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Reviews and musings from your favorite narcissist. I'm new to this thing so hopefully it's not too terrible.

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Ranzo

Ten Yuri Series You Need To Read Before I Destroy You, And Everything You Have Ever Loved

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Now, I know what you are going to ask, "What is Yuri?" Well my pathetic and childless friend let me answer that for you. Yuri is a...

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I was first introduced to the Yuri genre back in my Sophomore year of High School when I was around 16 years old. I was just getting into anime after having been introduced to the best series ever, Galaxy Angel a year prior. That Yuri series happened to be Strawberry Panic!, and I really loved it. Now that I think about it was of the first romance series I actually sat through. It was several years later that I was introduced to Visual Novels and had my thirst for romance essentially quenched. It was only until recently that I was rediscovered my love of the genre and became the enlightened being that stands before you. Now, before I crush you and everything you have ever loved (along with things you just causally liked) here are ten manga series that you really should read.

Number 1. Bloom Into You

By Nakatani Nio

Status: Ongoing

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This is what really kicked jumped my yuri obsession into high gear and it quickly became one of my overall favorite manga series.

Bloom Into You, tells the story of Yuu Koito a first year high school student and her involvement with the beloved and enigmatic Touko Nanami. What makes it truly wonderful for me at least is the characters and the art. Yuu is a really strong and grounded protagonist and the fact that she is initially incapable of falling in love makes her quite intriguing, given that this is a romance manga after all. Touko is another really great character and I liked that she was a twist on the classic yuri trope of the perfect and mysterious senpai. Bloom Into You also has a large cast of side characters who flesh out the manga with their perspectives and interactions. The core cast all have a tremendous amount of character growth throughout the series and it has been nice to see them grow and change over time. More than simply being a yuri story Bloom Into You is a story about finding yourself and coming to terms with who you are. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone whether they like yuri or not.

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Number 2. The Kase San and...series

By Hiromi Takashima

Status: Completed (Continued in Yamada to Kase-san)

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The Kase-San and series is one of the warmest, gentlest, and endearing manga series I have ever come across. It positively oozes sentimentality and radiates sweetness. Such concentrated fluffy feelings exuded by the manga ought to be lethal. I'm surprised it's author Hiromi Takashima, has not been brought up on crimes of adorableness. It's really fucking cute is what I'm trying to convey to you okay? The Kase-San series is about the growing relationship between Yamada the one woman gardening committee representative, and Kase a beloved track and field star. It does a lot to make itself truly memorable inside and outside the yuri circle it was birthed in. It really bucks a common trope that the yuri genre is especially guilty of, which is that most yuri series ends with them becoming a couple. Most yuri manga's and VN's usually end at the mutual confession and kiss stage. It's for the most part a very cathartic ending that rewards all the time the two spent pining for each other. The problem with this ending is that you never get to see them as a couple, it's just presumed that they'll stay together forever and that's it. Kase-San is different in this way. By the end of the first volume they have already kissed and became a couple. The rest of the volumes deal with the trials and tribulations that normally spring up as the two try and understand each other. Both the leads are wonderfully sweet and really complement each other well. Yamada is a big ball of manic energy and cuteness and Kase is a big goof whom is utterly enraptured by Yamada. The art is very vivid and cartoony and every character has a huge range of expressions. I was struck by how much of it reminded me of Dr. Seuss' works. The art also has this amazing ability to turn from cute to sexy in a second. It is really quite the feat.

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Number 3. Octave

By Akiyama Haru

Status: Completed

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Now, I've already covered how much I love this manga in the review so I'll just include a link for it here. It's a great read for those who are sick and tired of high school settings, and hunger for delicious angst.

Number 4. Nettaigyo wa Yuki ni Kogareru

By Makoto Hagino

Status: Ongoing

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That's still the best new pickup line I've seen in a while. I'm not sure of it's effectiveness so you should try it out yourself. I have been in love with this manga since the first chapter. It tells the story of Konatsu Amano who moves to a brand new school, in a brand new town while her father is away oversees. There she meets Koyuki Honami a beloved and seemingly perfect older girl (Are you seeing a pattern here?) and their friendship begins. Koyuki is another subversion of that perfect senpai role as she is just a incredibly shy and awkward girl, with no real friends. Their interactions are very honest and believable and they make such a adorkable paring. There are also fun dads in abundance which is interesting because typically family figures are virtually nonexistent when it comes to most yuri mangas. That subtext tag is making me very nervous though.

Number 5. Notes From The Garden Of Lilies

By Suga Atsushi

Status: Completed

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Why do the best things in the world only come in two volumes? This is how I feel about this particular manga. I love the budding relationship between the two leads. Both are characters that I absolutely adored the moment I encountered them and the way they both bounce off each other is fabulous. I wish there were twenty volumes of this but I suppose I must content myself with only two. The world is so unfair sometimes...

Number 6. The Real Her

By Imamura Youko

Status, Completed

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...and so it continues. This great yuri love story is only one volume long which I think is absolutely criminal. The Real Her tells the love story of the hardcore masochistic Moe, and the budding sadist Yuuka. Like Notes From The Garden Of Lilies the greatness in this manga is all in the character interaction. It's delightfully funny, and it really satisfied the sadistic side of me.

Number 7. Pulse

By Ratana Satis

Status, Completed

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Looks like Drama is back on the menu boys! Pulse tells the very adult story about Mel, a beautiful surgeon who is determined to never fall in love again and Lynn, a college student with a life threatening heart condition. It's a very tender story that also manages to be damn sexy. The drama was handled very well and I really liked Lynn much more than I thought I would. I have never been a fan of characters with a affliction because more often than not, they are but a fountain for tears. Lynn never came across to me as being that way and I liked her personality. Mel is also a very strong character and her growth was very believable. If you need a good dose of adult romantic drama then consider this as your prescription covered. Side effects might include lots of tears.

Number 8. It Would Be Great if You Didn't Exist

By Carbonara

Status, Ongoing?

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The drama train is still at the station and oh boy, is this one a doozy. The basic premise is that Guk-Hwa finds out that her dirt-bag boyfriend has been cheating on her with another woman. When she goes to confront the two of them she is struck by how attractive she finds the other woman. I have not really a premise like it before so I was immediately intrigued. The two leads really complement each other and they are very well developed. The humor which is prevalent throughout the series is also pretty fantastic. However, it would be unwise to let your guard down because this series is great about hammer striking you repeatedly with drama laden fists.

Number 9. Hana to Hoshi

By Suzukin Kario

Status, Completed

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Looks like it's back to high school, I swear I can't escape it no matter how hard I try. I guess the only way would be to avoid anything remotely Japanese but since I can't do that let's get on with this already. Hana used to be table top champion until she was unseated by a newcomer with scary eyes. Unable to handle her newfound loosing streak she was forced to retire from the sport. Hania plans to start over a fresh leaf in her first year of high school only to come face to face with her former rival. This is another one of those slow burns that is helped along greatly by the fantastic back and forth between the two characters. The story opens up further when a romantic rival appears on the scene. The only unfortunate thing about this manga is that it feels a bit cut short. It's a manga that is only two volumes long but it could have easily been four or five.

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Number 10. Fragtime

By Sato

Status, Completed

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Okay, so it was really hard to decide which one would should end this top ten list but I ultimately decided to go with Fragtime. The premise is what really got my attention. Fragtime is about a young woman named Misuzu who has the power to freeze time for three minutes a day. Instead of using her powerful but limited power for evil she instead uses it to look up the skirt of a girl that she has a crush on. (What a wholesome girl) Unfortunately for her this happens to be the panties belonging to the one person whom is immune to her powers. Even though this is such a goofy premise it still ends up being a very powerful and poignant series. I am so lucky I was able to stumble upon it.

Oh And This Isn't Quite Yuri But I Want It On This List

Shimanami Tasogare

By Yuuki Kamatani

Status: Completed

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Okay this might be cheating a little bit but this is not in fact wholly a yuri series. Still, it feels almost criminal to not include it on this list so here it goes. Shimanami Tasogare is about a young boy named Tasuku Kaname who is nearly driven to suicide after nearly being outed as being gay. He is stopped by a strange woman named Anonymous who invites him to a tea house frequented by other social outcasts. I included this manga on the list because there is a lesbian side couple that are very well developed and have a meaningful relationship that has more depth than many yuri manga's. In fact, nearly the whole spectrum of the LGBTQA community is represented in this manga. What's more is that it is done in a way that feels authentic and real. It never once felt fake or phony to me. The characters are all very fleshed out and they are not depicted as perfect beings and they all have their own hangups and problems. It's rare to ever see any real world drama in a yuri manga, in fact it's barely touched on if at all. The situation for gay and lesbian peoples is still one of hardship especially in Japan where gay marriage is still illegal. Tasogare thankfully does not gloss over this and instead provides a very emotional and compelling story.

The Runners Up

This is all for those that I liked but didn't quite make the cut.

Prism

By Higashiyama Shou

Status: Canceled

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This was all set to be a really amazing series with a great couple but unfortunately the author was accused of tracing and it was canceled after only six chapters. Truly, it is one of the greatest tragedies of the modern age. Mourn what could have been.

