Jump to content

Blogs

Featured Entries

  • Kaguya

    Fabulous on Fuwa - February!

    By Kaguya

      Introduction
      Welcome, fellow Fuwamembers, to the FuwaRecognition thread. Starting this March, we’ll be highlighting some of the best contributions made by our members each month. From snazzy blog articles to delicious forum threads, and perhaps even a few things more on the shitpost part of the spectrum, we'll keep an eye out for the cream of the crop. And then we'll gather them here. Just for you.   *holds up giant APPLAUSE sign*   A-hem, so this is the first time we're doing this and it might be a bit rough; next time will be at the end of March. Anyways; without further ado, let's get to our highlights.    By @Zakamutt.   Threads   Our first highlight on threads comes from two Ask Me Anything topics posted in the span of this month: from our dear provisional Tay, @Kaguya, and from the anti-moege task force founder himself, the saltlord himself @VirginSmasher.   It’s now Kags’ fifth year on these dear forums, and members of new ’n old had a lot of questions, climbing over to 50 comments, almost unheard of in this day and age of lacklustre forum interaction. Even after the glory days of lolis long passed, Kaguya still swears close to his heart how they indeed are the master-race that rule over this weeb-dom, mostly in nukige form. Charming.   @VirginSmasher’s AMA, on the other hand, is mostly an appreciation of past glory and his good friends, met before he died out, but he also remembered some newer members who are already becoming an integral part of these forums of today. Quite a lot of internal banter and jokes flew here and there, but it is quite touching to see even older members returning from long breaks of apparent irremovable death.     As you might have seen, we have a new EVN on the horizon, or rather, KickStarter: One Last Crane, developed by @Blissful-Works This visual novel is being developed by an Indonesian team with some members over at Tokyo, Japan, and it has a an odd goal amount of 10,052 dollars, though this is due the publicization of the project being handled from Japan, which also makes the whole project page ask all money in yens. A risky play, let’s see if it pays out for them. The novel is planned on being released for four languages: English, Japanese, Chinese, and Indonesian. Quite the amount for still quite a small goal, but we’ll have to see how it pans out in the end, at least they are in no shortage of ambition. While the art-style itself is quite generic, it does look modern and does its job as presentation well enough, not to mention that the KickStarter page itself is quite stylish, but only time will tell how it’ll go over. All we can do is wait.   @EastCoastDrifter has done something unique on the forums that no one would even think of. He loves space, and he has extended his love to the members of the Fuwanovel community by creating a Fuwanovel Solar System. Using a program called Space Engine, Drifter has taken the liberty to name all planets in this system after very prominent Fuwamembers. It’s a great tribute to the community and you should really check it out. Furthermore, Drifter says he’s not done, and has plans to create more Fuwa solar systems to feature more members in the future. If you want a planet named after you, feel free to post in the linked thread or contact Drifter personally.   By @Arcadeotic and @EastCoastDrifter.   Blogs Hi I'm Zaka and I'm the only one that cares about blogs on the team. Maybe. I didn't actually ask the other guys. Shit. So uhh, here's my recs...   @Clephas writes accessibly about (for the most part) untranslated Japanese visual novels. This time, we have some posts about the recently released third VN in the Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru series, of which the first actually has a translation by MangaGamer. Unfortunately, the second is where people think it actually got good. We start with a more general note on the series, then move on to a review of Otoboku 3 itself.   While Clephas has been writing for quite a while, @MaggieROBOT is a bit newer to the scene. She focuses on Otome and BL VNs, and for this post we'd like to show you her post on an upcoming BL visual novel (fresh from the pot, baby. That thing is probably the first blog post to come right after this one. Oh yeah. That's how we roll. - Kaguya) as well as her review of the robot-romance Otome VN Sakuya. Go ahead and look for her post complaining about a trap in a moege not having a route if you like things on the more humorous side of the spectrum
      Just For Fun!   During the process of writing this post.     Well you know I’m all about that nepotism baby. That's right, this is just for you. Rising 1.8% female readership (thanks Maggie) local GM and blog post connoisseur Kaguya here. To close the blog review section up, we’ll be highlighting the post where I wonderfully delve into the mind of writer Setoguchi Ren’ya, explaining his past and his involvements with the little-known work The Shawshank Redemption as well as how that work affected the VN industry, finishing things with a bang as I explain his history and the hidden messages within Swan Song. And finishing things off in a suitable grand scale, much like a writer who traps himself into writing continuously larger powerlevels until his shounen manga gets to a point where it doesn't even resemble the original, we will be looking at two posts made by Fuwanovel's current closest figure to Jesus, @Kiriririri (Who unlike our creator, did revive. How about that?) He died for our sins as he bravely made two deep posts about the current state of the VN community that were completely hidden by the evil staff... Until now. Gaze upon them and marvel, this is the true work of a genius!! February is over. We bled. We sweat. Friendships were broken and renewed, and old members revived from their graves and mingled with the new pringles to take us where we are now. And the community persists, as glorious as ever.  March is here. And in this rewind, I declare FebruaryFuwa absolutely Fabulous! 
    • 9 comments
    • 810 views

Our community blogs

  1. Happiness+
    Latest Entry

    By Happiness+,

    Hey everyone!

    So, sorry for going dark for such a long time. The VN is getting reworked again. My artists are remastering a lot of the assets currently for this build of the VN. It's been three years since they last worked with me.

    I apologize for the delay.

  2. First of I want to mention that the Saekano anime is one of my favorite anime of all times and as such I was quite looking forward to reading a VN based on it, though some months before I decided to read it I looked at reviews on Amazon and it didn't look too good. After having read through all of it I was really dissapointed. The Saekano VN is by far the most bland and non memorable VN I have read so far. The VN base itself of the aspects of Saekano that on the surface level is the least interesting, with conversations between the characters at school (at the non official clubroom they have) and a few other locations like the main characters room, and is sett sometime after season 1. In the anime these scenes work well due to the good cleaver dialoge which gives a lot of insight into the characters while delivering good comedy as well as the great scene direction of the anime, in the VN the dialoge is just really boring and there is very little visual variation. I think the core problem of this VN can be boiled down to the writer of the VN trying to imitate one aspect of Saekano while mostly ignoring the others and having surface level of understanding of the characters. This is also more of a problem as the core consept for Saekano isn't too interesting, but rather the execution of it with regards to character writing and drama is what makes it good. The character development and romantic development in the VN is also really poor with both of those being pretty much non existant. It just lacks any and all ambition which is really annoying as I feel focusing more on things like dates or romantic progression of the characters could work even if the writing wasn't the best, here it is just a boring consept with bad execution. The routes are also somewhat hard to navigate and some times there are just odd conditions to enter a character route, like on top of having done events with Eriri you also need to do one event with Megumi to get into Eriri's route. There are also dialoge battle things where you choose 1 of 3 options 1 giving more strength to each heroine's argument and one that is neutral, the thing though is that having the back of the heroine you choose to do the route for is not the correct way to do it which makes the vs thing pretty dumb. The CGs are decent looking though nothing special. The annyoing thing about the CGs though is how poorly they are used. From how the CGs were integrated into the VN I would say they were probably made at random with no communication between writer and artist and then the writer just quickly made a quick half assed scenario to justify using the CG. A lot of the scenes with CGs are just so quick and lacks any sort of reason to be there. One example is a halloween party event, basically Eriri's parents are having a halloween party and all of blessing software are invited, the part starts Eriri is embaresed over a witch costume she wears, they talk like 20 lines then they decide to leave and the event is over, which left me wondering what was going on as the event basically ended after a few lines of dialoge with no real comedy or any progression or anything that seemed worthwhile. The other CG events were not much better than this, some being worse, but this one stuck out to me as it was the first event like this. So in conclusion the Saekano VN is really boring and poorly made with lots of odd decisions which doesn't seem to make sense.

     

    Then there is Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai. Happy End for PS3, which is the first VN I have ever dropped. Oreimo happy end is a oreimo VN with an idol gimick where the girl who you choose aims to become an idol with Kyoske, who you play as being the manager. My main problems with this VN is that there are too many tedious elements in it. One thing is the photo shoot events where you need to take a bunch of photos of the girl, about 20 each event with there being in total 37 events for Kuroneko alone and then you have to pick which ones of the pictures you want to keep afterwards to boost her popularity. Then there are events where you talk to the girl either offline or online called SNS where Kyoske is not voice acted and the girl either has no voice acting or only has one word voice acted each line of dialoge. This of ofcourse is built on a system where you keep track of stats levels etc. The VN also suffers from having lots of long loading screens all over the place slowing down the progression quite considerably. Another apspect of the VN are some scenes here and there with full voice acting, which generally are before the photo events, these are actually quite good and the voice acting is stellar, but unfortually this makes up too little of the VN to really make up for all the other problems. I completed one ending for one heroine, that one being Kuroneko. After this I found that I lacked most of her event CGs and I would have to replay her route multiple times to get the rest of them. I didn't manage to find a guide, but looking for one I found that to get the true ending I needed to get her to level 60. The system is built so that once you get an ending you can continue with your levels from the start (also only 1 save file each heroine), and at the end I got to level 18 which means at best I would have to in total do the route 3 times, but probably more to get all endings. In these new playthroughs I would also have to deal with the loading screens, the photo scenes and all of the other annoying aspects of it. Realizing how much of a pain in the ass completing the VN would be I ended up just dropping it. It is quite sad since I think there are some decent scenes there with really good voice acting, but when this is all bogged down by so many other elements of it really being bad and them by their very nature slowing down any replay of a route really considerably, with multiple playthrous being required to reach the true ending, it just isn't worth all the stress and boredom for a few decent scenes.

     

    I am sorry that all this boils down to is complaints about these VNs, but I truly feel that both of them are really bad, and while some of the VNs I read earlier based on anime were good the ones I have recently read has turned into being really dissapointing. From now on I am pretty sure I am done with picking up VNs based on anime unless I hear a lot of good things about it, as my recent experience has just been really bad.

     

    Here are some screenshots from the physical editions

    Front

    Xg6V2kX.jpg

    Back

    LheacxG.jpg

    Disc and cartridge

    DxfF5P8.jpg

  3. Foreword: Battle CG and presumption of some other dimension made me choose this game.

    b680719c968899f27b6c6a45133c3101d29dadf55b45432c91b887e309493867.png

    Synopsis: 

    The main character is a university student. One day, when he is asleep, he feels something strange. And when he wakes up, he finds some girls standing in front of him. What leads the girls to his room...? For what...?

    Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv-PRbf5MgThNHI6HBeSjdkg

    Game type: Mindscrew moege

    Character Design rating: 6/10

    Protagonist rating: 5/10

    Story rating: 7/10

    Game quality: 5/10

    Overall rating: 6/10

    366944b752275c9888e329d6a7b745c68d7f67173816b503eeb68511c83119b7.png

    Wow, what an unusual experience. Let's start with the title, it's "Switch! What I think of summer". We inevitably picture some rural moege, probably with some trap or body exchange. And there's nothing like that in the game. Main character Tatsuya goes to school with childhood friends, meets other girls and plays video games at home. Bah, what a banal setting. Except for one this - all this also happens in the game that protagonist plays... Wait, what? So he's basically just our alter ego? He actually plays a romantic school ADV comedy which suddenly turns into eroge after opening movie, and some girls become really proactive. But what happens in the second part of the game is... real world... where girls from game world are present... Well, that's the best I can explain. Which is not that bad compared to game's explanation... which does not exist. Game utilizes a very strange difficult to understand setting, and it's not really clear, why. Is it just for that fantasy battle between a mage and a warrior?

    f9ce3e40241ad20aa2803972d409b6881a1f7d3d55a7ce0108f353a4276c3eb9.png

    The development of the game is pretty simple. Period is about 20 days, and each day we just wake up, go to school, face some event, return home and sleep. Main part feels longer than needed. There are a lot of gags scattered around. Fun atmosphere dominates. H scenes can pop up unexpectedly. There are all signs of moege, so it must be one, right? Not sure, connection between events is weak, explanation does not exist, and questions without answers pile up. Tatsuya is a sissy, and everyone manipulates him as desired. Only childhood friend Sui likes him from the start, and tsundere Eri is drawn to him out of jealousy. Choices with heroines in game world affect relations in real world Relations develop in opportunistic manner. Endings are sudden.

    ae6e966aeac2f17130c799c617e80a5de6e3ff73c40d7858c3873ee9e1a281f2.png

    But then comes heroine Natsu route who hardly had any screen time at all. And she suddenly becomes main heroine while holding the keys to the setting and to the meaning of "switch". Moreover, we get to suddenly realize that title is not "What I think of summer", but "What I think of Natsu". She is this big of a loli heroine to be in title. And to throw another hook I'd even say that during the game we meet three different Tatsuya. It's not a spoiler since you would not guess why, anyway.

    554a96752a86f623e722348a639dc606ffc9794906d3777c23248aabed3bad0f%2B%25281%2529.png

    So, "Switch!! ~Boku ga Natsu ni Omou Koto~" is a really strange game. It actually is a serious story that hides under a gag comedy facade. It's poorly directed and written, with average graphics, but it bears that mindscrew puzzle that an attentive reader might want to collect in his head. And I love such experiments. We need different visual novels. And this one is different among different.

    f12c630c3498048f53b0d8f0aa2a177efda07d06eece19e41b36e77229b6ebe5.png

  4.  

    Baldr Sky Zero is an entirely different animal from Baldr Sky Dive. I say this as a warning for those who are looking for a complete duplicate of the experience. Baldr Sky Dive was very much like a post-apocalypse apocalypse story in some ways, with a bunch of revenge thrown in. There is much to recommend to both duologies but they are fundamentally different in some ways.

    This review is of the first half of the Zero duology, which covers the Sakura, Kei, and Fran paths. I chose to review it separately because the time between each game’s release was enough to make some differences to the experiences between the two games… enough to require me to feel a need to separate them into two different reviews.

    This path focuses on amnesiac Edward, a Simulcram pilot who is discovered in a corporate virtual space by the members of Squall, the SAS (Southeast Asian Sector) branch of Fenrir. He is ‘rescued’ (he mostly rescues himself) and brought back to the base, where – after some ‘interesting’ events – he joins Squall, which is probably one of the more interesting mercenary teams I’ve seen in a VN or anime.

    A few notes on the setting. This story is based a few years before the events of Sky Dive (which is why it is called Zero). The path that most fans believe to be canon to Sky Dive is Sakura’s (for reasons that become obvious during the last part of the path), and the rest of the paths are essentially parallel world paths similar to how Dive treated the non-true paths.

    The SAS is a different animal from the city Dive is based in. Unlike that city, people spend far less time in virtual space in the SAS, due to a psychological phenomenon that causes homicidal paranoia in those who spend too much time confined there called Black Dog. The SAS is in a constant state of low-level warfare, with people being born and dying at an exponentially faster rate than the rest of the world.

    The setting itself is in many ways far more brutal and cruel than the one you see in Sky. In the SAS, human experimentation is as common as soylent green, the body parts of debtors are sold on the open market (often by the debtor themselves before they are killed), and children are produced in lots to be trained as soldiers. Every newborn child has a chip similar to Kou’s in Dive, and the sheer rate of death has resulted in a far higher aptitude for Simulcram piloting than in the outside world.

    Squall, in this harsh setting, is a rare small elite unit… of what would seem to be complete psychopaths if you didn’t have a constant window into their daily lives and personalities. Squall has a horrible reputation for blackmail, extortion, and general carnage, but their abilities make them too valuable to be disposed of. As one character puts it, ‘The people in Squall seem perfectly normal, but once they get on the battlefield, they laugh and joke as they spread slaughter and carnage.’ To members of Squall, even more than to the average citizen of the SAS, war is just a daily activity, and killing not something to get concerned about to any significant degree.

    In just the common route, Edward likely kills more people than Kou does in both Dive games combined.

    However, outside of battle or preparation for such, the character interactions in this game are often humorous, regardless of the subject of conversation. Edward has very little impulse control beyond a certain point, Sakura has a serious potty mouth and a gambling addiction (really, all of them are gambling addicts), Kei is constantly eating, Merrill has no common sense, Reena is constantly ragging on the Commander about his brothel bills, Dmitri is a sadist who never loses at gambling and uses invisible floating turrets to get his point across, and the Commander is a whimsical bastard who loves war, women, and alcohol far too much.

