Long Interview with Kazunari Yonemitsu about Baroque
To speak of the number one person responsible for Baroque, there is none other than Kazunari Yonemitsu, who of course directed the whole project. If you are already familiar with Mr. Yonemitsu, this interview will help you gain clues to better understand Baroque.
The Road to Baroque
Exploring the path to Baroque, from every one of his games created to date.
Please tell us where you began with this game.
It was 11 years ago that I graduated university and began working at Compile. Then, after editing a small newletter called "Compile Club", I joined the first game project I saw through from beginning to end, which was "Aleste." Other than stuff inspired by Gal Games, which people didn't like because they weren't lewd, I worked on various projects. Set in a beautiful enclosed world called Sanatorium, cut off from the outside world to the point of the people not even knowing what the outside world is, girls are rapidly getting sick and dying. Because of this, a mysterious teacher goes out night after night to try and figure out what is going on. The imagery of this area may have ended up being quite close to that of "Baroque".
Were there other projects at Compile that lead to "Baroque"?
In what way? Since "Sorcery Saga" is an RPG, the names of items are a bit similar. A person who knows it well would understand that they have a similar feeling.
It's said that after you joined Sting, one of the works in production was "Bugyuru~".
What kind of game was that?
It was a shooting game published by Sofel that came out on the Super Famicom, but it wasn't very interesting (laughs). Just a regular shooter. The title first came out as "Absolute Transformation Bugyuru~", but under Sofel's direction, we were told to cancel it. In the end, the title was changed to "Flying Hero Bugyuru~'s Big Adventure". It was a story about a fluffy creature named "Bugyuru~" setting out to save a princess that's been swallowed by a monster who is also fluffy. You have to clear it without continues; if you try to continue and kill the
final boss, a half-digested princess comes out of him. Sofel told me not to do that, so I changed it to a robot (laughs).
Next up, you started work on Treasure Hunter G?
In between, I did a lot of work for titles like "Katsuya Onizuka Super Virtual Boxing" (laughs). Well, it was all on a different route than the one that led to "Baroque".
So, what role did you play in "Treasure Hunter G"?
Oh, yes. I did everything from supervising production to scenario planning.
Is there anything in common between "Treasure Hunter G" and "Baroque"?
There isn't. "Baroque" is more like a reaction to "Treasure Hunter G". Everything about the development of "Treasure Hunter G" was nice and neat, I made an adventurous tale of courageous young boys over the course of a year, so the reaction was to make "Baroque" with a sense that I've already done nice and neat.
What kind of image were you trying to create with "Treasure Hunter G"?
I think I was originally inspired to make it by a movie called "Field of Dreams". It's totally irrelevant to the final product, though. Well, they both have a theme of father and son in common, there's saying farewell to the father, a setting involving a chance reunion, but in "Field of Dreams", I was always concerned about the dead father, did he not get to play catch at the end? I like the absurdity of that scene. So the truth is that right at the beginning of the scenario planning for "Treasure Hunter G", the father died along the way. And then in the last scene, the brothers are talking and badmouth their father, so the father's spirit thumps them on the head, and they don't know who hit them, so the father starts hitting them more. I wanted to bring that sort of scene into the plot. But various things like that disappeared while creating the story. All that remains of that foundation is a story about a son surpassing the greatness of his father.
Then, "Baroque" seems to be the opposite of it, so to speak..?
Yes well, I think it was more boredom than a reaction, like I've already done the bright side, so now why don't I try going over to the dark side (laughs).
You've mentioned there were some keywords in the development of "Baroque". Please tell us
about each of these keywords. First, we have "healing".
