting games, "I want to win with this technique" forms an aesthetic shared among many, isn't it? In Dark War as well, it's not just wanting to win against the opponent, but winning in a way that can be admired— this sort of system. Also, an auto-battle [option] will definitely be included. The feeling of labor that accompanies increasing one's level is an element that will be included no matter what, but whether or not this part is truly enjoyable to focus on, I think it's better to be able to enjoy the other part(s) as well.
Hearing all of this, it doesn't sound like BlazBlue will be ending any time soon.
As for BlazBlue's ending, what and how far to go, and the goal of the series as a whole— that sort of destination hasn't been settled on yet. The current endgoal is to follow the story with Ciel as the main [character] properly to its end. For that purpose Dark War cannot afford to fail, but in any case we're working hard.
Finally, a message to all the fans of BlazBlue, if you would.
Since the November of 2008 when CT was released, 10 years have passed. That the series was able to continue to such a long time is proof of how much the users love the product. We are truly thankful. This time's setting material collection is truly a compilation of the contents of the BlazBlue series; I also found myself digging through past material collections thinking "So there was this as well". Surely, when reading this, I think a lot of people will have thoughts like, "Come to think of it, this setting existed as well." So that this setting won't slowly become useless, the BlazBlue series shall continue. Please become "Observers" yourselves and watch over the continuing story.
- Mori's joke about Linhua and Litchi is a reference to a common scene where a mentor sends an apprentice on a journey (e.g. to the market to buy something), and has to wait nervously for the apprentice to return while not knowing if they'll be able to complete the task properly or not. Sometimes, as in Mori's joke, the mentor can't stand the suspense of waiting, and secretly tails the apprentice to help them out without being noticed (by sending her opponents flying). The joke also serves as an interesting reversal of their typical roles, putting the apprentice in the mentor's role.
- BlazBlue: Central Fiction Official Setting Material Collection, Special Interview with Mori Toshimichi, pp. 268 - 271