Anyway, on top of all that, we were still determined to go to Wednesdays with Walt, even though it was raining, so that ate up all of our time. Well, that and the fact that, since it was raining and the park was relatively empty, we went on a couple of rides. But then we got annoyed with maneuvering through Raincrowds, and we were feeling a little ill from low blood sugar, so we left.
But more importantly, we were about to talk about the Tetsuya Nomura interview! Technically it was an interview with Nomura-san and Shinji Hashimoto, but Hashimoto-san only had one question to answer. It was about the fabled elevator encounter ("True story desu ne."), and the further origins of Kingdom Hearts. After the fabled elevator encounter, the president of Squaresoft, (Hironobu?) Sakaguchi-san was trying to rally a team together to make a Disney game, and Nomura-san stepped up and volunteered.
As for Nomura-san, there were a lot of questions, so I don't think I'll remember them in the order they were asked, but I'll do my best! We think the first question was how did he get into game production. He was going to...I think graphic design school?...and he hadn't decided what he wanted to do with himself, when one day he saw a recruitment ad, with an illustration by Yoshitaka Amano (the main illustrator for the Final Fantasy series), an artist he was a fan of. He recognized the art, he recognized the company, he applied for the job, and the rest is history.
Kaori had a brilliant way of helping deal with interpretation lag, too. She asked Nomura-san about his favorite scenes from the three games in Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 ReMix, and why they were his favorite. Because she'd come prepared, the AV guys were able to show us the three favorite scenes while the interpreter talked to Nomura-san. I'm not going to say exactly what happens in the scenes because that would be spoileriffic, but I can paraphrase his answers in ways that will tell people who've played the game what those scenes are.
First, Kingdom Hearts II. Nomura-san liked this particular scene because in the credits of Kingdom Hearts I (also represented at the end of the manga, before the Final Mix bonus chapters), there's a scene where Kairi goes back to their secret place and sees where Sora added to the drawings they did of each other on the cave walls--how he made it look like he was giving her a paopu fruit. Then she adds more, so that she's giving him a paopu fruit. There's a corresponding scene in KH2, that is kind of the response to that scene in KH1, and that's why Nomura-san likes it.
Next, Birth by Sleep. Nomura-san's favorite scene in BbS is the one where Xehanort does his worst to Terra, and Terra manages to fight back. He liked that scene because it connected to the Scary Boss Guy battle in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix (now available for the first time to English-speaking audiences!). That was kind of exciting to hear for us, because it indicates that that battle is going to connect to future KH developments (although on the other hand, duh).
Finally, re:coded. The scene started playing and I was like, "Uh-huh, yup...wait a second, I'm not sure I remember this scene. Did this happen in the game? It's been too long since we've played re:coded. We should fix that. But we don't have time! We don't have time!!!" You might think that of course the scene is in re:coded, or it wouldn't be in the HD ReMix version of it, but! Nomura-san said the reason he really liked this scene (a discussion between Sora and a character he doesn't often get to talk to) is that he wanted to have it as a cut scene in the original game, but due to the limitations on memory and stuff, they weren't able to do that. So either it was in the original game just not as a fancy cut scene, or it wasn't there at all. I'd guess the former, but I still have no memory of it. Nomura-san also likes it because Sora doesn't often get to talk to that character.
Let's see...Kaori also asked Nomura-san about a day in the life of a Kingdom Hearts director. Obviously he designed all the characters, but what else does he do? Well, he spends a lot of time drawing, and he also has to approve what all the other people on the team are doing, and he comes up with the different commands and stuff, which he then has to go over with the dev team to see how they can make it happen, and make tweaks if it's not quite working and stuff.
Then Kaori asked about what he does when he's not working. He likes to stay at home and surf the net, sometimes go to the grocery store--pretty much what all of you guys do, right? (We were like, "A-yup.") But lately, he's been feeling like he needs a soothing influence in his life, so he adopted two cats. Scottish folds, apparently, which was happy for us to hear, because we've been wondering for a long time who on the Kingdom Hearts [chi] team had a cat that resembled the one that's kind of like the guiding force for Keyblade bearers in that game. Apparently it was based on Nomura-san's own cats, and that is somehow extremely adorable.
When asked where he gets inspiration, Nomura-san said he gets it from everything. For example, if there's an object in his room and he likes the shape of it, it might find its way into one of his designs. He was asked how he feels about being one of the few people in the world that gets to draw Disney characters. He said he feels very honored to draw Disney characters, but as an artist, he wants to treat all his designs equally...nevertheless, Kingdom Hearts has been going on for a long time, so he does feel a special affinity for those characters, but more because he's spent so much time with them than because they're Disney characters.
When asked how he makes such interesting stories for Kingdom Hearts, he said that a lot of the time, you play these RPGs, and when you get to the end, it's over. You stop thinking about it. In a week, maybe you've forgotten all about it. So he likes to make it something that you want to talk about and speculate with your friends, even when you're done playing it. (That explains why the first Kingdom Hearts ends the way it does even though they had no guarantee there would be a second one.) Then, as the story goes on, they introduce new elements and new questions to speculate about, and some questions get answered, so you get to see if you guessed right or wrong.
