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  • 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! 
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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. Welcome to this week VNTS Review, and as for the title I decided to combined both of Senren Banka (Because we have it's trial released at the last week) and Utawarerumono (Because we have the duology rereleased at PC) here into 'Thousand Battles Ten Thousand Masks'. The reason is because in Utawarerumono we have the MC from the first part wore his iconic mask and that there's a lot of battles happened being SRPG and all, and that we have kanji mean 'Thousand' and 'Ten Thousand' in Senren Banka Japanese name (Kanji 'Sen' and 'Ban' respectively). As for this week, I guess I should say congratulation to Shira VN in regard of their hardwork to port Utawarerumono into PC, although I'm quite mixed on that though. Other than that, we also have some fan translation title along with Sol Press updates that they'd announce stealthly at the last week, so overall this week is more or less a bit plain to me here (Although it might be great though if you Utawarerumono's big fan). Let's see what I can write at this week.

    For Utawarerumono duology port, once again while I should praise Shira VN for their hardwork and Leaf for still care about their initial market (PC gamer), unfortunately my laptop here can't play this so too bad that I can't join the fun. I also did wonder whether my reaction would be different if my laptop can play this, but after I remember my reaction to Grisaia trilogy even after it's been translated I guess my reaction to Utawarerumono would still the same in that I still thought that it's more or less just Leaf being milking Utawarerumono franchise in which actually the first game itself is already conclusive enough (The first game story is very linear). Speaking about the first game, apparently Leaf want to remake the first part as well and let's just say that perhaps it should be good for the fans who want to play first Utawarerumono in better graphic. Well go get Utawarerumono duology if your PC/laptop is strong enough and that you've been a big fans of it, and have fun.

    Speaking about Shira VN, turned out that they also responsible for publishing Marco and Galaxy Dragon here. While I'm surely wouldn't have any problem with any publisher seeing that it's all age VN in the first place (I should praise Harukaze/TOKYOTOON to wisely made original all age VN after their blunder in Noraneko duology), it's still good that we have a new VN localization company bring active here. I also have a good news if you like otome VNs, in that Aksys will released their three otome VNs at this year with the closest one is Collar x Malice Unlimited in that they'll release it at this summer. There's slso bad news as well, in that we have Ryuusei World Actor was being banned from Steam again. While I know that the writer (Kinugasa) isn't the capable one when it come to finished the story, it's still too bad that it's been banned here so hopefully it'll find a solution to resolve the case (Even though I'm surely wouldn't read it thanks to the writer's bad reputation).

    As for Sol Press update, we have Irotoridori was at 45% translated along with 10% edited, Shitsuaru was at 30% translated along with 10% edited (I thought it's already been finished the translation), and Himawari no Kioku was at 67% translated along with 60% edited. We also have some hidden updates in which the CEO Xeviax only announce it on Sol Press Discord (Don't ask me why he decided to do it) in that we have Sakura Celebration was at 67% translated along with 60% edited, and Nukitashi was at almost three quarter (74%) translated along with 8% edited. Like I said last week, for now I can only say that it's just too bad that we still didn't have Mirai Radio update so hopefully we'll have that in the near future.

    From fan translation we have Tales in Distress release in which apparently it's just a nukige with the graphic that resembled some old Tales series (The sprite). Other than the small release, of coursecwe have some updates as well in that we have Eustia was at 79.28% edited with Eustia's chapter was at 61.54% edited, and finally we have Miotsukushi Omote fully translated. Lastly we have Tsurezure do their usual update after a week of absence, and for this week update currently they have Ginharu's overall was at 54.74% translated with Momiji's route was at 58.13% translated.

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

  3. The premise of Boku to Koisuru Ponkotsu Akuma, henceforth Ponkotsu Akuma is that the main character has a not related by blood little sister who is a total brocon and a childhood friend who clearly likes him and is bad with anything sexual. Because of the little sister being way too much of a brocon and the childhood friend being bad with sexual stuff the mother of the childhood friend which also takes care of the main character due to his parents being away all the time who is also the principle at their school send them off to a special dorm to get over their problems. The day the main character gets to the dorm he finds out that all the other residence of the dorm who are of course all girls are also some different kind of Demon (Akuma) that all are considered useless. His sister is an angel who is just way too much of a brocon, the childhood friend is a succubus who has trouble dealing with perverted stuff, then there is the kohai who is a friend of his little sister that is a mummy who because trauma related to tight bandages have trouble wearing clothes often going around nude when not in public, the transferee student yuki-onna who is bad at dealing with cold and the senpai witch who wants to make medicine but is bad at studying.

     

    Ponkotsu Akuma is divided into one common route and five main heroine routes focusing on the five girls living in the Ponkotsu dorm as well as three smaller routes one focusing on their loli teacher, one on the mother of the childhood friend and one on a tiger girl who is friends with the little sister and the mummy girl. The fandisc has an after story for each of the routes in the main VN as well as having a harem route and a joke route for a mascot character. The afterstories are nice and manage to wrap up their routes better than the original could. As for the harem route it is quite crazy and sex filled, it quickly goes through how they got to the harem situation with the heroines only getting a few lines each for the build-up of the harem and then it jumps straight into the craziness of the situation.