That was, firstly I wanted to create game systems that had a sense of healing. Something that carried a theme of healing the world, but then I think the Aum Shinrikyo incidents happened. Therefore, if the protagonist is an individual who saves the world, he'd sort of end up in the same hole*... (laughs) However, it seems the hero has to save the world regardless, there has always been a desire to think these kind of grandiose thoughts. If a hero plays a role in an RPG, the whole world always ends up returned to peace, but somehow I'm just not convinced (laughs). Such a simplified plot is probably possible, but I also think that this kind of story is getting old. That was the feeling behind wanting to sketch out a place inhabited by people who were not at peace. So conversely, we have healing, which is a more personal theme. I thought it would be better to have a more personal adventure, like going on an adventure to heal an injury. Through the adventure, you come to a point where you’re at peace with yourself and your surroundings, and so the world seems more peaceful as a result.
[*TN Note - Aum Shinrikyo cult leader Asahara believed he would save the world by taking the sins of the world upon himself, while spiritually cleansing his followers.]
Next is "imprisonment".
The Koriel imprisoned inside of their coffins, that's what demonstrates it the most directly. Originally, I just liked that kind of word. It's off topic, but I noticed recently that imprisonment and strange things often go hand in hand with towers, like in the stories of Edogawa Ranpo and Seishi Yokomizo. Therefore, as angels, Christianity, and so forth emerged, I thought that the title "Baroque" would similarly go hand in hand with such imagery. Thinking further about Edogawa Rampo and Seishi Yokomizo as of late, to be honest, I noticed that the influence of such Japanese novels was huge.
"Girl" is next...
Firstly, this game is the flower of many people's efforts. And speaking of flowers* brings us to the female characters. Before the planning of "Baroque" was finalized, I was considering including a lone, mysterious beautiful girl, but by the end of planning, the idea got powered up to two (laughs)... but, when I was finished powering up the concept, I had about four people and wasn't able to get them all organized, so I settled on just the two. The name Eliza officially comes from ELIZA, the first interactive AI program. I heard later that there was an Eliza in "Candy Candy", but we decided to just leave it as is. Alice was named after the character Ryoko Hirosue played in "The March of the Saints", that's a joke, but I think I'll just go with that (laughs).
[*TN - As far as I can tell, this is a bad pun. In the previous sentence he says he will "let someone else hold the flowers for this game", meaning he'll let others take credit for the game.]
Next is "mirror"...
Excuse me, that's not it. It was originally a keyword I was trying to include in the "Baroque" project, but... we had to get rid of it because it wasn't connecting with what we wanted to do.
Next is "instrument of punishment", is this one referring to torture equipment or something?
Torture equipment, yes, isn't it a weird gimmick? I like gimmicks like that and was inspired by them. Mechanisms and the like, anyhow, something that makes sharp metallic sounds, gears coming together in motion, that linkage, I find things working in tandem like that fascinating. But, everytime I make a game, I have a habit of including concepts you couldn't imagine just by looking at the items or their names (laughs). I don't know if that's good or bad. If you want to include easily understood concepts, you can do it with a ring or a cane, but while they're relatable, they're just not that interesting. Of course, I just like the word "instrument of punishment" itself, it's very bold.
So, what about the word "brain"?
...Fufu (laughs)... Various things in the game... first of all, the opening is more or less depicting tampering with the brain by erasing memories. The entire game feels like a metaphor about the brain. Ultimately, you are going down to the lowest layer of the subconscious, struggling to find a place where you can truly be healed. At the end of the day, there's a part of yourself you don't want to enter, a hazy and black region in the depths of your heart that you naturally don't want to admit to. However, I think you become happier and more relaxed when you do admit to them, so I think it's good that the game's story reflects that.
Was there something that began this fixation with the brain?
It's not so much the brain, but if I was pushed to say, direct cues were taken from the Freudian works of Mr. Shu Kishida and Mr. Bin Kimura in the field of phenomenology. Both thoroughly investigate the matter of "what is oneself", and I was very influenced by these two which was when I began to fixate on the brain.
The next thing is "light and dark".
This is where the first visual images began. I wasn't able to express it as film noir. At first, I wanted to stretch the shadows. As you walk down corridors, the shadows of enemies loom huge on the wall. You're on edge because you think a huge enemy is casting the shadow, but then it turns out that it's a really small enemy (laughs). However, there were various problems with this during programming, so it wasn't possible to do at the time. Instead we focused a lot on shadows when creating the maps.