The Feelings We Must All Endure

By Amano Shuninta

Status: Complete

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This is a great manga to read if are tired of uplifting yuri stories and want to read something that is angsty as all hell. I would rate it higher on my list since it is one of the few series that involves College at all, but they do some haphazard character assassination in the last few chapters and I don't like that. Don't expect a good time while reading this manga, expect a bad time. Still, it's set in a goddamn university! Why the fuck aren't you going to read it?

Girl Friends

By Milk Morinaga

Status: Complete

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I really liked this series because the girls portrayed in it felt like real high school girls dealing with the typical high school problems. There was level of authenticity to their concerns about fashion or dieting because high school girls are real superficial. The gradual romance in this manga series is really sweet and wonderful but there is just one major problem I have with this series and it is the abundance of misunderstandings. The couple in this series have so many moments of jumping to the wrong conclusion or assuming the worst that it gets a bit aggravating after a while. It's like you  just want to shake the both of them and scream, "YOU BOTH FUCKING LOVE EACH OTHER, OKAY??" Oh and don't get me started on poorly timed interruptions because this series has plenty of those to spare. Despite those issues Girl Friends is truly a wonderful love story.

Citrus

By Saburouta

Status: Ongoing

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Look, I know Citrus is a bit trashy and bit soap opera-y but it's got several really good merits. The first one is that it has Harumin in it and Harumin is the fucking best, okay? She's the fucking best! She's like the reincarnation of Chikaru Minamoto she's that great. She's like a steady helmsman during a raging sea. The second one is the protagonist Yuzu. She's a really strong protagonist with a distinct and interesting personality. Sure, a lot of potential is squandered by her near obsession with Mei but she's still a really great character. The third and final thing is that the series has finally decided to get serious. The problem that I had with the last couple of volumes of Citrus is that the would operate a sort of rouges gallery of girls that would try and break up Yuzu's and Mei's budding relationship. It got a bit stale but thankfully the last few chapters has been a thankful punch in the gut.

Bright And Cheery Amnesia

By Tamamusi

Status: Ongoing

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Really, this image is all you really need to see if you want to know the premise of this manga. It's got a really simplistic plot but it makes up for that with a great deal of warmth and heart. You can't help but read this and not end up smiling like a goddamn fool. It's just that bright and cheery.

Well anyway there is my list I hope you enjoyed it! Oh and before I decimate your pathetic existence I hope you enjoy these various series and...

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Ranzo

(I was inspired by Maggie's fan fic to write one of my own because I can and stuff. I mostly used peoples avatars to base their descriptions on so all you guys except Maggie you just got gender switched!)

Part One

(Wherein the dusty traveler reaches a strange destination and then some weird shit happens.)

Harsh desert wind beat down upon the lonesome traveler as he wandered listlessly, without purpose and without hope. He had forgotten why he had started his voyage all those months ago. Now he just roamed the blackened twisted earth in search of some meaning, some reason for being. The traveler hadn't found it yet. He couldn't shake the feeling that he never would. Nearing exhaustion and ready to collapse at any time he walked straight into a invisible barrier of some kind. It flung him several feet backward and caused him to fall into a deep unconsciousness. When he awoke he felt the sensation of someone riffling through his pockets. He rose with a start and demanded that they stop at once. "Oh shit, sorry about that but I thought you were dead!" responded a deep but feminine voice. "Don't worry, I didn't nick anything of course there wasn't a damn thing worth stealing but I'm sure you already knew that."

The traveler rubbed his eyes and took in the woman standing over him with her hands at her hips. She was a young woman of very short height with messy short blue hair and large piercing hazel eyes. She was dressed in a military uniform that was incredibly out of place considering the environment. Of course, the thing that was really off-putting about her was the fact that she had two floppy rabbit ears in addition to her normal ones. She noticed his wide staring eyes and knelt over him and grinned displaying rows of shark like teeth. "Admiring my ears I see, obviously you are a man of good taste. One word of caution though, touch either of them and I'll kill you." The man nodded glumly filled with a vague feeling of disappointment. The strange woman grabbed his hand and pulled the traveler to his feet. "Well, now I think introductions are in order, my name is Ranzo and what might your name be?" The traveler desperately tried to recall what his name was but he just couldn't remember. "Aww you poor sweet child don't tell me you don't even know your own name? Well fret not for I shall grace you with a dignified and stately name. You shall forevermore be known as...Mista Stickabee! The traveler shook his head violently in response to that he desperately knew that his name couldn't be anywhere close to that absurd name. In response Ranzo grabbed the traveler by the collar and lifted him up before violently shaking him back and forth. "Listen you stupid bastard, your name is Mista Stickabee for now on, so you better get used to the fucking idea capiche? CAPICHE?" Mista Stickabee as he is now known desperately nodded his head in agreement. Ranzo finally let him go with a wink and a smile before sauntering off to where the barrier lay.

When she was standing in front of the barrier that had knocked Mista Stickabee unconscious she clapped her hands loudly before striking a dramatic pose. At the reverberating sound the barrier slowly dissipated revealing a imposing and gigantic door that wasn't connected to seemingly anything else. The giant door was decorated with images of waifu's and sightless protags. Ranzo seized the door nob that was eye level to her and threw the door open. She went over to Mista Stickabee and grabbed his hand and dragged him through the doorway. When they made it through the giant doorway it swung closed and vanished. Mista Stickabee looked around in amazement. It was a vast space stretching on for seemingly forever. The space was populated by strange looking denizens that milled about and whom appeared and disappeared at will. Ranzo stood in front of Mista Stickabee and threw her arms out in a grand fashion and bellowed "WELCOME, TO FUWANOVEL!" Ranzo's eyes suddenly blazed red and she furiously glared around her. "Where's the fucking fireworks? They were supposed to go off right when I yelled welcome to fuwanovel...OH SHIT!" She immediately dived for cover as the fireworks suddenly burst from right behind her. Ranzo stood up and dusted herself off. "Fuckin' hell I knew something like that would happen! Anyway you're in Fuwa now and I'm going to be your tour guide. It's a part of my community service for trying to burn it down earlier.

We are a refuge for the ones that dare play Visual Novels, while also spreading our influence into other differing realms." Turning away from Mista Stickabee, Ranzo began to walk forwards while motioning him to follow. "This is the entrance hall where many of the more active members gather. Mista Stickabee started to follow but he was stop by a hand that tugged insistently on his sleeve he looked down at a little girl with long blue hair twin tailed hair and a forever quizzical expression on her face. Mista Stickabee leaned forward to hear what she had to say. "SEX, GIVE SEX! growled the girl with the voice of a forty year old chain smoker. GIVE SEX AND GURO, GURO FUR DERG!" "Hey back off Derg, he has no sex or guro to give you! No guro for Derg!" Derg looked incredibly disappointed at that and pouted terribly. "This is @Dergonu all she lives for is a steady supply of either sex, guro, or both. Here take a hentai doujin and stop bothering the new guy." Just then another tiny girl with pink hair came barreling out of nowhere and leaped onto Derg's back. "WHEN IS THE NEXT EPISODE COMING OUT? IT'S BEEN MONTHS SINCE LAST SUNDAY AND I'M SICK OF WAITING! I WANNA KILL! LET ME KILL!" Dergou swayed back and forth trying to throw the girl off while shouting, NO DONE YET! NO FINISH YET! GEROFFA DERG! Dergou started shuffling away from the two who just stared at them in a stunned silence. "Um, I think that was @KiririririI dunno, I keep forgetting that she exists anyway let's get this tour going again I got shit to do so let's not waste time." As they continued walking they passed several who grunted noncommittal greetings at the dusty pilgrim. One member walked in front of the two and just stood there in their way with their arms crossed and a constantly annoyed expression on his face. Well he had one despite having a gas mask on, okay? He was always annoyed, critical and annoyed. He wore a t-shirt that read Moege is Shit on the front and MoeNovel is the Devil on the back. He indicated both of these multiple times without saying a word. "Oh that's @VirginSmasher he's on another silent protest because another Moege was translated instead of a great mystery vn with multiple routes. Let's leave him before he finds out that another one was just released and has a complete mental breakdown."

They kept walking past a lot of really interesting things that I won't go into detail here because I just don't feel like it right now. You'd have been amazed by it I'm sure. They reached a doorway carved into the wall with the blood of every alien species in the galaxy. "Oh this is the passageway to the realm of @Clephasand I don't recommend you try and disturb him. He's kind of this horrifying chaotic mass of way too many mouths and the only thing that keeps him from devouring this whole place is a steady diet of VN's and the chorus of infernal piping. He's a pretty swell guy despite all that." As they were speaking a brown haired man with glasses and a red sweater appeared out of nowhere. No it wasn't Harry Potter stop getting so excited. It was @Plk_Lesiak He was a man that waded waste deep through the shittiest western vn's and worst mlp slash fiction to find meaning in this world of ours. It was sad and pathetic but he was a devoted solder to the cause so that was somewhat forgivable. Somewhat.

