Kara no Shoujo 2 Developer Has No Interest In Making “Happy” Games

By Ishaan and Laura . October 14, 2013 . 6:02pm

MangaGamer recently announced that they will be publishing two more of visual novel developer Innocent Grey’s games in the west—Kara no Shoujo 2 and a prequel to the Kara no Shoujo series, Cartagra. Both games, as is the case with most Innocent Grey titles, are more mature than your typical visual novel, telling stories of murder and intrigue.


Siliconera recently caught up with Innocent Grey artist Miki Sugina, who has worked on all of the company’s games, to ask a few questions regarding Kara no Shoujo 2, Innocent Grey’s development philosophy, and Sugina’s own taste in games, via e-mail.


(Note that the interview may contain minor spoilers for the first Kara no Shoujo.)


It’s previously been stated that there will be two protagonists in Kara no Shoujo 2—Reiji and Tomoyuki.  Could you go further into the dynamic between these two characters, both in and out of investigations?


Miki Sugina, artist: Reiji is overseeing the new incidents in the game objectively, as the detective who is investigating the case. Meanwhile, Tomoyuki is an important witness in the case—in other words, someone who is deeply involved with the incident.


Yukari suffered through a lot of tragedy just two years ago. She was already a very mature for a person her age in the first game, but how has she changed in the second?


In the previous game, she was an outsider who wasn’t able to do anything to stop her friend’s death. Because she deeply regrets this, she will do anything she can to help her friends in this game, even if it means putting herself in danger.


What is Touko to Reiji?  From a completely platonic point of view, what about this case stuck to him all these years that he is still searching for clues?


We won’t go into details since it would be a spoiler, but we feel that, because she was someone who had a sense of emptiness just like himself, they were able to seek each other out, surpassing their bodies and minds.


Creating a sequel can be difficult because of the need to add more characters to your existing cast.  How did you come up with the new characters in the game with regard to how they would interact with the returning characters?


[Note: Kara no Shoujo 2 has two story lines to follow—past and present.] One of the themes of the sequel is the growth of the old characters. The main characters in the Present section are also characters who matured from the Past section, so showing how they changed, or haven’t changed, was very difficult.


How will the Past and Present sections of the game be connected presentation-wise?  Will it be as flashbacks, as Reiji discovers more about the past, or will both stories play out simultaneously?


We can’t go into the details because this is also a spoiler, but you basically go back and forth between them.  As new truths are revealed, the Past and Present section will be gradually connected at the end.


One of the most iconic images in the game is the flying bluebird.  Is there a specific reason the bird is colored blue? Is it connected to The Blue Bird story?


Yes, the blue bird is an icon of freedom, and shows Touko’s changes in her mentality.  Since Azure has many religious meanings as well, we used it as Touko’s image color.


Reiji’s old friend, Kyoko Hazuki, who was the owner of the Moon World Cafe, was an extremely intriguing character. Will she have a bigger role in this game than in the previous game?


She will actually be related indirectly to this game’s case, so please do observe carefully.


What is it about tragedy that makes for good motivation on a hero’s part? Heroes always seem to be born out of tragedy. Do you feel like there are other ways for a person to go above and beyond the call of duty and become a hero as well, or to make players/readers relate to them, or do you feel a tragedy is necessary?


I agree, it is easier for people to relate with a hero with some kind of tragic background. Even from the developer’s perspective, it is easier to compose the story if the main character had a significant traumatic experience in the past. However, I do believe it is possible to create an appealing hero without tragedy.


However, although it’s fairly common, I do like it when a kid who was originally weak goes through hardship and grows up to be a strong character that can stand up against great evil.


Caucasus is an Innocent Grey game that doesn’t necessarily involve tragedy, in that you do have the option of saving the heroine, should you choose to do so… and most people would, I think. So why not make more games with that choice available?


Innocent Grey’s main attraction is hopeless tragedy, lol.


