[Editor's note: This is part one of the 2700 word afterword with which Saori Kumi ends the MOTHER 2 novel. It's filled with a lot of great stuff—notes on her process, the reasons why a novelization was created and why she was uniquely suited to writing it, her thoughts on adapting other people's work, and, most impressively, the fact that she is in possession of a MOTHER 2 Dragon Jacket, quite possibly the coolest piece of merchandise on earth. We'll be posting the second half later on.]
MOTHER turned into BROTHER… (laughs)
Well, it’s been a while. Saori Kumi here. I bring you the long-awaited novelization of MOTHER 2. I somehow managed to meet the deadline—and I’m bursting with excitement.
Come to think of it, it’s coming up on two years already since I first heard rumors about MOTHER 2’s release. I frantically contacted Shinchosha about it. “Please let me do it. I’ll do anything! Please don’t let anyone else write it!”
Benimaru Itoh had a manga that was already set to start running in Fifth Grader. I was worried that they’d just tell me, “We don’t need a novel. We already have a comic.” I thought maybe Itoi and everyone at APE didn’t really like my first novel. On the verge of panic, I sent in my desperate request.
“Sure, go ahead.”
When I heard these beautiful words, I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. (I’ll explain why later.) I think it was March 1993 when I had the appointment to pay a visit to APE in Aoyama. At that point I knew it wasn’t just a dream. Right before my very eyes—still in bits and pieces, mind you—was the nostalgic world of MOTHER. Little by little, MOTHER 2 was steadily coming to life!
I borrowed a copy of Shigesato Itoi’s handwritten story notes, documents explaining the timeline of events, and videos that showed off the new towns and characters.
“When the ROM is ready, please let me test it, okay?”
And with that, I managed to play through MOTHER 2 before anyone else did!
As if that weren’t enough to psyche me up, before long a big package from APE arrived at my house. When I opened it up, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a team jacket. There’s a huge MOTHER 2 logo on the back, with an embroidered Chinese dragon arranged on each side of it—it’s a totally chic and simple piece of work. My Guts shoot up by ten points when I put it on.
But I live in a quiet, unpopulated town in the countryside. It would be extremely difficult to find anyone who’d even know about MOTHER 2, an unreleased game, let alone who would see my jacket—which boasts of my status as a staff member—and get excited about it.
Without a moment’s delay, I headed out to Shinjuku to make my rounds in the Super Famicom section at Yodobashi Camera. I perused the aisles, pretending to browse through the games while I paid special attention to sticking my back out at customers in all directions. It’s not that I knew who anyone was, but I could recognize the guys who seemed to be great authorities in the gaming scene, and the self-confident, composed little children; I checked to make sure their eyes had widened in marvel, and, satisfied, happily made my way home.
But still… that crucial ROM hadn’t arrived in the mail yet…
One of the reasons I was looking forward to MOTHER 2 so much was that I—along with many other gaming fans—was in love with the world of MOTHER. The other reason was definitely more personal.
The fact that I had written the MOTHER novel had a deep impact on me this time around. The Saori Kumi before MOTHER and the Saori Kumi after MOTHER had gone in two different directions. You could say that I became an entirely different person after MOTHER.
First: I was able to climb onto a new stage, Shinchosha.
Up until then I had only been at one company, just writing novels geared toward young girls. Once in a great while I might have done a tiny bit of side work, but it was just isolated instances here and there.
But even a tiny, run-down, simple little used bookstore in the remotest of countrysides would be lined with Shinchosha’s books. Back when I was in school I would stop by the bookstore on my way home and pick up dozens of books from Shinchosha—old ones and new ones, ones I wanted to read and ones I felt socially obligated to read—and completely absorb myself in them. I think they cover the “high chance of being inadvertently snatched up by bookworms” genre. Even now I couldn’t possibly be more proud to have had the opportunity to participate as a writer in such a group. MOTHER turned me from a young girls’ author into a novelist.
Next: it opened my eyes about novelizations.
To be honest, I was pretty indignant about it at first. This is the arrogant way I thought about it: I am an author. If there’s already an original, leave it to the people who can’t come up with anything good on their own. I don’t mean to benefit at someone else’s expense—I’ve just got creativity of my own, and there’s plenty of stuff I already have in mind to write about.
But at Science Fiction events, I talked to an aquaintence of mine who worked at Shinchosha—Nozomi Ohmori, a writer and translator who is quite famous among the Otaku crowd—and for some reason he convinced me otherwise.
MOTHER is, indeed, Shigesato Itoi’s work, he said. And if it were just to be traced straight from the original, Itoi could have written it himself or had someone from the APE crew write it—after all, they were involved in it all along. But Itoi said himself that he didn’t want that.
Essentially, MOTHER is something that Itoi created out of his love for RPGs. There was no way he could entrust this to an author who had never even touched a Famicom before. And if a man were to write it, it would be difficult to mesh his personality together with Itoi’s. If it were a woman she could add her own unique nuances to the story without destroying the distinct characteristics of the original.
“That’s why you’re the only one that can do it, Kumi-san!”
Oh, he’s good. So I went and gave it a shot…
And it was a heck of a lot harder than I’d expected. But I had a blast. It was a really challenging task. Sadly, by the time I was finished, it had turned out better than anything else I’d ever written. (Or so I thought.)
“Maybe I was just made to write scripted novels…”
But just as I started to get depressed about it, Enix got in touch with me. “We read MOTHER. It was excellent. On that note, we have something we would like to discuss—“ They ended up asking me if I would write a story about the goddess Rubiss, from Dragon Quest, and her adventures when she was young.
Actually, before that, I had been invited by the director of a record company and Marchen Maker—a manga artist—to go to Enix to pitch an idea. I was absolutely crazy about Dragon Quest, and asked if it would be all right for us to make a Dragon Quest doujinshi. In the end we weren’t able to go through with it.
But now I feveredly wrote The Legend of Rubiss, followed by the novelizations for Dragon Quest IV and V. I couldn’t have become the chronicler of the Famicom RPG world any other way—it was all because I was determined to write the MOTHER novel.
Dragon Quest and MOTHER were my two favorite games out of all the Famicom RPGs I had played. There were a few other famous titles out there, but I had either not played them, or gotten sick of them halfway through and thrown them aside. I had no connection to them, so I couldn’t care less if someone else had done the novelizations for those games. But I wouldn’t allow anyone else to work on the RPGs that I was so genuinely attached to. How could I!?
Yes, even now, I’ll take the liberty to say such a thing: This—this is my life’s work!
Click here for part two.