"Ranzo, it's time for the secret meeting of the Yuri Brigade have you forgotten?" OH shit! Yeah I did thanks for reminding me, alright Stickabee let's take a detour. The three of them went down a deserted hallway and Ranzo pushed a concealed button and a door materialized. They went inside and Stickabee was confronted with a grand room lined with countless white lilies and life sized statues of naked women doing the most lewd thing they could possibly be doing, that's right they were holding hands. Ranzo pushed another button and a large round table erupted out of the floor. Several more members materialized out of nowhere. It was a young girl with short purple hair and eerily bright purple eyes. Her name was @-soraaand she was a recent convert to the Yuri cause. "I hope I'm not late I was just drooling over the purity of Strawberry Shake Sweet, I mean appreciating, yeah that's the word!"

Everyone in the room feigned agreement while dishing out copious amounts of side eye. With a bang from a gavel the meeting was called to order. Ranzo as leader of the brigade held the floor. "Okay so Plk how is our progress in our quest for Yuri domination?" Plk adjusted his glasses like every single glasses character in anime has done before speaking. "It is going well our forces grow daily it is estimated that we will soon control over 25% of Fuwa." Ranzo smiled her shark teeth smile and nodded pleased. "Good, very good, I'm pleased at the rapid progress we have made. All we need now is the creation of more popular and well received yuri releases. Remember though, we have to be wary about the greatest enemy to our cause and that is the plague of...yuri bait." At those words the whole company started spitting and hissing like a bunch of cats. I don't know why, but it was really off putting for Mista Stickabee who was kinda just standing there, trying not to stare too closely at the tits on the statued maidens. "Yes, too many series have promised yuri only to provide the most thin veneer of subtext and worse than that turning it into a het romance. We must devote ourselves to purging this foul menace from our shores once and for all. Only then will women be able to openly love other women without judgment or scorn." Plk leaned back in his chair and waxed philosophically like he always does. "Ah yuri, is there nothing more pure that has ever been conceived I ask you? The warmth of mutual love and the promise of a tender kiss at the very end. Eternal hearts beating as one it set's my soul on fire! Oh it's true what they say, I think, therefore yuri is!" Uh oh, sorra had strated drooling all over herself again captivated by the thought. Ranzo stood up immediately and banged her gavel stopping Plk from his reveries. "Okay, I think it is time to adjourn the meeting for today I'm sure if we let Plk have his way he won't stop ranting for the next five or more hours. Agreed?" "Agreed!" chorused the rest of the brigade. "Alright then let's end this meeting with our battle cry!" YURI SHALL CONQUER THE EARTH! The cry was taken up by all members in attendance except Stickabee who was still trying to slyly shoot a glance at the sculpted tits. The meeting adjourned the rest of the members either left or talked among themselves, sorra stopped Ranzo and whispered to her. "The leader of the BL Brigade is here to see you, she's waiting outside." "Okay cool, that's for letting me know." The Yuri Brigade and the BL Brigade had long given up fighting each other and instead were now allies seeing as though they shared a common thread. Ranzo and Stickabee whom was finally able to tear himself away from the tits both walked out and saw the leader of the brigade. She was a young woman with short white hair with a black hair bow with blueish eyes.

Her name was @MaggieROBOTand she was the foremost proponent on the love between a man and another man. With her was a awkward and stumbly devil man. His name was @SeniorBlitz and he was the resident walkthrough maker and trashman. He only spoke in pun and shitty jokes so every time he opened his mouth it made people want to vomit, in the best way. "Oh hai Maggie, said Ranzo how goes the good fight?" Maggie frowned sorrowfully. "Not good I'm afraid I'm having a tougher time than I thought spreading the joy of the love between two men. It seems people are just more inclined to accept more readily the love between two women. Still, I will persist and remain undaunted and uhhh okay hold up I'll be right back!" Maggie abruptly left the conversation to stare at a argument started by two male members. It was getting pretty heated and they were getting pretty close to each other. Maggie her eyes burning with desire her face flushed with crimson screamed, "WELL THE WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WAITING FOR? ARE YOU TWO GOING TO KISS OR WHAT? COME ON DON'T BE A PUSSY! I KNOW, THAT YOU KNOW, THAT YOU WANT TO! AND WHY STOP THERE?  WHY STOP AT JUST KISSING? TAKE YOUR DICK OUT AND RAM IT IN HIS ASSHOLE! LET'S GET IT STARTED UP IN THIS BITCH! I WANNA SEE SOME MOANING AND GROANING, POCKING AND CHOKING ALREADY!!! Blitz was busy trying  to restrain her from forcing the two's heads together when a large crowd started assembling around Maggie. It was the VNR users they always had trouble getting it to work and demanded that Maggie help them. VNR WON'T WORK FIX IT, MAGGIE FIX IT! WHAT IS VNR MAGGOOO??! I DON'T WORK SO WELL! Maggie turned pale and blindly ran away screaming "STAY BACK, STAY BACK! I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU FUCKERS THAT I WOULD NEVER HELP YOU AGAIN, SO STAY AWAY FROM MEEEEEEE!" The heaving mass of confused and befuddled users took off after her. "Well, uh that was certainly something, special. Let's uhh continue the tour.

As they kept walking they reached a open plaza. "This is where we keep the stocks, they are used by mods to punish the trolls and it's also where we keep the scum of the earth. It's name is Mitch. A large crowd was gathered around a single pillory where a despised and maligned presence was held captive. The crowd was flinging trash and moldy food at the grotesque mass. "It's bully Mitch day which is now that I think of it every single day." Blitz who was joining in on the festivities was suddenly picked up and thrown at Mitch seeing as he had been mistaken for garbage. "Cut it out I'm still underageeeee", he wailed pitifully. "Ah such a shame I can't take part today but there is always tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next one after that. Let's boogie." Off they went past some more pretty neat things that I'm still not going to describe for you so just drop it okay? Suffice to say that they were real neat and rad. You know what? I'm going just end this now with a needless cliffhanger okay so just suck on that Alex Trebek...Aha!

Ranzo

Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate: The Review

Yummy, Yummy, Yummy I got love in my tummy, and I feel like a-loving you

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(From left to right; Satsuki, Michiru, Isara, Mifuyu, and Chisato)

The Setup

Chocolate, it truly bridges the cultural divide and brings people together. There is not a person alive who has not at least heard of its existence. It's a world renown symbol of love and diabetes, and a advertisers dream. For Oojima Yuuki and his childhood friend Chisato it means so much more than just that. Can tragedy that is caused by chocolate be saved by chocolate?

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(Cue: Ride of the Valkyries)

The Story

Yuuki is a man who doesn't have much to ask for. All he wants is too finish out his remaining high school years at the preposterously exclusive Takafuji Gakuen Academy with the rest of his friends. Well that and for people to get his last name right for once. There they play out their lives in the Food Research Club otherwise known as Shokken! In that hollowed club room Yuuki and his friends, well they don't do much at all exactly. They pretty much us the club as an excuse to eat all the sweets they can get their hands on. It's presumed that the only thing he and his cohorts research is the amount of cavities they will develop. However, the dawn of a new school year brings fresh challenges that threaten Yuuki's peaceful existence. Student Council elections are on the horizon and with it the brazen and beautiful Satsuki Shinonome who threatens to bring down judgment like the wrath of God upon Shokken. As the head of the Financial Affairs Committee, she makes it her campaign goal to dramatically decrease the schools budget. In order to do that she decides to cut funds for clubs she deems to be undeserving and for a club as fundamentally useless as Shokken she threatens annihilation. Now, in order to protect the club and their remaining precious memories Yukki will have to become the peoples champion and throw his hat into the race. Will Yukki manage to do the impossible and protect the Shokken, or will he be swept aside by forces beyond his control? The idea for the story is pretty straightforward and simplistic but it serves as a strong enough foundation for the ensuing drama of each characters route. Oh, speaking of characters

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(Look at all of them, standing there, staring at you.)

The Characters

First off is our protagonist Oojima Yuuki and he is one of the better developed leading men that I have encountered. Maybe that is because I also hate it when someone butchers my last name, even though it's so easy to say if you stop to think for one second! That, and I am also terrible about noticing whether or not a girl is interested in me or not. That did not stop me from wanting to strangle the life out of him on many occasions, but still I could sympathize. He is initially hesitant about becoming a candidate but he eventually rises to the occasion. Furthermore, you can actually see his face once or twice, that alone raises his stock.

Second is the resident main girl and childhood friend Chisato. She stuns locks us into her route from the very beginning and if you want to date any of the other girls you have to go through her first. That notion might turn off a few people but for me I didn't mind it too much. She is a incredibly important character and she effects every relationship that Yuuki is involved with. She is your typical tsundere character but even still she has quite a bit of depth to her. Coming into it I thought I would end up really disliking her, but surprisingly enough by the end of it I had a completely different opinion of her.

Next is Michiru who is a quiet cat like girl and the newest addition to the Shokken. Michiru was a character that I liked as soon as I met her. Maybe it had to do with the fact that she is rather mysterious and the quiet type. Her route is definitely the strangest one, and unfortunately it completely broke my suspension of disbelief. One thing is for certain it definitely has one of the more memorable harmonica tunes out there. She's also just super cute!

Mifuyu is up next and she is best friends with both Chisato and Yuuki. She was another character I was surprised that I ended up liking. Usually I'm not interested in characters that suffer from a vague malady, but I made an exception for Mifuyu. Her route was definitely one of my favorites of Koi and I liked how it really tested the three's friendship.