    In other words, this cast of characters, and the atmosphere of the game in general, will be something of a shock to anyone coming straight from Dive or expecting a similar experience.

    Moreover, the shift to polygon-based 3D graphics for the combat makes the gameplay a significantly different experience. The gameplay is somewhat less fluid and streamlined than the traditional Baldr battle system, and the Giga team obviously didn’t have the programming talent at the time to really handle Unity (which means save frequently and expect random crashes even with the last game update).

    Kei

    Kei... is on the surface a stubborn genkikko with an excessive fondness for food in a world that has a serious dearth of good cooking (though Riina can make soylent green palatable through nanomachine reprogramming).  However, underneath that somewhat fluffy exterior is a will of iron and a typically-SAS pragmatic attitude toward the mercenary life of risking her life and killing people on a daily basis for money.   I mention the latter because, while all the characters share this attitude to one degree or another, it is an unexpected element to her personality in particular, given the template she seems to fill at first glance.

     Kei's route is, as should be obvious to anyone who reads through the initial encounter with her, a trip into her past with Edward (it is so blatantly obvious she knows him from the very beginning, so her efforts to obfuscate make no difference at all).  It is pretty interesting and exciting, and it provides the most intimate view of what it is like to grow up as a normal child in the SAS (hint: It is horrifying even by the standards of a tin-pot dictatorship/banana republic).  It is the route most often recommended to be played first, in part because of this fact.  For most people who play this game, Kei is the least liked heroine, because she does better as a joke character and Merril's sidekick.

    Sakura

    Sakura is... a surprisingly complicated girl.  Your first impression of her is as a foul-mouthed wildcard who has no self-control and a horrible gambling habit (all true), but she is also surprisingly innocent about some things and sensitive about the others on her team in a way that is only rivaled by Riina, who fundamentally misses nothing.  

    Her path is focused on her own past and Church 22, a half-religious organization of virtual drug-addicted wounded and retired soldiers who constantly go on suicidal rampages throughout the SAS network.  Let's just say that Church 22 is very much like a cult, and the Kool-aid is CGH (the virtual drug in question).  It is also the canon link path to Sky Dive, for those who are interested.

    Fran

    Fran is Commander Goodman's daughter, an underdeveloped girl (the story calls her a loli, so she's a loli, lol) who has a tendency to take solo missions and act on her on recognizance more often than is probably wise.  She is highly intelligent, but her social upbringing (in a mercenary organization that has a high rate of psychological cripples) has left her with a speech impediment when she is outside the spheres of warfare or hostile/semi-hostile interactions with her fellows.  

    This is the only path I'll mark for its romance, though Sakura's was interesting that way too.  This path's romance is very much a seduction by Fran.  She essentially wears Ed down (not emotionally, since he falls in love with her early on, but rather H-wise) over time through sheer persistence.  It is fairly hilarious to watch, though this path may be the reason this game will never get brought over here.

    This path is also about equal in length to the previous two combined (it adds an extra chapter and each chapter is around 25% longer).  The reason for this is because the scale of what is going on is so much bigger than in the previous two paths.  Elements of Sakura's plotline are included in this path, but those are incidental to what is going on, for the most part.  Fran has a rather obvious grudge against Wotan and WALRUS, who are considered the most dangerous group in SAS's net wars (and that's saying a lot, considering how many threats exist).  This path plows a really complicated path through the ins and outs of SAS politics, science, and history, and it has a great deal of potential for traumatizing the reader if they have a good imagination.  

    If it weren't for Fran's and Edward's relationship being so utterly hilarious, this path would be downright depressing.  However, the comedic parts of this path serve to lighten the atmosphere just enough to strike a balance between it and the darker elements.

    Conclusion

    If you go into this game thinking to see a carbon-copy prequel to Baldr Sky Dive, then you really need to change how you are thinking.  In reality, this is a drastically different story, though it is still a Baldr story at heart.  Horror, humor, and warfare all in one package... so whether the reader likes it or not will depend mostly on how the reader takes in the content.

    Short Guide to text-hooking Baldr Sky Zero

    I'm just going to come out and say it... all games that use mono or its successor Unity (VNs, that is) have text-hooking problems, for those of you who can't wait for translations but don't quite have the skill or the patience to read the kanji or just want the furigana for reference.  Pretty much your only real options are Textractor and VNR (ITHVNR no longer being workable on Windows 10).  The h-code up on the h-code wiki is a fake, so don't bother.

    Textractor is my recommendation for this game.  VNR doesn't reliably pick up the threads that have the text in them, and it has a tendency to cause freezes, because you can't delete the excess threads that VNR continually detects, causing freezes, load problems, and general annoyance all around.  It makes the game almost unplayable.

    Here is the guide to hooking this with Textractor without making it crash.

    1.  Start Baldr Sky Zero and either start a new game or load an existing one that is in the middle of a story portion.

    2.  Start Textractor (whether you have already hooked this game before or  not, you have to do it this way or the game will crash before you can do the next few steps)

    3.  Hook the game then proceed one line forward in the text.  Do NOT click like crazy to try to get it to work.  Click once, then leave it alone until it proceeds.

    4.  As soon as it has proceeded to the next line, go back to textractor and click on 'remove hook'.

    5.  Look through the drop down list of threads until you find ones that seem to contain most or all the text.

    6.  Delete ALL hooks (by double-clicking on them) that don't contain the text in question.

    7.  Close the remove hook box.  

    8.  Open it again after proceeding at least once more through the text, then repeat the process on any excess hooks that might have popped up.

    9.  Generally speaking, the textractor thread-linking function is unreliable with mono/unity games, so you'll probably have to deal with a few cut-off symbols in the thread that contains all lines (in my experience, it usually cut off the last one to three symbols, varying upon the line).  

    10.  Configure game does not work properly with this game, so don't use it.

  5. Welcome to this week VNTS Review, and since we have pseudo AX at this week (Because the real AX was cancelled thanks to the pandemic) I can obviously say that we'll have quite a number of announcements. Of course the number is understandably less than normal AX, but I can still say that I manage to have took my interest on some of the announcements. Other than the announcements, we also have a lot of updates from Sekai and Mangagmer especially in regard of the reveal of their secret projects. Overall this week is quite an exciting one, and let's see what I can write for this week as well.

    First of all we have Sol Press update, in that unfortunately it's not their new announcements at this time like back at last year. But instead they report that the translator of Himawari no Kioku was suddenly leaving so that the project is delayed (Whatever, and that's why they should make sure that it's finished before announcing the release timeline), Nukitashi was turned out only at 22% edited because of some re-calculation, and Sakura Celebration was fully translated along with 61.5% edited. From fan translation, we have Alka planned Miagete FD release at 16th later with sex scenes in which Pulltop certainly wouldn't translate it if they license Miagete FD. In any case, I hope that they can work on sex scenes restoration at original Miagete sooner or later. For the rest of the updates, we have Miotsukushi Ura was at 60% translated, Taimanin Yukikaze 2 was at 80% translated, 7,160 lines of Pure x Connect are translated, Eustia was at 90.86% translated with side routes was at 40.71% translated, and Loverable was at 87.58% edited. Lastly we have Humbling Holy Maiden from Love Lab was at 60% translated.

    Mangagamer

    Mangagamer did reveal two of their secret projects and then they gained two more secret projects, so overall the number of the secret projects is still the same. As for the revealed secret project, one of those are Jeanne and the Clock Tower aka 2nd secret project in that it's one of Liar-soft VN. The art is quite different from usual Liar-soft style, but at least the typical plot of them still remain in that one of World War 2 soldier was somehow stranded into alternative timeline of French Revolution (Or that's what I understand). In any case, I don't know on how good Jeanne is but perhaps I may know later if we have it being finally released. Since this is their 2nd secret project, it mean that there's already a lot of progress and in this case it's already finished the translating processes (Translating and editing) and currently doing the image editing. As for their other project, it's Steam Prison Fin's route aka 5th secret project in which it's the patch that will add the PSV exclusive route into PC version. Not quite interesting to me, but at least you can date one more hero in Steam Prison later. As for the progress, it's been already finished the translated process.

    As for the rest of the updates, we have the 3rd secret project was fully translated along with 91% edited, 6th secret project was at 60% translated along with 55% edited, 7th secret project was at 70% translated along with 66% edited, Musicus was at 94% translated along with 92% edited (Looks like they really aim to release this in English at this year), Sona-Nyl's Refrain was past halfway (56%) translated, and Rance Quest was in testing (So perhaps it mean that it's almost ready for the release). Lastly we have another exact release date announcement from Mangagamer, and in this case it's Room No.9 with the release date at August 6th later.

    Sekai Project

    We have a bunch of the updates from them, and some of those can be summarized as that they'll try to release the works at this year. Some of those VNs that they'll try to release at this year are Island Diary (At Winter later), Harumade Kururu, Koiama 2, Bokukotsu FD, and Nekopara 4 (At November). While I'm surely would like them to fulfill their promise later (Especially in regard of Harumade Kururu), I'm kind of wary with Sekai here so I'll guess that I'll just not going to expect them to release those VNs at this year. Before going to the announcement, let me try to do some roundup first. For the roundup, we have Kimagure was at 45% translated, Bokukotsu FD was in QA, Koiama 2 was have the translation and editing in progress, and that they'll upgrade (Redundant) Hoshimemo into HD version. For the announcement, we have Slobbish Dragon Princess (aka Sekai 3rd secret project) in which apparently they aim for the simultaneous release at October 30th later with the progress was at 80% translated. No much comment other than it's new Whirlpool VN, and that the MC will have the dragon girl harem.

    Since we have Nine Episode 4 was released back at April in Japan and that Sekai did have the license for overseas release, it's only logical that they'll announce Nine Episode 4 sooner or later. And turned out that they just announce this after they dubbed this as their 4th secret project, with sizable progress was at 30% translated. Seeing that Episode 4 here is the grand finale of Nine, I understand that they may need some more time to translate this. In any case, for now I'll hope that Sekai will be able to release this at 2021 along with Episode 3 (Currently was past halfway (52%) translated along with 44% edited) later. As for the question why Palette released Nine in episodic, I think the answer is that so the writer can build the world and the setting bit by bit, and it's very important seeing that it might be possible that the writer still didn't have the full concept of the story at the beginning (Back when he wrote Nine Episode 1 obviously). I'll look forward to this, if only for Tsubasu's arts.

    Other

    We also have age give us the updates as well, in which one of those are the release date for Photonmelodies that will be released at 30th later. Other than Photonmelodies, we also have Muv-Luv Unlimited - The Day After in which it's basically compiled four Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicle into one releases, and as for the release date the plan was to release it at this year. While those two announcements surely would give us more Muv Luv world building, personally I just see those as fandiscs and that first half part of Day After is basically redundant because we already have first and second Alternative Chronicle are already translated (And that Alternative itself is conclusive enough). If anything else, at least Muv Luv fans would be happy with the announcements.

    For the last announcement, since the VN is a nukige I'll just ignore this. Or that's what I would say if the nukige's name is not Venus Blood Hypno (Localized as Venus Blood Hollow) in that I've been quite interested with it. As for the premise itself, we'll going to have our MC who basically tried to took revenge by corrupting the heroines one by one together with his loyal subordinates and from what I understand apparently the story would be quite dark even for Venus Blood standard. Another Venus Blood staple would obviously will be present here, and it's the tentacle for the reminder. From what I see at Youtube video, the gameplay was apparently the improved version of Frontier which is good to me seeing that I like the gameplay back at Frontier. Like back at Frontier, Ninetail would work together with JAST in order to work on this VN and that they'll do the Kickstarter again. As for when they'll do it, it'll be at fall although still no exact month (They estimated that they'll do it at either September or October later). In any case, I'll keep my eyes on the KS later and I'll look forward to the eventual release of Hypno here.

    That's all for this week VNTS Review, and see you next week.

    PS - For the title, since we have Nine Episode 4 announcement and that Kakeru's VA is also Index's Touma's VA (Atsuhi Abe), I decided to parodied the spinoff of Index 'A Certain Scientific Railgun'. I also change 'Railgun' into 'Eleanore', simply because Eleanore is the name of one of five woman that you'll corrupt in Hypno and that Eleanore herself is a typical scientist.

  6. noVabb.png

    Note: I was provided with a free review copy of the game by the developer. All opinions are solely my own.

    Sequels to obscure, low budget EVNs are always a slightly awkward topic to tackle. They are inevitably tied to games which few people are familiar with and which can be, at least in some aspects, of subpar quality simply due to their indie nature. This makes giving a meaningful rating and recommendation for potential readers tricky – at the very least, any kind of conclusion about them will be served with a good number of caveats, related to the interplay between titles in the particular series and the value proposition they represent both together and on their own. The latest title to create such a conundrum for me is Eldritch University by Jackkel Dragon.

                    Released on Steam in June 2020, this game is a sequel to early 2019’s Eldritch Academy, a supernatural horror VN combined with a fair dosage of high-school yuri romance. While amusing in its romantic arcs, the prequel had several issues: unlikeable protagonist, repetitive routes, below-average visual and, in my opinion, an unreasonably high price for the level of quality it represented. University, while borrowing the setting and tying itself loosely to the core intrigue of that game, represents a major improvement in most aspects – a better-looking, more focused experience with a price tag way more representative of its entertainment value. Is it, however, good enough to make the whole series worth it, or to be a viable read as a standalone experience? Well, it depends on what you want from it…

    ss_b74db4a65e87d349cb870a09ac994b60828ace99.1920x1080.jpg?t=1591938296

    The troubled relationship between the protagonist and her girlfriend is the most interesting part of the game – and the most satisfying, when you finally see them succeed

    Eldritch University follows the story of Kasumi, a college freshman that was recently reconnected with Misaki, the girlfriend she was separated from three years earlier. A secondary character from Eldritch Academy, Kasumi was the person who unwittingly unleashed the supernatural threat that game's story revolved around and nearly got killed in the process. Still bearing some emotional scars from the incident, she was mostly able to regain her easy-going attitude and is happy to work on rebuilding her relationship with Misaki. However, when the wound she sustained back then starts giving off strange symptoms, and creepy stories of apparitions begin popping out around the campus and the surrounding town, it becomes clear that the horror is far from being over.

                    I won’t try to hide it: if there’s one thing I deeply enjoyed about Eldritch University it is the love story between Kasumi and Misaki and the way it is tied with the overarching supernatural intrigue. Initially, Kasumi herself is a bit of a bubbly airhead, while Misaki is more timid, but also kind and friendly. As, in the prequel, we briefly observe the couple in their high school days, they are outgoing and over-the-top affectionate to each other. However, the circumstances of their separation (forced by Misaki’s conservative mother) and the time they spend apart change that significantly. Misaki’s is weighed down by the social stigma and rejection she suffered due to being a lesbian, while Kasumi struggles to adapt to her changed behaviour and the doubt on whether the connection they once had can be fully rebuilt. In both of the non-dead-end endings, this dynamic gets resolved in a satisfying and heart-warming fashion, while never overdoing the drama and keeping the emotional and psychological profiles of both girls very believable. Coupled with a romantic, non-explicit sex scene, this makes Eldritch University a real treat for yuri fans such as myself – I was genuinely surprised and impressed with how impactful it was.

    ss_321e4ecc7b8e3327cd92127d4b5f1d7ad85a8b5a.1920x1080.jpg?t=1591938296

    The game’s supernatural story feels somewhat rushed and underdeveloped, but also avoids repetition and filler content that plagued Eldritch Academy

    The horror intrigue is less developed and is probably the only aspect of the game which I would consider weaker than it was in Academy, which focused a lot on stress and desperation of fighting against a supernatural threat. It ties directly to the events of the first game and creates a few genuinely tense scenes, but its main value is, once more, in the well-executed interplay with the love story. The character most important for the horror arc, Kasumi’s friend Hinata, plays into her insecurities and confusion about Misaki’s behaviour – this leads to a few interesting choices influencing the main couple’s relationship. On the other hand, the are also blind choices with unpredictable consequences in horror scenes and the pacing of the whole mystery plot feels rushed. With frequent time skips and rapid story developments, the sense of looming danger and despair, for which the game was definitely aiming, is only half-there. Also, surprisingly little was added to the series' overall lore and worldbuilding – it neither showed anything truly new about its supernatural elements nor opened interesting story threads for possible continuation.