     

    The visual novel is clearly a nukige and thus mainly focus on sexual content as well as on the characters who does the sexual content. The characters each have their own quirky personalities which works well for comedic moments as well as making them likeable which I think is the most important thing to do for what it tries to do as a nukige. They do lack depth as characters though so if you are expecting a lot of character depth this title is probably not for you. Ponkotsu Akuma is very light on drama with any dramatic thing being treated light-hearted and lasting for a short period of time. The comedy is mainly focused on the absurdity of the characters as well as some of the situations they are in, so I think anyone who likes absurd comedy will really enjoy it, but those who don’t will probably have a hard time reading it. As for the characters themselves I don’t want to go into all of them, but in my opinion they are all really likeable and fun and I consider them really good nukige heroines. As for the sex scenes I think they are handled really well, with the dialog of the sex scenes in my opinion being among the better dialog I have seen in sex scenes, the art being fantastic and a good focus on variety in fetish and location.

     

    Also one thing to mention is that Ponkotsu Akuma is very similar to Nekopara in its comedy structure and building of characters with character quirks and artwork. Ponkotsu Akuma and Nekopara are both illustrated by Sayori and one of the 3 scenario writers of Ponkotsu Akuma is the same as the scenario writer for the Nekopara series and this scenario writer is the only one listed for the Fandisc for Ponkotsu Akuma. While Ponkotsu Akuma is lewder than Nekopara I would say they in general are very similar and that if you like one you  are very likely to like the other and if you dislike one you will likely dislike the other.

     

    My overall thoughts on Ponkotsu Akuma is that it is really good at what it tries to do, the comedy is great for those into that type of comedy, the characters are quirky and likeable, and the sex scenes are well done. There is also a lot of effort put into the music, the visual and extra features which makes it stand out as a high quality nukige. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a fun cute nukige that doesn’t take itself seriously. Though for anyone who don’t feel like this sounds interesting the title is likely not for you as it doesn’t try to focus on anything else than this.

     

    Physical copy of Ponkotsu Akuma

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    Backside of physical copy of Ponkotsu Akuma

    Spoiler

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    Disc of Ponkotsu Akuma

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    Physical copy of Ponkotsu Akuma Suggoi Ecchi (the fandisc)

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    Backside of physical copy of Ponkotsu Akuma Suggoi Ecchi

    Spoiler

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    Disc of Ponkotsu Akuma Suggoi Ecchi

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  4. 933989c59e8e1d8043fdda534dfeb468a689_192

    You probably saw many cataclysms in stories you’ve read or watched in the past. Disasters that were natural, technological or magical in nature, limited in scale or apocalyptic, resulting in short-lived crises or civilisation-ending. From Muv-Luv through Swan Song to I Walk Among Zombies, plot-oriented visual novels never shied away from presenting these kinds of scenarios, and along with literature, they’re uniquely positioned to explore deeper consequences they could have for both individuals and whole societies. 

                    Fallstreak, a free game released on Steam on October 2018 as a debut title of a small studio under the name Centicerise Productions, is one less-common EVNs tackling this topic. It does so by focusing heavily on a group of people affected by such a catastrophic event – mostly average folk, crippled physically and emotionally by the mysterious Fire of Collapse that ravaged their isolated country without a warning or identifiable source. It’s also, generally speaking, a wonderfully-produced piece of VN that I’m wary of recommending to people due to its surprisingly extreme content and open-ended story, quite clearly meant as an introduction to its world and a prologue to future games utilizing the same setting. So, what are the main reasons to check it out, or to skip on visiting the fantasy realm of Socotrine at least until Fallstreak’s continuation shows up?

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    The amount of stories-within-a-story and subplots that are never elaborated upon makes Fallstreak feel more like a prologue leading to a proper story than a standalone experience

    Fallstreak’s Steam page claims that the game’s protagonist is Adelise Cotard, the daughter of Socotrine’s ruler and a little girl with a mind of an adult. Atypically mature due to the time she spends in the Golden Dream, a lucid dreamworld full of knowledge which she enters nearly every night, Ade is indeed the character through which we initially experience the story. These introductory chapters, rather relaxed and light-hearted, mostly follow her and her group of friends through some everyday situations – a normal life in which only physical scars some of them bear and occasional reminiscence hint at the dramatic past. However, she’s neither sole focus nor the only protagonist of the game. In its second half, when we start learning about other characters’ backstories and the details of Fire of Collapse though flashbacks, she’s not only pushed to the background but mostly absent, with crucial events taking place before she was even born. At this point, the game switches perspectives on a regular basis, focusing mostly on various members of the Lirit family, whose children are Adelise’s classmates in a private school for those orphaned or otherwise affected by the cataclysm.

                    In the meantime, we’re also introduced to a ton of information about Socotrine itself, a land isolated from the outside world by the apparently impassable, magical mist. Its impoverished, but stable history was shaken up by the arrival of a refugee convoy from beyond the barrier, around 20 years before the game’s main events. Bringing with them advanced technology and knowledge of the outside world, refugees affected drastically both the land’s political balance and the way of life of its people. Eventually, the convoy’s “Lost Children” revolted against the ruling aristocracy of Socotrine and brought in an era of prosperity. At the same time, the game opens many questions about their origins, actions after traversing the mist and their connection to the Fire of Collapse which nearly destroyed the whole realm. Adelise’s personal story is also apparently related to much of this, with the Golden Dream, her father’s dethronement of the Lost Children’s leader and her mother’s death all signalized as mysteries crucial to understanding Socotrine’s predicaments, although without many hints on how they’re actually significant.