After that is Isara a hardworking girl with a brilliant smile who cutely ends nearly every single sentence with a little...aha! Or at least I think it was supposed to be cute. I tried it out a couple of times in front of the mirror and it didn't really sound cute at all...aha! Isara is from a poor family and is only able to attend Takafuji through some student welfare system. It's a very bizarre system that makes the students work in factories while they go to school. It also causes the students who are part of that system to be treated as second class citizens. Aha!

Last of all is Satsuki the head of the financial committee and the mortal enemy of the Shokken. I enjoyed her route the most out of all of them. The drama felt the most convincing and grounded. Satsuki and Yuuki seemed to really compliment each other and the romance felt very natural. She also has a cute side once you get under her aloof nature.

Aside from the heroines there is a surprisingly large cast of well developed side characters. Some of the standouts are Nozomi a brilliant mad scientist type of character, Hazuki the alcoholic teacher, Ai and Kii two life long friends otherwise known as the monkey duo, and Yume who has a strange and unsubtle fixation on Yuuki.

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(Truly, Michiru is cuteness incarnate)

My Two Cents

Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, despite coming across as some kind of insidious advertisement for the chocolate industry was really enjoyable. The characters and their routes are all well developed and well written. On top of that the art was gorgeous throughout. I think a special mention should go to the way the backgrounds were handled I think they are some of the best I have ever seen. It is rare to see a visual novel that actually has characters in the background shots but that is what Sprite did. Normally you just have to imagine that the busy streetcorner or classroom is populated and in Koi's case a few of the background characters could have easily been side characters in their own right. On the negative side one thing that really stuck out to me is how absurd the Academy comes across as. It's this huge entity that has a student run school budget at a billion yen, has a department that involves spies and wiretaps, operates a broken welfare system for students who cannot afford to attend normally, and let's a teacher use a club room as a minibar. Two of the routes really seem to go off the deep end, and I was almost disappointed that Yuuki didn't uncover a assassination plot against him. It's the type of school that could suddenly reveal that it's secretly a covert military training base for supersolders and would hardly seem surprising. Because of that, I found it hard to take some of the dramatic moments seriously and that hurt some of my enjoyment. Ultimately, despite my pummeled suspension of disbelief I still had a good time with Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, and I would encourage you to give it a chance even though you are forced to complete Chisato's route first. She is not that bad I swear!

 

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(See? Look at you've done!)

Ranzo

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(Have you ever had it blue?)

The Setup

Growing up I never did much with my summers. Other than the requisite family trips I spent most of my summers indoors engaged in watching TV or playing video games. I had no real desire to ever go to summer camp or anything like that. That might have been to my detriment now that I think about it. I could have had a wonderful time and forged some lasting relationships or some shit like that. Of course, if you want to go by horror movie logic I spared myself from being cut down by some ax wielding maniac, or subjected to some R.L. Stine twist. Thinking about it realistically, I probably just spared myself a few pen pals I would never write to, and the usual bug bites and poison ivy misadventures. I'll just pack that in the things that I regret not doing when I was young like playing the guitar, taking theater, and learning ventriloquism. For Osanai Shouko, it is doubtless that her summer camp trip will change her life forever, if she can survive it that is.

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(Welcome to Camp Nightmare)

The Story

It's summertime and for second year Osanai or (Osa as she is normally called) that means it is time for the annual summer training camp with the rest of the Seijou Girls’ Academy Kendo Club. The location for the training camp is Shoushinji, a Buddhist Monastery that is famous for the island that is across from it Urashima. According to the lengthy prologue that is delivered to you in the beginning, Urashima was the location of a fabled battle with demons several hundred years ago. Being the dependable kendo club captain she is Osa is more concerned about the itinerary of the trip and how well the rest of the team performs than some old legend. Despite that, something about the monastery seems awfully familiar to her. It feels like has been there before somehow even though she is sure that this is her first time. Something relating to an event that occurred eight years ago, a event that she can barley recall. What does it all mean? The story in Aoishiro has competent mystery that is interesting enough that it held my attention throughout and kept me wanting to play. What Aoishiro can truly take pride in is a smorgasbord of intriguing and diverse characters that you encounter over the course of the story.

The Characters

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(Get ready to be familiar with this scene because these girls love to eat. )

This is truly Aoishiro's main selling point and it's something the Visual Novel truly excels in. Most notably one of the best characters happens to be the protagonist herself Osanai Shouko. She is a very dependable and grounded character and even though she is just human she can still hold her own when the proverbial shit hits the fan. It's very rare to find a truly great protagonist in a Visual Novel so I was quite delighted to find that in Osa. The rest of the cast are all extremely well developed as well and really add to the legend, and the story. They are all drawn to the monastery at the same time and at the same place because a storm is approaching, and a secret ritual is about to begin at Urashima. Some of these characters include,

Aizawa Yasumi: She is the manager of the kendo club and a very determined girl even though she doesn't have much stamina and gets weak pretty easily. I was a little bit leery of her initially as she reminded me of a certain dango obsessive character but she turned out to have quite a few surprises up her sleeve.

Kyan Migiwa: She is a strange girl that you meet in the beginning of the game at Shoushinji. She is not apart of the kendo club though she is the same age as Osa. Migiwa is initially very secretive about what she is doing at the temple, and why she insists on keeping watch over the forbidden stepping stones that are the only path to the island. She is very carefree and loves to tease and is consequently one of my favorite characters.

Nami: She is another mystery girl that literally washes up at the beach one night. She does not seem able to speak and her memory is gone as well. What a winning combination. She is strangely well adjusted despite that ludicrous setback. 

Kohaku: The mystery girls keep appearing one after another! She is a small odd woman dressed in a very old outfit with one eye perpetually closed. Hm, I wonder what that could mean?

Secret Character: This very characters existence is a mystery!

Each of the main characters drastically change how the the story plays out and they give a very different insight into the events. Like many visual novels before it you have to play in a certain way to unlock all the heroines and the final grand route. Since they are all pretty great it was not much of a hassle. The grand route by itself is definitely worth unlocking since it is the route where Osa get's to truly shine. On top of that Aioshiro boasts a large cast of side characters which is a quite unusual but not unwelcome addition. They are,

Akita Momoko: An intensely energetic girl that is also a ravenous carnivore.

Sakurai Ayashiro: The Vice President of the kendo club and a very dignified lady from a rich family.

Aoi Hanako: The teacher and advisor to the club, she is a exposition monster and enjoys the odd drink.

And finally, Suzuki Yuukai the chief priest at Shoushinji and another of the exposition monsters. He is a big beer and kendo enthusiast.

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(I don't know man moments like these just happen)

My Two Cents

I truly enjoyed my time with Aoishiro even though my first few moments were agonizingly slow thanks to a bug. After I figured out the cause my experience greatly improved. That is not to say that my whole time with it was amazing. I was reminded a lot by Fate/Stay Night while I was playing both in a positive way and a negative way. On the positive side the production quality is through the roof. From the highly detailed visuals to the great voice acting and the wonderful soundtrack. This is coming from someone who almost always plays my own music while I play so you know the music has to be great. On the negative side there are quite a few characters who seem to take a sadistic pleasure in barraging you with copious amounts of info dumps on the lore and legends of the area. There is a supposedly handy in game dictionary but unfortunately that part of Aoishiro was untranslated. The amount of names and events eventually fused together in a impenetrable mush. I was not sure half the time what was traditional folklore and what was the in-game lore. I was able to get a handle on it eventually but it led to some tedium. Speaking of tedium there are numerous times where we are treated to lengthy feasting scenes. They all but grind the story to a halt though they do provide some nice character interaction. Thankfully after the first route is complete it is possible to skip through a lot of these scenes. Those were really my only real gripes with the game. Also like Fate there are also a lot of bad ends that you could unwittingly end up in if you aren't careful. It's more of a Shoujo Ai than a pure yuri game though there are quite a few suggestive moments. Aoishiro turned out to be very spectacular especially in the grand route that you unlock in the game. The strength of the protagonist and the rest of the cast, the visuals, the story and finally the music all come together in a cohesive whole. I really liked it is what I'm trying to say.

 

Ranzo

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Here is something that I just decided to randomly work on. It might end up being a Visual Novel who knows. Oh here is my working synopsis.

After years of living a unremarkable high school life, eighteen year old Alice has finally started on her College journey. It's a fresh start in a new city. A chance encounter with a bully from her youth has awakened something within her. Now, determined to make the most of her college days and to crush her newfound rival, Alice has decided to form a rock band that can win the battle of the bands competition. All she has to do now is actually get a band together that can win, but that shouldn't be that hard, right?

Anyway let me know what you think.

 

 

Chapter One, a Fresh Start and a Old Enemy

"Goodbye, Mom! Goodbye, Dad! Oh and how could I forget, goodbye Beth! I love you all!" I shout that to my family as they give me a departing wave before getting into their car and driving away from my life forever. Well, maybe not forever but it does kind of feel that way. At least, that's how my mother and sister felt. I could scarcely pull away from their death grip on me. My father, he is made of sterner stuff but I know that he was probably feeling the same thing on the inside. I was sad too of course, but it wasn't nearly enough to combat the fierce joy I felt.