                    Then we get to the issue of secondary characters, who can be hardly described as anything more than plot devices. Two girls helping the protagonist and Misaki, Yuri and Shizuka, are a tie-in from the author’s book, Shireishi, but without the extra context someone who read that would probably have, they’re simply exposition props. Other minor characters barely show any personality either – Kasumi’s other friend, Hiroshi, is probably the only meaningful one among them. And at last, there’s the issue of actual relevance of knowing Eldritch Academy, as the really important parts lay not in the main plot of that game, but in the unlockable bonus content – short episodes showing the circumstances of Kasumi and Misaki getting separated and the way they adapted to their new situation. They add weight to the drama of University, but hardly justify investing time (8-10 hours) and money ($12) in the prequel. Honestly, I would just prefer to see a recap of Eldritch Academy and the scenes expanding on Kasumi’s and Misaki’s stories in University, as a skippable prologue – it would make it much easier to recommend it not only to people familiar with the first game (or interested in reading it), but also those that want to jump straight into the sequel.

    zEKUNZ.png

    Outside of Kasumi’s two friends, Hinata and Hiroshi, the secondary characters in the game are more plot devices than anything else – and even these two receive relatively little development

    The visuals are a clear improvement over Academy, but are still pretty basic. While the sprite designs look more clean and expressive than they did in the prequel, the low amount of detail and simple shading are still very much visible. CGs look solid most of the time, but are ultimately on the same level as the sprites and occasionally even struggle with perspective. The end effect is hardly an eye candy, but very serviceable. The same can be said about music, which… Exists. It’s a very generic set of background tunes, but never gets in the way or fails to match the climate of the scene, which is good enough in my mind.

                    So, what’s my conclusion on Eldritch University? It’s a game that struggles a bit with its identity, stylising itself as a horror story but hardly committing to this theme. However, for yuri fans that enjoy a more grounded approach to LGBT+ issues, it has enough to offer to easily justify the $6 price tag (for 3-4 hours of content). Also, for people that enjoyed Eldritch Academy or specifically look for the combination of supernatural thriller and GxG romance, it should prove satisfying. For anyone else, it might be a much harder sell… But if anything I wrote here sounded interesting to you, I still suggest giving it a chance – if not for the full price, then at least grabbing it on sale. And if this dev’s work continues improving in this manner, their next game might be very easy to recommend, even to a broader audience.

     

    Final Rating: 3/5

     

    Pros:

    + Excellent romantic subplot

    + Likeable and well-developed main cast

    Cons:

    – Average-at-best visuals

    – Rushed/underdeveloped supernatural horror storyline

    – Underdeveloped secondary characters

     

    VNDB Page

    Buy Eldritch University on Steam or Itch.io

  7.  

    3dee9fdc8e61f6322f562b832451489c8c2998b4

     

    Umineko is a beast of a work that I've been putting off for many years now, probably around a decade. I first learned about it after watching the Higurashi anime back in 2010. At first I stayed away because I wasn't a fan of Ryukishi07's sausage-finger art. However these days it seems that most common ports of Umineko utilize updated art. But, that still left one other huge factor for why I was so intimidated by Umineko for so long.

    The estimated reading time of both the Question and Answer arcs is around 150 hours. That's a huge time commitment, and I am not a particularly patient or fast reader. If a book doesn't grab my interest within the first couple of chapters I feel no remorse in dropping it. And I apply that same rule to everything I read or watch. So works that have slow starts but supposedly “get better, I promise it gets way better if you continue with it!”, are works I generally avoid. But hey, Subahibi proved to be exceptional and I had a hunch that Umineko would prove to be as well.

    Essentially the whole coronavirus lockdown presented me with a rare opportunity to finally tackle Umineko. My last semester of Uni got delayed by over a month, and I figured if ever in my life I would have time to read Umineko it would be now. So I purchased the Steam releases of the Question and Answer arcs and installed the voice patch. Which by the way was a slight pain in the ass to do, since the voice-patch is banned in Japan for some copyright protection reasons. However using a VPN managed to solve that problem.

    To date I've read the first 5 episodes of Umineko including their associated tea party chapters. Which according to Steam clocks me in at 88 hours (I wasn't kidding about being a slow reader).

    I admire the balls it took for Ryukishi07 to literally take the most cliched premise of a “dark and stormy night in an isolated mansion” mystery setup, and to turn that premise so much on its head that my attention is wrapped entirely in the web of the narrative he has setup. And without being pretentious about it, Umineko makes it clear that the mystery genre, and literature in general, is something that Ryukishi07 holds dear to his heart. It is very much a love letter to the mystery genre, while also being a complete deconstruction of it.

    More than that though, it isn't just the plot which is masterly crafted, but what makes it standout is that it truly fleshes out its entire cast. Characters aren't just there to be pieces in a puzzle to solve, even if at first they may all seem to be fairly generic. Gradually as the layers peel, you will see the facade in much of the interactions between the family and all the conflicting and complex motives various characters hold beneath the surface. And above all, they are all sympathetic despite being quite flawed.

    If I had to pick one character in particular that was surprisingly much more complex then I anticipated, it would be the 9 year old Maria. I fully expected her to be a simple little kid character, who was there mostly to just be cute or maybe to be used for cheap tragedy. No, far from it. Even Maria has complex motives of her own that reach surprising levels of depth. And so if even the initial impression of a 9 year old can be deceptive, I think we can easily imagine that being true for the rest of the cast as well.

    What I found consistently very impressive about the work, is that as I mentioned previously I am not a patient reader. I hate it when stories have segments of seemingly dull character interactions to establish build up. This usually gets me in an irritated mood where I think, “This better be building up to something great, because I'm in no mood to settle for good.” And invariably, every single time so far that Umineko ordered for my extended patience, it was rewarded well beyond my expectations.

    A story that I initially found off putting precisely because of its length, is now a story I don't want to end. The irony, huh.

     

    Spoiler

    Also, Beato's English is... something alright lol

     

     

  8. The game is short with only a handful of decisions, but has lots of cheats and endings. Half of the endings involve forcing yourself onto the girl, while in the other half nothing happens. There are also romantic endings available. There is no music, only atmospheric background tracks. The writing is quirky, but relies too much on pop culture references. For example, after a wardrobe malfunction, you get a Janet Jackson reference. The jokes can be pretty lame. You can customize the experience to your liking with cheat codes. Is she your cousin, your daughter, your sister, or just an old friend? And do you want her wearing glasses, or perhaps with elf ears? You decide!

     

    Crusoe-Had-It-Easy-Hentai-Visual-Novel-b

    MORE INFO HERE

  9. I wrote earlier about how I thought when translating a few lines in Shinimasu. This series is going to be in that vein, with an eye to explaining translation decisions and highlighting unusual takes. I’m going to try to make it interesting for people not knowing Japanese, but to save effort I’m not going to be providing literal translation equivalents to lines.

    Why am I doing this? Because my brain is a fuck and producing blog posts is an interesting motivation for doing a second pass on my translation.

    Unfortunately for those expecting worthwhile content I feel like digressing a bit into history and methods for this first post, though. This is what my TL setup has looked like for most of the time I’ve worked on the project: vwk67ge1.png?w=625

    I started out doing 64 lines in December 2017, this got Asonn involved, and he introduced me to Porygon, who set up a git repository* and provided the tool you see. My brain swears I tweeted this pastebin, and I know I at least got some comment, but twitter search can’t find it so who the fuck knows? Anyway, I probably did 129 lines just copying from the game or script (can’t remember), then I copied them to the tool and worked there. One of the joys of working with porygon is that he has highly motivating auto-updating progress pages for you to fap to after pushing your new lines. This probably helped me more than I’d really like to admit.

    Either way, apart from being convenient for reinsertion later**, the tool has rudimentary edict-lookup of the (autoparsed) tl lines, which is convenient if you’re extremely fucking lazy. I’m not going to say I never used it (I am extremely fucking lazy), but going j-j definitely was needed more than once. Other than that I guess it’s ok, though it does have a still-unfixed bug where it’ll fuck up and display too few lines of text in a box due to some miscalculation.

    It’s certainly missing some features my dream tool would have, though. Personally I’d love to be able to see the script commands surrounding a line through some UI element to expand, as this could partially substitute for actually having the VN open for visual/scenographic context. It doesn’t have EPWING lookup, but that’s high effort since the format is bullshit apparently. It also doesn’t let you play voiced lines associated with spoken lines, though Shinimasu is unvoiced so I guess it doesn’t really matter for this project.

    Today I had to contact pory since it had stoped working properly; it turned out my build of the tool was old enough that a bug with java 9 (I had recently updated) was making it unusable. He quickly got a fix for the tool, but it took enough time that I lost the energy for revising my tl. Or that’s my excuse, anyway.

    See you next time for actual tl discussion w

    *What’s a git repository? Well the long answer is long and full of programmer-speak, but basically it lets you keep an online backup of your files, preserving older versions each time you decide to add a newer version to the server. You can do this while multiple people are working on the same file sometimes, though it can get hairy. I ended up not needing this much, but it’s been good insurance against data loss (and I have changed laptops at least once during translation, also had to reinstall windows once…). Really if you don’t have a backup for any translation of length, you’re probably doing it wrong (but also I am a CS student so it’s… not as hard for me w)

    **By virtue of saving the line number in the original script where the Japanese line was and associating that with the eventual translated line. I used a simplified version of this myself based on google sheets columns when I did tech for the ichigo & kyuugo tl.


    View the full article

  10. https://j-addicts.de/master-magistrate/

    After a couple months of wait, the full version of Master Magistrate was released! This review is an update of my early-access review. I removed or corrected outdated information, polished my thoughts a little and added my thoughts on the final chapter and the epilogue.

    Master Magistrate is a pretty cool murder mystery detective visual novel with a historical setting.You'd be hard pressed to find something quite like it, the closest would probably be Great Ace Attorney or Elf's Mikagura Shoujo Tanteidan. Overall, it has a bit of a weak start with its introductory chapter, with the pacing picking up on the second one. Third chapter is hands down the best for me, in terms of gameplay, plot and character development and the last chapter makes for a great finale, tying perfectly all the loose ends and expertly resolving all of the unsolved mysteries. Exciting revelations and myriads of twists await you. And if you're a fan of the more SoL parts, the heroine routes are nicely integrated in alternate epilogues for the story. There's porn too (it's optional, just buy/don't buy the Adult DLC).

  11. Spoilers for Steins;Gate ahead! 

    As far as I'm aware, most deeper discussions of Steins;Gate revolve around one of two of its more obvious central aspects. On one hand its time travel mechanics tend to get picked apart a lot, with arguments about whether they make sense, if Rintarou basically destroying whole timelines renders the plot meaningless, and so on. On the other hand its theme of the dangers of humans playing god gets brought up a lot, pointing to how you cannot create an outcome where everyone is happy. While both of these things are among what makes S;G special, I think they are only part of its larger theme of fate and how we as humans learn to deal with it as we grow up.

    Did you notice how there is no actual main villain in Steins;Gate? The Committee? The threat it poses always remains somewhat abstract. Mayuri dies regardless of whether they intervene or not. Even once they get a face in the form of Moeka and Mr. Tennouji, they turn out not to be some super-villains but an emotionally vulnerable woman tricked into doing bad things and a single-father trying to make ends meet for his daughter. Thus there is no real sense of victory in beating them, there are just two more people to feel sorry about getting wound up in the larger scheme of things. Also, once Rintarou beats the Committee, they immediately get replaced by a new menace, namely the threat of World War III. Both these threats are, on a metaphorical level, manifestations of the greater hardships life has in store for you. You can never achieve total victory in life, there will always be threats beyond your control, and the only thing you can do is try to find the best trade-off for yourself and everyone else. But more often than not there is going to be someone who gets hurt by these decisions (this point actually gets brought up rather often in discussions about the “Changing your Past” theme, but I think this also plays into my argument, so I thought I'd mention it here).

    Then what about Doctor Nakabachi? He also is just a clog in the machine. He doesn't have some great agenda or even the ability to foresee the consequences of his actions. He is just some scientist with an ego hurt so deeply he would even murder his own daughter if it meant he could get recognized by his peers. Consequently the final showdown isn't about Rintarou beating him in a fight (which would have been easy, considering Rintarou is probably physically more capable and having the advantage of the element of surprise), but about tricking fate.

    I'll come back to both Nakabachi and the true ending later. First I want to talk about how the character arcs in S;G tie into its overarching theme of learning to grow up in the face of calamity. All side heroines who send messages to the past have somewhat parallel arcs (except maybe Moeka, who I already talked about). They revolve around them learning to come to terms with some great misfortune, usually after being shown what life would have been like without it ever befalling them. The story even shows how they live happier lives after accepting their fates. Suzuha has to give up on her time with the lab members or the prospect of ever finding her father, but in turn she achieves her goal of securing the IBN 5100 and lives a happy adult life instead of losing her memories and committing suicide once she remembers her failure. Faris losing her father turns her from a princess waiting to be saved by a white knight into a responsible adult who basically rebuilds a whole part of Tokyo the way she wants. Luka learns her happiness is not tied to her physical sex and that her friends are more important than what her genitals look like (yeah, S;G doesn't handle her character all that well). Their setbacks actually make them grow as human beings. One important aspect about this growth is that they don't just keep part of their inner child intact, it also propels said growth. Suzuha sees her younger self in the adolescent Mr. Tennouji when she takes him in. Faris keeps her love for otaku culture and uses it to transform Akihabara. And in Luka's case, her swordfight roleplay with Rintarou gives her the power to carry on.

    Which brings us to Rintarou's character arc. At the beginning of the story, he is basically still a child refusing to grow up. His childish side manifesting as a chuuni alter ego, the mad scientist Hououin Kyouma, seems fitting, seeing how chuunibyou translates to “eighth-grader-syndrome”. Hououin Kyouma is self-absorbed, stupid, careless, and in his own way pretty naive. In the first half, Rintarou is scared of what it means to be an adult, and whenever he feels insecure because of this, he delegates control to his alter ego. Then, when Mayuri dies, he is forced to acknowledge how useless this approach is once confronted with real calamity, but doesn't know what to do instead, so he tries to just turn things back to the way they were before, turning to Kurisu, the most adult and cool-headed of the characters, for help most of the time. The realization that there is no going back as it would mean letting Kurisu die forces him to finally accept the reality of having to become an adult. He sees it as his responsibility to try to save Kurisu, but fails. He only succeeds once he embraces Hououin Kyouma again. This time though, Hououin Kyouma isn't his shield for whenever he doesn't want to confront his anxieties, but rather the spark of positivity and creativity that helps him overcome the seemingly insurmountable adversity in front of him. I guess the name Houou(Phoenix)-in Kyouma (unspeakable truth) becomes pretty self-explanatory foreshadowing once you look at it this way. From this point of view, it also makes total sense that Rintarou's final showdown is against Doctor Nakabachi, who is also a mad scientist, but whose joy for his fringe science got turned into mediocrity through bitterness and pettiness, and is thus the antithesis to the reborn Hououin Kyouma.

    Mayuri and Kurisu as characters are also built around the theme of growing up. Mayuri is basically childlike naivete turned to flesh and a symbol for Rintarou's childhood days. Thus his attempt to save her is an attempt to recreate their innocent past. Him distancing himself further from her the longer his journey to save her takes is also a signifier for how this goal is getting further away from him. Her slapping him once he fails to save Kurisu is the culmination of this, showing that there is no going back to the carefree days back at the lab (I still don't like how she gets fridged and turned into a macguffin simultaneously, but whatever). As for Kurisu, her status as a child prodigy caused her to only be around adults from a very young age, forcing her to grow up very quickly and suppress her more childish personality traits. Thus the general carefree atmosphere of the lab draws her in and over the course of the VN she learns to feel more comfortable with her more youthful character traits.

    The true ending also makes a little more sense from this angle than with the “don't play god” interpretation. The latter telling you there are no objectively perfect choices and playing with fate tends to make things worse rather than better gets rejected by the true ending as Rintarou gets his total victory by finding a loophole in the rules of the universe and basically cheats fate. But if you look at it as a story about embracing your inner child, it makes some sense. “Of course you can't escape fate” and “there are no perfect endings” is the way a grown-up without imagination thinks. But who can prove them wrong if not Hououin Kyouma, the ultimate adolescent?