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    Fallstreak’s story turns bleak without much warning and introduces scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in the darkest of horror stories – it’s not a VN for those faint of heart

    If this sounds like a lot to fit into a relatively short, 80k-word VN, it definitely is. I also skipped a number of lore details and subplots that could be considered spoilers, and as you can imagine, very few of those receive any kind of answer or satisfying conclusion. The game does not shy away from extensive infodumps and introducing character after character, many of them either signalizing stories that might be told in the future or being little more than exposition props. It also includes allegorical stories told by various characters, which further draw the readers attention away from its actual plot-points and protagonists. At times the memorable, high-quality visual design and solid characterisation are main things preventing it from devolving into an incomprehensible mess. The unique characters and the sheer beauty of all visual assets make it easier to get immersed in the world and look past the absolute overload of story threads the game bombards you with, without ever tying most of them together.

                    While the pacing is definitely an issue in Fallstreak, the most problematic part might still be its tone: it often jumps from rather relaxing slice-of-life moments to unsettling mysteries, and then to over-the-top tragedy and absolutely grotesque violence. The aforementioned backstory of the Lirits is full of gut-wrenching moments, drastic enough to disturb even a relatively experienced and desensitized reader like me. I’m not sure all of them belonged in this story – some very much balanced on the border of absurdity and if they had a real narrative function beyond the sheer shock factor, it’s not clear at this point. It’s not a massive problem if you can handle that kind of content, but it definitely makes Fallstreak not an experience for everyone, especially because the intensity of these segments was not properly signalized by previous events and very much caught me by surprise.

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    The visual design of Fallstreak is impeccable and helps a lot in fleshing out its characters and world, making them surprisingly memorable

    If what I wrote so far paints a pretty bleak picture, it’s because Fallstreak’s problems could’ve been fatal if not for how just this polished and well-put-together it is. The prose and dialogue, despite the heavy exposition and anachronistic jokes that I’m not sure make sense in the setting, are very solid. Elements such as character’s speech patterns and personality quirks save them from being forgettable in the overcrowded storyline. And in the end, it’s the beautiful visuals and music that really make it stand out. The characters look distinct and expressive, while backgrounds and CGs are hard to take your eyes off. The assets are also pretty abundant for a free VN, with just enough environments, sprite variants and full illustrations to consistently keep things fresh. The original soundtrack is very climatic, with mostly sombre piano tunes underlining the sad reality of the game’s world. It all comes together in a way that I’m not sure I’ve seen in another free VN.

                    So, ultimately, what do I make out of Fallstreak? It’s definitely not a bad game and the main problems it suffers from came rather from the developers being overly ambitious than a lack of effort. They definitely tried to fit too much into one package and didn’t follow up properly with new chapters. If I read it right and it is a starting point for a commercial franchise, we should already be seeing much more concrete signals about its continuation than the sporadic teasers present on the developer's social media. It’s not an abandoned project, considering I was directly approached by the studio behind it not a long time ago and the latest updates on the continuation are fairly recent, but whether you should read it depends mostly on whether you’re ok with reading a story that is essentially unfinished (and is going stay like that for a while), and whether you're willing to deal with its grimdark elements. For me, it was definitely worth the time I’ve spent reading it and as a free VN, that time is all it will ever ask from you.

     

    Final Score: 3/5

     

    Pros:

    + Beautiful visuals

    + Climatic soundtrack

    + Memorable main characters

    Cons:

    – Frequent infodumps and clunky exposition

    – Gets over-the-top with the brutality of the backstories

    – Feels more like a prologue than a full story

     

    VNDB Page

    Play Fallstreak for free on Steam

  5. In plotge of all types, whether they are chuunige, kinetic novels, horror suspense, or mysteries, infodumps are ubiquitous throughout the VN world.  Infodumping in and of itself isn't a horrible thing to do to the reader (as some people claim), but it is a tool that is often abused by writers who want to expound on their beloved world and its characters.  

    First, the definition of an infodump is a scene with little or no dialogue where background information is provided without directly proceeding with the story.  Infodumps can vary in size from as small as forty lines of narration to up to a thousand, depending on the writer and the subject matter involved.  There are even multiple types, which I will describe here.

    The Lump of Infodump

    The Lump of Infodump (as I put it) is the most common type of infodump in VNs.  In the 'Lump, a great amount of information, sometimes with brief bits and pieces of dialogue or character stream of thought, is provided in a single scene, interrupting the story.  The 'Lump is the type of infodump most likely to drive people crazy, due to its tendency to create walls of uninterrupted text.  When abused, it tends to interrupt and/or destroy the flow of the story, and I've encountered a number of games where a more measured approach to presenting the setting or explanations of the particulars of an event or the 'why' of an action would have been less monotonous.  In fact, that is the big flaw of this type of infodump.  It is almost impossible to avoid monotony with this kind of infodump, because all it is doing is literally dropping information on you.  That said, infodumps often have a reason for existing that becomes clear in coming scenes, so it is not necessarily always a bad thing.