How do you deal with working on such tragic stories all the time? Doesn’t it ever get depressing, to the point that you want to create something happier, just to remind yourself that not everything in life is about loss?


Moe games and happy stories are all over the place in the market, so I don’t think I would like to make one, lol.


RPGs are a popular genre in Japan, and are often a genre that focuses on storytelling, like visual novels. As a studio that makes visual novels, what do you think the most influential RPGs of the last few years have been?


The Megami Tensei and Persona series.


The first Kara no Shoujo had a memo pad system. Are there any game-like aspects to Kara no Shoujo 2?


Rest assured, those systems are basically inherited in the second game as well.


You aren’t bringing just Kara no Shoujo 2 over this time, but Cartagra as well. Since Cartagra was your very first game, what differences would you like people to look out for between it and your later games?


Since the rating restriction has become stricter nowadays, there are some nice grotesque moments [in Cartagra] that can’t be seen in recent games.


When we first spoke with you two years ago, you told us that Innocent Grey’s strengths was working within the adults market, with regard to violence and horrific imagery. Do you feel this is still the case, and do you ever intend to try and branch out to a wider audience?


Nope. I’m not interested in something that is already abundunt in the market, so we will continue to make something that only we can make, and would like to make.


What’s the current visual novel market like in Japan? What are the challenges you face on a regular basis, especially since Innocent Grey doesn’t make the kind of games that you can really merchandise with figurines and card games and things? How does the company survive and keep paying its staff?


It looks like the entire market is having difficulty. Since we are running two game brands simultaneously [in Noesis and Innocent Grey] to reduce development costs, we are able to stay afloat for now.  Although we’ve chosen a niche genre, it’s encouraging that we have a certain number of fans.


This is more of a personal question, but what kind of games are the staff at Innocent Grey interested in? And do the games you enjoy influence your work or do they act as more of a way to help you kick back and relax?


Since I receive a lot of stimulation from playing other kinds of games, I am willing to try out games that interest me as much as I can. I previously stated that I like the games that Atlus makes, so I play a lot from them. The Megami Tensei series where I can choose to be lawful or chaotic is especially my favorite.


Images sourced from VNDB.org.

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  • AkiraScare

    to long to read…

  • Guest

    Let the hopeless tragedy begins…

    BTW, for those who want a happy ending for kara no shoujo go find the drama cd.. it will make u happy…


    >Nope. I’m not interested in something that is already abundunt in the market, so we will continue to make something that only we can make, and would like to make.

    i like this guy and his taste in RPGs.

    • DAT Bird From DAT Cage

      I enjoy RPGs with happy or triumphant endings. So I guess I’ll stay away from his games in the future.

      • Chris Evan Jonance Ingeniero

        its ok to stay in happy land and not experience the REAL stuff eh?

    • Shippoyasha

      I think most mature visual novels tends to have a pretty dark/serious subplot and that is kind of the norm in its own subgenre though.

      Also, moe/cutesy/happy kinds of stories delving into true plot/character depth has a lot of room for further experimentation as well. I believe one can reach for depth in storytelling whether it be happy/hopeful or sad/melancholy/unhappy.

      I would love for game devs to explore them in their own ways.

    • Warboss Aohd

      i definitely approve o’ dat way o’ thinkin’.

      Screw doin’ wot everyone else iz, doin’ my own thing.

  • asch999

    I hope Caucasus also get ranslated

  • Juan Andrés Valencia

    “Since the rating restriction has become stricter nowadays, there are some nice grotesque moments [in Cartagra] that can’t be seen in recent games.”

    This is a minor warning but from what I’ve heard it’s much more graphic than Kara No Shoujo. This basically confirms it.

