Shinesparkers Feature: Interview: Miyuki Miyabe

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Original publication date: May 2, 2003
What is it about Metroid that attracts writer Miyuki Miyabe?
The final interview will be with writer Miyuki Miyabe. We asked Ms. Miyabe, who has been exposed to many games, about the appeal of “Metroid”.

Miyuki Miyabe
Born in Tokyo in 1960.
Debuted in 1987 with the All Yomimono Mystery Novel Newcomer award-winning detective novel “Our neighbours’ crimes”.
Also writes in a wide variety of genres such as social fiction, suspense, feudal Japan, science fiction, etc.
Won the Naoki Prize in 1999 for “The Reason”, among other literary awards gained by this popular writer.
Official homepage:大極宮

It’s a novel, but you could enjoy it as if it were a video game
Miyabe-san’s brand new novel, Brave Story, a magnificent fantasy adventure tale of love and courage
Q: Miyabe-san, you came across Metroid right as you started playing video games, is that right?

Yes. As action games go, Super Metroid is the first game that I properly managed to beat. I first played Super Mario All-Stars, but my arm reflexes just weren’t there yet. My niece, as well as her friends, who were at the age of elementary school at the time, were better by far. Thus, i’ve been getting lots of “Auntie, you’re not made for action games” from them, and I’ve been nodding back: “Yeah, I guess you’re right”. After that, I’ve been playing “Toruneko no Daibouken” (Japan-only Mystery Dungeon game for the SFC), and, well, since I didn’t need any arm reflexes for that, I played and played and played and played that.Around that time I saw a commercial for “Super Metroid” and I strongly thought to myself: “I HAVE to play this!”. I did have friends that recommended video games for me, but these guys were saying “It’s too early for that” (laughs), or “You should play more easy games until you get used to that”. However, I felt like I’d enjoy it a lot, and it looked cool, and I just had to play it so I still bought it.

Sure enough, it was very difficult, but through foolish determination I ended up finishing it. When I managed to finish it, I have to say I was very happy. I’ve especially struggled with the Space Jump. Still, as I’ve become used to it, I was happily thinking to myself “Wow, ain’t that great?!”, and it’s a game I really like.

Q: What appealed to you in the Metroid series as to bring you into it?

First off, I like the solid appearance of its universe.
And also, well, it’s pretty much a known fact, but Samus’s a girl, isn’t she? Despite being a bounty hunter fighting for the galaxy, her being a girl was so fresh at the time. Despite having started playing games past the age of 30, it was a very appealing universe through my adult eyes. I really do think there are no such appealing universes even in Hollywood movies. And there’s not too much over explanation. That sort of stoicism is part of that charm.And then, of course, there is all the searching and finding. Searching for hidden paths, and going “Oh, I can pass through here”, or “Maybe there’s a tank here somewhere” is very pleasant. For instance, when I’m home and I use the GBA on the GC, I think that just looking at what happens on the screen is fun. When the kids play and when the dad or the mum watch, it goes “Aren’t you gonna go here?”, or “Isn’t it here?”. It may not be a multiplayer game, but it can be enjoyed with more than one person that way, and I think that’s the charm this game has. I’ve actually had lots of fun with it myself while chatting with my sister that way.

It has a stoic feel, and the setting oozes with science fiction, but it somehow manages to stay within the player’s heart. This is the reason why I really like Metroid.

Q: So, Miyabe-san, you must’ve been pretty excited for the release of Metroid Fusion…

Absolutely! I put a huge sign on my homepage that read “On a holiday, Samus Aran once again!” (laughs). I was so happy, I brought it all the way to my bed. You see, since the Game Boy Advance SP has a frontlight, you could play it in your bed without a huge source of light. I was playing in my bed, playing a bit more before going to sleep, and another bit more before I sleep, and then I said “Oh!!! It’s 2AM” (laughs). The next morning, my eyes were pitch red, and I thought to myself that I should stop playing in my bed like that afterwards…However, one day, I caught a cold. It didn’t really matter too much though, I thought “……Oh, I caught a cold, haha…”, and I very happily put my pajamas back on, and I hopped back into bed with the game. I was playing and enjoying it that much.
Q: What are your feelings about Metroid Prime for the GameCube?

I’m only about one fifth of the way in so far, but I really want to beat it. Even though I may get a bit tired and fall asleep after dying and getting lost (laughs), but I still feel like “This is definitely Metroid”. So far, I think Metroid was about roads opening up through how you make Samus move, but in Metroid Prime, as you switch to a visor view, the roads are seen through Samus’s perspective, which led me to a very interesting feeling of a change of coordination of thought. It’s hard, but the graphics are very sharp, and the music is also cool.
Q: I’m now going to ask about your latest work, Brave Story. I heard that in this novel, making use of the joys of gaming in the realm of a fantasy novel was one of your intentions.

Yeah, I released it recently. With a fantasy RPG in mind, I thought it would be nice to enjoy it like a video game even though it’s a novel. Of course, people that don’t know about video games would enjoy it as a regular fantasy adventure. But of course, you can’t beat Zelda or Metroid when it comes to the parts that you play and enjoy. What’s more, you have to find another way to make that world feel real. Those ideas made me feel that novels still have room for improvement.

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