    The Scattered Infodump

    'Scattered Infodumps' are a technique where the writer provides the information in smaller, more digestible asides throughout the story, as it becomes relevant.  This technique tends to be received with less irritation and often goes almost unnoticed by the reader, because it doesn't go on long enough to disrupt the flow of the story.  Unlike the 'Lump, it is less likely to be abused, though many writers who use it get into the habit of always using it, which can be problematic for those with an allergy to non-dialogue text, lol.  

    The Flashback Infodump

    The Flashback Infodump is just that, an infodump provided in the form of a flashback instead of an aside.  These often fill in the gaps in the motivations of characters or their upbringing, and their purpose is, 90% of the time, to reveal something that would have made things less interesting if it were revealed earlier.  Flashbacks are often abused, though.  They are common throughout VNs, with roughly 90% of plotge having at least one and 30% of all charage (in my experience) having one.  They are a convenient method of revealing a character's past, so many games also use them for character development, particularly in heroine paths.

    The Prologue Infodump

    This is probably the least annoying of the 'obvious' infodumping and is a sub-category of the 'Lump.  Some games, rather than dumping setting and character information on you mid-story, will instead infodump immediately after you start.  This has the advantage of getting around the disruption of the game's flow that is inevitable with mid-game 'Lumps and providing background information without the writer having to remember to include it strategically throughout the story.  This technique is, however, rarely used.  Games that use it are rare mostly because if the first thing you see when starting a VN is a wall of text, most people will drop the game right then and there.  Because of this, most games that use this are directed to a very specific fanbase or niche of the VN community that already has an established interest in the game in question.  

    A few thoughts

    The reason I decided to make this post was because of a conversation I had with @fun2novel  regarding infodumping in Bradyon Veda.  In Bradyon Veda, infodumping is integral to the game's battle scenes (incidentally the discussion began with me giving examples of good battle scenes to him).  Because the science-fantasy techniques being used by the characters manipulate matter and physical laws, there are infodumps built into the battle scenes, explaining what they are doing.  Because of this, I noted that Bradyon Veda's battle scenes were an example of positive infodumping, because it was done in such a way that it enhanced rather than disrupted the telling of the story.

    Conclusion

    What am I trying to get at?  Nothing, really.  I just thought that people give infodumps a bad rap, when they have probably been infodumped without even noticing it.  

  6. 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.

     

     

  7. Foreword: Toki no Kairou wins marginally in the joint poll of the year. It's quite curious to see what White Cyc first game is like compared to games of the big brother Black Cyc.

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    Synopsis: Main heroine Izumi is an ordinary student. But peaceful daily life starts to crumple with the visit of a boy in school uniform. Brutal murders and signs of supernatural forces pierce the reality.

    At the same time the story of girl Saya begins. She is saved from death by a man, so she fulfills missions for him now with the current one being watching after Izumi. She witnesses human sacrifice ritual to resurrect the evil god. She has only five days to find the key point of the ritual and prevent it from happening.

    Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1Fv9Rl3y1M&list=PLs4Gp5VU4Fv8rKP5oDa1nzt0KevjFrmhw&index=32&t=0s

    Game type: Horror mystery with sword fights

    Character Design rating: 2/10

    Protagonist rating: 2/10

    Story rating: 2/10

    Game quality: 2/10

    Overall rating: 2/10

    I did not know how to evaluate this game, so I asked myself what I appreciated in here. Well, sword fights were ok. And that's it, all the elements of the game are flawed. The best feature about this game is small length.

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    First, plot and structure. Game has clear division to five days. First two days are just intro about characters discovering the bodies here and there. We learn about the ritual that will be held on the fifth day, and demonic "he" demands Saya to bring victims each day before that. Third and fourth day kind of forget about the whole murders thing as there is a need to insert H events and at least some prelude to them. Fifth day is confrontation that's too short and too unsatisfying to matter. Each day there are from one to three characters to choose perspective, and many same scenes are shown even reusing CG from other character perspective. There's not much sense in that except for artificially prolonging the game. And game is in dire demand of volume since with H events cut game only totals 3.5 hours...

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    Game quality is really low. There is no voicing. Graphics is poor, BGM monotonous and disappearing (and we're back to Midi-CDDA choice), text chaotic. External config in addition to in-game one, small volume and sloppy drawing really resemble visual novels of the end of 90s, so it might be that Toki no Kairou lay on the shelf for some time. There is no joint narration due to constant viewpoint shift. Moreover, each viewpoint starts at the middle of the scene usually, without really explaining anything, and ends in the same abrupt way, so there is constant stress just following these shifts.

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    Characters are absolutely not developed, and not likable. The main baddie tentacle demon looks as a prototype for future extravaganza visual novels with his larvae sticking out of the body. There's not too much guro, but even the one dissected corpse image is able to disgust. There are only three tentacle rape scenes in the game with just one CG per scene, so it's ok to stomach.

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    I always try to translate the title and check whether it fully describes the gist of the game. Here title can be translated as "Corridor of time". And it looks to me that it does not suit the game at all. Yes, game begins and ends with the horrible event of the past. Yes, there are scenes from the past about main male character Takuya and especially main female character Kyouko who appears to have fake identity in present. Yes, the same evil connects the past and the present. But still past does not occupy much in-game time. I see it that title is chosen just to attract Sci-fi fans.