I'm finally at college! I'm finally on my own! I want to scream that so everyone will hear. That might not make for a good first impression, so I control my joy and simply let it radiate through me. I look around the crowded parking lot filled with newly minted college students accompanied by their grieving but proud parents. Of course, I think to myself as I walk back inside my new dorms, it won't be like I'll be completely on my own. I'll have my very own roommate after all. I wonder what she'll be like and look like? I only briefly emailed her several days ago. She seemed nice enough but who knows, she might be that roommate from hell I've heard so many horror stories about. Now that I think about it I could end up becoming the thing I fear.

I shake off the chill that I just gave me and head toward my room. Like that's going to happen, I'm going to be the best roommate that she could hope to have. I grit my teeth and clench my fist in what I hope is a look of supreme determination. I open the door wide and cross the threshold before throwing myself into my bed and gazing up at the room I'll be living in for the rest of the year. It's not much to be honest though I did manage to bring a lot of my precious things with me. Especially my old electric guitar that my grandmother bought for me at the end of eighth grade.

I glance over at the bare part of the room with the single destitute bed and lonely desk and chair. I'm surprised that she hasn't already moved in yet. Oh well, I guess there is always tomorrow. It's still a little disappointing. "Oh well." I murmur again to myself. I pull myself out of my bed and get to work putting up the rest of my posters and other nick knacks followed by my favorite mirror. After that is completed I spend several minutes gazing back at the young woman who is staring intently at me through the glass. She has long thick messy black hair, bright green eyes and thick eyebrows that always give her a threatening look, even if it's not always her intention. She's pretty enough I suppose if you are into that kind of thing. She'd probably only piss me off if I had to live with her. I sing softly to myself, Spent some time feelin' inferior, standing in front of my mirror. Combed my hair in a thousand ways, but I came out looking just the same. I turn myself away from the mirror and head out the door.

I can't spend all day in my little hovel, I've got some exploring to do! There is commotion in the hallways, commotion in the corridors, commotion all around me. I have to duck and weave in order to save myself from being hit by the constantly apologetic families who are in the middle of moving. I give a small smile of understanding to them knowing that I was in their own shoes myself not an hour ago. The dorm I live in is nice enough even if it is fairly old. It's got a pretty nice common room with a big flat screen tv and a ping pong and pool table which is already in use. The only bad thing about it is a bit of a walk to the campus. That's fine for me as it will give me a good opportunity to get some exercise.

I nod and say hello to a couple of the friendly faces that I come across as I walk out of the dorms and head toward the campus. I love this campus already, of course I had to given that I fought so hard to get into it. It wasn't easy due to the fact that I was a pretty shit student all the way through high school. What were the nicer words that the teachers used, oh it was, "Does not apply herself." Still by hook or by crook I managed to somehow get into it and now here I am. "Now here I am," I whisper to myself. "The future is right ahead of me and there is no one here alive that will be able to stop me from seizing it!" I walk languidly down the path ahead of me thanking the powers that be that this hot August day is not intolerable. I take out my music player, put it in shuffle and put the earbuds where they belong. Today seems to be my day as a song that I adore starts to play.

This is really a beautiful campus, I think to myself as I saunter along taking in the open space surrounded by concrete buildings with a few small gardens clustered around. It's eerily quiet as there are only a few people that evidently had the same motivation as I. It's hard to imagine that tomorrow this relatively empty area is going to pulsating with life. The only problem with it being so large is that I'll be a sweaty mess once I get to class, especially if I must rush. I adjust my gait to the music that is coursing throughout me. Boy, I hope I look as cool as I feel right now. I smile smugly to myself as my favorite song comes to a close. The next song of course has to be a complete mood killer, a tearful dirge to a lost love. Just my luck. This song just has to play enforcing the sad truth that in all my eighteen years of age I have not yet found someone who could pierce me to my core like that. I hurriedly push those annoying thoughts out of my brain. Still plenty of time to fall in love, still plenty of time to fall in love, I chant to myself. I skip through my playlist trying to find a better song as I take a sharp corner, right into destiny. I collide with someone coming from the opposite direction. My head slams into theirs and I fall back on the hard stone floor. "OW! MY ACHING HEAD! OW! MY FUCKING ASS," I shout as I reel from the impact. I hear a grown from the other person and I snap into apology mode.

"I'm so sorry I ran into you, I hope you aren't hurt."

"I'll survive somehow but thanks," comes the reply.

I finally bring myself to look at the person I just collided with and I notice that she is a girl about my age. She has short, spiky white hair with black streaks. She is dressed in a very punk way with a skull t shirt and a tattered skirt. She looks back at me with gray eyes that are a bit dazed. She's pretty cute but she looks awfully familiar. I pick myself up off the floor and remembering what passes for manners I offer my hand to her. She wordlessly takes it and I pull her up.

"I'm sorry again for that reinforced cliches are the worst."

Yeah, I guess that counts as one doesn't it?

We are standing face to face now and the more I look at her the more familiar she becomes. All the while I'm staring at her something is building in me. I can almost hear the sounds of a hundred pulsating drums. I know this woman's face, but from where? Then suddenly it's like a steel door to my memories has suddenly snapped open. Meanwhile, the woman is looking quizzically at me while trying to break my death grip on her hand. I quickly release her hand and instead point an accusing finger at the woman. A name that I never thought I had the chance to say bursts from my lips. VVVERONICA FRENCH!! She looks quite taken aback at this sudden happening and slowly asks, eyes narrowed.

"How do you know my name?"

I match her glare with one of my own putting my heavy brows to good use.

"How could I ever forget your name when it is stitched to the lining of my Soul!"

She looks at me like I'm some kind of mental patient which at this case might not actually be so far from the truth if I'm being honest.

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"You don't remember me at all do you? You don't remember this face? Does the name Alice Blackwood mean anything to you?"

"No, I don't believe I've ever met you at anytime in my life. I think someone as strange as you would be a hard person to forget."

"Hard doesn't mean impossible. You went to Sarajevo Middle School did you not?"

"Yes. Yes I did but how did you...?"

"How did I know? Because we went to the same exact middle school of course!"

My heart is pounding fast and the drums are pulsating awaiting the grand climax that is approaching. I again point my finger accusingly and savagely shout.

"I COULD NEVER FORGET YOUR NAME OR FACE BECAUSE YOU WERE THE ONE WHO MADE MY MIDDLE SCHOOL YEARS A LIVING HELL!"

"You bullied and teased me constantly how could I not remember? That sort of thing is hard to forget."

I grin triumphantly I had no idea that such a day would actually happen. How much time did I spend wanting to confront this shadow of my past? I thought I had lost my chance to face her when she suddenly moved away in the middle of 8th grade. I stare hard at her. She seems quite taken aback by my outburst. She lets a few moments pass before responding. I wait patiently with my arms crossed.

"Um...Alice was it? I'm, I'm really sorry that I did that to you. I knew that I was a real asshole in middle school but I had no idea I had hurt you that badly. Can you ever forgive me?"

She's actually apologizing to me I think, this isn't quite what I had imagined. This isn't exactly how I thought this would go down. I had thought, hoped that she would be unapologetic to the very end. Of course in my dreams we would also immediately start a long and drawn out fight. The question is should I forgive her? It's true she did hurt me deeply but I managed to get over it eventually. Still, I have to do this for my inner child. I clench my fist, give her my most vicious glare and passionately declare.

"No. No, I can never forgive you. I will never forgive you! From this day forward you are my enemy!"

I feel like such a badass right now, I think as I abruptly turn my back and coldly leave her without looking back. I feel like skipping but I find someway to keep my terrible joy in check.

Veronica watches Alice leave, still in something of a bewildered state. She had never thought that she would be confronted by such a ugly part of her past. She had wanted college to be a fresh start for her and now this had happened. College starts tomorrow and already there is someone here that hates me. Still, she wouldn't let that get too her, couldn't let that get to her. She would just have to apologize to her again, apologize until she finally relented. Shame that things had to happen that way she was actually kind of cute, in a really weird way. Veronica finally decides to head back to her own dorm. The sun is starting to set and she still has a lot to plan for the next day. She looks back in the direction that woman had departed from. "Alice Blackwood huh?"

 

Ranzo

The horror! The horror!

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Misery is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch, --as distinct too, yet as intimately blended."

Edgar Allan Poe

 

             

So why exactly, did I decide to do this? I guess I just wanted to spit in the eye of God by dancing with one of it's abominations. I wanted pain and sought my fill. To walk as far as my bleeding limbs would take me. To sound the death knell of this perverse experiment we call the human race. Or maybe I thought it would be funny. For whatever reason I decided to play Creature Romances that horrible looking Visual Novel that Sekai Project decided to publish. You know, the one with the grasshopper lady. So anyway without further ado here are some of my thoughts while I play through this abomination. Don't you worry alcohol is involved.

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(Is this restitution for the brutality I showed to the grasshoppers? Will it stop the midnight screaming?)

