Otakon 2018 – Mystic Messenger Press Interview

Despite the press meet starting at 5:15pm, the guests stated that they will stay the full hour for us which is really awesome of them. The first opened with the guests introducing themselves. From left to right, Soojin San (Saeran, Unknown, Ray), Young Sun Kim (707), Producer Sujin Ri, Ho San Yi (V) and Kyuhyuk Shim (Yoosung).

    Q: For gamers, can you tell us how you got started in the business?
    Soojin Kang: If you want to work as a VA in Korean, you have to go through a test that is conducted by a broadcasting company. So after you pass the test, you become an official voice actor for the company for a set number of years. And once you’re done with that contract you become a freelancer. So everyone here has passed that same exact test in different years and the reasons why they became voice actors should all kind of vary. So he majored in broadcasting in college and he also was educated in acting and dreamt about becoming a voice actor.
    Young Sun Kim: So his actually major in college was electrical engineering but he was part of a club that was about acting. So he after acting, he was doing a lot of theatre work and whatnot. And he really liked it but the money was well yeah. So voice acting has a lot of similarities with acting, so ultimately he became a voice actor.
    Sujin Ri: So she was studying computer engineering in Chicago. And she also had a career in it. But while she was doing it she realized that there was a demand for otome games but not a supply of it. And also she realized even a lot of the otome games, the producers were male. So even if it was geared towards women technically it was kind of like just the main characters were swapped just gender wised . It was kind of the same. So she thought to really fulfill the needs of the female gamers definitely. So definitely there should a producer that fulfills that role. So that’s why she started working this business.
    Ho San Yi: So his original major was information but there was a program request and they needed a narrator. So he ended up taking the narrator role, and the reaction was very positive. And everybody around him encouraged him to become a voice actor. So after researching he found that the 2 voice actors over there Kang Soojin and Kim Young Sun that he, they are the top of their field, and he wanted to be like them. So along with a voice actor Kyuhyuk Shim they studied together to become a voice actor. So right now I’m very honored to be here.
    Kyuhyuk Shim: So when I was young , I had a lot of interest in theatre and the movies. So instead of appearing he wanted to be part of roles where he wasn’t appearing. So he wanted to do more supported roles. He actually wanted to be a script writer. So fortunately in college there was a programming where they needed a narrators, and that’s where he started getting interest in becoming a voice actor. So through that experience he found that he had a talent in voice acting and so he took the exam and passed. And here he is now. Just like a director he likes being more in the backgroundish, so he really likes this role.

    Q: Could you tell us about what you feel the role of same gender relationships in otome games is? And specifically about your position to include one in Mystic Messenger.
    Sujin Ri: So in relaying the message in the game. She thinks that you have to think about what is currently being portrayed and what the current situations are. Like why is popular currently, and so in making a game. In like making an otome game that she definitely thought a lot about gender roles. She understands that it is a very sensitive issue and when she’s making the game she has 2 set rules that she follows. One is to be fair when portraying all the characters, and two don’t leave the ethical boundaries that has been set. So currently she’s saying there’s a target that she has set for the game and of course because a lot of people are asking about it that target is still what she’s focusing on but it might change.

    Q: I wanted to ask did you expect this game to be so popular in the United States and did you expect the kind of reaction in general at Otakon this weekend?
    Sujin Ri: So usually before this we released Mystic Messenger, we usually made games for computer like PC games. So when we first made it we didn’t expect to have this much of an audience. We expected kind of a similar size in audience as our games on PC market. So it was surprising. So we released the game on July of 2016 and by the time of September there were like so many fans. And we did not expect that popularity so it was just very busy, hectic kind of time during that period. (Her exact wording was like hell) So speaking about tumblr, we were mention we ranked #1 in the game category of the fandometrics. I think that was the thing. And also we didn’t expect this much popularity so there were some issues with the servers we had some data loss and everything. And trying to figure that out during that period very hellish. And also we didn’t expect to that, so more so I’m like more than half of it’s gone, it’s almost gone. And I kind of feel like we underestimated and kind of feel thankful and very kid of sorry about it at the same time because of that.
    Soojin Kang: There were probably other Korean games that were released in the States before Mystic Messenger. It’s almost limited that games that would be localized into different languages would actually come out of Korea. It’s very rare that there would be Korean games that would be localized to other languages. And have Korean voice I think that’s the thing that was very impressive. Because usually when you localize it there would English voice dubbed over it but it’s actually just straight up use the Korean voice acting. Even with just the Korean voicing with English subtitles, he didn’t think that it would be this popular, their voices would be this loved. So during our panel he felt so loved by all the fans that came out and he wants to take the time here to thank everyone again.
    Young Sun Kim: So he said this at the panel earlier, but one day he had a rave of foreigners who were starting to follow him on Twitter and YouTube. From different countries including the Middle Eastern countries, the South Americas. And he was so surprised, he was like what did I do? And when he found out he said it was about Mystic Messenger, and it was making a hit. The things he’s experiencing right now he’s like, he thinks to himself, am I going to be able to feel something like this again in the future. And he’s very happy.
    Ho San Yi: So for some Korean voice actors, to come out to an event like this, it’s probably a first for Korean. And I’m also very thankful to be with my fellow colleagues. So the I’m older I’ll look back really fondly on these memories.
    Kyuhyuk Shim: So most of the time Korean voice actors do dubbing for English movies or English speaking movies. So now that we have people enjoying hearing Korean while reading English titles it’s just very fulfilling to me. And I hope this is just not a one time occurrence and that will continue in the future.