Baroque Design Works
Appointing Mr. Kito's Inertia Pictures
Why did you decide to work with Mr. Kito ....did you originally want to work with him on
"Treasure Hunter G"?
"Treasure Hunter G" was a Square game, which is where we were introduced, and I got the feeling that I would like him on board for this project. I had heard of his name beforehand. When working on "Treasure Hunter G", Mr. Kito reached out while we were fleshing out the story and format of the game, because our models weren't very unique. Only the items were imaginative, but the rest was comparitively orthodox. So this time around, I felt like I would resolve to give it my all. That's why I wanted to get him involved from the very beginning.
How was working with Mr. Kito?
When I met Mr. Kito, I felt like we were on such a similar wavelength that we knew what the other was thinking without even saying anything (laughs), like we'd understand eachother even if we were speaking different languages. When you work with foreigners, it's usually easiest if you meet with a lot of them when explaining things. This is because it's easier to work together and to ask questions when something isn't clear. Even then, I was able to perfectly understand what I was doing with just a thumbs up from Mr. Kito, without talking much.
Did you want to work with Inertia Pictures from the start?
It was like a psychic revelation. There is a popular trend lately in America where talented people will leave a larger company in order to start a smaller one. Inertia Pictures is one such company, I think they mainly do CG-related work. They've done CG for NHK's "Miraculous Microcosm Holiday" and the "Super Mario Bros" film, among others, you get the feelings that you're producing an American CG animation. Inertia Pictures were the ones who first introduced me to Hari Chara Design, it was like a relay system. So then they introduced me to various people including the designer of “Predator 2”, and some vulgar foreigners came by (laughs) who I talked very timidly around. The world of American comics is cool, but it felt very different from the world of "Baroque". I found it very difficult to express the idea of the Nerve Tower in words, I was stumped by attempting to explain this view of the world.
In the meantime, were you still consulting with Inertia Pictures?
Inertia understood immediately. The imagery of the film "Delicatessen", a movie that both I and the employees of Inertia enjoy, was something we could use to communicate ideas and understand instantly. There you go, Inertia is already on it (laughs). It's much easier to communicate with people you know. That's what it felt like to work with them.
Were there any episodes that made it difficult to work abroad?
The business progressed smoothly, but I was disappointed with the narrow seats on the plane, it was depressing to spend 8 hours cramped in them. Moreover, when I first boarded, I was sitting next to an English speaking Chinese or Indian grandmother who was chewing tobacco. It's a dreadful odor, and she chewed it the whole time (laughs). So I couldn't fall asleep. When I arrived, I felt very depressed, even under the refreshing American skies. But I never had any problems other than that. The people in charge of Inertia could speak Japanese.
How many times did you go to America during production?
I only went there twice. The first time I was introduced to various people, then after that I went to work with them and attended meetings to discuss everything in minute detail for about a week. I wrote up a rough draft of the opening, and then we held a meeting to go over the storyboard. After all, it's CG so the budget is a big factor. 'Naturally if we only make one person, then we can cut the man hours in half', 'let's not do it this way', 'here's how we present this work', we would hold meetings like this. After that it was just laying the foundation for the maps and the ending movie, which we did quite early on, ....but we still ran late on the main story (laughs). We had reasonable scheduling, but with the story the way it was, we had to extend the schedule....
Any points about the monster designs?
Yes, right. This was another aspect influenced by the likes of Edogawa Ranpo. The enemies were our #1 focus and I wanted to avoid too much symmetry, so our designer really struggled, it was a difficult job (laughs). If a design is symmetrical, you can just draw one side and then mirror it, but for asymmetrical objects you have to draw both sides. Since we were creating a distorted world, grotesque things should not be symmetrical and we wanted the feeling of entering a distorted place to be strong.
The Original Form of Baroque
The Transition to Baroque's Final Look
What is the origin of "Grotesque"?