  12. JAST Blue is slowly but surely releasing Nitro+ CHIRAL's catalogue in the west. While these games had their patch long ago and every person with a passing interest in BL probably already read them, these releases certainly made it easier for fans of physical versions, HD CGs, uncensored dicks, merch or just our good old users of windows 10, as the original have a hard time to even run properly in our favorite OS (N+C did release compatibility versions, but it's not like the old patches even work with those).

    This year it's Togainu no Chi's time, N+C's very first game and the most edgy of the bunch. I DID review this game in the past but huh... it REALLY doesn't do a good job at promoting the game...

    Okay, so, if I didn't like this title in the first place, why am I even here? Because I really feel it's worth mentioning the demo of the game (you can grab it here (JAST) or here (Steam)) contain one whole route for free and it's most likely porn-free even, so if you ever get slightly interested in this but not enough to spend money, hey, today is your luck day! It's only the third best boy, but they can't be THAT generous now, can they?

    Is this a good game to get into the BL side of Nitroplus? Well, if you ask me, no. But I won't pretend parent Nitroplus isn't edgy af too and this game is actually pretty popular to this day, even among Japanese fans, so maybe I'm the one with shit taste here! :P 

  13. Welcome to my blog.

    Where have we been? Where are we going?

    TIMELINE

    1980s:
    - Early eroge largely consist of still art (what we call pixel art now), very short dialogue/narrative elements, and some primitive interactive elements, while spanning many genres.

    1990s:
    - The point-and-click adventure game, which has its roots in 1980s video games, establishes itself as one of the most popular genres of eroge. Many games emerge which have interfaces that are visually similar to those of most point-and-click adventure games, but with gradually differing gameplay. These games are all collectively called "adventure games" or "ADV" in Japanese. The general style of having an interface which consists of a rectangular text box at the bottom of the screen, and a collage of visual elements meant to serve as a guide for what the main character sees, is also called "ADV". In other words, ADV becomes a genre that embodies a style of presentation.
    - The non-adult game company Chunsoft puts out Otogirisou, a kind of illustrated story in which pictures are placed in the background as visual aids while the full narrative is conveyed as overlaid text. This style of presentation is called a "novel game" or "NVL" in Japanese. The gameplay of Otogirisou purely consists of the player making choices on where to take the story, similar to "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, a simple yet powerful narrative tool which would prove influential to ADV as a whole.
    - Two major eroge brands that specialize in ADV, elf and Leaf, create popular games like Doukyuusei and To Heart. These games stand out from their competitors by the way they utilize talented artists and writers to focus on the personalities of charming heroines, rather than treating pixel porn as what matters and the characterization as an afterthought. This character-centric evolution is called a charage (character game) and encompasses both NVL (like Kizuato) and ADV. And with the release of YU-NO and Kamaitachi no Yoru, two ADV/NVL games that have well-written stories, the term scenarioge (scenario game) becomes more popular.

    1999:
    - Kanon is released by Key. It's the first time a large number of players became very emotionally moved by the story of an eroge, or any ADV at that. Even someone like Baba from Visual Arts, who was just a businessman without much personal interest in ADV, became interested after Kanon. Aside from inventing the nakige (naki game, which means "crying game") genre, it awakened in players a desire for longer scenarios as necessary to deepen their attachment to the heroines. But its most significant role is being the first major moege (moe game) at a time when the term "moe" wasn't even very well known.

    2000:
    - The doujin NVL Tsukihime comes out, and its quality lets it rank among the very top, if not at the very top, of both scenarioge and charage. See Popular Views on What Defines the Chuuni Genre for more info on the influence of Type-Moon's works.

    2000-2006:
    - Now that Kanon and Tsukihime have come out, it seems like a dam bursts and a flood of popular and influential ADV/NVL are released. There are comparatively fewer in 2001, with the most notable ones in my mind being Kiminozo and Kazokei. But in 2002 you have Ever17, Higurashi, Kusarihime, Baldr Force, Hello world, Da Capo, and others. And every year after that just has more and more top quality ADV/NVL. The biggest year is 2004, which sees the release of both Clannad and Fate/stay night (successors to Kanon and Tsukihime, respectively).
    - Around the middle of the decade, the term "visual novel" is invented among English speaking fans of these games, and basically refers to any game which has an ADV/NVL-style interface and a strong and constant narrative. Since the rest of the world directly bypassed the early history of Japanese eroge and ADV/NVL, they didn't bother with the origins of these styles of games, and just chose a term which seemed to more naturally describe the most famous and representative ADV/NVL. Since then, the term "visual novel" has been recognized by the Japanese too, although the broader Japanese playerbase still commonly thinks that VN is synonymous with "adventure game". In any case, the term is excellent and I like it.
    - Over the course of this decade, the major tropes and popular genres of VNs, which were mostly foreshadowed in the late 1990s, are firmly established and standardized. They include TIPs, unlockable routes/end, true ends, bad ends, hidden heroines, time loops/leaps, moe, chuuni, nakige, utsuge, imouto games, and many more. The diverse and awkward gameplay of the 1980s and 1990s more or less disappears.
    - Meanwhile, many of the most successful eroge companies like Key, Type-Moon, and Leaf/Aqua-Plus successfully rebrand themselves and reduce their focus on adult content for the sake of marketing their works to the rest of the Japanese "otaku" industries. They adopt the label of "bishoujo game maker". Many of their most popular IPs (intellectual properties) receive anime adaptations or evolve into multimedia franchises, with "Fate" being the most famous example. On the other hand, as these industries embrace VNs, they also learn from them and try to emulate that same appeal within their own IPs; Fate/stay night is especially influential as a progenitor of the "chuuni" genre.

    2006:
    - Statistically, eroge sales begin to decline. The industry itself doesn't immediately begin to decline, though, because investors take time to notice and react to such trends, companies are still in the midst of developing games, and they will try to shift strategies to fight the trend. The decline in sales won't slow down until 2012.

    WHY

    Causes of the trend? This was fiercely debated for years and still hasn't been completely settled. But it's more or less clear.

    VNs served as a creative outlet without rivals for several years.

    At first, in the early 1990s, nobody expect much from eroge. But as we entered the later part of the decade, that changed. Eroge was always a venue for weird and exciting scenarios that wouldn't be accepted elsewhere, and it was easier than ever to make quality audiovisual experiences, with multiple free or cheap VN engines available. Writers like Maeda Jun and Nasu took advantage of the medium's ease of entry, along with the freedom of expression it afforded. It was a fresh, mature alternative to the LN industry. However, that didn't last forever. Major publishers in other mediums distilled the parts of eroge that appealed most to players: the nakige components, the moe components, the fanservice and unapologetic harems, the handy sci-fi tropes, the balloon breasts. Everything except the deep emotional and mental investment that's only possible with literature. And of course, the mature themes and content.

    Above all, what VNs brought to the table was no longer as fresh to people. Without a sense of excitement, the fact that VNs require people to sit down and actually read continuously for hours became... problematic. The era of smartphones and social media also heralded the era of low attention spans. People came to think that "adventure games" = "boring". This was coupled with the fact that more and more people play bishoujo games on their smartphones, and who wants to play eroge in public?

    Waifu/husbando social games like Fate/Grand Order and Granblue Fantasy dealt especially heavy blows to players' interest in VNs. They let players pick between countless more waifus and husbandos than VNs, have more exciting plots to engage casual players (not some ordinary school life drama), have the slutty outfits and exaggerated figures of nukige heroines, continually put out new content for the most popular characters, let you put your waifu/husbando in your home screen so you can constantly look at her, and tap on the portrait of her/him to hear some flirty line voiced by a popular anime seiyuu. They even copied the feature of some VNs where you can give your favorite hero or heroine chocolates on Valentine's Day or White Day. The proof is in the recent anime Chuubyou Gekihatsu Boy where the "guy who's only interested in 2D girls" stereotype no longer involves VNs on a PSP, but rather depicts a social game on a phone. To be frank, even the latest Fire Emblem game probably makes VNs less appealing by comparison. The main draw of VNs was always the cute and flirty heroines and romance, but these elements have been thoroughly exported.

    The exact same situation arose with Japanese web novels on the site Shousetsuka ni Narou. An initial wave of authors pioneered new genres with certain distinctive tropes, most of them related to isekai, and started a trend which has dominated the Japanese web novel scene. But the mainstream LN industry quickly learned and started to put out its own isekai LNs, as well as aggressively recruit these authors (who naturally didn't object to being paid for what they'd initially put out for free online). A few years later, Narou's talents have more or less moved out, and the stories at the top of the popularity charts haven't been supplanted by any new talents. In any case, the major difference between Narou and the VN industry is that Narou authors are overall much better off with editors, whereas the transition from VNs to LNs/anime is absolutely a creative downgrade.

    WHAT DO

    1. Copy FGO.

    Social games are a natural evolution of the appeal of many VNs. Unfortunately, they're also largely vapid experiences with have less voice acting, silent protagonists, a massive cast of heroines who receive little character development, a disjointed narrative, a story that's mostly dialogue and constantly interrupted by battles, and many other flaws that prevent them from achieving literary excellence.

    These games have invariably underestimated how popular they'll become and worked with cheap art assets and flimsy storytelling, only to fix this by hiring better artists and writers for the more recent arcs of their ongoing main storylines. However, even those recent arcs are still shallow experiences compared to VNs. The best they can do is have good comedy--no one will ever feel as empathetic toward the characters as they do in VNs.

    But of course, despite the problems with social games' storytelling, they are still... inevitable. They will still successfully rake in cash from people with personalities prone to gambling addiction. So one VN company after another has tried to become the next FGO. Eushully, light, August, Key, Lilith, Frontwing, Nitroplus and many others have pursued social games, virtually all of which failed to really take off like FGO--in part because they weren't very well-made, and in part because the Fate franchise is more popular with more devoted fans.

    Frankly, this solution has been thoroughly pursued by all sorts of VN companies, and we know exactly what happens: it fails unless they're very lucky.

    2. Give up.

    This is a wise and fine choice. The river of life flows ever onward. Sometimes it's best to accept defeat.

    3. Make NOT a visual novel.

    Be Kodaka Kazutaka. Start from the idea that you want to make an adventure game. Then to appease your producer, call it a detective game instead, and add a 3D world with gameplay that takes place within it while occupying a lot of the player's time, so it in no way feels like a pure ADV. Make the narrative largely dialogue-driven. Write in a way that wastes less time on subtlety and imagery and takes more advantage of humor, twists, and action. Then call it Danganronpa and be successful, while feeling that you tricked the world by making an adventure game with the quality storytelling of an adventure game that doesn't feel like an adventure game.

    Too Kyo Games plans to water down a full-fledged ADV-quality scenario with meaningful realtime gameplay, by partnering with studios that actually know how to make fun games. It's a long-term experiment on tricking people into playing adventure games.

    4. Make a visual novel, but be better.

    Find a slightly new angle. Gather the A-Team. Target non-traditional markets. Cultivate one's prestige. In short, reorganize and rebrand. But still make a visual novel, with ordinary 2D art and probably little to no gameplay.

    The only problem is that people don't like VNs anymore because smartphones shrunk their brains until they had flea-sized attention spans. So at best, such "better" VNs will simply exist in the top tier of modern VNs, able to survive and maybe make a little profit. These are VNs for the sake of creators who want to stay in the VN industry despite how comparatively little it pays.

    Aniplex.exe, a new VN brand started under Aniplex that Makura staff like Sca-ji are involved with, seems to fall under this category. They're identifying as makers of "novel games" probably because that sounds more respectable these days than bishoujo game. I'm frankly more interested in Sca-ji's other still unannounced projects (but that's just because I'm not personally a fan of Konno Asta or Umihara Nozomu).

    5. Copy FGO, but EVOLVE.

    Before Light's "Pantheon" mobile game died mid-development, Masada planned for it to have a substantial scenario. That kind of story would fatally clash, like matter and dark matter, with social games as they exist today. Unless they rethought the entire premise from scratch, I assume they'd have to at the very least dilute such a lengthy narrative into segments with constant breaks, rewards, and mini-games. And they'd have to make a tough choice about whether they seriously want to market it for smartphones, or stick to PC like Granblue Fantasy.

    It's easier to not evolve or just give up. But moreover, I think industry veterans are just pissed off and unable to accept that something as amazing as VNs can't find its consumers anymore. So they will struggle. Visual Arts will struggle, for sure. Key pretended to be half-dead in their 20th anniversary message, but they were actually hard at work. They've let Maeda take on the scenario of a high budget smartphone game called "Heaven Burns Red". Will he be able to do for social games with "Heaven Burns Red" what he did for VNs with "Kanon"? I'm not too optimistic, since I haven't seen any indication that the overall story concept was Maeda's.

    6. ???

    To quote Sca-ji, a writer who's qualified to talk about the unique worth of eroge, from late October: "People across various otaku industries have said, 'I want the wonderful culture of eroge to stay alive.' They're going out of their way and doing many things to make that happen. If I'm pessimistic, this might be our last chance to revive this industry, so I'm cheering them on. Do your best. ... People around their late twenties to thirty years old have started to take positions of power in society, praising eroge and doing many things for us."

    ZZZ

    「Kanon」や「CLANNAD」「Angel Beats!」など…「泣きゲー」からアニメ原作まで、美少女IPを仕掛け続けた28年! ビジュアルアーツのユニークなブランド戦略と経営思想を馬場隆博社長に聞いてみた
    『ダンガンロンパ』、『東京クロノス』、『グノーシア』の開発者が語る。「アドベンチャーゲームは滅ぶのか?」緊急座談会
    「なぜエロゲ業界は衰退してるのか」 それをまとめた画像が話題にwwwww
    https://twitter.com/gannbattemasenn/status/1015644154271973376
    https://enty.jp/avestan
    https://twitter.com/sca_di
    https://vndb.org/

    EPILOGUE

    A new decade is upon is, and we're in the midst of a wave of 20th anniversaries that inevitably prompt retrospection.

    What I'm keeping an eye on, out of concern for the industry, as we enter it:
    - Too Kyo Games
    - Heaven Burns Red (unveiling on February 28) and Visual Arts as a whole
    - Sca-ji's Twitter account
    - Aniplex.exe as a whole
    - Any news from Masada about new publishers for Pantheon
    - Major non-adult scenarioge companies like Spike-Chunsoft and Mages (they may absorb some talent or try to carry on eroge culture)
    - Any actual new VNs from Nasu, like the Tsukihime remake

    ADDENDUM I: A Note on Death VS Decline (added 1/28)

    Spoiler

     

    I just read an interview where Yoshimune responds to claims of the "death" of VNs. His response minimizes people's concerns, and I understand why he said it, but it still triggered me a little, so I want to talk about this.

    Yeah, there is no immediate indication that the VN niche will die out completely in favor of other types of otaku media like social games.

    For example, there are at least 2 mainstays of the VN industry that I personally consider very secure:
    1. Lighthearted moege like Yuzusoft's VNs (because the kind of deep sexual and emotional intimacy you find in these VNs has earned itself a loyal consumer base)
    2. Labors of love (typically scenario-oriented games put out by talented teams who have a history working in the industry and don't want to leave it)

    Death and decline are different. But when people say "death" it's really only hyperbole for "decline". And the industry is undeniably in decline. The absolute top tier of VNs, the most culturally impactful and wonderful works out there, were only possible because for a brief time the entire otaku industry seemed to revolve around VNs, but that time has ended (due to, as I just outlined, shifts in the rest of the otaku industry and in consumer interests).

    Even intuitively you can't deny the VN industry has declined, because in the past VNs were popular and prestigious, and now that enthusiasm has waned. Companies like Key, that benefited most from prestige, suffered the steepest relative downturn.

    Many major writers around the end of the 2000s had ambitious plans for new VNs, but those plans went up in smoke and the VNs never materialized, in part because there was no money anymore, in part because the writers were seduced into other industries. Taiyou no Ko, Shoujobyou, Conquistador, and Occultum are the names of just a few of those now-mythical high-profile projects.

    Muv-Luv Alternative would not have been funded, if someone wanted to make it in today's VN industry. That's also why Muv-Luv Alternative 2 never went anywhere (until recently, when age suddenly seemed revitalized). In short, you simply can't create in today's industry what you could in 2004's industry, even if there are creators who want to do so. The funds aren't there, and many of the major creators aren't there, because VNs don't sell as well anymore. That's what it means to have declined. And it's a serious issue, because the whole point of VNs is play kamige. Ten thousand average manga aren't worth a single One Piece.