Kaori had a couple of fan questions for Nomura-san, the first being what inspired the cover design for Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 ReMix. (Athena was like, "The games. Why would you even ask that?") Nomura-san was a lot nicer than us and said...he said...I don't remember exactly, but it was something about how Xehanort was the main evil--not evil, antagonist. So he's in the middle, and then there's Xemnas and Ansem who are the other antagonists, but they all tie back to Xehanort.
Another fan asked how long it took to create a story as amazing as Kingdom Hearts, and Nomura-san said, "More than ten years!" He explained that he comes up with the story in segments, so first he came up with Kingdom Hearts. Then as he's working on making the game, he's getting ideas, and as it's finishing he's coming up with the story for Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. Then, while he was working on those games, he's coming up with ideas for 358/2 Days, coded, and Birth by Sleep. Etc.
The second part of that last question was why is friendship such an important theme in Kingdom Hearts. Nomura-san said that the main thing he focuses on when writing a story is relatability. Friendship is something that everyone has thought about at some point in their lives, so he thinks it's a theme that anyone can relate to and get into a story about it.
...And I think that about covers it for the interview. After that, they showed the video that we failed to be in. It was neat--they pretty much interviewed a bunch of people about Kingdom Hearts, their favorite scenes/characters/music, what it means to them, etc. They even went to Euro Disney and interviewed people there! We were glad we didn't have to see ourselves on camera, but then they got to the part where they took the video we just watched and showed it to the development team in Japan. I was sad that we didn't get to be in the video the dev team watched. Pout.
But more importantly, Tetsuya Nomura sat almost exactly in front of us, so we got to see the back of his jacket, which had the most sparkly Mickey Mouse emblem we've ever seen! Soooooo jelly. It was a pretty goth/emo style jacket, too. Only in Japan, I guess. (He was also wearing a t-shirt with Mickey Mouse rocking out on an electric guitar.)
Then! they had a raffle. They were giving away autographed soundtracks (we weren't quite sure what we'd do if we won, since we'd just bought the soundtrack, but we weren't too worried because the odds were not high), Avengers posters, Sora and Roxas Play-Arts figures...and stuff. They asked Hashimoto-san to hand out the packages that didn't have figures in them, and Nomura-san to hand out the ones that did. And Nomura-san made it a point to shake the hand of whoever he gave a prize package to. I would say I'm jealous again (and I am a little), but I think I'd be kicking myself for not being able to say something brilliant to him, so I'm also relieved that I was spared that trouble.
Finally, they showed Outtakes from the Kingdom (outtakes from the video we weren't in), and then all the special guests were escorted out of the theater to hide from the mobs. But before he left, Nomura-san handed the MC a very tiny-looking piece of paper. It almost looked like a piece of trash he picked up off the floor, or maybe like something he'd pulled out of a bottle. Then he left while the MC unfolded the piece of paper to reveal a note from Nomura-san. It said they're not ready to show us worlds yet, but take a look at some of the progress we're making...on Kingdom Hearts III! (The MC said there was an asterisk (that I think was more implied than actually written on the note) that said, "Please no photography of any kind!")
We were actually a little worried about this, because when we're pretty sure we're going to love something anyway, we like to have as many surprises as possible--we don't want to know all about it! (Athena says, "I don't need to see it first. I just need to see it best. ...Whatever that means.") But then we remembered that they said we wouldn't see worlds, so we were like, "Oh. Okay." So we got to watch a pretty cool video that had some of the concept art and some trial animation on new monsters (they didn't quite look like Heartless, but maybe they were? I was a little out of it, so I didn't pay attention to the emblem on them) and Sora doing some pretty spiffy stuff with the Keyblade (similar to the things Scary Boss Guy did). And a super-fancy castle that we can only guess was part of Land of Departure or Daybreak Town.
Then it was time to go, but not without getting our door prizes! Everyone there got a very shiny lithograph of Sora and Roxas, a little scroll featuring the manga recap of Kingdom Hearts HD I.5 ReMix, and a Disney giftcard redeemable for a free download of Wreck-It Ralph. The best was the lithograph; we're just a little miffed that we didn't get to translate the manga scroll. But anyway, we want to frame at least one of the lithographs and hang it on our wall. Then we'll have wall art for the first time in like ever. (Not entirely true; back in Fresno we had a Chinese Zodiac wall hanging, a photograph from our friend Han, and a Pocahontas cross-stitch.)
After that, we just hung around until our ride showed up. We were miffed again when we talked to a fellow fan and he was SO EXCITED that the Kingdom Hearts novels will be released on his birthday. We asked if he was reading the manga, and he was like, "Yeah, but NOVELS!!!" Hmph. But we were excited when we saw Kaori walking by! We waved.
Then our ride showed up, which was a relief, because we were not sure how we were going to find each other in this enormous studio. And then we went home. Tadah!
Today I'm thankful for getting to sit in on a great interview with Tetsuya Nomura, shiny door prizes, getting all of our work done yesterday, Nomura-san's sparkly jacket, and getting to start a new series today.