 

Of course this fucking thing is voiced, why wouldn't it be? Right off the bat it combines two things I really hate, grasshoppers and childhood friends. Thank you for that, no really! Jesus fucking Christ. What I'm really missing out on is seeing this monsters mandibles open and close while she garbles out some nonsense. I'm really missing out on the full Monty here! What a fucking lie I bet Kokoro is none of those things! I like this skull faced guy though, I feel like he could be a bridge in this horrifying world between worlds. Why couldn't I date him instead? Like ever since Papyrus I just have had the urge to date skeletons. He's a genius as well, why couldn't you have just made a vn about me dating cute skull boys instead? I would have jumped their bones for real!

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Tokyo U, huh wasn't that a major plot point in Love Hina? Like the entire reason for it or whatever. It's been years since I've read it. I don't know how much I would enjoy it now. Anyway back to this fucking abomination. Please give up on me! Let me fail! Who in their right mind would let a grasshopper cook for them? Do you think like Flick from that movie Bugs Life, would have asked Hopper to cook dinner for him? Ask Hopper to make a nice creme brulee? No he would not. For one thing Hopper was a huge asshole and another thing grasshoppers can't cook they can only destroy! The fuck is Nikujaga? Christ! This thing has red eyes now how horrible. Now she is fucking killing my kitchen, of course I forgive her cuz I'm hungry for that thorax? Of course my sister is a bat. WHY WOULDN'T MY FUCKING SISTER BE A BAT! (The night moves on)

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(Yeah I know I'm the fucking worst)

WHAT THE FUCK? NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME VIDEOGAME??? JUST FUCK OFF GOD DAMNIT!!! Oh so never mind that was just what I was apparently imagining. God I hate this already. FUCKING WHY AGAIN!!!

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Yeah I'm low, the lowest of the low. You know I thought about that for the longest time and you are right..you are absolutely right. I am low, I am scum. I accept it no really! It is what I deserve! Scrape my decayed corpse over thousand of sharp knives, fill by belly with acid and pour God the voice quality is pretty awful, which I guess can be a good and bad thing if you look at it the right way. Honestly I really wish it wasn't a grasshopper why couldn't have been a preying mantis instead? I mean sure while copulating it would have bitten my head off but think of the experience! Okay so I still think it is a bit weird that my sister is supposed to be a bat with four eyes but really she is the most normal part of this nightmarish scenario. Still I must push on like the biblical Job or the overworked and unappreciated MoJo JoJo. Wait how does a bat jump so high that she hits her head, especially when she is hanging upside down?

What is this teacher supposed to be if not simply mountains of unholy flesh.

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Now that I think of it this is a whole lot like Saya No Ulta right? We are seeing some monstrous grasshopper thing when really it is some generic anime cute girl. It would be like if in the Metamorphosis instead of being disgusted by the vile creature their son and brother had become they merely accepted him as being part of the family. What kind of lesson is that to learn? Wow how fucking meta the main guy is looking at a cicada figurine and trying to determine if it's supposed to be cute or not. Why don't you fuck off and castrate yourself right now you mollusc sucking bilge rat! So sad such a emotional scene the protagonist is starting to think that maybe he shouldn't be taught by a abomination after all. Why would he not wish to be pulled further into the abyss? He has already spent enough time staring at it. What is the world coming to? WHY CAN'T I DATE YOU MASATO WHO IS A DIFFERENT MASATO THEN THE ONE YOU ARE THINKING OF! Of course, WHY CAN'T I DATE THAT MASATO TOO?

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So now comes to the final choice, the only choice! DEATH FIRST!!! DEATH AGAIN!!!! You scream like death is insanity but really it's the opposite. Living is the worst. Like walking upon endless broken glass or dancing on sharks teeth the answer is the same. Chaos and madness must follow if only to cushion the blow. Can a parasite dream? Can it reach out and attempt to touch the mortal coil? Writhing maggots whisper sweet nothings on the path to damnation. Are we doomed to only degeneration and entropy? Is there no hope left for humanity in this ugly world that we helped build, piece by piece with bloody brick and bone? Is semen and blood all I've got? Does it really open up the path to the new gold that I have sought? Lost in the prism of a castrated nature, banned forever from vainglorious pursuits? Cruel, twisted, sad,dismal, death, how I wish that I had that choice! When can the drowning man let go of the rope? Live in the corpses of a thousand sinners! Claw into the entrails of the manifested flesh! The death knell is at 12 and the hour is at hand! What must be ripped, must be shorn. Mystery, misery, embrace the suffering that binds you. Only blood will stop the bleeding, and only gashes will close the wound. So must the choice be made. CHAOS REIGNS!

Death, death, death, death,death, death, death, death, death, death,death, death, death, death, death, death, death, death, death,death, death, death, death, death, death,death, death, death, death, death.

Chasm of Torment

Filth, black filth, flowing like ichor from the bile of the succulent puss.

Now I leave you like a wailing banshee splitting open the doors of infinity.

Don't bother closing your eyes for you are already dead.

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Ranzo

Octave Review

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To Be Someone (Didn't We Have a Nice Time)

(For a change of pace I have decided to review a manga this time around. Hopefully, the Fuwa Gods will not strike me down for this transgression. If they end up doing so be sure to honor me like the hero I have always been. You know I deserve it.)

The Setup

Who doesn't dream of greatness, of achieving fame, wealth, and adoration? The dream of being someone, to be admired and known for what you have achieved. Countless lives have been spent in pursuit of that aim, with a precious few actually reaching that mantle. Yukino Miyashita, had a quick taste of that fame that so many hunger for when she joined the idol group She'sN. Unfortunately for her, that moment in the spotlight turned out to be exactly that, and both the group and her dreams proved to be short lived. She left the hustle and bustle of Tokyo back to her quiet hometown, back to a high school that did not understand and assumed too much. Yukino, unable to endure the rumors and slander was forced to drop out. Now at eighteen years of age she decides to return to Tokyo to be a talent manager. All she wants is to regain some of her lost pride and find a boyfriend. Her life takes a turn though when she becomes involved with the beautiful Iwai Setsuko.

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The Story

With yuri themed media it seems that a lot of it simply revolves around cute girls being cute. Usually, it is set in a all girls high school with nary a male face to be seen. The girls are free to pursue romance and love for the sake of love without a care to spare. Most of the time they are free from the unfortunate hardships that often accompany the simple act of romantically pursing the same sex. This isn't a bad thing in fact it is one reason I like the genre as much as I do. Sometimes though it gets kind of repetitive and I find myself wanting something a little more realistic, something with more bite to it. Octave, written by Akiyama Haru proves to be the very thing that I was looking for.

This is not a cutesy lovey, dovey tale. There is a lot of weighty themes present in Octave; depression, loneliness, judgment, jealousy, it's all present here.

The romance in Octave feels organic, and believable without any trite cliche's or nonsense. There is a aching tenderness to it that is quite wonderful. The sex, which is prevalent throughout the manga is very passionate yet restrained. It's not used in a exploitative way and it displays the need the two feel for each other. There is a lot of drama in this story and some of the time it can come across as being overtly melodramatic but for the most part it feels grounded. It gives the characters the ability to grow from out of a many of these unfortunate experiences.  Which brings me to the characters.

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(Setsuko up top, Yukino Bottom)

The Characters

Both Yukino and Setsuko make a great pair and when they are together they complement each other well. Setsuko is probably my favorite character in Octave, she has a very calm and cool headed demeanor and I was instantly charmed by her. Like Yukino she has had a moment in the limelight, which she has been able to turn into a career as a freelance composer. Setsuko is a alluring, dependable, and loyal woman. Despite that, she is not without her faults. At first Setsuko just sees Yukino as a lonely girl that is looking for affection.  This causes some problems down the line for their relationship. Setsuko occasionally says the wrong thing, or makes a lapse of judgment, but for the most part she is a very stable character. Yukino on the other hand, is quite the opposite. She constantly blurts out the wrong thing or makes bad judgment calls. For the most part, it feels natural for her character but it can feel excessive at times. She is a very lonely, very morose character. I wouldn't say she is broken but she was definitely knocked down by her experiences. Her story is all about her trying to pick herself up again. She cries a lot, and there were a few times that her angsty whining really annoyed me, so much so that I just wanted to shake her. Thankfully, she does show a remarkable amount of growth throughout the story. I found myself feeling sympathetic to her plight. I often second guess myself or others and I'm fantastic at assuming the worst, and taking things the wrong way. I'm also overly concerned with what people might say about me when I'm not around. Yukino's depression felt real and I could relate. Still it's a real toss up if you'd like her character or not, and that's another reason I enjoyed her. She is a challenging character. She is not some sweet moeblob that was birthed out of sea foam. It is important to also note that Yukino is only eighteen, and this is her first romantic relationship. It is easy to make dumb decisions and have crippling self doubt at that age. Setsuko, meanwhile, has the advantage of being several years older than Yukino and of having more life experience because of it. There are also a surprisingly large cast of side characters, both male and female, that make up the story as well. Some of them are more well developed than others and for the most part they are able to offer their perspectives, which frequently crash against Yukino's often misguided perceptions.