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    The ending is abrupt and same dark as the game itself, so aftertaste is really bad. That's the real reason behind very small number of Japanese reviews. If you feel worse after reading a visual novel than you felt before, then we don't need such visual novels. 

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  8. Okay, so it's halfway through December already, a New Year is approaching, so it's damn time for one of those generic and nostalgic lists where you reminisce about the good shit that went down in the year that's coming to an end. And since this is a VN forum, I'll refrain from talking too much about how much I liked Devil May Cry 5 (best action game alright, well deserved) or how many hours I wasted in idol anime (you know, seeing DMC5 and idol anime in the same sentence is both weird and amusing xD), so let's focus on my list of the 10 best VNs I've read this year (out of 31*). Note that not all of them were really released this year, but I should consider myself luck to even be able to read them before 2035, Sumaga's release date, considering my slow reading speed. Then...

    *Disclaimer: those 31 only include VNs that last more than 15 minutes so I can actually write a full paragraph on my impressions about them.

     


    10) Karasu to Lion

    Okay, I wasn't expecting to start the list of some random doujin I pulled from the corners of VNDB. I admit I just picked this one because it's short, every vote cast before mine was a 9 and Ryou looked kinda as cute as any other dark-haired-blue-eyed anime boi www  So KtL or "Blushing boys: The VN" (bless) is a very cute and fluffy slice of life romance between a shy senpai and a head-over-heels-in-love kouhai, at least it was until the not so good porn and the weirdly dark bad ends came, and that's why this isn't ranked higher. It was actually more entertaining when nothing of "plot" was happening and it was just moege scenarios.

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    09) Steam Prison

    One of the few PC japanese otome releases of the year, Steam Prison had one interesting world and society going on there and some good plot points, but I feel the execution could be a bit better. The story had all the potential to create huge disasters, but it always solved them the fastest or easiest way possible. The cast is pretty solid though, and they had some fun banter going on at times, I really liked Ulrik and Adage (even if the latter can be very emo on occasion ww), both route and hero.

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    08) No, Thank You!!!

    I've start this in the end of 2018 but only properly finish it in January 2019 so it counts, right??? The common route is pretty funny and interesting and the twist is quite good, as it changes the way you look at the story as a whole. As such the first and the second route were each a different experience, but I felt the effect kinda worn out a bit on the remaining routes. It does have your share of surprises, but it's not really the same as the initial big twist. The porn was a bit of a drag on most occasions and I just wanted the plot to keep going and, even if I know it would be a bit out-of-place in this story in particular, I would appreciate a bit more (or rather the existence) of actual lovey dovey romance. I loved Hiroshi, love me too, Hiroshi.

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    07) Heart of the Woods

    A VN that makes that assumption that "every EVN is low quality or a cheap imitation of the japanese ones" all but an unfunny meme. Very high quality art, good characters, nice ero content, and not only a main but also a side couple for us to cheer are all its strongest points. If I really have to nitpick something, I would say the plot is just okay, never doing anything really ground breaking or highly memorable. But hey, it's still worth every cent as it's one hell of a cute read! If the lack of voices bother you, a voiced version is underway soon tm. Justice for Morgan!

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    06) Hashihime of the Old Book Town

    I still can't stop thinking about this game. The setting, the themes, the cast, the emotions, the style. And surprisingly it was pretty much done by one person (yeah, I notice I love everything that strikes my doujin bone wwwww) I really adore Hashihime's world and these past few days I started collecting every other piece of trivia the author shared outside the game itself. It really pains me that the mess that is the last route REALLY bring it down to 6th place when it could be an easy top 3. I even went back to writing reviews specifically for this game. I want to hug Kawase, but he's a germophobe, so I don't know, he can step on me then I guess.

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    05) True Remembrance

    Hey look, another doujin! Think I should rename this top. I've read this way back on February 2019, many years late to the Insani patches party. Blame my late introduction to FSN. But now I corrected that mistake and had one very good time with it! The incredible setting, the relationship between Black Iris and La, each unique episode/chapter, it's short but it knows very well how to best use its duration. Maybe it could be a tiny bit longer, it would help me remember that I read this, something that inevitably longer novels have the advantage.

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    04) Death Mark

    Not only of doujins Maggie lives, but also horror games. Movies can give me some thrill but the fear of your character turning a wrong corner and finding a powerful indestructible spirit? Yeah, that shit is my jam and the feeling of being constantly on edge out of fear of the unknown and committing mistakes are two things this game delivers. Add to that some detective work to defeat the spirits in the most efficient way (you can defeat them in two ways: the easy way nets you some bad conclusions but the game doesn't end there and you can even reach the normal end down the line. The smart way gives you the True End) and you have one easy recipe to hook me. Not that every puzzle/question the game threw at me was well done or made sense at all, mind you. But damn, I still remember that weird chanting from the Kanon Soldier chapter. It's replaying in my mind right now. Mashita is superior.