     

     

    • 1
      entry
    • 0
      comments
    • 278
      views

    Recent Entries

    Can anyone tell me how tsujidou San virgin route ended for each route since I am excited about it very much. 

  14. (original: https://forums.fuwanovel.net/blogs/entry/2488-random-top-100/)

    I played so many VNs over the past year that i've managed to replace over a fourth of the list, so it felt adequate to post a updated version. Like before, "not a be-all-end-all list by any means and i care about choice-making gameplay a lot more than other VN fans do, so if some of my placements look ridiculous, that's why."

    youtube playlist version: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYFP5FO6EHdqvR4S0KWZDMllPXy3hZjaY (will be updated if i make yet another version of the list)

    New entries are underlined.

    VNs i consider “close to great”:
    100) Lamento Beyond the Void (great atmosphere and art)
    99) EoSD for Busy Person + Extra (entertaining characters and endings)
    98) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (great characters, good mystery-solving and story)
    97) Comyu (good story, entertaining fight scenes)
    96) Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome (entertaining story and endings, amazing common route)
    95) Ar Tonelico II (good characters, great story and soundtrack)
    94) Vampirdzhija Vjedogonia (entertaining story and fight scenes)
    93) Danganronpa 2 (entertaining characters, good mystery-solving, good finale)
    92) Danganronpa V3 (entertaining characters, great mystery-solving, good finale)
    91) MajiKoi A1&A2 (entertaining characters and story)

    Vns i consider “borderline great”:
    90) Fatal Twelve (entertaining story and characters, fun choice-making)
    89) Evenicle (fun characters and gameplay)

    88) Eve: Burst Error (entertaining story, great female protagonist)
    87) Dangan Ronpa (entertaining characters, great story, great finale)
    86) ChuSinGura 46+1 (entertaining characters, great fight scenes)
    85) Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth (good story and characters, great finale)
    84) Kikokugai The Cyber Slayer (great atmosphere, good fight scenes)
    83) Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni + 2nd night (good characters, entertaining story)
    82) Hapymaher (interesting story, good atmosphere)
    81) Flowers: Volume sur Été (great art, charming characters)

    80) Eden* (good story and art)
    79) Utawarerumono (entertaining characters, good story)
    78) Shikkoku no Sharnoth (good protagonist, great atmosphere, great finale)
    77) Rance VI (entertaining characters, good story)
    76) Paradise Lost (interesting story, entertaining fight scenes)
    75) Kizuato (fun characters, great introductory route, great set of joke endings)
    74) Hello, world (overall fun story, great set of normal endings)
    73) Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk (great world building and plot twists, good characters)

    72) Flowers: Volume sur Printemps (great art, charming characters, good use of mystery-solving)
    71) Dies Irae: Interview with Kaziklu Bey (great art and fight scenes)
    70) Ayakashi Gohan (amazing protagonist customization, fun common route)
    69) Air (good story and characters, good soundtrack)
    68) The Letter (favorite branch system for a linear story)
    67) Symphonic Rain [1/5 routes done] (charming art and soundtrack, great at subverting expectations)
    66) SeaBed (amazing atmosphere, interesting story)
    65) Narcissu (good story and ending buildup)
    64) Dengeki Stryker (entertaining story, great middle route)
    63) Collar x Malice (entertaining story, good set of villains)
    62) Chaos;Head (entertaining characters and choice-making, great plot twist, good world building)
    61) Remember11 (good characters, great ending system, interesting ending)
    60) Ourai no Gahkthun (good atmosphere and characters)
    59) Nijuuei (fun story, good atmosphere)
    58) Monster Girl Quest Trilogy (amazing gameplay, good story and characters)
    57) Kusarihime (amazing atmosphere and background usage, good characters and endings)
    56) Battle Goddess Verita (good story, great RPG gameplay)

    VNs i consider “near-classics”:
    55) The House in Fata Morgana: A Requiem for Innocence (good story and characters, amazing art)
    54) Eiyuu*Senki (great gameplay, fun characters)
    53) Ayakashibito (good world building, entertaining fight scenes and characters)
    52) Akaya Akashiya Ayakashino (great atmosphere and endings, entertaining characters)

    51) Akai Ito (entertaining protagonist, good atmosphere, favorite OP song)
    50) 11eyes (good characters and fight scenes, great atmosphere)
    49) Tsujidou-san no Jun’ai Road (entertaining characters, good choice-making)
    48) Sekien no Inganock (great art, great atmosphere, good characters)
    47) Planetarian (good pairing, great dialogue)
    46) 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (entertaining characters, good true ending)
    45) Kira Kira [1/4 routes done] (good characters, great common route, great ending)
    44) ef a fairy tale of the two (great story in the second half, good characters)
    43) Chaos;Child (good choice-making system, good characters, good story)
    42) 428: Shibuya Scramble (fun characters and story, amazing choice-making, greatest production values in the genre)
    41) Sharin no Kuni (favorite single villain, great story, great plot twist)
    40) Root Double (amazing choice-making system, good true ending)
    39) Virtue’s Last Reward (great ending system, great multiple route mystery)
    38) Kara no Shoujo (great atmosphere, good mystery-solving)
    37) Aselia The Eternal (great world-building and New Game+ content)
    36) Chou no Doku Hana no Kusari [1/5 routes done] (great atmosphere and protagonist)
    35) Cartagra (great art, entertaining characters, great endings)
    34) Aoishiro (great choice-making, entertaining bad ending branches on some routes)
    33) White Album 2: Introductory and Closing Chapters [3/6 routes done] (fascinating characters, good story and atmosphere)
    32) The Fruit of Grisaia (entertaining characters, great endings)
    31) Code: Realize (amazing common route, entertaining story and characters)

    VNs i consider “classics”:
    30) Rose Guns Days (great story and characters, charming art)
    29) Mahoutsukai no Yoru (amazing production values, good story)
    28) Kamidori Alchemy Meister (great RPG gameplay, amazing New Game+ content)
    27) Battle Goddess Zero (favorite story in a VN-RPG hybrid)
    26) Cross Channel (fun characters, great choice-making and ending)
    25) Taishou Mebiusline (great route variety, good ending system, favorite vocal song)
    24) Swan Song (amazing atmosphere, good story and characters)
    23) Steins;Gate 0 (good story and characters, great use of true ending)
    22) Sengoku Rance (entertaining characters, most replayable work in the genre due to amazing gameplay)
    21) Rewrite (entertaining characters, good story)
    20) Phantom of Inferno (entertaining story and characters, great atmosphere, great action scenes)
    19) Yumina The Ethereal (entertaining story, amazing use of multiple routes for a VN-RPG hybrid, great true ending)
    18) Kichikuou Rance (amazing gameplay and world-building)
    17) Kara no Shoujo 2 (great mystery, entertaining characters, great true ending, favorite ED song)
    16) G-Senjou no Maou (great true route, great soundtrack, favorite set of villains)
    15) Song of Saya (favorite atmosphere, amazing use of endings, fascinating characters)
    14) Muv Luv Alternative (great action scenes, great sci-fi atmosphere)
    13) YU-NO (amazing route system, good story and characters)
    12) Higurashi When They Cry + Kai (amazing story, great characters and soundtrack)
    11) Dies Irae (favorite fight scenes, entertaining characters and story)

    VNs i consider “classics among classics”:
    10) Umineko When They Cry + Chiru (favorite story, favorite soundtrack, great characters)
    9) Wonderful Everyday (great story, good mystery, good characters, great alternate endings, favorite monologues)
    8. The House in Fata Morgana (amazing story, favorite CG and character art, good choice-making, great soundtrack)
    7) Tsukihime (amazing choice-making, amazing atmosphere, great characters)
    6) MajiKoi (favorite overall character cast, most consistently entertaining work in the genre)
    5) Little Busters (favorite common route, great true route, favorite post-true end content)
    4) Ever17 (great story, favorite multiple route mystery, great true ending)

    VNs i consider “all-time greatests”
    3) Steins;Gate (great story, entertaining characters, favorite protagonist, favorite pairing, favorite ending)
    2) Fate/Stay Night (great story, favorite ending system, favorite route, favorite single choice)
    1) Clannad (favorite route system, high amount of optional scenes, amazing After Story, fully explores choice-making in a school drama setting)

    Top VNs i didn’t read (raw VNDB ratings, 35 votes minimum):
    Rance 10
    Flowers: Volume sur Automne & Hiver
    Baldr Sky Dive1&2
    Soukou Akki Muramasa
    Ken ga Kimi
    Sakura no Uta
    Shingakkou Noli me tangere
    Shinigami to Shoujo
    Sengoku Koihime
    Schwarzesmarken

    Closing thoughts: After Aselia and Ayakashibito, i've read pretty much every translated VN i really wanted to. Also, after Hello world and Kusarihime, i feel i've read pretty much all older VNs with no chances of being translated i wanted to. Now i plan to be a little more laidback with my reading, making this kinda of the end of a chapter for me.

     

     

  15. Aojiru verse introduction #2: In'Youchuu

    In the last post I listed the current games in the Aojiru verse, (I'm probably the only person on earth calling it this, but it must become a thing!), and I introduced the game that started it all; Hanamaru! Today I will dig deeper into what exactly you should expect from Aojiru games, and introduce In'Youchuu, the most iconic Aojiru-game to date.

    BKvvtsT.png

    Introduction:

    Let us begin with a general introduction to Aojiru's games. These games are all fairly dark, both in general writing and story, as well as the H content. That being said there is also usually a decent amount of sol moments in each game, with a proper good ending that can be reached by avoiding a minefield of bad endings scattered throughout the games. For games like In'Youchuu with several sequels, this good ending will be the default canon that will continue to the next installment. Exceptions of this rule would be the standalone horror games, such as Fuka no Jugoku, which is a story of pure madness, with no real "good" outcome. There is just very little room for sol content in a game like that. But, the majority of Aojiru's games will feature at least some of it.
    What's interesting about Aojiru games is that the sol moments are actually very enjoyable, and it really feels like they belong, despite of the dark themes these games have. They really nailed it with having just the right amount of "feelgood" content before shit goes bad, so you have time to get to know the characters before shit hits the fan. You get invested in both the story and the characters. Well I do, anyways. I never get tired of seeing Yamato and Mikoto, two characters from In'Youchuu, shouting insults at each other like an old married couple. The games also have some pretty adorable chibi art:

    rs420fb.png

    Many might brand the Aojiru games as mere nukige with no substance or plot, but this is inaccurate. Sure, the games have a lot of H-content and I can see a case being made for them being branded as nukige. But, they are absolutely not mindless nukige without any story. In fact, I find most of the stories told in Aojiru games legitimately interesting, and get very invested in the worlds and the characters introduced in them. Of course, I have to admit I am a fan of the dark H content that there is an abundance of in these games, but I also love the stories, and think games where the two elements can be combined are very cool. If you think the same, these are basically made for you.

    In'Youchuu


    Normally Aojiru games will feature some kind of supernatural entity, such as Nightmare from In'Youchuu-we will talk more about him in a second-or Kudan from Kowaku no Toki. (That dude scared the shit out of me when I first played Kowaku.) These two are very different beings, but both get classified as some kind of "youma", which is a monster born from negative emotions. Some are mindless creatures driven by primal urges, while others are incredibly intelligent beings with god-like powers.

    In In'youchuu we follow a group of monster hunters-The Monster Subjugation Division: The Black Cats- who can use different kinds of spiritual and magical powers to destroy these creatures. (Let's make it simple and call them "The Black Cats.")
    The four members of The Black Cats are Yamato, our protagonist, a half-demon who mainly relies on brute force when fighting. He's a big pervert, and is definitely not the brains of the operation. Then there is Mikoto, the oldest of the Shiratori twins, Mikoto and Takeru Shiratori. She might be the "oldest" of the two, but she is also the most immature of the girls. She always gets in arguments with Yamato, and gets scolded by her little sister, Takeru, for not thinking before she acts on a frequent basis. She hates doing paperwork and will do anything to get out of it. While she is not as well-versed in magic as her sister, she wields a powerful weapon, The Spirit Blade Raikou, and likes to fight in close combat like Yamato. Takeru, the youngest twin, is a cool and collected fighter who always analyzes the situation before charging in, unlike the other two. If not for her, Yamato and Mikoto would surely have gotten themselves killed already. Finally there is Yoru, the leader of the Black Cats and the reason for the group's name. He is a nekotama, a cat spirit. I said Yamato is not the brains of the operation due to his pervertendess and well, Yoru is... the same. He might be the leader, but Takeru is the one making the calls when it counts. Meanwhile, Yoru is off doing... this. (Told you there was some goofy content in these games :P )

    LHgks6r.png

    From left to right we have Yoru, Mikoto and Takeru

    XMwLtFK.png

    And here is Yamato

    In'Youchuu starts off with Takeru being sent to a school up in the mountains where there have been reports of monsters popping up at night. However, she never reports back to The Black Cats, and goes silent. Concerned about what could have happened, Yoru sends Mikoto and Yamato to the school to investigate Takeru's disappearance, and the nightmare begins.

    Yamato and Mikoto start investigating the school, though find no signs of Takeru on the first night. She simply seems to have vanished. Meanwhile, there are clear signs of monsters hiding somewhere in the school, and the duo heads there at night when monsters are most active. At this point, you are given choices rather frequently, usually with each fight. One wrong choice and you will be sent off to a bad ending, where horrible things will usually happen to the characters. Trying to avoid these bad endings is in my opinion part of the excitment in playing these games. Make a wrong turn and you get "punished", as the characters fails, (though you could see this as a reward depending on how you look at it,) and if you make the right choice the story continues. Though, this does of course not mean you are guaranteed to be victorious. There are times where things just goes south, which is to be expected in games these dark.

    79xcsrI.png

    A standard group of youma that you will encounter a lot. These are the mindless sort, that feeds off human organs and are driven solely by primal urges: hunger and the need to breed.

    At the school we are introduced to some familiar faces, like Momono Momo and Sumire from Hanamaru! And also get introduced to a new face, Sui, a childhood friend of Yamato who gets pulled into the chaos that is unfolding at the shcool.

    Eventually you start to figure out what is going on, and meet the first big bad of the Aojiru games: Nightmare. He is a humanoid youma with horse features, that feasts on the wombs of women and aims to create an army of monsters by making the women he eat into breeding machines. Needless to say, he is not a nice guy. Some of the bad endings with this guy... phew. Erhem, anyways.

    In'Youchuu offers some pretty cool fight scenes, with everything from chuuni chants to epic battle CGs. Of course, I don't want to hype this part of the games up too much. Like, you shouldn't go into these games expecting Dies Irae level fight scenes. But, they are definitely enjoyable, and there is often at least one big climax at the end with some pretty cool stuff. There's tons of fight scenes, but the one big one towards the end often uses a lot more budget in the CG department, heh.

    xPl1cHp.png

    Nightmare. He looks both hilarious and terrifying if you ask me, heh.

    7N02K6R.png

    Yamato in his transformed state, during a battle. Being a half-demon, he is capable of transforming himself into a demon for a short time, though it takes a huge toll on his mind and body.

    jB2mdHD.png

    Yoru, after going into combat mode. Yes, he is a badass.

    I obviously have not linked too many NSFW images in this blog post. There is a lot of that in In'Youchuu, naturally. A lot. But, you can find them yourselves, I'm sure. What I wanted to do with this post was introduce more of the serious side of In'Youchuu, and in turn, Aojiru games as a whole. These games aren't just tentacle nukige with some dark scenes. Sure, there's lots of that, but there's much more to them. There's actual stories here, with well developed worlds and characters. I fell in love with these games because of the mix of seriousness and dark H. I am also just a huge fan of Aojiru's art in general.

    I really hope an Aojiru game gets picked up for localization one day. Heck, maybe I'll be able to translate one myself down the line. That would be pretty exciting.

     

    Anyways, if you do speak Japanese, I recommend giving one of these games a try. Who knows, maybe you'll enjoy the ride more than you expected. A lot of people see "nukige" and brush the games off as bad right off the bat, which is why I'm not overly fond of that branding. Yes, with the amount of H in these, it probably does fit to call them nukige, but there's also so much more to them.