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(Love That Lovage, Baby)

Final Thoughts

I loved this manga, it felt new and fresh to me. There are a few times that the romance in the manga and visual novels that I have read and played felt overtly idealistic, and simplistic. In those eternal love seems self assured and the relationship trials that they must go through are virtually nonexistent. I didn't feel that way with Octave. One small criticism I have for it however, is that the art was not as detailed as I was accustomed to. It did it's job but I was not blown away by it. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I hope that this has a picked up for a English release at some point in time because I think it deserves to be read by a large audience. There is a growing amount of yuri themed manga that has had it's time time in the sun and so to does Octave. It is a great story of a lonely pair growing together, through each other.

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Ranzo

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( In a galaxy far, far away. )

The Setup

It all started with a flash game. It's hard to believe that my love affair with Visual Novels and my dalliances with manga and anime all sprang from the same source but it's true. Of course, I had watched anime before on both Fox Kids when I was real little, and on Toonami when I was older. The thing of it was I never really tried to seek it out on my own. If a show that I was watching stopped being aired then I stopped watching it. That all changed when I played the Galaxy Angel Sim Date when I was still a freshman in high school. It was on Newgrounds, which was at the time the most popular site for dumb flash games and videos. Of course, being the pervy high schooler that I was, I wanted what was in the adults only category. That's where I found Galaxy Angel Sim Date. Now I don't know exactly why but for some reason I really came to love that game, and I was very interested in finding what it was based on. That led me eventually to the anime, the manga, and much later to the visual novel. The internet can be a weird and amazing place.

The Story

GA- The Duo

(Tact Mayers, the man himself)

The Transvaal Galaxy has been gripped in terror! Exiled Prince Eonia and a huge fleet of unknown vessels have undertaken a massive Coup d'état against the Emperor of Transvaal, and the White Moon! Hope is not lost however, the famed Angel Wing has managed to escape with the last of the royal family aboard the Elsior. Now the fate of the entire galaxy is up to...you, apparently. You are Tact Mayers, a greenhorn layabout who usually leaves all the important work to your adjutant, Lester Coolduras. Unfortunately for your dreams of sloth you are chosen for a daring rescue mission. It's not all bad though as you are also given command of the strongest strike force in the galaxy, powered by only cute girls. Life, it takes and it gives. Basically, the plot is that you must attempt to outrun Eonia's forces for as long as possible. At first, the Angel Wing might not trust their new fresh off the boat commander but who knows, it's a long voyage, anything can happen, even dare I say it, love. Galaxy Angel is without a doubt a pure space opera. It wears it on it's sleeve and dances with it in the dark. It might not be the most intricate of plots but it is still filled with a lot of powerful moments. But just who are the mystery girls?

The Characters

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(Forte and Mint to the left, Vanilla and Ranpha to the right, and Milfeulle in the middle)

Characters are important to any story and in my humble opinion these are some of the best, even if they might not be the most well developed. More than that I've grown up with these characters so I know them backwards and forwards. Each Angel pilots their very own Emblem Frames, which are one of a kind ships powered by the fabled (and convenient) Lost Technology. Here is a breakdown of the characters and what they pilot.

Mifuelle Sakuraba: She pilots the Lucky Star and is the epitome of a air headed girl. She loves to cook and is gifted with a unholy amount of reality breaking luck. Milfeulle also happens to be the "main" girl of the VN.

Ranpha Franboise: Ranpha pilots the Kung Fu Fighter and is basically your typical energetic, and tsundere girl. She works out a lot and loves fortune telling.

Forte Stollen: Forte pilots the Happy Trigger and is in many ways the older sister of the group. She is obsessed with ancient firearms and is an avid collector.

Vanilla H: She pilots the Harvester and is the youngest and most quiet of the troupe. Vanilla is able to control nanomachines incredibly well and is an excellent healer.

Mint Blancmanche: Mint is the pilot of the Trick Master and the source of all good things in this world. Mint is a telepath and because of this does not trust anyone easily. She is obsessed with cute and sweet things.

The story is centered around them with each chapter centered around a specific member of the team. This gives you a chance to get to know each of them while getting closer at the same time. At a certain point the story it is possible to choose a character and their specific route opens up. There are also quite a few noteworthy side characters like Lester Coolduras who engages you with a galaxy spanning bromance. By some weird design the combat effectiveness of the Emblem Frames are determined by the mental states of each pilot. Your job as the commander is to basically make nice with them or else their performance will suffer. This leads me to one of the more unique aspects of Galaxy Angel, the gameplay.

The Gameplay

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(Combat Inaction)

The gameplay is pretty basic but it works. After every mission you briefing you give the Angels their orders and they engage in ship to ship combat. Each Emblem Frames have their own special advantages and weakness. For example the Kung Fu Fighter is the fastest but has the weakest shields while the Happy Trigger is the slowest but with the most firepower. Each ship also has a special ability that can be used effectively once a certain bar is filled up. When it does you can give the Frame a command and they will use it against the enemy. (The only one that does not is the Harvester, Vanillas special attack heals all the of the Frames.) Like I said before the gameplay is very bare bones though they often throw some new elements in play like stronger enemy types or more complicated objectives. There is one last ship that I have yet to bring up which is the Elsior, which is another piece of lost technology and the flagship that everyone resides in. It has extremely weak firepower though it mostly makes up with that by having the power to completely heal each Angel Frame. It's poor combat effectiveness and slow speed is easily the most annoying parts in the game. With it's awful firepower it is always advisable to keep it way out of enemy range. While that may be easy enough at first there are several missions when you must escort it through enemy lines which can be incredibly frustrating. The graphics also reflect the fact that this Visual Novel was released in 2002 so don't go expecting that much in that way. Still, the battles can be very thrilling at times and I think it would be quite a loss if the gameplay was not present. The later games really improved the mechanics quite a bit while keeping to the core concept. The second aspect of the game is moving around the Elsior and talking with the crew. This improves the relationship and combat effectiveness. It's pretty basic stuff and it is real easy to see just how each angel thinks of you.

Meh, it's only the 2nd chapter

(Oh yeah did I mention that this is all determined by a telepathic space whale?)

Final Thoughts

What can I say Galaxy Angel is still one of my favorite Visual Novels and I have a great deal of affection for it. It might not have the most compelling of stories, but it does something extremely well and that is make you feel invested with the characters. It can be pretty powerful stuff when they start to actually like and trust you. This is the first part of a great trilogy and it serves as a wonderful jumping off point. The only problem with the game is that since it was released in 2002 it is quite difficult to get working on modern computers. Despite that setback I would really recommend checking out. You might come to love it too.

Ranzo

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(Love Autopsy)

The Setup

Way back when I was in High School I thought I knew what I was going to be. I was destined to become a Lawyer and have my own firm. Now, almost ten years later I look at the wreckage my life has become and say; "Boy, what was I thinking?" Asuka Osachi has similar lofty goals for what she wants to do; she wants to be a Nurse. The former Jellyfish Club President found a book that she once loved as a child and written on the back is a declaration from the past. "I want to be a Nurse!" While most people would pass it off as a passing fancy, a sort of memento from the dreams of childhood. A time when things were hopeful, sweet, pure, instead of cold, bleak, and grey. Not our Auska! She takes it as a rallying cry from the past, a call to arms! Even though she has no idea why she wrote that down so long ago she is determined to become one. Which is weird isn't it? I mean my brother wanted to be a hobo when he was a kid! Can you imagine that? My brother, decides on pursing a life of vagrancy and hardship because that was his childhood dream. What I'm trying to say is that children are stupid and the purity of their dreams don't always make for advisable career options. Auska, who is a complete moron still manages to get over her first hurtle and is accepted into the prestigious Teito Nursing Academy. At her side is her ride-or-die, self titled sweet sister Nao Osachi who is determined to follow after her older sister and her stupid goal. There at the Nursing School our heroes will encounter many strange characters and face many trials. Auska just might obtain her childhood dream but she might find something else, something she was not expecting, something called, love.

The Characters

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(From right to left Nao, Auska, Sakuya, Itsuki)

So like I said before you are playing Auska who is a huge airhead and general goofball. At first I wasn't sure quite what to think of her. I thought she was going to be so ditsy and air-headed that she would launch into the sky. Thankfully, she was not nearly that bad and she really grew on me as the story progressed. I also like that she was at least slightly self aware and capable of some form of rational thought. That's a big plus in my book. She ended up surprising me and made for a great protagonist.

Next up is your little sister Nao and if I had to have a favorite character I think it would be her. She is almost attached to the Auska's hip and has followed her all the way to a nursing school. Now that's dedication! She is the epitome of the adorable sister that you never knew you wanted, but what I really liked most about her were the glimpses of a different side of Nao. Such as when she would tell a ghost story, or when her delinquent past is uncovered. Those different parts really made for a great character. Just, try and stay on her good side. Okay?

Coming in third is Sakuya who is voiced by the lovely Tamura Yukari is also a easy favorite of mine. I adored Tamura's voice in Galaxy Angel so it was a pleasant surprise to hear her here. At first Sakuya comes across as having a haughty princess like personality but as the story progresses she starts to show a much gentler side. She does still retain her biting personality though, thankfully. I liked  watching the bond between the two characters grow. Sakuya is also really good at giving hugs.

Arriving in fourth is Itsuki and frankly she took a while for me to start liking her. I can't exactly put a finger on why but maybe it had to do with how secretive and horrendously vague she can be at times. Maybe it's just because she wears glasses. In any case, eventually her manipulative personality won me over and by the end of her route I just wanted to eat her up.

