Behind the Cutscenes of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Nov 22, 2022 // Shibata

Hello everyone! Koichi Shibata here, reporting from the Monster Hunter Rise dev floor!

For our next Monster Hunter Rise interview, I’ll be talking to Daisuke Wakahara, who’s in charge of the cutscenes and monster intros of this game!

Daisuke Wakahara

Q1: To start off, could you give us a quick explanation of what you worked on for Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak?

A1: I’m one of the designers on Sunbreak. I’m the leader of the cutscene unit, and I’m in charge of coming up with designs for the various cutscenes and overseeing their production. I also helped out with the direction, even though I wasn’t directly involved in making the cutscenes themselves.

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Q2: Could you tell us the general flow for creating a cutscene? And how much time does it take to make one movie?

A2: First, I have to gather information from all members of the dev team, and then determine what kind of cutscenes will be required for the game. From there, I start creating the designs for each cutscene as soon as they’ve been okayed for production. This means I first start by creating a design document, and then I hammer out the details by talking to the cutscene artists, everyone involved with other elements regarding cutscene production, and finally the Director. Once the structure and content of the movie has been decided, the actual production starts. Generally, the production flow is as follows:

“Storyboard” > “Animatic” > “Animation & Camera work” > “Lighting & VFX” > “Sound”.

As for how long it takes to get from the storyboard to the sound production, well, it depends on the content of the cutscene, but in case of the monster intros for instance, you’re looking at about 6 months for one cutscene (of course, we work on several cutscenes simultaneously).

Q3: You also worked on the monster intros and story cutscenes for the base game Monster Hunter Rise. Could you tell us a bit about the differences in direction between Rise and Sunbreak?

A3: The world in Monster Hunter Rise was themed around Japan and Yōkai, so we made sure the cutscenes matched that theme. From early on, we wanted to make each monster look like a kind of supernatural creature, and I remember having a lot of fun doing research into the various Yōkai stories across the country and throughout history.

Sunbreak, on the other hand, has a very different world from Rise, so we had to change the approach to cutscene production as well. I talked to everyone involved to give the cutscenes more of a Western fable vibe, and to make them sound more like records in a document, which resulted in what you see in the game.

Both Rise and Sunbreak feature narration in the cutscenes, but Rise used a poetic story-telling style, using a unique biwa (lute) played by Tomoyoshi Kakushin, a Satsuma biwa performer, whereas Sunbreak had a more serious and impactful narrational style by Yui Ishikawa in Japanese and Valerie Arem in English. I think both styles offer something great to the series that is worth experiencing. We also did voice over in Monster Hunter language for Rise and Sunbreak, so I highly recommended you check that out in the options menu if you’re interested.

Q4: Is there anything in particular that you always try to keep in mind or that you aim for when waking cutscenes for a game?

A4: As I’m sure everyone is aware, the monsters in Monster Hunter have very detailed ecology settings. These settings offer very valuable information to the player for getting to know the ecosystem surrounding each monster, so we made sure to preserve these settings when designing the monster intros. I talked with all of the people involved to make sure that each movie presents a believable, living, breathing world.

Q6: Do you have any final comments for the fans?

A6: We’ve still got a number of updates coming, and we’re all working hard on exciting new story cutscenes as well, so I hope everyone looks forward to it! We look forward to your continued support of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak!

– Closing Comment from Shibata:

Thank you, Wakahara-san!

Both Rise and Sunbreak have their own unique monster intros that match their world design, and you can listen to them not just in Japanese and English, but in Monster Hunter language as well! You can rewatch monster intros and story cutscenes from the Gallery in your room anytime you want, so it might be interesting to go back and have another look at the movies in Rise.

Next time, I’ll be talking to Aehwa Shin, who created and supervised the design for Sunbreak’s flagship monster Malzeno!