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    03) Lemures Blue no Gozen 2 Ji

    Or Gay Angst: The Game. Well, the angst don't really come from the fact they are gay for once, but boy, how many tragic backstories, tragic present stories can a short game have??? Even if there's plenty of supernatural stuff throw in, most of the sad stuff comes from bullying, suicide, grief and abuse, very mundane and real things, that made it all the more emotional for me. But it does have a lot of pure love, friendship and self-love themes that makes your heart warm after all. The romance is actually very soft as, if I recall correctly, we only get as far hand holding here. And can I really really praise how beautiful assets, be it the sprites or soundtrack, it managed to pull for a free game? Top doujin stuff and highly memorable. I kinda love everyone, I can't pick one boy >.<

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    02) Nie no Machi

    Another "cheat" entry, as I've read one (and a half?) route in 2018. But boy, this VN is mostly slice of life, but I didn't get bored with it once. I just didn't read this faster because my japanese reading speed is even crappier than my english one (well, I don't need a hook + dictionary for english). The "hotel between life and afterlife" setting probably helped in keeping things fresh and interesting and every hero and even the side character had something to add to the experience... for better or for worse xD But in every route our protagonist Hisora help the heroes reach their happy ending and oh I so love uplifting stuff. It's actually impressive how my first impression of the heroes get almost completely reversed by the time their routes rolled in, and grumpy Asuku ended up with the best boy prize, someone I didn't feel much for in the common route. Just be careful as this also have its share of really tragic backstories and very gory and graphic bad endings (no guide mentioned this about the bad endings so let's say I got traumatized). Bonus points for being one of my favorite games when it comes to coloring, its color palette is so very pleasant to look at, not blinding white + high brightness pastel nor MS Paint levels of vibrant nor your generic boring Adobe tones, only soft goodness!!!!

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    01) Sweet Pool

    And here it is. My favorite VN that I read in 2019. And the VN that is currently sitting as my second favorite VN ever. A great horror story similar to Saya no Uta in some good ways, it tells the tale of Youji, whose daily life was quickly disrupted by the weird changes happening in his own body... and the creepy ways his school mates react to it. The fear of not knowing what's happening with yourself, the contrast between human reason and animal instinct that drive the characters' actions, the whole somber atmosphere and color palette (yeah, you probably noticed how coloring is important to me wwww) and the soundtrack that's sometimes ambient and others dissonant (in a good way) are all the highlights of this beautiful game. It's definitely not for everyone (some plot points can be... weirder than Saya's), and a romance that's more on the "licking each others wounds" side won't win everyone over for sure, but for me this is another win for Nitroplus in my book and peak Nitroplus CHIRAL by far. I just wish Youji all the happiness in the world as he suffers too much and he doesn't deserve it, my heart.......

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    And that was my 2019! Overall, I think it was a very positive year for localization choices and my own picks, so guess I'll stick with this weeb hobby for one more year :P  Here's hoping 2020 will be even better! My wishlist is filled with enough reading material for 5 years, which ones will be the gems? I'm soon to hit 100 read VNs too, maybe I'll return with another top. Until then! o/

  9. EHchV6Z.jpg

     

    The monotony of school is an oppressive force on a kid's life. Psychologically omnipresent, you don't even need to be within its walls to feel its chains shackling you. Home is just made an extension of its presence with homework. And more then just the boredom of rote memorization and a lobotomizing curriculum, there is a social arena where you must interact with the other prisoners. Regardless of how you feel about them, its important to at least maintain a sociable facade.

    Unlike College where education is on your own dime, and therefore your own time. The grade school schedule from kindergarten through high school is rigidly compact, and generally you have little say in what you get to study. Regardless of talent, interest, or relevancy, you are stuck in a classroom where most other students are just as unenthused to be there as you.

    8th Grade, 13 years old and my last year in junior high. I didn't need to put more than a minimal effort into my studies to attain the reputation as an honor student. Although on a superficial front I got along with everyone, I lacked any true connections that extended beyond the solidarity of being prisoners of the educational system I've just described. Life was dull, but everyone told me the path I was walking down had success and stability at the end of its road. That assumed I would continue playing the honor student role I fell into though. Despite the agency of free-will, I was complacent. Despite my ennui, I had little initiative or courage to stir things up.

    The irony of attending a Catholic school and passively turning a blind eye to the bullying occurring. The frustration of my sexuality awakening but being too emotionally impotent to do anything about it. This is the context in which I discovered Yume Miru Kusuri: A Drug That Make You Dream.

    Past midnight, and I had just finished downloading a copy of the VN. I had promised myself to install it then go to bed. Opening the application up as a test, I was greeted with a soothing yet hypnotic track. Three girls with blank expressions were looking up at me amid an infinite expanse of vaguely drawn school desks. For minutes I just listened, utterly mesmerized. It was as though I was experiencing a drug that was making me dream.

    Winter break started the next day, and I had previously installed another visual novel that I was intending to start first. But as my consciousness was drifting in the dazed state before sleep, the title theme track kept ringing in my head. The next day I decided to start my vacation playing this VN instead, and that has made all the difference.

    The opening scene, an image of a generic blue sky with soft clouds. The narrator himself falls asleep and soon finds himself in an odd dream. Upon violently waking up, soothing music akin to the title screen track plays, and without even realizing it my own thoughts are absorbed by Kouhei's inner monologues. His thinking was so natural, and familiar. And that's when I noticed, I was Kouhei Kagami.

