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The making of Souvenir Noir

This section contains spoilers, so if you haven't read Souvenir Noir yet, please consider doing so first.

The picture above illustrates the process I used for most pictures: scan the ink drawing in 1bit/pixel, close contours as needed, fill the main areas with colour, then directly draw in lines marking the shadow areas (using the mouse), filling those, then add effects such as color gradients (like the irises in this picture) and hair and eye highlights.

Special effects

The picture above was by far the most involved digitally, blending the coloured Chloe image with the background sky. I did this only for this one picture, for the other pictures with Chloe's "ghost" I cheated by using colours from this one.


The picture above appears only in the final version as a greyscale and blended with another, so here it is in its previously unseen true splendour.

Missing scenes (unused sketches)

Initial character design for chibi Kirika and Chloe - these were based on the "official" chibi's, but I needed them slightly older for the story.

Very early plan of the dagger fight scene. Originally it would have been inside, and very dark. Kirika and Chloe would wear black leotards, and it was going to be very artistically high-contrast black-and-white. I also planned a really pretty shot of Kirika and Chloe in silhouette in front of a stained glass window, with them and the window reflected in the marble floor.

Background design for the dagger fight, and doodles for Kirika's leotard, which I wanted to look more child-like than Chloe's regular dress. In the end I gave up on the leotard idea because I couldn't get 12 year old girls in form-fitting dress drawn properly, so I settled on the more bulky gladiator outfits, which however ruined my plan for artistic shadows. So in a later version I placed the fight in the colosseum.

I hesitated about following a regular page layout, this was an attempt to lay out the fight scene in pages. The left frame on the 3rd page shows this was already situated in the colosseum. Note also the title was originally going to be "souvenirs noirs"...

Some unused/partially used sketches; in the first Kirika was not facing Chloe enough, the second is Kirika pinning Chloe's hand to the floor (not used), a first draft of Chloe giving Kirika flowers, with some research on Kirika's room (the light switch didn't make it into the final version), first version of Kirika bursting out of the bathroom (was supposed to be similar to Chloe's running earlier, but didn't work well), and the second version, which was mirrored in the final version.

This shows how I originally hesitated between a JAL or Air France flight for Kirika (JAL logo on the right).

First storyboard

My first version of the story was scribbled entirely on a single A-4 (complete with teacup mark). Some scenes seem very similar to how the story ended up, but the meaning has changed rather drastically.

The story started also with the fight scene, continuing up until Chloe giving Kirika flowers and Kirika remembering those flowers in her bedroom, dropping her fork, crying, and going to the bathroom. There she would see "dark Kirika" in the mirror, get hysterical, get hallucinations of standing in a mass grave, overall turning nuts and bring Mireille running, whom she would reproach for not having let her die etc. and much angst would ensue, which I had not worked out in detail, but there was also a plan to drag some gratuitous hentai action in.

I doubt anyone but me can make sense of these doodles, but anyway, for your edification, if not delight:

This sequence is basically the fight scene, much like it became eventually, but played out inside, and with separate frames for Kirika disarming Chloe, dropping her knee on Chloe's right arm and pinning her left hand, ending with K&C framed in a stained glass background, and Altena entering with her two friends. The script had Chloe actually shouting "hug attack!" when she did her hug attack ^^;

This bit is quite different, It has the couple from the episode 1 picture, the man carrying little Kirika on his shoulders, Chloe running after them with her flowers.

Kirika remembers the flowers in her room, drops her fork etc, is comforted by Mireille but has a flashback of Chloe with her broken sword saying she would do anything for her (full frontal nudity!)

Kirika twists the tap and splashes water on her face, but sees dark Kirika in the mirror, panics etc.

I never got any further than this in the first version. There are some lines in the "script" for Kirika saying stuff like "why did you come for me? why couldn't you let me die?". I thought I'd see if I could draw till there and then try to drag in the gratuitous hot lesbian sex. I had a vague idea about the conclusion involving the ribbon but no clue on how to get there.