    That is it for my post on In'Youchuu 1. Next blog post will either be about the sequel, Shoku, or Kowaku no Toki, one of my favorites. I still haven't decided which one to go with yet. Either way, see you again then.

  16. Haruka!! So cute!!! I knew she'd ask me to kiss her if we continued with the topic but that was cute, really cute. How am I supposed to get close to other girls when Haruka is such a good girl?!

    dHZo0Ey.png

  17. If you thought that I was actually going to finish something I'd started before moving on to something else, then you don't know me very well. So here I am playing Tsukikana instead of Ginharu!

    Spoiler

    5LcRHfU.png

    ???: "Don't forget"

    After a short prelude we have a girl pointing a plastic gun at herself.

    LzbXcxc.jpg

    ???" "Bang..."

    And then we go to the less abstract real world.

    gsnkMvZ.jpg

    Japanese Teacher: "Make sure to review this part during summer break, alright?"

    And while the protag is busy writing down some notes unrelated to class

    kySN5A6.jpg

    Japanese Teacher: "Kurono Kanata... please read the next page to the class"

    He closes his notes leisurely, because if he were to quickly close them that'd make it seem suspicious. But as he begins reading while thinking about how every day seems just like the last

    mPRy33E.jpg

    "Suddenly my reading was interrupted"

    O27nUmj.jpg

    "By a voluptuous listless student peeking out from the back door"

    9ASW6WF.jpg

    JP Teacher: "You're late again, Araya!"

    2lQVCUo.jpg

    ???: "... Good morniing..."

    That has to be the most exasperated greeting I've ever heard.

    r1mYxJP.jpg

    JP Teacher: "Don't "Good morning" me! It's already been 2 hours!"

    bEMaCBR.jpg

    ???: "...Sorryyyy... I couldn't wake up..."

    Lt8Bx9b.jpg

    "This lateness is also a daily thing. Actually, only 2 hours late is early for her."

    yqpBELZ.jpg

    "A girl who regularly leaves early or skips class entirely, Araya Touka is... frankly, the class' problem child."

    WoUTGfG.jpg

    "She had transferred in just this spring."

    After he's done reading, the teacher hands out a test printout. Once the MC turns around to pass it to Touka (who is obviously sitting right behind him)

    d7rNvpj.jpg

    She's already gone back to sleep, and he decides not to wake her.

    Then Kanata receives a text from his friend, saying that he's heard a rumor about Araya, according to which she bullied a classmate until she killed herself, but Kanata says that the rumor is absolutely untrue.

    ZQpv6WU.png

    "There are a bunch of nasty rumors floating around about Araya Touka."

    TkXFaUK.jpg

    "Supposedly, she goes out at night, and gets her hands on dangerous drugs."

    Sdg3eIo.jpg

    "Supposedly, she sells her body to married men."

    6dbGmr8.jpg

    "And this time, apparently bullied a classmate into committing suicide."

    pQ61QSY.jpg

    "Nobody wants to ask her directly about it, so the rumors are passed along as though they're true."

    VET0MBc.jpg

    "She doesn't interact with anyone in class, and doesn't attend any after-school activities."

    Back in the world of non-rumors, the test is over and she's still asleep. So Kanata signs her test with her name, figuring that that would be better than just handing in an unnamed test, even if she's going to get a 0 anyway. How nice of him, but maybe he should have woken her up in the first place.

    He then goes to the rooftop to eat lunch with the friends he was texting, and they discuss new smartphones because Kanata's seems to be running out of battery quicker than before.

    QmKWxHa.jpg

    "Kento is a huge gadget geek and knows a lot about IT equipment."

    gOSNxiS.jpg

    "Madoka joined the conversation while eating his mom's homemade bento"

    They then discuss the rumor some more, with Madoka, having been the one who texted about it in the first place, insisting that it's true. Apparently the fact that there's records of her going to a completely different school is just proof that there's been a cover-up about it. But then he proceeds to immediately deny believing the rumor because there's not enough evidence. Apparently he's not the brightest dude.

    L701VNj.jpg

    Kento: "Don't bother with it. It probably started with someone saying they heard it from Araya's old school friend's senpai's younger brother's friend."

    iwbZVe5.jpg

    Madoka: "No, it was Araya's old school senpai's clubmate's younger brother's friend's friend!"

    5v1RAl0.jpg

    Madoka: "So, what about you, Kanata? Do you believe the Araya rumor?"

    DkvM5Mt.jpg

    Kanata: "Huh, me?"

    B9WUfE8.jpg

    Kento: "Yeah, what do you think, Kanata? You're the closest to Araya after all."

    NqBeTRG.jpg

    Kanata: "Only in that my seat is close to hers..."

    He finally says that he doesn't believe the rumor at all, and when pressed for a reason says that it's because of the impression she gives off, even though he's never actually spoken to her. And the reason he has the impression is because a month into the semester he was sitting in the literature club, alone. Then suddenly someone entered the clubroom...

    f154CRW.jpg

    Touka: *panting*

    sinIgv8.jpg

    Touka: "Hide me!"

    04KYnVf.jpg

    Touka: "I'm being chased!"

    cz4abNq.jpg

    Kanata: "Ch-chased... by whom?"

    K6ELKoc.jpg

    Touka: "The guidance counselor!"

    He essentially ends up shoving her into a closet and when she complains about the rough treatment he tells her that she should be more quiet if she doesn't want to be found. So far this dude is like the polar opposite of Ginharu's Mr. Nice Guy Yukito. And as soon as they close the closet door the guidance counselor comes barging into the clubroom.

    3FiA578.jpg

    Guidance Counselor: "I know you're here, Araya!"

    Ta8BJn2.jpg

    Touka: "...hey"

    RkDlPo2.jpg

    Kanata: "Shh! What?"

    fPuLhH1.jpg

    Touka: "Why are you hiding in here with me?"

    elquJm4.jpg

    Touka: "Wouldn't it have been better for you to stay in the room and tell the counselor that I'm not here?"

    xelwjob.jpg

    Kanata: "...I had no time to think"

    5Qe9yp9.jpg

    Kanata: "For some reason, I felt like I was doing something wrong."

    S7x5nZk.jpg

    Touka: "Hmmm... is that so"

    QglF29X.jpg

    Touka: "By hiding me... you're an accomplice?"

    Eventually after some more back and forth Touka decided she couldn't handle the dusty book smell in the closet and wanted to leave so Kanata held her back and pinched her nose. Eventually the counselor figures he got the wrong room and leaves.

    LCl1L5s.jpg

    Touka: "I thought I was going to die there!"

    She opens a window to get some fresh air and when Kanata mentions that she might be seen that way

    2Lo7MhE.jpg

    Touka: "If that happens, just hide me again"

    MHASJWZ.jpg

    Touka: "I think I recognize your face from somewhere"

    t8bGZFE.jpg

    Kanata: "You should at least be able to recognize your classmates' faces."

    dBegrkh.jpg

    Touka: "Whaaaat?! Really?"

    mjkuDit.jpg

    Touka: "Oh, uh, Satou-kun?"

    eF8StN1.jpg

    Kanata: "Wrong."

    Hbp21F2.jpg

    Touka: "Right, right, it's Tanaka-kun!"

    Well, she got it right, but backwards.

    1RTcRlh.jpg

    Kanata: "Now you're just guessing blindly"

    LQa0xo8.jpg

    Touka: "Umm... where do you sit?"

    gicscQX.jpg

    Kanata: "Right in front of you"

    C8nTpli.jpg

    Touka: "Ah... haha, sorry. I'm really bad with faces"

    She also says she's bad with names, but for some reason says it very proudly.

    4b4DK6w.jpg

    Touka: "My name is Araya Touka"

    XIkb2CM.jpg

    Kanata: "No... I already know that"

    yBbCXUS.jpg

    Touka: "Ah, are you one of those people that are good with names and faces!?"

    WMqvdDa.jpg

    Kanata: "I remember my classmates. And transfer students are rare."

    rUcW0JL.jpg

    Touka: "I see, I see"

    WRYl5ta.jpg

    Touka: "But before I ask someone what their name is, I have to introduce myself."

    sKkiXKU.jpg

    Touka: "So tell me your name"

    t3Tupg5.jpg

    Kanata: "...Kurono Kanata"

    0rEByT8.jpg

    Touka: "Kurono Kanata... Kurono Kanata... Okay, I memorized it! Can I call you Kanacchi?"

    He says no, because nobody ever calls him that. When she asks what people call him, he just says "Kanata".

    EVNPpfX.jpg

    Touka: "Kanatacchi"

    enMwCED.jpg

    Kanata: "Drop the "cchi""

    CxYnKaU.jpg

    Touka: "Kanata, then"

    SGj7srd.jpg

    Kanata: "You didn't add a honorific"

    zA9zG9M.jpg

    Touka: "You don't have to use an honorific for me either. "Touka" is fine"

    SFHLVU1.jpg

    Touka: "So then, Kanata"

    cdzTbTO.jpg

    Touka: "Thanks for helping me"

    They then talk about the literature club and what they do. Touka asks if they write anything themselves, and Kanata says he doesn't, to which she starts quoting something he wrote. He suddenly realizes he'd been leaving his literary notes on his desk.

    41xtwHe.jpg

    Touka: "You wrote that, didn't you?"

    She then proceeds to grab his notes and starts reading, and he gives up on trying to stop her. Apparently they're ideas for novels he plans to write. Eventually she gets thirsty and tells him to go grab her a drink. When he tries to argue she says that the counselor might still be looking for her, so she can't, and hands him a 500 yen coin.

    1gF0Jwb.jpg

    Touka: "Get me something sweet"

    As he's grabbing the drinks, he imagines her sitting in the club room laughing her ass off about his short story about a girl on a lighthouse getting hit by a shooting star and becoming a single creature, neither alien nor human. But when he gets back, she's reading intently, too busy to even acknowledge him or take the coffee he brought her.

    QVWoTc9.jpg

    Touka: "Why was there an alien in the shooting star?"

    LNlgk82.jpg

    Kanata: "No, it's... a spaceship that looks like a shooting star... if you read a bit further you'll understand..."

    4preKAA.jpg

    Touka: "Why does it understand words? Isn't it odd that it can speak Japanese?"

    BvlJd5a.jpg

    Kanata: "...with their advanced technology they've made a universal translator... but explaining all that would just make it tedious..."

    Finally, she finishes reading and drinks her coffee.

    TCrCM2p.jpg

    Kanata: "So... how was it?"

    Fwpm3DF.jpg

    Touka: "It was interesting"

    k2vQY3c.jpg

    Touka: "Really interesting"

    Md2AMiH.jpg

    Touka: "But what happens at the end?"

    He tells her that he hasn't written that far yet, so she asks him to just tell her. He worries that she just wants to tease him about it but she insists that she really is interested.

    aE4bDgm.jpg

    Touka: "So when are you going to finish it?"

    He says that it's still a draft and it won't be done anytime soon.

    0NB8qE6.jpg

    Touka: "In that case, show me once it's finished"

    Thus ends the flashback. I have to agree with him, she doesn't looks like a drug-addicted prostitute who bullies people to suicide.

    This is probably a good stopping point for now. I don't know how far I'll be able to get in Tsukikana, because this seems a bit more story-based than Ginharu which is all slice of life, so I might just get to a point where I have no idea what's happening. That is if I don't just quit it halfway and start their next VN when it comes out in 2022 or something. :makina:

     

    • 1
      entry
    • 2
      comments
    • 454
      views

    Recent Entries

    Alright! I recently got into reading visual novels again, and while I wait for the impending demise of this website, I thought about paying homage to it before it goes away for good by using it for what it was originally intended to be for --- visual novels! Because I'm too lazy to look up the appropriate threads to place my thoughts about specific games, this will be their resting place. What better way to start off a blog dedicated to memories with a game placing emphasis on them in the subconscious plane?

    I'll warn you before you continue: The blog is full of my ramblings, so I'm gonna stop paying heed to what's a spoiler and what's not. It's not a review, so don't read it if you don't want to get spoiled! If you're fine with that, be my guest.

    Start of Rambling

    Da Capo. To be honest, I thought the name was pretty funny because I could only visualize one thing from it.

    Image result for capo

    While I may have missed the mark, I at least got the type of thing the title is right. It's referring to a musical term where one repeats the piece from the beginning until the first symbol that functions as the sort of end of that repetition. While I was skeptical of how the term would come into play in the game due to how I perceive some titles to have been chosen just because they sound cool (I'm looking at you, Fate/Stay Night), I was pleased to have encountered the concept in almost every route the game had. To better remember whatever I read, my thoughts will be focusing on each route and the emerging themes in them, and how the concept of "Da Capo" seems to have applied to them overall. But first, I'll think about the common route.

    Common Route

    Zi93zSk.png

    Time Taken: 2 - 3 hours

    Common route felt like a real dating sim. You have around 10 days to guess your way throughout the places to meet and trigger flags with the different heroines of the game, with the changing of the illustration of the 'calendar' as your guide to whether you're approaching the route you want or not. I tried to actually guess my way through the game blindly at first, but after one route and four failed attempts to get into any other one, I gave up. It's pretty hellish guessing where you can meet the people. After a few attempts though, you kinda get a feel of where they have the highest chance of being based on their personalities, so if you're a guy who hates walkthroughs, don't give up. Just a few more graduations with your best friend Suginami, and you'll be able to grab the girl of your dreams.

    Dialogue was full of quirky fun. My favorite characters by the end of the common route were probably Moe and Suginami with how absurd the kind of situations you find yourself with them are. Miharu comes close to them because of how downright stupid she is. Nothing too special with the dialogue though. Plenty of content here that reminds me of high school life, but that's the majority of Japanese media out there. If anything, it was at least entertaining enough to keep me awake in the wee hours of the night. 

    Now, since the common route was short and filled with SoL content, I'll be moving on from that to the meat of the rambling: the heroine routes. I'll discuss them according to the order in which I think they should be played, based on the kind of content they had.

    Yoshino Sakura

    Related image

    Time Taken: 2 - 3 hours

    Sakura's your obnoxiously annoying imouto-type character, more so than your actual little sister in this game. Combined with her childish aesthetic and speech pattern that makes you go nuts in the head, she's the perfect example of why you sometimes want to just close your machine and get out of the house to get fresh air. While I thought that her mannerisms were pretty damn annoying (as is with a lot of characters that try to be over-the-top cute), I ended up liking how she was made because of its significance to who she is as a character in the game.

    While she's innocent and downright mischievous in the majority of the game, you get glimpses of what lies under her facade every now and then. This is particularly obvious whenever the fantastical aspects of the game, such as the dreams and the never-fading cherry blossoms, are of particular importance to the route. In her own route, you directly experience the consequences of the magical cherry blossom tree, as well as the significance of the encounters in Jun'ichi's childhood. Sakura stops being just your annoying little sister, starting to show her fangs as one of your love interests.

    The gap between the innocent Sakura and the Sakura that harbors malicious feelings gives me satisfaction because of the realization of how they played me like a fool all throughout the common route. While it's obvious that she has magical roots in her bloodline (as well as Jun'ichi's), you don't really get to see the significance of those roots until you're faced with the dangers that accompany the magic they possess. Through the image of cherry blossoms, the magical underpinnings of the game finally come out, and you're faced with a situation where the heroine is actually the source of the different misfortunes that happen throughout the route, especially poignant in Nemu's case.

    What I find most interesting in the route, besides the information dump, is the conflict within Sakura's character. The gap is there, yes, but it didn't come from a desire to create that gap, in which case it would have been placed to hide something. The gap is there because of the responsibility that Sakura bears, and with it, the suffering it entails for her and for the people around her. What needs to be done in order to stop it is to end the source, that is, to end the miracle of dreams --- to free Sakura from the burden of helping people reach their own dreams. It serves as a wake up call for the people of the island, and a form of liberation from the suffering Sakura.

    To be honest, the concept of magic here is pretty shaky. But I get that not knowing the entirety of how the magic works is exactly what makes it so magical in the first place. This encounter with the magical is exactly what I believe to be the best start to the experience with the game, because the death of the cherry blossom tree proves to be significant in the different routes that follow.