Grotesques. Originally there were projects that were the predecessors to "Baroque", there are a lot of details to recall for something so far in the past, but the titles of the projects directly before were "A Life of Catching Grubs" and "The Neo-Russian Empire Buchiful Bucky". I forget the exact title, but I was thinking of a Russian sounding RPG. The main character of "A Life of Catching Grubs" is a boy whose grandfather harvests a fictional species of grub, the hypothalamus of which is very delicious (laughs). These are expensive bugs and catching just one of them would make you rich. You want to catch one so that you can sell it, but the bug digs a deep hole into the earth which your grandfather has gone into. The hole is linked to a system that leads to an ever-changing dungeon structured like a maze, since the bug is always digging. In the story, there's a rumor that the queen of the bugs dwells in the lowest layer, and so the grandfather wants to see it but he's bedridden. The boy doesn't clearly understand what's going on, but dives into the bug hole which is the beginning of the game's story.
I would like to play that (laughs). So, is that where the idea of a changing dungeon came from?
I feel like the system came first, so I was thinking 'what story could fit around that system?' I thought about it. But if I put it out, people would say it was too plain (laughs). I didn't want to draw the bugs. "Grub" is the kind of thing that, just by the name alone, makes you not want to draw it (laughs). So, I wanted to make something flashier and showier, which led to "Baroque" by merging it with "Neo-Russian Empire Buchiful Bucky".
When was the changing dungeon system conceived?
Before that, I had been working on a PC-98 title called "Baroque". I released a little bit of news about the new project in a magazine or something before cancelling it. At about that time, I switched to making 3D polygons for awhile, which turned out not to work with the 98, so when the Playstation and Saturn came out, which could handle polygons and more advanced graphics, I was told that we would be moving over to those systems. Because the game as it stood required such an overhaul and we were changing the specifications of various plans, I decided to make the changing dungeon mechanic the basis of the new system. I don't remember if the Saturn had come out or not.
If that was in 1992, then there were 3 years yet to go.
The system specs were decided around that time. If you count from the PC-98 edition, then Baroque was at the concept stage for 7 years or so. The 98 game "Baroque" was titled the same, but it was a legendary fantasy game that was completely different from the current setting of "Baroque". It would have been influenced much more by "Treasure Hunter G".
When did you start thinking about the story of the current "Baroque"?
Definitely some time after "Treasure Hunter G", it started from combining "A Life of Catching Grubs" and "Neo Russian Empire~" to make them more interesting. The game system was relatively close to that of "A Life of Catching Grubs". You entered a building similar to the current Nerve Tower, sort of like the underground area below the Bug Catching Association. In the story, their nest was located under the building used by the Bug Collecting Association, so you'd dive into the underground nest from inside that building. I kept the concept as-is for the Nerve Tower, and everyone asked "How can you dive into a tower?" (laughs). I'd always become deeply troubled when I heard that (laughs).
Were you thinking about including the tarot card elements from the beginning?
Yes. That’s right. Tarot was heavily involved when we were first laying out the story. Around the time he distorts the world, the Archangel's hobby is tarot. Not a tarot that exists now, an original tarot, with a different design on the back. With the creation of artificial Sense Spheres, the Archangel was able to insert this new "world of tarot" into the Sense Spheres in order to distort reality little by little. That tarot is the image of another world. A different image of the world that has formed in the Archangel's thoughts. Additionally, I also wanted to make the game in the form of a tarot card. In a manner of speaking, each tarot has its own story, but if you line them up side by side, they form one cohesive story. But if you change the layout of the cards, it allows for different interpretations of the story than before, and I was considering the possibilities of a story with similar qualities.
So, besides the overall structure, did tarot influence anything else?
Yes, that's correct. At some point, tarot was also applied to the direction of the Grotesques. Since each card's meaning is conveyed visually, that meaning is therefore thin. As for the outward appearance of the Grotesques, when I asked for illustrations, I didn't care much about the pattern of the tarot since the Grotesque has meaning only in its visual connection to its card. Because I only requested that the creature looked like the card generally, it means that you don't have to understand the appearance to a great extent.