What happened next

For my first impressions on the story, I copied here my "post mortem" post on the now sadly defunct oyasumi Noir forum:

Posted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 7:31 am
Post subject: Souvenir Noir post mortem

Now that I have slightly recovered from the ordeal of finishing the story over the weekend, here are some thoughts I didn't get to put in the notes:

Artwise, I was very afraid I had bitten off more than I could swallow, so after the concept phase I basically drew all the line-art (except for the omake) in a single weekend to build confidence that I could pull it off. However as a result the line-art for most of the frames is rushed and not as polished as I would have liked,as for the most part I didn't bother to get the bugs out as soon as I thought I could get the message accross. However when the line-art is sloppy there is little you can do afterwards to improve it. Given the time I spent on cleanup, shading, framing and lettering, I should probably have worked a bit longer on the line-art. Hindsight is great... And of course it was only near the end that I started to get comfortable with the shading and stuff. At least I like to believe I improved a little towards the end ^^; The flow of the story is a bit stilted and I'm not very comfortable at dialogue. Well, it IS my first story so what would you expect?

Content-wise, I'm not qualified to diagnose Kirika's mental condition, so I don't want to argue anymore whether or not she has "multiple personalities". But in my opinion Kirika's different "modes" exhibit the same (lack of) memories, so I don't think they are really separate personalities. After the "final guidance" Kirika remembers part of her memories related to the Bouquet job, but she doesn't have total recall and she doesn't switch personality at that point. Later on when she gets scary-eyed, she still doesn't remember who she is and she doesn't recognise Altena (until she gets back her Beretta). Still later her memory of Odette's words is triggered by the pocketwatch.

I propose that Kirika will recover more and more of her repressed memories in response to seemingly random external triggers, and this will probably continue post-series, perhaps at an accellerated rate. That's one of the premises of the story. I also propose that, if there really is a big change in Kirika's personality, it would be pre-Birth versus Birth and afterwards. Pre-birth Kirika is essentially running away (understandably, of course) from herself in various ways. She does this first by denial ("I don't remember"), shifting responsibility ("it wasn't me, it was that other me"), then by closing off her heart ("Mireille probably hates me now but I don't care anymore"), and finally by throwing herself into pits of lava... The newly reborn Kirika will have none of this. She will, as she said explicitely, not run anymore. I think this means she will try to no longer repress her memories, she will no longer pretend there was "another me" but takes responsibility as Yuumura Kirika, and she will not close off her heart anymore - especially now she would have so much to lose by doing so... I think it would be extremely unlikely for "dark Kirika" to be needed ever again. Part of Souvenir Noir is Kirika re-affirming exactly this, and in addition realising that she *can* live with this (with Mireille's support). I don't know if people will be upset by Kirika's somewhat uncharacteristic behaviour after confronting her "dark" side, but I think this is something the "new" Kirika might do. It was actually a bit creepy; I had this plan where Kirika would be really scared of "darky" but as I was drawing those scenes, it was as if Kirika was telling me: "hey, that was before but I'm not that weak anymore, stop making me look pathetic" and I didn't want to find out what would happen if I upset her ^^;;

Another topic of the story is Kirika's shared past with Chloe. I know some people think Chloe fell madly in love after briefly seeing Kirika's back in Corsica, and the two never met besides that. I don't think that's very likely. Chloe says they were raised separately but lived together for a short time. Altena said Kirika was not born at the Manor but spent an important part of her life there. Kirika has not recovered her memories so the lack of flashbacks is inconclusive evidence. I think it is plausible that they spent at least some time together. The way they can fight together as a team seems to also point in this direction. One of the issues I planned to address was that if Kirika suddenly remembered a previously forgotten past with Chloe, would she come to regret her choice? However this idea was not developed because it didn't seem very interesting to just place more issues on poor Kirika-chan's shoulders. Instead it shifted to the question of how you could live with having killed your best friend.I don't think Chloe would have wanted Kirika to remain miserable for the rest of her life. I'm not sure my solution makes much sense but it seemed right to me at the time, that Kirika could feel 'forgiven' by Chloe. "Love too shall never disappear" after all. The thing with the ribbon was a bit spur-of-the-moment so I don't know if it is effective or comes accross as stupid and contrived... It seemed cute at the time (late at night probably). At least it explains Chloe's asymmetrical hairdo...

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