    The issues of bullying, interpersonal relationships, and the desire to escape the dullness of reality (albeit not through drugs, for me anime was my escape) were all subject matters I understood, and more importantly related to. The way things play out in the various routes always remain grounded in a firm realism. Which easily allowed me to project myself into the situations. But unlike a generic self-insert protagonist, what made Kouhei so relatable was his distinct voice. He was hesitant to tread towards anything that could shake him off his honor-student trajectory, and yet he was equally tempted and fascinated by such things. Smoking, sex, drugs, standing up to social forces; all things that even the most straight laced of teenagers will probably be tempted by. If not for the things themselves, then to grab control of your own life by actively doing something you shouldn't do. This is how Kouhei and I were kindred spirits.

    The way the story and Kouhei's perspective completely resonated with me led me to voraciously read something for the first time in my life. Before I always viewed reading as a chore, and I only ever reluctantly did so. Reading this VN however, led me into feeling as though everything was happening was to a slightly older, Japanese version of myself. It was that immersive quality that sucked me into the VN's world. That was my baptism into VNs.

    I'm 22 now, and rereading this VN I can't help but think back on myself and who I was when I first discovered it. Not only have I long since graduated high school, somewhere amidst my early adulthood I also learned to stop being such a passive participant in life. Yet while I can no longer identify with Kouhei Kagami like I did when I first read his story, I can still understand his thinking and actions so clearly. Almost like reading his perspective brings me back to my perspective when I was in my early teens.

    In that respect, Yume Miru Kusuri is kind of the Catcher in the Rye of VNs.

     

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  10. bandicam-2019-10-11-05-34-10-869-1035x42

    Master Magistrate is the murder mystery detective visual novel set in the late years of Japan's Edo Period. Developed by the indie studio Irodori and released in the year of 2017, it quickly attained popularity and became a hit amongst Japanese fans. They praised the great direction sense, well-crafted scenario, immersive atmosphere, and fascinating soundtrack, amongst other aspects.
    Hobibox have attained publishing rights for the Chinese and English versions of the game, wishing to bring this experience overseas. They have committed themselves to provide a high-quality product, hoping to turn a new leaf and redeem themselves for not so fruitful past endeavors.

    Read more at https://j-addicts.de/master-magistrate-early-access-review/ - we now have a comment box!

    (I was initially planning on cross-posting here but the screenshots looked strange, so yeah).

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

  11. You are the average wanker. You spent your young adulthood reveling in your excesses, but it never made you happy. All of that is finally going to change when a cute elf princess named Sophia kidnaps you for a new adventure!

    The plot is to travel around the world and free sexy heroines from being brainwashed. You have to use manipulation and shenanigans to do it, but once the brainwashing has ended, they will regain their free will and help you fight evil!

    The game is melancholic. The author seems to speak from the heart when he talks about being a degenerate during his young adulthood and seeking something more. Metropolitan life doesn’t please him, he wants purpose, and a reason to be alive. Living paycheck to paycheck isn’t fun. At the end of the game you get the choice between living a fantasy life with your harem, or returning to the real world.

    The writing is engaging, but relies on cringe-worthy tropes. The catgirl is shy and subservient, while the succubus is cocky and aggresive. You need to drug women with a “love potion” to free them from brainwashing, which is pretty morally ambiguous. With five sexy babes in total, I began wishing for love that didn’t rely on a potion.

    The plot is a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes you’re surrounded by super cute blushing girls that literally call you “The Messiah”, but other times you’re faced with danger and the unavoidable mortality that all people face. It’s like the author genuinely wants you to realize that seeking out cult worship in a fictional world is not very healthy. Excellent writing!

     

    Hikari-Love-Potion-Hentai-Visual-Novel-D

    MORE INFO HERE

  12. (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.

     

     

  13. 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.

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    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:

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    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 )

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    From left to right we have Yoru, Mikoto and Takeru

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    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.

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

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    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.

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    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.

  14. 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?!

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  15. 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

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    ???: "Don't forget"

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

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    ???" "Bang..."

    And then we go to the less abstract real world.

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    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

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    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

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    "Suddenly my reading was interrupted"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    "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)

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    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.

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

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

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

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

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

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    "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.

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

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    "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.

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    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."

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

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

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    Kanata: "Huh, me?"

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

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    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...

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    Touka: *panting*

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    Touka: "Hide me!"

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    Touka: "I'm being chased!"

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

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    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.

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

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    Touka: "...hey"

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    Kanata: "Shh! What?"

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

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

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

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

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    Touka: "Hmmm... is that so"

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    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:

     

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    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.

  16. A few days ago I watched an anime about a series of child murders. The show was pretty solid except for the fact that I was able to correctly guess the culprit the moment the show established that they were going to be more than just a minor character. Was it because the show was really bad at foreshadowing? No, except for one scene where the protagonist casually mentions that the culprit could be someone he knows. Was the character behaving suspiciously? No, they were cooperative to the point of actively sabotaging the murder attempts. Then what did they do wrong to earn my suspicions right from the beginning?