    Also I have to wonder whether they’ll sell his/her(?) art book in the US? I would buy it but it’s 18+ and Amazon is worse than an american soccer-mom and it won’t ship it internationally. Here’s the link to it: http://tinyurl.com/mf6r4dd

    • Foryth

      I’m pretty sure I just saw it on Mandarake, just do a search with Miki Sugina’s name in kanji. 杉菜水姫

      • Juan Andrés Valencia

        I just found it. I’d say I love you but I’ll just say thanks instead while I try to hide my excitement ;)

  • No matter how sad or tragic the Kara no Shoujo 2 will be, i will still continue to play to see the continuation of the story from the first one

  • Richard N

    I will forever hate this company for not making a Tsuzuriko route.

    And though I’m usually against it, I wouldn’t mind some brotherXsister pairing going on. Yukari is such a sweetie.

    • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus


    • Michael Connell

      Seeing as how the Tsukihime remake is going to give Sacchin a route, maybe we can change the saying to “Isn’t it sad, Tojiko?”

  • lurkingsalt

    I can’t wait for Cartagra, I definitely will buy it day 1. I’ll also double dip on KnS1 hardcopy LE (with OST! AMAZING). It’s inspiring these guys can do the types of games they want even if it means risking not selling like the most popular titles. Can’t thank IG enough for allowing MG to acquire the English rights.

  • schwarzmasa

    Now if only an otome game developer could start thinking like this. I am SO tired of fluffy school life stories.

    • Shippoyasha

      Try Voltage otome games. It’s not like darker otome games don’t exist. They just need more publicity.

    • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

      Nitro+Chiral called…

      …check out Togainu no Chi and Sweet Pool.

      • schwarzmasa

        Yes, Nitro+Chiral games are fantastic, I’ve enjoyed every one. …but they’re BL, not otome.

        • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

          You are correct, I do apologise! Dark otome would be cool.

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            There are a few as dylan pointed out those they aren’t on the same level as nitro+ chiral
            As far as I’ve seen they get gore graphic but there are a few where the main heroine could die and especially the 18+ tend to jam pack a route with rape and yandere themes

          • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

            I’ll check those out!

    • DyLaN

      You should try the Rejet titles like DiaLovers or BWS.

  • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

    Oh the duology of Innocent Grey. On one hand, they create compelling characters who go through depressing tragedies. On the other hand, they display these tragedies as ero-guro fap material.

    I really want to know who these games are *for*. I think there’s a thesis in here somewhere.

    Still, looking forward to observing the rest of these titles.

    • Kumiko Akimoto

      For people who like tragic stories, romance, a bit of gameplay, mysteries, horror with a bit of a mature flare

      • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

        and people who get off on mutilated women with perky tits and wet vaginas stuffed into boxes?

        • ShadowDivz

          I dunno about that ero-guro part. But some people just enjoy mature things.

          What’s wrong with NOT liking the whole “SENPAI! I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I LOVE YOU!” bit?
          Holy fuck really?! That’s a surprise! Especially coming from the 97th anime heroine to use that exact same sentence!

          “I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i- like you too” HOLY FUCK! A HAREM MAIN CHARACTER HAS SLIGHT FEELINGS FOR A GIRL IN HIS HAREM! plot twist afoot!/sarcasm.


          • icecoffemix

            Yes, because people can only like either mature story that has excessive “fanservicey” guro or haremshit.

          • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

            I think you may have misunderstood the point that I was trying to make. There’s nothing wrong with the reasons you’ve listed–in fact, I too feel that Kara no Shoujo is an extremely well-written visual novel. characters are likeable, the mystery is compelling, and the post-WWII occupied Japan setting is unique and relatively unexplored within the medium of games/VNs (though I still feel they could’ve fleshed that out better, ala Suehiro Maruo’s “Non-Resistance City”). Not to mention, the sound design is positively gorgeous.

            However, the porny moments are just bizarre and gross. Getting your dick sucked by the coroner for doing good detective work, the long eroticised torture sequences with close-ups on the female anatomy… doing 50+ hours of reading for these moments of getting your rocks off seems like a lot of effort and a bit excessive.

