Blik-0 1946, an e-book penned by contributing musician to the Final Fantasy series Nobuo Uematsu, is now available to iPad owners for $10. Protagonist Blik-0 is designed by artificial intelligence scientist Dr. Mabuse to be capable of emulating the human heart and brain. As Blik-0 experiences life, it begins to struggle with anger, sadness and love. Blik-0 1946 includes three songs composed by Uematsu that can be played while reading the story to supplement the experience. The e-book is illustrated by Hiroki Ogawa, director of Uematsu’s recording studio, Dog Ear Records. Uematsu wrote the book to help readers “recognize the happiness you can find in everyday life, which you often ignore because they are too close to you, and the importance of kindness and respect to others.” In today’s edition we sit down with both Mr. Ogawa and Mr. Uematsu to talk about the project as a whole. Read below for the full Q&A…
How did you two get involved in the Blik-0 1946 project. Was writing stories always an area of interest?
Nobou: I started writing this story while I was traveling around the world with Orchestra concert of “Distant Worlds music from FINAL FANTASY.” There wasn’t any real purpose for this story at first, though. Writing stories… Well, writing in general has been my favorite thing to do ever since I was a child. I might enjoy it more than making music.
Hiroki: This project began back in 2010, meaning it has already been already three years. One day, I received an email from Mr. Uematsu saying, “I wrote this story,” with the story of Blik-0 attached. At the end of the email, he added, “So what do you think Blik-0 looks like? Answer this question with a drawing.” I was stunned by his sudden email and “pop-quiz,” but that challenge was exactly what excited me to draw Blik-0 [laughs]! I believe my fourth Blik-0 composition was the closest to how Mr. Uematsu imagined the character. So he elected that fourth Blik-0 as the final image. After that, I drew the different scenes in the story and Mr. Uematsu gave me feedback. We repeated this process for each art work.
Another innovative idea, is where you utilize your music composing skills to enhance the story by allowing the reader to hear it during the story. What kind of elevated experience does this add to the story?
Nobou: I would be really happy to hear that my music enhances the reading experience. I was just glad that I could do two of my favorite things: “make music” and “write” for Blik-0. Because the author and music composer are the same person, the emotions evoked and what the story intends to deliver ought to be expressed well through the music.
Hiroki: Well, we weren’t planning on making Blik-0 into a digital book when it first began. In other words, we did not have the solid direction of [story + music + art] initially. However, when it actually turned into a digital book with music playback, I thought it was really refreshing to see a product like this, since music nowadays is often used only as background noise. I thought it was a great idea to have the opportunity to “listen to the perfect music while reading a story,” because then the reader will really utilize the music as part of the core experience. I would like to search for new ways to make something special by using music as part of “the experience” for readers.
Dog Ear Records set out to broaden the music label’s focus to overseas territories. How has that been coming along?
Hiroki: We at Dog Ear Records certainly hoped to venture out globally when we first established our label. However, it has been very challenging to expand our fanbase and increase our visibility in foreign countries compared to Japan, where we have the opportunity to communicate with our fans directly and with ease. For those who are really into a specific artist, they tend to be interested in which label the artist belongs to. However, the majority of music fans are usually interested in “Nobuo Uematsu and his music,” and not the establishment that helps him to release his music. That being said, I am really grateful to be a part of the creation of Blik-0 1946 because people might be curious, like, “Ogawa from Dog Ear Records?” I would be happy to be the reason why people become interested in Dog Ear Records through this project. I believe this will be a big step forward for our label. I would like to continue our steady efforts like this, and hope to spread knowledge of our label around the world.
With your role at Dog Ear Records, do you still illustrate as much as you’d like too? What’s ahead?
Hiroki: I’ve been really busy with my full-time job, so I don’t have much time to draw or do anything else lately. For this project, I worked on the art after my full-time job—from the middle of the night to the following morning. I had to complete all the art work for Blik-0 1946 within a certain time frame, but I couldn’t have been happier to be able to create something and see it get published. Ever since I was a child, I have always found the greatest pleasure in making something that can be seen by others, whether directly or indirectly.
Nobou: Yes, [looking ahead] I will continue to make digital books. I’ll have more information about this later, so please look forward to it. I am also working on music for a few video games, but I cannot really talk about them just yet. Please stay tuned for further information! Oh, a brand new album, “DANCING DAD” by my own band EARTHBOUND PAPAS (http://www.dogearrecords.com/Earthbound_Papas/textsite.html), has been released. There are several video game music tracks, including Final Fantasy and other games, on the album, as well as several original tracks! The album jacket is really cool, too!
Favorite Anime and/or Asian films?
Nobou: When I was young, there was a 30-minute Disney program on TV every Sunday. Each week, they aired different shows like family-friendly comedies, animal documentaries, and the like. Sometimes they aired anime, and I still remember that I really looked forward to the anime and I loved them quite a bit. I haven’t watched much anime lately… Oh, have you heard of the anime called “Guin Saga”? I composed the music for that anime, so if you are interested, please check it out!
Hiroki: Wow, that is a really tough question… Perhaps if we approach it more like “the movie with lots of memories attached” rather than my favorite movie, then what comes to mind is “Lovers,” directed by Zhang Yimou. Back then, I was fortunate enough to be part of the sound production team, so just watching any part of that movie brings all the music used in that scene back to my mind. I really loved Zhang Yimou’s The Road Home, so I was ecstatic when I was in the same studio with him and Zhang Ziyi [laughs]! Regarding Japanese movies, I like Tony Takitani directed by Jun Ichikawa and [Kuki Ningyo (Air Doll)] directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, the latter of which had a strong impact on me with its unique atmosphere. I also like Kiki’s Delivery Service by Hayao Miyazaki. I enjoyed the movie a lot because the music, world setting, and story are all perfectly synched.
Do you feel this is the most innovative way, looking forward, that people will be reading books (interactively through iPads)?
Nobou: Personally, I don’t need music to enjoy reading books. It might actually distract me from reading…[laughs] but I would definitely enjoy listening to the music as I reflect on the story.
- Product (iPad only)
- Author: Nobuo Uematsu
- Music: Nobuo Uematsu
- Illustration: Hiroki Ogawa
- Publisher (iTunes only): acttil
- Release date: August 1, 2013
- Genre: Fantasy, Friendship
- Media format: Download only
- Language format: English text
- # of pages: approx. 53
- Rating: Teen
- Price: $9.99
- Copyright: ©2013 HITMAKER, INC.
Get a free sample or buy Blik-0 1946 by Nobuo Uematsu & Hiroki Ogawa on the iTunes Store. You can read this book with iBooks on your iPad:
Special thanks to Nao Miyazawa at Acttil for mediating this interview