    Asakura Nemu

    da_capo008.jpg

    Time Taken: 2 - 3 hours

    Nemu is the trademark capable imouto character who puts up a reliable facade when with other people, only revealing her weaknesses to her beloved big brother. She also has the added bonus of being a stepsister, so hurrah to those who are into that. If there's any one of the heroines who's the most believable love interest for the protagonist, it has to be Nemu. Along with Sakura, she's one of the heroines with the longest association with Jun'ichi, so it makes sense to have her as a love interest with the time given to them to nurture their budding feelings for one another.

    I thought Sakura's route was hard to understand because of how it talks about things in such a subtle way, but Nemu's was somehow able to make everything even harder to understand. Her sickness was kind of explained in the prior route, but goddamn, they suddenly make it into an internal struggle for Nemu when I already have the culprit in my mind as Sakura. It makes Sakura look worse than ever, even going as far as getting rid of Nemu's memories just to try and lessen the effects that the magic has on her.

    To be honest, the whole struggle with Nemu had a lot of emotions going on for her route, and it really enriches the experience. You finally find true love with your stepsister, then she encounters a potentially terminal illness that you have no idea what to do with. Sakura enters, tries to ruin your relationship with Nemu, but love is stronger than everything. I thought it was pretty nice, to the point that I found myself in tears during her last scenario before the epilogue. The feeling of dreaming about the goodbye, and it finally happening in real life to the two of them, was so overwhelming that the sadness you feel for their situation just pours out.

    ...Then they decide to step on your feelings by ending it in the way they did. Nemu's alright. I mean, it should be obvious for the readers that the death of the cherry blossom tree means the survival of Nemu, but after being faced with stakes as high as that prior to the epilogue, I can't help but feel that they discarded what they've built up for the past 9 pages of scenario in favor of a happy end with Nemu. If the aftereffects or any explanation was at least shown to justify the end, it would have been okay. But they just thrust it at you, as if they wanted to say 'sike' as you were reading it. It really took me out of her route, and it really downplays the whole experience. Frankly, it was pretty disappointing.

    Shirakawa Kotori

    da_capo104.jpg

    Time Taken: 1.5 - 2 hours

    Kotori's the typical 'most famous girl in the school that falls in love with you for some reason'. She's the type of heroine that swoons because someone finally treated her like she was a normal person, because every other man out there is a beast that seeks romance with her. Her route is probably the most romantic out of all of them, but also the least believable in my opinion. In a laughable span of 10 days, Kotori and Jun'ichi develop feelings for one another, which finally comes into fruition after another week. A relationship that only took 17 days to start. Pretty damn amazing, with the lack of high stakes and all.

    Why is her route romantic? Well, it's full of scenes where they tease and flirt with each other! Compared to the others, Jun'ichi actually sees Kotori as a proper love interest from the start, which is probably why it felt so romantic compared to the rest. It actually made me embarrassed with myself while reading through it, pushing me to a point where I almost developed type 2 diabetes. I'd like to continue on with how embarrassingly sweet it was, but it's a topic not worth rambling about.

    Main conflict in her route was how she's unable to understand other people, and in return, unable to let other people understand her. By now, it's obvious that the game loves overturning the stereotypes it lays out for its heroines by associating the stereotypes with a sort of facade to deal with their inner struggles. For Kotori's case, I was not able to see it coming from a mile away. It comes in and suddenly slaps me in the face because of how casually Kotori mentions it after the end of the matter. With how dissociated I was with her struggle prior to the death of the cherry tree, I ended up feeling that her conflict was kind of shallow and lacking substance, being justified with the use of a special power that I would never have guessed she had. Would have loved to been more exposed to the inner workings of her conflict, especially outside that of dreams.

    Mizukoshi Moe

    da_capo167.jpg

    Time Taken: 1.5 - 2 hours

    Your standard dojikko. I found her very cute in the common route, and she did not disappoint in her route as well. The gap in her character this time was not exactly a gap, but an underlying reason behind her being a dojikko --- a deep-seated trauma from her past. Moe tries to hide this behind a general face of clumsiness and airheadedness, literally sleeping her problems away.

    I felt like her route had the most potential. You have the ingenious idea of making dojikko not just a stupid trait, but a sort of coping mechanism to deal with the loss of a beloved one in the past. Then you go and end it in like one scene. The deep-seated trauma is warded off with the words "Live happily for him" or something like that. Amazing. If it was that easy to deal with depression and trauma, then therapists would probably be raking in money with the least effort. Or we wouldn't even need them in the first place.

    While I understand that it's the early 2000s and the awareness that comes with these kinds of conflicts is not as fleshed out as it is in our current time, it's still disappointing to see one of those with the most impact being easily solved through mere words. If it was that easy, Moe wouldn't have needed sleeping pills. It honestly makes everyone around her goddamn useless, especially considering she's part of a family that manages a damn hospital.

    Mizukoshi Mako

    da_capo206.jpg

    Time Taken: 1 hour

    I don't get it. It's so out of place in the game.

    Spoiler

    Image result for nisekoi

    Nisekoi, but worse.

    Amakase Miharu

    da_capo137.jpg

    Time Taken: 1 - 1.5 hours

    Probably my best girl. I love Miharu so damn much. And I loved her damn route. It's everything I wanted from Nemu's route. The ending is exactly what I was looking for in Nemu's --- one that did not disregard the main conflict of the route. The build up ultimately leads to an end that is full of emotion; a satisfying conclusion to their short love story. I cried myself to sleep reading this route. It's so damn good. And the epilogue? My god! I cannot begin to imagine the pangs of pain the heart of Jun'ichi might feel seeing a stark reminder of the love story that ended as quickly as it began. Incredible.

    There's only one picture that can encompass the entirety of this route's glory.

    Spoiler

    Image result for mechanical banana

    However, as much as I loved the route and its conclusion, I still had qualms with it. First qualm focuses on the event that triggers the route --- Miharu's accident. I can't believe Jun'ichi doesn't even mention feelings of remorse for the way things transpired. She fell from a tree, and you were in a perfect position to prevent it, had you not left her to her own devices. While not directly culpable for it, it's kinda hard to imagine thoughts about 'what could have been' not surfacing every now and then. Second would probably be about the memory of their past, which led to the unearthing of the time capsule. While it is an emotionally-packed scene, I can't help but to wonder where that places the real Miharu. The feelings between the two might be real, but the promise that the real one and Jun'ichi made as kids seem to have been trampled on, and that just doesn't seem right with me. In a setting where you're trying to act as a substitute for the real one while they're out of commission, directly interfering with one of their most intimate memories kinda feels like a strike to me, because of the implications it has on the prior relationship the real Miharu and Jun'ichi had.

    Sagisawa Yoriko

    da_capo212.jpg

    Time Taken: 1.5 - 2 hours

    Spoiler

    Image result for kitten cherry blossoms

    It was weird, but nonetheless enjoyable. Not much to say here, because it's mostly a feel-good route. You have a catgirl, and you know she was originally a cat but you still fall in love with her. Nice. The most notable thing about her route is probably the loneliness that surrounds it near the end of the scenarios, before the epilogue. Honestly, felt a lot similar to what Miharu's route was, with how abrupt the love story ends. The difference between the epilogue of this route and Nemu's is that the epilogue is properly substantiated, grounded with enough reason (even though it's magical) to be at least a bit believable. It doesn't discard the build up of the conflict prior to it, rather, adds to its significance with the kind of character Misaki is.

    That sex scene was hella unnecessary though.

    Da Capo

    da_capo095.jpg

    So what made me like the game so much, despite all my qualms about the routes? Well, I think it's how they were able to tie in the title with the main themes of the game, such that they become more meaningful when put against one another. Da Capo, like I mentioned earlier, is essentially a repeat of the beginning, until a point where the end comes. After the end, a new segment of the music begins. This beginning at the end is the main paralleling idea behind the routes of the game (yes, even the disaster that is Mako's). Each route focuses on a particular dream, and these dreams, by the end of the route, mostly end with the death of the cherry blossom tree around May. With its end, the dream the characters live end, and a new reality begins. This idea was especially poignant in Miharu's and Yoriko's routes, where the dream with them literally ends because of how fantastical their existence is in the first place. The others also followed this pattern, with Sakura and the tree, Nemu and her illness, Kotori and her ability to read people's minds, Moe and her repeating dream, and lastly, Mako and the fake relationship (lol).

    With a game following its structure so faithfully, the experience of playing it becomes ever more meaningful because of what you can draw out from the content that it gives you. The little things you encounter in the SoL scenes become ever more meaningful with the theme of dreams and their end lingering behind your mind as your read them. Even the common route itself follows the same pattern, with the focus on graduation and the things that end with it. But as the characters say, with the end, new things begin, and it's exactly that kind of association it has with the majority of its elements that made it such a fun read. The subtleties and symbols that it shows become ever more beautiful, similar to how the cherry blossoms bloom in such an elegant manner, culminating in a shower of fleeting emotions that are rich in their passing.

    Final Thoughts

    Da Capo is far from being perfect, but it's an enjoyable experience. Fresh from the outside, Da Capo is a great VN to start with given its quirky cast, its reputation, and the way it plays with its overarching thematic elements. While full of fantastical stuff, it also doesn't fail to deliver in the romance aspect, although there are some that are quite questionable in their initiation. I'd recommend people starting out to pick it up, such that they may be better acquainted with the type of games that would follow should they decide to read more.

  18.  

    Sekai Project

    VN

    Start of Kickstarter

    Estimated delivery

    Actual delivery

    World End Economica

    June 2014

    May 2015

    Not yet delivered

    Clannad

    November 11th 2014

    October 2015

    March 2016

    Grisaia Trilogy

    December 2014

    October 2015

    April 2018

    Memory’s Dogma

    June 2015

    December 2016

    Not yet delivered

    The Human Reignition Project

    June 2015

    December 2016

    Not yet delivered

    Narcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project

    October 2015

    April 2016

    Not yet delivered

    Root Double

    January 2016

    March 2016

    November 2016

    Chrono Clock

    August 2016

    April 2017

    Not yet delivered

    A Clockwork Ley-Line

    Febuary 2017

    January 2018

    Not yet delivered

    Fatal Twelve

    March 2017

    January 2018

    November 2018

    Hoshizora No Memoria

    May 2017

    September 2018

    Not yet delivered

    Shining Song Starnova

    August 2017

    August 2018

    June 2019

    A light in the Dark

    February 2018

    June 2018

    Not yet delivered

    Tokyo Chronos

    July 2018

    April 2019

    Not yet delivered

     

    Frontwing

    VN

    Start of Kickstarter

    Estimated delivery

    Actual delivery

    Corona Blossom vol 1

    June 2016

    October 2016

    July 2019

    Corona Blossom vol 2

    September 2016

    December 2016

    July 2019

    Sharin no Kuni

    November 2016

    October 2017

    Not yet delivered

    Corona Blossom vol 3

    December 2016

    March 2017

    July 2019

    Grisaia Phantom Trigger Volume 1 and 2

    March 2017

    June 2017

    March 2019

    Grisaia Complete box

    March 2017

    Q4 2017

    Febuary 2019

    Grisaia Phantom Trigger Volume 3

    June 2017

    September 2017

    Not yet delivered

    Wonderful Everyday

    August 2017

    January 2018

    Not yet delivered

    Grisaia Phantom Trigger Volume 4

    November 2017

    April 2018

    Not yet delivered

    Momoiro Closet

    Febuary 2018

    July 2018

    Not yet delivered

    Grisaia Phantom Trigger Volume 5

    June 2018

    October 2018

    Not yet delivered

    Island

    August 2018

    December 2018

    Not yet delivered

     

     

    Sol Press

    VN

    Start of Kickstarter

    Estimated delivery

    Actual delivery

    Sakura Sakura

    August 2017

    December 2017

    Not yet delivered

    Newton and the Apple Tree

    December 2017

    May 2018

    Not yet delivered

    Irotoridori no Sekai

    Febuary 2019

    December 2021

    Not yet delivered

     

    Others

    VN

    Start of Kickstarter

    Estimated delivery

    Actual delivery

    Muv-Luv

    September 2015

    September 2016

    July 2018

    Libra of the Vampire Princess

    December 2015

    November 2016

    May 2017

    Dies Irae

    December 2016

    May 2017

    April 2018

    Koropokkur

    March 2018

    September 2018

    October 2018

    Venusblood Frontier

    September 2018

    December 2019

    December 2019

    Seven Days

    September 2018

    January 2019

    Not yet delivered

    Aokana

    June 2019

    December 2019

    Not yet delivered

    • 1
      entry
    • 0
      comments
    • 414
      views

    Recent Entries

    Lab Rats features over 50 sex scenes, each exploring a unique scenario.

    The author showcases mastery of the art of escalation. With the brainwashing fetish, it’s important that things progress slowly for the sake of realism. The first hour of gameplay is mostly looking but no touching!

    Use your verbal skills and skills in chemistry to make the women more comfortable with sex. Eventually, you won’t need to pump their heads full of bullshit. They’ll be horny sluts all on their own!

    Sex positions are very predictable, with missionary and doggystyle featured in the vast majority of content. Also, there are no animations, and movement is conveyed entirely via writing.

    As the girls become more corrupted, you can influence their behavior more. Will you convince your stepmom to go off her birth control? Will you convince your sister to have sex with her internet boyfriend? Will you get your professor to become a slut that takes random dick with no protection? Or do you want them to be loyal only to you?

    The huge variety of scenarios and control over your harem makes for a great porn gaming experience.

     

    Lab-Rats-Incest-Trainer-Brainwashing-Dev

    More Info Here

  19. Originally posted on Pixels, Polygons, Prose.

    Another year, another NaNo. For the uninitiated, NaNoRenO (short for...nothing at all; it's a reference to NaNoWriMo) is a month-long visual novel game jam which has occurred each March since 2005. I chose not to participate myself this year, but like each year since I've gotten into visual novels, I've been looking forward to the entrants—some pretty amazing games have come out of NaNos of the past.

    I couldn't go through every single entry, but I've provided an overview of several of the completed games (no demos, sorry! I couldn't go through all 90 entries in just two weeks!). There might be some minor spoilers ahead.

    screenshot0001

    Title: Contract Demon
    Developer: NomnomNami
    Original release date: March 30, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Availability: itch.io (free/PWYW)
    Approximate time for completion: 25 minutes

    Contract Demon is a kinetic novel set in the same universe as the Treat series, Syrup and the Ultimate Sweet, and First Kiss at a Spooky Soiree, featuring demon Kamilla having to deal with the affections of (and her affections towards) the angel who keeps summoning her. Nami's stuff is always a treat to enjoy (pun not intended), and this is no exception. Contract Demon is equal parts cute, funny, and romantic, and well worth the time it takes to read it.

    screenshot0003

    Title: A HERO AND A GARDEN
    Developer: npckc
    Original release date: March 29, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Availability: itch.io (free/PWYW)
    Approximate time for completion: 2 hours (before an update which made the gameplay take less time, so it'll likely be less now)

    A HERO AND A GARDEN is a cute VN/clicker hybrid about a wannabe hero who destroyed a town of monsters while trying to rescue a princess who (unbeknownst to him) didn't want to be rescued. As penance, the "evil witch" who lives in the town has cursed him and forced him to harvest berries for the townspeople.

    The clicker mechanic is very simple, but the VN as a whole is a heartwarming experience, with the protagonist learning about the town and the monsters who live in it, and realizing that what he thought the world was like isn't really what the world is like at all.

    aftertheend

    Title: After the END
    Developer: Stomach God
    Original release date: March 28, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac
    Availability: itch.io (free)
    Approximate time for completion: 30 minutes

    After the END takes place a decade after the start of a zombie apocalypse which killed or turned nearly every person in the world; protagonist BB believes they are the only person left alive and spends their time exploring the wasteland. The current town they're in has 12 houses to explore, but there's only enough time to explore 8; you're all but guaranteed to die a few times before managing to get the good ending.

    I'm not a huge fan of zombie apocalypse stories, but After the END manages its setting fairly well despite some technical issues (the "skip read text" function also skips unread text) and a few text errors.

    screenshot0001

    Title: Cooked with Love
    Developer: STARDUSTSODA
    Original release date: March 31, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Availability: itch.io (free/PWYW)
    Approximate time for completion: 30 minutes

    College student Perry (nameable) finds themself in a dilemma after they finally ask their crush Lily out—their wallet goes missing the night they planned to take her out to a fancy restaurant! They come up with the idea of a home-cooked meal instead, but Perry has never cooked before, and there's not a whole lot for them to work with. Luckily, Perry's roommate Brooks is there to provide emotional support (not during the date. That would just be weird).