The Source of the Unique Atmosphere Created by Terminology like Sense Spheres
How did the Nerve Tower come to be called the Nerve Tower?
I didn't know early on during designing.... ah, this is going to be a spoiler... After all, it's because God is in the lowest layer, you know? Because it's a tower that passes through to God, it's a Nerve Tower*. Later, I wanted to make the whole thing feel like a metaphor for the brain, so that would also be a nerve. So it's a "Nerve Tower". It's a double meaning, as it's an actual nerve and also the path to God.
[*TN - "Nerve" is written using the kanji for "god" and "sutra" or "experience"]
Why a tower?
That's the bad influence of "A Life of Catching Grubs" (laughs). The idea is from the Bug Collecting Association and was carried over unchanged. But in terms of its creation, the Order of Malkuth built it after discovering God, in order to protect it. Is it not the case with an ordinary church that God doesn't exist there, only worshipped? But in the world of "Baroque", I think it's more practical, like an animal conservation organization that protects something valuable. The Nerve Tower feels like a practical building, like the offices of the Malkuth Order.
What is a Sense Sphere?
I had been thinking about God's role in the setting, in what ways God shapes and influences the world, how it maintains the world, and how to explain why a person would continue to be the same one day after the other. Since God is vigorously maintaining all of the information in the world, if something deviates, it will be corrected and released back into the world. So if a person changes or their identity breaks, God would attend to that information while that person was sleeping and restore it to the way it was. In this view of the world, people can remain themselves. Thus, bread has always been bread, and so forth. However if God goes mad, bread will no longer be bread. The Idea Sefirah comes from Plato's "Why a triangle is a triangle is because the Idea of a triangle exists", so then it follows that a person has information defining them as a person. God continuously takes in that information, repairs it, then releases it. However, the organ that takes in information is a Sense Sphere, and there are many of them buried all over in the real world of this setting. Rather than being tactile, they're organs that can take in or export information and have a spherical shape to increase their effective surface area. The materials that comprise them have not yet been analyzed by modern science. Please ask the God of Creation and Preservation for more details (laughs).
What is the origin of the God of Creation and Preservation?
In the beginning it was not originally going to be God, but something in such a role is usually called a god, so perhaps it would be better if I did too - and so it became a god for that reason. But I hated the idea of it as just another god since this guy was going to create and preserve the world, so I said 'Creator and Preserver'. I didn't think I would use the word God at all. If I said God, people might imagine it to be a God that saves religious followers. But I was worried that people who read 'Creator and Preserver' might form a confused image of what it was supposed to be, as it isn't a proper noun and looks instead like an abstract noun performing the action, so in the end I made it the God of Creation and Preservation.
So where did "Angels" come from?
I feel like I owe credit to others*... No seriously, I was just interested in things like angels. When I thought about holding a flower, healing music began to play, and I would think about a game that heals the mind (laughs). I'm the kind of person who has been experimenting with pyramid power since they were little, any time I'd get a rash I would try it right away, I'm kind of addicted to it. But it was bothersome to do a story about healing individuals, so I decided to tell a story about healing the Earth. Then various other things like angels became involved.
[*TN - This is the same bad pun as before. Again, he says the idiom "let someone else hold the flowers", meaning he'll let others take credit for something.]
Did you not have angels of a particular religion in mind for the setting?
That's right. There is no religious affiliation, just an angelic image associated with healing people and the earth. Them being cute is another matter. I came up with that idea just before the angel boom. So I thought it was good timing, with the angel boom and all (laughs). But then the production period got extended and it was no longer topical. At least it's just natural to like characters with feathers. The Archangel is high-ranking, so he has large wings. However, every time I draw a picture, the wings get smaller. He's going to get stuck in the ranks.
They really are the largest, right?
How should I put it, even though other guys are small, they may be the largest (laughs).
The Origin of Names such as Grotesques
Is Aries an Aries?