    Q: Have the current anti-feminist movement in gaming in South Korea affected studio Cheritz at all?
    Sujin Ri: So currently in Korea the “MeToo” movement has been very active and also in a sense it feels like the anti-feminist sentiment has been the least in a long while or maybe possibly forever. So we feel like we’ve been more supported by people rather than being rejected or resented.

    Q: How do you develop each characters’ voice? What do you do to get the mindset of that character?
    Young Sun Kim: So for his character a lot of the conversations, or a lot of the recording had to do with phone calls he was making with the game. So there’s a lot of recording studios and rooms but because he was recording by himself a lot of the rooms were smaller. It’s a lot bigger than a public telephone booth. So when he’s in smaller booth like that the moment he stands in front of the mic it kind of takes him back to being in front of a public telephone booth. Or being at home trying to call his girl. So for him it wasn’t very difficult to get into his character.
    Soojin Kang: His character is a type of character who has multiple personalities. So his character could be divided into three different personalities and somehow a little miraculously he felt he kind of had all three of them in him. So the weak and narrow-minded Ray was very similar to him when he was a child. So for the second character who was more of a chic city boy Saeran, he was probably at a stage when he was trying to overcome that complex that he had. So the third Unknown was kind of like a devil character, and when he was into acting, he’s still into acting but when he was thinking about the roles he always wanted to portray like a bad guy, sociopath kind of character. So he’s always been practicing for this role, so when he got a chance. Even though acting all three of the voices wasn’t easy, it was doable. So he’s a voice over for Sherlocks’ Moriarty in the BBC series, so he thought they were very similar.
    Ho San Yi: So at first didn’t understand the character. So his character V had a quite different personality from him, so it took a while for him to understand the character. So while he was acting he felt that hisself and the character were fighting so he had to really work hard to overcome it. So there was a scene where he burst into tears because he imagined that his current wife was leaving him so and that really help him get into that role. So after having that emotional breakthrough he began to understand the character. So he wants to thank his wife for helping him understand Vs’ character and also that he loves her. *in character* I love you my honey.
    Kyukhuk Shim: So as a voice actor when you get your role, you look at the character, you look at the way they talk, and the kind of tempo and you kind of adjust yourself according to that. So usually the director kind of looks for right personality in choosing the voice actor. So for his character Yoosung he’s very soft, he’s kind, he likes to listen to others and he plays more of a supportive role which resonated very well with other voice actor. Though one difference is that Yoosung tends to very honest about his emotions, as for him he says he likes to respect other people so he sometimes hides his true emotions or kind of suppresses them. So for the traits that he had in common you know it’s just very easy to draw out, but for the parts of Yoosung that were different from him, he looked to other people or other characters for reference. So for the character Yoosung he looked at for reference he looked at his own younger sister and also actresses who played the roles of younger sisters. In terms of how to speak like them, and how to act like them. So through acting as Yoosung he was able to also learn you know as a person himself, that he felt that he also developed. And he’s very happy that he was able to learn from this character as well.

    Q: So I’d love to ask about the new game Cheritz has been developing. Let me specified, I think it should be pronounced The SSUM. Can you tell us a bit how in what ways you’re going in a different direction from Mystic Messenger. Especially with the art style and of course can we expect a US release.
    Sujin Ri: So a lot of feedback we received regarding Mystic Messenger, was asking about when will they receive the next story for it. So she thought about what if we made something that doesn’t run out storywise. So currently the goal of the project for us is the writing team for the game in our company will be writing scenario for one days worth of scenario each day. So compare to Mystic Messenger we decided to make it into something more light and also has like this joy of living the everyday life. And it’s kind of application that’s somewhere in between a game and a service. So because we’re trying to make one days worth of scenario everyday it’s kind of hard to use the style, art style of Mystic Messenger cause it takes more time. So the method we implemented right now is we hired a model that can work as a it’s model we can base our art on. And we’ll just render it in a way and just kind of add some additional facial art and really make it . So it’s quicker to really generate the art for it. So it’s a little bit difference in art style, because we’re not starting from scratch, we’re making art. So currently we wish people can really enjoy like the more complex and deeper story of Mystic Messenger. And also enjoy the more simple like lighter kind of everyday life style of the SSUM in the future when we release it. So and our eternal goal is to release the global service version of the SSUM by in this year, within this year.
    Ho San Yi: As voice actors I hope you would cast us.
    Interpreter: She can’t say no here. No comment I guess. Yeah she also said no comment.