Last but certainly not least is Kaede your teacher. She is your nursing instructor and the person you want to become. She is poised, confident, and reportedly turned down the prestigious Nightingale Award. She has a unexpectedly really adorable side to her and her route is pure cuteness.

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(How dare you make me feel things!)

The Story

One of the things I liked most about the story was the setting. Teito Nursing Academy was such a departure from the typical setting that I'm used to. There was evident care in making sure that this didn't become just a school life simulator. Nursing School is hard and incredibly focused and I like how real they made that aspect feel. Auska learns first hand just how hard it is when she struggles just to learn how to specially make a bed. It seemed very real to me. Of course when the characters routes take off the nursing school aspect understandably takes a backseat but it was nice to have while it was there. I also really loved how the yuri was handled in this Visual Novel. Specifically, I like how they did not treat the fact that two girls could love each other as anything strange or weird. Which was nice because a lot of times it's something that the story draws a lot of attention towards. Here, it's treated as a natural thing which I really appreciated. Each route is very different and well crafted and takes the story in many varied and often unpredictable directions.

My Two Cents

Overall, I loved it. I enjoyed the story, tone, characters, atmosphere, the whole kit and kaboodle. Nurse Love Addiction truly surprised me and in the best way possible. If I were to give it a score I would give it a high 8 because I had a excellent time with it all the way through. I would recommend this to anyone regardless if you are a yuri fan or not. it's just a good story and I'm sure you will enjoy it. Oh and one last thing..

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Ranzo

Villains have always fascinated me for as long as I can remember. Maybe it was the way they operated, the way they moved. Their goals always so divergent from the heroes or so eerily similar that it made you question who you were really rooting for. Almost every story has em' or inserts something to take their place, such as society, nature etc. A villain right can give you someone to really root against, or for if you are so inclined. They can drive the story along like no other and pull the hero into the most strenuous and exacting endeavors. A villain done wrong however, can have all the impact of a wet fart in a scorching plain. What makes a good villain? I think a good villain is made up of five things appearance, presence, voice, power, and goal. I think these are essential for a villain to work in a story. Without these traits you might as well just drag up from the earth your cliche mustache twirling villain and prop him up for all to see. So without further ado here are my favorite villains and why. This isn't a comprehensive list and the order is nonessential.

1. Slade

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Slade was a incredible villain and he is essential to why I still count Teen Titans as one of my favorite shows. He had everything I wanted in a villain. What I most loved about him was voice, power, and presence. First off was his voice, Ron Perlman did a amazing job with the voice of Slade. He lent Slade a voice of menace and absolute confidence that broke time and time again upon the Titans backs. His power to was impressive. He could go toe to toe with any of the Titans and beat them and it took all of their power to stop them. His presence was also incredible he dominated every single scene that he was in without question.

2. The Joker

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Joker is the perfect villain and I think he shines the brightest in the animated series. He is a perfect counter to Batman in every way and is the absolute opposite of everything that he wants to protect. I like the animated Joker the best simply because of Mark Hamil. I truly believe that voicing him is the best thing that he has ever done.

3. Vernon Schillinger (OZ)

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Schillinger easily represents everything I detest in a person. He's an out and out Nazi, and as cold and callous as they come. Yet it was his detestable nature that made him such a good villain. In a show that's known for it's brutality he was easily the most vicious. What really made me like him was the brief glimpses of something resembling humanity that he would show. To this day it is hard to look at JK Simmons and not see Schillinger, no matter how many goofy Dads he plays.

4.Frank (Once Upon a Time in the West)

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In the movie this is how Frank is first introduced it's such a brilliant and brutal scene that really impacted me

This early act of callous cruelty gives him a malignant presence in every scene he is in. He's completely willing to do anything and everything to get what he wants. Henry Fonda gives him a air of quiet detachment and a sense of invincibility.

5. Perfect Cell

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I love Perfect Cell because he is such a amazing antagonist. He has the abilities and weaknesses of all the greatest warriors. He is confident and arrogant without overdoing it. So many villains like him are just over the top that it just becomes laughable. It was great to see him evolve from his imperfect state to his perfect one. I also like that his goal was simply to find a worthy opponent to test his power on.

6. Mr. Dark (Something Wicked This Way Comes)

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Mr. Dark is another good villain that is so understated and yet so powerful. He operates a carnival that promises people their deepest wishes and feeds on them. Jonathan Pryce does an amazing job of giving him such a threatening edge with just a few words.

7. Cluny the Scourge

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Now Redwall had a lot of great villains but Cluny is always going to be my favorite of them all. He is such a perfect adversary he is ruthless but also clever, brutal yet cunning. His mere presence inspired instant fear and his drive inspired hundreds.

8. Kirei Kotomine

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Kotomine was a perfect villain in Fate/Stay night and a great foil for Shirou. What really made him a great villain in my eyes was seeing his corruption in Fate/Zero. I also like that he sought the grail for the shear curiosity of what it would spawn.

9. Maou

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Maou is a great antagonist because he is constantly two steps ahead of everyone. He has plans within plans and he sets himself up as the adversary of Haru just for the shear joy of it.

10. Jack Of Blades (Fable)

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Jack Of Blades is one of my favorite villains simply because of his appearance and voice. That alone makes him such a menacing villain. I also loved the mystery behind his mask and background. Who was he before he found the mask? That question goes unanswered witch makes the allure of him all the more powerful.

Well that's all the villains I can think of at the moment I will probably add to it later. What are your favorite villains? Let me know!

Ranzo

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Campus Notes-Forget Me Not (Aka The Adventures of the Pointy Teeth, the Spade, and the Beret)

The Setup

Campus Notes immediately stood out to me because it is one of the few Visual Novels that actually is set in a University. In a medium dominated by the stale and overused High School setting it was a breath of fresh air to say the least. Your characters name is Yuta Kiriha and he is a new transfer student of the University of Tsukuba. Typically, College is supposed to be a time of finding your path, forging lifelong friendships, spending many sleepless nights studying last minute for a test, and getting irresponsibly drunk and puking all over yourself. Unfortunately for Yuta, after the opening ceremony he instead runs afoul of several oddballs and a strange doll like girl. Such is the spinning turmoil of fate. Yuta awakes the next morning only to find out that for some unknown reason nearly everyone on campus has completely forgotten who he is. If that wasn't enough after every day they forget him all over again. It is up to Yuta and his merry band of oddballs to uncover the truth behind the lost memories.

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Why do harbingers of doom always look like cute girls?

The Characters

Yuta is not the best protagonist I have ever encountered but he is far, far, from being the worst. Yuta is aided in his quest by the three oddballs from before and his new pal Fuma. They all bizarrely have the same struggles that Yuta has so they decide to band together in order to get to the bottom of this phenomenon. The oddball's names are Togi, Sion, and Kaen and they are some of the most unique characters I have experienced in a Visual Novel so far. They are the primary draws of the VN and they are just so much fun! Togi, Sion, and Kaen all have their own quirks and peculiarities and yet they all balance each other out. They're very fleshed out and not your typical tropey VN girl in the slightest. All of them are pursuing science degrees and it shows in their outlook and their theories on the situation. Togi is sarcastic and cynical and easily my favorite. She has a sweet side about her and she is the most overtly flirty one of the group. Sion is brash and the more intellectual of the group. She also loves her line, "I believe only what I can see for myself." Kaen loves gardening and cute things, is pretty tomboyish, and has a bad habit of referring to herself in the third person. Yuta as I mentioned before is decent enough and he has some pretty good lines even though he is often overwhelmed by the strength of the girls personalities. Fuma is a good platonic friend character and I liked how realistic the way Yuta and Fuma met each other came across. Each heroine has their own mini route which gives us a lot more insight into the girls background and backstories. The mini routes all stem from each girls theory of what exactly is the cause of this phenomenon.

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(From right to left Sion, Kaen, and Togi)

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(Oh and this is Fuma who is busily cursing the fact that he is but a sidekick)

My Two Cents

The mystery in Campus Notes does a pretty good job in moving the story along but it was the weakest part of the Visual Novel for me. What really makes it what it is are the characters and the dialogue between them and Yuta. The dialogue is something that I really loved and a lot of it reminded me of all the weird conversations I would have with own friends. The main problem with Campus Notes is that it is pretty short at most 15 hours and that's only if you really take your time with it. This is most noticeable in the girls routes when they abruptly come to a premature end. It makes sense within the context of the narrative but it still felt unsatisfying. The second problem I had with it was that there are a hardly any cgs in the game. Each girl only has two devoted to them which I thought was a real shame because there were a lot of scenes in the VN that I felt could have easily warranted their own cg. Lastly, there is the problem of the side characters. From what I have been able to determine a lot of these characters are in fact from the other Visual Novels that 4th Cluster has published. I had no idea who these characters were and it felt a bit off when one of them would suddenly appear. It did make me want to play their other releases however, though they have yet to be translated. The ending to the story itself felt a bit anticlimactic after all the setup but I wasn't too terribly disappointed. Despite its faults, it does enough things right for me to want to give it a hearty recommendation. My final verdict for it is a 8/10 it's by far not the best VN I have ever played but I'm still really glad I played it.

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