    A fun, short VN with a crafting minigame and a great sense of humor, Cooking with Love is extremely polished for a jam game, featuring animations and simple customization (name entry, short/long hair, pants/skirt, he/she/they pronouns). If it weren't for its short length, I wouldn't be surprised to see something like this as a commercial game.

    One of the highlights of the game is trying out different combinations of food to see what "dishes" you get; I didn't think you could turn all that into...those.

    Also, I think I have a crush on Lily too. Oops.

    screenshot0004

    Title: Seven Seasonings
    Developer: Sleepy Agents
    Original release date: March 30, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Availability: itch.io (free/PWYW)
    Approximate time for completion: 30 minutes

    A surreal VN with a unique aesthetic and an interesting soundtrack. The game makes use of an inventory system, randomized stats, map movement, and a simple trading mechanic; I'm not entirely sure how (or if) they affect the story. Seven Seasonings is one of those stories where I'm not quite certain what happened or what any of it meant, but it provides an interesting topic to think about.

    screenshot0002

    Title: One Last Salty Kiss
    Developer: fullmontis
    Original release date: March 31, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Availability: itch.io (free/PWYW)
    Approximate time for completion: 50 minutes

    A kinetic novel about a newly-single man who finds an unconscious woman on the beach one night; what results is an emotional vignette about life, death, and the roles our memories play in our well-being. I felt the whole thing moved too fast; I'm not a fan of stories where the couple goes from zero to True Love in the space of two days.

    screenshot0035

    Title: Charles 2.0
    Developer: Team Conwolf
    Original release date: March 31, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android
    Availability: itch.io (free/PWYW)
    Approximate time for completion: 40 minutes

    Charles 2.0 has what's probably the best logline of the jam:

    You're the President, but you have no memories. Crap.

    Short, sweet, and to the point. This isn't an amnesia story; you're playing as a clone of Charles Denton, President of the United States, and must gather enough information about "yourself" and the country to bluff your way through a press conference without arousing any suspicion. Nobody can know that you're a clone, not even Charles' husband Lorenzo or assistant/polyamorous boyfriend Jonas. The result is a story that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout and is one of my favorites of the jam.

    screenshot0003

    Title: Enc and the Flying Machine
    Developer: TangledVirus
    Original release date: March 30, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Availability: itch.io (free/PWYW)
    Approximate time for completion: 20 minutes

    Enc and the Flying Machine tells the story of a mushroom girl tasked to write about machines. While the setting is interesting, I found the story hard to follow at times, with the occasional confusing wording. Besides that, though, it's a lighthearted story about friendship and love, and hopefully some polish on the text can help bring that out more.

    screenshot0002

    Title: RE:BURN
    Developer: Jane Titor
    Original release date: April 1, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Availability: itch.io (free/PWYW)
    Approximate time for completion: 25 minutes

    Closer to interactive fiction than a traditional visual novel, RE:BURN finds you in the shoes of Charisse LaFlamme, newly-minted part-time editor for an academic journal. One of your jobs is to delete all the old emails that have been accumulated over the past few months. However, things soon start to get really weird. The game was written by one of the writers of DemiDato, one of the projects I'm working on—but trust me, they're two very different games. RE:BURN is something closer to horror; it does a good job at unsettling you just enough to make you wonder if you're really making the right decisions.

    screenshot0002

    Title: this was for you.
    Developer: Watercress
    Original release date: April 1, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac
    Availability: itch.io (free/PWYW)
    Approximate time for completion: 50 minutes

    this was for you. is one of the more technically-advanced entries of the jam, featuring lots of animations, voice acting, and general polish. Our nameable protagonist is grieving the loss of their best friend, Ji-min, whom they only knew through a VR world. While it works for its duration, it ends abruptly, without a satisfying conclusion, leaving me in a weird limbo where I don't really know if I can recommend it or not.

    screenshot0002

    Title: Robot Daycare
    Developer: Kigyo
    Original release date: March 31, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Availability: itch.io (free)
    Approximate time for completion: 1 hour 40 minutes

    One of the longer non-gameplay entries in the jam, Robot Daycare follows a trio of college students as they create and raise a robot child for an assignment. How the story goes from there is based on a handful of choices—not exactly revolutionary for visual novels, but the two paths are very different, with the good path being a story about friendship and trust and the bad path being a straight-up horror story. (Some of the descriptions in the horror path are...eurgh. No wonder there's an option to disable gory text.) Both paths are good, but in different ways, obviously.

    screenshot0002

    Title: REDD War
    Developer: Good Tales
    Original release date: March 31, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android
    Availability: itch.io (free/PWYW)
    Approximate time for completion: 1 hour

    Hm, so this is a story about murder being legal for 12 hours...

    No, that doesn't remind me of anything at all.

    Parallels with famous movie series aside, I just couldn't get into this one. A high school student gets caught up in a REDD War, where Earth-occupying murderous aliens are legally allowed to murder any human they want for 12 hours (whereas humans are bound by normal laws and cannot kill REDD except in self-defense). Ultimately, the "killer aliens" trope doesn't do anything for me, and I spent most of the story being vaguely uncomfortable (in a bad way). Watching two of the bloodthirsty REDD call the timid REDD a pussy over and over is just annoying (and yes, I know that the other two REDD are supposed to be unlikable, but they're not the fun kind of unlikable that makes hating them enjoyable).

    I also thought it was strange that it includes a warning for violence after the cold open where some aliens murder a guy in cold blood.

    screenshot0001

    Title: Alice in Stardom
    Developer: Crystal Game Works
    Original release date: April 1, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android
    Availability: itch.io, Steam (free)
    Approximate time for completion: 1 hour 40 minutes

    The best part of Alice in Stardom is the writing during the performances themselves (aside from the pointless minigame); everything else is hit-or-miss. I had a hard time getting into the entire concept thanks to my distaste for idols, made stranger by the decision to set the story in what appears to be the USA in 2019, where the idol culture Alice in Stardom depicts really doesn't exist (source: I live in the USA in 2019).

    I'm a bit confused by the minigame. I failed it the first few times since the game doesn't explain what you're supposed to do (click on the lyrics in the order in which they appear). It doesn't really add anything except making going for your second/third route take a couple minutes longer.

    Additionally, the "romance" is limited to about three lines (total, across all three routes, although the end of Taylor's route can be interpreted as romantic subtext). There's nothing wrong with a story about friendship or friendship-that-could-lead-to-romance—but I think it makes the "lesbian" and "yuri" tags on itch more than a bit misleading.

    screenshot0007

    Title: Mnemonic Devices
    Developer: Minyan
    Original release date: April 2, 2019
    Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Availability: itch.io (free)
    Approximate time for completion: 1 hour 30 minutes

    I'm generally not a huge fan of the amnesia trope, but Mnemonic Devices has one of the more interesting takes on it that I've seen: the (customizable) protagonist (default name Quinn) eventually finds out that they are actually an extremely advanced android assassin, whose current mission is to kill corrupt hot-shot lawyer Caesar Rivera—who also happens to be Quinn's husband. (They had to get close to him to gather information on him, you see.) The person who breaks the news to you is Quinn's partner Alto, who does a really bad job of hiding how madly in love with them he is.

    The game itself, however, does a really good job at balancing both routes to make them equally satisfying, although I personally preferred Alto's route. There's a lot of moral ambiguity regarding whether or not to kill Caesar; the game doesn't really say that either is more or less right than the other, though they lead to different endings depending on which route you're on.

  20. I've been seeing people wondering about Daitoshokan's translation, so I'm making this compilation of screenshots just to show what the experience is like in English.

    The further down you go, the further into the game you are. But these screenshots are all from the first half of the common route and earlier, so I wouldn't worry terribly.

    Spoiler

    Wp3x0WY.png

    Incidentally, the advice was that if you give an inch, they'll take a mile; or all the space in the train, as it were.

    QjdHEYT.png

    I mean, what else would a student be doing in a Geology class? Wait, this was actually a Math class?

    uLdz69f.png

    Finally a game I can empathise with.

    t8KgsEy.png

    Thank you for your help picking up the rubbish with us. Goodbye.

    cCRWXQz.png

    Being able to read your book whilst executing any task or walking anywhere is a genuine skill, Ms. Suzuki!

    azdzAHP.png

    Bless you.

    QEO7KwK.png

    I don't even like oysters.

    kdBfrhu.png

    I've met the character in question. Can confirm.

    gh3BVsU.png

    The face of innocence.

    l8tBtWK.png

    Operation: "Call her tiny"

    g7Q47WR.png

    What slander.

    T6hvZDW.png

    Sluggo is lit 8)

    SqOHuOF.png

    You have my tacit agreement.

    qWSBqhc.png

    Everyone has a limit to what they can take, and she has unfortunately reached it...

    C9tJOYG.png

    Common sense? What's that? Can you eat it?

    bzg1TZB.png

    We needed to fill our quote of quintessentially Japanese conversations.

    5HhdSK3.png

    Whatever. Femininity isn't worth this...

    JoMRnbx.png

    Today's youth is hitting tragic levels of cynicism.

    Ui3zXs3.png

    These things happen... you know.

    p4LkOUt.png

    I love the member(s of the Library Club).

    cqlp6wH.png

    Alas... Farewell, Reggie.

    I587pH0.png

    The (not tiny) face of innocence.

    oi75I12.png

    People should fix their habits of asking questions before thinking.

    s1lM487.png

    Sakuraba is the manliest in the room at any point. Including in the toxic depravity. Down girl!

    GeB8WnX.png

    A nice, polite talk between nice, polite girls.

    4je4p9L.png

    I do love a protagonist capable of talking back.

    noDUc5j.png

    How he is loved by his junior.

    A story in two parts:

    kBhyUQ4.png

    boCqVi2.png

     

    Ms. Suzuki has the dubious honour of sharing the butt monkey position with Takamine:

    m0So7BE.png

    9JarZx9.png

    DwwcFkN.png

    But it's not like she isn't crazy enough to bring it on herself.

    U0o4jWz.png

    I feel like I'm on the cusp of a realisation... but... what is it...?

    HHcEpeL.png

    Croak

    I think the VN is super fun, and really, that's all I care about, to be honest.

    • 4
      entries
    • 0
      comments
    • 1289
      views

    Recent Entries

    This is the prologue of the book I'm currently writing (though, given my procrastinating habits, it will never see the light of day). 

     

    It was a foggy night on the research center docks. A front came through during the day, dropping the temperature and raising the humidity. As a result, the ferry to the mainland was forced to delay for a night, and the ‘guests’ scheduled to leave were forced to stay for another night.

    Unfortunate for the slightly overweight security guard watching the entrance to the restricted sections of the center, not so unfortunate for his assailant.

    The middle-aged white man with the brown beard never saw the small clawed hand that swept across his throat, opening it in a spray of arterial blood that splattered across the bulletproof glass of his station.

    Uzume, his killer, wiped her bloodied fingers off on his clothing, shoving his still warm hand down on the biometric pad in front of his corpse to give authorization for the temporary security ID she’d set the system to print. A small plastic card with a magnetic strip and another, much older, woman’s face on it slid out of the output socket and into her other hand.

    With no visible emotion, her glowing golden eyes regarded the corpse for a moment before she vanished into the mists, gliding through them toward the restricted building.

    Uzume’s features were elfin and delicate, showing traces of her mother’s land of origin, but what truly stood out were the two triangular furred ears sticking out of her pitch black hair, flicking back and forth as they caught faint noises in the distance. The two sinuous furred tails emerging from just above her buttocks only gave more evidence to her inhumanity, if the eyes were not a dead giveaway.

    The catlike demihuman moved with a grace and speed that no human could match, killing each security guard she came across with perfect strikes of her clawed hands, leaving their corpses to cool on the concrete. The client specified havoc and slaughter, and she had every intention of giving him just that.

    When she finally reached the outermost doors, she slid her new ID card through the reader, causing the thick metal door to click open and swing outward. She slid inward and rushed the guard standing just inside before he could cry an alarm, slamming her left palm into his belly to prevent him from crying out before thrusting her right index finger into his left eye, using the grip this gave her on his head to draw the head back to bear the throat, which she bit into without a second’s hesitation, ripping his throat out with her razor sharp canines.

    The taste of salty, warm human blood upon her tongue threatened to send her in to a state of excitement, but she forced it downward with the same iron will that allowed her to survive her life so far. She dropped the human to the ground at her feet, pocketing his sidearm for later use, along with his two spare magazines of 9mm ammunition.

    In the next room, she found another guard sleeping, and, using the claw at the end of her right index finger, precisely pierced his voice box without harming the nearby arteries, ensuring he wouldn’t be able to cry out an alarm. Two slashes of her claws separated the tendons at the elbow, and she jammed the edge of her hand into the wound before using a spell to force-heal it, sealing the skin, flesh, and bone around the damage without undoing it. She couldn’t afford for him to die just yet, but she didn’t want him able to struggle effectively.

    With impossible strength, she dragged him to the nearby biometric scanner , forcing him to activate the combination palm print and retinal scan, opening the doorway into the center’s inner sanctum.

    With the same carelessness a child gives to a discarded toy, she snapped his neck and dropped him to the floor, flowing through the open doorway before it could shut.

    There was no guard at the station inside. Unsurprising, as by all accounts the facility’s security budget was cut by the current project manager only weeks before. The assault rifle armed guards on the grounds and the two layers of biometric scanners probably seemed more than enough to prevent intrusion in the eyes of a scientist.

    A young woman, most likely in her mid-twenties, stepped out of a nearby room, rubbing bleary eyes, her labcoat stained with chemicals that smelled sour to Uzume’s oversensitive nose. Without hesitation, Uzume slammed her right palm into the woman’s nose, forcing her back into the room she left, even as she drove stiffened clawed fingers deep into her belly, tearing through her innards viciously, shredding her stomach and ripping deeply into her left lung.

    Seeing two other scientists behind the woman, looking stupefied, she leapt over the woman with a display of inhuman agility and tore the face off one, twisting in midair to hit the metal wall feet first before launching herself to tear the throat out of the other. The gurgling noises of the dying were all that signified the three terrible blows dealt, and Uzume noted that she had cut half of face-torn one’s tongue out, causing him to choke on his own blood.

    With a sigh, she slammed the heel of her booted foot into his throat, crushing his trachea. His eyes were gone, but a witness was a witness.

    Uzume’s form-concealing black clothing was already soaked with blood, and her face was splattered with it, especially around her mouth. She took a moment to use the dying woman’s labcoat to wipe the worst of it off of her face before moving on in perfect silence.

    She also wiped the caked blood off of her claws with a white cloth as she continued making her way through the facility, stopping at each room to kill those within in perfect silence. Most didn’t even have time to react before their corpses hit the floor, and that was no surprise. The speed with which she moved was beyond the human ability to react, to the point where two or three were usually dead before any remaining individuals within realized something had happened. Uzume’s kind lay outside the realm of human common sense, which was why they were so effective at work like this.

    It took her almost an hour to clean out the accessible areas of the facility, literally painting the walls red in places. Going back through the facility, she used the drying blood of her victims to write a series of symbols on the wall of each room before heading for the way out.

    As she reached the door she came in through, she activated the spells with a thought, and flames burst into being throughout the facility, erupting from the blood within, burning everything, starting a conflagration that would gain the attention of the rest of the facility as a whole within moments. Unfortunately for anyone investigating the incident, there wouldn’t be enough material evidence remaining to get even the vaguest idea of what had happened.

    Uzume stripped naked, tossing her clothing and boots into the flames inside without a second thought, gliding back into the mists with the same grace and silence she’d displayed upon arrival.

    As she left the grounds, her body shifted, the ears and tail melting away, her metallic golden eyes becoming a mundane brown, the blood in her hair and on her skin vanishing as it was consumed as an afterthought to power the shift.

    So it was that a young human woman named Uzume, an unremarkable half-Japanese woman knelt down in a group of bushes and dressed in the plain school uniform she’d used to gain access to the island. There was no sign of the terrible grace and horrifying brutality she’d shown only minutes before in the slow, shuffling gait of the woman that remained behind, though their elfin features were the same.

    She made her way back to the employee dorms ‘her class’ was staying in without the least sign of guilt or concern, for all the world as if she really were the young student she appeared to be…

×