Character Naming Gets Personal
People are always asking about how Shigesato Itoi came up with EarthBound’s final boss Giygas, and especially the stuff Giygas says. It all stems from something Itoi said in an interview back in 2003, before MOTHER 1+2 came out. There’ve been a lot of rumors and stuff flying around ever since (probably because I wasn’t clear enough when I relayed the news, doh ) so I decided to finally translate the part of the interview where he talks about Giygas. Below is my translation of it.
Note that you can also see some more details about this stuff here.
Asking questions about this mysterious game up close and personal
“Coming up with Giygas’ lines was really painful”
(note: the text in red is the interviewer talking)
– So MOTHER 2 has a really “heavy” side to it.
Itoi: Near the end of the game, you’re left to make really unpleasant decisions, right? Like, “What should I answer?! What button should I press?!” Things like the scene where you talk to the doctor — when I was writing them, I even scared myself (laugh).
– And as a player, I felt terrified, too.
Itoi: Yes! Thank you! I’m honored you could remember that moment so clearly after all this time. The doctor walks to the edge of the cliff, and there’s a pause because it’s hard for him to say what he has to say. And he even says it with his back turned to you. “This is hard for me to say, but…”
– Plus, you’ve followed along a path the whole time to get where you are, so now you’re not sure if you should believe this new development or not. So in many ways, you’re left feeling uneasy. It’s like, at some point, you’ve wound up on a much “deeper” path. That feeling is something that only MOTHER has.
Itoi: I was hoping it would turn out that way when I was making it, so I’m happy to hear that. I know I made the game myself, but when I look back on it, I feel jealous (laugh).
Anyway, at the same time (in the game), there’s this fear of, “There’d be no turning back now…” But, on the other hand, it fills you with fighting spirit. People reading this might not understand what I mean, but being able to truly feel that is what makes a game good. But honestly, coming up with things like Giygas’ lines was so painful that I was in tears (laugh). The way I added his text was really a one-time-only kind of thing, you see.
Itoi: Basically, Giygas is something you can’t make sense of, you know? But there’s also a part to him that’s like a living being that deserves love. That part is the breast of Hisako Tsukuba from “The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty”. (NOTE: you can see a summary of this movie here)
Itoi: The breast of Hisako Tsukuba from “The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty“.
– I’m sorry, I’m not quite sure what that is…
Itoi: I don’t think anyone would be.
– What are you referring to?
– Trauma? Yours?
Itoi: Yes. When I was a kid, I accidentally saw the wrong movie at a theater. It was a Shin-Toho movie titled “The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty”.
After I saw it, I went back home and was silent and just really out of it. I had received such a big shock that I worried my parents. After all, a lady had been raped. By a river. In the movie. When the guy grabbed her breast really hard, it got distorted into this ball shape. It all hit me really hard. It was a direct attack to my brain.
– When you were a little boy?
Itoi: When I was a little boy.
In other words, there was this sense of terror having atrocity and eroticism side-by-side, and that’s what Giygas’ lines at the end are. During the end, he says, “It hurts,” right? That’s… her breast. It’s like, how do I put it, a “living-being” sensation.
– Uhh, what should I do with all this?
Itoi: Why not just write it up?
Itoi: It’d be the kind of info you only get on 1101.com. But actually, I’m the only one who knows about this.
– That goes without saying!
Itoi: But, in the end, that scene gets the player’s mind working.
– That’s true, but…
Itoi: Well, you know, having a villain there who simply goes, “Wahahaha!” and the like would clearly be bad. But, actually, when I think about it, having villains go, “Wahahaha!” is a really intriguing pattern. But there’s no point in wondering all by yourself for days on end what it means for a bad guy to go, “Wahahaha!” at the climax of a game, you know? I get the feeling that there aren’t many people in the game industry who would do that sort of thing, though.
– I don’t think it’s limited to just the game industry, though.
Itoi: In short, “What does it mean for a bad guy to laugh?” Hmm…
– Please return to the topic of Giygas.
Itoi: Well, at the time, I didn’t know how to use computers. So I would say all the text out loud. And next to me was a staff member. The younger Miura brother, Matchan. It would be just us two in the room, and whenever I would talk, he would type it in.
Itoi: I would say things one (Japanese) letter at a time. And then it would be typed in right away, and the hiragana would be displayed on the screen. Having it in hiragana makes it a little scarier too, I think.
I would even say, “dot dot dot”. I would say, “You” and “You” would be typed in. I’d look at the screen and then I’d say, “No, erase ‘You’,” and then he’d erase it. Then, after thinking for a bit, I’d say things like, “……Gu, gi, go, ge, ga.” Then, while looking at the “Gugigogega” on the screen, I’d say, “Add another ‘Go’… Yeah… Dot dot dot… And three more dot-dot-dots… Make a blank line… And another… Okay, new line!”
– That’s an incredible working environment.
Itoi: Writing things that way, there were moments of, “Whoa!”
After I would say something, sometimes I would be like, “Whoa!” while Mr. Miura, the person typing it, would say, “Mr. Itoi…” while almost in tears. And then I’d say, “OK, that’s good.”
Probably, if I had done this by myself, things wouldn’t have turned out the way they did. I probably would’ve thought that typing “Gugigogega” myself, then erasing it, then adding another thing to it would’ve been a real pain, and all the extra work would’ve made me hold back my words. I needed someone to act as an extra pair of hands so I could focus on thinking. Plus, I could see the face of the person typing in my dialogue. When there was a really good line, the expression on his face would clearly change. So this method of concentrating while looking at his small reactions wound up being an accidental invention of mine.
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