The Wrap-Up

It's the day after the very last page of Hyoukyo Traitor has been finished! Yay! Instead of postponing this and forgetting half the things I'd like to mention, I've decided to write the wrap-up right away, so I can post it along with the final pages and be done with HT completely. Unless I randomly think of a weird bonus page again, like it happened with Hyoukyo Mirror... ;;;

So first of all... Hyoukyo Traitor was a surprise project, for me as much as for you. Every year around September/October, I get into the mood for something spooky, and 2017 was no exception. The first story I came up with was about Shiina, a girl attending Setsugekka High in the far north, going onto a nightly adventure with her friends and running into trouble. (Shiina is also the little sister of Kotone, the blonde young woman on the occult club photo.) I started writing everything down and even sketched the first three pages, but the story got a bit too long to reasonably finish until Halloween. I never got around to complete planning 100%, but it's likely that this story would've been at least double the length of Hyoukyo Traitor.

As October drew closer, I tried to come up with a shorter story and ended up with a direct sequel to Hyoukyo Mirror, featuring Sayo – who makes a little guest appearance on page 6 – as the protagonist. (In a sense, Hyoukyo Traitor is also a sequel as it takes place two weeks after Hyoukyo Mirror, but I don't consider it a „direct“ one since it doesn't continue the tale of the mysterious mirror.) Now, Sayo possesses a special ability which would've been important throughout the story, but which also would've been quite hard to properly depict with my current skill level. Or with my 2017 skill level – maybe I'd manage to do it nowadays. So I shelved that project as well and was left with exactly nothing to do for Halloween, aside from maybe drawing a regular spooky artwork.

...and then, in the middle of October, I had a pretty curious dream that seemed much like your typical horror flick about a summer camp in the forest where terrifying things happen. I still remember one character from the dream standing in a wooden cabin while something crept up on them from behind. It left enough of an impression that I drew that character in the exact same pose I remembered a day later, thinking that I could promote them to becoming a new OC of mine. (Which is something that happens at least three or four times a year. Quite a lot of my OCs have been inspired by dreams.)

I started thinking more about what I saw in the dream, just for fun – about possible explanations and scenarios and more characters that could appear... and before I knew it, the seeds for a new project had been planted. By now, the story that started with a simple dream has vastly expanded and evolved into a huge RPG Maker horror project I keep calling the „Complicated Project“ since I'm still lacking a name I'm satisfied with, two smaller prequels (or three, if you count the demo) and several sequels. Well, and Hyoukyo Traitor, which is basically there as a first impression of the things to come and should be fun to re-examine after the game is out in who-knows-how-many-years. Because I made sure to hide a lot of little hints and foreshadowing everywhere, both narration- and imagery-wise. So if anything looks off to you, there's a good chance that it's been drawn that way on purpose, not on accident or because I forgot something.

And that character I saw in the dream? They became part of the main cast. In fact, one of their sprites will have the same pose as the one they had in my dream. Who is it, though? That's a story for another time. Maybe we'll have a bonus room or artbook someday and the first words in their character description will be „It all started with...“

Anyway! That's how this story came into existence, but what about the technical side of things? Well, I'd like to think that my drawing skills improved somewhat since Hyoukyo Mirror and a lot of things went more smoothly this time around. I don't remember getting stuck on a single panel forever, like it happened with HM sometimes, and the shading was more fun this time as well. I'm really not into using screentones at all. Still, I probably won't do another monochrome manga again... I just like my colors too much and in the end, just coloring everything normally probably would've taken about the same time.

The pages depicting Shiori's story were the most challenging thing of the whole manga because I had to decide on so many things. For once, there were aesthetic choices like the depiction of the students and the traitor, but I also wanted to foreshadow a few things and give certain impressions. These impressions had to be two-layered as well, since the imagery was based on Shiori's interpretation, which may not always be entirely correct, but also contains some truth. Let me give you a little example of what I mean.

On page 16, we get a glimpse of the occult club people and right in the middle, we see the club president Youko. She is depicted with pretty mean/angry eyes, we see her quarrelling with folklore club president Kiyoshi on the lower right panel, and we learn that the occult club has a reputation for getting into trouble frequently. From what Shiori learned about her through the rumors flying around at school, she must think of Youko as a hot-headed delinquent who doesn't care about authority and might even be a violent person. But we also know from her character profile that Youko's club is a „family-like place“ and the members view her as a good friend, and that she is very passionate about the occult. So what does that mean for page 16? Is Youko a jerk who only treats her own club members nicely and uses her club activities as an excuse to go into forbidden places? Or is she actually a friendly person who easily gets misunderstood because of her club's bad reputation and is just a bit reckless? Do the occult and folklore club truly hate each other or have the rumors blown everything out of proportion? Whatever the case, Shiori wouldn't know the exact details, so the imagery is obscured and biased in a certain way.

It was a lot of fun thinking about all this stuff and coming up with ways to portray it! I'm also looking forward to making the game, but that will take a lot longer than this little manga project. The main cast alone consists of 13 people, who all need sprites and charsets. Which reminds me! There are some characters who didn't get to make an appearance in Hyoukyo Traitor as they were supposed to show up on a special page between Nr. 20 and 21. But in the end, I decided to scrap that page entirely because 80% of the scenes on that page will be depicted in the game's CGs anyway. It seemed a bit redundant to draw everything twice and the cut between Shiori's story and Taku's flashback wasn't as bad as I had feared, so I didn't really need that page anymore.

Alright, I guess it's time to finish this little wrap-up. I don't have a comparison page to show off this time, but I hope you had fun getting a glimpse of the ponderings that went into the creation of Hyoukyo Traitor. I'd like to leave you with a link to the game, or at least the demo, but unfortunately, nothing playable exists yet... but maybe I'll come back here sometime in the future, when I finally have something to show. Until then, thank you for reading and please take care!

~ Natsu