How Did Nomura Come Up With The Name “Birth by Sleep”?



The full Ultimania interview with Kingdom Hearts series director Tetsuya Nomura is now available on the net in its entirety, and have generously translated (spoilers at link) the feature in full. We picked out a few spoiler-free bits for our readers. As always, Nomura makes for an extremely interesting interviewee. Like this bit for instance:


How did you decide on the subtitle for this game, ‘Birth by Sleep’?


Nomura: Honestly, I simply wanted to try using the word ‘by’ (laughs). I thought, game subtitles always have ‘of’ or ‘is’, but you hardly ever see ‘by’. I asked the localization staff and they said ‘you don’t usually use it in titles’, but according to a producer fluent in English there wasn’t a problem, so I thought it wouldn’t be too odd to use it. Also, I thought it would be good to continue the flow of KHCoM and KH Coded using internet words, and keeping ‘bonds between people’ in mind, I wanted it to be contracted to BBS (Bulletin Board System, software that allows users to connect). Then, I wanted to use the word ‘sleep’, and the result of all that was ‘Birth by Sleep’.


Nomura also discusses the secret ending tradition behind every game in the series and how it relates to Birth by Sleep.


Secret movies are an established tradition for the series, and in this title, a secret scene titled “Blank Points” was included. Does that name refer to the blank points in the story?


Nomura: There is that meaning, but every secret title aims to be reminiscent of the contents of the next game. For example, the secret movie in Kingdom Hearts was titled “Another side, Another story”, which was hinting at Roxas. Then the secret movie in KHIIFM was “Birth by Sleep”, wasn’t it? Well, the title of the next game isn’t restricted to “Blank Points”, but it will fit that meaning.


In reply to other questions, Nomura confirms that the “Blank Points” video symbolizes Sora’s reappearance, and is largely connected to Kingdom Hearts III, on which development — likely pre-production — has already begun, but that KHIII’s development depends on when Final Fantasy Versus XIII is completed. However, before KHIII, there are two other Kingdom Hearts game being developed, one of which will be released this year in Japan. And finally, the events that reach their conclusion in Kingdom Hearts III are part of an even larger story that will continue beyond the third game.


The full interview contains other interesting bits of information, such as how a tech demo created by the Birth by Sleep team based in Osaka was used to demonstrate the full extent of what could be achieved on the PSP to the Crisis Core team. Just keep in mind that it’s rather spoiler-heavy before you decide to read it.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.