It is with great trepidation that I have come to the conclusion that it is time to sate my feelings and understandings about a project which so many have come to love and look forward to for many years. I realize that my words will offend and upset a great many people, but it is my personal belief that it is time to stop pretending, and admit what is happening. I do not, for any instant, want anyone to think that this is the outcome ANY of us wanted, and I do DEARLY hope that this fate can be reversed at some time, but as it stands now.. I cannot live in a falsity. We are lying to you. We are lying to ourselves. And that's not fair.
As all great tales, both tragic and comic begin, I will first digress from the point, and give you some bearings as to what has transpired to come to the result we see before us today. If you can bear the TLDR, I urge you to read through completely. I understand that you will all come to your own judgement of myself and the events involved, but I still urge you to read on. If nothing else, do it so that the Memory of Turnabout Musical is more than just “a project that faded”. I also apologize to my fellow Leadership for not having first asked for approval before posting this, but quite frankly, I think this needs to be said. It's Taboo, you should read it now.
Making the warp back into the past, I recite that I graduated college in 08 and had found nothing available to me on my way out. I had studied product design, illustration, and writing. I was decent at most of them, and loved all of them. I had help lead and run both an Anime Club and Convention for three of my years at the university. I knew about Ace attorney, but had never the chance to play it. Money was tight, I had clubs, I had school, I had work. But I knew about it, I knew it's humor, and even though I couldn't play it, I loved to talk about it and watch Phoenix Wrong. I graduated with none of these things. I had walked out the door to a degree, and the economy had slammed it behind me. Naturally, I found myself searching for a career while working at two or three jobs on the side. I invested my nerdiness in running or helping at several anime and sci-fi conventions. The work was hard, the scope large. I loved it, I hated it, I needed it. But even that left a hole in my heart where the creative aspects once thrived. Running events is a thrill, it's wonderful, but it wasn't enough.
Then I found the Phoenix Wright Musical Project, now referred to as Turnabout Musical (TM), two and a half years ago (more or less, I'm pretty bad with time, and our old forums are gone so I can't check when I joined them). I can thank a friend for pointing me in the right direction, because just around that time I had finally gotten a NDS and started playing the games. I had only gotten halfway through the first game when I found the project, but already I knew that I would love it to death, my hunches from back in college proving true. Naturally, I fell in love with the project as well and made a forum account and started to contribute. Finally I had found a nerd-home to become a part. I had tried on many other forums, youtubes, and Deviantarts to become a part of something, but never could do it. The community was to .. standard trollish, too self-contained, or too small. TM was different. Everyone was nice, we all worked hard, and we all loved what we were working on.
I fell in love with it.
There were, and have always been, even before I joined, bumps and clashes. A project of such a large undertaking required a lot of man-hours and a lot of work. But even from my (then fandom) perspective, it was a refreshing and motivating experience. I started making art again, for the first time in years. Most of it was fan art, to be sure, but I was drawing, painting, photoshoping again. Finally, I felt motivated, creative. Then the CD “Contest” took place, and like the other forumers who were artists, we creatively helped each other design our pieces. Then we held a contest and a debate. Before I knew it, I was made an Assistant Art Lead. I didn't want to let down my peers, so I helped get us motivated. I used the art and design teachings I hadn't touched in years to help us create the best CD cover we could conceive.
And it got done.
We then moved onto animation, layouts, designs. It's true that we changed our methods over and over, new people, new styles, new training. I found myself making tutorials for the first time in my life. I was actually helping other artists again. I had found a digital studio. A place of creativity, and I made a lot of friends while I was at it. Through a number of events, I found myself the Art Head. But life still carried on. We worked. Just cause I had a fancy title didn't mean I didn't work. “Soon” (NOT SOON AT ALL THAT THING WAS HARD, OKAY) we had completed a whole song, animated in animatics (because we are Flash inept). It was hard, and a lot of work fell on a few people (school, work, and life getting in the way for many) but it happened. Even with the multiple all-nighters in a row, I still enjoyed everything. It was great, I loved the project, I loved my friends.
Then enters a grey area. After our first conventions, a few things started happening. People's jobs were at risk, people were traveling overseas, people were vanishing, certain project people couldn't keep up... Investigations came out... And while I know a great number of fans will argue how that game could possibly have an affect at all, I have to admit, that it did. After spending enough time dissecting characters, observing, reading between the lines, reading interviews from Shu Takumi, understanding how he makes his characters and their roles and making a musical based off of it... Investigations seemed... Off. Perhaps it was the new director, perhaps it was just poorly handled, but the fact was, for me, personally, it ruined the most complex and amazing character, it didn't fit into the time-gap (character or development-wise), the plot-line was altered. Ito me, it felt like an AU that became Canon. And that made the fandom hard to associate with, for me to relate to. How could I be a part of a musical for a fandom when I was no longer as strongly connected to those fans that the project was intended? Throw into the mix fallings out with certain friends, a certain screwing of finances, loss of jobs, loss of income and loss of direction from outside forces (on the behalf of a good number of leaders), nowhere to live, children, wedding plans, moves, graduations, and the afromentioned fandom becoming possibly irreversibly separated... the project strained. It was harder to get online, harder to keep up to date. Friends who had seen each other nightly then saw each other maybe once a week. The forums began to crawl (and then were forcibly shut down).
