Chilla’s Art, a small Japanese indie company which consists of two Japanese brothers, has been taking the world of horror games by storm. The siblings started out in September 2019 and have, so far, published 17 horror games, with their latest title, The Kidnap, coming soon. Tokyo Weekender recently caught up with Yasuka Taira, the eldest of the two, who is in charge of 3D art, to hear about their rapid rise.

chilla's art

Photo courtesy of Chilla’s Art

How Chilla’s Art Makes Games

Where do you find ideas for your games?

“Currently, we both live in Japan, but having grown up in the United States, Japanese landscapes still appear incredibly fresh to us. There’s also something eerie about Japanese scenery. Public telephones, tunnels, subway platforms and so on.”

“While these might be ordinary views for those who have lived in Japan all their lives, they stir our hearts. Even when we were in the States, my brother and I would talk about how nice Japanese scenery is.”

“Just living in Japan and being surrounded by these landscapes inspires us with ideas for new games. Plus, you can find a great number of haunted places and properties if you do your research. These days, we often get inspiration by watching various movies and cartoons.”

How is Chilla’s Art able to create and publish games so frequently?

“One of the reasons why we frequently create and publish games is that we come up with a lot of ideas once we decide to create a short-form Japanese horror game. We feel the need to materialize these countless ideas quickly, so we start developing games in short time frames. Additionally, there’s the possibility of growing bored after consistently creating the same game.”

Your most recent game, Parasocial, centers around a live streamer. What drew you to that topic?

“I was inspired by a certain overseas live streamer who had experienced ‘parasocial’ interactions. This might not be a familiar term in Japan, but it’s something that can happen in the lives of contemporary people and is already happening. It’s a kind of scary thing unique to this current day and age. Something that was not so common a short time ago. We are in an era where people feel close to YouTubers and VTubers, and anyone can start doing it easily. I think people are more familiar with live streamers compared to the past, and there are many more people who are both playing and watching live streaming. So, I thought it would be interesting to make a game like this now, and I thought it would be easy to get into that kind of worldview.”

chilla's art

Photo courtesy of Chilla’s Art

The History Behind Chilla’s Art

How is your working dynamic? Being brothers, do you argue a lot?

“We don’t really argue. Maybe there were times we did when we were younger, but there’s hardly any of that now. We’ve spent a lot of time together since we were kids, so we trust each other.”

“When we first started working together, we communicated a lot anyway. Through that, we’re now able to easily understand what the other is saying or wants to say. Both of us have a passion for our work. Or you could say motivation. So, it feels like we can work together while respecting each other.”

What were your favorite horror games and movies when growing up? What are you into now?

“When we were kids and living in America, the first horror movie I saw was Ju-on: The Grudge. I remember being really impressed. It’s scary, but you kind of want to watch more. My younger brother was into games based on the mythical Slender Man character, which was popular at the time. He also liked other urban legends you’d see on message boards, such as Creepypasta.”

“Recently, there are many horror games, but I really like Utsuromayu. It hasn’t been released yet, but I got to play the demo version and the backgrounds are just incredibly beautiful. They are so realistic. I got so absorbed that I’d stare at the details of each 3D model, which made it hard for me to progress in the game. It was very inspiring. I’m looking forward to its official release.”

What was it about chinchillas that inspired you to name the company after them?

“Chinchillas are actually rodents, but they look like a cross between a mouse and a rabbit, with very fine, fluffy fur, making them incredibly cute. The first time I saw one was when I was living in America. At first sight, I thought it was an adorable creature. From that moment, chinchillas became my favorite animal. So, when I was thinking of a name for the company, ‘chinchilla’ was the first thing that came to mind. We even have chinchillas at Chilla’s Art. They provide us with daily doses of cuteness and comfort.”

chilla's art

Photo courtesy of Chilla’s Art

Differences Between United States and Japan

How does the working environment in the States compare to Japan? Would you consider working there again in the future?

“To be honest, we’ve never worked for a Japanese company before, so we can’t really comment on the working environment and conditions. Right now, we’re managing our work while considering our own work-life balance. Since there are no strict limits, we do end up working quite a bit. As for working in the U.S., it’s not something we’re seriously considering right now. We love Japan, especially its food and culture, so that’s where we choose to be. While our thoughts might change in the future, it’s not something we’re actively contemplating at this point.”

chilla's art

Photo courtesy of Chilla’s Art

What about the differences between Japanese and Western horror games?

“I don’t think there’s a significant difference between horror games created in Japan and those produced in the West. But Japanese games often include titles like Calling for the Wii, which has an element that makes you ponder things at the end. This type of horror game isn’t as common in the West, in my opinion. When it comes to horror movies, in a nutshell, the West tends to favor slasher horror, while Japan leans towards ghosts or psychological horror. Both have their unique qualities. We enjoy both types of films.”

Your games are being played by YouTubers and VTubers all over the world. How does that make you feel?

“We’re delighted. We have a strong desire for our work to be known by as many people as possible and for them to enjoy it, so having people do Let’s Plays is a way to help more individuals discover our games. Additionally, it’s great to receive feedback on our games. We’re often filled with uncertainty, both when creating games and after releasing them. Are people enjoying them, finding them interesting, scary and so on? So, getting reactions and feedback is very reassuring for us. Right now, we believe that Chilla’s Art is able to keep making games in this way because of the Let’s Players. And for that, we’re extremely grateful.”

chilla's art

Photo courtesy of Chilla’s Art

What would you say differentiates an average indie horror game and a top tier one?

“Indie horror games often leave an impression of being experimental. That’s part of their charm. They offer a lot of creative freedom. On the other hand, the top-tier horror games seem to incorporate the fun elements found in typical games. They’re finely crafted and well thought out, so we often take inspiration from them.”

Inspirations for Chilla’s Art and Future Plans

Any special Halloween memories or creepy ghost stories from your childhood?

“I remember when I was younger, my parents didn’t want to spend much on costumes due to budget constraints, so they made costumes out of black garbage bags for us. We used to walk through the neighborhood at night, on roads where nobody was walking, trick or treating. We did this as kids. Looking back, the area where we lived wasn’t particularly safe. Now I think about it, we could have been involved in an incident at any time.”

chilla's art

Chilla’s Art upcoming game The Kidnap

What are your future plans for Chilla’s Art?

“We intend to continue releasing a lot of short games, just like we have been. So far, we’ve only released PC games, but we’re considering creating games for mobile devices, Switch and the PS5 to reach a wider audience. We aspire to develop larger-scale games in the future. Also, we plan to release a game titled The Kidnap soon. It features a third-grade elementary school boy as the protagonist and aims to capture the unique atmosphere of a rural Japanese setting. We hope players can not only relate to the main character but also feel the emotions of the other characters. The game might be a bit intense for some players, though.”

Check out new releases by Chilla’s Art on X  or on Steam.

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