I thought you were asking about how he gets along with women (laughs). His tarot card is the Emperor, so it had to be relevant to that. There is also an Emperor in the Kabbalah Tree of Life, and I feel like if you applied that Emperor's position to a Zodiac constellation, it would be Aries. ...I saw that in a book. Let's see, it was a book written by Mr. Yutaka Nagao, it was an interesting book entitled "Magic English Tutor". Mr. Nagao's work is from a time where many things about magic were being examined but there weren't many books on the topic out yet. So there was nothing to study from but this book, and in the end, I wanted to make plans to study sorcery abroad somewhere. Studying the book thoroughly also made it easier to understand English. I had hoped he'd have included more practical language lessons, like applying various places to the Tree of Life or studying English in magical ways.
Next up is Gliro.
Gliro came from the artwork of Bosch. Well, I think it was probably in "Fantasy Museum" or something, it was a book by Tatsuhiko Serizawa that was full of monsters. I used some of the minor creatures from it in the "Sorcery Saga" games, but I don't think I ever used this one. In Bosch's paintings, it looks like a little dwarf... but I think it was a painting of a fish person walking a pram. I think the paintings of Bosch are fairly close to Baroque's visual aesthetic, so I'll probably keep referring to it in various ways.
Next is Or-huganous
...There isn't an origin for this one. Surely. This is a guy who I feel could make me confess anything.
Mr. Kato (laughs). Originally Mr. Kato was a salary man that got distorted. So Grues are like pointless complaints. He goes to the bar to drink and spits out Grues... so I designed the tongue to look like a neck-tie (laughs).
How about Grue?
There's not much to say. There's no connection to the tarot. It's not an individual Grotesque, it's more like an accessory because it's just Kato's spit (laughs).
Cocteauhead... I remember the Cocteau Twins.
I remember them too. I've heard people say along the way that their songs share themes with "Baroque"...I kept asking myself if that was a problem (laughs). I borrowed and listened to it, so it may have had some influence. It's also possible Jean Cocteau was a strong influence.
Is it the same for Sun?
Yes. Sun is the sun. That's right.
...the Judgement card. I wonder what the "niss" sound came from, I probably just decided on it because of the sound.
Jerryrom is difficult to read.
This was also something I wanted to use around the time of "Sorcery Saga". My voice isn't as strong as it used to be. Well, when I stretch it out it becomes iiiii.... it doesn't feel good to say. I really wanted to just say Jayrom, but it doesn't sound right. I don't think Jayrom itself means anything, but I don't remember.
It's just this kid that says "I'm 17" (laughs). Ah, I think I just was thinking about numerology and it just matches the number of the tarot.
I can't even imagine what the roots of Soconpo are.
I'm pretty sure I just made a mistake while writing “that’s where it is” (sokonotokoro) and ended up with "sokonpo". I thought it was a strange word (laughs).
Death, is... death.*
[*TN - A pun involving the copula “desu”, which sounds like the loan-word version of “death” being pronounced in Japanese. The Coffin Man would later be rewritten to adopt similar puns in the PS1 version.]
It's a grim reaper, yeah? That's all it is.
Niculi and Nicula.
Funiculì, funiculà, yeah. That's about it (laughs).
The idea was that Hana-nip is pinching your nose*. I think "nip" means "to pinch". I checked a Japanese-English dictionary and found pinch, and it was written as nip. I just used it (laughs).
[*TN - "Nose" in Japanese is "hana"]
Hungones looks easy to understand.
It's from the Cthulhu mythos. "Wan" means "thing", and "hangu" simply means hanging, so it's a hanging thing. That's right though.
It's from French or some language, but it means festival. In festivals, there are always tarot readings. That one was really awful (laughs). It was a term used by someone I talked about earlier named Satoshi Kimura. It's a keyword that has something to do with how mental patients experience time. It's something like that.
Next is Bubugel.