It was also a this time that a number of us were trying to move. We were trying to think of ways to get the project moving again, and we thought a central location, a studio would help. But after investing a sickening amount of man hours into this research, it was spat into our faces. After discussions and research and legal queries, and trying to find ways to make this project into an actual company... things shattered under the weight of the unforeseen. Even Capcom was alright with us, provided that we did certain paperwork.. but the events untold forced those onto the back-burner. Instead, while struggling with our daily lives (because we make no money off this project), we scrambled to keep the project afloat. It started taxing into our lives, we were using the night oil and burning it at both ends. Leader meetings were harder to assemble, team meetings were almost impossible, and progress was sluggish at best. Even in this midst, the changes still occurred. I moved, others left the project, more just vanished, but many still hoped.
It became decidedly obvious that we needed to face the facts.
Myself and a few others scrambled for a week and a half to assemble what we thought would be the Last Leader meeting ever.
As much as it pained us to do it, after countless discussions, we thought that it was time to discus a temporary hiatus. Temporary. We loved TM, it had been our lives for longer than we dared admit, and more so for most than I, being one of the newer bloods. But we explained that progress wasn't happening, that it seemed we were all too busy, we understood, we were too. We had just moved, were desperate for jobs, needed to make money and were trying to start up a children's book and webcomic in our limited spare time (when we weren't stressed and distraught over finances). We wanted to let the fans know that we still loved TM, but that hoped a short break would help us all get our lives in order, and back on the project with a gusto, as we had in the past.
We were shocked at the reaction. We knew it wouldn't be popular, we knew we would need to tread lightly, and we did the best we could, but the resultant meeting did not go nearly as planned. Accusations weren't that common, but it still felt as though they were. We all worked on this project together, an yet I kept feeling as though I was being perceived as a naysayer. The whole purpose of the meeting was to accept the fact that we were all preoccupied with other, more immediately pressing things. We were all upset that we just wanted to make it work and even our every attempt started looking futile. After how damned HARD we had all tried, how much physical and emotional strain it had put us under and how terribly and horribly upset it made is to even propose such a thing, yet here we were. After - What was it- a six hour meeting? A six hour argument, debate, debacle, discussion, reunion? Perhaps more, perhaps less. I finally caved to the desires of others. We'll try harder, we'll work on x, y, z, we'll try to be online more, we'll get working again. We all knew we were busy, that we had our own stresses. The whole purpose of this hiatus was to offer people, if nothing else, a relief from the strain and pressure of continuing to overwork themselves. I wanted to recover, I needed the break, I needed the time to cool down, but I also wanted to come back to it. Instead... promises of work, of continuation...
I knew I wouldn't be able to do it, I knew I needed a new (hopefully better) job. I worked insane hours, wasn't online when others were. I was drained, strained, financially taxed, stressed and even overworked. But I was promised that people would start working, promised that tasks would be completed, finally. I dare say I didn't expect anything, but nonetheless I tried mightily to get online when I could, especially after I got a new phone... I tried getting on the forums, making general posts on the FB or my personal account. But not much got done, more people left the teams.. I haven't seen any new work get completed since then. I haven't even been able to get in Meebo chats or heard anything from any of many who were once a team that saw each other daily online. The stagnation of TM progressed, and no one bothered trying to keep it afloat.
That was a year ago.
I and one other person had done what we could. Why do I say just I and one other? Because to be perfectly honest, it seemed as though the only time any work got done, any progress got made was directly proportional to how often this person and I were on peoples cases, down their throats. I imposed deadlines on people, I forced my artists to do at least so much work at a time. I spent over six hours a DAY (after full and part time work) on just the project, minimum. Supervising, coaching, instructing, making tutorials, being online to help and motivate. I'm completely leaving out the countless times I stayed up all night before double work shifts to animate things into the morning, to fix mistakes of others, to ensure our deadline was met (while also working for a convention that such deadlines were to coincide). I don't want to say I burnt out, because frankly, I could do it.. If I had a reason to suspect that I wouldn't be the only one doing it, that I wouldn't need to force people to work. HELL, if I could pay everyone to do their share I would gladly oblige, but that fact of the matter is... I can't, and I will likely never be able.
So I'm tired of pretending. I'm tired of saying this project is still “happening” when we haven't touched it in almost a year. I don't want to say that it's being worked on, that people are completing things in the background, because we aren't. We haven't even mailed out CDs from the last con we attended. I get depressed every time someone asks about the state of the project, congratulates us on our hard work, tells us how much they love the project.. Because I do too, and it's a stab in the heart to see it wither and die without anyone acknowledging that it's sick. It's heartbreaking to know that people are still awaiting, blindly, in anticipation for something that may never come. A full CD, more animation, a completed vocal track... None of that is assured. I suppose none of it ever was to begin with, but with the present state of affairs, it almost looks dismal.
But an internet fan-project isn't a person. It wont just die because it fades. This project is still an amazing and important part of my life. I hope some day that I can relive it, that I, personally, and with the help of the friends I have made, can bring it back, that it can Rise From The Ashes... But for right now, the Phoenix is on it's last flame.
I hope that the new movie can reliven my love for this Genre. I hope the rumors that Shu Takumi is working on another game is true. I miss Shu. I miss Shu telling his characters the way they were meant. I hope that if he does make such a game, that he doesn't taint it with past mistakes of other people within his company. But for now.. I am just a heartbroken, shattered, upset, busy, stressed, split-four-ways-on-other-projects individual who cant cope with the lie that we've let ourselves fall into. The project isn't progressing. I think it's time to face that fact, accept it, and deal with it as what it is, and stop leading people on with a hope and no prayer (or maybe a prayer but no deity).
I am both terribly sorry to be the one saying this, to be typing this all out to you all, and I realize it will make a great deal of you think I am just a horrible, cruel, self-absorbed prick, and I suppose... that as much as that may hurt, as much as this project truly meant to me... I would rather you all hate me, than hate the project for succumbing to the unfortunate humanity of it's leaders, participants, and supporters.
I'm so sorry.