    Q: Do you think there is a major difference between a game for girls developed by a female producer, and a game for girls developed by a male producer?
    Sujin Ri: So she definitely feels like there’s a difference in the games depending on the person. So the games produce by male producers she feels like it seems; there’s seems to emphasis on the importance of the results of the game. But as a female producer, she thinks it’s like important to talk about like the whys and getting the answers of it. And as a result she tends to she’s be like the process of getting to the results is more important than just the result. And a lot of the games produce by male producers she feels like they put emphasis on how quick you can be or how competitive you can be in a sense. And she feels like the female producers tend to care more about the relationships and just having more comfortable experience playing the game.

    Q: When you were talking about when you guys were trying to develop your voice for each of your characters. How much information does the voice actors get? Is it just a profile, or do they actually know, get information about what happens later on in the story. Because there is a lot of backstory that really does affect the characters. So how information do they get?
    Sujin Ri: So first of all, the key visuals and maybe possibly something very important to the illustrations that’s finished. And if it’s not we try to provide at least a rough draft of the illustration first to the voice actors. So for the case of Mystic Messenger, it’s not that they acted out every part of it. So there are a lot of parts that they don’t act out so we kind of give them a summarized memo of what happens in between this session and this scenario that they record. So when we first started the session, we spent some time trying to figure out what kind of vocal tone fits the character at the moment.
    Soojin Kang: So from the aspect of acting the visuals are very important as well. So the storyline is also very important, but he believes that for the users to get into the game the voice and the image of the character has to be a good match. So before the recording and after they receive the visuals, they carefully reexamine and examine the art. And so all the characters in the game have a very unique personality. So for his character personally he looked at the past history of the character as well, to build the voice and how to show that character.
    Young Sun Kim: So in his case he actually during the recording session he would talk a lot with the producer. And ask a lot of questions about like I think this character would do this or does this character do this. And get answers from the producers to develop the character for him.
    Ho San Yi: So from the perspective of acting, you have to know the goal; the end goal of the role. So for this project, it’s not just the basicles, he wanted, he did not know about the ultimate goal when he started. So as he was recording and the recording was coming to completion, he was realizing more things about the character. And was like “Ah” I just came to; I realized something about this character and that made him very happy. So in this scenario in the world of alpha and omegas, he realized the character was more like an omega.
    Interpreter: And then he went home happy.
    Kyuhyuk Shim: For acting I guess everyone has a different way in how they approach acting. So for him personally, like for the character the lifestyle or the life was somewhat similar. So for in his case, he likes to know like the most optimal amount of information. Instead of knowing everything and that’s how he personally likes to approach these kind of scenes. Just as if you live pragmatically things come to place. Oh when he concentrated on the scenes one by one it just all came together.

    Q: This is for the voice actors. You’ve all voiced characters from popular anime. How do you compare that to voice acting for an otome game.
    Soojin Kang: So there’s a lot of animations out there, various animations including female oriented anime. So for him when he was thinking about it, he thought about like school life, melodramatic shows and just looking at those helped him figure out how to approach the voice acting. So there shouldn’t really be a distinction or a like line dividing game and anime. It should really be focused on what type of project it is and how to approach that.
    Young Sum Kim: So as a man; as a guy he didn’t really know what women wanted. After getting married, after lots of fights. After all the fighting he kind of started to notice just a little what women wanted, just a little. So he took that just a little part and put that into his acting.
    Soojin Kang: And he agrees as well. Women is difficult.
    Ho San Yi: Sorry, I agree with him. So he also agrees in that for anime you shouldn’t really differentiate by genre, although there is a difference in scale. So for Mystic Messenger he focuses more on skill and more on seriousness. So like he said earlier he just felt happy about realizing the whole situation was a alpha omega.
    Kyuhyuk Shim: So right now he is recording for My Hero Academia, Midoriya and also Kageyama from Haikyuu!! And in those series they’re always about competing, fighting, and winning something in the end. But in the case of Mystic Messenger the true goal is that the player is the main character and your goal is to make them feel happy. Although they’re different goals what made him happy was like the dating aspect.

~ Transcriptions by Pearl A. Thank you! ~