Bubugel was just because I liked the sound. It's like, an empress, that's a fat person... so it's kind of like bubu, and then make a 'gel' sound (laughs). Ah, there's also "burger." But well, Bubugel is different. I forgot already... It represents the Tower in tarot. Ah, these things come out of the walls... I think the face looks like it's going "bubugel" (laughs).
Bulger also feels like "burger". It's something that's pointless to look into (laughs).
It reminds me of the Indian Goddess Durga.
It does have that kind of feel (laughs). ...the Magician is a magician. Same for the Moon. Johanna Kyon uses part of the name from the film "Nun Joanna". I don't know where Kyon came from, I probably just liked the sound.
Well then, Liar.
Liar lies. I guess you could say she's surely a liar. ...I don't know, I guess I don't know. Let's ask the readers (laughs). No, just kidding.
What Inspired the Production of Baroque
You said that "Treasure Hunter G" was inspired by "Field of Dreams", so was "Baroque" similarly inspired by anything?
I think the visuals and atmosphere of European films such as "Delicatessen", directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who recently directed "Alien 4", and so on. Also Katsuhiro Otomo's contribution, "Cannon Fodder" to the movie "Memories". I think the muted colors and atmosphere provided reference points. I was also conscious of the world of film noir, which also provided inspiration.
When you say the world of film noir...
It's often said the John Woo's series "The Third Man" is the new noir... but the era of film noir feels like the end of gangster films. I think the era of gangster films are stories about confronting power even though they're about villains, but it's still standing united against a broken system. In the end, the gangsters are almost always killed, aren't they? Anyone who survives is always left with a lot of problems. The world is rotten, so they rot. It's always raining and too dark in night shots. Everyone wears long trench coats. Only car lights illuminate them while walking in the rain, there is light leaking through huge ventilation fans, it's that kind of imagery. The hardness makes it more expressive, I couldn't express that kind of thing but it was where we started with the imagery of "Baroque". That's where the keyword "light and dark" came from.
Is there any of that imagery that carried over into the Nerve Tower?
No, but it did draw influence from another work. It's been there since "A Life of Catching Grubs", from I think someone who was German taking photographs of strange buildings. It's called "Schirmer's Visuelle Bibliothek", the photographs inside do have some connection to the Nerve Tower. Such photo books were used as image references during the conceptual stage of "Baroque", I used them to explain what I wanted to the production staff. I wish I could draw better, but I just can't. However, this photo book wasn't shown to Mr. Kito, what he ended up creating was based entirely on his own imagination. Still, I felt it strange that he ended up creating something with such a similar atmosphere naturally, all on his own.
Is the Nerve Tower a church or chapel for the Malkuth Order?
No it isn't. Churches and chapels are for worshipping Gods who do not actually exist there, isn't that right? But in "Baroque" it is more practical, since God is actually present.
She is the game's heroine. She was forcibly created because of a certain situation, and she's aided in her mission by the protagonist. Her existence is key in saving the world.
Women with short haircuts are traditionally characters that refer to themselves with more masculine pronouns. She's a character that is boyish and strong, like the personality of a good kid.
Members within the Order of Malkuth, underneath the Archangel. They were the brains behind the Malkuth Order, but all of them were imprisoned for hindering the Archangel's plan.
The Archangel was just an ordinary human being. However, he came into contact with knowledge that no human should ever have, and so he decided that he should rule over the world. Even after the Great Heat Wave, he's aiming for another chance at that ambition by manipulating the protagonist.
Before the Great Heat Wave, she was the Archangel's beautiful secretary. She was in love with him, and even after the Great Heat Wave, her feelings for him did not change. In the end, she couldn't bring herself to go against his wishes.
The Crypt Angel:
He was an ordinary person before becoming distorted by the Great Heat Wave. His previous job was as a blacksmith, and so he continues to synthesize tools after becoming distorted.
Urim and Thummim:
They were members of the Malkuth Order that worked together. They were near each other at the time of the Great Heat Wave, and so they became stuck together and distorted. Thinking about it, they really are pitiable. They can't do anything about their situation.