    Be a grown male authority figure with a more or less friendly relationship to the young protagonist without being related to them by blood. I'm relatively new to anime and visual novels*, and I've already seen characters fitting this description turn out to be villainous to varying degrees in about ten different titles (in one of them even twice within a few chapters).**  Some of these guys are just being forced into doing something shady because of unfortunate circumstances while some them are psychopathic monsters because the writers liked themselves some shock value. Sometimes they are only minor villains or even red herrings, sometimes they are the big bad. What most of them have in common is that they at least pretend to be helping the protagonist out to the best of their abilities while secretly using the information they get from their conversations against them. I found only one example where the character in question is female, and even then the same twist happens another time with the male one being the major villain (#feminism I guess?).

    I get why this trope is popular with writers. The culprit should be someone who has been introduced early on and appeared in a reasonable amount of scenes for their reveal not to come out of nowhere. They should be an adult to have the necessary physical, mental and financial capabilities to properly commit and cover up a crime. Having a close relationship with the protagonist is a good justification for giving them enough scenes in a story that mostly revolves around younger characters. Add to that the betrayal of the protagonist's trust and you have everything for a good dark twist.

    So in theory "the nice adult is actually a murderer" can be a very effective trope if well implemented, it's just so overused it lost most of its its element of surprise, at least to me. I suspect that the writers of some of the titles I consumed were aware of this, but instead of not utilizing the trope they took the "let's add shock value by making the bad guy psychopatically evil" route, which is something that rarely turns out well, even if you add in discussions about the nature of psychopathy. I would really love to give examples of cases where I either really liked or really hated the implementation of this trope to add a bit more substance to my rambling. But I have no idea how to discuss plot twists when even mentioning the title of the game means spoiling them, so this will have to do.

     

     

    *This twist isn't exclusive to Japanese media. For example two of the first four Harry Potter books utilize it and I played one well known western storytelling game that does as well.

    **I even went through my vndb profile and made a list to confirm this. The reason I don't share it here is obviously spoilers.

  17.  

    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

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    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

  18. I’m not writing this for you. I’m writing it for myself.

    今年もとある滑稽な癖に従い、伝統ありのヴァルパージス炎を観に行った。別にその滑稽な想いだけが理由でもなくが、正直な所、その想い未だ持っているだけは情けないと思う。

    I met my soulmate about a week before I started the first, transitional year of elementary school. I guess that means we were like, six or seven years old? She was sitting on the swing in the playground next to an apartment complex, and for whatever reason I was drawn to her instantly – I broke off from my parents and greeted her, and we got along like a house ablaze.

    The next time I saw her was at school. She was in my class, and it was only natural that we’d be inseparable from that point on. Or was it? There was another boy who by now I barely remember who used to be in the picture, but he moved away. I think at one point she – I guess I’ll call her M – told me I was actually her second choice, but that other boy had left, so she’d picked me. Looking back I find myself analyzing this interaction as heckin’ weird, but at the time I accepted this without feeling bad about it. I guess I used to be even more obviously autistic than I am now.

    Soulmates, for those reading who have had the misfortune of never having had one, are a real thing. It’s hard to describe the feeling of absolute, utter 乗り, of flow, I felt in her presence. Sometimes I doubt myself – did she feel the same? – and I guess by now I’ll probably never know. But there was something there I have never felt interacting with anyone else in my life.

    She and I were best friends for I think five years. For most of them, as far as I know, I was essentially a donkan eroge protagonist, going as far as openly telling other people ‘she loves me, but I don’t love her’. We were officially boyfriend and girlfriend to each other for a little while at the end, but the most intimate thing that ever happened was a hug. Technically we got best couple at a dance or something, but frankly what I did there was a performance, not *real*. So I’m left with the curious feeling that while I may have unlocked the achievement ‘kissed a girl’, though we never did do it in the French fashion, I have never done it when it truly meant something to me. I think it’s fair to say I was a late bloomer when it comes to emotional maturity, if I ever hit it.

    Eventually we slid apart, gradually, seemingly as naturally as we were first joined. Different classes and different friend circles meant we rarely met. We actually did happen to join up once again after having slid apart, however, and it felt just like to old times to me as we took a walk together. But that was it; we went to different high schools, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her since then.

    今でも彼女を会いたいなぁっと想い、毎年あの炎に行く。 Mum told me she went to IT-Gymnasiet. 毎年「やっぱり居ないなぁ」って感じで炎の原始的な美しさを楽しみながらちょっとした悔しい思いも含む状態でいる。 She talks to M’s mum sometimes, I guess. 必死染みた所もあり彼女を探して失敗して、毎度悔いの有る想いを持ちながら火を観るのも飽き、家を向いて戻り始める。

    今も会いたい。それだけだ。


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  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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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?

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    Finally a game I can empathise with.

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

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

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    Bless you.

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    I don't even like oysters.

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

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    The face of innocence.

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    Operation: "Call her tiny"

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    What slander.

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    Sluggo is lit 8)

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    You have my tacit agreement.

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

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

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    We needed to fill our quote of quintessentially Japanese conversations.

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    Whatever. Femininity isn't worth this...

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    Today's youth is hitting tragic levels of cynicism.

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    These things happen... you know.

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

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    Alas... Farewell, Reggie.

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    The (not tiny) face of innocence.

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    People should fix their habits of asking questions before thinking.

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

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    A nice, polite talk between nice, polite girls.

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    I do love a protagonist capable of talking back.

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    How he is loved by his junior.

    A story in two parts:

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

    m0So7BE.png

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

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    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.

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    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…

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