            I mean, I read Edogawa Rampo’s ero-guro short stories, but I don’t whack off to them.

            There are some genuinely disturbing moments that don’t resort to titilation, I’ll give it that. I also quite like the idea of a “detective” game in which it’s impossible for the player to save the day. To me, KnS evoked the feeling of lost souls in the purgatory of 1950s Tokyo. I dig that!

            The “good” ending made me cringe, though. Your teenage girlfriend has had all her limbs amputated. She smiles at you–now what? Stay with her forever and feed her like a baby? Shades of “Boxing Helena” there…but I guess we’ll never know, since the true ending/sequel doesn’t follow that route.

            …and for your bad dialogue point, I think Toko is a bit guilty of using similar lines with Reiji. “Tokisaka-san, I…I…!!!” Kara no Shoujo is essentially a harem game, at heart, with the protagonist becoming a teacher at an all-girls school.

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            First off you have to separate the fact the gorey scenes are not apart of the porno scenes. They aren’t fanservice they are fandiservice, They could still function in the game even if the game didn’t have erotic content much like a detective show can have a female cadaver shown in full view without it being considered porn.

            The sex scenes are sorta out of place but what can you do, though just because there are sex scenes doesn’t mean everyone will automatically fap to them For me though they adds a bit of character development and most of the sex scenes are near a bad end anyways so are technically optional.

            As for that ending well she’s not his girlfriend for one nor have they officially hooked up in that route That and she lived with her family so they still have custody of her so it wouldn’t make sense for him to do such a thing nor would he desire to. So I’m not sure where you are getting that from.

            Also harem would imply reiji is going after romantic interest, when it’s mostly just a lot of unrequited love sex and lonely piti sex and rape and that crazy corner sex. Besides toko though it’s strained and complicated he has no other romantic interest.

          • ShadowDivz

            Oh i wouldn’t know, i haven’t actually played it yet. xD
            I was just defending people who don’t like harems.

            And while hentai is always awesome, i don’t think i would like a blowjob from a coroner in the middle of my investigation. I mean…. I dunno, sounds like it would kinda break the mystery atmosphere for awhile.

            But like i said, i haven’t played it yet.

            But that ending you described(thanks for the spoiler >_>) made me cringe just reading it.

  • Notquitesure?

    Is there mystery to these VNs

    • DyLaN


    • Exkaiser

      Yes, they’re primarily murder mysteries.

  • ChiffonCake

    That’s very nice to hear. I still haven’t finished Kara no Shoujo, but what I had read of it was really good, so I’m happy to hear that they’re not interested in expanding their stories’ accessibility or whatever. It’s nice to hear that Sugina likes Megaten games, too.

    Also, I was under the impression that Sugina’s a woman? Miki is a female name, anyway.

    Edit: Hmm, after a quick research, looks like he’s a man, alright. Interesting.

  • Guest

    Is this coming to NA?

    • Michael Connell

      KnS2 was accounced for localization a while ago, as was Cartagra. Now we just have to wait

  • Michael Connell

    Interesting to know Sugina too is an Atlus fan. I wonder if he was paranoid too about the Sega buyout…

    • Exkaiser

      Probably not. Atlus fans in Japan would be more likely to know that Sega was a major stockholder in Index and a distributor of a lot of their games.

  • ShadowDivz

    Good. I’m so bored with the typical “everybody is happy in the end” endings.

    When it’s dark, or just not a happy ending i find the story stays with me for a longer time. Instead of me just being like “Well, that’s nice everybody wins in the end” and then i just forget about it.

    Oddly enough, this explains my lack of interest in vanilla doujins.

    Cheers to him! And the darkness that his heart sleeps in!

  • Just Tim

    You know, after reading this article, I’ve been getting the impression that Tomino inspired the dev’s “no happy ending” philosophy; otherwise, consider what I said an exaggeration.

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