Saturday, October 31, 2015

INTERVIEW: A Conversation on 'Horror Towns' with the Creator of Hitokui

Well, it's that time of the year again. Y'know, Halloween! The second-most commercialized holiday of the year where all we do is waste money! In case you haven't noticed, quite frankly, I don't care for it. HOWEVER! If there's one thing i do apreciate, it's the fine art of creating a so-called 'horror town' in Animal Crossing.
For those who don't know, a 'horror town' is a village that can be best-described as the equivalent of a haunted house. However, what makes them so interesting is their intentional ambiguity and how they allow you to form your own story around them, let alone the fact that they made something scary out of a simple game like Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
Thus, I decided to try something new. I decided to find the creator of one of these 'horror towns' and interview them to get a better picture, and here we are.
Hitokui, lovingly referred to as "the cannibal town", is one of the best-known horror towns, going head-to-head with the first one created, Aika. (Which, by the way, was deemed less scary than Hitokui in a survey, winning with the simple assertion that "Hitokui got blood!!! D:") Instead of presenting you with completely disconnected links, it gives you all that you need to know but in a way that isn't straight-to-the-point. What starts as a simple restaurant ends with a testing facility in the back or a dungeon in the basement. Bizarre signs are spread throughout; broken gutters, glaring red eyes, bloodied handprints, and the gory outline of a body in a bed.
So.... what's this place all about? Well, let's hop right into it.
NOTE: This interview is a little different in that it is the first, and probably not the last, foreign-language interview I've done. Thus, I have provided the original Japanese as well, so if you can read it, it'll probably say something a little different. (If there are any glaring mistakes, email me!) Also, it's a little on the short side, but I still appreciate it!
So, for those who don't know, who are you?
I am the person who created Hitokui Village. [I work for] middle management.
What are your favorite and least favorite video games?
I have so many favorite games! Fatal Frame, Splatterhouse... and I of course like Animal Crossing!
Since it is difficult to hate a game, [though,] no comment!
When did you start playing Animal Crossing? Why?
I've played it since I was a child, [and I thought it was interesting] because I saw it was something the whole family could enjoy.
Why do you think that Animal Crossing as a series has been so successful?
Various [reasons]. I think because the game is [simply] enjoyable [and both] an adult and a child can play [it].

What are some of the key aspects of making a 'horror town'? How do you use furniture and just the atmosphere itself to make one so creepy?
I was careful with making a horror town, [emphasizing] marvelousness and plainness. And a little bit of uneasiness. For example, wouldn't [a] horror movie wherein the contents aren't sympathetic be boring? I have to see what you can understand for other players to understand.
I also use furniture to produce a direct horror, such as Creepy Skeleton, but I also like furniture where you have to imagine the ominous events [that surround it], such as the Lab Chair. Even ordinary furniture can be [used for] horror depending on the idea. Lighting is also essential to making elements of horror, like using a bookcase to hide a red light. I also use my personal designs.
私がホラータウンを作る時に気をつけたのは分かりやすさと驚かせること。それと少しの違和感を感じて貰うこと。 例えば話の内容が分からないホラー映画はつまらないでしょう? 他のプレイヤーに理解して貰うには何があったのか見ただけで分からないといけない。
ホラーを演出する家具もあるが、実験椅子など不吉な出来事を想像させる家具が好きです。 それとマイデザインを組み合わせてホラーの雰囲気を出します。
何でもない普通の家具もアイデア次第ではホラーになる。 先を見えなくさせる本棚や赤い光を出す照明もホラー作りの要素に欠かせないよ。
Why do you think 'horror towns' like Hitokui are so popular year-round?
[loose translation] I think it's interesting because, in a way, people are always interested in seeing fearful things. There is a twist in gapping the cute atmosphere and horror elements in Animal Crossing.
日本には「怖いもの見たさ」と言う言葉があるように怖いものを見てみたいという興味があるのだと思う。 どうぶつの森の可愛さとホラータウンのギャップ、ツイストも魅力かな。
Do you think of creating 'horror towns' as a form of art?
It's really all about the opinion of those deciding. [As for me,] I think it's an exciting activity just to make one!
How do you feel about the increasing popularity and intrigue in Hitokui Village?
I'm very happy that everyone enjoys my town! And I'm very surprised! みんなが僕の町を楽しんでくれるのは、とても嬉しいです!そしてとてもびっくりしているよ!
One last question! Is there a story to Hitokui Village? Does it hold some secrets?
There is [a] story. However, [by saying it,] it would not leave room for people who saw [it to] imagine. There are also many secrets. I will say only one: Ozu is the ghost.

Thanks so much to M. (as she stated to refer to her as) for everything!
If you are interested, check out her Tumblr, follow her on Twitter, or check her village out!
Her village code for Hitokui Village is: 2600-1856-4772.
If you own Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, she has three more (which I didn't get to explore!)
Shrine: 0806-7775-112
Canned Goods Factory: 0206-7775-832
Department Store: 0898-7771-172
Music Hole (Auction): 0407-7774-142

If you're too scared, you could also check out my (completely non-spoopy) town:
Florence: 4100-5832-6297
Want more interviews? Well, I have them all here!

Have a safe Halloween! I'll see you around!


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