Welcome to our fourth and final installment of our Women’s History Month interview series! If you missed our previous three installments, go check them out: Localization Staff Interview, Shigeo Hamashima Interview, Yuka Kayura Interview.
For anyone who may be unfamiliar with Women’s History Month, it’s celebrated in the US, UK and Australia during the month of March to bring attention to the contributions of women in our society. So, in the spirit of Women’s History Month, we decided it’d be a good opportunity to highlight some women creators among our eroge partners and let them tell us about themselves and their work.
This week, we talked to MILK, singer of Imouto Paradise‘s opening theme.
How did you get into the eroge industry? Were there any specific works or creators that inspired you to work on eroge?
I got my start as a cosplayer helping out at an event (I was dressed as Miki Tsukimura from MOONSTONE’s Clear). Though I guess the thing that first got me into visual novels was the Saturn version of Welcome to Pia Carrot. I really wanted to play Kita e. but I would have had to buy a Dreamcast for it.
I didn’t have a PC back then, so I think my desire to play proper visual novels some day was what motivated me.
I’m a big fan of Ashito Ooyari’s artwork and I was so happy when I finally got to meet him! I really felt like I was part of the industry I loved at that moment.
How do you think your experience as a woman has informed your work?
I guess I can give a motherly warmth to the job that helps things go well? More specifically, greeting people properly and listening to people with a smile are pretty easy things to do, but when you only have a limited time with people and there are new staffers you’ve never met before, it can be pretty difficult to create an atmosphere conducive to talking.
People can get pretty awkward if they’re worried about being selfish, but that’s not something you have to be worried about with your mother. I think being a woman kinda puts me in a similar type of position.
I want to be girly, even as a singer, so I like to decorate my sheet music with hearts, so I can have some visual cues to help create a cute mood too♪
I find myself privileged as a woman to be able to enjoy the useful aspects of both my girlish side and my motherly side at the same time.
What is your process like? Do you have any particular techniques for getting a feel for a game?
First, I’ll get the concept of the game and the plot from the client. If it’s a character song, I find out about how the character talks and look at the key illustrations.
If I’m writing lyrics, a lot of times I get the music first, so I set the words I come up with to the music, stressing the lyrical quality as I write. Then I set the lyrics aside for a day before looking them over again and if everything looks alright, it’s a go!
The client will check the lyrics over and then I just have to sing them. Though, I guess over-practicing is a no-no. If I don’t keep it flexible enough to make changes on recording day, I’ll have to fight against my instincts.
I always try to keep in mind that game songs might be my songs, but they’re not mine alone.
Imouto Paradise’s opening sequence. Song “Imouto Paradise” lyrics and performance by MILK. Please note that this video contains some nudity.
Are there any parts of the process of producing music for eroge that you find particularly difficult? What keeps you motivated when things get tough?
If it’s an opening theme, I always try to make sure it’s not too heavily associated with any particular girl. Everyone who plays the game probably has a different idea of which girl is most charming, after all.
I guess this is kind of related to the previous question, but while I may be singing someone’s feelings, I want the players to be able to decide just who those feelings belong to.
I like to think the songs are part of the game for the sake of the players, so I derive my motivation from the voices of those players. I like looking up player impressions of games on Twitter and stuff♪
Is there a song or other work you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of?
I was responsible for this one kind of sad character song that plays during the tearful climax of the game––even though I’d read the plot outline and knew everything that happened in the game, once I played the finished product I was really moved by the scene. It made me feel like I did a really good job!
What do you think about the state of the eroge industry as a whole? Is there anything you’d like to see change in the future?
Eroge are designed to entertain consumers and they aren’t the sort of thing you absolutely have to buy to survive, but life is kind of lonesome without games, isn’t it? I guess it’s not all that different from watching movies, but I guess visual novels have a somewhat stronger personal component and are a little easier to misunderstand.
Also, games are data so I guess people can obtain them illicitly too.
It’s an industry based around providing entertainment for adults, so I’d like to interact with the players as adults too.
Also, I think it’s important for the industry to stick to deadlines♪
How did you come up with your stage name? It’s very cute!
Thanks! My real name is Mio, so I wanted to come up with something that also start with “M”. And I like cats, so I wanted a name that had a feline feel. Me~ow♪
Are there any singers or voice actors you look up to in particular?
Lots of them! If I had to pick someone in particular, I guess I’d say Hiromi Satou. I think she’s amazing both as a person and in terms of her contributions to the industry. Her singing and speaking are both really mesmerizing♪
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
When the fans can finally get their hands on a finished product. Producing a physical product is really rewarding. Of course, with songs alone there are always CDs, but I feel especially proud of contributing to bigger products with lots of content and illustrations and everything fitting neatly together.
Are there any dream projects you hope to have the opportunity to work on some day?
It’s a secret, but, you know, I don’t think it’d be all that strange if a swim meet, or hot springs, or girl’s night out full of beautiful female characters were a reality. I’d love to join in. I’m a girl after all, so I can get into places boys can’t. I’m really looking forward to it♪
Is there anything else you’d like to say to your English-speaking fans?
I’ve never left Japan before myself! It makes me really happy to know that games with my songs in them are loved overseas too♪ I sang the opening theme to Imouto Paradise packed with the feelings of lots of little sisters. I hope you play it and let me know what you think of it♪ Thank you very much☆
I’d like to go overseas to sing some day☆
And that concludes our Women’s History Month interview series! I hope you all enjoyed hearing from all these talented women in the industry.